Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Better? Part 1

Am I better? No, but I am not the same either. During the past few weeks I have sometimes felt that there was an expectation that I would be all-better. Yet in many ways I have only just begun to heal. I want to attempt to summarize what I have experienced over these past 6 weeks since losing Johannah with the hope that it will help someone else. I think there is often a misconception that if you are a Christian, you can't be angry or sad, that you are supposed to put on a happy face and talk about what peace you have. Don't get me wrong, when you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you can have peace in the midst of even the worst storm. I was not without peace, but I would not say that peace was the predominant feeling either. For me, there was no extra measure of peace experienced as there had been in past trials.

Initially, I was in a state of shock, it was hard to believe that what had happened had actually happened. I was carried along by the prayers of others, and by the meals, cards, and flowers that came in the first week or so. The days went by in a blur, though there were definitely lots of times of deep anguish where I just sobbed as I would suddenly remember that we had lost Johannah. Often it was hearing Dr. S's words in my head again telling me that my baby had no heartbeat that would bring on these times. They are the most crushing words I have ever heard in my life. I was overwhelmed by the thought that we had lost the only baby we may ever have. This pregnancy was not easily achieved and there is no guarantee of another pregnancy. I find little comfort in the thought that "at least you know you can get pregnant." Just because I got pregnant once doesn't mean I will again and there is no comfort in getting pregnant if I can't/don't carry the baby to term.

The next phase I experienced was anger, at God, at the situation, and at the insensitive comments of a couple of people. This was certainly the ugliest stage of grief and not one I wanted to stay in. I was angry at God for leading us to do IVF and then allowing the outcome to be so different from what was expected. Of course, I was always concerned about m/c, but I could not imagine God allowing it, especially after everything else I had experienced in my life. It had seemed to me that my time had finally come. I had struggled for so long to believe God had forgiven me over past sins. I had struggled to trust God, to believe that He loved me, and to believe in His goodness. I had finally come to trust God, to believe in His goodness and to believe that He would still bless me. So when I miscarried I was so confused, everything I had believed God was doing seemed to be wrong. There were two things that really helped me get past this stage. The first was recalling what God had previously taught me. God was no less good and no less loving because the outcome was different that I expected it to be. He had shown me in the year preceding all this through several different circumstances that His plans are truly better than my own. He is all-wise and all-knowing, and His will is best. As I began to reflect on what He had taught me in the past I was able to once again place my trust in Him even though I didn't understand why everything happened the way it did. The second thing that really helped me was reading Beth and Niki 's stories. In both their situations the outcome was also very different from what would have been expected. As I read their stories the Lord reminded me that His thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are His ways my ways. Romans 11:33 says,

"Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!"

We just aren't going to understand certain things. For me that was enough. I accepted that I may not ever fully understand why we lost Johannah. Sometimes we just have to trust that God is sovereign and that He has a plan and a purpose for us and that plan is a good one (Jer 29:11). Also, I truly believe, as it says in Rom 8:28, that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. He had already shown me how He had used IF for my good. I trust He will do the same with the m/c.

I was also angry at God for yet another trial, truly I felt like I had had enough. When would my time come, I wanted to know. I felt like God was blessing other people, but not me for whatever reason. I felt forgotten, passed over, abandoned. This led to even greater anguish. I experienced a period (which thankfully turned out to be fairly brief) where God was silent. This also happened to be the period of time when the cards and meals and such stopped coming. In the past when I have cried out to God when I felt especially discouraged, I would get a phone call or email from someone or God would bring to mind a certain scripture. But this time there was none of that. I would cry out to God and there would be nothing. Thankfully, my church was doing a sermon series called "Where is God When...." I hadn't been able to go back to church yet, but I felt led to listen to the one that asked where is God when "He is silent" online. One of the things that helped me most from this sermon was when he said, "We do not determine whether God loves us or not by current circumstances, but by looking at the Cross." In "Experiencing God," Henry Blackaby says, and I'm paraphrasing, that the Cross is God's final, total, and complete expression of His love for us. It is the only evidence we need that He loves us. I began to spend a lot of time meditating on this truth. I found listening to music to be especially helpful during this time period. One of the songs I listened to over and over again is the hymn "There is a Fountain" (you can listen to Selah's version on my playlist if you scroll down to the bottom of my blog). This song really ministered to me as I thought about what Jesus did for us in dying on the Cross. It is so amazing that "There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains." The Lord began to pour out His love upon me as I reflected on this truth. I could not look at my circumstances, but rather I had to fix my eyes upon Jesus (Heb 12:2). After this, I was no longer angry at God and I no longer felt abandoned by Him. What I did feel was sadness, over losing Johannah and because of IF in general. Part 2 to come shortly.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Peru trip

I know I said I would update on how I am doing last time I posted and I plan to do so soon, but I wanted to take a break from talking about IF and m/c to talk about John's trip to Peru and ask for your prayers for him and the people he will be serving. The trip is with an organization called Healing Peru founded by one of the doctors John works with. The team is made up of about 6 physicians, one other nurse besides John, and a medical technician, along with a few spouses. They left Friday to travel to Miami where the team caught a flight to Lima on Saturday. Sunday they flew to Cusco and then traveled to Andahuaylillas by bus. There are no cell phones, but John was able to get to a computer and email me to let me know he arrived safely. Andahuaylillas is a small village in the Andean mountains about 1 hour southeast of Cusco. It is best known for being the site of the "Sistine Chapel of America". It is a very poor area with very little, if any, access to health care. The plan is to set up a medical clinic to serve the local people of Andahuaylillas as well as several of the surrounding villages. They will be dealing with diseases that we who live in this country are fortunate enough not to ever face. Today they focused on setting up the clinic and tomorrow they will begin seeing patients. John said in his email that they are expecting 150-200 people everyday. The clinic will run until next Tuesday. Next Wednesday and Thursday they will get some R&R in Cusco and then take the train to see Machu Picchu. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (March 1st) will be travel days. Of course I miss John terribly, but I am so excited for the work he is getting to be a part of. If you would, please keep John, the Healing Peru team, and the people of these mountainous villages in your prayers. Please pray for their health and safety. Pray also for God's provision to meet the needs of the people and for His blessing upon the work they are doing in Peru. Lastly, please pray that they would have the opportunity to share Christ with the people of Peru and for hearts that respond.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

In Loving Memory

This post is dedicated in loving memory to our daughter:

Johannah Elise
November 18, 2008 - January 13, 2009

We chose Johannah because it means "God is gracious," because He is, always, His grace is always sufficient. Elise means "consecrated to God." She was never ours, she was always His, and now she is with Him forever. One day John and I will join her.

Short Update

I will update more on how I am doing later this week. I have so much I want to say, but I have been unable to formulate all my thoughts, hence the lack of postings. I am still grieving very much. Today marks 4 weeks to the day since we lost our little girl. This past Sunday we held a small service for her and last night we went to the beach and wrote her name in the sand. I want today to be about honoring our baby's short life here on earth.