I have been throwing all these words around in my head for the past nearly five months and haven’t been sure how or even when to present them.
As Father’s Day is slowly creeping up on us, I have been mulling them over more and more, though, and I think it might be time.
I am truly blessed.
A lot of young ladies have fun stories of learning to play catch, how to ride a bike, lectures about how boys are dumb (and so on) with their father. I grew up with two dads. I had my biological father, who thankfully always lived really close, and my step-father. This is about my step-father; not because my biological father isn’t great, but because it is time to honor my step-father.
I don’t even remember when he entered my life. He is ever present in my childhood memories. I remember when he and my mom were “dating” (I remember them being really weird about that word.), he used to live down the street with my aunt and uncle. He would walk over every morning for breakfast. Eggs and toast and coffee. If you were into that kind of thing. I wasn’t. They made me a cup of tea. He came to family picnics in the park. He went to the Romans Bible study – the one where us kids would write plays and play dress – up and find silly things to bicker about because we were kids. He came to church with us. It was almost just like he became part of the family as naturally as a leaf becomes part of a tree. Looking back I don’t remember him not being there…
When he married my mom, they got me the most beautiful dress I had ever seen and I got to stand with my mama. And then, from my perspective, the only thing that changed was he started sleeping at our house. I learned after that that he snored really really loud. (Like really really.) So one day when we were spending time with my aunt, uncle, and cousins down the street, my cousin Lisa and I performed this whole “we are in elementary school and have huge imaginations” ritual and he forever became “The Snoring Mummy.” (Don’t ask.) He lived up to it.
He took me to my first baseball game when I was pretty young. That’s where he taught me how to keep score the official way. So when he started playing on the church softball team, I became the score keeper for the team. I even did all the official symbols. He also made sure I could play as well as the boys.
When I was nine or ten, he noticed a significant problem with my life and stepped up to solve it: I didn’t know how to ride a bike. So he bought me a bike and dutifully held it up for me while I peddled it timidly up and down the street. He didn’t let go of it until I was ready (which was probably long after he thought I was ready). And when I finally was ready, he didn’t laugh when I couldn’t figure out how to stop without falling and decided that the only way to stop was ride into a fence. … I did that for a few years. Never once did he laugh at me. He would just pat me on the back and tell me how good I was doing. (In my defense, they got me a full sized bike… Even though I was pretty tall, I was still a few inches short for it.)
He coached soccer for the homeschool micro-league so I could play on a team. He coached an Odyssey of the Mind team so I could compete in that as well. (Unfortunately, I was a brat and fought with him every meeting until eventually I just quit the team because I was so frustrated. He finished out the year anyway.) He drove me to all my dance competitions and recitals. All my piano and bassoon recitals. All my (many many) band, choir, and orchestra concerts. He always had the biggest grins – and often tears in his eyes – of any of the other parents there. Even when I thought I did horribly. I don’t think he missed any of my concerts. And that is saying something – I played in EIGHT different music groups at once three of my high school years. On top of that he made it his personal mission to get me hooked on jazz by taking me to concerts whenever we could find one we could afford. (He succeeded by the way.)
He drove me everywhere. Classes at the community college. Youth group. My friends’. Anywhere I wanted to be, if he had gas in the tank and time in his hands – and sometimes even when he didn’t – he took me.
When David and I started dating, he made it a point to know this new man in my life. When we got engaged, David became his son. When we got married and I told him that I wanted my biological father to walk me down the aisle but I wanted him to be an usher and escort my mother to her seat, he got all choked up and said it would be his honor. I am not sure there was a happier person at our wedding besides David and myself. When I told him we were having a baby last father’s day, he was more excited than anyone else we told. And when our baby died, he was one of the most comforting people I encountered. When we moved out to Oregon, he looked up restaurants for us to try out and made plans for when he was to come visit. When we got pregnant again, he called several times a month to make sure I was getting the nutrients and exercise I needed.
He was making plans to meet his grandbaby when he passed away. Two weeks after he went home to be with Jesus, we found out we are having a boy. And I think the hardest part for me has been knowing his grandpa won’t be around to be his biggest fan like he was for me.
He was a great man and I am so thankful that I was able to call him dad. While I miss him a lot, I know I get to see him again someday and that makes it easier to say goodbye for now.
Some of you may not know… but, David and I are expecting an addition to our family come June or July. And – IT’S GONNA BE A BOY! =]
The past couple of weeks, I have been reading through the Message paraphrase of the Bible. (Please notice that I said paraphrase not translation.) It has been a really cool experience. I have spent a lot of time in the Word so I am familiar with what it says in most places. So it is cool to supplement what I have read many times before with an interpretation that is sometimes easier to understand.
A few days ago I read this passage:
After all this, God tested Abraham. God said, “Abraham!”
“Yes?” answered Abraham. “I’m listening.” He said, “Take your dear son Isaac whom you love and go to the land of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I’ll point out to you.” Abraham got up early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants and his son Isaac. He had split wood for the burnt offering. He set out for the place God had directed him. On the third day he looked up and saw the place in the distance. Abraham told his two young servants, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I are going over there to worship; then we’ll come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and gave it to Isaac his son to carry. He carried the flint and the knife. The two of them went off together. Isaac said to Abraham his father, “Father?”
“Yes, my son.”
“We have flint and wood, but where’s the sheep for the burnt offering?”
Abraham said, “Son, God will see to it that there’s a sheep for the burnt offering.” And they kept on walking together. They arrived at the place to which God had directed him. Abraham built an altar. He laid out the wood. Then he tied up Isaac and laid him on the wood. Abraham reached out and took the knife to kill his son. Just then an angel of God called to him out of Heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes, I’m listening.”
“Don’t lay a hand on that boy! Don’t touch him! Now I know how fearlessly you fear God; you didn’t hesitate to place your son, your dear son, on the altar for me.” Abraham looked up. He saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. Abraham took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. Abraham named that place God-Yireh (God-Sees-to-It). That’s where we get the saying, “On the mountain of God, he sees to it.” The angel of God spoke from Heaven a second time to Abraham: “I swear—God’s sure word!—because you have gone through with this, and have not refused to give me your son, your dear, dear son, I’ll bless you—oh, how I’ll bless you! And I’ll make sure that your children flourish—like stars in the sky! like sand on the beaches! And your descendants will defeat their enemies. All nations on Earth will find themselves blessed through your descendants because you obeyed me.”
Genesis 22:1-18 (MSG)
There are a few things that stood out to me. For one, I can’t even begin to imagine how Abraham felt when God asked him to sacrifice his son. Being pregnant, and having lost a child, I am honestly not sure if I would be able to do this. I think in the end, I would be able to, but not without lots of turmoil and grief. I mean, God knows best, right? I am going to come back to this in just a minute.
Also, every time I read this, I find myself feeling complete horror on behalf of Isaac. His father tied him up, put him on the altar, and raised the knife… It doesn’t really matter that he didn’t follow through. He must really have trusted his father and God to not have major daddy issues later in life. I can’t be the only one who has thought about this, right? Anyone else?
And I love the last bit there: “All nations on earth will find themselves blessed through your descendants because you obeyed me.” Abraham father Isaac. Isaac fathered Jacob. Jacob fathered a whole brood of children, making up the twelve tribes of Israel. One of those children was Judah whose great, great, great, great (etc a whole bunch of times) grandson was Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, the son of God. “All nations on earth will find themselves blessed through your descendants because you obeyed me.” Wow. And going back to the first observation, this is a perfect human example of what God did. God actually followed through and sacrificed Jesus, His precious son, for our sins. … All nations are blessed. God gave us a little picture of what He was planning way back before Jesus was born. Before his familial line was established through Judah. Wow.
And another blessing, the story isn’t over yet. Jesus is coming back.
Happy New Year!
I was driving home from work when I realized how fast the world is turning. I was going 50 in a 45 but all the cars around me were passing me in a blur of color and it hit me.
This morning, after a few weeks of inner-conflict, I scrapped my 9 chapters a day Bible reading plan. I was almost two months behind because when I got pregnant I slept when I would otherwise read my Bible. But I thought I could still catch up. So when I miscarried I was still determined to do it. Three times by New Year. But reading Job didn’t fill me up. It didn’t make sense of my present circumstance. I just wanted to read the Gospels again. But I couldn’t go back on my word.
So I avoided reading the Bible. I didn’t want to read Job or Exodus. They weren’t speaking to my need. I longed to see Jesus’ words and miracles again. But I felt so guilty. I felt deeply obligated to make myself busy in the Word. But as my life has seemed to the past three weeks, I felt the need to
Slowly. Because when you lose someone precious to you, sometimes it feels like you have stopped but everyone around you has kept going. And fitting 45 plus minutes of legalistically reading the Word into my otherwise slowed-to-accommodate-my-heart life just made things too hectic.
I stopped at a red light and cars in the lanes on either side rushed through the red light, hoping to get past before the cross traffic began. Why does everyone go so fast all the time? It never seemed so hurried before.
David told me that earlier. Slow down and go deeper. Breathe it in. The good, the bad, and everything in between. It is all allowed by God and I can choose how to respond. I can choose to slow down and find the joy in every moment.
I wrote this a week and a half ago. But I wanted to post it – perhaps it will speak to someone. Perhaps it will just speak to me.
Warning: there is graphic material in this post.
I learned something this week that I thought I already knew: miscarrying is hard.
Growing up, I watched my mom miscarry three times and then experience the loss of a child born too soon. That is four losses of children she nurtured and grew in her womb. It was hard on us kids, too. We had grown accustomed to leaning in close to her belly and saying things like “when you get big, I am going to teach you how to play soccer” or “if you need any help with your schoolwork, I’ll help you” or we would read stories to the baby in mama’s belly. And then… one day, she would come and tell us that baby went home to Jesus. It was hard then, too.
But now I know what it is like to enjoy the excitement of preparing “house” for a baby. I would to talk to him throughout the day, tell him what I was thinking or feeling. I would tell him how much his daddy and I love him.
But in what now feels like an instant, he went home to Jesus. I went from this (maternity shorts)
the afternoon of the night I miscarried to this (skinny jeans that haven’t fit for weeks)
today. Miscarriage is hard for a few reasons. The first reason is the most obvious: the loss of a precious child. I went from pregnant mama to … not. It brings an emptiness with it. David described the feeling best when he said it is a profound loneliness. There was the presence of a baby and now there is not. We went from three to two in a matter of hours. We grieve not getting to know our precious baby or what he would have gotten to accomplish. I personally grieve not getting to see him smile and laugh for the first time. All those precious firsts.
The other reason is less obvious unless you have been through it yourself. When you miscarry, you essentially go into “mini” labor. And you give birth to a lifeless child and then bleed and are in pain for a week or more. That first night, I didn’t know I miscarried until I held my baby in my hand. And then every day since then, I have had to endure cramps and pains and my body pushing out chunks of placenta. Not only is it emotionally hard to lose a baby, it is hardwork. There is no escape from the reminder: there will be no baby born in February.
Having seen my mother miscarry time and time again, I knew it was hard. But now I know. And most women miscarry at least once. There are many women in my life who have miscarried. And I didn’t know until this week. And many women endure some sort of depression after miscarrying. My mama lost her last baby when I was sixteen and she is still suffering emotionally. It is hard.
That being said, people haven’t known what to do when I say I am okay. Yes, I go through moments of sadness or pregnancy envy. Some moments are more intense than others. But God has been so gracious to me. He has given me the ability to recognize that He is in control and that He has a plan. And, most importantly, whatever happens, He has not abandoned or forsaken me. He didn’t just steal my baby away, baby Peter wasn’t mine to be stolen. I was just the keeper and protector until God called him home. It just happened before I expected or desired.
Something that God showed me this past week while talking to my new friend Janice, the wife of the head pastor of the church where I am working, is that we are to trust Him despite all circumstances. Psalm 46 says “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way…” look at that closely. “We will not fear, though the earth give way….” It doesn’t say “if for some reason the earth gives way I guess we shouldn’t be afraid.” It says that even though this is happening now, we won’t be afraid. Whatever may come, God is our refuge and strength. The psalm comes to a conclusion with this strong, yet comforting command: “Be still and know that I am God….” Or as I like to look at it sometimes: “Stand back and let me be God.” And then again in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Bad things happen. But that is the perfect opportunity to lean back into God and let Him carry you, providing you the strength you need moment by moment. Those moments of trusting despite the circumstances are life defining.
When I was almost two, I broke my right leg in three places. Anyone who has broke a bone, especially like that, knows that as it heals, the bone gets longer due to the way the healing process occurs. By the time all was said and done, my right leg was an inch longer than my left. God has shown me throughout my life, through loss and other painful experiences, that similarly when we experience hardship but allow Jesus to enter the situation, He will grow our hearts as He heals them, giving us greater capacity to love and be loved. To have compassion, which literally means “to feel with”. And he showed me that the more pain we endure, the more we look like God. Jesus endured indescribable pain on the cross in our stead. If He trusts me with this pain, I will take it in stride because I know I now have a greater capacity to show compassion, to be Jesus to someone in need.
Miscarriage is hard and I have shed more tears than I knew my body could produce. I hope to never endure it again. But God makes all things good in His love and His mercies are new every morning.
Now because of this immeasurable grace I have been shown, I can stand here before you today and say it is well. It is well with my soul.
As you know, we announced the upcoming arrival of our little blessing, Baby Parvu or “Baby Bear”, earlier than most couples choose to. There is a reason for that.
A couple days before our first anniversary, I started bleeding. Not a lot, but consistently for twelve or so hours. We assumed the worst (thankfully) and thought I was miscarrying. Now, when it started, we were literally heading out the door for our camping trip. Being young, never-before expectant parents, we decided the only thing we could really do was wait it out. I had my first prenatal visit (an intake visit, really) scheduled for the following Monday so we decided just to see what happened. … I am so glad that we assumed the worst. We went on the camping trip and prayed and comforted each other and just relaxed. If Baby had died, we would have been okay. Sad, but excited for future children.
So when we got to my prenatal appointment, we were pretty somber. The nurse told us that there wasn’t really much they could do right then to confirm or deny a miscarriage, but that if we wanted an answer before Friday, we should go to the ER (which was conveniently down the hall). Guess which we chose. … And thus began the longest day of my life.
I had an ultrasound. They weren’t expecting to find anything at all, let alone a perfectly healthy baby with the strongest heartbeat they’ve seen in a baby that young. Baby was so small that it looked like the whole body was the heart beating. I was so happy, so relieved – I couldn’t wait to get back to my room so I could tell David and show him the picture the tech printed for me. As we were sitting there, ecstatic, our ER doctor came back and sat down with a concerned look on her face.
“Based on your pictures, it looks like you are having an ectopic pregnancy,” she said. (Or something like that.) For those of you who don’t know, an ectopic pregnancy is where the baby implants anywhere but the uterus. The medical solution for this is always (or at least almost always) abortion. They won’t use that word, but that is really what it is. She asked that we go to the main hospital across town to consult with an OB. So. We did.
We met with two OBs, a man and a woman, and they made it clear that, to them, I was the most important person in the situation. Not David. Not Baby. Me. I understand that I am important in the situation, but not Baby? That sickened us a bit. They had me stay overnight for observation and for another ultrasound in the morning. So we prayed and prayed and prayed (and others prayed with us, without details… just that God would move!). They wouldn’t let David stay with me and had me in a room with a woman who threw up all night long. This was not fun for three reasons. 1. If you know me, you know that just thinking about vomit grosses me out. A lot. 2. Being pregnant has given me a much, much better gag reflex. I had a good one before. (I couldn’t swallow medicine in pill or capsule form until I was in my teens. And that was after my mom spent years trying to teach me how to swallow in such a way that I wouldn’t gag or choke.) 3. I can’t sleep at night without David next to me. I don’t know why.
I did not sleep.
Early in the morning, three nervous, green doctors came in and told me that they had ruled it as ectopic and were just waiting for a confirmation before they “discussed my options” with me. (D&C, shot that stops DNA reproduction, ect….) I was so mad that I just glared at them and said, “I stayed overnight for an ultrasound.” They got this deer in the headlights look in their eyes and stuttered out something along the lines of “Oh, well, uh… we will go check to see if that is true….” An hour later, two of the came back with an old, paternal looking OB who sat down on my bed and patted my shin, saying, “Everything is going to be okay. I think you are having a safe pregnancy. I just need a confirmation from radiology. I just emailed him your pictures from yesterday and he should be calling any minute.” His phone rang. Radiology. He leaned in so I could hear what the man on the phone was saying.
“I don’t know what you guys were thinking, of course it is a safe pregnancy, albeit abnormally placed. Why did you keep her overnight?? Send her home!”
The paternal OB kept patting my leg and started encouraging me using various scriptures, such as Matthew 6:25-34 and Psalm 23. It was really encouraging.
So, in the end, they did not do another ultrasound. They sent me home where I slept for a long time. God is faithful. We think that He moved Baby down in me but also in the pictures. This has also given us the ability to see Baby’s growth progress more frequently than most expectant parents. (I am only 11-ish weeks and I have had THREE ultrasounds. So cool.) We are also very encouraged to know that everything is 100% A-okay. =]
If for some reason, you stumble across this someday, we are so excited to meet you!! You bring us such joy and just the thought of getting to hold you in my arms in a 6 months takes my breath away.
We love you and are praying for you.