Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ella Girl

Happy 9 month angelversary baby girl. I thought about you all day long but didn't have a chance to blog. But since Layna got mentioned on the 24th...I had to be fair and send you all my love on your special day too!!! Miss you more than anything sweet girl.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friends

This past Thursday was a fun day. One of my besties from college who currently lives in Colorado made a pit stop in little 'ole Hudsonville on her way from Chicago to Ann Arbor (for her bro-in-law's wedding) to spend the day with her two favorite peeps...myself and this other gal named Karen...errr Karie. We spent the morning talking, grabbed a light lunch at Rainbow Grill, and the afternoon watching our old college videos. (YES we did videotape most of our Senior year of college and YES we had a hoot reminiscing). And then we capped the night off by having our hubby's join us for a yummy dinner at Macaroni Grill.

the boot shot

and the face shot...Ame, Me, and Kare

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken
Ecc 4:12

So VERY thankful for our yearly catch-ups!!! And so so so EXCITED that the Schuilings will be moving to the Midwest in just over a year...guessing there will be a lot of Chicago (day/weekend) trips happening in the future!!! And just so you both know...I feel very blessed to count the two of you as friends because you have both given me so much encouragement and support throughout the last 18 months of infertility and loss. True friends for sure.

I was blog-hopping the other day and came across something I wanted to share with those of you who have never lost a child. It gives you a glimpse of the heartache I live with EVERY SINGLE DAY...

I want you to try to imagine the worst thing in the world - that your beloved child died. Now imagine that every single thing that used to give you joy and pleasure turns into hurt and despair overnight. Not a gradual thing but going from pleasure to hurt, from happiness to sadness, from peace to no peace, changing overnight. Everything you loved now hurts like hell.

A part of you does not exist anymore and it is scary as hell. That is why they say the loss of a child is like no other loss. You cannot compare it to another loss. With other losses you grieve and you are of course sad but when your child dies...a part of you ceases to exist. It's gone, just like that. No warning. Just gone. And the life that you knew, the things you always felt, the things in your life that made sense, that you held on to, that make up who you are - are gone!

That is why when parents who have lost children hear, "I want the old you back," "It's been a year, don't you feel better yet?," You are doing this to yourself, you're making it harder on yourself," "Grief can become a selfish thing you know." we can only shake our and heads and feel sadness and hopelessness because there is no way our lives will ever be like it was when our child was alive. No wonder bereaved parents isolate themselves. We are just trying to hold on.

Please do not tell me how I should feel or that I am holding on to this or that my family/friends must be tired of watching me go through this because if you haven't lost a beloved child of yours, YOU HAVEN'T GOT A CLUE. Now when you hear these word, "The presence of his/her absence is everywhere" will you finally understand?" (The Grief Blog)

"PERHAPS THEY ARE NOT STARS, BUT RATHER OPENINGS IN HEAVEN WHERE THE LOVE OF OUR LOST ONES POURS THROUGH AND SHINES DOWN UPON US TO LET US KNOW THEY ARE HAPPY"

Thanks for the beautiful card that you framed Kare!!!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Seeking Others and 9 Months

SEEKING OTHERS BEFORE YOU, BESIDE YOU, BEHIND YOU

WHERE AM I GOING and how do I get there? wondered Traveler as she stared at the desolate road that seemed to slither endlessly through the dark, barren valley. Instinctively she knew she must travel this route, though she yearned for another. Accompanied by Loneliness and Uncertainty, Traveler hesitated, then stepped onto the road. Her mood reflected the thundering sky as she trudged forward.

Several miles into her journey, the sky was nearly black. "I'm so weary, I can't go on!" she moaned as she rounded the bend. To her amazement, she saw a moving figure in the distance. She squeezed Uncertainty's hand as she hastened her steps and squinted at the enlarging figure. "Hello! Who are you? Can you help me in my journey?" she shouted. To her surprise, the figure stopped. Traveler edged closer and sensed that something significant was about to happen. The figure turned and thrust a weathered, calloused hand into Traveler's. The person's grip was firm and confident, as if to communicate, "I've been on this road awhile and I know where I'm going!" "I'm Mentor!"

"Nice to meet you, Mentor! I'm Traveler. Have you been on this journey long?" Mentor nodded as she wiped the perspiration from her brow. "I'm familiar with this road," she said as she gazed deep into Traveler's eyes. "Looks like you could use some company. Do you want to walk with me for awhile?" Traveler sighed. A sense of calm flooded her soul as she paced her stride with Mentor's.

She felt free to laugh, to cry, to share, and to probe for answers to her questions. Mile after mile the duo trekked on. With each step Traveler felt more confident. Hearing about the battles won, the lessons learned, and the mistakes made in Mentor's journey was like healing balm on the wounds of her heart. When Traveler stumbled and fell, Mentor quickly helped her up again. "You can make it!" cheered Mentor. With renewed hope Traveler got back up and forged ahead, making sure to follow in Mentor's footsteps. Night descended on the twosome and fear taunted Traveler. "Hold on, don't let go! I'll lead you!" Mentor exclaimed. Though weary, Traveler persevered and pressed on behind Mentor through the darkness to the sunrise.

The morning rays of sunshine revealed Others walking beside Traveler. Where did they come from? she wondered. Normally, Traveler would have ignored them, but something within her urged her to start a conversation. She was amazed to discover that she and Others had much in common. Traveler hastened her pace and was surprised at the confidence she felt. Maybe I'm stronger because I'm not alone in my journey, she thought. I have someone in front of me to guide me and others beside me to relate to and encourage me. What more could I need? wondered Traveler. As if on cue in response to her thought, a scream pierced the air. "Hello! I'm lost and I don't know where I'm going. Will you help me?" Immediately Traveler stopped, turned, and looked at the path behind her. She knew what she must do...

Your road of grief is personal. It is a continuous journey. The scenery may change through the years and you may become wiser, but be gentle with yourself and give yourself permission to give and receive support and guidance. God often teaches us more lessons when we think we've learned everything we possibly could about our loss. His desire is that you press on toward eternity with truth in your heart and hope in your step. (Kathe Wunnenberg)

I just wanted to take a minute to thank each and every one of you (my Mentor's) who walked this road before me and guided me through the unknown waves of grief. Your encouragement and prayers have been greatly appreciated. I could not have done it without all your love and support. And thank you also to all the Others who walked or are walking this path with me. And my prayer goes out to all those who will walk behind me...that I will be an encouragement to you just as I have been encouraged! Blessings to you ALL.

And I just wanted to wish my little Alayna Joy a Happy 9 Month Angelversary. Hope you're having fun in Heaven with all your little friends...and of course your little bro and sis. Time flies (even when you're NOT having fun). Mommy loves you and only wishes to hold you in her arms again. But until that day my sweet one I will carry your memory with me forever.

"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The BIG Question...Why?

Clearly unless the Lord chooses to explain Himself to us, which often He does not, His motivation and purposes are beyond the reach of mortal man...Many of our questions--especially those that begin with the word why--will have to remain unanswered for the time being. (Dr. James Dobson)

Oh man. I have surely asked my share of whys over the last 9 months. Why infertility? Why IVF? Why my baby girls? Why my little boy? Why us? Why me? Why not someone else? Why couldn't a miracle have taken place to save my little ones? Why doesn't God stop pouring down the pain? And the list of my whys could go on and on and on. And even though I have asked these questions a thousand million times since June...I am NO closer to an answer. So I loved the below piece that I read while in Arizona (posting #4)!!!
Often we don't understand the whys of our circumstance. Our questions remain unanswered and we find ourselves flailing in the Sea of Why. What we believe about God during those times of uncertainty will influence how we respond. If we believe that our circumstance is something Satan slipped by God when He wasn't looking, we will plummet to the depths and drown in despair. But if we view the God of the Bible as sovereign, supreme, and the One who calms the waters, we are buoyed with hope. We see the purpose, even though we may not know now what the purpose is.

Most of us in the journey of grieving the child we never knew will find ourselves in the Sea of Why, pondering our loss. During the times of questioning I reflect on Job's life and remember that God allows suffering and has a purpose in our pain. I must choose to look beyond "the why" to "the Who" and view my loss through the lens of God rather than human sight. Are you drowning in the Sea of Why? God understands. He is there. He is good. Look to Him. Sometimes that's the only answer there is. (Kathe Wunnenberg)

So tonight instead of tucking my loves Alayna, Ella, and Luke into bed...I will thank God that He loved me so much that He decided to bless me with their three perfect but oh so very short little lives. I am forever blessed that God chose me worthy enough for this calling. And although until I see my Maker face to face I will never understand WHY He had to take them so soon, I will always believe that there was a greater purpose. And I will always be thankful for His promise. The promise that someday I will be greeted at Heaven's Gate by the three most precious children imaginable (to this mamma)!!! Because I would rather endure this pain on Earth and have them in Heaven with me (and Brian) for forever than to have never conceived them at all.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matt. 19:14

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Faith Looks Up

So on Saturday I blogged about "The Testing of Our FAITH". And today I am blogging more about what I read on vacation and a little more about the amazing subject of faith. I found the quote below in one of the books I read...

Sorrow looks back,
Worry looks around,
Faith looks up.

So there you have it folks. Don't look back. Don't look around. Just look up!!! All we have to do is look to Him our Heavenly Father, "who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..." (Eph. 3:20). So everytime I start worrying I will LOOK UP to Him and HOLD TIGHT to Him. Because I know He will continue to guide me along this crazy terrible painful dreadful awful rocky mountain path. And since nothing can touch me without coming through my Heavenly Father first...why wouldn't I trust Him as my guide?

Is there hope after loss? Can faith overcome fear? Does God want you to trust Him and move on? Yes! But don't expect to feel as if "you're over your loss." Be gentle with yourself. There will always be a part of your heart that holds hands with the child you never fully knew. You may still experience times when you cry, feel angry, or want to hide. That's okay. You lost a child, remember? But your loss has enlarged your life...

One thing is certain, you're not the same person you were. You've grown. Maybe it's time to grow some more. Are you ready to hold hands with the future. Look up. God's eyes are open and they're looking at you. He's watched you fight and struggle through your pain. He was there all the time and wanted you to trust Him. He understands the anguish of your loss. He lost His Son too, remember? But His plan was that His loss would be our gain. He sent Jesus so that we could have eternal life.

Look up. His hand is outstretched. It's reach for you. Please take it. Hold hands with Him and trust Him with your future. He is your future. There is nothing too big for Him. With Him all things are possible. (Kathe Wunnenberg)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Monday, March 21, 2011

Infertility Ain't For Wimps

I was blog hopping the other day and came across an article on bufordbetty's blog (who happens to be a fellow IVF veteran and wanna-be-mamma). What I almost loved more than the article itself was her title "Do Straight Jackets Come in Pink." How true that rings to my ears. At times I am sure the hubby would (and maybe still would) have LOVED to put me in one of those! I've included snippets of the article below but if you want to check out the whole article just click the following link... The Psychological Impact of Infertility by Jo Perkins. Oh and my title for this posting comes from none other than Buford Betty herself!

It is a widely held expectation that if and when we choose to, we will be able to have a family. We do not challenge this assumption until difficulties in conceiving are encountered and for some this presents a major life crisis. The pain and loss can be immense. And, not surprisingly, infertility can have a significant negative impact on marital and sexual relationships. It is a multi-layered and complex phenomenon and a number of issues are involved for the individual and couple going through it, as it spans the biological, emotional, physical, relational, social, financial and psychological domains.

Impact on females:
The female experience can be both complex and painful. It is generally characterised by periods of intense feelings of isolation – from her partner, her social circle and society. As more than one female client has reflected, it can feel as if they are ‘on the outside looking in on the rest of the world’. Females can feel unsupported and misunderstood throughout the experience, which adds to their despair and isolation...For those females who desire a child, this desire can increase as the possibility of having one reduces and for some it can become overwhelming, which creates a sense of urgency about finding a ‘solution’ to the problem. The result of this can be that treatment is pursued without pausing to consider the impact of this route on them, their body, their partner and their relationship. Treatment can be an unpredictable, long drawn-out rollercoaster of hoping, waiting and disappointment, which may or may not result in the birth of a child, and which can take a serious toll on females in a number of ways. Ultimately the experience for females can be one of grief.

Impact on males:
Whilst many males have a strong desire for a child and a family, unlike many females they tend to have a ‘pragmatic ambivalence’ towards fatherhood and children. That is, they will be happy if it happens, yet can come to accept if it does not. A symptom of their pragmatic ambivalence is that they consciously adopt a compliant position in relation to treatment. One consequence of this and their inability to ‘fix the problem’ – as perhaps they can in other situations – is that they tend not to express their negative feelings about the treatment process or how they feel about having/not having children, to their partner. This can be mistaken by their partner as ‘not caring’, but, on the contrary, it is often because they care about their partner so much that they adopt this position...

The experience for males can be an anxiety-filled one that poses a major threat to their masculinity. However, it is not necessarily an experience they either want or feel able to share with their partner, or anyone else. And unfortunately, this can lead people around them to make the assumption that they are ‘OK’ and ‘coping fine’. This is often not the case and, moreover, it can add to their anxiety and sense of inadequacy. Another feature of the experience for males is that they worry about the pressure on their partner, and their partner’s increasing desire for a child, and the prospect of what might happen in the future if they do not achieve their goal. So it can be a time of great insecurity for males.

Impact on the couple:
A combination of factors, including female sense of isolation, male pragmatic ambivalence, growing resentments, the medical, emotional and financial pressures of treatment and uncertainty about what the future holds, can exert extreme stress on the couple relationship. This normally manifests in a distance between them. The result of this distance is at best a lack of communication and at worst a breakdown of communication, which for many couples can result in separation. Throughout the experience, couples tend to oscillate between periods of distance and closeness, and the nature and frequency of these distances is likely to be a key factor in whether couples stay together during and beyond the experience.

Wow. The article hit the impact on me and Brian (I feel) to a "T." But thankfully there has NEVER been a time when we felt distant from each other or a time when our communication was broken. Our marriage is solid and there is only one person I can thank for that...my Heavely Father. He knew what path my life was going to take. He knew what path Brian's life was going to take. And He knew that we would need each other on this journey. And oh what a journey it has been.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thanks Goodness for Good Days

So I loved every minute of NOT working this weekend!!! While Brian got up at the crack of dawn to go man-shopping (to a Cabela's in Hammond, IN) with my dad, one of my bros, and bro-in-law...I slept in. Then I did a little shopping myself before meeting my mom, sister, sis-in-law, and the 5 (getting closer to 6) nieces/nephews at IHop. What we had hoped would just be a late breakfast became a 12:00 lunch. After lunch we headed to my parent's house so the kiddos could play for awhile before nap time. After the hangout at my mom's I decided to head back to the mall...big mistake because on this trip I actually made a lot of quite a few purchases (shoes, new wallet, couple of new shirts, and a bathing suit cover-up)!!!

The only "eh" part of the day was when I ran into someone at the mall and she asked if I too had left the kiddos at home. From the moment it came out of her mouth I knew she wanted to take it back. I seriously felt worse for her because she was so apologetic. I just told her that it was an honest mistake and changed the subject. But I must say I was proud of myself for holding the tears in. Just a part of my life these days I suppose.

My mom with the grand-kiddos (the living ones that is)...
Kylynn, Easton, my mom, Addisyn, Cambrey, and Cole

After the mall I headed home, said Hi! to the hubby (remember man-shopping does not require much time), and truly no more than walked in the door before heading out again. This time to celebrate my friend Sarah who is leaving Michigan (boo) and moving on to greater nursing adventures in Kentucky. A group of us met at the Fridays downtown for dinner before moving on to bowling. I only did dinner since I hadn't seen the hubby at all that day or much this whole week.
 
Me and Sarah

And today has been wonderful (thus far) besides the weather.  At church this morning our Pastor walked around the room and stopped at a few people and said how we were a blessing to him and to Christ. He stopped at one fellow in our church and I just knew we were next. Sure enough...he stopped by Brian and I (next) and said that he had never met a couple who has endured so much pain and heartache and still held true to their faith.  That every time he leaves our presence he feels encouraged by our attitudes and faith. He said a lot of nice things and all I can say is I felt so blessed by him this morning. It's that kind of encouragement that keeps pushing us forward. Of course I cried...when don't I cry?!?

We met the in-law's for lunch and then we headed home to finish our movie from the night before. Then I took a glorious two hour nap while the hubby watched his beloved Wolverines (unfortunately) lose. I did manage to catch the last few minutes of the game. And now I am just relaxing before another week begins. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Testing of Our FAITH

When enduring a trial many people turn unknowingly to the tools of destruction. And Satan wants nothing more than to take us (God's beloved children) down into the depths of despair by using some of these destructive tools. So he uses anger and discouragement amongst other tools to bring us there with him. But we must remember when enduring a trial to not look to the tools of destruction but towards Godly tools. Namely, faithfulness. As children of God we must view trials as a testing of our faithfulness. So below I share with you another devotional. Again this one is not from my vacation but something I found earlier this week and wanted to share.

In the verse below Jesus is speaking to the church at Smyrna...

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. Rev 2:10 

A Pastor read the above verse with his daughter and asked her, "Is Jesus stronger than the devil?" "Yes," she said. Indeed, her father added, ten million times stronger. It's not even close. In fact, as Mark 1:27 says, "He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him." So all Jesus has to do is say to the devil, "You shall not throw my loved ones into prison," and the devil will not be able to do it. Right, Talitha? Right.

So, Talitha, why does Jesus let the devil do this? Why does he let the devil throw his precious followers in jail and even kill some of them? She shook her head. I said, well, let's read it again slowly, and you tell me the reason that the Bible gives. Slowly, "Behold the devil is about to throw some of you into prison...that...you...may...be...tested." So why does Jesus let this happen, Talitha? "That they may be tested." That's right.

And what is being tested? The answer is given in the way Jesus describes what passing the test looks like. He says, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." Faithfulness to Jesus is being tested. Will his loved ones keep trusting Him? Will they keep believing that He has their best interest at heart? That He is wise? That He is good? That He is stronger than all?

James says the same thing:
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Passing the test means loving God to the end.

So settle it, Talitha. Loss and pain are coming into your life, but Jesus is infinitely stronger than the devil. So even if the devil is causing it, as he did in Smyrna, Jesus is letting it happen. And He always has his reasons—more than we can know. One of those reasons is always testing, namely, the testing of our faith and our love for Him.

We cannot answer every why question. But there is always this answer: My faith is being tested. And our Lord never wastes His tests. Whether we believe this truth is, in fact, part of the test. In the mind of Jesus, the promise that He would give them the crown of life was enough to sustain the Christians in Smyrna. I pray that it will be enough for Talitha—and for you. (written by an unknown author)

So will I keep trusting Him? Yes. Will I keep believing that He has my best interest at heart? Yes. That He is wise? Yes. That He is good? Yes. That He is stronger than all? YES!!! YES!! YES!!!

"These (trials) have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed"
1 Peter 1:7

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Tool of Discouragement

Yesterday I blogged about anger. Just one of Satan's many tools of destruction. Today I'm blogging about another..the tool of discouragement. My posting today comes from a devotional that I subscribe to and received in my email account yesterday.

THE TOOL of DISCOURAGEMENT by MARY SOUTHERLAND

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart" (Proverbs 3:5)

It was advertised that the devil was putting his tools up for sale. When the day of the sale came, each tool was priced and laid out for public inspection. And what a collection it was. Hatred, anger, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride, and lying ... the inventory was treacherous. Off to one side was a harmless-looking tool priced higher than all the rest, even though it was obviously more worn than any other tool the devil owned. "What's the name of this tool?" asked one of the customers. "That," the devil replied, "is discouragement." The customer asked, "But why have you priced it so high?" The devil smiled and explained, "Because discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get inside a man's heart with that tool when I can't get near him with any other. It's badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, since so few people know it belongs to me."

The valleys in life are lined with disappointment and discouragement. Some people seem to thrive on adversity, emerging from their valley with greater strength and deeper faith. Others stumble and fall, giving in to discouragement and dropping out of the race. The difference in outcome is determined by the way we choose to handle discouragement.

We must respond to each valley with trust and faith. The word "trust" means "to lie helpless, face down" and is the picture of a servant waiting for his master's command or a soldier yielding himself to a conquering general. "Heart" refers to "the center of one's being." In other words, to trust God completely means that from the very center of our being, from the very core of our existence, we trust Him, totally abandoning ourselves in childlike faith to Him and His plan. We come to God, holding nothing in our hands, with one word in our heart - "whatever!" Whatever You want me to do, Lord, I will do. Whatever You want me to say, Lord, I will say. Whatever You want me to think, Lord, I will think. Whatever path You have for me, Lord, I will walk."

If you are like me, you sometimes think you don't have enough faith. The amount of faith is not nearly as important as the right kind of faith - faith in God alone. Faith does not rest on what we have done, but on what Christ has already done on the cross and in our lives. Faith builds on the victories of yesterday to help us face the valleys of today and the storms of tomorrow. Faith does not bypass pain. It does, however, empower us to deal with pain. Faith steps up to the bat and invites the opponent to throw his best pitch. Sometimes faith strengthens us, and other times, surprises us. Great faith is forged in the deepest valleys, beginning where our strength and power end.

I love the story of a missionary family, home on furlough and visiting friends. When it was time for dinner, the mother of the missionary children called her kids in. When her son burst through the door, she took one look at his hands and said, "Son, go wash those hands. They are dirty and covered in germs." With a scowl on his face, the little boy headed to the sink muttering, "Germs and Jesus! Germs and Jesus! That's all I hear about and I've never seen either one!" While we tend to say that seeing is believing, faith says that believing is seeing. Doubt creates mountains; faith moves them. Faith produces trust that shatters fear and leaves no room for discouragement.

And a closing note...
I know that many of you are discouraged and in pain. My first reaction is that of a mother - to do whatever I can to make that pain go away. But then I remember how God has taken the most painful parts of my life and used them for good. He really has. And I can tell you that no matter where you are, no matter how deep the pit may be, your God sees you and will deliver you. Don't quit! Don't give up! God is with you ...

and from me...
Happy Weekend...and remember God is with YOU!!!

"Be joyful always; pray without ceasing; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus"
1 Thes 5:16-18

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Anger...A Stage of Healing

Ahhh sitting in my favorite chair watching some of my favorite DVR'd shows. I am simply relaxing after working 6 of the last 7 days. And so VERY thankful for this day off!!! One more day of work tomorrow before enjoying the weekend! But here is posting #2 (from my vacation reading) that I wanted to share...

This one is about anger...obviously noted (I'm sure) since you read the title...but this stage of healing has come and gone and come again and gone again. It just keeps coming and going. In fact, I had an anger spell a few days after we returned from Arizona. I was on the phone with my mom talking about the issue that was angering me and I wanted her sympathy card. I wanted to be told that what has happened in my life sucks (yes SUCKS...not just stinks but SUCKS) and that I deserve to be pregnant. But she told me that I needed to let go of my anger AND that my time WILL come. I ended the conversation in tears. The next day I talked to my mom again and the first thing she asked me was how I was doing. And of course like flipping a switch...I was fine and my anger was gone. But because its one of Satan's tools of destruction it randomly rears its ugly head from time to time.

"I'm so sorry this happened, honey," he said. His eyes welled up with tears, and he wrapped his arms around me and tried to give me whatever small measure of comfort he had left....My heart was gray and dead. Despair filled the vacuum in my heart, along with anger and indifference. Everyone else was going home to their families and getting on with their lives. Where was our life headed? Phil came into the room and curled up on the bed with me. "I don't know why this happened," he said. "Someday we'll know the answers to all our questions." So you say, I thought.

The idealism with which we approached life was losing its shape. If God heard our prayers, then why didn't he always answer them? Putting ourselves in God's hands meant he would keep us safe, that nothing could go wrong. But it had all gone wrong. Was there somehow a purpose behind all this pain? I struggled, not knowing what to believe. I'd given God my life...my heart. Why was he intent on crushing it? (Bernadette Keaggy)

Over the last few months I have had questions just like Bernadette. I have put my full faith and my full trust in my Heavenly Father. So why do bad things keep happening to me (to us)? I have prayed the same prayer time and time again...for my heart to be healed and for a safe and uneventful pregnancy with the end result being a child to raise here on Earth. But it seems like He doesn't hear me...its like my prayer will forever be unanswered. And then I get angry and anger is not a fun emotion. But...

Anger is a natural part of your grieving process. Of all the grieving responses, I believe anger is the most difficult to accept, especially if you are a Christian. You may feel angry...at friends for things they said. Perhaps you are mad at other women who have complication-free pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies. Or perhaps you are furious at women who have aborted a child...And if you are honest enough to admit it, you might even be angry at God. Have you ever wanted to scream, "God, You have the power of life and death. You could have performed a miracle and protected my baby, yet You didn't! Why?...Since then I've learned that anger is a natural, necessary part of the journey through grief.

Your journey through anger can be healthy, healing, and righteous. Open the Bible: God, Moses, Job, the authors of the Psalms, the prophets--all demonstrate righteous anger. Jesus Himself overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple...Maybe its time to face the anger you've dammed up. Tell God what has disappointed you. Ask Him to show you the truth and real cause behind the dam of anger you have allowed to build. God wants to help you release it and open up the floodgates so that you are restored and the river of your life is flowing peacefully in Him. (Kathe Wunnenberg)

So now I know and believe that anger IS a necessary and natural part of the journey through grief. But the end outcome is up to me. So I will continue to believe that my prayer has been heard and that my Heavenly Father is waiting for the most perfect timing to shower me with an abundance of blessings that can only come from Him!!!

My biggest victory is on the other side of this mountain because I know that God is setting me up for a miraculous victory. And oh so very soon the trials of these last 18 months will be conquered with one stone.  Just like David conquered Goliath. All praise and glory and honor be to my (and hopefully yours too) Heavenly Father!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Journey Through the Seasons of Friendship

Like I mentioned in my post from yesterday, I read a lot of books on loss, grief, and infertility while on vacation. Over the next few days/weeks I want to share with you all some of the things that really hit me.  The first thing that I want to share is the little big matter concerning friendship. Below is a devotional that I had to share...

I love trees! THEY refresh me and soothe my soul. They provide shade from the heat, shelter from the rain, and a place to hide, climb, or build a tree house. When transition is thrust on them through the seasons, they adapt. Trees mature in summer and change colors and drop leaves in fall. They know when to shut down to survive winter and when to sprout new beginnings in springtime. Some trees, like the sequoias in northern California, grow in clusters. Their roots web together, enabling them to withstand strong, blustery winds.

Like trees, you will need to endure different seasons in your grief. There will be times when you will need to be rooted in a support system of relationships. Often through the years and in my grief journey I have felt guilty and uncaring about not maintaining friendships the way I thought I should. My list of expectations included remembering birthdays, meeting regularly, sharing meaningful conversation, and writing or calling often.

I was freed from my slavery of expectations when I heard a friend share about the seasons of friendship. She told me that it is normal to have different friends through different seasons of one's life. Some are with you through childhood, singleness, and college. Others come alongside of you when you start your career, marriage, or family. Some friends spend a season with you to help you grow spiritually or support you through a change or crisis. And some are friends with you through your grief.

That's how God used Dottie in my life--to mentor me and be a friend through my season of loss and grief. Several years ago, I walked through Dottie's miscarriage and her baby's death. Throughout the months of her pregnancy and through the birth and death of her daughter, Elizabeth, our friendship grew. A move separated us. Our friendship entered the winter season and was "shut down," but I always felt a kindred spirit with Dottie. Years later when I discovered that my baby would die with the same birth defect as hers, I knew I could make it through because she had. Her friendship had given me courage.

When we reconnected after my son's death, I felt as if we were experiencing springtime in our friendship. She shared new insights about grief with me and what to expect in my months and years ahead. She empathized with my fear of having another child. She is praying for me as I write this book. Only God knows how many seasons Dottie and I will journey on as friends. For now, God has connected us through our grief, and I am grateful.

Jesus wants us to make the most of our seasons of friendship. He met people in the season of life when they needed Him most. Picture the paralytic, the leper, the blind man. The twelve disciples needed Jesus' friendship to teach them, and Jesus knew they would need each other's. Jesus is your caring, faithful friend during this season of your life when you need Him most. He will never leave you nor forsake you and will be your friend for all seasons. He has provided others to support you during this time in your life. Your "Jesus-with-skin-on" friends understand your pain and are tangible reminders of His love and concern for you. In time, you'll be able to support others who need a friend for a season. Stay close to Jesus. He will guide you. (Kathe Wunnenberg)

And on another note of friendship...

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ" Gal 6:2

The law of Christ is to love--even when it is difficult or uncomfortable...It's easy to become caught up in our own lives and not look out for each other. The truth is, a five-minute phone call or a short note in the mail may be all that a desperate lonely person needs that day to keep them from utter despair.

Why do we so quickly, easily, close off from others? Why do we forget that when someone is in the midst of difficulty and pain, survival becomes all-consuming? During those times, we can hardly see the dark cloud that surrounds us. We become incapable of dealing with our own needs. That's when we need true friends to be there for us, emotionally and in practical ways. A small offer of love is all it takes to communicate, "You're special. You're important. You're worth taking the time for...." (Bernadette Keaggy)

I love this chapter from one of the books that I read. I know I've lost track of a few friendships over the last nine months and it makes me sad. Reading this chapter made me realize that when dealing with grief this is normal. I seclude myself/protect myself because it is how I have survived. How I am surviving. There are very few people who have dealt with exactly what I am dealing with. Few people know my pain. Know my loss. I am dealing with infertility (and the emotional baggage of IVF), the loss of my beautiful twin daughters Alayna and Ella, and miscarrying Luke...the lil guy who should have been my Rainbow baby. I know that I am not the only one hurting. That I am not the only one suffering. But right now it seems like I am. So here I sit in my own little world. So please be patient with me. Please try to understand me. And please try to be sensitive towards me. And know that I love ALL my seasons of friends...each and every single one of you!!!

A friend loves at all times... Proverbs 17:17

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Back In Action...Trip Recap

And I'm back!!!  Well we got back Thursday afternoon but every spare moment since then has been spent at work. Anyways we had an awesome vacation...relaxing and busy at the same time (yes this is possible)! The only bad part of our trip involved our commute home. We were almost ready to land in GR when (back) UP UP UP went our plane. Due to the terrible fog on Wednesday night our pilot couldn't see the landing strip so he went across the lake to land in Appleton Wisconsin instead. We spent 2 hours in the airport terminal waiting to find out if we would be able to fly out later that night and 2 more hours waiting to be shuttled to our hotel for the night once we found out our flight wouldn't take off until the next morning. So instead of arriving home at 5:30pm Wednesday evening...we made it home shortly before noon on Thursday. So I had to call in for the first 8 hours of my shift but made it in time for the last 4. And then spent all day Friday and Saturday at HDVCH (Helen DeVos Children's Hospital) too. And to tell you the truth once I was back (to work) it was like I had never left...that's the way it goes I suppose.

And now about our trip...
the view from Brian's Uncle and Aunt's House...breath-taking!

We relaxed by the pools (the one behind his Uncle and Aunt's house and the one at their condo complex) soaking in the Arizona sun! This is where I did a LOT of book reading (and the only time I was allowed to think about infertility on our otherwise infertility-FREE vacation. I had ordered some books before we left with titles like...grieving the Child I never knew, A Rose in Heaven, Losing You Too Soon, Rain Dance, and hannah's hope. Excellent reads and no worries you will be getting some blurbs in future postings...so stay tuned! 
we relaxed by this pool (at his Uncle and Aunt's house)
and by the condo pool too!!!

We went to 2 Spring Training baseball games. Unfortunately our two favorite teams train in Florida (the Tigers and Yankees) but we still had fun seeing the Cubs play the Rangers and the Brewers play the Dodgers. We ate lots of yummy food and caught some more of that gorgeous Arizona sun.
at the Cubs spring training facility and...
at the Brewers.

We also went on 3 different hikes and an hour long walk through his Uncle and Aunt's neighborhood which is located on Mummy Mountain (yes a mountain) in Paradise Valley, Arizona.  We did two of the hikes before but it was fun to do them again. The third hike was a new one that we hiked with his cousin Shana and her hubby Mike.
Me trekking up the HARD side of Camelback Mountain
Brian and I at the top of Camelback Mountain
Brian and I during our McDowell Mountain hike
At the top of Squaw Peak Mountain...it was sooo windy. And you can't tell by the pic but the hubby was less than enthused to be standing at the tippy top of the moutain with the wind blowing as hard as it was...he's NOT a fan of heights!

We also went to the Phoenix Zoo. If you don't remember from other posts my hubby LOVES Zoos. Which means we now have 3 Zoo's to revisit with (our future) kids in tow!
Me and the rhinos
Brian and the lion

We did lots of shopping (much to the hubby's dismay). The Fashion Square Mall in Scottsdale is seriously the largest mall I've ever seen (I've never been to Mall of America). Our first stop was H&M. I spent over an hour there alone (we really need one of these in GR) and that was all the hubby could handle for one day. We also spent some time in Old Town Scottsdale and Scottsdale's Quarter...where I hit up another H&M!!!
by the Arizona River in Old Town Scottsdale

We ate a lot of really GOOD food at some really GOOD restaurants!!! Some of the restaurants were Greasewood Flat, Oreganos, California Pizza Kitchen, Big Daddy's BBQ, True Food, Sweet Tomatoes, and Ajo Als...oh and I can't forget to mention the yummy baseball food. And being the adventerous peeps that we are...we didn't eat at any of the same restaurants that we did 2 years ago on our last visit.
in Scottsdale Quarter in front of True Food Kitchen

That about wraps it up but I will leave you with 2 last pictures. Our rides for the week...

We had an awesome time on our much needed vacation!!!