Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bowling Buddies



For as long as I can remember, my Mom has gone bowling every Thursday morning. Yes. Bowling. She's had a handful of friends that have lasted through the years. I remember our families getting together for outings and vacations, Christmas cookie exchanges, and Bible Studies that all included the same general group of friends. I don't know that I realized how sweet of a thing that was until recently.

Being an adult is hard sometimes. Jobs change, kids are crazy, friends move. It makes community hard more often then not. Darn adulthood.

With adulthood comes the analogy of settling down - letting your roots grow deep. I guess that's what my parents did. I don't remember many of their close friends moving away or leaving the "circle" (or heaven forbid, the bowling league). We moved away once, but came back after a year or so. The same friends were there to welcome us back.

There's a tree I saw in Uganda. It was a massive tree, but the roots appeared to all be above ground. Open to the elements. Perhaps easily destroyed? Strong, but exposed. Then there is the maple tree in my backyard. Huge. Lovely. Strong. Shelter. Home.



I guess I would say I feel more like that tree in Uganda then I do the 70 year old Maple tree in my backyard that has roots so deep it destroys the entire blocks sewage system. (Not really...I don't think.)

I've tried my entire adult life to set and grow deep roots. God has had other plans, I suppose. We've moved away from family, friends, churches and cultures (seriously - have you ever been to South Jersey? For this Nebraska girl - talk about culture shock!). We've changed jobs and churches and neighbors. I've lost track of how many children I have and where they came from. Life seldom has seemed settled. I find myself often wondering if that is just a thing of our generation and the time we live in, or if it is our choices and God's plan in our life. Whatever the case may be - it can often just feel lonely.

Thanks to the introduction of Facebook, one can have over 1000 friends and still feel very alone. Ask that person how many deep and meaningful relationships they have in "real life" and you may be shocked. But this isn't a post about Facebook. (However, FB hasn't helped....)

I don't believe I am alone in my pursuits to belong. Believe me when I say that I've tried it all. I've joined moms groups, Bible studies, play groups. business ventures, adoption groups, groups for Pastors wives, PTO, hobby related groups, running groups, cycling groups, and most recently CrossFit (Lord help me). It's how we - the human - move toward belonging. We search for those who are like us and we play the game. We cry out to know and be known. Sometimes the cry is heard, and other times it isn't. Most of my ploys for community have come up very short for many reasons. Maybe I should try bowling. 

Church planting has created an entirely new dimension to this. It's very strange to be living in the same town for 13 years....only to find yourself starting over (to a degree). I have not done well with this aspect of our new life. 

I wonder if the women of generations past have dealt with this. Didn't they just sit around knitting and quilting all day? That sounds glorious to me. Except for the whole knitting and quilting part. But to be with people all day who know us....and get this...still love us??? That sounds beautiful.

But today it just feels like we hide. We hide behind our kids, our jobs, our families, our status, our agenda. Mix that with the reality of life - new jobs, new locations, etc....and well, how many people feel alone? Unknown. Unnoticed. This is not good. 

Roots are roots, I suppose. Above ground or below. So I can try to choose to see my above ground roots as strong and meaningful... not as something to easily be destroyed, mowed over, climbed on and given over to all of natures elements. I have roots that stretch far and wide. I have roots in Nebraska, New Jersey, Ethiopia, Uganda, Cypress, Australia, Minnesota, California, Missouri, Florida, Alaska. Christ Community Church, CORE, The Lighthouse, Flatirons, Calvary and Gospel Life. I may not be leaving the same communal legacy my parents left for me - but I pray that our vast roots reach down to our children and their children as meaningful and purposeful. Oh, may I live with purpose. Be it alone or be it with a tribe.

Being an adult is hard sometimes. Saying goodbye, changing our worlds, it's just hard. And to be honest, terribly lonely some days.

Anyone up for bowling?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A mother's heart - for all the children we never could hold.

I saw a few posts today on Facebook about National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. You know, one of those days you probably wouldn't know was a "day" until you did see it floating around on social media.

Well, I joined in. 1 in 4 women suffer from the loss of a child. That's a lot of women! And having been there, I believe it is something to mourn. Some women are effected by this loss more than others for various reasons. But that doesn't so much matter. A life is a life is a life. And with the loss of life, mourning and grief is called for.

Our oldest daughter was just shy of one year old when we found out we were pregnant again. I still remember showing Aaron the pregnancy test that evening. I remember calling our families. I was thrilled. We were having another child! Fourteen weeks later, God had a different plan. I found out the child in my womb had died. And because I was fourteen weeks along, they did not want me to wait to "pass" the child on my own. So I went in for surgery (but only after 6 ultrasounds to be SURE). A D&C is what they called it. At one point, the Dr. referred to it as a "spontaneous abortion". That didn't seem right. I did not choose this. I was heartbroken. This child had grown in me. I fell in love with her from the moment I thought she may be. Before that, probably. I had the procedure done, and all I remember is waking up from surgery with the most incredible void I have ever felt in my life. My womb was empty. My child was not safe with me where she belonged. She was gone.  Forever. That is a feeling that I cannot put into words. But I know I am not alone. 1 out of every 4 of you know what I'm talking about (assuming you are females).

I grieved. A lot.

A song called, Glory Baby, by Watermark was on repeat for months. I would drive the NJ Parkway with Providence asleep in the back and that song playing over and over and over.

Glory Baby, you slipped away as fast as we could say baby. You were growing. What happened Dear, you disappeared on us baby. Heaven will hold you, before we do. Heaven will keep you safe, until we're home with you. But I'll miss you everyday, miss you in every way, but we know there's a day when we will see you. So baby let sweet Jesus hold you, till mom and dad can hold you. You'll just have heaven before we do.

13 years later, and I just typed those words out from memory as if I had just thought of them. They hold fresh in my heart as if it were yesterday. Sara Allison Britton was my daughter. For 14 short weeks, I got to love her. I got to bond with her. I was the only one who knew her. Other than Jesus. He did knit her after all, however perfectly imperfect in my womb. And I believe that her days were known and ordained from the beginning of time - just like yours or mine. She is whole in the arms of Jesus. I'm jealous.

Over the years, I have had some dear friends suffer the loss of children in a depth far greater than I had to endure. It's been heartbreaking. So it seems funny to talk about what I went through. It really could have been worse. I suppose that's always true though, isn't it??? It could always be worse? But women everywhere who have to deal with the loss of a child at any age need to know that it is okay to grieve. A mother loves her child from the second she knows she is carrying the child - which is generally long before a test shows the little pink line. I actually took solace in this truth. If the greatest command is to love God and love others - what an amazing privilege it is as a mom ... I am the only one who knew my daughter - to be the one to have loved her. But that lost love left a broken piece of my heart that I will forever carry.

A mother's love is fierce. It is not to be reckoned with. I've never tried.  
Instead I will carry that brokenness and that love with me.

This is long and sad. Sorry. I'm not done yet, though.

So having experienced such a real pain, and knowing friends who have suffered more than I - where I'm about to take this feels risky. But here I go.

I have now birthed three children, and adopted two. I remember vividly during our first adoption process having a conversation with a man who asked me how I knew I could love my adopted child as my own. We joked about how guys need to see and hold their child to begin to actually love THEM (rather than the idea of them), and women just know and love. I laughed - remembering Sara. While Aaron was a rock during that time - he did not KNOW Sara as I knew her. I told him it was similar to that. While I knew and loved my children from the moment they were growing inside of me, the same was true for my adopted child. I didn't need to see him or hold him. I just knew that I knew that I knew that he was to be mine, and I loved him with this fierce love that claimed him as so.

When Aaron and I began the adoption process the second time around, I very nonchalantly blogged about HOW we started the process, and the two boys involved in bringing us to the place of adopting again. So here is the part that seems calloused to say after having lived through miscarriage and the pain I've seen my friends go through  .....

I was asked this summer what made us pursue adoption the second time around, and for some reason - I began my story talking about these two boys. And I began to cry. WHAT?!? Where in the world did that come from?

The last few weeks, these two boys have come back to my heart and mind in a way I cannot explain. I have cried for them and prayed for them. The good news is, they were probably adopted by someone else. So they are, Lord willing, living a good life. But wow. My mom heart had taken these boys in as if they were my own. If there is such thing as an adoptive miscarriage - I had one with these boys. When we decided to not pursue adopting them, I told Aaron at the time that it felt like I had lost Sara all over again - that is how deeply I loved these boys. But I pushed their memory aside, and for some reason - it has returned. They too, left a piece of my heart broken - never to be whole again. And I don't know what to do with the sorrow.

I know that last paragraph came out of left field (who am I kidding....I know nothing about sports  - what does left field even mean?). But it's where I have been the last few weeks. And it is an awful feeling. So today when I saw that it was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day, my heart was to encourage moms that it is OKAY to grieve the loss of your unborn child. And maybe even to tell myself that it is okay to grieve the loss of these two boys. Maybe? I pray they have a mom and a dad that love them as much as I did. Do.


For all the Glory Babies:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Though You Slay Me



If Bloggers blogged (what a funny vocabulary the Internet has brought about) about a bad day, or a hard season, or a friend struck down, or a marriage that was struggling, or loneliness, ....it probably would feel pretty uncomfortable, wouldn't it? Yet every single one of us goes through seasons where we feel uncomfortable....where we feel broken. So why is it uncomfortable to read of someones suffering, I wonder?

In response to some stuff in my own heart right now, and also those around me that I am seeing wrestle through things un-imaginable to me - a song has resurfaced that made its way around the inter-webs a while back. So if you are in a tough season right now, may this bless you.

My favorite line from John Piper in the middle of the song is this:  "Every millisecond of your pain from the fallen nature or the fallen man...every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that."

Did you catch that? "In the path of obedience". Obedience is HARD when you are slain.

Still let our song be:

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship