Time has helped to heal, writing has helped get my emotions out of my spinning head, Jesus has brought me peace, but my heart will forever ache, and my brain has been impacted. I think I will always feel broken, different, changed. To those that have followed my journey, I have been very transparent about my broken heart, but I am not sure if I have fully expressed in the recent years the impact of the tragedy of loss of a child has had on facets of my life that you may not think about.
I have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as I imagine most of my fellow mommas and daddies in loss do, and I am sure it impacts us all in our own unique ways. It haunted me hourly at first, and has slowly over time lessened. I thought with the lessening, the haunting and impacts on my brain would eventually go away. It has not. When it comes in a wave, the water rushes over me, I panic. I try hard to get to the surface, and as soon as I do, I run from the water, wanting to leave it quickly. The sensation of that feeling is so unsettling. For me, it is not just sadness, but often irrational fear. In just the past few weeks I am learning I need to sit with it, grab a floatie, and calmly ride the waves. I need to understand it. I need to process the panic and fear for what it is, instead of retreating. Running from it has not helped to heal my brain patterns. I started counseling again to help me process much of this, and I haven't even dove deep in to these issues yet there, but just the act of getting help has made me more introspective about my feelings.
The week before Koen's death, I didn't feel quite right. I made multiple calls to the on-call doctors that week, and it was just believed that what I was experiencing was typical. But it was not typical for pregnancy, what I was feeling was Koen dying inside of me. The guilt of that. The weight of that. The what if's. If I don't feel well now in my normal life, I panic, and become knowingly irrational. God bless Kevin and my care provider, both of whom are incredibly patient with me. I sat with that panic this month, instead of escaping it as quick as possible. I have finally put together some of the pieces of my brain wiring. My PTSD has me needing to immediately determine the cause of my ailments, delaying that determination, for me, means death. And because my body is no longer a home for a baby, in my brain it means my death. Leaving my boys motherless is more than my panicked brain can bear and it leaves me spiraling.
This feels incredibly raw to share, I think I am more comfortable sharing my broken heart, than my mental broken-ness. But tragic loss not only breaks your heart, but parts of your brain as well. My prayer is that facing this fear head on and having a greater understanding will help me to rewire the paths my brain takes when those waves come roaring at me. I want to stop fighting the waves, and self-talk my way on to a floatie, ride them until they calm and the hope filled rainbow appears.
(Thanks to my dear friend, B, for sharing this "Waves" meme this week and giving me the visual I needed).
Seven years ago we rushed to the hospital with little 6-year-old Hackett in tow on the morning of Memorial Day. He waited alone in the waiting room as Kevin held my hand and we watched our doctor search for Koen's heartbeat. I labored the rest of the day and delivered my little curly topped Koen that night. We haven't touched or held him in seven years, and my arms still ache for him, my heart still misses him, my eyes miss watching him grow, my ears wonder what his giggle would sound like, and my lips miss kissing his curly topped sunshine smelling head.
I awoke longing for him today, and spent a lot of the day in my own head reliving the day, as I do often. Koen's brief life brought mine into perspective. When I think about him, I am a better mom, a better person. Watching my earthly boys today through my Koen lens made me even more acutely aware of how fast the time goes. Hackett was just a little older than Tobin is now when I had Koen, and in a seven year blink his voice is deep, his face more man chiseled, while standing he can look me right in the eyes, and his arms are on top when we hug. As Hackett and I talked today about our summer plans that we will postpone until next summer, he said "I'll be heading to high school next year". I was trying to keep a lid on my emotions today, but the thought of him being that grown up, and today even more aware of how fast time flashes, a tear rolled down my cheek. I had to say goodbye to one of my babies before even bringing him home, and the thought of watching another bird fly out of my nest, just feels like too much, especially today. But just as Koen's life brought me clarity in to so many aspects of my life, preparing for Hackett's launch gives me pause and reminds me to embrace, savor, and keep doing the work of raising him to be a kind and strong man. In another seven years he will be in college and Tobin will be 13. I will miss them saying "mom, watch this" at least a thousands times a day, because right now, in this precious moment of time, I am the girl they both want to impress. I will miss having them both in my home every night, I will even miss having them quarantined with me for months. And I will forever miss having all these little moments with Koen, because life with him went even faster. No matter the amount, it’s never enough, it’s always too fast.
This week has been heavy, hasn't it? Mentally, I think we are all collectively, as a nation, just treading water, trying to keep our heads afloat. And all the while attempting to keep a calm exterior, while kicking with all our might to hold our kids above the water too, as they have been with us every second of every day (or for many the worry of how they are doing at home without you while you continue to work and go on). It's a lot. It's so much. It's exhausting. And it's okay to not be perfect, to not knock it out of the park every day. It's okay to to just hang on the best you can and make survival the goal for each day.
Fear is an awful beast, one that can creep in with every news story, scroll of your feed, or new statistic released. It can pull you down in to that dark hole of despair and anxiety so fast. It is evil. This week, I find myself grateful that Jesus was sent to overcome evil, to overcome fear.
"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge! A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High. God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. For every break of the day, God will protect it. The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God's voice thunders, and the earth melts." Psalm 46:1-6
He is our safe place, especially in times of turbulence, when it seems like the earth is crumbling around us. When we feel like we may drown, He is there to reach down and hold us, hold our kids so we don't have to.
And that holding of us, and protecting of us, may not include warding off COVID-19 in our country, state, city, or even our household. We live in a fallen world, it is not perfect. Hardships and heartaches exist here, and having faith in Jesus does not grant us immunity to that. What it does give us is peace. A peace we need to seek throughout the day, sometimes throughout the hour.
"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for what he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. " Philippians 4:6-7
I have not been above the scared and sad this week, it is very present, but I keep choosing to seek Jesus, and seek that peace, that comfort, that rest. This up and down ride of emotions and constant minute by minute reliance on God, has brought me back to the scariest and most sacred year of my life. The months following our son Koen's death, the world felt like it was crumbling around me. Being with others was hard, so I did my own social distancing, because at that time it was essential for my survival too. Most days that summer it was just Hackett, our oldest son, and I, just quietly navigating life together. I couldn't come up with lesson plans or crafts, my main focus was on getting out of bed and making sure we were fed. My patience wasn't perfect, and tears streamed down my face doing ordinary things. It was survival for us that summer, much like it is for us all right now. And you know what? It is probably one of my favorite summers. There is beauty in the hard, because it is like being fit for glasses you didn't know you needed. Suddenly, you see the world in a new light. Your priorities fall in to perfect alignment without even thinking, you now know what is important and valued. In solitude you are able to take a step back and savor and enjoy the small moments. During the ache of uncertainty you get the gift of see the purity in others hearts and spirits. This week, and the weeks ahead may be hard, but in a year you may find yourself wishing you could go back to the simple. To the place where you knew what was important and you clung on tight to it. You will see the beauty.
Shortly after we lost our son, Koen, I was pregnant again. This time with our third son, Tobin. His pregnancy was difficult, I was taken off work at 16 weeks, and admitted to the hospital at 21 weeks. They prepared us for his very early arrival, my specialist telling me that if we made it to 31 weeks it would be a miracle. My job? Lay down and stay calm. If I could do those things I had a greater chance of keeping him growing and safe. Every morning I woke alone at the hospital early as the nurses and doctors made their rounds, and from the moment my eyes opened I started praying. I sought Jesus peace, and in the moments where I was still experiencing eminence heartache over my loss of Koen, all while fearing the potential of losing Tobin, God gave me peace. Peace beyond my understanding. I laid there, most days very alone, I was about as socially distanced as possible those 3 weeks, and I was given peace. It was just the Lord and I in that hospital room, I needed Him, relied on him to walk through every minute of the day, and He was there. It was such a sacred and beautiful time, when by all accounts it shouldn't have been. This time in all of our lives can be filled with peace, if we invite the sacred arms of God to wrap around us. And we can look back on this time in the years to come with the strange dichotomy of turmoil that was overshadowed by peace and beauty, because we slowed down and embraced the quiet with our family and with our Lord.
I have had these songs on repeat this week and wanted to share:
Tobin, our daily God is good reminder.
It's been 5 months since my last blog. Life seems to sail by so quickly these days, but writing fuels and heals my soul, and is something I want to re-embrace in this season. I woke up at 3 in the morning, unable to sleep, and that, for me, is the indicator that much is heavy on my heart, so today I need this outlet. I need to let myself cry.
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Ache hurts more in silence, so it has always been important to me to shine a light on the darkness of loss and pain. I am not alone, and neither are so many of you. Your loss is real. Your grief is real. Its valid. Its okay to acknowledge it, experience it, and let your tears flow too. Its okay to sit in your car a bit longer tonight, linger in the shower, light a candle, curl up in your bed, go for a walk, or do whatever you need to allow yourself a chance to honor your baby and grieve that deep down missing piece of your heart.
Kevin and I grieve so different. Our relationship is beautiful, I often step back and watch how seamlessly we handle things together without words. Its like a dance for us now after 15 years of marriage, and over 22 years together, we just twirl side by side to accomplish whatever is ahead of us. Our humor and how we see the world is so perfectly matched. But, we also differ, and so often those differences complement each together. In grief, we differ. Kevin's heart was shattered - as I watched him dance and sing carrying Koen in the hospital, as I walked next to him when he carried his casket to the grave - he was broken. His jovial spirit took a hit, his ever present immaturity (and I mean that as a compliment, because he is so fun) seemed to grow up over night. Life was no longer as funny and lighthearted as it once was for him. He is still Kevin, still so fun, but it shifted. And then we had Tobin. Tobin picked the pieces of his daddy's heart off the ground and put them back together. Tobin arrived, and Kevin's smile returned. He has still been forever changed, and he still aches, but after that emotional year, he moved on, pushed forward. He carries so much stress on his shoulders on a daily basis, and he does it with ease most days. I think he was predispositioned to that, but I also think this was a gift from Koen to Kev. He knows what matters now, his perspective on life is ever present. And in his Kevin way, which makes him the perfect partner for me, he is consistently constant every day.
My grief has been different. I still remain constant on the outside, or at least I try, in an effort to keep our house stable and safe and consistent for my two boys here on earth. But internally I can be a roller coaster. Fine for weeks, months even, and then something will send me plunging down a big hill, or send me on a wild twist. This seems to be the only place I have shared my roller coaster ride. I'll let Kevin know I am having a sad day, or hard moment, but I often don't expand, not wanting to pile more on his already heavy shoulders. And it often feels so personal, so hard to relate or explain, just this ache, often flashes of visions - from that day or months after - or from what would have been. And its sacred, and beautiful, because my ache is what I have from Koen. Some days I want to swallow down my hurt, and other days I want to wrap up in it and snuggle in it with Koen for awhile.
Kevin and I are often in our own corners of grief. But last week we had a simple, sweet, no tears, conversation about Koen. Our Tobin is a wild man, his mission in life is to be a goofball, and he is very successful. He is like Kevin, but not entirely, he is enormously creative - much like me at his age. He has a carefree spirit like Kevin, but when coupled with his creativity from me, he often lives in the clouds. Unaware of so much, and often unaware of his appropriateness. Kevin was a funny kid, but it sounds as if his appropriateness meter was far more fine tuned than Tobin's. Kevin was funny, but chill. Tobin is not chill, he is chill in that doesn't stress about anything, but he has never been described as low key. Kevin and I were laying in bed after a long day and Tobin, our little Tazz came wildly spinning in. We glanced at each other and laughed, and I said, maybe Koen would have had your chill like you. Koen was calm in utero, so calm, that I didn't notice his decrease in activity until it was too late. He had his dad's tight curly hair, maybe he would have had the personality to match too. For a second, with smiles, together we dreamed what Koen would have been like. Something we will forever wonder. It was a precious moment that I will treasure.
Tobin talks about Koen all the time. He talks about heaven a lot too. I wonder if they know each other? Tobin gave us multiple scares while I was pregnant, at times it seemed like the possibility of burying two babies in one year was likely for us. I wonder if Koen was with Tobin in womb keeping him safe? Today I am going to give myself permission to cry and wonder, and snuggle in my sadness with Koen for bit. And I am giving you permission to snuggle with your lost baby too. All my love.
I went down to the lake this week to see the sunrise, and there was Koen, saying “Good morning momma, I colored you a blue heart in the sky.” See that little reflection above the waves? I like to think that's my 6 year old angel visiting me in one of the places I find the most peace.
I am not normally a crier, but the last few weeks have found me in a place where tears are easily falling from my face. I am staring at the clouds, the leaves blowing on trees, relishing each snuggle with my boys in a way that is more intentional and true. I am grieving. This Memorial Day marks 6 years since the birth and death of our son, Koen. May 27th fell on Memorial Day 6 years ago too. Six seems so grown up, so big, I try to picture what he may look like, but his face seems distant, hard to see. I never got to experience six-year-old Koen, and for that I grieve.
A few weeks ago, a woman who holds the most special place in my heart, was met with the news that her daughter, was killed in a car accident. This young woman was days from celebrating her first Mother's Day with her infant daughter. I am grieving Koen, but I am also grieving the loss of this beautiful soul who loved Jesus with every ounce of her being. My heart shatters for this family. This family who serve and love our creator, and have experienced more loss than most of us can imagine. My friend lost her husband suddenly 14 years ago, and she arrived in to my life shortly after she experienced this loss when we moved to California. Her faith, her wisdom, and her service, all while raising her children as a single parent who was grieving impacted me so that it pulled me back in close to Jesus. I was experiencing heartache at that time, which made me question Jesus, but watching her life was the reminder that Jesus was not the cause of my hurt and pain, the world was. I began to grow and trust that Jesus was there to hold me during my ache, and He did. I began seeking Him and relying on Him in my daily life.
We moved away from California and shortly after we arrived in Michigan I became pregnant with Koen. And as soon as we heard the news that Koen was dead inside of me, I sought God's face. There was no other way to endure my heart being ripped from my chest while my precious baby boy was simultaneously being ripped from my womb. Via social media this special woman spoke wisdom and truth to my grief and loss 6 years ago.
I have been wrestling with God these last few weeks. Wondering how He can allow tragedy to strike twice to those who love him so immensely. I think I have tricked my mind, probably because I needed to believe it, that I had lost one child, surely I would not face another tragic loss of that magnitude during my life. But this world, this fallen broken world, does not work according to Jackie's plans. Heartache and loss and bad news can face us at any time. During the funeral of her daughter, my friend shared Proverbs 3:5-6:
"Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
We may never understand, but we can continue to acknowledge Him, seek Him, hope in Him, and He will be there to hold us while we ache and grieve.
Grief of this magnitude cannot be fully understood until you have experienced it. Have you watched the movie "Inside Out" where they talk about your core memories and the impact those memories have on your entire life, how you see things and approach life? Loss of someone who makes up your heart at your very core impacts you in that way. It shifts your perspective, changes how you interact, how you approach things, your faith, your empathy. In so many ways my grief has made me who I am. So yes, I continue to cry six years later, and empathize greatly with a fellow mom who is burying their child. My heart will forever ache, miss, and long to be with Koen. But every single day I will acknowledge my loving God, hang on to His mighty hand, and watch him straighten my paths as I make the choice to walk forward with Him each day.
Five years ago today, less than 11 months after burying Koen, I was admitted to the hospital at 24 weeks pregnant with Tobin. We were told to prepare ourselves, that he was coming early. "It will be a miracle if you make it to 32 weeks", but if I could make it until then the pressure on my cervix would switch to my pelvic bones. Tobin was born at 37 weeks, and only then, because my body had proven to not be a safe haven. He needed to reside in me just long enough. Tobin arrived safe and healthy and full term, a miracle.
Koen has shaped me, my beliefs, my stance on different things. But my pregnancy with Tobin, and the miracle of his safe arrival, and the trial of each day praying he would stay safe, has also impacted me. I get to live with a miracle, a testament to faith, and living proof that "God is good" (just as his name suggests). And I also battle the anxiety, caused by the darkness I experienced with both those pregnancies. Such a juxtaposition. Holding death in my arms and fearing that I would again, both brought me closer to God and made our frailty on this earth so real, at the same time.
So I worry, even when I know I should trust, about myself, Kevin, my boys. In those moments I have to make a choice to turn to Jesus, and to get up, when I feel the weight of it all pulling me down. Some days that is easier than others. Some days that weight is so heavy, and it is difficult ti battle back. Yesterday was one of those days. I know its April that I spent in the hospital, but try not to hang on to the dates, but I think at my core I can feel the season of grief and anxiety approaching. It was no surprise when I saw in my memories that today was one of the scariest days I have ever experienced. Five years later, and there is still so much I have buried, unable to process.
And then Kevin walks in a reminds me that I can get up, and am strong. And Tobin's feisty spirit and cute smile remind me that he faced adversity before he even took his first breath, and won. And Hackett delivers me sunshine with his sensitive heart and love for his mom - walking by my side in a night time stroll, dribbling his basketball the whole way.
They help remind me to trust, to face the scary and deal with it, even when its hard and heavy. This is my reminder to you today too. We can do hard things and reach the other side, there may be bumps and bruises, but with God holding your hand, you can get there. The sun may set, but it always rises again in the morning.
I have shed more tears the last few weeks than I have in a long time.
No matter what your political affiliations are, I think if you watched any moments of President Bush's funeral, you were impacted. Watching someone who has lived a full life, and is so adored by his family and friends, and to see that genuine love and sadness poured out - not for show, but because its real - so publicly is impactful. Grief gets me. Funerals get me. Genuine heartache gets me. My own mortality gets me. It make me introspective about my own life, and our greatest loss - Koen. In this season where our schedule is so jam packed, to do lists so long, I am reminded of what truly matters. Its not the stuff, its not the over the top, its the not the money spent, its not the food (well, it kind of is) - its being there. Engaging, face to face conversations and love shared, kids playing together, laughter, snuggling, and making those memories. One day, that is all my kids will be left with. Not Pinterest decor or styled outfits, but memories of just me spending time with them, speaking to their lives, laughing with them, faith instilled in their lives. My desire is to live with the values that this amazing man did (and you won't see me in the White House, so I am not referencing anything political, but him at his core). With integrity, kindness, a love for Christ that just showed and wasn't preached, the perseverance to go on and embrace love and life more each day - even after burying a child, to lead with love, to be an uplifting friend, not harbor bitterness, and to love my spouse and kids above all else on this earth. His death has left me sad, but so inspired to focus on what truly matters.
Koen is buried 2 hours from our current home. A few weeks ago we went for the weekend to visit with friends, and I packed my family with all the things for the weekend. While driving, I remember I had forgotten to pack for Koen ... his Christmas trees that I leave at his graveside each year were left waiting in the garage. Mom guilt at another level, instantly washed over me. As I prepare for Christmas with my two earthly angels, I only had one thing to do for my heavenly angel, and I had forgotten. God, and his grace swept in and lifted my self-inflicted burden. I had just driven past a roadside stand selling grave blankets, it took me 15 minutes to decide, because really how do you make it all better with pine bows and decorations? But bringing Christmas to Koen in a small way, does help my grief. His forgotten trees, are not for him. This grave blanket that snuggles him in, is not for him. Its for me. And because of the snafu, I got to take it to him by myself. I have not been alone at his grave in years. I got to be with just him, and my guttural grief and tell him how much I love and miss him. And that is what matters. Koen continues to teach me, and remind me about what is important, what matters, in this life.
Merry Christmas my dear friends. Focus on what really matters in the weeks ahead. Its not the stuff, not your to do lists - its your presence, your loved ones, and gift of our savior.
This year has had some unanticipated twists and turns for me, with a few health surprises (for both myself and the boys - but all is okay), over committing myself to things, and not anticipating what the demands of my boys would be - and this year it was extraordinary great for both of them. I am tired, and depleted.
I have been so honest here with so many of my struggles, but haven't shared this one in much detail before. I have struggled with anxiety my entire life, and sometimes when it is great, it can be coupled with depression. One way for me to manage it is to stay busy, but it is a delicate balance between busy and too busy for me. When I am too busy, and feel the demands of the commitments I have made and potential of letting others down, it can cripple me and make my anxiety even worse. I have done this to myself this year.
I am slowly backing away from my over commitments, because in trying to be healthy, I have drained myself for those who matter most my little family ... and myself. Tobin will be leaving me soon to go to school everyday, and right now my days are spent so busy. I am not enjoying and engaging as much as I did with Hackett, and feel that guilt. Raising a miracle baby that you are eternally thankful for, while grieving a child you have lost, comes with much guilt. I find myself second guessing myself far more than I should. It's beautiful, and hard, and tangled. Tobin brings SO much joy, and so much fire. That spicy side needs more of me. And that joy needs me patient enough to just savor and enjoy it. Hackett is busy, and his schedule keeps our evenings and weekends hopping. I want to enjoy these moments, savor them as they are passing far too fast for me. As a mom, a parent, it is a constant juggling act, isn't it? I know you all in this same stage, or having lived this stage, can relate.
I also need to make my physical health a priority, and not put myself last on the list. I want to enjoy my family for many years to come, and to do that, I have to take care of myself. I am trying and making strides as I prioritize.
In trying to keep Koen's memory alive, and his little life present, I have added to my stress. After his death, I seemed to have the best grasp on what was important, and what to say 'no' to. But my depression and sadness was present then too. I have pulled myself from that dark place, with the help of Jesus, but now I need to swing myself back so I land somewhere in the middle. My desire is to be my healthiest, not overwhelmed, and able to embrace the small moments without guilt. I have committed to so many of you to make beautiful Christmas ornaments this year to honor Koen. All of yours are prepped, pieces cut, orders organized. This year flew by, all while I was treading water. It is just not realistic for me to enjoy the next few months, and to embrace life the way Koen taught me, while trying to keep his memory alive at the same time. They will come to you ... eventually ... when it brings me joy and not stress. I am sorry, and know you will understand. It is me who is harder on myself than I need to be. Thank you for loving me, and Koen, through every step of my grief, as I am still learning and growing and sorting through it all. Still trying to figure out how to balance my life for my angels on earth, with my angel in heaven.
Motherhood is beautiful, but exhausting. On a level that can't even compare to anything else. Cooking, laundry, taxi driver, all take time and energy. But its things beyond the "typical" chores that seem to deplete any and all reserves for me.
Kevin struggles to sit on the sidelines of any sporting event, sure that whatever he yells may will the players to suddenly make the perfect play, or protect the ball, and bring home the victory. I am learning more with every year that I am on the sidelines of Hackett's life. (I spend a great deal of time on the real sidelines watching him play, so maybe that is why this correlation is relevant for me.) I can't run with him, and hold his hand anymore like I can with Tobin. I can't make the play for him, or protect the ball, or stop him from being fouled. I have to stand there and just watch the game unfold. I can yell suggestions, or special plays he can try, but he is in the middle of the game and can't always see or hear me. His victories are so much sweeter, because they are now all his own. But watching him struggle, trip, and get scored on, and not being able to step in and fix it. Or wave a magic wand. It is painful; exhausting. I sit on the sidelines and second guess myself, feel responsible that I haven't prepared him enough for the game. Win or lose, he always bounces back, and I hope learns for his next match. And I have to trust that all the skills he is honing on the field will prepare him for when I am no longer on the sidelines of every game.
(Just so no one worries, Hackett is perfectly fine, he is just growing up, and its just not easy - for him or I.)
As moms, I don't think we talk enough about our own insecurities and failures or blunders or just how emotionally spent we are at times. The baby years are rough, but as I experience preschool years at the parallel time I am traversing pre-teen, both exhaust me, just in different ways. Tobin pooped in his cotton underwear ... twice ... today. So. Much. Patience. Is required daily.
I think in part, we are so so depleted, because our love is so great, that we give so much of ourselves. It is love, in a form all its own.
If you are feeling weary with me tonight, look at Jesus promise. Going to bed handing it over to him, and grateful for a new day.
“Come to Me, all of you who work and have heavy loads. I will give you rest. Follow My teachings and learn from Me. I am gentle and do not have pride. You will have rest for your souls. For My way of carrying a load is easy and My load is not heavy.” Matthew 11:28-29
Life is hard. We are often dealt circumstances that leave us with our arms in the air, filled with frustration. Or with the feeling of being punched in the stomach. Or with such a heavy weight that our chest feels so constricted that is difficult to breathe. Or that overwhelming feeling that makes us feel small and alone. Or so anxiety ridden that sleep and rest are hard. This life is so hard, so painful. That hard and pain is inescapable on this earth, at some moment or point in your life, things will happen, news will be given, fierce heartache will come that will drop you to your knees.
This world, this country, and often our families are far from perfect. We don't live in a world that is filled with constant sunshine and rainbows, we do get to bask in their glory some days though (isn't that amazing?). I have been reading Romans 8 a lot this month. It was written by Paul to the Romans, with the intent of helping them to fully understand the grace that has been given to us by Jesus, as they understand the Christian faith and instructions as they begin to establish the Christian church in Rome. Can you imagine being a Christian at this time? Your savior was crucified and now you are not joining the cool kids lunch table where things seem to coast by with ease, you are swimming upstream against adversity. Life is hard. Believing is hard. How do you think they rested at night?!!! Jesus never promised ease, or perfect. But he promised to be with us while we endure in this life. And he promised us beauty will come, if not here in this life, then in the next with him.
The Message is just a version of the bible, put in to words that sometimes make the language a bit easier to understand. So can I drop a little easy to understand bible on you?
Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.
We cannot do all the hard alone, it is a dead end. I have run my forehead into the wall on the dead end far too often, it never ends well. When I stop banging my head against that wall, and say "Alright, Jesus, you take it" and focus on him, that weight slowly lifts off my chest, my heart aches less and less, I can breathe, and enjoy that spacious free life. When life floats along with relative ease, I find I slip so easily in to my own world, but when I trip and stumble, I reach up so quick and grab his hand. Just like Tobin right now!
That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.
Right now it may be hard times for you, but he has you in his hands, and while he holds you, look ahead with excitement, the beauty is coming.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
(When Paul speaks of pregnancy here he is referencing the anticipation of new life coming.)
If you feel tired, he is right alongside you. You don't need the perfect prayer or need to know the perfect verse, you just need to cry out in your ache and weakness. He's got you. He will work this hard in to good. I promise, some good will come, even if you don't get to view it in this life - you will when you join him in your new life.
I am a living, breathing testament that beauty is coming. I have ached, and I still do, but most days I am living in that open spacious life, and embracing it with wonder. These two blessing here on earth with me, and knowing that some day I will dance with Koen in my arms while Jesus watches over us and smiles. How can I not live in wonder?! We need to teach our kids that life is hard, but with God alongside them they can solidly stand on two feet and take the blows that are sure to come. And that beauty will come, and when they see it they experience that beauty to embrace it.
So grateful that I found my beauty again recently. It has helped restore my joy. Most days I feel lighter - like I can spin around in a circle, hands up in the air joyously, in that open space God has made for me. He’ll bring you beauty and make an open space for you too, you just need to cry out and let him come in. He's always there, and so am I.
I am Jackie.