garden of my mind

a stroll through some blooming thoughts & weeds

hope & courage

I catch myself; tenderly putting my hand on my belly like I'm cradling a little babe. Maybe it is a bit like the phantom limb sensation amputees feel. I stand sideways and look in the mirror expecting to see a bit more of a bump, but it is actually shrinking.  It has been a week since I went to bed pregnant with hope of a new baby in the fall. However, the next morning would bring a familiar journey down a road I've traveled wearily before.  

I sat there staring at a glaring black and white screen.  She typed in No Fetal Heartbeat.  Tears streamed down my face.  I frantically searched for that beautiful flicker on the screen but it wasn't there. I would have been 12 weeks. I feel a little uncomfortable writing about such personal trials but miscarriage and hope have been at the core of why I started this business. (You can read a bit about that history soon) I want to be transparent.  I want to be the broken vessel Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians.  

I honestly never thought I would hear the word miscarriage directed at me again.  In 2009, I suffered a miscarriage at 10 weeks. I did it at home, so full of fear and pain. The loneliness that followed was raw. At the time I was mad at God. Why didn't he protect me from that heartache? I didn't want to hear anything about faith or suffering or how it could bring good. I was mad at everyone really.  I was angry when people shared encouraging words and I was ticked when people told me to move on and it wasn't meant to be.  I dreaded seeing other pregnant women or seeing anything related to babies. That miscarriage represented a loss of innocence to me. I was 25, newly married, just spent a year living in paradise... and suddenly everything I knew was ripped away. I saw how hard life was. But time has a way of letting us learn the whys and it develops our perspective.  I can say now that my faith was not built on a solid rock.  When the rains came pouring down, everything was washed away.  I have spent many hours since trying to find that solid rock and lean on it.  It is such a hard thing to turn from my own understanding and rely on faith. 

I don't feel anger now like I did then.  I have some clarity on this loss from my history. I still felt defeated and sad of course.  My verse for the past few years has been Ecclesiastes 3:11, "God makes everything beautiful in its time." I had actually just lettered it on an old window the night before I found out. I thought the miscarriage journey had already been made beautiful and was over. I turned to flowers last time to help me redirect my mind onto something creative that reminded me of beauty and hope. That is when ladybird was truly birthed.  It has grown over the years and I have been able to share my story with many women and hopefully encourage them to let God turn their ugly hurts into something beautiful. In my mind, these opportunities to share my faith proved that He had transformed that heartache already. But as I read on in Ecclesiastes 3:12 I saw, "but he's left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to." (MSG) I wanted that part of my story to be over, but it isn't.  It is the road set before me.  I must travel it.  Not only this, but Paul says we must rejoice in our sufferings because it produces a hope, character, and perseverance more like Jesus.  I can't say that I am rejoicing in this, but I pray God would help my heart to be open. 

The day I found out I prayed over and over for God to bring some kind of truth to my mind.  He was gracious and just before I went to bed that night he brought 1 Peter 1:6-7 to my mind.  1 Peter was the book that got me back into seeking God after the first miscarriage so I thought it was fitting for Him to bring it to my mind again. "I know how this good makes you feel, even though you have to put up with aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory." (MSG) He is using this suffering to burn off all that doesn't resemble Him.  He is refining me. How I wish it didn't take things like this to be more like God! I read how gold is refined in the fire and I love the symbolism.  It is heated to an extremely high temperature and the impurities rise to the top and are skimmed off.  The goldsmith knows the gold is pure when he looks in and can see his reflection.  I pray that this suffering does just that. That my impurities will be skimmed off and Jesus can look and see His reflection better in me.  

If you aren't a Christian, you might think this sounds crazy. Rejoice in suffering? Desire refinement by fire? The way I look at it is we all have suffering.  No one is immune.  But because I have grace and faith in the creator of the universe and in a God who sent His son to die for me, so that I might have a hope for a future free from all this... I have a personal friend in Him to walk through the tragedies of life with me.  No one should have to deal with sickness, death, and trials alone. Moreover, the hurts of this life can be transformed into something good if we trust and love God. I couldn't face losing two babies without knowing that blessed assurance that this pain and emptiness will be made whole. My prayer is that you might see the need for a loving God to be with you as your travel your own hard journeys...and that you might invite Him in to your darkness so he can shine a light. 

And God has already proven He is with me. Some mornings I wake up crying and wonder how I am going to make it through the day and God shows up. God is with me through a husband who is a shoulder to cry on and an amazing captain of our ship sailing the treacherous seas of life. Through a dear friend who brought over Coke in a bottle and lots of candy and sat and talked and made me laugh. Through a friend who dropped off a gift card for me to treat myself and get my nails done. Through a loving friend who texts verses and words from God all throughout the day. Through a mom who cried with me and who brought over homemade beef and noodles, kiss cookies, and a bright pink purse. Through a dad and mom who loved and watched my girls so we could have a few days to reel. Through a gentle and respectful doctor who held my hand on the surgery table as too many tears to count rolled down my cheeks. Through countless texts and prayers from friends and family all over the country. Through the smiles & laughter of my two girls; my brightest stars and greatest treasures. Through the swaying of trees and the refreshing breeze that helps me to believe a new peace is coming. 

I can already see lessons God wants to teach me in this.  In this world we rely so much on what is seen.  I wanted to see that heartbeat desperately, but I must rely on what is unseen.  That God has a plan for me and for my children. That He will work all things for the good and that He will make all things beautiful in its time.