Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Objects of His mercy

I am going to confess to you a sin of mine that I have been faced with these past few days...

I covet.

I covet the comfort of the lives of others. Those who have yet to experience great loss or pain. Those who's lives have not been marred with this type of grief. Those who can go through their daily activities without being stopped, dead in their tracks, from the aches of the loss of a child. I covet those who have been able to keep all of their babies. I envy them.

Lord, help me. I do not want this bitterness to grow. God, forgive me. I am not one to question to whom you give and to whom you take away.

I was reading in Romans 9 this morning and came across a phrase that spoke to me, that then sprouted into many more thoughts of God's mercy, and then into thoughts of heaven, and I would like to share them with you today.

I read Romans 9:23;
"What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy,..."

We are the objects of God's mercy.

Later, Paul quotes Hosea;
" I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one"

Again, we are the objects of God's mercy.

Loved, when we do not deserve to be loved.

The created of the creator.

Romans 9:20;
" But who are you, Oh man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?"

I see, and only because God has enabled me to see, that even in losing precious time on earth with my son, God has shown me mercy.

When I see my true place before God, as the created of the creator, I see that God really was good to me in this circumstance. For I did not receive what I truly deserve; death. Ezra is not dead, he has been given more life than ever. The story of this earthly death of my son is not the end. Ezra is not lost forever in the darkness of death, and neither shall I be when my time comes. Because we are the objects of God's mercy, we will be carried tenderly by the angels, from this life to the next.

There is no true death for us who are in Christ Jesus.

There is only life with Christ.

"I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
John 8:51

My perspective has been shifted from seeing Ezra as merely existing in heaven, to Ezra's life in heaven. I need to give myself the time to imagine what Ezra's life in heaven might be like. I do not claim, ever, to know what heaven will be like, but as long as it does not go against what we know to be true in scripture, I do believe that God gave us our imaginations for a reason. And perhaps he wants us to dream about heaven. Perhaps He is glorified when, in reverence to Him, we imagine the wonders of His glory.

Ezra's life in heaven might look a lot like the life he would have lived here, only one million times better.

He might be up there playing with all the other babies who have recently come to dwell in heaven.

Maybe he is being loved on by my Grandpa and all our other loved ones who are in heaven.

Maybe he is splashing and playing in the streams of living water.

Maybe he is giggling with delight as he watches a lion and a lamb play together.

Maybe he listens, peacefully, to the sounds of the angels singing praise to God.

Maybe precious angels hold Ezra in their arms, as they gather to sing praises to the Lamb.

Maybe Ezra has a little white robe as the angles do.

Maybe his cradle, if a baby would even need one in heaven, is beside the throne of God.

He might be carried by my Grandfather as they follow Jesus around, basking in His light, and watching Him perform His wondrous deeds.

Maybe he is watching, as God commands the snow to fall on earth from the storehouses of snow in heaven.

Maybe Ezra is watching, as God paints rainbows, sunrises, and sunsets in the sky with the stroke of His hand.

Maybe Jesus is holding Ezra just as I would. Snuggled on his chest, kissing the top of his warm little head every once in a while.

Maybe Jesus looks into Ezra's eyes and talks to him lovingly, as I would. Telling Ezra how he is His special treasure and that He will love him forever.

Maybe Jesus tells Ezra about his mommy and daddy, and that we love him so much, and that we can't wait until we get to see him again.

And maybe, the things of heaven are ten thousands times greater than what I can imagine, and I have not even scratched the surface of the wonders to come.

We are the objects of God's mercy, and blessed beyond all reason to even have a reason to be thinking of something as wondrous as heaven. We are humbled as his creation to be with Him forever and ever, Amen!





Friday, February 22, 2013

Our joy

While I am chronicling my journey through grief, I have learned that it is also very important to thank the Lord for the blessings in our life. Otherwise, it becomes very easy to sink into a sea of sorrow, and the farther down you go, the more of a struggle it becomes to swim to the top.

So I would like to start doing weekly posts each Friday titled "our joy", in which I take a moment to thank the Lord for his many gifts to us that we do not deserve.

I would like to invite you all to join in, if you would like. You can leave a comment below sharing a gift or gifts that God has given you this week. I think it would be so awesome if every Friday this blog page was filled with praise to God for His goodness to us.

Here is our joy this week:
 
At least once a day Levi goes and finds the picture of Ezra on my bedside table

And he always gives his baby brother a kiss

Then he took Ezra's picture with him to play drums
(which melted my heart! He is such a good big brother.)

Watching Levi be loved on by his Uncle Drew and Aunt Hannah

Just watching Levi be cute

Watching Levi play naked, in his dinosaur towel

The look on his face when He tried on these glasses

Watching Levi finally figure out how to use a fork on his own and feed himself an entire bowl of pasta

He clapped for himself after every bite

 Levi wanting me to read him his new favorite book called "Thank you God, for Mommy" over and over again.  :)

Catching Levi reading "Trusting God" by Jerry Bridges. Good boy, buddy!

Watching a gorgeous sunrise, thinking of my baby Ezra, and trying to picture how much more beautiful heaven must be beyond those glowing clouds.
 
"Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy."
Psalm 28:6
 
If you have some joy to share, please leave a comment and join the joyful noise we are making to our Lord and Savior.
 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Christ as our center

Allow me to just blow your mind for a second:

"I am Christ in you, the hope of glory."
- A quote from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young and it is also Colossians 1:27 paraphrased.

Just sit with me for a second, and let that completely amazing statement sink into the depths of your heart. 

Let it flow all the way through your body, mind, and spirit.

Allow it to take root in your innermost being.

Christ is present and He is with us.

He is everything.

Let us learn to live today with Christ as our true center.

That's all.

Amen!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Facing the morning

In the midst of grief, the morning can be so hard to face over and over agian. A new morning normally brings hope, and a chance to start fresh. It brings a reminder that God's mercies are new. He is able. He is constant. Some mornings I can grasp that feeling of life being made new, but some mornings it is an emense struggle to face another day, enduring more pain and suffering.

Today was one of those mornings. I woke up, unwilling to start the day. As I went to get my son from his crib, I was reminded that I am suppossed to have two babies right now, and I feel the knife in my heart twist a little deeper.
I cry on my husband's shoulder, wishing desperetely that he didn't have to go to work.
I don't want to go through this kind of morning on my own.
I sit, not knowing where to begin, not wanting to begin, and feeling lost in my own home.
I hear my stomach growl with hunger, but I feel too overwhelmed at the thought of preparing food for myself.
I barely make it to the Lord and His word.
I find hope.
I find that I am not alone, even though it may feel like I am.

"I am holding you by your right hand. I guide you with my counsel, and afterward I will take you into glory". -Psalm 73:23-24

"This is exactly the perspective you need: the reassurance of my presence and the glorious hope of heaven. " - Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Will this be enough for this challanging day, Lord? Will you, please, provide me with the peace of your presence and fill me with the hope of heaven? Will you assure me that my sweet little baby boy is happy with you in heaven, and will you sustain me down here while I wait to see him again? This void I have with the loss of him is so great.

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. " - Zephaniah 3:17

Lord, you are with me, and strong enough to overcome this great grief that threatens to consume me.

"My heart trusts in Him and I am helped." -Psalm 28:7

Lord, help my heart trust that you are here, you can help me. Be with me today. Help me to come to you for life throughout today.

Help me to come over and over again.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Letting hope blossom


 
I was not sure if I wanted to share these thoughts at first.
They are very personal to me.
They are my thoughts about having another baby.
And I have recently learned that it is not just family and friends who are reading my blog and are wanting to know how I am doing. There those of you reading this who have lost a baby, as I have. 
I thought on this more and realized that I have found much comfort in knowing that I was not the only women to feel this way so soon. Some women do not want to think about having another baby until they have plenty of time to grieve, and I can understand that. Every one is different. And when you are grieving, you should feel no pressure to feel a certain way. Grief is a nasty, winding, road, and we never know where it can take us. So as you read my words, please know that this is not how I think everyone should deal with losing a child. It is just how I have been dealing with it, and I want others, who feel as I do, to be encouraged.
As I was reading in 2 Corinthians this morning, I came across this verse and realized something.
" We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
This verse resonates in tune with heart  so much right now. I do feel persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
 
And here is what I realized: for me, having another baby is part of not being destroyed.
Allowing myself to feel excited, and not terrified, at the thought of another pregnancy is part of not being destroyed.
 
Allowing hope, that the Lord can bless us with another little baby, to blossom in full bloom, is part of not being destroyed.

If any of you who have lost a baby are feeling guilty about thoughts of another baby soon, allow me to encourage you and remind us all of the things we need to hear everyday. Our babies are not gone and not lost. Our babies are very much alive, and in the arms of Jesus. They are living full, rich, and amazing lives in heaven. They are waiting for us. They know, better than we do, that heaven is to be our home for all eternity. So when we think of having another baby, we should not think or fear for one second that we are "replacing" the babies in heaven. We will be giving them another brother or sister to enjoy for all of eternity, together. I believe that our families will, indeed, be made whole again when we are in glory.

So when I think about another baby, I know I will be giving my precious Ezra another brother or sister to love forever. And He is so excited about that!
I am so excited about that!
Let me add, it took time to get to this point. And I do not think I have this all figured out. I'm still learning everyday. I am only two and half months into grieving. For some of you it may take longer to think about another baby. It's different for everyone. Don't force yourself. Be gentle with your delicate heart. Pray and work through these things with God. Meditate on heaven and the truths of the Lord, and He will open your heart to what He has planned in your future.

If you would, please allow me to share some of my morning prayer with you. I invite you in, to pray this along with me, if you so desire.


Dear Lord, with the coming of spring, would you please bring me new life? Will you renew me inwardly, though I feel as if my body is wasting away, weary from grief and sorrow? And Father, could you please give us the precious new life of a child again? A healing child. He or She would be like a balm on our broken hearts.So many around us are having babies right now and our hearts ache. It aches for a tiny nose, and tiny cheeks, and little fingers that wrap around mine. A precious little bundle to cuddle on my chest. Lord, please hear my broken heart. Do you see that my hopes have been ripped from me? Do you see how my dreams have been dashed? Hear me, Lord! Bind up my wounds. Mend my heart. Hold my baby when I can't. Give him kisses while my lips cannot reach his tiny face. Lord, my heart begs you, it pleads with you. Please, give us another baby soon. A sweet brother or sister for Levi and Ezra.
Help me desire your will and not my own. But know, that my heart overflows with desire for another precious life. Your word says that you are good to those who depend on you and search for you.(lamentations 3:25) Please be good to me, Lord. Whatever your good may be.
In Jesus name,
Amen


Let us allow this hope to blossom, in full bloom.
 

 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Times of joy


I just wanted to share with you all some of the joy we're experiencing as a family during this precious time. The Lord has been good to bless us with sweet love and laughter in the midst of our sorrow.

 
Here is what our joy looks like:
 

 
Getting sweet cuddle time
 
 


Watching Levi giggle relentlessly while trying on Daddy's glasses
 
 
 
 
(He obviously loves them)
 
 
 
Watching Levi be a dinosaur

 
Watching Levi love on his new froggy he got from Bappa for valentines day

 
Playing with Levi and indulging his new sticker obsession

 
And lots and lots of kisses

 
We wish you could be here to play with us, sweet baby.
We always think of you.
We love you.
And one day, we will all play in heaven together.
 
 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Streams of consciousness: a poem from a broken heart in search of hope

Salty drops flow from my eyes
Unceasingly, with no relief
The oppressive and painful weight of these days
Overwhelms my being with sadness
My heart, so heavy
Others around me receive joy into their arms
While mine are empty
Aching with loneliness
This grief runs deep
But I know, it cannot consume me
These tears flow from a heart that has been broken into pieces
But I know they will be dried
My eyes are hot and dry from weeping
But I know they will soon be filled with glory
I wait on the Lord to fill the crevices, made by pain, with joy
For I know what the Lord tells me;
His compassions never fail
His mercies are new every morning
Great is His faithfulness
He will give this weary soul rest
The Lord is good to those who depend on him
Nothing can separate us from His love
Nothing is too hard for Him
He is able
He overcame the deep darkness of the grave
He bore my griefs
He bore my sorrows
He keeps my tears in a bottle
He is near to the broken hearted
He leads me beside still waters
He restores my soul
These things I know
And I will rest in Him


-Emma Sweat
Inspired by the great works in Lamentations

Friday, February 8, 2013

Ezra's Lullaby

Sweet little baby

Rest in His arms

Sweet little baby

Safe from all harm

Sweet, precious baby

Close your sweet eyes

My sweet little baby

Let Jesus sing you, sweet lullabies


As some of you may know, I am also musical and have written, and sometimes recorded, a few songs here and there. After Ezra was born, the thought entered my head that I wanted to write a song for him. And as I tried, I found there were simply not enough words.

There are no where near enough words to convey to reckless love I have for him.

The insanely deep longing I have for him

The ache my arms and my heart feel when I long to hold him.

How could I possible put all of that into just one song?

As mother, I don't know if I can. Maybe one day.

Then someone gave me the idea of just writing Ezra a lullaby. Something simple. Something that I could sing for him each night. Something we could sing to Levi, and the future children we may have, each night. God was so gracious to me and He gave me these words.

I think Levi knows somehow that this song is for Ezra. When we sing it to him at night, he always quiets down and cuddles up on me, with his head on my shoulder.

I have cried many times on these nights, while I hold one son and sing a song for the other.

It is a sweet mix of thankfulness and sorrow.

Deep calls out to deep, Lord. Hear my heart, and bring it into yours. Hold my Ezra, while I hold Levi.

I love them both so deeply, and a mother's heart can't help but feel thankful to have been given two precious boys to love and hold in my heart.

And one day, I will get to hold both of them together...

and sing them this lullaby.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The unreal in reality


Everything within me wants to believe this isn't real sometimes.

I shake my head in disbelief.

I sit in shock.

I live in pain.

How did I go through 37 weeks of a perfect pregnancy, and now, have no baby to hold, and kiss, and love?

I don't have my sweet Ezra.

My baby, I want you here.

I miss you.

How did this happen to me?

Lord, help me. Show me your love. Show me your grace. Show me your peace.

A line from an Advent hymn, Let all Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, comes to mind.

"Ponder nothing earthly minded."

Yes, Jesus. Let me fix the eyes of my heart on you. Let me set my mind on the things above.

I remember what a dear man, Jerry Bridges, preached about this Sunday at my church. He talked about being heavenly minded. He began with Colossians 3:1-4

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

He said we will be seeking heavenly mindedness if we seek God's glory. Yes, God's glory! That is what Ezra is basking in the light of at this very moment.

God, I want to know the riches of knowing you and your incredible glory.

He also said that if we are seeking heavenly mindedness, we will seek to do the will of God. This one is hard, because God's will is often different from my will. I will not always want the things that God wills in His perfect plan. But I can trust that it is perfect. I can trust that what He has planned is for my good. His sovereign will is always for His glory and for the good of his people.

As insane as it may sound to say, I can already see some of the good that God has been working in the midst of my suffering. And that is, that I am constantly aware of my dependence upon Him.  And that brings Him glory! I am in desperate need of knowing Him. And knowing Him is part of the godly life I desire. And here's the thing that makes all of this okay.

 I can barely whisper the words.

It is that, God knows this is ultimately a good thing. Ezra is in glory! In the arms of Jesus. He is in an absolutely perfect place. What better thing could a mommy want for her baby? And someday, a day that scripture tells us will come as quickly as the blink of an eye, I will get to be in glory with him.

What I mourn is the loss of time spent on earth with my baby. And I know that my life here on earth is not the end. I can praise God that, right now, Ezra is experiencing more joy than my earthly mind can imagine.

But perhaps, as I continue to seek to know God and seek to do the will of God, I will become more heavenly minded.

And perhaps then, I will be more able to imagine the glory my sweet baby is experiencing.

I look at Ezra's sweet little face, and I still miss him.

It hurts.

I want to curl up in the fetal position on my couch and sob. And sometimes, I do.

Even as I type these words, I am experiencing one of those intense moments, where it all feels so unreal. In this moment, it sounds reasonable to me that I could wake up tomorrow, and realize this has all been a horrible dream. And I would feel a "good morning kick" from Ezra.

But my suffering is reality.

And in the midst of my pain I have to remember, this is just for now. I have only lost time on earth with my baby. Ezra and I are citizens of heaven. He will just have heaven before I do.

And then one day, I will reach my eternal home.

Then I will hug him. Hold him. Kiss him.

That day will come!

And then, heaven will be my reality.

Father God, carry me close to your heart until that glorious day arrives.

Help of the helpless, abide with me.




"He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young."

-Isaiah 40:11

Friday, February 1, 2013

Gifts



 I woke this morning with the weight of grief heavy on my heart.  My longing for Ezra, intense. Like a physical pain. I was in need of relief and I remembered the glimpses of heaven the Lord has given me. The gifts he has given me. He has also answered prayer and revealed more of his love to me, which is also a precious gift to a weary soul. All gifts I would not have received without the gift of my little Ezra’s life. I wanted to share some of those gifts here, as a resource for others experiencing the loss of a loved one or for someone going through spiritual turmoil. And just because I like to share.

When I say glimpses of heaven, I am not referring to some sort of vision or experience. (though I may long for that) I am referring to the different ways I have been able to picture heaven, or see in a new way how we are bound for heaven. I have seen this through scripture, a precious song or hymn, or  the insights of another.  These things are treasures to me and truly gifts from the Lord. They provide relief in the wake of this storm.

Not all of them may stick out to you as some of heaven being revealed, because I think the Lord sometimes uses something to stir in the heart of one person, while he may not use that particular thing to stir the heart of another. Not because He loves one more than the other, but because His love for us is individual and unique to each one of His sons and daughters.

Here are some of these gifts:
 
 
 
 
My son, Levi. His uninhibited joy and laughter lets me see some of the pure joy that Ezra must be experiencing in heaven. And since they are brothers and look alike, I feel as though I can see some of what Ezra will look like as he grows and knows nothing but the comfort of my womb and the joys of heaven.

 

This one is currently my favorite. A line from the song “The Glories of Calvary” by Steve and Vikki Cook

And Your saints below            (that’s us)

Join with your saints above   (those in heaven)

Rejoicing in the Risen Lamb

Steven and I realized when we were reading through this song one night, that those words mean we still get to do something with Ezra. And that is praise God! They are always worshiping him up there, so anytime I worship our Lord, Ezra and I are doing that together. Praise Jesus! I still get to do something with my baby while I’m on earth. Now I do not have much hope that I can be anything but an emotional mess during worship Sunday morning.  But now you know that some of those tears are happy tears.

 
The song “love is here” by Tenth Avenue North. It provides such a strong picture of Christ’s love for us. Here is the first verse and chorus:

Come to the waters, you who thirst and you'll thirst no more.

Come to the father, you who work and you'll work no more.

And all you who labor in vain and to the broken and shamed:

 
Love is here.

Love is now.

Love is pouring from

His hands, from his brows.

Love is near, it satisfies.

Streams of mercy flowing from his side.

Because love is here.

 

A quote from C.S. Lewis’s “The Last Battle”

But for them, it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

 
Revelation 7:15-17. These three verses are what have become very special to me, but really Rev. 7:9-17 is all very comforting as well. The passage is titled; “The Great Multitude in White Robes”.

they are before the throne of God

    and serve him day and night in his temple;

and he who sits on the throne

    will shelter them with his presence.

‘Never again will they hunger;

    never again will they thirst.

The sun will not beat down on them,

    nor any scorching heat.

 For the Lamb at the center of the throne

    will be their shepherd;

he will lead them to springs of living water.

    ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’

 

This Quote by Amy Carmichael. The underlined portion is what really speaks to me.

Sorrow is one of the things that are lent, not given.

A thing that is lent may be taken away;

A thing that is given is not taken away.

Joy is given.

Sorrow is lent.

We are not our own, we are bought with a price (I Cor 6:19-20).

[Our sorrow]  is lent to us for just a little while

 that we may use it for eternal purposes.

 Then it will be taken away

 and everlasting joy will be our Father's gift to us.

The Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces (Isaiah 25:8)

 

Another quote from C.S. Lewis

If I find in myself a desire which no experience on earth can satisfy,

 the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.

Anytime I can be reminded that we were truly not made for this world of sin, I feel hope.

 

Hosea 6:3

"Oh that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know Him! Then He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of the dawn or the coming of rains in early spring."

 

The last verse of “Jesus I my cross have taken”.

 Haste thee on from grace to glory, armed by faith and winged by prayer;

Heaven’s eternal day’s before thee, God’s own hand shall guide thee there.

Soon shall close thy earthly mission, soon shall pass thy pilgrim days;

Hope shall change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise.

 

 

The hymn “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” by Henry Van Dyke. The first and last verse in particular.

 
Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;

Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the dark of doubt away;

Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day.

 

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,

Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.

Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,

Chanting bird and flowing fountain, call us to rejoice in Thee.

 

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blest,

Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!

Thou our Father, Christ, our Brother-- all who live in love are Thine;

Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

 

Mortals, join the mighty chorus which the morning stars began;

Father love is reigning o'er us, brother love binds man to man.

Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,

Joyful music leads us sunward in the triumph song of life.

Joyful music leads us sunward in the triumph song of life.

 

These are just a few of the encouragements that most readily come to mind.  The things that help me get through each day.

I’m sure I will share more later. I can’t seem to help it. ;)