Do I Love My Kids More Than I Love Jesus?

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

via Worth James Goddard on flickr

A tiny casket lowered into the sullen dirt and the sky, swollen with grief.

The parents stood to the side, watching their baby girl being buried in a box and my scarf was soaked with tears. I kept stealing glances at my friend, wondering how she was still standing. Wondering how to comfort her, because there is no comfort any human can offer for the loss of a child.

I still have their daughter’s picture on my fridge and I tear up when I look at her delicate face, this baby born with a rare genetic disease to a couple that tried eight years for a child.

“If it has to be something, give me cancer or let me lose my house but please don’t take my kids,” I pray at night. “Please God, don’t make me go through that–”

Getting pregnant was hard for us too. We were told we would probably never have children because of my anorexia, and then a pastor prayed over us on national television for a son within the year–and we conceived a son within the year. And now we have two boys.

But I’ve also lost two babies, while they were in the womb, and it’s near-wrecked me. Those miscarriages bore stillborn faith and for awhile it was all I could do to just keep going.

I didn’t know, before having kids, the agony of giving birth to your heart and not being able to protect it.

via ILinca Vânău

via ILinca Vânău

The excruciating pain of sending your vulnerable little heart–with his puppy-dog backpack–into a world full of sin.

And the truth is? I don’t know if I love Jesus more than I love my children.

I don’t know if I love Jesus enough to say, “Anything Lord–whatever your plan is, whatever it is you want to use my children for, whatever your will is for this family–please do it.”

I’ve heard of parents giving God the glory when their children die and I want to be that person and yet–I also believe in grief, because what is the resurrection without death? And what is praise without sorrow? Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.

Some things in life are just really, really hard. And we’re not supposed to be able to comprehend the pain of losing our children–it’s supposed to be heart-wrenching, because otherwise God sacrificing his own son wouldn’t mean much.

I recently returned from Uganda and Rwanda, where I met women who’d lost multiple children, and I met children who’d lost their mothers and fathers, and death was a reality for everyone there.

But God was a greater reality.

He rose off the face of every person I met, he rose triumphant and joyful, he rose with the promise of an eternity filled with life.

Jesus says to love him more than we love our sons and daughters.

Jesus says a lot of hard things and I’m a sinner saved by grace and it’s all I can do some days to repent. But I want to want to love him more than anything in this world. I want God to be a greater reality for me than death.

via Irena Selaković

via Irena Selaković

And I know that I don’t serve a heartless savior. When I commit my children to him in prayer while seated at the scratched wooden kitchen table, my sons watching Thomas the Train in the background, I don’t commit them to just anyone. I commit them to their Maker.

And when I pray that Jesus would be glorified both in my family’s living and dying, I know God weeps–not only out of joy for the surrender of our hearts, but out of pain–knowing how hard it is to give up a child.

“I just wish I could be there to show her around heaven,” my friend said to me following the funeral of her baby girl, her eyes blurry with tears. “It’s such a big place–I just worry she’ll get lost.”

Oh friends, these mother hearts–they’re meant to ache with the thought of loss.

But this earth, is but a glance, and then, we have forever to spend with Christ and our children. Hallelujah.

Blessings,

Emily Wierenga

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How to Make Room for Pain

How to Make Room for Pain

Back during my child-bearing years after having one child, I dealt with infertility following an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. Maybe I should be honest and say, infertility dealt with me. Everything I thought I knew about God, motherhood, my purpose, my desires, my very identity-all were stained by a hard season in my life.

The pain of a harsh diagnosis and more than that even, the unfulfilled promises from the Word, pierced my heart like a sword. Me, who always saw myself as a mom of a houseful found herself the mom of an only child. Depression made a move on me when I realized the one thing I wanted above all-to have a big family-wasn’t happening. Three failed adoption attempts later, I had no clue what I was supposed to do.

It was a weird place to be in and the pain and loss gnawed at the edges of my days making me sad, resentful and filled with self-pity for a long stretch. Their was little place for gratitude in my heart and I simply couldn’t see the point in any of it.

A few years went by and the pain stuck around and the empty, inferior feeling each time another friend announced another pregnancy. I basically got used to it and reached a place where I could compartmentalize the pain better. It was kind of like telling an annoying dog, “Go sit over there. I’m not petting you!”

Because whatever you pet sticks around.

It took awhile and God let me dangle (at least it felt like I was dangling) over a precipice of self pity until I was ready to do these three things.

  1. Accept His will to raise an only child. (Which ultimately turned out for the best)
  2. Stop bemoaning what I couldn’t change.
  3. Look for the joy right in front of me.

My pain didn’t disappear right away but it stopped hijacking my peace. Oh, it had it’s place, like yellow jackets at an outdoor barbecue, always buzzing around and usually avoidable but able to sting deep if you decide to mess.

I did my best to just leave it alone and ignore the dull ache. There were times, during certain scenes in movies or deep conversations, where it rose up and spilled down my cheeks. Still are. And I regret I could never give my husband a son to carry on the family name. I was the last hope until I realized God, in His quirkiness, had a different plan to carry on the Battistelli name. He let our daughter make his name known. 

How awesome is God! His ways truly are past finding out!

Whatever deep pain you hold, know it won’t go away completely. It can’t because it’s part of who you are, part of what makes you human. But you can make room for it and you can make it lie down and be quiet, at least most of the time!

I found three  primary things to help heal my wounded heart.

  1. Time. It really does help to lessen the pain.
  2. Jesus. Spending time with Him doesn’t always change your circumstance but it will most definitely change you.
  3. Cultivating a heart of thankfulness until it becomes as unconscious as breathing. Because when we thank Him, we’re not focusing on what we lack, rather we take stock of all the blessings He’s loaded our lives with.

I can’t change my past but I have complete power over my present. And my present will determine my future. Your pain won’t go away but I promise it will diminish and you’ll learn to make room for it. It will have a place in your story but know this: it’s not the whole story.

And as time goes on, the edges will soften and I promise, if you look for it, you will find joy.

What are you thankful for right now, today? I’d love you to share!

Blessings,

Kate, Kate Battistelli

Looking Beyond the Pain

Rain over the stormy sea, abstract dark background.

Hopes crushed not for the second or even third time but for the fifth time, I cried out to the nurse, “I don’t get it! Why does this keep happening?!”

All blood vials, needle pokes, doctor visits, weigh-ins and vital signs indicated that this time – at twenty weeks along – I should be seeing a beautifully strong heartbeat from my sweet child. Instead, I sullenly and sorrowfully stared at my perfectly healthy baby whose heart had stopped beating for no apparent reason.

Why God? Why does this keep happening? WHY??

Read the rest of Looking Beyond the Pain at For the Family where I am posting today.

My Miscarriage {a story of loss, grief, and a miracle}

As most of you know, miscarriage is near and dear to my heart. Today I am so grateful Candace Cameron Bure’s sister is sharing her story with us. I pray that it brings hope and healing to many.

Join Candace and Bridgette…..

Candace Cameron Bure and her sister BridgetteHey- Candace Cameron Bure here! My eldest sister Bridgette felt led to share her journey about having a miscarriage. I’m so proud of her for writing this down, giving hope to those of you who are hurting and heartbroken. Bridgette is not a blogger nor has a website, she simply wanted to be an encouragement and lend her heart to bring praise to God through it all. I know you’ll be blessed by reading her story.
-xox Baby Sofia’s Aunt Candace
www.candacecameronbure.net

On a sweltering day in August, 2005 I finally got home with my two young children after a morning of errands. At nine weeks pregnant the word “nap” sounded perfect. I settled my boys into their room and rested on the couch. After an hour I woke up to a gushing sensation. As I sat up I knew what was happening. “No, God, no” was all I could say. I ran to the bathroom and my worst nightmare was confirmed; I was having a miscarriage. My stomach cramped and bled as I sat and cried. How could this be happening? I’ve had 2 healthy pregnancies. How could I be losing my baby?

The next few minutes in the bathroom were moments I will replay in my head over and over and cherish for a lifetime. I looked down at the toilet paper and there was my baby. Nothing else. Just her. Just like you see in all the books. A baby at nine weeks old looks just like a little gummy bear with dark eyes and little webbed hands and feet. The room was quiet and still and I heard God’s voice whisper, “This is your daughter, you need to say goodbye.” I hadn’t even felt her move inside me. I wanted more time. But I knew this wouldn’t be goodbye forever, just until we meet again in Heaven. I sat. I prayed. I said goodbye.

My neighbors stayed home with my boys as I was rushed to the hospital. My husband John was on his way to meet me there. Doctors and nurses were running around me so fast it was a blur. There were no questions asked, just poking and prodding, prepping me for a DNC and a call made to prepare the operating room. I was on the phone with Mom telling her what was happening and her words were calm, loving, and strict. She said, “Bridgette, do not get a DNC. Do not let them take you to the O.R. until they have done an ultrasound. Don’t do anything, I am on my way.” My initial thought was, “Mom these doctors and nurses know what they are doing”, but she was adamant, so I exhaled and agreed.

I took her words seriously and told the nurses that I wanted an ultrasound before heading to the O.R. They told me they would do one there but I insisted the ultrasound be done in my room and I wasn’t going to the O.R. until it was. I saw the nurse roll her eyes as she walked away and tell the other nurses in the hallway that I was becoming a “problem patient”.

The ultrasound tech came in and started to perform the tests. She looked at the monitor, looked at me and my husband, looked at the monitor again and looked back at me. “What? What is it?” I asked. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Your still pregnant.” “No I’m not. I said goodbye to my daughter at home in the bathroom.” I told her, confused. “No, you’re still pregnant” she said, and turned the monitor toward me so we could see our baby’s heart beating. We cried together and thanked God for this miracle.

Because of my initial doctor’s cold bedside manner, once at home, I decided I wanted a second opinion. The new doctor saw something she didn’t want to confirm immediately, so she sent me to a specialist. The specialist gave me surprising news; I had been carrying twins! This confirmed that I did in fact lose my baby at home but by Gods grace, He allowed me to enjoy one here on earth. I was shown that I had two sacs and one placenta, indicating that they would have been identical. The specialist showed me the empty sac and the sac that was beautifully beating away. He said that my body would either reject the second baby or the empty sac would absorb back into my body and I would continue to have a normal pregnancy. I lay on the table motionless, trying to process everything. My heart sunk into my chest as my thoughts turned back to the day in the hospital, prepping for a DNC and the phone call with Mom that saved my healthy baby’s life. If I had not been that “problem patient” and stood firm on my request, the life growing inside of me would have died too. But could I still lose her?

I did continue to have a healthy pregnancy and nine months later our daughter Reese was born. When she was 4 years old, she sat on my lap and asked, “Mommy, do I have a sister?” I was shocked because it wasn’t something we’d ever discussed. She told me that she often dreams about a little girl and talks to her in her prayers. I had planned on waiting to tell her when she was older, but decided now was the time. Reese knows the little girl in her dreams is her sister Sophia and that God is keeping her safe in His arms.

I am so blessed that I got to see Sofia, hold her, and touch her even if it was only for a few moments. She was a part of me, us, our family. Am I angry with God? No. Do I understand why this happened? No. But those are questions I will ask God when I get to heaven. But will I even have to ask Him?  I know that when I enter into His kingdom, Sofia will be there waiting for me and I will be able to hold her for an eternity.

Blessings,
Bridgette

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