I want to say thank you. Your responses and outpouring of love for me and my family has been incredible. I am overwhelmed with the number of kind words and heartfelt messages you’ve sent. Thank you. Thank you for reading, thank you for sharing, thank you for validating my pain, but also for gently pushing me towards healing. Thank you – old friends and now some new friends who have reached out – thank you for telling me that these words mean something, and somehow brought about a little healing for you, too. To God be ALL the glory.
Thank you, God, for the gift of words, and the sharing of words. Thank you for showing me purpose in our pain. Thank you for community in infertility and miscarriage, even though we didn’t go looking for it.
I want to tell you that in all of this, our faith has not wavered. We have grief and sorrow, but God’s love for us has never come into question. We do not understand – but still, we pray – and remember the promises God has left in scripture for us.
These are some of the verses I’ve been clinging to, yet there are so many more: Romans 12:12, James 1:12, Titus 3:7, James 1:2-3, Exodus 14:14, 1 Peter 5:10-11, Ephesians 4:1.
Last week I was talking to a precious high school senior I work with. We were dissecting her upcoming college decision and how she was praying about making the right choice. In the middle of our conversation she said: “Mrs. Rachel, I just hope I see it. If what God wants for me is right in front of my face, I don’t want to miss it just because it’s not exactly how I wanted it to look.”
Her words captivated my thoughts as they hung in the air like Autumn leaves drifting in the wind, delaying their descent as they slowly float towards earth.
There have been people all around me, acting like the hands and feet of Christ as we have walked through this hellish time:
My doctor, who I adore, came into the hospital just to do my procedure, even though she wasn’t on call that day. Our discharge nurse asked to pray over Brian and me before we left, and as he grabbed both of our hands, he spoke the most thoughtful words over us. Our sweet (but extremely rambunctious) AG cuddled with me on the couch for hours after we got home. Friends showed up with delicious meals. Text messages came in early Thursday morning; my people were up and praying before I went back to the OR. Messages that keep coming, reminding me that I have not been forgotten, and my people are still praying.
I don’t want to miss these blessings. I don’t want to miss any of it.
When I was pregnant with Ansley, we picked three purposeful words, and asked God to instill these words and ideas into her, as we intend to do in our parenting. For Ansley Grace, the words are strong, smart, and silly. She encapsulates all three in such amazing, sometimes even overwhelming, ways.
With them comes responsibility: If I want Ansley to make smart choices, then I need to do so first. If I intend to raise a strong young woman who can stand up for her faith, the same should be true of me. When life gets hard, and the best thing we can do is laugh and poke fun at ourselves, I hope she’s already seen me do it two hundred times.
With our third pregnancy, the first word that came about in our praying over the baby was calm. I very literally asked God for a calm spirit in our family – but also that this child could be calm in the face of trials, troubles, and even triumphs. We began praying for a calm and gentle spirit, but one that had a fire inside, too. That’s where courageous comes in.
A courageous person steps up, steps in, and remains. A courageous person has a firm foundation of faith. A courageous person is brave, and doesn’t back down. Webster’s dictionary says courage means “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
Within hours of knowing we lost our baby, those words completely overcame me. I quickly knew they would be meaningful for the rest of my life. Words we had begun praying over our child have now become a mantra. God is calling me to be calm, and live courageously on earth, while I wait to meet our babies in heaven.
That has been my word. This will be my calling.
A couple days after we knew our baby was no longer with us, I came downstairs, started the coffee, and silently sat in our den while tears began to fill my eyes and land on my cheeks. Out of routine I opened my devotional, and a hand-written, scratch-paper Psalm 27:14 fell out. In that moment, it was as if the Lord himself was in my presence. He kneeled down, picked my notebook paper up, handed it to me and said:
Wait on me. Be strong – don’t let this overcome you, take courage, it’s here for you, please take it. Trust me, and remember in your heart where we’ve already come together. Wait for my timing, wait for my will to be accomplished, be calm, wait and know that I am Lord, and I love you.
In that moment, I was like the white-robed ones coming out of great tribulation referenced in Revelation 7:13-17. In these verses, the afflicted are set apart. They are protected by God himself. In verse 17, my translation says that “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The tears kept coming as I fumbled through my ESV bible to read more about the scratch paper Psalm. In it, the notes at the bottom of the page said: “To wait for the Lord is to look to him with dependence and trust, not passivity; this is what enables one to be strong and courageous.”
Being a woman of courage is to be a woman of action, because we serve a God of action. In His word, God affirms that He will look after the afflicted, be near to the brokenhearted, and will personally wipe away every tear.
Several years ago, I heard a couple older cousins talk about jewelry their husbands had given them upon the birth of each of their children. I made sure to discuss this with my husband when we wanted to start our own family. Like the incredible gift-giver that he is, Brian surprised me with a diamond and pearl ring the day of Ansley’s birth. As impeccable as it is, what I love most is the story attached. The diamond was from the original engagement ring my father-in-law gave his betrothed. When Brian was born, Tom had the diamond put into a new setting, and it became a necklace for Susan, then symbolizing both the love they shared for each other and their child.
The fact that 29 years later, they gave the diamond to us, created an unforgettable legacy of love. One day, perhaps when Ansley has her first child, we will give the ring to her, and tell her the story of a boy who loved a girl, gave her a diamond, and promised her forever. Tom and Susan’s love story will grow old, but it will also stay young in the new lives of generations to come.
I wanted a piece of jewelry to commemorate our third child. Kind of like these written posts, I wanted something to remind me that that we have suffered loss, but we are not lost. A legacy born of love will not die, but in time, grow and become new again.
A while ago, I heard about The Giving Keys jewelry. ‘The Giving Keys’ are old door keys, with powerful words stamped on them. The company employs men and women transitioning out of homelessness in Los Angeles, and helps these people find hope and new chapters. But that’s not all. In the spirit of their pay-it-forward attitude, the jewelry pieces are meant to be passed on to another at some point.
As I perused their website, God was not to be outdone. One of their 9 pre-selected words is courage. Of course.
I ordered a very pretty, dainty gold necklace to accompany my key and even paid a couple extra dollars for faster shipping, hoping that it could get to me before the next week. I wanted to wear my new piece of remembrance as soon as possible.
As I rested the afternoon of my surgery, Brian brought in a small shipping envelope from LA. I wasn’t supposed to get it that early, but I did. So on a Thursday afternoon, I put on a long necklace with a small gold key that is stamped with the word courage. And because my hope is in heaven, I have courage in knowing that God will redeem. God will take care of our broken hearts. God will take care of our babies, all of them.
Someday, God will place someone in my life that will need encouragement only a gal with a story like mine can give; I’ll know it’s time to give the necklace away, and re-gift it. And it will all come to be because of a Savior, and a baby.
I can look to that time with a hopeful heart, because I trust that God will make all things new in his own way. My friend Amy calls that Romans 8:28-ing it.
For now, I wear my key necklace and diamond ring every day, knowing I will eventually give them both away.
Every morning I go downstairs, start the coffee, sit for a while, read, pray, and write.
Three days a week I go to work, the other four I hang with my people.
Seven days a week I’m expectant. I am not expectant with child, but I am expecting God will work miracles out in front of our eyes, every day – if only we have eyes to see them.
But oh, that we would have eyes to see.