whoa baby!!

This is happening...whoa.  Go Jesus!  Due Christmas Day.  There's really not a more powerful testimony for RESTORATION!  God makes all things new...

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”Revelation 21:5


from glory to glory...my miscarriage story

***If you or anyone you know has had to suffer a miscarriage, I pray my feeble experience will somehow encourage you and strengthen you through your loss.  I’m so sorry for what you are experiencing.***

A story of His Glory!  MY story!

Many of you know that there are a few absolutes of mine that are inescapable.  Honesty.  Too many details.  And circular conversation.  I am giving you a fair warning that as you read this; I don’t claim to be a novelist.  Also, I write just like I talk…quite scattered, eerily honest, with a tad of drama.  Jason will read this later and be aghast at my lack of proper grammar and editing skills, but alas I must post.  So thank you, dear reader, for enduring this novella.  Grab a cup of coffee.  You’ll need it. 

Last October we received the surprise of our lives!  We found out we were PREGNANT!  We were shocked to say the least.  Many emotions came rolling in…shock, elation, JOY, fear all rolled into one response.  At the time Haven was only five months old and it all seemed a bit sudden.  All those fears were fleeting lasting a mere 20 seconds until ELATION filled our hearts and our home.  We told friends, family and our sweet children.  Everyone rejoiced with us!  In the middle of telling one of my best friends I remember having this fleeting thought, “This will not end as I hope.”  I immediately rebuked the thought, declared a 1000 promises and went on my merry way.  Not very long after similar thoughts began to creep in, thoughts that I assumed were cheap shots from the enemy trying to steal my joy. 

It was such a fun season.  I was pregnant with a couple of my sweet friends, which is always so fun to share the highs and lows of pregnancy with.  I couldn’t believe we were going to have FOUR children.  I had always wanted four by the time I was 30.  I have NO idea why…just did.  The holidays were beginning to creep up on us as were Jason’s next to last law school finals.  Law school finals have proven to be the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE the past three years.  Although Jason always does exceedingly well in his classes it takes quite the toll on the household.  It was a stressful time but we were doing our best to choose JOY in this circumstance.  I was nauseated, bone-tired and couldn’t quite shake the aching feeling that something was very wrong.  I had thus far been blessed with sickness-free pregnancies.  Not even a moment of nausea.   I didn’t understand “morning sickness”…and I definitely didn’t understand nausea….until that fateful day that getting out of bed felt like I was standing firmly in a canoe in 30 foot swells.  I mean WHOA!  If this is what morning sickness or nausea feel like I PASS, thank you!!!  But oh, it continued.  We had our first appointment.  One I was certain I was 10 weeks at; however the midwife measured just 6.5 weeks.  She didn’t seem concerned with my estimate being so off because she assumed I was just mistaken.  Thanksgiving came and went and we enjoyed some down time with family.  We survived finals.  How?  No one knows.  And then Christmas came.  

If you know me at all I am like a kid in a candy store at Christmas time.  It is by far my favorite time of the year.  I love everything about it.  I love the decorations, wrapping presents, getting that perfect gift for a friend that will make them feel so KNOWN, attempting baking (always a feeble attempt I might add!), celebrating our Savior, adding new traditions for the kids to experience year by year, the way the mall changes scents seemingly overnight, the warm fuzzies, the glad tidings, the sweaters and boots that come along with cold weather, the snowpocalypses of Oklahoma winters, I just LOVE IT ALL!  This Christmas was going to be an extra special treat.  We were going to get to see BOTH families at Christmas.  We were stopping through Texas to visit BOTH sets of grandparents before heading on our way to Albuquerque to visit Jason’s brother where despite recent family changes everyone was going to be gathered together!  TOGETHERNESS, another thing I love about Christmas.  But before we went we celebrated Christmas morning at our home.  The kids were perfection.  Squealing with delight at every little thing.  Acting as though they’d never had orange cinnamon rolls ever before in their lives (a family Christmas morning favorite!)  We opened presents and joyfully thrashed the house with wrapping paper and new toys and delight!  Since we were going to be on the road for about 10 days I had started the mountain of laundry just prior to Christmas.  There were clothes strewn out every which way.  I recall thinking how utterly embarrassing the condition of my home was for such a sweet celebration but Jason assured me they would never remember that part and we could have the house spotless for next year.  After enjoying our bounty a few hours longer, we headed down the road. Our first stop was staying the night at my dad’s parent’s house.  We’d rise early the next morning and head to my mom’s parents house.  I was especially eager for this visit as I was unsure how much precious time we had remaining with one of the kindest men I knew, my sweet Pepa.  He had been diagnosed with cancer and the treatments were taking their toll.  He, however, is the toughest cookie one could ever come across.  A telephone man for 20 plus years, a family man who never missed a sporting event of any of his three children, and a grandfather that enjoyed allowing me to be his immediate shadow all my childhood days.  So this was sure to be a memorable time together.

The Kennedy kids are the most excellent travelers I’ve ever known.  We don’t know how this happened upon us but we are thrilled.  The typical six hour trek to Tahoka, TX turned into about 9 hours with icy road conditions and many, MANY bathroom breaks.  With three children under five and a prego wife bathrooms on Christmas day were startling difficult to come by, but we managed.  When we finally made it we were elated!  There is nothing quite like my Nana & Grandad’s house.  There is so much love, peace & joy in this home.  Upon entering you feel as though you are the most important person in the world.  We embraced, we laughed, we told stories and something extra special that night came up in discussion.  We talked about angels and their presence and if we believe they exist.  It was a wonderful conversation and I commented to Jason how amazing it feels to be surrounded by the ones that love you the most and talking about a supernatural and NEAR God with them.  I was on cloud 900.  I excused myself for a moment as I was beginning to decline rapidly.  I thought I was just extra tired from the drive.  (FAIR WARNING:  TMI is following.  You can easily stop reading here and skip to the next paragraph!)  I went to the bedroom to begin getting ready for the night.  I asked Jason to follow me, as I was quite uncertain as to why I was suddenly feeling so ill.  I went to the restroom and a feeling overcame me that I will NEVER forget.  Sheer doom.  As I was casually telling him I needed rest I noticed…blood.  A lot of it.  Even as I write this tears stream down my face for the woman in her precious grandma’s bathroom experiencing the nauseating, daunting, unyielding pain that would ensue.  I screamed.  A blood-curdling scream.  Jason came running and I explained through shouts and tears what was going on.  At this point I was in the fetal position screaming “You will LIVE and NOT DIE!  You will LIVE and NOT DIE!  You were made for the land of the living.  You were made to transform nations with your love for Jesus.”  And then this startling phrase came out of my mouth, “No matter what happens I won’t blame you God.  I won’t blame you or myself.  I won’t give in to self-pity; I won’t waiver on who you are, on your kindness towards me, on your unwavering goodness.  I won’t!  I won’t!”  Then I just wailed.  Jason held me and I wept.  In my spirit I knew what was happening.  I called my parents who were still a couple hours out from my grandparents.  They calmed me; assured me everything was fine and prayed with me.  It calmed me down momentarily but I just had this feeling in my gut that in fact, no, everything was not fine.  In everyone’s sweet attempts to comfort me they assured me I was probably tired, that actually very normal and healthy pregnancies can have signs of spotting and that I just needed to rest.  Rest I COULD NOT!  Once my parents arrived my dad could see my angst.  He drove Jason and I to the local Tahoka hospital.  Hospital is an overstatement.  I felt horrible for waking doctors in this tiny town on peaceful Christmas night.  Nurses greeted me with happy smiles.  They all assured me things like this could happen in normal pregnancies.  At that point I was supposed to be 15 weeks along (on the doctor’s timeline) so they attempted to hear the fetal heartbeat with the Doppler.  Since I had heard the heartbeat before I knew I was far enough along to pick it up.  Jason paced the room.  I stared at the water stained ceiling.  I knew all we’d hear was radio static.  The sound of static is deafening in a moment like that.  The nurse tried and tried while hot tears streamed down the sides of my face.  The hospital’s ultrasound tech was on family vacation until the following week so there was no hope of receiving an ultrasound.  Instead, they followed up the silence with a blood test.  We waited and waited and waited until they came back with enthusiasm that I simply had a kidney infection.  We were immediately relieved.  They couldn’t explain why we didn’t hear the heartbeat on the Doppler except that “maybe I wasn’t far enough along yet.”  According to the doctor if I took this antibiotic the spotting would clear up in the next few days.  We went home slightly lighter afoot yet I couldn’t conjure up the assuredness that everyone else seemed to possess.  I just knew.  I went home and wrestled with God.  I wasn’t angry.  I was just irrevocably sad.  Sadness that came in crushing waves.  Going to bed was a daunting task.  How was I to calm down?  How was I just supposed to fall asleep after that?  But more importantly I didn’t WANT to go to sleep.  You see, I am a dreamer.  I dream all of the time.  I dream of Jesus.  I dream of heaven.  I have the craziest nightmares as well.  I have a love/hate relationship with my dream life.  So much of who God is to me has been revealed to me through some incredible encounters I’ve had with Him through dreams.  This, I know, sounds crazy.  But this night, this one night I did NOT want to dream for I was certain I would dream of my sweet baby.  Sobbing ensues as I write these words.  Dreams are a precious gift from God.  The good ones at least.  Yet, in that moment I felt so vulnerable and raw and weak that I knew I couldn’t withstand what a dream might mean.  But alas, I fell asleep after going through every promise and prayer of faith I could possibly muster.  And the inevitable happened…I had a dream. (Por su freaking puesto!)

In my dream I found myself walking on a sidewalk that glittered with the brightest colors.  Specks of the deepest and brightest colors sprinkled the sidewalk.  Somehow I entered a room.  A room so extravagant it went beyond any home decorating magazine’s best creation.  It was a white room.  There was the most comfortable-looking furniture and it was all crisp white.  There were luxurious and soft blankets on every piece of furniture and it smelled…it smelled better than ten Anthropologies combined.  There was a calming sound of a nearby creek or rushing water of some sort.  I couldn’t see it but I could hear it.  As I examined the room I noticed a rocker in the corner of a room and to my surprise I saw my Granny!  [My Granny passed away when I was six years old.  However I have the most distinct memories of her playing on the floor with me even though getting around for her was no easy task!  She would set up these little green men and farm animals and allow my imagination to run wild.  In her home, you felt tended to, cared for, believed in and deeply loved.  She would cook all day, serve her family til she was tired to the bone, and she never ever missed serving her church. The perfect word for her in my recollection of her was faithfulness.  She was tender and strong.  A force to be reckoned with in the Spirit.  She prayed like no other.  And her prayers…they were both powerful and effective.]  So there I am.  In this room I don’t recognize but feel utterly calm in and I see my Granny with a grin on her face.  I know it’s her without a doubt yet she’s young.  Her hair is flowing, her hair is darker and bright and she looks strong.  Her eyes are closed as though she is taking in this wild moment for all that it’s worth.  She never looks at me just says, “Shhhhh, it’s okay sweetheart!”  I look the length of her body and with her toe she is gently rocking a cradle.  I can only see through the side of the cradle.  There’s a baby inside with the darkest, shiniest head of curls swaddled in the most luxurious blanket I’d ever seen.  The baby was sleeping.  Being rocked ever so gently back and forth by my sweet Granny.  As I lunged forward to figure out what was going on with this baby a hand touched my shoulder and kept me from moving.  This voice was indescribable.  I know I had heard it before.  Many times thinking I was an absolute kook for believing I hear voices.  However in this voice there is a peace that’s beyond words, a security that brings wholeness and a rest and calm that brings absolute truth to the circumstance.  This voice, happy yet not obnoxious, assured but not pious…it said, “She’s resting in perfect Peace.”  So I stood and watched and…smiled.  My Granny!!  Watching over my BABY!!!!  Is this the kindest thing I’ve ever known??  

I awoke.  Jason was sleeping calmly next to me but not for long as wails from deep, unknown, never before tapped into cavernous depths of my soul came bubbling out.  I wailed and I truly mourned.  I heaved.  I couldn’t breathe.  I choked.  I was heart-broken beyond compare.  You see, I understand that dream is kind.  I understand it could’ve just been a silly dream.   I understand when I describe it, I easily sound like I need medical attention.  But to me, in that moment and now as I retell it, the dream is more real that the sensation of my fingertips on the keyboard.  I didn’t WANT that dream.  I didn’t want to know my baby was in heaven.  I wanted her INSIDE OF ME!!!  I wanted to reject the notion that heaven had something better to offer than what I could offer my sweet baby.  I just wanted her back.  I prayed like crazy for the baby within me to be resurrected.  We prayed until we could pray no more.  Hours later when everyone arose we discussed going to a nearby “big city” to get an ultrasound, just to get a definitive and clear answer as to what was going on.  We were supposed to spend the morning with my other grandparents and get some quality time with my Pepa and I didn’t want to miss that for anything.  We were going to leave from there and head for Albuquerque to spend Kennedy Christmas together, celebrate birthdays, go on a hot air balloon ride, and go skiing etc…there was so much in store for us.  I remember doing my very best to put aside the grief (that I wasn’t even sure I was supposed to be feeling!  After all, it was just a “kidney infection”) and tricked myself into thinking everything was okay and soak in the moments with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  We hadn’t all been together in many years so it was a special time.  I tried my best to conjure up my happy face as I was truly delighted to be there.  It was so fulfilling to be with family.  However, I would get teary and I recall someone saying, “Just pray for Ashley, she’s trying to miscarry.”  I know exactly what that person meant was that my body was losing a baby but in the heat of grief normal things people say just DO NOT RESONATE well.  I raged internally, “I’m not TRYING to miscarry.  I’m not TRYING to have death inside of me.  I’m not TRYING to not have a child.  I would give my life for my unborn baby.”  It was then I realized that in pain our sensitivity levels are off the charts, that no words can sustain us, that no relationship can pull us through…it HAS TO BE God and Him alone.  As I sat at my grandmother’s table it was as though time stood still.  Hundreds of phrases that had come out of MY OWN MOUTH to my suffering and hurting friends came screaming back at me.  They were all said with the best intentions.  And yet, they were all said with zero understanding.  I expressed empathy for pain but little acknowledgement of true mourning.  Until now I had never known loss like this.  Yes, my great grandmother passed away when I was six years old but that’s the closest I had come to death and I was in my 29th year.  After lunch my sweet Dad decided to calm my fears by taking me to the emergency room in Lubbock.  We went to mother/baby where they made me pee in a cup, drew my blood, did the Doppler reading with even more deafening silence and then transferred me in an ambulance (for insurance reasons) to the emergency room.  All the while tears streaming down my face for this experience.  Adding insult to injury the rigmarole was just too much to handle.  There we received an ultrasound.  I have had enough of these to know when it’s good news and when it’s bad.  I did my best to talk about light-hearted things with my ultrasound tech as I know it must be so difficult to first see the very thing an expectant mother fears the most.  She gave them the whole medical jargon about how she wasn’t allowed to tell me either way and how we would have to wait for the doctor for the results.  My aunt showed up.  I wish everyone could know her.  She is the caretaker of all caretakers.  She loves people right where they’re at…in their highs and in their lows.  She sat next to me, my dad held my hand, Jason held the other while we waited, and waited, and waited.  About two hours later our Syrian doctor came in with a harsh accent.  As soon as he pulled the curtain closed all my fears became a reality.  I cried hot tears as I heard him say these devastating words, “This pregnancy is no good!”  It resounded in my ears with a piercing ring.  He explained my options and my dad thanked him for his time.  Jason had tears streaming down his face as he attempted to hold it together.  My dad prayed and my aunt got me some Valium.  Praise God for her, right!?!?  We left that day and I had never felt so empty.  EXCEPT.  EXCEPT I had seen this scenario in other friends lives and I had SEEN GOD do a mighty miracle, even through my very own prayers.  We decided to spend the night at my grandparents again and leave early the next morning to head back home.  We contacted Jason’s family who was beyond gracious and understanding.  We were so sad to miss out on Kennedy Christmas.  Our kids were devastated to not be with their cousins.  Although I had teared up and cried around the kids several times I hadn’t fully explained the situation to them.  However, I entered the house and True ran up to me and said, “The baby is safe now mommy!  God said you don’t have to be afraid!”  Although a shocking statement coming from my little boy I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was true despite how I felt.  What a discerning and tender boy he is.  About 30 minutes after that he came up and pressed his soft cheek against mine and wiped every tear that fell from my eyes.  He said with each tear, “God is with us.  He loves us so much.”  Who knew I’d need the counsel of my five year old in my greatest pain.  We spent the day praying, slept, and left early the next morning.  I still wasn’t feeling any cramping or any pain so it just seemed like another day.  Being the internal processor that I am the drive was very quiet.  Jason was so patient.  So very, very kind.  He prayed, he drove, he prayed more, we worshipped, we sang silly songs with the kids and we just sat in silence as the miles went by.  I began receiving texts from my friends that I had asked to begin praying.  The floodgates of well-wishes and empathy were overwhelming.  I felt deeply loved by God for surrounding us with people that love us so deeply no matter what we have to offer in return.  One of my closest friends texted that she was going to bring dinner over.  I broke the silence of the car begging Jason to call her and not let her come over, as our house was the worst kind of disaster.  As I described before it looked like tornadic activity had hit ONLY the INSIDE of my home and flung socks far and wide.  I had never left my house in such a condition and I didn’t want ANYONE else to have to endure it.  I just told Jason to please get her to not bring dinner over.  We could pick up food on our way into town and once the house got clean we could have friends over.  I kept saying how I just really wanted the house clean so I could be calm.  (Can I get an amen!?  I can’t be the only woman who feels this way!)  Jason assured me he would take care of it and we rode on in more silence.  Peaceful silence as the Holy Spirit just comforted us.  When we pulled up to our house I noticed a light on in Haven’s room that I swore I wouldn’t have left on.  As we entered I was apologizing for the electric bill, haha!  As I walked through the door from the garage, I noticed that the pile of laundry I had left RIGHT by the garage door was gone and you didn’t have to hurdle piles of clothes simply to enter.  A few steps more and I noticed that my kitchen was GLEAMING with cleanliness.  A step more and I noticed a BOUNTY of groceries on my kitchen island and a prepared meal awaiting me from my friends.   Cards full of encouragement and sympathy were awaiting me from my precious friends.  Flowers, my favorite ones in fact, covered my table.  I only got about 10 steps in and again I was wailing.  Not from loss this time but from overwhelming love.  I didn’t want to unsettle the kids any more than I already had so I moved to my room where it was also immaculate.  One of my favorite things in my life is a clean bedroom.  It’s like next to godliness to me, except that I rarely have the time and energy to keep it in the shape I so desire.  However, this time, it was spotless.  Every tiny sock, every article of clothing, every little detail had been tended to, put away perfectly.  And then I noticed something different on my bed.  Oh, it was one of those notebook like pillows I’m obsessed with but could never afford!  I had to get close to read it, as my eyes were so full of tears. It read, “Sweet Baby, Angels are watching over you.  Their wings wrap gently around you whispering you are loved and blessed.”  As I read the words on the pillow I fell to my knees heaving the loudest sobs yet.  About ten minutes in I felt a tiny hand upon my back.  Sometime during that, my sweet daughter Selah had curled up in the fetal position next to me and put her hand on my back.  I could hear her talking but couldn’t make out what she was saying above my sobs.  I quieted myself enough to hear her.  She put her hand on the small of my back and said, “Jesus, please comfort mommy right now.  She needs to know that you’re right here with us. Thank you Jesus that you are washing us in your love like a warm shower.”  Okay.  Stop here for just a second.  My daughter is FOUR.  She’s not a world-renown prophetess, she’s not a pastor of multitudes, but in that moment she pastored me so incredibly well.  Her sincere, simple prayer of hope and faith lifted me up out of the pit just for that moment and let me experience the perfect Peace that had been described in my dream two nights before.  What a profound moment.  We went to sleep that night in awe of the kindness of God, in awe of His goodness for surrounding us with such amazing comrades, for letting me experience my greatest moment of pain surrounded by those that love me the most.  We went to bed so incredibly sad yet our hearts weren’t empty, just indescribably heavy.  Another day went by and I relaxed and laid around.  I was still bleeding and we decided to take it as easy as possible.  Friends stopped by to bring us amazing meals, love on us, and just make themselves available for us.  People took our kids out for play dates and cared for them while we were slightly out of commission.  My parents were driving back through on their way home and they were going to stay the night with us.  To say I was relieved to see them again was an understatement.  No one on this earth can take care of me like my mom can.  I needed her and she was there.  About 30 minutes after arriving I was laying on the couch while my brother was sitting in the chair. (THIS IS ABOUT TO GET GRAPHIC, move along if you don’t want to read!)  I felt a familiar feeling and sat up and sharply stated to my brother that my water had just broken!  He looked at me like a deer in headlights and said he’d get mom.  I giggle now thinking about what must have been going through his mind.  Sorry, Brooks!  I wobbled to the bathroom.  My bathroom is large but the toilet room is quite tiny, room for one of course and the walls felt like they were caving in on me.  I had NO IDEA WHAT I WAS ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE.  Again, as I type, I sob.  Why isn’t this topic talked about more often?  Why is this such a hush-hush topic?  Women are dying internally carrying this experience alone.  As I sat on the toilet my water broke fully and I went into labor.  Real.  Labor.  With real contractions.  No they weren’t delivery room contractions but they were really close.  I kept telling Jason, “I’m having contractions.  What is going ON!?”   My mom came to the rescue, as Jason CANNOT handle the sight of blood.  In both of my deliveries prior I have lost so much blood that I have required a transfusion for the first and carefully monitored for the second, so the thought of bleeding in my bathroom was daunting.  There was blood everywhere.  I was passing clots.  I could tell I was about to pass the baby.  I was weeping knowing …this is so hard for me to say and describe and I know that for many, it is way too much information, but I have to say it…I knew I would pass my baby in my toilet.  That was never meant to be.  People aren’t supposed to endure things like this.  My mom kept saying, “Don’t look Ashley!  Look away!”  But I couldn’t.  I needed to see her.  I needed to see the life that God put within me momentarily.  I needed to see her.  I needed to.  I had to.  There she was.  In the midst of the pain and the blood loss it was only a second, but the most devastating second of all.  I don’t recall flushing the toilet but I all I can remember is thinking she was gone and that was not the way it was intended.  I continued in labor or passing the placenta for about another hour more.  It was painful.  It was incredibly messy.  And yet, it was as though all I could think of was how NICE God is to have my mom there.  Every moment I’d needed her there she was.  Jason was tending to my every need.  Somehow I knew this experience would bring us closer than we’d ever been before.  I knew he would grieve.  And I knew he would take the greatest care of me physically and emotionally.  What a sweet gift from God in the midst of such great loss.  I love my husband.  He is a great man, an incredible spouse, an attentive listener, a creative genius, a tender servant and an absolutely fabulous father.  We wept for our loss.  We grieved our baby no longer being with us. 

That night we felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to name our child.  Our sweet baby girl who now was resting in the Perfect Peace of heaven.  In perfection.  In bliss.  Without want, need, lacking nothing.  There she is now…in absolute joy and rest.  At giddy play without a care, so in love with her Maker. How could she not be?  For he has knit her together perfectly.  We prayed and cried…oh, how exhausted I was from all the tears!  We named our sweet baby Willow.  What a beautiful name.  I love it so much.  I’m so happy she has it.

We took it easy for the next few weeks while friends fed us, hung out with us and just overall walked with us through our pain.  I recall thinking I really needed to experience the pain not just push it aside as I knew I was so accustomed to doing.  I need to face it head-on and let God heal my heart step by step.  Many people who have endured similar situations have seemingly marched on like champs.  I know they were grieving but it didn’t show.  I am not one to compartmentalize.  Waves of grief would come over me over the next weeks and months.  Often times the grief felt like an ocean and I was lost at sea in a vast expanse of despair.  My emotions and responses were like the wildest of roller coasters.  Pregnant friends would complain (quite innocently I might add!) about their weight or their cravings.  This would remind me of my lack once again and I’d feel swallowed by sadness anew again.  I never understood the sensitivity of miscarriage until I was hearing it from the other side.  But you know what irked me the most!?  Really, really, REALLY crummy spiritual views that just aren’t true.  I understood my friends’ very victory made my pain and loss feel fresh and brand-new, but that was nothing in comparison to people skewing the character of God.  Many people would pray things like God willed this to happen in order for his purposes to come to pass.  Nothing at all about those comments felt remotely calming in my Spirit.  Three years before I had walked through about a 15-month depression.  I had come out the other side a transformed person with a transformed mind.  God is the giver of LIFE!  He didn’t kill my baby.  After these trials it is impossible for me to settle for a God any less than GOOD.  I like where I land.  God IS the giver of life and yes, He works ALL THINGS TOGETHER FOR MY GOOD!  I can’t bear talking about my kind, doting and yes, ALMIGHTY, Father like that.  Weeks went by, I’d cry at the littlest things.  Someone would say peace and I’d cry.  The phrase “She’s wrapped in Perfect Peace” was like a resounding gong in my head hundreds of times a day.  More dreams came.  That curly dark hair would dance around with angels.  When I’d begin to feel sorry for myself for what we were enduring God would remind me that in THIS moment (snap your finger!) our baby was experiencing more peace, more joy, more love, more laughter, more security, more hope than she could have in a lifetime with me on the earth.  One day I began processing the phrase, the Perfect Peace of God.  I asked many questions.  Perfect Peace is only found in his Presence.  The Presence of God is a gift to us through his Holy Spirit.  So I decided for ALL MY DAYS I would remind myself that I am wrapped in the Perfect Peace of God with the tattoo of a petite bow on my wrist.  His Peace, His Presence…it’s a gift…always available, never lacking anything.  These little steps may seem silly, but for me, they’ve all been a part of my healing process.  I knew I’d land on the kindness of God because it’s been unmistakable in my lifetime.  It’s undeniable in my story.  Every single step of the way God’s hand of kindness has marked my path.  My journey is seared with His Goodness.  In loss, he grieves with me.  At my lowest, He’s with me.  He is my closest friend, my most intimate companion.  He is simply not to blame.  He began speaking to me about restoration shortly after losing Willow.  The thought of ever even TRYING to get pregnant again would send me into a dizzying tailspin of fear that I have trouble describing.  How could I ever, EVER endure something like this again?  Why not adopt?  I love adoption!  Seriously.  And yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that God was asking me to risk again.  Risk loss.  Because even if I lost again, He’d be right there.  He’d restore me once again.  He’d be with me in the journey.  I ignored that prompting for months of course and went through a season of intensely battling fear.  I traveled to Waco to receive some counseling from dear friends who have been through far worse than I can even blink an eye at.  Their stories of faith, hope, restoration and eyes set fully on HEAVEN repaired broken places within me.  These women are my heroes.  What they’ve endured I can’t even comprehend.  And yet, they are so in love with Jesus it’s kinda intoxicating to be around them.  It’s contagious and it’s so insanely refreshing. 

Days turned into weeks turned into months.  My time with Jesus was spent mostly in silence, on my face, waiting for some semblance of comfort and understanding.  Most days I would read scores of Scriptures on the goodness of God, on the promises of God, on His nature, His ways.  The Bible is so crazy.  Soooooo good it’s crazy.  I’m not sure how I’d make it without the word of God to get me through the roughest of days.  Weeks spent in my pajamas were laced with the same worship songs on repeat.  My poor children were beginning to BEG for different music.  I’m not being trite or overly churchy in saying this, but worship and the Word truly helped me overcome.  Meeting with Jesus is the most important piece of advice I have for someone enduring loss.  There is no comfort like His, no tenderness apart from Him.  Where else do we take disappointment other than the Cross?  It’s far too heavy to carry.  To bitter a taste to keep around.  And yet, God’s always willing to take our load and exchange it for extravagance.  Man!  I’m enamored with HIM!  I wish you could know Him like this today!

There are so many steps to healing and restoration.  Isn’t it in our nature to simply short-circuit the process?  To end the pain?  To end the slow scourge of our souls and satisfy it with something else fleeting?  It’s simply our way.  Stop the bleeding!  But instead, in the journey, if we will choose to stand in the midst of the storm instead of fleeing the pain we will in fact find that NO amount of sorrow, NO height, NO depth can remove us from the hot pursuit of a loving Father.  He’s relentlessly kind.  He’s overwhelmingly patient.  And He will restore our souls.

Update:  Today, I should’ve had a baby.  I should’ve gone to the hospital this very day.  Kicked my midwife in the face (a funny story from Haven’s delivery) and pushed out a beautiful baby girl.  Instead, when I worshiped through tears at church this morning I thanked Jesus for the journey and I thanked God for being so tender with me and I rejoiced that my baby girl, sweet Willow, danced in Heaven with the angels lacking absolutely nothing and knowing only complete and total JOY! 

I know many of you reading this have endured far, far more than what I have recorded here in my trial.  Thank you for going before me with such strength.  I couldn’t have made it through my journey without seeing you focused on the perfect Providence of God.  Thank you.  Thank you also for taking the time to read.  I would love to answer any questions that anyone may have regarding loss or grief, although I warn you, I know very little.  Thank you to all my family and friends for keeping me in your prayers through these last six months.  I am absolutely thrilled for the adventure in store for our family.  Thankful beyond thankfulness for the absolute restoration that continues to be revealed to me.