Thursday, December 22, 2011

boot camp

I recently listened to a sermon titled "God's boot camp".
How essentially the Israelites had a boot camp in the desert.
We too are in God's boot camp, sometimes more intense
than others, but I think we are always being refined and taught.
Every struggle we go through, every suffering, is a way for God
to refine us and teach us even more. I think there are two things we need
to get out of every trial we experience: we need to learn
something and we need to act on it.

My biggest boot camp is called 'Kathleen'.
In the valley of death I learned that God truly does love us unconditionally because in a time when I didn't spent much time with God and didn't do much for God, He still loved me and blessed me.
I learned that with God's strength I can survive anything,
even the death of a child.
I learned that God is in control, no matter the circumstances.
I learned that ALL things can be used for good.
I learned compassion for others who experience the death of a child and I learned to relate to this niche of people that only very few can relate to.
And I acted on it by serving other bereaved parents with my photography.

Now I am going through another boot camp.
It is called "blighted ovum". I thought I was 9 weeks pregnant
but there was no baby.. It has been a time of sadness and disappointment.
This 'pregnancy' happened at a time when we truly desired one more baby, but were not trying and even preventing it. So when it happened anyway, I really thought this was the final baby that God wanted to bless us with, in His own special way, miraculously. But that didn't turn out to be His plan. His plans were different than I thought.. Yet it was still His plan. I am struggling to understand though. In many ways, Kathleen's awful death seemed to make more sense.. But I am trying hard not to lean on my own understand and trust in God with all my heart (Pro 3:5) as I go through this boot camp. I still don't know what I am supposed to learn from this trial, and what I am supposed to do with it. Maybe what I am supposed to learn is more trust. And to really learn and grasp that the Lord determines our steps. "A man's step are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" (Pro 20:24)
I hope and pray however that one day I will be able to look back and understand. That one day I can tell you what I learned from this, and what I did.
But for now I am still going through the boot camp, with a heart willing and open to learn, to be refined. "The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart" (Pro 17:3).

I am thankful that I am in God's boot camp, and not wandering the wilderness, lost and alone. God is faithful, never leaving or forsaking us. "
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (Deuteronomy 31:6)

In the midst of the boot camp I am at peace. Sad but still at peace. And I am finding myself more grateful than ever for the many, many blessings God has granted me with. Maybe that's what this boot camp is all about: trust, peace and gratefulness.

Monday, July 4, 2011

overwhelmed with happiness

These days I feel overwhelmed with happiness.
There was a time I thought I could never feel happy again.
But even before that time, before Kathleen died,
I did not think such happiness as this was possible.
I am reading through 'A Grace Disguised' by Jerry Sittser
and I am starting to understand.
To understand how it is ever possible to experience such great loss,
and then such great happiness.
The book explains how our soul grows through loss.
That loss enlarges the soul.
And although we may feel more sorrow, and more compassion,
we are also able to feel a greater happiness.
It's not a happiness I feel because I am healed.
Some losses you are healed from, like you heal from a broken limb.
Other losses are like an amputation. You never heal.
But you learn to live with it, and to live abundantly.
And you learn to use your amputation for something good.
I once met a guy who was born without limbs,
just one little foot with one toe.
Although he was born with this loss,
I am sure he experienced loss and suffering growing up.
But now he travels the world and encourages people beyond words.
With his little foot he does everything:
types on the computer, answers the phone, swims.. everything!
It is amazing what we are capable of doing, in spite of our amputations.
Or maybe because of them.
My life still has sorrow, not just my own but also the sorrow of others.
My life has darkness, but in the darkness a light shines so much brighter.
And these days there is much light. Much happiness. Much joy.
And I start to understand the words of Jesus:
"Blessed are those who mourn, because they shall be comforted".
I am comforted, and I am blessed.. and I am happy.
Thank you Kathleen for enlarging my soul.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

four roses

Recently someone very dear to me gave me four roses.
One rose for each of my children.
That may seem like such a simple thing, a simple gift.
To me it was not simple.
To me it was an invaluable gift -
one that touched me, comforted me, brought me joy.
You see, whenever someone remembers my little Kathleen,
whenever someone acknowledges her, mentions her name,
that is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give me.

As another bereaved mother puts it:
"The mention of my child's name might make me cry,
not mentioning my child's name will surely break my heart".

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

my special children

I have been thinking a lot about my children lately.
Thinking how each one is special.
Kaleb is my special firstborn -
the one who made me a mom,
who introduced me to the best job in the world,
who made me want more children when I used to want none.
Kaden is my special rainbow baby -
the rainbow at the end of a storm,
a baby conceived and born after the death of another child.
Kaitlin is my special gift -
the kind of gift I never expected in my life,
a gift that daily blesses my soul, touches my heart.

But then I think of Kathleen.
And I find no words to explain how special she is..
All I know is she is the one who changed me the most,
who impacted me the most.
She is simply just... my special baby.

Friday, March 18, 2011

God's love

Yesterday I attended a mother's group at my church.
We talked about God's love, His unconditional love.
Yet we often find ourselves trying to earn His love.
As we were talking about it, I realized something.
Somehow over these past three years my mindset has changed.
Somehow I am grasping the love of God better.
I know I used to serve God in hope that He might reward me.
Perhaps if I served Him more, did more,
He might bless me with more children.
No, it wasn't my only motivation but I realize it was part of it.
I WAS trying to earn God's love and His favor.
I served relentlessly, sometimes more than a full-time job.
And I was blessed with another pregnancy.
But it wasn't successful..
Then a year followed where I did not spend much time with God.
It was not that I didn't want to, I just couldn't.
Anytime I tried tears would flow and it just got too hard.
3 months after Kathleen passed I went to a women's conference.
I spend two days crying, non stop.
It was releasing but also exhausting.
And I was tired of having everyone see me cry.
No, somehow I just couldn't handle God's presence.
I still went to church every week.
I was there physically, but not emotionally.
I still read my bible and usually daily, but ONLY the psalms.
I hardly prayed. I didn't have words anyway..
I stepped back from volunteering as much.
I definitely wasn't deserving God's love.
But God was gracious, loving and patient.
Not condemning but only overbearing.
The following year I went back to the women's conference.
My main reason was just to get a weekend away with the girls.
I had no real expectations of an encounter with God.
Then one of the speakers told me the favor of God was upon me.
And it was. I was actually pregnant. I just didn't know it yet.
So in the midst of my hardest time with God, He blessed me.
He showed me unconditional love.
He doesn't do things because we deserve them.
Or withhold blessings because we don't deserve them.
He does everything in His timing. Because He loves us.
I know I haven't grasped His unconditional love fully.
How can we ever as human beings?
But I know now that I understand better.
I know my God better. I know His love better.
God's love.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

weaker and stronger

Life as a bereaved mother has many paradoxes.
I believe this is one of them:
our loss makes us both weaker and stronger.
Stronger because you feel invincible -
if you can survive this, the death of a child,
you can survive anything.
But then there are days when you feel weaker.
Weaker because you are already filled with sadness
and little things seem to bring you over that edge.
Weaker because you easily saddened and burdened
for others who travel the same heartbreaking journey.
Or is that compassion?
I just know there are days I wish I wasn't this weak.
That I could go back to being ignorant and blind
to the suffering of parents all around the world.
And then there are days I am grateful God has opened my eyes
and opened my heart to these people.
That He has allowed me to be part of their journey,
part of their grief.
I feel honored and privileged.
And when I go to the hospital I feel strong.
It's a strength I know only God can give.
So my prayer is this:
God, may I be strong when strength is needed
God, may I be weak when weakness is needed.
And whether I am strong or I am weak
may I bring honor, glory and praise to You.

One day the weak shall dwell with the strong.

Monday, February 28, 2011

the month of March

As I approach and enter the month of March
I have a growing heaviness in my heart.
At first I am not quite aware of it.
Then I wonder why it's there, why I feel so sad,
why I cry so easily.
But then I remember it's March.
It's the month of my firstborn's birthday.
He will be five this year.
But it's also the month of Katleen's birthday, and passing.
She would have been three this year.
There is much to celebrate in March.
But it is also the month of sadness,
of remembering,
of wondering what could have been.
This year there will be three children around her cake.
I still wish it was four. That she was here.
That she could blow out her own candles.
That we would hear her laughter, see her smile,
watch her as she would open her gifts.
I miss her.
It's March again.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

the world stops

Today a little baby girl joined my Kathleen in Heaven.
Today my world stops.

How can I go on doing life as normal on a day of such sadness?
How can I edit her pictures?
How can I work on my business website?
How can I look for hat patterns?
How can I do any of the things I had planned for today.
Because today is not another day.
Today is the day baby D died.
Today my world stops.

But I know it won't stop for long.
Tomorrow will be another day with things to do.

Tomorrow their world will still be stopped.
The world of baby D's parents.
And it will be stopped for a long time.

I remember when my world stopped.
I wish the whole world had stopped.
At least for a day, at least for a moment.
But it didn't..

And every day a baby dies. Every day a baby is born.
Every day there is sadness and there is joy.
We must mourn with those who mourn and
rejoice with those who rejoice.
I don't know how you do both, but I know God does
and He can show us how.

But today I mourn. Today my world has stopped.

Monday, January 3, 2011

slow motion

Yesterdays sermon was about hitting the pause button in a hectic life. It may sound strange as a mother of three children, two of them being babies, but I don't feel like my life is hectic and playing in fast forward. Contrary I actually feel like my life is finally in play mode again, after having been in slow motion for so long. After I lost Kathleen my days seemed endless and months felt like years. I think grief slows everything down as you watch life from inside your bubble. And then every month I waited and hoped that my womb would be filled with new life, that I would be restored. For a long time I felt that was all my life was filled with: grief and waiting, and then more grief. After thirteen months of waiting my prayers were finally answered and my little Kaden was conceived, but then came more waiting - waiting for him to arrive, and much of that waiting was spent on bed rest. Life for me continued to be in slow motion. The day he was born and was safe and sound in my arms was the day when my life entered play mode again. I still grieve my Kathleen, but I am no longer waiting, no longer living life in slow motion. How grateful I am for play mode, for being alive, feeling alive.