Thursday, June 19, 2014

Room In The Psalms

I read a book recently in which the main character was a piano student. Her teacher forced her to learn hymns so that the words would be rooted deep in her heart for use at an appropriate time. The girl became a prodigal daughter of sorts and through her wanderings, her mistakes, and her pain, those words would spring up in her head and she couldn't push them out. They flooded her rebellious and hurting heart with Truth.

I totally get it. Music permeates - it has a way of getting right to one's soul, cutting out the superfluous. It has been doing this to me lately, and I admit I don't always like it.

Singing on the worship team at my church is a privilege and something I really enjoy. But it is not always easy to get up week after week and sing songs. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love it and I love Jesus - I feel called to proclaim the Gospel to people in this way and wouldn't change it. But oh, there are days when it is tough.

Within two weeks of losing our first baby I was back there, standing in front of my brothers and sisters in Christ, singing. Some days it's hard to get the words out. 

There was one Sunday, I believe after our second loss, I cried during a song we were singing in the choir. And let me tell you, there are few things more miserable than crying on stage and not being able to do anything about it. That song spoke to my broken heart.

There are also Sundays where those songs are a balm, a banner over me, promises from God. Those days the songs are my hope and I cling to those words of encouragement. Those days the songs are reminders of God's provision and his love, that He is able to do immeasurably more than what we ask. And those are great Sundays!

Then there are Sundays, like Mother's Day, when I just don't even go there. I give myself some grace and don't sing.

Lately, I have been surprised by my emotions. At my last counseling session, after we had talked about several things, my therapist asked me how my heart was doing. As I answered I began to cry - I had been forced to show my cards. Then at my MEND meeting last night I was an absolute mess. I see that under the surface, the waters of my heart are murky and unsettled. I have been doing a bit of treading water - keeping my head above what is below. I have been doing well, really, but I think I have been neglecting the tough stuff a bit too much. My due date for our second baby is June 30th. Father's Day was this month. We are close to getting more medical testing done. Sometimes our story is overwhelming to me. There's the waiting. My hope is a bit deflated. And there's the longing.

Then tonight. Tonight we rehearsed for this Sunday morning, a day I have already been expecting to be more emotionally challenging than most. We sang those Jesus songs. And I felt like I was singing the words but crossing my arms, not wanting to hear them.

"The enemy, he has to leave. At the sound of Your great name."

Yeah. Yeah. Seems to me like the enemy is not leaving. Seems to me like he is camping out at my house, having a flipping hay day. 

Bratty, I know. Hearing truth, but not wanting to hear it, because really I wasn't feeling it. Internally I was covering my ears and shaking my head, working to drown out the noise of the words that felt a bit like a personal affront.

But those words. They permeate. I can't sing them and not think about at least some of them, even though I might not want to. The truth is God is Redeemer, He is Healer, He is our Savior, Defender, Lord Almighty. I know that even when I might not feel it, He is

Later in rehearsal we sang another song with a line that said,

"[He] knocks outside my broken heart till I let Him inside."

That's it. The words pierced again. There He is. Knocking. In my heartbroken state, He is knocking. Waiting. Even in my anger, even when my flesh screams that it's not fair. Even when I shake my head at those words, not wanting to hear them. He is knocking on my broken heart.

And I have to decide. Even though I have no guarantees that things will go my way, do I let Him in? Or do I only open the door when there is a celebration going on inside? Is He allowed to come in only on those days? Or is He allowed to come in when my house is a wreck and my face is tear-stained and I might be angry? I don't think God walks in and pretends like the pain is gone, forcing us to move on to other things. I think He comes into the living room, sits down on the couch and grieves with us. He knows there is a time to mourn and a time to dance. He is our comforter. Because even when I might not feel it, He is. 

When I don't let Him in, He is still there, waiting. And when I let Him in, He gives me space. He gives me room to lament. I may not always feel like singing those songs, but He understands that. As Sarah Bessey says, "There is room in the Psalms for your grief." God is near to the broken-hearted. The celebratory days are good, but the other days - that's when the hard work gets done. That's when the words can really pierce the heart and force us to examine ourselves. The words can wash over us and speak Truth. That's when we hear God knocking, waiting. That's when we have to make a decision.

I may not always feel like singing the songs, but I think that is when I need to sing them the most. 


Friday, June 13, 2014

The Days For Moms and Dads

Dear Mr. Hallmark,

I am writing to you from heaven,
and though it must appear
A rather strange idea,
I see everything from here.
I just popped in to visit,
your stores to find a card
A card of love for my mother,
as this day for her is hard.
There must be some mistake I thought,
every card you could imagine
Except I could not find a card,
from a child who lives in heaven.
She is still a mother too,
no matter where I reside
I had to leave, she understands,
but oh the tears she’s cried.
I thought that if I wrote you,
that you would come to know
That though I live in heaven now,
I still love my mother so.
She talks with me, and dreams with me;
we still share laughter too,
Memories our way of speaking now,
would you see what you could do?
My mother carries me in her heart,
her tears she hides from sight.
She writes poems to honor me,
sometimes far into the night.
She plants flowers in my garden,
there my living memory dwells

She writes to other grieving parents,
trying to ease their pain as well.
So you see Mr. Hallmark,
though I no longer live on earth
I must find a way,
to remind her of her wondrous worth
She needs to be honored,
and remembered too
Just as the children of earth will do.
Thank you Mr. Hallmark,
I know you’ll do your best
I have done all I can do;
to you I’ll leave the rest.
Find a way to tell her,
how much she means to me
Until I can do it for myself,
when she joins me in eternity.
~Jody Seilheimer
Shortly after Karlie became a part of our family, Mother's Day had a new layer of sweetness for me, and for that I am so thankful. Then in 2013, shortly after the loss of our first baby, the sweetness of Mother's Day was tempered by the bitter. The rawness of aching over a life lost, the longing to have a little one to hold, and the celebration by so many who already have achieved this was all so very loud. This year, with two more babies in heaven, I admit there was a part of me that wanted to crawl into a hole and wait for the day to be over. I also know there are others who are aching for their mothers and still others whose memories of their mothers conjure painful emotions.

And then this weekend is Father's Day, and I know we will celebrate with Karlie, but my hubby is also the daddy to three little ones in heaven. For me, I was so incredibly touched by the amount of people who reached out to me and told me they were thinking of me on Mother's Day, so let's not forget the dads! If there is someone you are thinking about right now, reach out to that person! Rarely do we ever regret sharing how much someone else means to us. You can send a text or message, or even a card. Our M.E.N.D group was sweet enough to give us a rose for Mother's Day and Father's Day, and there are other ideas on our Hannah's Hope website.

As the poem above mentioned, you may find it hard to say exactly what you want on Father's Day. Since it's 2014 and things are all technologically advanced, you can now create your own cards online. Here is an example of one I made from Treat Greeting Cards. Here's the front:

And here's the inside text (I filtered in on insta):

Okay, so if I was actually going to send it to Mark I would be more personal because he is my husband. Ha. But, you get the point - if you don't see the perfect card in a store you can create one yourself. (-:

Let's use these holidays as ways to shower hurting people with love! I know sometimes it's easy to talk ourselves out of reaching out to others and sometimes we feel like we don't know what to say or don't want to say the wrong thing. A simple "I'm praying for you today and thinking about you on Father's Day" works just fine. Acknowledging parents of babies in heaven as moms and dads can mean so much to them. Shauna Niequist says it well when she says: When we do the hard, intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life. I don't know about you guys, but I'm all for that!

So, Happy Father's Day and Happy (belated) Mother's Day to you!

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