My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:15,16

Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
John 11:40
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands… Isaiah 49:16a

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Everlasting Love

Well here we are, almost the beginning of October. Wow, how have that many months passed already in this year. Today, I read with my children. I know that sounds basic, but we had such a great time. I sat on the couch and I had one child on either side of me and one at my feet. When I told my oldest son to choose his favorite comfy place to sit, he said, "I will curl up right here beside you. That is my favorite place to be mommy." MELT! What an opportunity to speak positively into their lives. We talked about harmony in our home and in relationships. We read scriptures (taking turns), we talked out scenarios that we have dealt with or might deal with, we made a craft that required cooperation and being a peacemaker. It was wonderful. Then we sat back again to read a story from Ten Girls Who Used Their Talents, and Ten Boys Who Changed The World. Then on to a DVD about the Galapagos Islands and more discussion on creation and evolution. It was a full fall day.
Tonight I was laying on my bed reading my dear-to-my-heart friend Denie Heppner's blog Sunshine Daze.
She had a picture on her blog entry of the ocean. It made me think of how my life feels right now. I know that sometimes, out where I cannot see it, the ocean roars and is furious with storm, but right now on my own little beach, it is peaceful. The water is shimmering close to the shore as the sun's rays dance across the water. There is a peaceful hope reigning over me, it sneaks up onto the shore and covers my toes as I curl them in the blessed coolness. I take a deep breath in, the air smells so clean and crisp. There is newness washing up with every wave.
My path is taking a new direction. I am beginning a new ministry here that I am confident will be a blessing to many, simply because I know how much it would have meant to me. It is going to be called Everlasting Love.
I will be a chapter of an organization called Holy Sews based in Arkansas. It was started by a mama named Regina whose baby Ryan is also in Heaven. I hope this link works, HERE is the story of the first time Regina hit the road to hand out layettes. So amazing how God looks ahead in time and works things together for good.
I am going to be making layettes for babies are born in the second trimester. I had nothing to dress Zoe in after she was born and what a blessing it would have been to have these little layettes available. Regina is such a huge blessing in my life. She has been so encouraging and patient as we develop this new road together (she actually is doing most of the developing). I am so excited about this and I welcome any volunteers to help. I am starting my list! The layettes consist of a fleece blanket, a flannel hooded blanket that ties around the baby with a ribbon, a teeny tiny hat perfect for their little heads, a small little fluffy bear that can be placed in their arms and a little tiny gown. give dignity and honor to even the smallest, shortest life.

I will have my own section of space on the web linked from the Holy Sews website and I will have an email address directly associated with the organization. The tags on the layettes from my chapter, and the cards included with the layettes will have Everlasting Love on them in honor of Zoe. Since Zoe was born, I have searched high and low for a gown or gown pattern to make that would have fit her. I want parents to have something to hold, that was in contact with their baby, after they say goodbye to their precious little one and hand him or her over. I believe that these things will bring comfort and be treasured.
I have come up empty handed in my search until recently. I believe God led me to this ministry so that we can reach out to even more people in honor of our babies we didn't get to keep here on earth with us.
This is all totally God, how everything is falling into place so quickly. Within a few weeks, Regina now has 3 new chapters of her organization well on the way to being up and running.
As soon as things are closer to being ready, I will post again about it. Eeeek! I am so excited. Thank you God for the opportunity to show Your love to grieving families. I am humbled and honored to be a part of this.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Shoes

This poem is a reminder that no one should judge another person's pain, or think that their pain is so much easier or worse. None of us have walked the EXACT same path as another human being because God did not give us copycat lives. We are each individuals with individual paths. Next time you tell someone, "I know exactly what you are going through," take a moment to think about that statement carefully. Yes we all hurt, but we hurt differently, some deeper, some not so deep, and we all have different responses to those hurts. Be sympathetic and empathetic in your response, but never assume you know exactly what it is like...I reminded myself of this a few times today as I heard the words, "I know," come out of my mouth. Do I know? Do I really know? In future, I will speak with more thought first.

My Shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes. They are ugly shoes. Uncomfortable shoes. I hate my shoes.

Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.

Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step. Yet, I continue to wear them.

I get funny looks wearing these shoes. They are looks of sympathy. I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs. They never talk about my shoes. To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.

To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them. But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.

I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes. There are many pairs in this world.

Some woman are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think about how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.

Yet, because of these shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything. They have made me who I am.
 I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

- Author Unknown?
(If you know who wrote this, please let me know!)

I have to say  a few things about my shoes. There are days, I have hated my shoes. There are days I have wished that I could be wearing almost any other shoes than my own. There are days that my shoes have hurt so much, I could not walk on my own.

There are many days I have loved my shoes. There are many days I would not trade my shoes for anyone else's. There are days that my shoes hold unspeakable joy and overflowing hope. There are days my shoes make me skip through the day. 

As painful as my shoes have been, I choose to be thankful for it. Why? Because I have lived, held, laughed, cried and most importantly, loved.
God, thank You for my shoes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bold enough

This is a post I began awhile ago. I just re-read my last post and realized that this one is on the same topic. I guess it is on my heart often so please be patient with me :o)

I have thought a lot about the tears I have cried since Zoe's death. Now a year later, she is still very much part of my identity. Sadly, an invisible part. To many of you, I am just Kiara, Jinaea, Jaron, and Kyler's mom, but you are missing a name. I am Zoe's mom too. I cannot always say that to people and when I don't, I feel guilty for not mentioning her. Like I am not giving her the honor she deserves as my child. How do I make my heart move to the place where I don't feel that anymore? I don't know if I ever will find it.

A few months ago a girl I hadn't seen in a long time came to me a church and after a short time of  catching upon detail of her life, she asked about my kids. She asked about Jinaea and Jaron and said, "This can't possibly be Kyler!! He has gotten so big. Wow, and where is your baby? I can't wait to meet him or her! Did you have a boy or a girl?" I froze. What do I say? How do I tell her? Tears filled my eyes and the smile left her face. I told her that I had a baby girl. I told her a short version of what had transpired. Tears filling her eyes now too, she reached out and hugged me, "I am so very sorry!"

This weekend I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in many months. We were talking about babies and kids and she said, "You have four kids right?" Again, my brain raced, "How do I answer this? Here goes again..." I replied, "Our baby girl was born last summer but she was still born at twenty-two weeks."
A quiet, "Oh," from her, and then awkward silence. 
I will admit I have often had tears spring to my eyes  just from a simple "How are you?" This usually brings about an apology from the person who then feels bad for even asking and "obviously bringing up something that is painful" which then makes me feel bad for making them feel bad. There are times that my tears seem to make others just downright uncomfortable and I wish it was different. Grief is not easy or comfortable for us or for you. No one knows what to say or do. There we stand in that moment, you fidgeting and unsure of what to say now. The tears fall from our eyes and we try to hide them by wiping them away. You have done nothing wrong, your question has just punctures my "I am fine" mask and touched a soft spot in my heart. "How are you?" is an innocent question, in itself very commonplace. Really there are days where almost no matter what a person says, it can bring a flood of tears. Those are the days, I just need a hug, an understanding smile or a prayer. Maybe even all three.  I am not crazy, just hurting in that moment.
Partly the awkwardness is my fault because I too, am uncomfortable and don't know what to say. There have been and are days that I don't even know how to say what I feel. I know, for the most part, people mean well with the things they say.

I know I have some supportive, be-there-through-anything friends and the following things are not true of everyone. Please forgive me if any of this post sounds too presumptuous. I mean no insult. I found some of this list in a pamphlet on helping others through grief. It says what I have not been bold or courageous enough to say in those moments....
  1. I wish you would not be afraid to speak to me about what is going on in my life, and to ask what you can do to help. Even if it means I may shed a few tears.
  2. If I cry or get emotional when we talk about them (the person who has died), I wish you knew that it isn’t because you have hurt me.  The fact that I have suffered a loss is what is causing my tears.  You have allowed me to cry, and I thank you.  Crying is healing.
  3. I wish you wouldn’t pretend that nothing is happening to me, because this is a large part of my life.  I need my friends and family by my side.
  4. I will have emotional highs and lows, I wish you wouldn’t think that if I have a good day, my grief is over, or that if I have a bad day, I need psychiatric counseling.
  5. Grieving and what I’m going through is not contagious, so please don't shy away from me.
  6. I wish you knew that all of the “crazy” grief reactions I am having are in fact very normal.  Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and questioning are to be expected during and following what is happening to me.
  7. I wish you wouldn’t expect my grief to be over if and when I appear to be smiling or happy.
  8. I wish you would understand the physical reactions to grief.  I may gain weight or lose weight…sleep all the time or not at all…want to surround myself with business or be all alone, all of which may be related to my grief.
  9. Birthdays, anniversaries of  big days, holidays, and the day I found out, are all terrible times for me.  If I get quiet or withdrawn, just know I am doing my best to cope. 
  10. It is normal and good that tough times make us re-examine our faith, values, and beliefs throughout this journey.  We will question things we have been taught all our lives, and hopefully come to some new understandings, deeper, strengthened faith and a closer relationship with God. 
  11. I wish you knew the only way I can get through grief is to experience it, and sometimes immerse myself in it.  I have to hurt before I can heal.
  12. I hope you understand that grief and difficult situations change people.  I am not the same person I was before I experienced this nor will I ever be that person again.  If you keep waiting for me to “get back to my old self,” you will be frustrated.  I am a new creature with new thoughts, dreams, aspirations, values, beliefs and goals. Please try and get to know the “new me”…maybe you will still like me.
   And particularly in the situation where a baby has died or a person is having difficulty conceiving:

13.  I wish for those friends and family that are pregnant to understand that we are happy for them. Our sadness / perhaps odd or distant behavior during this time is not personal but just a part of what we are grieving.

14. I hope that you will not avoid or stop calling because you don’t know what to say. Show me that you care and I can lean on you.

15. I wish that you would not judge the times that I am sad or find it hard to deal with things. (like finding out a friend is pregnant and baby showers)

16. I hope that you will try to put yourself in my shoes. Stop for a moment to think about what you would do and how you would feel if you were in my shoes and use that as your guide to support me.

17. Above all (and I know I have asked for this lots!!) Please pray for me to have strength, peace and healing, especially on the days you can see I am having a hard time. I appreciate your prayers so much.

I know that without God's love and His presence through this, I would not be able to make it through and still smile. I believe that something beautiful can be made from even the worst of circumstances and situations. We have seen God's hand in both small and in big ways all through our lives and I thank Him for that everyday.
If you are going through something difficult I encourage you to reach out. Reach out to God, a good friend, or possibly even a support group. Do not try to handle it all on your own. I encourage you to write like I am. It feels great to air out your thoughts and feelings. It does not have to be on a public domain like this, but even just in a journal. I have had many comments and emails from people who have been blessed or encouraged by me sharing my heart. Yes, there have been some negative too, but now I quickly move those in the folder they belong ;o)  You never know whose life you might make a difference in!