Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Living Death

Have you ever had your perspective opened up to the point where you could see that the circumstances of your life were spun and crafted around bringing you to the place where you are right now?

I was drifting before Nicholas & Olivia entered my life. I worked, spent time with family and friends, cared for my home. No real goals, no big dreams, nothing bigger than myself other than the occasional life situation that was hard to handle. We decided to get pregnant again around Sabrina's 4th birthday, realizing that she needed a sibling and none of us were getting any younger. There was no burning desire to have lots of children. That would have disrupted my inertia.

With the news of twins on the way, my life got turned upside down. This was something way bigger than I could handle. Here I first learned about reaching out to others for help. I never needed to before. I was more than capable to accomplish what I needed to, or I just didn't do it.

With the news of terminal illness threatening to take my children, my upside-down life imploded. The only thing I could do was ride on God's grace and the support of others. Grieving brought out things in me I never knew were there. Things that have held me down and held me back for a long time. I faced insecurity, fear of rejection, perfectionism, and the realization that while I knew of Christ and leaned on Him, I never really knew His love.

God has been working in my life in amazing ways over the last few years, and He has opened my perspective to as much as I can handle to see how He has brought me to this point. I had a revelation on Friday morning that I can hardly explain, that reminded me that because I opened my heart up to love my children, they will always be with me in a way that will never be unbroken. And where love is, God is, because God is love. Opening my heart up to risk loving others, even if the cost is pain and brokenness, has brought me to such a place of incredible hope.

At 34 years of age, I realized I have not a single big goal, dream, or vision for my life. I don't know if I've been too afraid to try for fear of failing, but I do know now that self-protecting is a living death. God's Word reminds us that "without a vision, the people perish." Living a half-life, fearful of getting hurt, gets you exactly what you expect. Less than a full life.

And Jesus came so we would have Life! and Life Abundant! Is your life an abundant life? Or are you worshiping at the feet of Safety, weary from protecting yourself from getting hurt? Wondering if this is all there is? If there is one thing I have learned it's that if you're going to get hurt, preparing yourself ahead of time for it never makes it any easier to bear. And you're only robbing yourself of all the life you could experience in the meantime.

I have decided that I will not prepare myself for the worst, because I have realized that I don't really know what the worst is. It is also not within my ability to protect myself. That's what I have a Protector for. He has enabled me to love all my children with all my heart and trust Him that His Word is true. I am ready to step out and live Life! the way He meant it to be.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:18

I've thought a lot about this verse over the last couple of years. Sometimes with incredulity ("how can I give thanks for this?"), sometimes in obedience ("I will give thanks because I choose to"), sometimes with submission ("because You are good and I believe in Your word, I will give thanks"), and sometimes with heartfelt gratitude.

Look at the wording of the verse. Giving thanks is not an option. It is the very will of God for those who claim to follow Christ. Because it is God's will, I believe that thanksgiving is therefore something that is beneficial for us.

Sometimes during worship, a song comes up that was part of one of the twins' memorial services. I love hearing those songs now because while we were walking through our "valley of the shadow of death" something rose up in me that defiantly chose to worship the Lord and give thanks even while everything looked its worst. I love to remember how God led me to fight back the despair and darkness with thanksgiving and how much power there was in choosing to praise instead of curse. Even the remembering is powerful.

On Thanksgiving we look around at what we have and are grateful. We remember to give thanks for our many blessings, share abundant meals together, and enjoy family traditions. How many of us have looked at the dark things in our life today and asked God for the strength to thank Him in those things too?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Set Free

God spoke to me through a good friend the other day. I had been agonizing over what to do with the upcoming 2nd annversary of Nicholas' death. We spent last year's 1st anniversary quietly together, also not knowing what to do then.

What complicated it this year is that we are also planning a family trip with other family friends scheduled to start that day and into the weekend. Would we be disrespectful or irreverent or selfish by having fun together on a day that represents something so hard?

As I was trying to sort through my uncertainty about it all, she broke through with straightforward honesty and set me free. If you wanted to celebrate a person, wouldn't you choose something like their birthday? Why would you want to focus on the day they died? There's a difference to giving space to the energy that comes with the hard things that we went through when we had to say goodbye, and to trying to do right by making a monument out of the day.

I realized I was trying to do the "right thing" and by putting myself under that pressure was not giving myself the freedom to process the feelings around that day in whatever way was best. It is not wrong or selfish to spend time as a family together. Celebrating our family in the face of remembering our hard times is what makes us stronger.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Since I wrote my last post, I've been thinking about shrapnel. About the process by which the human body heals itself from penetrating trauma by slowly and surely bringing the shrapnel to the surface so it can be released.

Instead of jagged pieces of metal and glass, I'm carrying around pieces of a different kind. A broken heart. Shattered dreams. Crushed expectations. And while I live and breathe and work and play and function, it still takes me by surprise when some of these jagged pieces work their way to the surface. I should know better by now.

I remind myself that this is part of the healing process and my wound was not a clean wound. It is one that will take time to heal.

If you're familar with the movie Ironman, you'll remember he had to have a magnetic device implanted in his heart in order to repel the shrapnel in his body that threatened to pierce his heart and kill him. I'm thankful that I don't have to depend on anything that is within my ability to create to protect my heart. My Healer is orchestrating my healing process and knows exactly what I need to ensure the jagged pieces of my wound work their way out instead of in.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Colored With Grief

I don't know why I get so annoyed with grieving. I told a friend today that if anyone else who had been in my situation expected to not experience lifelong effects of grief I would think they were crazy.

What I'm more annoyed with is everything now is colored with it. I've been very emotional lately and if I hadn't been through losing the twins I would have chalked it up to pregnancy hormones and laughed it off. But there's always the question of whether it is something more. Am I headed for another griefburst? Is there something that I'm not in touch with that needs to be released?

For me, grieving is not a continual ache or agony. It is a wistful longing, interspersed with storms of emotional release. It is long periods of peace punctuated with confusion and anger. It's the dark clouds appearing on the horizon just when I'm starting to think it's been quite a while since I've seen them. It's understandable that this pregnancy is going to be emotional. I just wish it didn't need to be colored with grief too.