Saturday, August 30, 2008

4 Month Anniversary

I have been wanting to post since August 19 - the 4 month anniversary of Chloe's delivery. But, I haven't made the time to sit down, be quiet, and feel. I know it will be hard and the tears will come, so it often feels "inconvenient" so I procrastinate posting. Thoughts run through my head that I want to share, but I haven't sat down to type them out. As we approach Chloe's original due date on September 4, the feelings are starting to spill out and I can feel the tension in my body. I can't procrastinate it any more.

August 19 was actually better than I imagined. On my way to work, I literally thought about how thankful I am. That won't make sense to many people. Although the thought caught me by surprise, I thought about it and realized I really am thankful. I'm thankful that we had Chloe, even though it wasn't enough time for my preference. I'm thankful that we were blessed to spend 5 months with her in the womb. I'm thankful that we were able to see here perfect little body and hear her heartbeat through the ultrasound. I'm thankful that we know she was a girl, named her, and were able to hold her. I'm thankful for the way that she has changed me forever. I'm thankful for the way that she brought me closer to her Daddy. I'm thankful that she was my daughter. And I'm so thankful that she is having the best life possible in Heaven.

As I was thinking about all that, I wondered, "Are you thankful enough that you would do it all over again?" If I had a choice - to not have been pregnant with her and therefore still be in "la la" land, or go through the tragedy of losing her, I still would pick the pain. I suppose it is easier to say that because I know that she wasn't in pain. The impact her little life had on us and so many others, is so precious to me, and so important, that even with tears streaming down my face, I can say that I would rather have walked through it than never met her. And I'm glad I didn't get a vote - because I wouldn't have had the courage to go through this if I was given the option. I wish we could be refined without all the pain, but life on Earth doesn't work that way.

Since I'm a visual person, something I read in a book last year has really stuck with me over the last 6 months. The author was far more eloquent, but you'll get the idea.

There is far more beauty in a crystal cut vase than a plain crystal vase. When the sun touches the crystal cut vase it illuminates with light. It creates beautiful prisms of light throughout the room that dance around the walls and anything in its path. It is something to behold.

But put a plain vase in the sunlight - it isn't as beautiful. It is more dull and doesn't project the light in the same way.

In order for the crystal vase to have the deep sharp edges that allow the light to bounce in so many glorious directions - it has to be cut. The work is precise. It is rough and sharp, yet delicate so that the vase doesn't crack or break completely. There is so much craftsmanship that goes into making a treasured, valuable vase. It is worth the effort because the artisan knows that the results (the purpose of the cutting) are grander than we could ever imagine. And the beauty when it is complete, is well worth the discomfort and work that it took to create the final product.

The plain vase without any grooves, depth, or interest is easier to make. It doesn't require an artisan craftsman and it doesn't take as long. It also doesn't shine as brightly or illuminate the light in the same way. It still serves its purpose - it can hold beautiful flowers, but it doesn't shine in the same way.

I remembered this illustration several months ago and since then have had a beautiful cut vase on our table. It doesn't have flowers in it. It doesn't need them. The vase is the reminder.

We are that crystal cut vase. We have had serious life stuff happen to us. Each painful experience is another deep groove that is cut into us.

My mom's death - cut.

Chloe's diagnosis - cut.

Cut. Cut. Cut.

It is uncomfortable and painful. It is dangerous. It is messy.

It is delicate work that could break us at any minute.

But the Master Craftsman knows exactly what He is doing and He is delicate with us, even through the refining. He doesn't allow more than we can handle, and He protects us along the way. Because He knows what we will look like when we are complete, when the work is done, He allows the process to take place.

And when it is complete, we will radiate His light more deeply, more richly, and more brightly because of the deep grooves in our lives. The deeper the cut, the more brilliantly the Light will shine through. It doesn't make it easy. And it doesn't make it fun.

But I believe His promise that He will work all things for good for those who are called according to His purpose. I know that God had a purpose for Chloe's life, He had a purpose is making us her parents, and He has a purpose for her legacy.

That is all for now. This week is tough as I am anxious about September 4. I don't know how I will feel and I know it is a big milestone. God will get us through it, but we would appreciate your prayers for comfort and peace. Thank you in advance.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


It's another one of those times when I sit down at the computer, not knowing what to say, but aware that a ton of emotion and words will begin to spill out. I have no idea where this post will go- but I know it will bring healing and I will feel better because I took the time.

It is still hard for me to be in my grief. I'm a recovering control freak who wants instant gratification- a bad combination. Feeling uncomfortable and sitting in my pain is really difficult. I want to fix it. I know it is a process and I am doing everything that I can to grieve in a healthy way, yet I don't want it to take so long.

I think I'm making progress but then I wake up clenched and tense from head to toe. My body is telling me that there is a lot under the surface and it is starting to manifest itself physically.

This morning I was thinking about all this again. Something I do way to much - analyze and think. There are so many things that I want to do and they are all good things, but I simply don't have the time or energy to do it all, especially with the high expectations I put on myself. I recognized that the stress I'm feeling is self inflicted. No one else is putting pressure on me - it all coming from inside.

This morning, as I made breakfast, ate, and then prepared things for dinner (huge progress since last weekend when I made three recipes simultaneously) I realized that I really want to be able to do all these things (have energy for my husband, family and friends; volunteer work, work, exercise, cook, ministry, etc.). However, if I continue to put so much pressure on myself now it will catch up with me in the long run.

I think my body is telling me in a physical way that it is too much. I have to slow down and ease some of the pressure. The expectations I put on myself are so high that they are unrealistic – especially for someone who delivered a stillborn baby 3 months ago. It is insanity.

All the things that I want to have energy and time for are good things – but they aren’t the best things. If I continue the way that I am I will crash and burn. My body can’t handle it. Life is all about choices. Every choice has consequences – some good, some bad. The consequence of me focusing so much on my To Do List now is that it could very well take 5 years off of my life. It is too much for a person to handle.

Balance has always been a struggle for me. Maybe this is where the control freak and instant gratification issues become most evident. I want it all – in my power – right now. Life just doesn’t work that way.

Losing Chloe is an example of the fact that I do not have control over everything in my life. And yet, just a few months after her death, I feel like I’m trying to control everything again. Maybe it is the natural response to try to grab tighter for control when you feel as though you have none.

All I know is that it isn’t working. Busyness isn’t helping my grief – it is impeding it. I have to slow down and be still.

Be still.

That is so hard for me. I don’t know if I’m afraid that I’m going to miss something or if I think that the world depends on me for my contribution. Both are lies and distortions of my purpose on Earth. Yet, I constantly find myself battling to get a clear and true perspective.

This is all so familiar. I wondered if I had shared about this battle in prior posts so I went back and found a post I started on June 22 but never finished. As I read it again it encouraged me. Grief is a journey. Life is a journey. Life is hard. God is good.

Here is the post...

My women's small group recently finished reading Experiencing God by Henry Blackaby. We started it before we knew we were pregnant. The first night with the book, our leader asked us to write down our expectations of the study. Here is what I wrote:

Better know and understand who God is at a "heart level."
Establish a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him.
Hear Him when He is speaking to me.
Identify His work in my life.
Believe Him and that His promises are real and for me too.
Adjust me so that I'm more like Him.
Better see what He wants to use me for in my life.
Experience God more and recognize the experiences I've already had with Him.

He has been faithful to meet every expectation. But the truth is; I had no idea what I was asking for when I wrote those words. I didn't know I was pregnant. I didn't know that my life would change forever before we even finished the book.

Through our journey with Chloe I have experienced God like never before. And I truly don't know how I could have gotten through it without Him. Many people have told us that we are doing well in our grief. It isn't easy, but we aren't denying it and we try not to let it consume us. The only reason we are making any progress in our grief is because of God. He has been holding us up every step of the way. He has made Himself so real to us in the last few months.

I've known God since I was in the second grade. I know hymns, children's worship songs, some scripture, the books of the Bible, etc. I haven't always walked closely with the Lord, but I've always known that He was protecting me and watching over me. I've often struggled with God for control. I would give Him frequent vacations from my life, "Don't worry about me, God, I'll take it from here. I've got everything under control." I would work so hard to try to keep everything together. I would get exhausted from operating in my limited strength instead of inviting Him to walk with me and help carry the load.

For two decades, I did it over and over again. I would get so tired from seemingly carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders that I would finally ask God for help. I would finally let Him take the reins instead of me trying to run the show. When I allow Him, He is able to guide me through my life with more ease than I can ever achieve without Him. He would prove that truth to me over and over again, and yet I would still send him on vacation.

I have had several deep experiences with God where I felt His presence and power in my life. Not at a distance, but close. In and around me. Although I wish it wasn't like this, I had to be at a place of brokenness and vulnerability first. I had to have the proper perspective. He is God. I am not.

This post was the reminder that I needed. I need to keep in mind what is most important and what I want my life focus to be. It is easy to get distracted. I’m thankful for God’s grace, patience, and goodness as He gives us just what we need when we need it. All we have to do is be still for a few minutes to hear His voice. I'm going to hand over my heavy load to the One who is stronger than I. Again.