Monday, December 7, 2015

Full Circle

          A year ago on December 7th, our precious Pearl would no longer be here with us. My, what a topsy-turvy road this has been since. There have been plenty of low points, but so much support for our family. So many of you blessed me with support, in particular. I do not know what I would have done without that this year. Seasons of life come and go and right along with that comes death as well. This we all know, but that doesn't make it easier for any of us to go through when it is our own season of sadness and separation.
          A month ago someone asked me to recount what I felt the Lord taught me through this year's experience and I wasn't quite sure I had an answer ready. I did tell her though that I learned to think of miscarriage differently in some ways than I had before, even though I wasn't a stranger to this kind of loss. I'm not sure if I've ever actually said before, “Well, this {whomever's miscarriage} was the Lord's will”, but I certainly know I've heard people say this before and never questioned if that statement was true. This year confirmed with me, however, that this thought that God willed the death of my baby has to be wrong. I wrestled with the thought of God “willing” my miscarriage a lot this year, but He never showed me that my miscarriage was His own good will. Then one day, God revealed something to me through the kind words of a friend. The friend wasn't talking to me directly, but was refuting the writing of someone else. He said that sometimes the hard things we face aren't because God wants to teach us something or to grow us. He said that sometimes the world is simply just that broken. I think my friend offered very wise words that day. Our bodies are broken because the world is broken. We live in a fallen world and there are children that are starving who never deserve to. Those heartaches in this world are cared about very much by our heavenly Father.  I was sexually abused as a child, but it wasn't because God didn't care about me or that He wanted to teach me some kind of important lesson. I do believe he used the yucky parts of my life for His good even though I don't believe He purposed the awful to happen. So I'll share with you what I DO believe to be true about all of the yuck in this world, including miscarriage. God doesn't specifically cause evil, awful, ugly things to happen to us, but he DOES do this: “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I don't think He allowed us to go through this terrible year in order to teach us some valuable lesson, but I do believe that He taught me some from it anyway. -Because He's just that kind of faithful God.
          I gained further realization that when God blesses me with the gift of a growing life inside of me, that each moment is a gift even when it doesn't result with me holding a precious life in my arms. You never know how long you will get to hold any single life in your own body or arms, so living it in fear of any kind is futile. I say this not because I lived that pregnancy in fear, but because the "gift" part is the reason I don't want my experience with grief over my last pregnancy to make me afraid of any other pregnancy.  I just hope that I can take and live any single moment of unpleasant pregnancy “bliss” in the future to the fullest. I need to enjoy (in some way) any moment given to me. I remember when I was pregnant with our sixth child, I often would teasingly say, “Pregnancy has lost its luster for me!” I must admit that pregnancy in my 30s has been more of a challenge than it was when I had my first three children in my 20s, and I think that I was honestly ready to skip the unpleasantries and value my favorite parts: delivery, nursing... even the sleepless nights! These were all honest thoughts (and not in and of themselves wrong to admit, I guess), but they are thoughts that would soon bring me sadness when the challenges of the next pregnancy were never struggled through in the same way. It was over much too quickly!
          In this season I also truly, fully realized that nothing about pregnancy and fertility is guaranteed. This realization about non-guaranteed fertility sounds simple, but I didn't realize that I took my fertility for granted until I could not quickly conceive again after my miscarriage. That literally broke my heart. The fact that it broke my heart really surprised me! When Whitley and I decided to give the Lord our family size, I remember spending time sort of fearful of how many children I'd have and had no idea I would ever one day be mourning not being able to have more. ...And then I had a miscarriage that changed my body and made me think that the time of not having any more children came way too soon for me.
          Another thing I gleaned from this year was the importance of what I was praying. I spent so much time this year praying, “God, would you please just help me learn what I'm supposed to learn so I can just get on with a normal life? You know, the kind that involves babies!?!” It might not have been the “wrong” prayer, but it wasn't the best one, I guess. One day it hit me that I needed to pray more so for help truly basking in what He had already given me. Don't hear me say that I didn't appreciate or value or love the children we already had. But during this crazy time of mourning, I needed to plea for His help in treasuring life instead of only mourning over death.  Yes, pregnancy and nursing has been a part of normal life for us for fifteen years now, but what happens when that is no longer the “norm?” I began to ask Him for the mercy to, yes, be able to grow a new life again, but also for the grace and thoughtfulness to truly live each day with my children as though it were my very last.
          Mostly, I have been celebrating small moments of peace every day for the last few months.  I've spent time recovering from the regrets that often overtook me and truly, completely realized that though God's sovereignty may not have caused my grief, He was still Lord over it anyway. He is still who He says He is. He is still a loving Father who loves to create, to redeem, to heal, to vindicate, to protect, to cherish, and to tenderly calm the grieving hearts of His children. He is faithful. -Oh, so faithful.
          Today, the year has come around in full circle. Last year on December 7th, while our country remembered the Pearl Harbor attack, we also began what would end up being some of the darkest moments of our family's life.  Eventually I ended up deeply depressed with an intense struggle to just get out of the house and be who Jesus says I am. If you received a note of encouragement from me this year, it's probably because I was saying to you what I either needed to hear or what I needed to proclaim. I encouraged you because that is who Jesus made me to be... an encourager.  I remember sending a card to every single hospital nurse who came in contact with me when I had my D&C, as well as my doctor.  I'm not telling you this for any glory of my own, but to tell you that somehow loving and giving to people who are His hands and feet to others on the crappiest days of their lives was the thing that made the most sense to me.  This is the kind of person that I want to be.    -And if we can be who Jesus says we are even on the most awful days of our lives, Satan is DEFEATED! (“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Rev. 12:11)  I lived through many of the coming months not feeling like much of an overcomer, but when I take a glance back over my shoulder I see it.  ...And I feel Romans 8:37.  If you are someone who read my miscarriage blog, you were part of my healing and the encouragement that He gave back to me.  Thank all of you.

Last year, three days after the D&C I sang:

There's a hole the shape of heaven nothing here on earth can fill, 
there's an aching deep inside us; we are restless until 
we realize the reason for the hollow in our hearts.  
Jesus, all we need is all you are.  

A precious friend, Sarah Erwin, had a bracelet made for me that had words inscribed on it from this song. What a gift and memory this moment in time and that bracelet is for me.

For this year's cantata, I get to sing words like:

Calm the waves, then calm my fears;
Heal the lame, then heal my heart;
Light the world, then light my way

Oh, how faithful He is to do all of these things and more.  To top it all off, today on December 7th we've decided it is time to speak about a new life we are expecting and not only mourn over the death we experienced last year.  We got to see him or her for the 3rd time early this morning!  In honor of our sweet Pearl today, there is nothing that can replace what we feel we lost.  It is amazing though to feel the renewed hope that we have as these anniversary dates go by that were so very sad.  We have had our share of concerns but have had great care from a wonderful specialist who continues to reassure us.  Our Great Physician reassures us too, of course, and has provided so much wonderful care to us through care-givers He obviously placed on our path!

Welcome to our hearts, newest sweet Bradberry
(Now that I know that sonograms are awful triggers for some grieving mamas, if you would enjoy seeing him/her you can click on the link.  This particular clip has more to hear than to really see.  If that is hard for whatever reason, you are met with complete, utter understanding here!!). 

 For as long as we are able to hold you, sweet one, we will point you to the One who gives the calm, the healing, and the endless light.  Your family loves you!


  1. Love you!!! What a lovely tribute, both to Pearl, and to the God that continues to walk with you. Happy for you, my dear, dear friend. :)

  2. God bless you sweet Shelly!! You are right - we live in a broken world, and you are right - God is so faithful. I rejoice with your family as you walk these next months!!

    1. Thank you, Carol for your encouragement! We are so excited.