Posts filed under ‘Grief’

A Chance to Trust: Traveling to El Salvador in November with Compassion International

So there was a little buzz around the Twittersphere this morning when it was announced that I’m joining Compassion International‘s next blogger trip to El Salvador in November.

Most of this so-called buzz was from my good friends, who sent me messages saying things to the effect of, “What???”

So to save myself the effort of having to write back to each of you—Yeah, so… Lord willing, I’m going to El Salvador in November.

el salvador

Okay, the story goes…

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Shaun Groves, who is the Blogger Relationship Manager of Compassion’s blogger trips, asking if I’d be interested in joining this trip to El Salvador in November. I’d followed a couple of their trips through other blogger friends, and been fascinated by the stories I’ve read.

I also thought it was really cool and innovative on Compassion’s part to use bloggers and their influence in this way.

Anyway, back to the story (by the way, this is what it’s like to have a real conversation with me—rabbit trails, rabbit trails)… so that night I mentioned the email to Abraham and our good friend Wes, and they were both really encouraging about my going. I was really nervous, mostly feeling like I don’t have a good enough blog to do something like this. But they persisted, and the thoughts of the trip persisted in my head and heart.

I’ve always felt really intimidated to start traveling down the road of greater global poverty awareness, social justice issues, etc.—mostly because I felt insecure. I’ll be honest about my insecurities and failings. Ready?

  • There’s too much information. I wouldn’t know where to start.
  • There’s always people who know more than me and I’m gonna look like an idiot if I try to join this effort.
  • I don’t have time.
  • I have way too much of my own pain right now.
  • I’m forgetful when I have food and clean water and money for groceries.
  • I might actually have to change if I know more.
  • What if I’m a flash-in-the-pan kind of person? What if I get all gung-ho and then lose steam? (Again, pride telling me I’ll look like an idiot, and me listening to that, instead of to God’s voice.)

But back in the fall, right after Felicity’s first birthday, I was treated by my dear friend Jenna (lovingly known for her quirky online alterego, jennapants) to a concert by Sara Groves, Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, and others to highlight some ministries doing work with poverty, slavery, and childhood prostitution. I was shaken by it. I remember coming home and asking Abraham random things like, “Do you want to become an abolitionist with me?”

I remember wanting so deeply to get outside of myself for a little while and remember the plight of those around the world who have it so much worse than me.

But it’s been hard. To be honest, year #2 without Felicity has felt so much harder on many levels. A good friend of mine (whose 24-year-old son died a few weeks before Felicity) told me recently, “Year One is the year of shock. Year Two is the year of feeling.” How true that’s been for me.

But in all of that pain, I’ve still felt a tugging and longing to be part of this global effort outside of myself to see change in God’s big world.

I know things like poverty, prostitution, and slavery matter to God. Jesus told us that a cup of cold water matters to him.

So I’m trusting God that none of these experiences and longings have been accidental, that he is indeed doing something in my heart to bring greater measures of healing, bring me to a place of deeper dependence on him, show himself to me in new ways… I’m eager.

I’m trusting him that these non-accidents are going to set a tone for Year #3, the theme of which is yet to be experienced.

I really hope you’ll stay tuned through November and pray me through the trip to El Salvador. I’m really excited to share with you all what God is doing in that little country in His great big world.

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August 25, 2009 at 11:24 pm 51 comments

We used to be happy people… I even have proof.

In early September 2007, Abraham and I traveled to Wheaton, IL for “one last hurrah” before our second child would be born.

We left our 2-year-old with my mother-in-law and hit the road in a sporty-looking rental—a highly impractical red Pontiac. I remember we stopped for a leisurely lunch on our way there, and I kept my feet up on the dash for a good portion of the six hour trip to prevent swelling.

While in Wheaton, we distributed books to the college students, compliments of Desiring God (the company my husband works for). We also went out to eat, talked with students, visited with Abraham’s brother and his family and other good friends. We were footloose and fancy-free.

And I was 36 weeks pregnant.

We took this picture of us to email to Orison so that he’d know we were thinking about him and missing him.

We Love Orison

What strikes me most about this picture is how happy we look.

One of the things I’ve been grieving this last year is simply that I used to be a happy person. It used to be that my days were primarily happy, with the occasional interruption of melancholy or difficulty. For the last 22 months, the opposite has been mainly true.

One of my good friends uses the phrase “secondary losses.” I think that’s what this year has been—a whole bunch of secondary losses. The loss of innocence. The loss of happiness. The loss of youth.The loss of simplicity. And when you experience those secondary losses, you grieve.

I look at those two people and truly wonder if that is the same person I see in the mirror each day. I feel like I’ve aged something like 10 years since then.

Today, memories like this one make me cry—hard. We had no idea that we were a few weeks away from one of the worst tragedies we’ll ever face.

So if you’re a mom like me, living without one (or more) of your children, take heart that this is indeed one of the hardest things you will ever live through. But that also means that you lived.

The lines around your eyes will deepen. But that also means you’ve seen. You’ve seen the chaos of pain. Your eyes have and will shed tears for people in their pain that you could’ve never understood before. This is a blessed gift.

Hold on with me. We’re gonna make it. We might not be the happy-go-lucky gals we used to be, but our lives here will tell stories of indescribable loss and the love of a God who made us to be exactly who we are—every line, every gray hair. None of it is wasted.

July 23, 2009 at 12:15 am 111 comments

Grief Resources Over at Family Life

I had the privilege of reading the book, A Symphony in the Dark, a couple months ago. It has now been released, and you can order a copy or explore some of the other grief resources available over at Family Life.

You can also read more about little Molly Ann Mutz, daughter of Jake and Rebecca (nee Rainey) Mutz, and granddaughter to Dennis and Barbara Rainey (of Family Life). Molly Ann lived for a short seven days, leaving the imprint of her life in a profound and beautiful way, forever.

June 16, 2009 at 12:00 am 8 comments

My favorite grief song

I never knew I’d have grief songs, but I do. There’s actually a bunch of them, some of them having nothing to do with grief on the surface.

But since music is one of my love languages, it only makes sense that the most visceral experiences and emotions would mingle with music, something that can be so inexplicable and visceral in how it affects us.

Back in October, I went to see Sandra McCracken in concert. I had always loved her, but after this particular night it was cemented. She played a song called “The Tie That Binds,” written for a friend whose daughter had battled multiple infections of her brain after she was diagnosed with leukemia. The infections caused devastating amounts of tissue death and she’ll never fully recover. This all occurred before her 1st birthday.

The strange thing about it was, I knew the family who the song was written for. As soon as she sang the name “Amelia” I knew it was for a gal I knew in college when I lived in Lincoln, Nebraska for a summer. Her daughter is Amelia.

Enjoy the song, and remember your grieving friend. Pray for him or her. Cry tears for their loss. Bind yourself to them through brokenhearted love.

The Tie That Binds by Sandra McCracken

The sorrow of a friend
From a long way we stand
Grief is second hand
But I’ll send my tears in a locket

Amelia smiles under lights & wires
Thorns for every flower
We number every hour
And live the days we are given

Oh, the pain
It makes you feel alive
Oh, the broken heart is the tie that binds
And I pray to God, these things will be made right

When the morning shines
On tear stained eyes
Oh we shall overcome
The Father gave the Son
To break the curse we are under

Oh the pain that no man can escape
Oh the sting of death, the empty grave,
And I pray to God where comfort has no place

When our tired eyes look through the veil
The colors are so pale but we raise high the sail
And call the winds to carry us home
Call the winds to carry us home.

June 7, 2009 at 7:22 pm 35 comments

I’m 30… finally.

Today is my 30th birthday. Really, I’m cool with it. I’ve felt 30+ for a long time; it’s about time my chronological age matched up with my mental age.

As we reflected last night right after the stroke of midnight, the tears came. It wasn’t about being 30. It was lamenting the change in us that’s happened over the past 20 months. We’re no longer those happy-go-lucky, vibrant people we used to be. We’re haggard and weary and completely transformed. And it happened in an instant.

It’s as though when the doctor looked at us and said, “I’m afraid this baby is no longer living,” that a huge boulder dropped down onto the timeline of our lives, marking the point from which everything changed.

But, like I said in my post-Mother’s Day report, there’s sadness and joy on the same day, sometimes in the same minute.

Like last night. Right after this tearful conversation with Abraham, I popped over to his blog and saw a video that I could watch continually today. Everything inside of me that is joy rises up when I watch it.

And last night, before the tearful conversation, Abraham took me out for a wonderful birthday date. It was creative, surprising, sacrificial… I have an amazing husband.

And tonight is a dinner party with some of my closest friends. I’m really really excited for that.

So here we are again—joy and sorrow, sorrow and joy.

I’m thankful for waking up today to the faces of 3 of my family members. I’m thankful for the loving parents and parents-in-law who love me so well. And sisters and brothers and friends.

It’s a good day to be 30.

May 23, 2009 at 11:18 am 45 comments

Do you want to die this Mother’s Day?

For most of you who read this blog, Mother’s Day is a happy day, full of celebration and laughter as you behold the faces of your children—all your children.

For some of you who read here, Mother’s Day is part-celebration and part-torture. There’s sweetness in the faces of the husband and children who are here. But just about a millimeter away from those joys, a deep and bitter pain resides.

For some of you, there seems to be only torture and (what feels like) everlasting pain. Maybe you’ve miscarried all your children. Or maybe your only child is dead. Or maybe you long for children like nothing else on this earth and you still don’t have any. You probably feel like you’re not a mother. You probably feel like half a woman.

I’m in the second category. For me it’s because one of my children is missing. I have two precious boys, but my only daughter is missing. My little girl is missing.

I suppose “missing” implies that I don’t know where she is. But I do know where she is, I just can’t get to her.

Unless I died this Mother’s Day.

There have been many times when the pain has felt so intense that I was sure that it was going to kill me. And most of those times I thought I would’ve been happier if it had.

But I’m still here. And she’s still there.

So what’s a grieving woman to do on Mother’s Day?

  • Does she just end it now?
  • Does she hole up with her pain and steel herself against love?
  • Does she receive comfort from the Lord as she laments before him?

I want to live in #3. I want you to live in #3. I don’t want to miss one thing that he has for me through this pain.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really hard, long road. I have no idea how many twists and turns and bumps there will be. But I see him transforming me along this road of suffering. I know I haven’t been perfect in the transformation—I still fight anger, bitterness, hatred, fear, and jealousy all the time. I still rail against his plan for me.

Paul said this in Philippians 1:

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two.

Was Paul suicidal? No. He was giving words to the paradox that we live in as Christians. It would be “far better” to be with Jesus today. It would mean the end of the pain, the end of the tears, the end of the loneliness. It would mean beholding my precious baby girl.

But what did Paul conclude? He knew his presence in the flesh was necessary. He knew that God had plans for his life on earth. If God were finished with him, he would depart.

For probably all of us, today is not the day that God will fulfill all of his work in our lives and take us to be with him. As much as we might long for it, it’s probably not happening today.

What convincing do you need that your presence here is necessary?

  • Will a living baby do it?
  • Will a daughter (or son) do it?
  • Will the love of family and friends do it?

I think those things can certainly help, but even those amazing realities will never be what you and I truly need.

In the deepest part of me, I need Christ. I need his presence in my pain with me. I need his strength to carry my burden. I need his forgiveness for my constant distrust of his plan for my life. I need his peace to rest in, all the days I will live on earth, separated from my daughter.

I guess I want to encourage all of the mourners today to press into the pain with Jesus. Just go ahead and let it flow. Not only can he handle it, he’s the only one who can truly handle it and even heal it.

So as I live through another Mother’s Day without my Felicity, I’m going to laugh at the funny parts, cry at the sad parts, and let my love for her flow through all of it. That’s where I have to live this Mother’s Day.

May 9, 2009 at 5:23 pm 136 comments

30til30: My favorite blog series from one of my favorite people.

My best friend, Danielle, has been counting down on her blog to a very important milestone: her 30th birthday. She’s been writing a post each day for a month about a significant person/event/experience in her life that has shaped her. It’s sheer genius.

I’ve been meaning to link to this series for weeks now, but yesterday’s post about Felicity was especially powerful for Abraham and me, as we watched the 18-month mark of her death pass by. We spent time crying, talking, processing, reminiscing (as much as a bereaved brain can), and wondering about the future.

Danielle has loved me for as long as I can remember, and as the years have marched on, she’s just widened and expanded her love to include every new member of my family. She’s a sister, sister-in-law, and aunt around here. Her specific love for my daughter continually blesses me. She’s honored the life that Felicity lived, even if it was only in my womb. For this, I thank God. And I thank her.

Danielle, I love you more than I could ever express. Happy early birthday.

March 23, 2009 at 11:22 am 12 comments

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