Wednesday, October 3, 2018

An Untold Story

I see the mothers.  The one with that beautiful smile on her face.  The one with the sweet spirit.  The one with the kind words.  The one with the gentle hugs and encouragement for anyone that's hurting.  The one with the loving husband and sweet toddler, who are her pride and joy.  That's what almost everyone sees about her and loves about her...

...everyone, that is, except me. I see that, and so much more...


What most people don't see is the sadness in her eyes, the weight on her shoulders, and the wistfulness in her voice.  But those were the first things I recognized.  She tries so hard to hide them and to carry herself as if life is full of sunshine, but inside - her heart is bleeding.  She's feels like she's dying. And she needs someone to care.  Someone to reciprocate the love and encouragement that she pours out on those around her.  She needs someone to listen as she shares the incredible pain that her heart is breaking with.  Someone who won't judge her.  Someone who will love her.  Someone who will help her heal.

My heart goes out to her.  I'm drawn to that pain, wanting to pour love, gentleness, and compassion into those wounds.  A passing comment tells me that she's experienced some kind of loss.  But what, or who?  Then with a searing pain in her eyes and a tightening in her voice as she chokes back the tears, she whispers, "My baby."

I can see she is aching to cry.  Aching to let the pain flow from her heart.  Aching to share the unbearable grief that she carries with her day after day, and the guilt that she is engulfed in.  But she doesn't know if it's right.  She doesn't know if I'll listen, if I'll have compassion, or if I'll be like one of the many others that have dropped insensitive comments and have failed to understand the burden that she carries.

But no, never.  I will listen for as long as she needs.  I will cry with her as she sobs in agony, unable to put the pain into words because it runs so deep into her soul.  I will not leave until the wounds in her heart have healed, and even then I will stay by her side, because the pain never fully goes away.

But why?  Why me?

Because that was me.  I've felt the pain.  And I know the incredible sorrow and torrent of emotions that comes from losing a precious little life that was born into the arms of Jesus.  And I know the added pain that come from things people will tell you, no matter how well-intentioned they were.


If that's you, I'm here to tell you that you are not alone, and I want to share my story with you.  Yes, it still hurts to talk about and the tears still flow, but there is also hope.  Hope that can be found only in Jesus.  And I want to be an encouragement to you in that.

My wonderful hubby and I were married in November of 2015, and we wanted to have children as soon as the Lord allowed us to.  In May of 2016 we saw one of the most exciting things anyone will ever see - that second line on a pregnancy test.  I enjoyed every moment of that pregnancy, and our precious little daughter - Joanna Tamsin - was born into our home on February 21st, 2017.  She fills our home with joy each and every day, and we are beyond blessed that the Lord would place her in our arms and fill our hearts with such an indescribable love.  At the beginning of July that year, when our little girl was 4 months old, we once again found out we were expecting - which was quite a surprise.  A week later, we shared the happy news with our family and friends, and we all rejoiced together with the joy of a new little one being added to our family.  However, just a week after that, at 6 weeks pregnant, our little baby went home to be with Jesus.  The physical pain was great, but the emotional pain was even greater.  My midwife told us to expect a few very emotional days due to my hormones swinging back to "normal", but I was not prepared for the weeks of post-partum depression that followed.  And the guilt - nothing could have prepared me for that either.  I felt like I had failed because I was unable to protect the young life that was in me, and I felt that in some way it had to be my fault. Those weeks were like I was living in a dark hole that I just couldn't pull myself out of.  I cried all day every day in the privacy of my home, but when I was out and about, I smiled through the pain as life went on.  God's grace kept me going each day, and through a lot of prayer and time in His Word, I was finally able to get back to functioning "normally" - though after loss, there is no such thing as normal.  My heart was still in agony, but my family needed me and life had to go on.  So I picked myself back up the best I could and kept on going, with the pain hidden in my heart as best I could.

We still wanted to have more children as soon as the Lord allowed, and now on top of that desire I felt the need to "prove" to myself that I could carry another baby.  Again, the guilt was a daily battle.  After all, it had to have been my fault in some way.  I just couldn't shake the feeling.

Several more months went by, and at the very end of December, I once again found out I was expecting.  My hope for this baby soared, and the next day - New Year's Eve - I broke the news to my hubby with a sweet New Year's baby announcement.  We were both thrilled to pieces.  But yet again, God's plan was higher than ours, and just a few days later at 5 weeks pregnant, our second little angel went home to be with Jesus.  My heart again shattered into a million pieces, as I went through several days of even more intense pain than the first time - but still with the same result - no baby to hold in the end.  The sense of guilt and failure was even more intense than before, and I struggled through several more weeks of depression following this one.  But I did an even better job at hiding my pain this time around.  I didn't have much choice since we were in the middle of the school year and just starting up the second semester.  It was a really busy time for us, and in the midst of it all, we also got very sick.  So I just had to keep pushing through.  I didn't have much choice.  The guilt, the sense of failure, the heartbreak, the anguish - it would creep up on me unexpectedly - and I would stuff it way back down inside and just keep going.  I didn't do anything about it, because I didn't know what to do about it.  And it was far too painful to think about anyways.

Many people during that time would do their best to encourage me, often not knowing what to say.  Often I heard comments such as "it's life; these things happen", or "you can always get pregnant again", or "at least you were really early", and many other things along those lines.  I know comments such as those are often well-intentioned, but it only adds to the pain in a person's heart.  What someone needs in times of such intense sorrow is love and compassion, and often just a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.

As the days, weeks, and months went on, my heart continued to ache beyond words.  The tears would flow unexpectedly, and the pain never eased.  Pregnancy announcements and newborns always made it even harder.  Not that I wasn't happy for couples, but it just magnified the already intense pain in my heart.

But I still continued to stuff it...until recently...

Through the course of various situations and some things I had heard preached, I started asking God what was going on and how to deal with it.  He began to show me how I had tried to ignore the pain and push it away, thinking it was "wrong" for me to feel that way.  I had this view that I had to be strong, that I had to go on as if nothing had happened, and that I wasn't allowed to stop and grieve for my babies.  And I always felt guilty for wanting to talk about them.  But those are all completely normal feelings and wounds in your heart, and those wounds need to be healed, not ignored.  They will only fester and become "infected" and cause even more pain if you don't take the time to heal.  Sweet mama's - there is nothing wrong with allowing yourself to feel the grief and pain associated with such a heartbreaking situation.  That's the only way towards true healing.  Give yourself the time to cry and mourn the loss of that precious little one.  And don't feel ashamed to talk about them either.  Your babies in heaven are just as much your children as your babies in your arms.  It doesn't matter how "early" you were when you lost them, you still have a strong connection with that child that the Lord allowed to grow in your womb.  Find someone who will be your listening ear and your shoulder to cry on, seek God's face, and pour out your heart to Him.  As you do that, he will pour His healing ointment of love and grace into your heart, and He will fill you with a peace that passes all understanding.

I'm not saying that the pain will forever go away once you allow yourself the time to heal.  But it will become more bearable.  Yes, you will still cry.  You should - they were your children! - and no loss is ever easy.  But along with the tears, God will give grace and comfort as He wraps His arms of love around you in those painful moments.  And He will help you to go on.

So where does that leave me right now?  We are still praying and anticipating whenever God so chooses to bless our hearts and home with another precious baby.  When that day comes, we will be thrilled, and yes, I'm sure I will also be scared.  I already am just thinking about it.  There is great joy in finding out you are expecting, but after sending 2 babies home to Heaven, the "what if's" creep in and the fear that it might happen again.  But as those thoughts arise, I try to take them captive with God's help, reminding myself that His plans and ways are higher than mine.  And that one day, I will get to hold another little one in my arms, and one day I will also get to see my babies in Heaven.  It helps to bring a certain level of peace into my heart as those fears creep in.  I, too, still cry over the loss of those precious ones - quite often, actually - but God is continuing to heal my heart, and each day gets a little easier as I keep my eyes on Him.  Sometimes the devil still tries to consume me with the guilt as well, but then I remind myself there was nothing I could have done to cause anything to go wrong, and if God wanted my babies to be born here on this earth, then they would be with me today.  Sometimes it's a daily battle, but we must keep turning it over to the Lord and cry out to Him for His healing touch.  He will give it if we are willing to accept it.  God longs to comfort His children, and He is waiting for you with open arms.  Lean on Him!  And remember, don't ever feel ashamed to allow yourself to "feel" the emotions and grief of the situation, and don't be ashamed to talk about it either.  I truly believe so many people want to put a voice to their pain inside, but they either don't know how, don't know who to talk to, or usually - they don't know if it's "ok".  It is always ok.  It's how you heal.

Here are a few verses that God gave to me this week that I pray will bless your heart:

"I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul..." - Psalm 41:4

"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." - Psalm 147:3

"Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise." - Jeremiah 17:14

"For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after." - Jeremiah 30:17

And my favorite:

"But unto you that fear my name shall the Son of righteousness arise with healing in his wings..." - Malachi 4:2

And to all of you mama's out there whose hearts are broken and filled with pain, I love you, and I am praying for you.  May God pour an abundance of comfort and healing into your hearts!  There will be a rainbow after this storm - just lean on Jesus to get you through <3

I hope you take a few minutes to listen to this precious song, and may it fill your heart with God's presence at this time:




Love,
Heather

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Book Review ~ God in a God-Forsaken Land


by Gene R. Stark
ISBN: 978-1633571235

In this historical fiction book - God in a God-forsaken Land - based on the true story of Pastor August Hertwig, you will take an unexpected adventure through the wilderness of Western Minnesota as he follows God's call to minister to the German immigrants that have settled there.  Be prepared to reflect on your own walk with God as you live through the joys and blessings, sorrows and hardships, as well as the faith and doubts that are found throughout the pages of this book.  Gene R. Stark has written a wonderful book that will challenge your faith as well as open your eyes to just how blessed you really are.  

This book was written from a first-person point of view, so it reminded me a lot of reading someone's journal, and it also helped in making the dialogue realistic.  If you like adventure and you like to read first-hand experiences of how God works in the lives of His children, this book is for you!  You won't be disappointed as you ride the stage coach across the prairie and through the woods, encounter hoards of mosquitoes and locusts, or while traveling on horseback through the harsh winter conditions and other unexpected occurrences - and all with one main goal in mind: spreading the light of the Gospel across the barren land. 

Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR Title 16, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, February 26, 2018

Joanna's 1st Birthday Party

Josh's family came up from Wisconsin for Joanna's party, and my parents also joined us on Saturday.  We had such a fun time celebrating our precious little girl, and I'm so thankful for the laughs that were shared and the memories that were made!

We went with a ladybug party theme which was so much fun to decorate for...



...and the happy little birthday girl even had an adorable ladybug dress from Twirly Delights


We all enjoyed some good food together...





...before opening up some super fun presents!! Her facial expressions in some of these pictures are priceless <3














And then, of course, the part that everyone looks forward to the most is just how the birthday girl is going to eat her cupcake.  Obviously, she thoroughly enjoyed it ;)







We finished out the afternoon with more great fellowship and tons of laughs over the "Hearing Things" game!! :)





These next two pictures aren't the best quality, but I can't help but share them because Joanna was totally hamming it up for the camera, and we couldn't stop laughing :)



But I am so thankful to the Lord for my little family and for how much God has blessed me!  They are a treasure, and I am so thankful for every moment we can share together <3  God is so good!


Love,
Heather

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Happy Birthday, Precious Girl!

One year ago today we welcomed our sweet little Joanna into our home, and what a year it has been!!  She has brought so much joy with her, and we can hardly remember what life was like without her.  Her smiles, giggles, and belly laughs are contagious, and her love for snuggling is the best!  God has truly blessed us with this little treasure, and it is our prayer that He would help us to raise for Him.

Joanna Tamsin Lindsey ~ 8lb 14oz ~ 20.5" long
I love thinking back on all the details of the day she was born, and I'm so thankful for the wonderful memories of our home birth with our amazing midwife.  She was the best :)  Josh and I wouldn't have had it any other way, and we still talk about how glad we are that we opted for a home birth. It truly was a sweet and wonderful experience.  God is good!


We have made so many wonderful memories over the past year that we treasure.  Yes, there have been the hard times and the sad times, but the blessings far outweigh the trials.  There are so many fun moments behind these pictures, and it was so fun to go through my several thousand - lol - photos, and pick some to share with you! So, without further ado, enjoy the rest of the baby spam :)


 

Watching Josh as a daddy has melted my heart a million times over.  And the bond he and Joanna have with each other is so special to see <3  I just love these two so much!

 


And being given this humbling privilege of being a mommy is something I would never trade for anything.  Just the thought that God has entrusted this little life to us and seen fit to make us parents to Joanna is overwhelming.  I thank Him daily for this blessing <3













That double chin!  All the heart eyes!!


Can we just say that painting an entire house, fixing some stuff up, and moving with a three month old is - cough, cough - interesing?  Lol!  She was a little champ, and did so well, though by the end of  her watching me painting 9 hrs a day for an entire week created some meltdowns by the time we were done haha.  She still cries when she sees a paint roller.  It's ok, Joanna, Mommy cries just thinking about one :P




That poochy lip!  She wasn't ready to be done lol





She is such a Daddy's girl!!  I have lots of favorite pictures of her, but this one has a special place in my heart :)...







Ocean City, NJ <3










This one is one of my all-time favorites :P...
Lol!
And then there's our "official" one year old!! I just love this girl!

 Happy birthday, Joanna!! Mommy and Daddy love you so much :)  You are such a blessing to us.  Lots of hugs and kisses, sweet girl! <3

 Love,
Mommy and Daddy