A few weeks back Dan and I were sitting at the dining room table and he said he had been thinking about creating a garden... April's garden. I loved that he came up with the idea.
I missed most of the month of April when everything on earth was coming to life. I couldn't see the beauty of spring through my tears and swollen eyes. Dan suggested that we make a garden that would include spring blooms such as tulips, daffodils, and other spring bloomers. So next year in April 2011, we could have something beautiful for our eyes to see while we remember the sadness of our loss.
Yesterday that thought became action. We took the kids to the greenhouse and had them each pick out a perrennial that would bloom each year. They took special care in choosing their plant for April's garden. Each one choosing a plant of a different color.
Dan and I choose a tree that would bloom pink flowers in early April. The tree, is named Pink Princess. Joy thought it was particularly appropriate, Drew was annoyed that is was pink. So typical.
A most precious piece in the garden is the stone adorned with a mosaic pattern (pictured above). A gift from our dear friends the VanDams. Thank you so much! --It is will be a lifelong treasure.
I look forward to spring 2011 for so many reasons... this garden is one of them.
A year ago, the beautiful, short life of an infant in our church taught me so much about God's sovereignty, about trusting when things just don't make sense, and ultimately a stirring began in my heart.
Through no set of coincidences but rather God's workings I was privileged and devastated to see deep inside her parents grief following her passing. I was profoundly inspired yet somewhat confused while witnessing them praise the name of Jesus in the midst of extreme pain.
The whole experience changed me.
I truly believe it was no accident that God had our lives intertwine for that brief period. Perhaps the One who knew I would I be mourning the loss of a daughter in that very same hospital a year later was preparing my heart.
Please don't get me wrong here. God is God, and I am not. I am not claiming that the death of one precious life was meant to help me process my own loss. I am just saying that I will not limit what the Holy Spirit can do and is doing! I dare say it excites me, does it you?
Thinking of Hannah, April and all the Glory babies this Memorial weekend...
In years past I used to pop in on the blogs of other mothers that were journaling their experience with pregnancy loss/stillbirth. I say "pop in" because their stories were so hard to hear that I couldn't read too far in without wanting to stop. I could only imagine their pain as I sat there with my house full of children. In reality I could not get my heart to the place of true empathy because I had not been in their shoes, I could only offer sympathy. Now we find ourselves on the sad and disorienting other side. Now I am one of those moms...
I am aware that we are not the first family to lose a baby, but it can be awkward nonetheless for people who don't know what or if they should talk to me about it. Maybe they think I would rather not think or talk about our loss. To those I want to say... "have you met me?" "I started talking about my feelings when I was less than a year old and haven't stopped talking since!" (ha-ha, a little joke there) The truth is I will openly talk about our loss. It helps to be given the opportunity to share and hopefully throughout it all --glorify God. Pretty much everywhere I go now I have to kick the elephant out of the room, 'cuz who really wants him there anyway?
I once told my sister I would like a T-shirt that says:
"Don't feel awkward around me, I would love to talk with you and share my story"
" It's OK if I cry" "It's OK if I don't cry"
"I am still Chelle, just a changed Chelle, come over and let's share a smile or a tear"
I guess all that wouldn't fit on a T-shirt. Shoot.
Many people however are not afraid to address the awkwardness head on, and folks, Thank you for that. There is this wonderful gift called brokenhearted love that I am learning all about. We have felt this, and we have felt far less than it. If you would like to learn more, click the link. I couldn't have explained it better myself-- really I could not have-- she nails it.
For 34 years my existence on God's earth has been an easy ride.
I have known this. I have, in the stillness of my soul thanked God for the great gifts in my life. I tried not to, but have failed in taking much for granted.
I have mourned with those who mourned, watched loved ones walk through dark valleys, and questioned why, Lord? how much pain and disappointment can one person take?
During our current season of sadness and pain, I am naturally more introspective and nostalgic. Most of my adult life I have had a sense of underlying dread. It would increase as I walked alongside or observed loved ones going through trials and pain.
I would wonder... is my turn coming?
Every life will see its share of storms, is mine approaching?
Could I handle this kind of pain?"
Would my faith be strong? or would I ultimately dissolve to bitterness and cynicism?
Not being absolutely sure that I could trust God to bring me to and through a dark valley and still praise His name was a heaviness in my heart I could not shake. I preferred to keep things comfortable, and for my life to chug along smoothly according to my desires and dreams.
But really, what kind of life did I have? Happy, but not peaceful. Blessed, but not confident.
In the words shared with me by a loved one---
You may be asking if God would take your child in order to teach you something. I don't believe that! Yes, you will learn many things through this experience, but those are results - not the reasons why you've been given this sorrow. God has promised to bring good out of the pain, not to eliminate it from our lives.
Those words spoke to my heart because I was starting to think that God allowed April to pass away so I would learn a hard lesson in dependance and surrender. I am learning these things, but they are the results not the reasons. I can never fully know what God is working through my pregnancy and death of our daughter, but I do know that one day I will testify!
One day I will be able to look back and tell the beautiful history of how choosing to not let bitterness envelop me, but rather choosing to know...
"that circumstances will define neither God's love for us nor our love for God."
Angie Smith, author of "I Will Carry You"
To be continued someday with stories of peace and confidence...
I now feel like my life has been put on a specific timeline. If I were to draw it up on a piece of paper i would mark the events, grief, and pieces of joy along the way. My timeline would also include a picture of a heavy cloud over it all that slowly dissipates.
A timeline that began on April 13 in the Doctor's office. There I lay terrified and shocked that our Doctor could not detect fetal heart tones --- to 48hrs. later in the hospital parking ramp where I was wheeled mere minutes after passing our lifeless baby girl to the nurse.
Since those pure and precious 48 hours I have a sense of urgency about reaching the end of this particular timeline yet fully realizing the true end is when I see April again in Glory! As for the meanwhile, I pray I can stop thinking about life in numbers. 4 weeks since we said goodbye to April... 22 weeks pregnant I should be.. due date... what will life be like 52 weeks from now...
Thinking and living life that way can be too consuming and too painful.
God wants me to fully rely and trust Him day after day after day,
especially when I am all consumed with the timeline.
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
We believe His promise in Matthew 5:4, we have lived it.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
4 weeks ago we were fearful at the thought of living our lives with this type of pain and loss, but God has made a way. He will continue to mark the events, grief, and pieces of joy along this timeline.
Although I can still see the cloud, I rest in this comfort tonight.
I neglected to blog about Spring Break. Too bad really, it was a a wonderful vacation. We had anticipated this week for months and when the day finally came we left 9 hours late because I was sick. Really we left 9 hours and 20 minutes late because I made Dan turn around to get my swimsuit. Honestly, who forgets a swimsuit for a Spring Break trip?
Tonight I thought I would count my blessings... you know, name them one by one.
1. This Guy.
2. These boys.
3. These gals.
4. These Friends.
5. These smiles.
6. Barney :) and traveling mercies.
7. This beauty
8. This baby bump.
This is the only photo I have of my pregnancy with April. Little did we know that exactly one week from the night this photo was taken, we would be in a hospital room preparing to meet her far too soon. Dan and I have talked often about what a gift the Spring Break trip was. A gift in every sense of the word. We had a (mostly) carefree week with beautiful weather and the company of precious friends.
Honestly, my heart hurts when I see this photo. The unknowing smile on my face, the glee of it all. Although April had already met her maker, we did not yet know this. Our family was blessed with a Spring Break chock full of memories and we will always feel that she was with us during this special time.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
I woke up Saturday morning and it was already May.
What is always absolutely by far my favorite time of the year has been somewhat tainted. This year I didn't notice the changing of the grass to green or the bare trees to lush leaves. I didn't run outside on the first 80 degree day and feel the sunlight on my face. (well, except for Spring Break in Florida... but that is another post for a different day)
Even though I didn't take special note of spring unfolding, it happened anyway.
"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat,
summer and winter, day and night will never cease." Genesis 8:22
While Dan and I were at the hospital following April's delivery I was fearful. Afraid of how to live my life with this kind of pain. I desperately wanted the world to stop until I was healed and my joy was restored. I could not imagine going back to my mini-van/ mega-fun life, I wasn't sure I wanted to. So many things seemed trivial to me in the wake of our loss.
Well, as many know and I am learning, the earth endures, time doesn't stop. I have muddled through the last 3 weeks and healing is ever so slowly starting to take root. That truth was quite real to me the Sunday evening when I found myself out in the world (Target).
Reviewing the list of items needed, among other things was Drain-o and Dryer sheets. It doesn't get more regular life than this, I thought to myself. I just said an unbearable good-bye to our daughter and the dreams for a life she would have--and I am sitting here buying Drain-o for a clogged sink!
Drain-o and dryer sheets describes what I am trying to balance this week an beyond. Just what is a healthy return to daily life without pushing down the pain too far? A balancing act I feel I cannot master.Just when I think I can go outside and breathe in the spring air, I find in the mailbox an invitation to the memorial service for stillborn babies. Ouch. Reality. Grief.
But I digress, Back at Target I filled the cart with household needs and went on with hope that the ability to go on with my regular life will, in small ways will help me heal and in time my joy will be restored.
There is an endless song
Echoes in my soul
I hear the music ring
And though the storms may come
I am holding on
To the rock I cling
How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love!
I will lift my eyes
In the darkest night
For I know my Savior lives
And I will walk with You
Knowing You'll see me through
And sing the songs You give.