Friday, November 29, 2013

Empty seats at the Thanksgiving...

There were empty seats at Thanksgiving.  Some I expected, others a surprise.  Nothing is a surprise to God.

That's been a hard lesson for me this past year.  Nothing is a surprise to God.  I don't know what I'm supposed to be feeling or how I'm supposed to be acting.  If I'm being my authentic self, it's half neurotic and half at peace.  If that sounds confusing, try living it.

I don't know what I expected this Thanksgiving to be, to be honest.  I know that last year I had thoughts of this year being chaos.  5 kids, 2 babies.  A blended family of love, laughter, crazy and fun.  I pictured the boys trying new foods, maybe crawling all over the place and us running after them.  I don't have to tell anyone how different this year was.

Before we moved to KY, like literally, right before, my mom was diagnosed with cancer.  I will never forget getting the call.  My aunt picked me up from my cousins and took me to my grandmothers.  I dont know where my dad was, probably with my mom, maybe making the last minute arrangements it takes to move a family of 4, 12 hours from home.  But I will never forget, I was at Grandma's and I called my Nana's because that's where my mom was.  I knew she had surgery that day, probably why I was at my cousins.  I had this big cordless phone and I was sitting in my Popsey's office on this old couch and I asked Nana how Mom was.  She told me she was going to be ok.  I knew, at 12 years old, that something in her voice didn't sound right.  I asked her what was wrong and I don't remember anything other than, "She has cancer but she's going to be ok."  From my mind, I don't remember much from that point, other than that heavy, cordless phone hitting the ground.  My grandma, told this story til the day she died to anyone who would listen.

I hit my knees in prayer.  I don't know what my conversation with God was but I was on my knees, in earnest prayer for my mom, who I just found out had cancer.  I stayed on my knees, crying and praying, until I stood up and said, "It's going to be ok.  She's healed."

She was healed.  We moved to FL a few days or weeks later.  I can't remember the specifics.  She went to the best dr's down here and they ran the same tests and they said there was no evidence of cancer.  It's possible the dr's in KY were wrong but it's more probable that the simple prayers of a 12 year old girl, crying out for God to heal her mom were heard.

Fast forward 22 years.  The same girl that had cried out for her mom to be healed cried out for God to take care of Tucker.  For him to be with Fletcher.  After my water broke, hope amongst the dr's wasn't there and we were told to prepare for the worst but not to stop praying.  And I didn't.  No one did.  Prayer without ceasing.  We had our miracles, they just needed to stay in their home, my womb, for longer.

Then I had Tucker.  It wasn't the answer to the prayers I'd prayed in the hospital but it was the answer to so many prayers I'd prayed before.  I never wanted much, other than to be a mom.  And here I was, with my beautiful husband, holding our beautiful miracle.  It just didn't end the way I wanted.

Prayers for Fletcher were prayed.  By so many people.  They prayed that infection would not enter my body.  I never had any signs of infection.  The prayers for his water to remain full were answered.  We saw him swimming around, waving to us.  We prayed we would bring home a healthy baby boy.

We didn't.  Where is God in all of that?  That is a question I have wrestled with for the past year.  Does prayer change our circumstances or does prayer change us?  If I prayed my mom to healing, why didn't God give me my boys.  If not Tucker, why did he take Fletcher too?

And the answer is, I don't know.  Through this whole time my question has been, how can this, a mother's journey of grief and broken-ness be a bigger testimony than if I had our miracle babies playing beside me?

That's where faith comes in.  Because I still don't know the answer to that.  I couldn't have prayed more.  I prayed for healing,  I prayed for God's will, I prayed specifically for each of my boys that we would bring them home.  Healthy.  Not these 2 boxes of ashes we have.

I don't know God's plan.  But I feel confident now that I'm in it.  I know, sitting here now, with tears running down my face, that He hasn't left me.  He didn't forsake me.  His ways our not our ways.  I don't like that.  I wanted His ways to be healing for our boys.

My life has changed.  So much I can't even wrap my mind around it.  I have made so many missteps this past year I can't think straight.  There's no book for going through IVF to losing both your boys 11 days apart.  Believe me, I've looked.

I've done the best I can.  Am I grieving?  Yes, absolutely, of course.  I miss them everyday.  They weren't just something I prayed for, I saw our lives with them in it.  I'm missing out on so much.  But i can't change it.  Nothing I can do can bring them back.  Should I stop talking about them?  I don't think so.  They were the answers to so many prayers, even though their lives were short, they've changed me.  They've changed others.  I've gotten countless emails from others that have told me that through following our story, God has been brought back into their homes, their lives. The God they had left behind, they prayed out to again.  One friend shared with me that she lost her mom and couldn't understand that a God could be loving if He took her mom from her.  But in me, because of my faith that God hasn't left me, if I can trust Him through this, she can too.

I didn't want this to be my story.  I'd much rather be writing an article on juggling babies and work and high heels and kids than be writing an article on getting on with life through grief.  But this is what God saw fit for my life.  If I can trust Him with the good things, I have to trust him in the hurt too.

My life is confusing.  It's more confusing now than ever.  I'm trusting in God with everything that I have that He won't leave me.  Today, in the midst of hurt and frustration, I cried out to him, "I don't know what to do..."  I heard, sure as He was sitting beside me, "Be still.  Don't move.  Trust me."

No, boo, I want an answer.  What am I supposed to do?  I'm a list maker, I'm a fixer.  I need some finite answers.  But what I got is that.  To be still.  To not move.  To Trust.

God didn't answer my prayers they way I wanted.  Doesn't mean they weren't answered.  I still struggle with that.  I probably always will.  Just being honest.

Thanksgiving wasn't what I expected.  It's not what I hoped for and it's not what I had planned for my life.  I don't know what God is up to but I know He's up to something.  And even though Satan tries to fill me with guilt, with confusion, with pain, with doubts that I'm grieving too long, too loud, too much...I won't hear it.  Because I'm loudly screaming, "Thank you God for not leaving me.  Thank you God for using me.  Thank you God for working through me."

Would I rather be sitting here playing with my boys, talking to my husband, enjoying my step kids?  Of course.  I don't know why I'm where I am.  But I'm here.  And I know who is holding me steady, who is guiding my steps and who is getting me through.

December will be a month of remembrance, of celebrating and of hope.  I will never again apologize for the way I have handled my grief.  For I know that as much as I love my boys, God loves them more.  And they got to celebrate Thanksgiving with 4 great grands that love them as much as I ever could.

It's not what I wanted, but it's what I've got.  And I'm trusting that God will continue to work in and through me to honor my boys, to further His kingdom and to grow my relationship with Him.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanks but I don't need your permission to grieve

My 2nd article for Still Standing magazine.

"Make sure that the people giving you advice understand where you are coming from.  Everyone is facing something but not all pain is the same.  Don't listen to the noise of those who are telling you you've been sad too long when they have never lost anything, yet still can't seem to find happiness of their own.  Thank you but I don't need your approval or permission to grieve."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Facebook is getting taken to the trash

I've recently taken a look at my friends list on Facebook. Not sure why, boredom maybe. Curiosity. I've been unfriended by some that surprised me, some that didn't. I've deleted the ones who needed to exit stage left and I've blocked the ones I don't care to see.

Social media at its finest.  

Facebook has been a huge part of my journey this past year. Asking for advice on IVF, sharing exciting news, prayers, hard times, grief...we all know the story. 

What surprises me is people that I grew up with who have become so different. I knew some would probably venture their own course, and they did. Others are very bitter towards a God they may have turned from but who I still very much have a relationship with. Friends who lost touch have become very trusted allies and prayers warriors and some people I grew up with are gone. Whether it was my doing or their's, they are off the friend list. 

It's kind of very amazing and by amazing read sad, how people can change. Everyone has secrets, everyone has a time in their life they aren't proud of. No one goes around broadcasting these on fb bc who wants to show the ugly?  In a world full of perfectly angled selfies to make your chin, chest and butt look their smallest, or biggest, whatever,
with the right filter, the status that is bloviating over how great life is when it doesn't take much to read between the lines of being on the edge of a breakdown.  There's people that post too much, not enough, post mean stuff, passive aggressive stuff, enlightened stuff, feel good stuff. There are those who need prayer and trust those they are asking to know their heart and humility in asking that of someone. 

But I also see all these people who know all these people and grew up with these people or just met those people. And the more people I meet the more I see that people aren't comfortable being comfortable with people anymore.  Bc it's hard to hide your bad when all you're showing is your good. Til your friend posts a bad that may be about you or could be about the girl you heard about instead and then paranoia starts in. 

Someone hurt my feelings? I'll show them, delete.  Someone disagreed with my thoughts and my feelings on my page and then deletes me?  Whhhaaaa. Just kidding, see ya. 

Then you see families. You see friends. You know the dramas, you know the lies, you know who talks about who and it's hard to look people in the eye bc of all the crap that people talk and you don't want to be in the middle of any high school drama. 

A handful of people make conscience decisions to put stuff out to hurt other people. I know good parents and I know some bad ones.  I know great kids and I know not so great kids. I know really good people and I know attention seeking life suckers. 

Welcome to Facebook. 

It's a drama easily caught up in.  People complain too much. Oh my gosh, it's November, people are way too flippin thankful.  I can't believe she posted that. Why doesn't he ever post anything? 

It's annoying. But it's also been a lifeline to a lot of very good people who I am thankful to have in my life. I get to see their struggles and pray them thru it, I get to rejoice in their good news, see their babies, their kids sports pictures, new houses, new hobbies. I get to laugh, I cry, sometimes I get angry or sucked into a debate. But it's all because of who I choose and allow into my life. 

Some make me so happy. Others make me want to punch something. The apple doesn't always not only not fall from the same tree, sometimes it's so far off I'd swear there was an orange dropped off instead.  How did that person come from that family?  Bless their hearts that that's who they are stuck with. Good for them for doing better despite the family they had.  Or bless the family for finally getting the rotten fruit smell off their hands of the crazy who has been trying to hold them back for too long. 

Ramblings of a crazy person.  The good and bad of social media. People don't know how to talk like we used to. Conversations get cut short bc you tell a story and they know the ending bc they saw it on fb. Someone else is sitting right beside a friend having a grand ole time having no idea how badly they've been bashed the day before.  

Facebook brings people together. And complicates the crap out it. 

I'm thankful for the friends,
I'm thankful for the family, I'm thankful for the prayers and encouragement. I'm trying to leave the rest behind.  Deleting the obnoxious, the mean, the nosy and the rude. 

It's time to get my life back to a simpler way of living. 

Wish me luck, this Momma's on a mission to take out the trash in an effort to make room for the good stuff that is coming our way!