The Stories I Never Thought I Would Write

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There are moments in life that shape us and change who we are. But what happens when you take those moments and transform them into words? They are words that tell a story, but it is not just my story. My story represents many stories. It is a voice for the woman who sits in her hospital bed, confused by the baby looking up at her. The little life she holds is not what she expected.

Words have turned into pages, and pages into a book. It is a reminder to the mother who buries her thoughts in guilt. She longs to find joy in the days that feel like a mess.

The day I wept for my lost plans was the day my life became more complete. The loss I felt in the pit of my stomach was actually breathtaking beauty in disguise. I am grateful for the heartache I went through because it has changed my perspective on life. I want to love the unloved. I want to find joy when it seems so difficult to find. I want to speak of hope when everything feels hopeless. 

For three years I have been writing bittersweet vignettes of motherhood. Times of devastation, like when I found out my son had Down syndrome. Or that time I knelt on the bathroom floor and cried in agony as I said goodbye to another unborn baby. The days of joy as I found humor from my children. The unexplainable moment when I delivered my daughter in the shower. It’s all here. I am learning to trust in the brush strokes of the Maker. When parts of the painting look awkward, I have to remember that there is a bigger picture. I ask him to help me find beauty in what I don’t understand.

You can read The Mural & The Maker as an ebook or PDF, which are free! Or you can purchase the print version. I hope you find encouragement and joy as you read moments covered in grace.

With Love, Natalie Falls at nataliefalls.com

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Grieving Together, Differently

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A lot of writers keep journals. I’m not one of them. I haven’t kept one since junior high.

Well, with one exception.

It was the spring my husband Ted and I had to process our obstetrician’s words, “I’m sorry.” The spring when a new life within me unexpectedly died, rather than flourished.

I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do about it. So I bought a blue and white journal at Barnes and Nobles. And I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

One aspect I wrote about was how Ted and I didn’t grieve in the same way or at the same pace. Just as we brought differences to the way we cooked, drove, and parented, we brought differences to our loss and the way we processed it.

It was hard to figure out how to grieve together when we grieved so differently. But we slowly – and often clumsily – navigated it. And, as we did, we continued to grow together, rather than allow the loss to tear us apart. How did we do this? One way was by allowing the other to grieve as they needed to, even if it wasn’t how we preferred.

If you and your husband are currently grieving differently and you’re frustrated or discouraged by it, here are three things to remember that helped us.

1. We’re Wired Differently

Not only do Ted and I have different personalities that influenced our response to loss, the simple fact that he’s a man and I’m a woman affected how we grieved.

In the midst of personal pain, it’s easy to forget that men and women aren’t just wired differently physically, but also mentally and emotionally. And, as frustrating as that can be at times, according to God, that’s a good thing. He didn’t design us to respond to everything identically.

When as a wife I realize and anticipate that Ted is by nature going to respond differently, sometimes even in ways I can’t comprehend, it prepares my heart to be more understanding. More patient. More gracious.

2. We Have Different Vantage Points

While Ted did mourn the death of our preborn baby Noah, he didn’t feel it as intensely as I did. Some of this had to do with his vantage point, or the position from which he experienced it.

I physically carried Noah those 10 weeks. As a result, I felt a deeper connection to her. Ted was more removed, especially that early in the pregnancy. My body also experienced the physical loss of her. Ted’s didn’t. His body wasn’t a constant reminder to him of death. These differences had a tremendous effect on the way we came through the loss of a baby.

3. Different Isn’t the Same as Alone

Even though Ted and I experienced grief differently, we still attempted to walk through it together. To confide in and listen to each other, even if we didn’t understand the way the other was wired or what things looked like from their vantage point. Remembering that our differences didn’t have to isolate us kept us united. We were still companions and confidants on what C.S. Lewis likened to a “long valley, a winding valley.”

It’s been four years since I wrote in that blue and white journal. Four years since Ted and I first discovered that we grieve differently. But you know what? Four years later our marriage is stronger not only because we managed to grow together through the grief, but because we gave each other space to mourn, differently.

Ashleigh
AshleighSlater.com

A Permission Slip For The Mom Who Has Suffered Loss

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Recently I have had several friends suffer loss in their families. Because I have grieved as a mother, I understand a little of their feelings. I say, “a little,” because I would never claim to say, “I know how you feel.” Every loss suffered by every mother is different.

But still, I get it – a little.

One thing I understand – that I was surprised to learn about my own loss – is how many “should’s” there are.

After the dust settles, after the bleeding stops or the meals stop or the memories become more distant, you often “feel” like you should be feeling/doing/thinking something different. Maybe something more, maybe something less, just something different.

It is a huge burden to carry, these “should’s”, especially with the ones you’re already carrying.

So this, dear mom who is grieving, is your permission slip. Before you read it, take a long, deep breath.

Really. Do it.

This is your permission slip to still be dealing with it. Even after it’s been however long. Even after you’ve had another child, or married again, or been to counseling, or put “enough” time (whatever that is) between you and the loss. You can still be grieving.

This is your permission slip to be tired. So tired. Tired for “no” reason, after long night’s sleep. Grief is exhausting.

This is your permission slip to struggle in your marriage. Grief is messy. It brings out the worst (though also at times the best) in relationships.

This is your permission slip to feel worried about lots of things. I’ve often talked about how anxiety and depression are so closely linked.

This is your permission slip to doubt – doubt yourself, your spouse, your abilities, your purpose. Grief can shake you at the core.

This is your permission slip to spend money healing. To see a counselor, to go on dates with your husband, to order take-out, to hire a house cleaner. I’m not advocating ridiculous, unwise spending, but what I am saying is: healing and self-care are a valid use of our money, and it should be okay to make them a priority when needed.

This is your permission slip to suffer in whatever way your body is suffering. There is no rush. God works in the clouds and the darkness of our hearts, and He is not impatient with you. Draw near to Him. Rest in Him. Ask Him what He would have you do in this time. Trust him with the hearts of your children and your husband. Hold his hand in the darkness – He is there; He has promised He would be.

Dear mom who is grieving, my prayer for you is this today:

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Blessings to you today,

Jessica 

Finding Hope During A Miscarriage

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The night we said yes to God’s plan for the timing of more children, he filled my womb. He created, fashioned, and designed. I rejoiced in the quiet of my room when I read the positive on the pregnancy test. I wasn’t holding onto fear like I thought I would, but I felt a peace and comfort and trusted that God knew what was best for our lives.

It was only two days until Father’s Day when I found out I was pregnant with our fourth baby, so I thought I would suprise Aaron. I opened a journal I was going to give to him and wrote about my love for him. I wrote about the beautiful moments we had when we stayed down at the beach for our anniversary… and then I suprised him, “Our passion is powerful—we made a baby!”

We talked about how much the kids would love having a baby. I was already daydreaming over the kitchen sink while washing dishes of what it would be like to have another boy or girl, and what color their hair would be. The silky hair, the soft skin, and the fresh smell of a newborn sounded amazing.

But soon my dreaming changed to a broken heart. I sat on the toilet and saw the first signs of a miscarriage. My stomach felt sick. I couldn’t believe that this would happen to me again.

I thought about the tiny little soul in my womb, I didn’t want to let go, again. The thought of being emptied out felt too much to bear. I’d fallen in love with the little soul that found it’s home in me. I had already prayed for my baby and I’d dreamt of how our family would change with new life.

I layed in bed feeling broken and weary, crying out to God and asking him to help me believe in his plan. I felt the pain piercing my insides and into my soul as my little one left my body.

As I laid in bed, the pain I felt didn’t miraculously go away, but I did find comfort as I let go of my plan. I gripped my sheets with each cramp and begged God to grip my heart. I cried out to the one who gives and takes away and asked him to remind me of his faithfulness. I feared the weakness of my wandering heart.

Help me to trust in you, not just in life but in death. Bind my wandering heart to you. When I can’t lift my head, remind me of your rest. And when nothing else satisfies, help me to taste the goodness of your love. In the most difficult of days, help my desperate soul to long for you.

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.—Psalm 143:8

With Love, Natalie nataliefalls.com

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