Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice

I’m sure we’ve all heard or just somehow “known” the unspoken rule- do not announce your pregnancy until you are at least 12 weeks. Well, I’m not sure what Bible verse they use to back it up, but I have looked through almost all of them regarding pregnancy and loss- and there isn’t one.

I remember my very first baby loss, of baby Noah. I was 11 weeks along, and I had just announced the happy news to the Facebook world three days prior. I had four living, perfect children, and I thought that it wasn’t even a threat at this point. I was devastated. While I sobbed, one person mentioned, “You shouldn’t have told everyone. . .

Obviously, they meant nothing harmful at this statement. But I still remember it, five and a half years later. They were so, so, wrong.

I could not have gotten through that period of grief without people. One lady, that I would never have even thought to call, showed up at my door with flowers and a hug. Another, brought chopped vegetables to “throw at the kids” (I thought that was so clever) and a precious tea cup. Others messaged me or texted. I didn’t feel embarrassed at all. There was a baby, a sweet, amazing baby inside me, and he or she died and we don’t know why. That is devastating, to anyone who actually believes in the value of life. The people who showered me with love and prayer were literally God’s hands in my days, whether they know that or not, and they were not my close family or friends. They were women who had walked this path and knew what it entailed. To this day, when I think of them, I’m so humbled.

The second loss, we had decided to wait until Christmas to surprise the kids. What a cute memory that will be. Until it wasn’t, and baby Jordan left us as fast as he or she came, at around seven weeks. No one knew we were expecting, so I juggled the physical and emotional pain, with seven children and various activities, while my hubby had his wisdom teeth extracted with tremendous complications. What a time that was. Eventually I told a few friends, but it was a very alone, cold, and broken time. We had to tell the kids at this point so they would know why things were hard at home. They were devastated, and bummed that we hadn’t told them in the first place.

The third one, I didn’t wait that long. I was so, so, so sick and believe me, looked pregnant at like 13 days. I feel like I’ve gotten a bit of confidence now. I was so excited for this precious baby. We told family and friends right away, and told everyone else around 10 weeks. I think my hubby announced it at church around 8 weeks? I’m so thankful for our church family, because they hooted, hollered and congratulated us and made this baby their own. I could have waited until the hallowed 12, but it didn’t really matter because our baby didn’t die until way after that. So I still had to un-tell everyone anyways.

The point is- it’s a life, or it’s not.

It’s a baby; a beautiful gift from the Father- or it’s not.

We wonder why the world doesn’t believe that babies are babies, but we act like they aren’t until a specific undisclosed time. But what if they die early on? Yeah, what if?! And now we expect mamas to go through this alone? What a horrible, awful message we send to young moms. So then, the underlying message is, maybe only tell only a few friends or specific family. That’s all well and fine, but what if they can’t give you the support you need? I love my friends dearly, but most of them are in the same, busy season that I am. The ones I really needed the most were the ones a life stage or two ahead of me. Unfortunately, they can also be the ones that dictate the unspoken rules.

The first twelve weeks can be the absolute hardest. Sickness, fatigue, fear, and the constant loom that this baby may not make it- but you are all on your own. I don’t think that this is what God intends for new life, and for family life within the church at large. I think all life is God-breathed and created for a purpose. Yes. Babies die before the end of the first trimester. They also can die during the second trimester. Sometimes- I’ve heard so many sad, quiet, stories- they die at birth. Death is here. And it will be, until He comes again. So, I think we should celebrate when we can.

If you are expecting- or when you are- and you want to keep it under wraps- absolutely! You go ahead and do that! This is your special time, and you get to decide. Everyone is different, and some people are private. You do you, always.

But I know too many ladies, and more every week, that tell me their stories, and how they suffered all alone. I can see it in their eyes- the pain, the unspoken grief, and the bitterness at being on their own at such a sad, awful time. My heart simply breaks for them. And these are ladies who attend churches that believe babies are formed at conception, and that they must be protected. Some of them were sooo excited and couldn’t wait to tell everyone! But they didn’t, because what if the baby dies? Then it would be so. . . What?

I ask you?

Embarrassing? Hard? Triggering?

Yes, it’s hard. It’s hard to value life. To laugh when it comes, and cry when it leaves. It is very hard. It is so, so hard. It’s literally against our very culture to celebrate life, because it isn’t considered to actually be of value. But like I tell my children, and often, the hard stuff is where the blessing lies. Don’t be afraid of the hard.

So, if you are expecting something precious, and want to shout from the rooftops what God has done for you, DO IT! Do NOT be afraid! And if you want me to celebrate with you, I will bring the wine herbal tea. There is nothing like new life. I will celebrate and pray for you and your baby. If you want to keep it secret, do that! You will remember this season for your whole life. Do whatever you wish. But do not let the fear of man (or woman) make your decision for you. God is so good. He is celebrating with you, too.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15

You Don’t Have to be Thankful

*Disclaimer: If you are high on life and thankful for everything from the newspaper boy to the cutlery in your kitchen, then this post isn’t for you.*

I’ll never forget my first thanksgiving as a newly married wife. We had just moved to the Far North (make fun if you want, but it is nearly ten hours more north than I was before) I had just started a job that I hated, we just started a new church, I had no friends, and just failed at quitting smoking, AGAIN. Not to mention that it was my first holiday away from our family. I was absolutely heart broken. There was snow on the ground, it was cold, we lived way out in the country, and went from having numerous dinners (usually five for each holiday) to one. Yes, I was thankful to be with my handsome hubby after months apart; yes, I was thankful to have our own little home to fuss over; yes, I was thankful I had a job. But mostly? I felt completely alone. I put on my most THANKFUL face, put my hands in the air during worship at church, and felt like I was lying to everyone. Not that anyone was around.

Is that the goal? Is that what God wanted? Was I being “Christian?”

Good grief. Why did Jesus even come?

He came to abolish the sacrifices people used to have to make to absolve their sins. To make a personal relationship with us. To tear down the veil. To become one with us. And here, on a holiday the Church has adopted as it’s own, I lied to Him. I distanced myself from Him, because I wasn’t feeling how I thought I was supposed to.

Forcing our feelings, or convincing ourselves that other people have it worse than us, does not change how we feel. Looking at the bright side, trying to see the good in the bad, all of these are beautiful, good things. But they don’t necessarily heal depression, or help someone going through a loss. I think of one of my best friends, who lost her dad on last year’s Thanksgiving holiday. Of my brother and sister in law, who lost their baby last week. Are they thankful today? Does God not understand that?

What does the Bible say?

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

We are not tied to one day of thankfulness, it must permeate our every hour. However, nothing spoken in the Bible was meant for us to do in our own strength. He came for US. He mourns with us, He celebrates with us, He makes all things new.

Today is the same as every day. If you are hurting and broken, remember why He came in the first place- to comfort those who mourn, to save us, to overcome the world. And by all means, be thankful for that!

But if today, you are hurting and you are sad, and the “bright sides” and the thinking of “those who have it worse” aren’t changing your heart, don’t pretend. He doesn’t want phoniness, he wants US. He wants to bear our burdens, to heal our sorrows. Don’t make light of what He came to save. He would rather have our real cries, our real pain, our ugly brokenness, than our fake happy faces.

Jesus came to take away our “have to’s”. He is only interested in our “want to’s.”

So today, I am so thankful for our marriage, our children, our country, our faith, our grace. I’m thankful for our days at home. But today, Jesus, I’m not going to thank you that my family is in pain, and for losing another little niece or nephew. I’m not going to thank you that my brothers and sister in law are moving away. And Lord? While we’re on the subject, I’m not ready to thank you for the baby we didn’t get to see, either. I’m not there yet, Lord! But I trust you to comfort me. I trust you, and I bless your Holy name. And I pray that you make me thankful, because I just can’t do it without you. Above all the stuff, all the troubles and all the joy, I am so thankful that You know me, and You still love me. I am thankful that you want my real-ness over my phoniness every day. 

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Am I wrong? Right? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As Unto the Lord

Okay. So we have talked submitting. But that doesn’t mean much without a comparison. See, we submit to the government, knowing if we don’t follow their laws we could go to jail or be penalized. We submit to our parents, or at least did at one time (or pretended to.) It doesn’t mean a lot to “submit” unless it’s given a value.

As unto the Lord.

Now, I submit to the Lord because He has given me every blessing. All good things come from Him. He created me, and my children. He has given me beauty for ashes. I have a beautiful home, my husband loves me. I have a great family. I live in an awesome country. And this is why I praise, and submit, to the Lord. Right?

Wrong.

I submit to Him, because HE IS GOD.

Not for what He’s done.

For Who He is.

The Creator of the world, who did it all in seven days. The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. The Maker of Love. The One who knows all. There is so much I could say, and it has NOTHING to do with what He’s done for me. I pray, that if tomorrow I lose it all, I will still praise His name and submit to Him. Oh, I pray that so hard.

Now my husband.

He is not God. I don’t imagine your husband is either. He isn’t perfect. He makes mistakes. He has overcome lots himself, he will stumble and fall. He will hurt me. He will err in judgement.

But I must to submit to him, because of WHO HE IS.

Knowing that he will mess up, think of himself before me, make a rash decision, not think things through . . . I submit to him, knowing these promises:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm, and the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure. Ecclesiastes 8:5

So, what does it mean to submit, as unto the Lord? Well, how do we act towards our Lord?

-NEVER. Never. Never talk badly about him. Even, and especially, if it’s true. If you’re mad, and can’t get through it, get solid Christian help. That’s great. Vent to the Lord who created him. He’s the only one who can fix him anyways.

-If it’s not from your heart, it’s not true. Don’t pretend to agree with him. If you don’t, tell him in love but don’t be expecting your own way. If you don’t agree with his decision, don’t tell everyone but him. Pray for the peace of knowing that the situation will always comes out for God’s glory, if you honour Him in your obedience. For me, this is usually a “fake it till I make it” moment. I know it’s going to work out. But I want to fight, so bad. And then I regret it, and wish I would have just waited, just a day or two, to get my mouth to follow my heart. I’m getting there. Two steps forward, write about it, three steps back.

-It doesn’t matter if he believes the same as you. There is no description or qualifier here. It doesn’t say to submit to your Christian or perfect husband. Nope. It says the one you got. Obviously, it’s hard when your hubby doesn’t want you to go to church, or he wants you to do things that are not right. I know there are husbands who go against what God wants for you, or your marriage. That sucks. And that is not for some girl on a blog to speak to. That’s where the Holy Spirit and solid, God-fearing guidance come into play.

-Have a solid faith. If you have never allowed him to make decisions, or he isn’t capable (by history or character) of making good decisions, don’t give him something he’s going to fail at right out of the gate. Take small steps, allowing God to mature your faith, and allowing your husband to slowly take over leadership. Peter of the Bible did not walk on water the first time He met Jesus. As he came to know Him, witnessing His miracles and wonders, he took that leap. If you fully trust him, then it’s fine. If you’re afraid, let him and God earn your trust, with small steps. Pray for faith. He tells us that He will give what we ask for in faith.

And when you start giving these areas over to your husband, pray. With a desperate, pleading, and, dare I say, repentant heart. Many men cannot make good decisions because they have never been ALLOWED to. We, as women, need to own that. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to convict us where we need to be convicted. If we treated our husbands with the reverence and respect they deserve, just for being THEM, in all their imperfect glory, they would be able to rise up and be the men we so want them to be.

So what are the rewards? Why do this? Obviously, God tells us to. But what benefits are there for you, and your family? Stay tuned!

What did I say wrong? What was right? What is the hardest part of all this? I want to hear from you!