Monday, July 8, 2013

Casting My Cares on Him

"I will cast my cares on You the Almighty,
I will cast my cares on You cause You're Good,
I will cast my cares on You cause You love me, You love me.
All, All, All,  because You love me."
 _ "Cast My Cares" by Tim Timmons_

Today, I am definitely feeling confident in who God is and where He is leading me. Although I am a pastor's wife, that doesn't mean I am always sure of God's plans for my life.  I have days where I think, "God this is not a good plan... what are You thinking?!" It's funny to look back on those times and think that God was probably kind of of laughing at me saying, "Really Leah? You're going to ask ME if this is a good idea?!  My child, if only you could see the bigger picture." I love when He gives me glimpses of His bigger plan.

My husband, Jared, described it perfectly to someone the other day. He told a couple at our church that we're going through a season where God reveals something that we want to to jump on right away, but God says "Wait, there's more."

How about that? "Wait, there's more."

God's like the ultimate game show host who always has more for you. Even in the darkest hours, He has good things for you. All He asks is for you to "cast your cares on Him". That's all. I wish the simplicity of that request would slap me on the forehead like those V8 commercials when I feel like I have no clue what to do.

Today, I feel at peace. Sure, it probably has something to do with the new job I'm starting on the 22nd. But I also think it has something to do with the battle we are fighting to win Elkhart for Christ. "My God is so big and so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do." That's a verse from a song we learned at Sports Camp and it's stuck with me. The truth in it is so powerful. I love singing and dancing to it. Just like a child.

So let me ask you this, what words are sticking with you?

Are they truths of goodness, or lies of despair? 

Which one are you going to let linger? I would challenge you to grab old of His truth and don't let go.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Finding the Balance

After much urging by my husband... here I am again. About to divulge my heart and feelings for a page on the internet that I don't even know who reads. But it's a good feeling to know someone is reading this and can get a glimpse of how reality hits and we have to grab onto God's hope and keep pushing onward. As I've been contemplating the point of my blog, I've seen that it's morphed into a platform for me to get rid of the taboo of not discussing miscarriages and a way for me to reach women who may not know how to talk about it. I'm a communicator so it has to come out in words some how... why not a blog?

So the other day I went to the library and looked up books on miscarriages and was surprised at how few there are. Maybe 10 in all the libraries in the Mishawaka/South Bend area. I ended up bringing two home. One was a lot of stats on them and how a childless father researched it for himself after his wife was unable to carry multiple children to full term.

But it was the second book that grabbed my attention.

It was about a woman who has one daughter, lost 3 children, then how she did all that she could to carry her 5th child (a boy) to full term. I found it hard to read at times because it wasn't just a story - it was reality. She was honest about her fears and shared alot of the information she found in studies on miscarriages. But she also had no joy in her last pregnancy. It was a very sad, depressing story about how she took all this burden on herself. She all but stated that if she miscarried again it would be her fault for not doing all she could prevent it.

When I first started reading it, I began thinking this way. I needed to know why I miscarried and how to prevent it from happening again. I didn't want to take chances.
But then where did my Faith in God fit in to all that?
I met with a very wise woman and was sharing with her all of this when she stopped me mid sentence and said "Leah, I'm hearing a lot of "I have to". You're taking on a lot of responsibility for things that are beyond your control. That's not healthy."
It was the slap upside the head that I needed to pull myself out of this muck I was letting myself sit in. Looking back, I'm glad I read that book so I know what a pregnancy can look like when you do it in your own power, never letting God carry your burden and carry you through. It's amazing to me how stressed this woman let herself become because she was on her own. Always pushing doctors to do more, and fighting to not connect with the child inside for fear of losing him, all while trying to deal with the trauma of her past pregnancies. She was so alone. 
I don't want that to be my story. That thought urges me to write. To talk about Elisha. To share the joy along with the pain.To connect with Jared even if it's a hard conversation. To do the best with what I know at this point to help prepare my body for another baby when we 're ready. The rest is in God's hands. Some days that's easier to let go of, where others I wish I had a list I could check off and at the end say "Okay, I'm ready!" and know without the shadow of a doubt that there will be a healthy baby at the end of the journey.

Then there's reality. Sitting there. Unrelenting. And I know this is the way it has to be. I can wish for that magical list all I want, but it will never happen. So instead, I am asking God what He wants me to do with this part of me. How Jared and I can reach others that have gone through the same heartache. I'm contemplating writing a book. Goodness knows my blogs are long enough! Please leave comments if you've read this. It encourages me and lets me know I'm reaching someone. Sometimes I feel like I'm babbling so an encouraging word would go a long way...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Emotional Ups and Downs

“Don’t let your emotions control you.”

Boy, is that easier said than done! I feel like that’s been my battle these past 6 months. God has a funny timing with things. Let me explain. On June 1st, it will have been six months since our little Elisha Gregory went to Heaven. Then on June 2nd, Jared and I will be celebrating our One Year Anniversary! A little bittersweet, but I’m looking forward to both milestones. It means we’re moving forward and embracing what gifts, trials, and blessings the Lord has seen fit to give us.

As these dates fast approach, I am finding myself juggling lots of emotions. Today I got a call from my OBGYN informing me that I need to be on Progesterone permanently. I feel naïve for having thought that I just needed to take it for a few months so my body would get a kick-start on producing the hormone like normal. The call was like a sucker-punch to the abdomen. I was surprised at how emotional I got over this bit of news.

Thankfully, my husband is phenomenal at coaxing my thoughts out of me. You see, to me this phone call was like a confirmation of why we lost Elisha. I’m sure you’re sitting there thinking, “that’s not true!” I know it may not be, but that thought still lingers – good or bad. It’s also just frustrating that this wasn’t taken care of before. I could blame people or myself, but that would get us no where. And even still, I find moments where I’m content to be where I am in life on the family status. Not pregnant. You may think this sounds awful, but there are some perks to not being 7 months along. Don’t get me wrong, I would be swollen and proud of it if Elisha was still in my womb, but I’m learning to be content.

No more “ should be”. Instead I am embracing the “I’m not. It hurts sometimes, but I’m ok” mentality. Along with that, I’ve decided it’s best for me to leave Facebook for a season. With so many friends having babies and swollen bellies, it just sends me on an emotional roller coaster later in the day after I get on. I’m happy for them, I just need a little more space from it all. So I decided to stop inundating myself with baby news via Facebook where it’s ALL OVER my news feed.

I know it won’t be like this forever. For this season, I am choosing to be more wise with what I let myself dwell on and how much I see of certain things that are triggers for me. I am learning that my heart is still fragile, but God is good and I am to be a wise steward of protecting it. For those friends of mine that are pregnant, I’m not cutting off all connection, just on Facebook.  I want to hear how you are doing and am praying daily for health over you and the baby! I look forward to seeing and holding your baby someday… especially my sister’s. Callie May is due two weeks after our Elisha would have been. I know I will cry, but they will be tears of healing and happiness and gratitude for the life we had and for the life, that remains.

He is a good God, Always. And with that I can say, it is well with my soul.

Friday, March 29, 2013

What Does Normal Look Like?

As Jared and I have gone through some of the most trying times of our lives since we've been married (moving, changing jobs, church planting,etc)  nothing could have prepared us for the loss of our child. It has now been almost 3 months since our precious little one went to be with the Father. At the start of the grieving process, I contemplated quitting my job and was glad when I finished my 2 weeks notice. I prayed for a low stress job and ended up landing a delivery gig for a local florist. I am currently only allowed to do arrangements for the owners of deceased pets (it's okay to laugh)- among other things, but I will be moving up as my skill level increases! I am so thankful for this job, but in it I have begun to wrestle with delivering flowers to funeral homes. At first, it didn't bother me. But with Easter coming up, I am reminded that God knows our pain of losing our only child, I have been thinking about how our own child may never be remembered the way others who lived long lives do.

Now, I don't want you to think I am writing this to get sympathy or flowers or what have you. No, I am writing this because of how culture tends to see miscarriages. There is usually a condolence given and then nothing more. I'm not sure if it's because no one knows how to handle the loss of a person that was never "born" or if women are holding themselves responsible and thus grieve behind closed doors - ashamed to tell others that they couldn't bring forth life. It's a hard one to sort out. And each woman has her own way of grieving, just as each person has their own way of showing sympathy.

But I urge you. Don't forget them! The mother and the father are still trying to find what that normal in their lives should look like. This precious gift that was given to them and taken too soon was loved just as much as any other child they may have. So think on those who have had a miscarriage. Whether it was recently or years ago. Write them a note. Send them a letter. DO SOMETHING   to let them know you recognize their child. Last night, I came home to find a gift on my back door step. Inside was a beautiful blanket and 3 cards. 3 couples wanted to remind us that they were praying for us and show us they cared, knowing that we were still trying to grasp this new reality without our baby. Today as I sat wrapped in that blanket, I prayed for these couples that God would bless them more than they had Jared and me.

My own mother had 4 miscarriages. 3 were fairly close together and a friend wrote a beautiful poem/letter to my mother as if it were written by her children. This was framed and hung in the hallway for all to see. I remember reading it many times as I grew up. Mary, Joseph, Faith, and Isaiah were all remembered in our house.

What I am asking of you is please not to forget those children lost to a miscarriage. Reach out to the moms and dads.

p.s. Celebrating the life that was is helpful too. See where the mother is at, and let them dwell on how big their child would be now. Give them a place to share their joy along with their pain. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Shattered Dream, Broken Hearts

A lot has happened in my life since I last blogged on here. I’ve learned and grown a lot over these past 9 months of marriage. Not just about myself, but about how my husband and I work together through everything we promised we would in our vows. 

Life is crazy and messy and sometimes it hurts more than we think we can handle, but the truth is… God is good through it all. Now, there was a time when I would have scoffed at that statement and said, “Yeah right. How good is a God that allowed me to miscarry our first child?” Truth is, that was a dark time for Jared and me. Well, there are days it still is. It’s only been 2 months, but the hurt is still there and very near. I’m getting ahead of myself, let me back up a bit.

It’s mid December and I just started working at Bashor Children’s Home in Goshen. This was my first real job since college and I was about to learn how intense it could be – working with mal-adapted children that have been abused, abused others, or used drugs definitely has its stressers! Earlier that week, I’d been feeling funny. My stomach had weird twinges and I was more hungry than normal. Thanks to my handy dandy charting for Family Planning, I was able to realize sooner than most that it was time to take a pregnancy test. We had some on hand from bridal gag gifts so I got up on a Saturday morning and went straight to take a test – Jared had no idea, he was playing a video game or something.
When that second pink line started to show up, I yelled “Jared! Come Here!” He came thinking he needed to kill a bug for me, but it didn’t take long for him to put 2 and 2 together with the pregnancy test on the counter and my shocked expression. The conversation went like this…

“Are we pregnant?!”
“umm… yes?”
“This is crazy.”
“Holy cow we’re pregnant!”
“We are having a baby!”

A few days later, we went and saw our family practitioner who suggested we see a Dr. who could help determine whether my hormone levels were high enough, but other than that we were good to go. We announced to my in-laws at our Christmas gathering with a black onesie that said “Baby Gregory August 2013” Less than a week later, Jared had chest pains and fainted, so we went to the ER. He was released soon after – it wasn’t heart issues, PTL! – but then I was checked in. I had been bleeding and wanted to make sure the baby was ok. We had a VERY early ultra sound and 3-D ultra sound. Little did we know these would be the only images we’d have of our baby. We were about 6 ½ weeks along. Everything checked out ok and I was released with an understanding to keep an eye on the spotting and take pre-natal vitamins. 

The next day we told my family and 2 days later, we realized that all 4 of us older siblings were expecting in 2013. My older sister, Lindsay, and I were only a week apart. We’ve always been close so this was an extra fun surprise for us! 

Now it’s New Year’s Day and I was working at Bashor again… I had just eaten dinner and then it happened. There is nothing more inhumane to me than having to flush your unborn child down a toilet as you sit there helplessly knowing there’s nothing you can do for something so small that you love so much. Words can’t describe the helplessness, disappointment, loss, pain, and guilt. It’s hard to not wonder what went wrong. “Why did my body reject such a precious gift?” There could be a million answers to that question, but I chose to not blame myself and I’m not going to hate my body for it. 

3 days later, my best friend got married and I was able to stand beside her as her matron of honor. In the middle of the reception, my oldest sister gave birth to my 3rd niece(on the Smith side), Emily Mavis. I am very grateful that the LORD gave Jared and I the grace and strength to see her 2 hours old. It was hard at first, but I’ll never forget how it helped my hurting heart just a little bit to hold that tiny bundle. I know it meant a lot to my sister and brother-in-law as well.

 It’s hard not to cry as I type this. It helps to go over the details… re-live the good things. Healing is a process and Jared and I are learning how to go through it one day at a time. Let me leave you some ways you can help us heal…

1.       PLEASE! Do acknowledge that Jared and I are parents. We may not have living children, but we do have a child… birth certificate or not.
2.       Please do NOT tell us anything you wouldn’t tell parents that lost their 4yr old. To quote Doctor Seuss, “a person’s a person, no matter how small”
3.       Also, please refrain from saying things like “you can try again” or “the next egg will stick” or “you’ll have kids and they’ll be such a blessing”. I know all these things. When these things are said, I honestly want to hit someone. So this leads to my next helping point…
4.       Sometimes saying nothing means more than speaking when you’re not sure what to say.
5.       Acknowledging in some way that we’ve lost a child is more meaningful than anything.
6.       Please refrain from telling your whole story if you have gone through the same thing. I know you understand my situation, but my hurt is different. Please do not compare. Simply saying, “I have miscarried as well, and know it’s a hard healing process” is really all I need. If I invite you to share your story... feel free!

For now, we are finding our “new normal”. I hate it, but am learning to go through it anyway and some days I think about our child more than others. Sometimes I have to refrain myself from turning green when I see pregnant women. Just depends on how I’m doing that day. But I am healing…. One day at a time, one hug at a time, one tear at a time.