Babies, Babies everywhere!

I love babies, I love friends having babies, and I love that Facebook has become, in recent years, what I have deemed “Baby Central.” But along with every uncontrollable smile, “eek!”, and cheek-squeeze in response to each swaddled burrito of cuteness comes a little twinge of hurt and a small but fleeting feeling of jealousy.

It’s ugly, I know. It’s discontent at it’s finest. Trust me, the Lord is dealing with me on all counts. I don’t feel as though I have been dealt a bad hand, and I wouldn’t say I am bitter (if you see this in me, please stage an intervention!) I would acknowledge, however, that I’m still grieving.

I listened to a podcast about grieving loss today while I was walking (an activity I have found to be very helpful when I’m feeling the blues). I was reminded by the speaker, who lost her daughter after 199 days of life, that contrary to popular belief, you can be sad and have joy at the same time. It might seem like an enigma to some, but it shouldn’t to Christians.

This has been particularly my experience. I DO have joy and carry on from day to day with a peace that only could come from the Lord. BUT… I’m still sad.

It’s only been 3 months. His headstone was just put into place. His due date hasn’t even come around yet. I don’t even think I’ve begun to deal with the full weight of what has happened to us.

But this woman who suffered such great, unfathomable loss reminded me that just as I expected those who love us to weep with me when we experienced our loss, I have the same responsibility to REJOICE with those who experience the wonderful things life has to offer (and there is nothing more wonderful than a newborn baby!).

Scripture is clear: Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15-16).

So, in the midst of my pain, when my sadness seems like it might win, I will choose to rejoice because that’s exactly what I’m commanded to do.

So bring on the babies, and bring on the JOY!

**This post is not written in response to any birth or birth announcement. There has been no perfect time to post this since this baby boom began!

The gift of a ministry

I’ve always been a dreamer, and I’ve long dreamed of serving God in BIG ways. I’ve specifically asked that God would use my passion for writing in HIs kingdom work. The answer to that plea, however, was not even close to what I had envisioned or ever would have dreamt up myself.

Though I wouldn’t realize it until a few days later, the answer came on the morning of May 14, as I lay heartbroken in an ultrasound room having received the news that the precious boy I had been carrying for 21 weeks was no longer thriving inside me. We shared the news with family but didn’t let it go much further for a little under 24 hours. I wanted my secret pain to be just that- secret.

I posted a status update on Wednesday morning, 8 hours after Ezra had been delivered and about 5 since we said our final goodbyes: I delivered our precious baby BOY (approximately 17 weeks gestational age) at 12:35 this morning. Sweet Ezra Coleman weighed 5.8 oz and was 7 in. long. We thank God for the gift of life, no matter how short, and we rejoice knowing our son is safe and whole in the arms of Jesus.

It was short and to the point. It communicated my heart at that time, but it didn’t express how painful the experience was. I wasn’t ready to make that public knowledge. Maybe I was putting up a strong front as I had done for my family. I spent much of my time making sure no one was uncomfortable, which, of course,in hindsight, I know was pointless. We were all hurting.

The next morning, when I woke up, along with tears came an idea that seemed like it had been planted in my head: I couldn’t keep this story of grace to myself. I had to write the ways that God was working as He was doing it or else He would never receive the glory that He deserves for sustaining us the way He did during this excruciating time in our lives.

So I wrote. Through tears, through doubts, and devastating grief. I wrote with family next to me, trying to comfort me, but nothing was as therapeutic as putting it down. Writing has always been a release for me. It made me recognize His hand in it all, put into words those He spoke to me, and accept what He had allowed in our life.

But that was not all I hoped for it. I wanted it to, first, bless the name of the Lord, who gives and takes away. I also wanted it to speak to those who had suffered loss or who were experiencing difficulty in their lives. I wanted it to say, “God is good. He knows our pain, and He will carry us.” Finally, I wanted it to speak to those who grieve that have no hope, that I have it only because I have Jesus Christ.

It was hard to do, but I wrote. And people read. People from many cultural, family, and religious backgrounds. I heard from many people whom I had never met who wrote to tell me they were touched by Ezra’s three part story. When Ezra was born, my ministry was born. And though, like his life, it may have been short lived, I am thankful it had its moment.

I will likely never have as many readers as I had those first few days after his birthday. I will probably never have the opportunity to influence like I did during that time, but I do know that I can minister to the heart of each mommy that suffers this kind of loss one heartbreaking case at a time. While my ministry was once many words in the public sphere, the words that mean the most will be the ones silently uttered to my Heavenly Father. I can pray for these women in a way that most people can’t. It may sound strange, but my loss paved the way to a dream come true!

If I had known that being used in a BIG way would mean MAJOR loss in my life, would I dare to dream? I’m afraid I would not. I’m just glad that God is the author of my story, and all He asks of me is to tell it!

 

Still Yet Songs to Sing

My dad has often blessed me with his gift of poetry, but never more than He did with this which he wrote soon after the loss of our precious son, Ezra Coleman.

Sitting close in my truck beside me
My angel would sing her tune.
The joy that came from those little lips,
Was larger than sun or moon.
My princess there beside me,
My world was so complete.
The songs that flowed from her heart
The melody so sweet.

Adult-life brought some shadows
Temporarily throwing you off key
But I view your strength and faith
It is an awesome sight to me.
This mournful moment slammed you.
Others are silenced by such a thing
But I know my Precious Princess-
There are songs yet for you to sing.

The loss of your son wounds us all.
But no one more than you.
Though I trust in God- I often think,
I would have loved to hear his song, too.
And we will some day- I know it.
Beside him, we will bow
Singing praise to He who will open our eyes
To what He has allowed.
For then we will understand
And see that it was right
But it’s okay, you’re not weak
If tears haunt you at night.

So sit here close beside me
I want to hear your voice
No other spot under heaven-
No- beside you would be my choice.
Bellow both your joy and pain-
Just let your lovely tune ring.
And know, my Precious Princess,
There are still yet songs to sing.

I love you,
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Ordering a Headstone

After Ezra’s birth, we took some time to rest but have since hit the road and have been as busy as ever. It has been surprisingly easy to get back into our routine and live life as normally as possible. While there are still those moments where I ache for my little one, I have been busy enough to distract myself from the hole that remains in my heart.  However, one little detail, one little decision totally threw off that routine for me and has sent me back into the pit of emotions I found myself in the week following Ezra’s birth.

After putting off the decision for a few weeks, it was time to order a headstone. There is nothing at his gravesite to show he is there. Not even his name…I feel like somebody dropped the ball on that one! Thankfully, I know he is right next to sweet baby Wesley Tolson.

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Picking out the actual stone was not the hard part. That was easy because, well, there wasn’t much to pick from, and we had a few non-negotiable things that we were looking for. But when it came down to picking a “phrase of endearment” for Ezra’s headstone, I was at a loss. How do you honor a precious little life, acknowledge a deep sense of loss, and praise the Savior who got you through it all in four words or less? If you’ve ever read my blog you, of course, know that I am a wildly wordy woman! I can take the simplest sentence and stretch it into a vividly descriptive paragraph fit for a fantasy novel. So, naturally, this was difficult for me.

I put undue pressure on myself to come up with this perfect phrase, although my husband who knows me so well it scares me, reminded me that nothing we picked would be good enough for me. I was afraid he was right!

After much googling, debate, and discussion, as well as a tearful visit to our precious boy’s gravesite, Paul basically forced me to make a decision. In fact, he threatened to smack me if I came home from the cemetery without my mind made up. Of course, he was kidding!

I feared that I would feel like it was all over. This seemed like the last step and the last thing we would ever be able to do for our baby. I know, it’s kind of silly; he doesn’t know and doesn’t care. And as my sweet friend, Stephanie Cornwell reminded me during a particularly stressed-out moment, he is too busy worshipping at the feet of Jesus to care what his headstone says! I knew she was right, and thankfully, after the decision was made, I didn’t feel the way I feared I would at all. I felt as though I let out a big, satisfying sigh. 

It’s not over, but one of the hardest parts is.

The phrase we chose for our sweet baby’s grave is the phrase that my precious friend, Holly Pearson had engraved on the beautiful necklace she had made for me and gave me on the day of Ezra’s memorial: “May God Be Glorified.”

For these grieving parents, those four little words just say it all.

Filling in the Cracks

A date night, a pedicure, and a new hairstyle
(all provided by sweet missionary friends). 

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Family time at home and friend-made meals/”fat week.”

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Boating in Tennessee, and now camp at Fort Bluff.

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ImageHealing looks a lot different than I thought it would.

While I am painfully aware that none of these things can bring back my boy, I am pleasantly surprised how they have helped bring ME back little by little (and trust me, there’s a long way to go!). I should also mention that this version of myself I sense rising to the surface is not the same as the girl that walked into the ultrasound room on May 14; it’s a different “me,” forever changed, but, thankfully, not a finished product.

The Lord has shown Himself to me in BIG, incredible ways through my time with Him, and I am not discrediting that in ANY way. I praise Him for His faithfulness to speak to me through His Word and the Holy Spirit; I guess I just kind of figured that would happen! 

But He has also whispered His love to me through fuzzy feelings, comforting conversations, and summer sunsets. Perhaps, I have just become more sensitive to His hand in my life, more aware of His constant, comforting presence, and more in awe of the beauty that He surrounds me with to the point that EVERYTHING seems like a hand-crafted gift of love from my Father. I feel like a dried up sponge soaking up every drop of His goodness, and though my arms are empty, my heart feels full. Naturally, it remains, for the moment, broken, but I trust Him to continue to fill all the space the cracks provide with MORE of His overwhelming, perfect love and MORE of His boundless, infinite goodness.

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds (Psalm 147:3).

 

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