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

See The Battle

A few weeks ago, we sang in church about our weapon being a melody, and fighting our battles with prayer. This was super convicting to me- getting ready for church had NOT gone well. Maybe you know what I mean. We overslept, the whole crew needed baths and showers, nothing got put away the night before since we had gotten home late, we were out of milk, etc. And of course our oldest had worship practice earlier, so that adds an element of chaos getting him out. Everyone bickered and sniped, we couldn’t find the littlest one’s shoes (she takes them off constantly) and we just tornadoed our way down the highway. Yuck.

Dusing worship time, I realized that these moments, the ones that are SUPER HARD and CHAOTIC *are* my battles. It seems ridiculous, but it’s true.

I know some mamas walking through the shadow of death; some who have just lost their husbands; some who deal with health issues of their children or themselves; and the list goes on. Some women face incredibly hard, all-encompassing struggles that last for months or years. I pray that God gives them an extra measure of grace and peace.

What is a struggle? Or a battle, worthy of the promises that come with it? I think it can mean a much broader spectrum.

I think a battle can be any time we are losing our self control to the issue at hand. When our anxiety skyrockets, our blood starts pumping, our voice takes an edge, our patience wears thin, and our joy wavers. This is the battle- in the everyday trials of life in this place.

This all flooded over me during worship. I bawled while I sang- and prayed that He would help me recognize the battle, while I was in it. What a beautiful thing it is to struggle- because then we can access the promises from God! Here are a couple of my favs:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Unfortunately, I got to test it and see if my new lens held up. Our precious, wonderful, fabulous feline, Emily, snuck into the van that night when we were unloading. Of course, we didn’t notice until the following day. Well, I had a PILE of errands that outnumbered my afternoon, and I was planning to take my mom along, who is housebound, to get her out for a bit. Of course, we got out the door later than I hoped. And the smell. I’ll let you imagine it. I found the location of the bulk of the mess. Since kids aren’t supposed to wear their coats in carseats (a really fun new rule!), and since it was warm when we got home, all their coats were left in a pile on the seat. Apparently, that made a nice nest for dear Emily. All their coats needed a few washes (I think it only hit the top one, but I was still undone.) Did I mention that my washing machine was broken, and the repairman couldn’t come until Thursday?

Instead of losing my salvation, I simply hummed. “This is how I fight my battles.” Something changed: I could feel it. I didn’t laugh; I didn’t see the “good” in it. But I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t frustrated. I didn’t speak sharply to the kids, and I didn’t carry it in my neck and shoulders, or for the rest of the afternoon. It was over. Something changed.

I got it cleaned up pretty quickly, and we were on our way. This may not seem like a big deal, but honestly, things like this seem to happen a lot, and they just break me! I do alright with patience when it comes to humans- but silly, annoying circumstances make me crazy. It’s always made me so frustrated and angry with myself. Finally, I feel hopeful that by identifying these little, tiny moments of struggle, I can use them to be closer to my Father.

How about you? What are the things that just “undo” you? What triggers you to lose your self-control? How have you seen breakthrough in your struggles? I would love to hear about them.