Friday, January 28, 2011

Living Radically Thankful Part 2

I realized the other day that an update was needed on the journey of Radical Gratitude. I wish I could type the entire book in blog post, but the publisher probably wouldn't like that. So, try to pick up where I left off.... As I will be quoting a lot I will put AV by the book author's quotes and DM by my thoughts.

Why should we practice this act of thanksgiving (or eucharisto)? Quite simply, it is the discipline of looking for God's blessings. If we don't see His blessings in the little things, how will we ever see it in the hard things of life? How can I expect to see God's blessings in the miscarriages, if I am not practicing a grateful heart in what he has given me in the little things? "Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant - a seed - this plants the giant miracle."(AV)  One of my favorite quotes is "Thanks makes now a sanctuary." (AV) Thankfulness makes everyday more bearable because I'm actively looking for God.

For nearly a year I have asked the question, where is God's goodness in all this? Why did this happen? What good comes of losing three babies? There were times where people have tried to offer comfort when it only worsened the pain (honestly a hug, 'I am praying for you', and a listening ear gives more comfort than a stiffly offered Bible verse, or 'helpful advice' which only furthered my misery). I shut down from living. Talking to people became a chore and I thought "What is this person going to say?" "Will this person continue to talk on and on about their children and the joys of parenthood while my arms and heart lay grieving for the children we never knew?" (DM). Sunday's became the worst day of the week because it constantly reminded me of what we've lost... There are so many women who are either pregnant or have just had children at my church, and my womb lies barren, and they avoided me like the plague. In their defense they didn't know what to say, and may have thought stepping back was a better option knowing their pregnancies hurt me... Although, the act of protecting me made me instead feel like a leper (not that I made it easy. I completely recoiled inside myself). Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I don't want people to walk on eggshells but these were the realities of my struggles. These are the thoughts I daily battled and wondered is God truly good? We sing these songs that proclaim his goodness even though circumstances suck. But, where is this joy learned? Where did I miss this lesson in Sunday school? How do I learn contentment in all things when all these things hurt so badly?   

Here is the answer to that mystery: "A good God plans everything. Everything. So a good God can only... make plans for good? He only gives good gifts? A thing of evil cannot be created by a good God? ... All God makes is good. Can it be that, that which seems to oppose the will of God actually is used of Him to accomplish the will of God? That which seems evil only seems so because of perspective.... No scripture glasses to read what God is trying to write through a prodigal child. Scrawl my own quick editing on to the half-finished story: failure... cheated... worthless (AV). I read this last night and thought "Wait a minute... My story isn't finished... I've felt like such a worthless failure as a women because I can't easily have children like every other women. But, the story isn't finished. I have penned my own ending instead of waiting and watching what my good God is doing with this. Out of the darkness he creates new life. He broke me down because he wanted me to know Him, to know joy. To know without a doubt that I am his child and to learn that this life is only a training ground for eternity"(DM). I'm learning where his goodness is in the little things today because that is what I have. That is what I'm responsible for. I am learning who God is. He isn't some lofty God who sits up there uninvolved in our daily lives. He is the "I am", the only God, the most holy God.

Monday marks one year since my first miscarriage with Peter. On Monday I will reach the 100th item on my gratitude list. The 100th item of thankfulness will be my miscarriage with Peter. Why? Because without these trials, I would not be learning what joy is. I would not have been to the point of such brokenness without this, so that I could learn to be truly whole. Our heart still hurt and we'd appreciate your prayers especially on Monday... but as Ann said "I awaken to the strange truth that all new life comes out of the dark places, and hasn't it always been. Out of darkness, God spoke forth the teeming life... Out of the darkness of the cross the  world transfigures into new life. And there is no other way."

P.S. I've already given out three copies of this book. It is a phenomenal book and I am only scratching the surface of what she said. Please read it and buy one for someone else.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A holy experience - Living Radically Thankful

First, thank you to all who read this. Your prayers and support through this past year have been amazing. When I think of all of you Paul's words in Phil 1: 3 comes to mind. "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now".

An update, yesterday we were supposed to have our new OB's appt. to see if this Dr. is the right one for us. There was a miscommunication and they scheduled me for the wrong Dr. My choice was to either wait til Mid-March to see the Dr. I was planning on seeing, or to see another Dr. (who was just as highly recommended to me) on January 31st. Because I need the monthly blood testing, I decided to go with the other Dr. I feel that God is truly leading us to the right Dr. Exactly a year ago on January 31st was the date of my first miscarriage with Peter. At the beginning of January, I was paralyzed with anxiety about this anniversary date.... paralyzed. It felt as though we had just lost Peter all over again. In talking with people about multiple miscarriages, there is always one loss of pregnancy that is harder than the rest. My first miscarriage was emotionally the worst by far. Faith, was more of shock that it happened again and Eve's death brought (and continues to bring) a healing both spiritually & physically that can only be attributed to God's grace.

So, how can we begin through all of this tragedy to have something more? At the recommendation of my dear friend Melanie, I bought the book "One Thousand Gifts - A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are" by Ann Voskamp. To be honest at first, I don't know why I kept reading this book other than the hope it'd get better. The first chapter is heart breaking. She talks about the horrific death of her sister when she was a very young child. It is easier to listen to someone who has experienced grief than it is to listen to someone who has not (especially the loss of a child, which brings a pain that is undescribeable). Ann Voskamp is someone who has lived through grief and had the same questions I've been silently asking myself for the last year.

"When you bury a child - or when you just simply get up every day & live life raw - you  murmur the questions soundlessly... Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long nights, and bugs burrow through coffins? Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies dies, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind?... Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, & how do I fully live when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy & grace & beauty & all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses & crushed dreams & all that empties me out?"

Oh! These are the very words of my heart. Her solution? Live a radically thankful life. "As long as thanks is possible, joy is always possible." Her challenge to come up with one thousand things to be thankful for. Instead of dwelling on the things that are bad, we replace it by being thankful for what is good. I'm not doing this book justice by any means. In a few days I will be posting more on the philosophy of one thousand thanks. I would like you all to join me on my journey as I begin to "Live a Radically Thankful Life".

I am writing down 5 things I am thankful for everyday. In 6 months I will have one thousand gifts. They can be anything (mowed grass, an organized closet, or bigger things, whatever). I would like you to also join me in writing down your own set of 5 things a day to be thankful for.


REVISION: Ann's website is Her book is number #13 on hot selling books on Amazon. :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Dealing with grief

Today I was poking around on the internet and came across a great article on dealing with grief (or rather how to help others deal with grief). I will post the link at the bottom but am cutting and pasting a few items that are noteworthy. One of my hopes is that this better explains why miscarrying a child is so difficult and how to help others go through the aftermath. One in four pregnancies end in an early pregnancy miscarriage. I also post this partly because it helps to know that there are others who experience this.

"For many families, the instant you knew you were pregnant, your life changed forever.  Whether you were feeling joy or apprehension, this new baby was an important part of your future.  The feelings you have after the death of a baby can be overwhelming and intense, as the death of a baby at any stage is a very real loss.  You will not only begin a journey of recovering physically, but also emotionally and spiritually....

When a baby dies, so many expectations and hopes were shattered, and now you are finding ways to put the pieces of life back together when some of them don’t fit anymore... 

One misconception is that the shorter the baby’s life, the easier the grief process.  The opposite is true.  Chances are that the person is grieving not only the loss of his or her baby, but their pregnancy or hopes and dreams for the future....  

Avoid giving advice.  There are no rules that define how one should feel or how soon one will return to the norms of daily life.

(Listed under "Friend’s Grief")
I’ve never experienced the loss of a baby.  What am I supposed to do to make my friends feel better?

No matter what you say or do, there is nothing that will make your friends “feel better.”  Fortunately there are some ideas that will help you be a part of their experience and will help them through their grief.

If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything.  Sometimes just being with them or offering a hug is enough.  It’s all right not to know what to say.  Say, “I’m sorry this happened,” or “This is so awful, I don’t know what to say.” Respond to your friends’ grief just as if any other member of their family had died.  Send flowers, sympathy cards, share special remembrances, and make a phone call, make or bring dinner.  Even though this baby’s life was short, your friends lost their hopes and future too.

It’s been a couple of months.  Why aren’t my friends over the loss of their baby?

The death of a baby is very sad and life altering.  The intense grieving can take up to 24 months, not all of them spent in deep sadness.  The best thing for you to do is help them through their grief.  Ask sincerely, “How are you?” and be ready to listen.  Sometimes parents can verbalize what they need from you, so you will know what you can do or say to comfort them.

Grieving parents may be saddened at certain times of the year or by special events, like birthdays, due date, delivery date, Mother’s or Father’s Day, because they are reminded that their baby is not here.  Your friends need your support and acknowledgment during these days."

Although our path continues to be one of great pain, it is also one of great spiritual growth. We can see now how much God has been our rock and fortress during the past year. Our future continues to look chaotic, but He knows why. He knows that somehow through this, we will bring him the most glory. Psalm 90 is a beautiful psalm that reminds me of the magnitude of who God is. "Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." He is the God from everlasting to everlasting and the chief purpose (and only purpose) of our lives will be to glorify Him. This is the path He has chosen for us and He will not forsake us. In the darkest parts of our lives, we see His radiant beauty shining.