There are so many stories I want to tell you about "Arrow", the name we've given to the sweet baby we just lost. I feel like I could fill books and books on what I've learned about the Lord through this sweet baby's short life, not that I'm any wiser - but it's definitely been a thin place for us. A place where the Kingdom of God feels so much nearer to earth and the divide between the Holy & the normal is so much smaller. But these are the introductions to this story.
On Mother's Day, we found out we were expecting our sweet fourth baby. That's a story in itself, one that involves me sweating and freaking out in a walmart bathroom by myself. Shocked, surprised, thrilled, and shocked all over again. Just hours before I took the test, I'd written this. And I'd meant it, I really was just starting to see how my children really are nothing but advantages in this life. And now, by God's grace and no goodness or planning of our own, we'd have another advantage in this fight. Another arrow in our quiver. It only took a few hours for me to become overjoyed. I woke each morning for weeks smiling and tried to describe how different this pregnancy felt from others to friends. Puking and nausea didn't seem like such a big sacrifice and when I should have felt terrified, I didn't - I felt elated. Four children. Somehow the Lord has saw fit to give us, the most undeserving, four children.
My garden still bothered me. It just plain up stunk. I couldn't get anything to grow and I sometimes felt discouraged about my house. One night I had a dream that my friend who'd been trying to help me with my home & garden came over, and as I walked her to our front yard, we saw flowers overflowing out of the bed. Growing and expanding and just overtaking the yard. In my dream I said, "see, things shouldn't be growing, but they are!". And truly that's how I felt. The Lord was gracing us with a season of growth and life, even when we didn't deserve it. I did some writing about that and asked the Lord to preserve that feeling of praise, even when or if He allowed pain instead of growth in our life. I asked Him to make me able to say like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1 - On Him we will set our hope that He will deliver us again.
A few hours later I sat looking at an ultrasound screen of a baby that I knew was much too small and had no heartbeat. Nick said it was gutsy to pray that verse hours before an ultrasound. He was right.
The next morning as the shock wore off and a shockingly hard feeling of sadness set in, my sweet aforementioned friend knocked on my door. She'd gone and bought beautiful flowers and miraclegrow soil. All I had to do was plant those bad boys. As I dug through the dirt and put those beautiful flowers in later, I wept and talked to the Lord. Why was this so hard? Was I being dramatic? Why does this feel like such a death? It's not a still born or SIDS, those sweet moms and dads really know pain. I shouldn't feel so sad. And then I realized I was spending too much time evaluating how broken I was, rather than asking the Lord to just meet me in it. Who cares if I was more sad than I expected and if this was harder than I imagined.
This is where the Heavenly Father that I believe in, and His Son that I would follow to the ends of the earth, and the Spirit that lives in me - this is where they do their business. In my brokenness and hurt. Only I was too busy figuring out if my hurt was "too much". So I stopped that whole mess and just let myself be really, really sad. I felt really really joyful about the time I had with that sweet arrow, but really really sad that I wouldn't get to have a life with him. I wept over not being able to tell the kids about his coming and I wept about not getting to hold him in the hospital. I wept about not being able to feed him or play with him and I wept that he'd never get to meet his dad on earth, the best dad in the world. Sometimes his dad wept with me, and sometimes I'd just wake up and find myself crying alone. The Father met me there, in that sadness and never once told me my brokenness was too much.
The dream still blessed and haunted me, all at once.
Things truly are growing everywhere still. Our kids, our marriage, our church plant is acting like someone just threw miracle grow all over it. But me, I am stuck in sadness and stuck physically - grateful to still have this baby inside me, even though it's not growing and won't ever physically. I'm terrifed about when the Lord chooses to have it leave my body - will the whole thing feel over? Will no one ask me to talk about the baby then? And also I'm constantly reminded of how sad I am by the slight extra padding I'm still carrying. I'm not growing, I don't feel full of life. I feel stuck and broken.
So why that dream, Lord?
It isn't Your character to rub it in, rub in the life all around me when you know I'm mourning the one that is gone.
At the conference we were just at, while there are all sorts of amazing words of life being spoken into our church and my husband - I try to sit as still as possible and keep my face as calm as possible. I want to start crying the second I hear worship music and I want to be prayed over by every woman that walks by me. I feel like if I make any sudden movements, this brokenness is going to leak all over everywhere. And let me say, I'm comfortable with the brokenness now, but is this the time? Is this the place?
At the tail end of the conference, a sweet leader's wife tells me she has a word from the Lord for me. When she heard my voice, she was reminded of the story of the man carrying two buckets of water. One perfectly functioning, one filled with cracks. And as the cracked and broken one feels discouraged for it's uselessness, the man reminds it - you might be cracked, but look at the beautiful trail of flowers you've left in your wake from leaking water! She says the Lord wants to use me, right now - right here, when I feel the most broken.
So this is how I'll start.
Telling you all about sweet Arrow.
Praise God for that baby who has truly been an advantage in God's Kingdom, who has brought us nearer to our Lord.
Thanks for letting me tell you guys about our sweet babe.
We'd appreciate your prayers for physical & emotional healing.
I'm going to keep posting guest posts for the next few days and
I pray they're as much of a blessing to you as they are to me.
Love ya'll, Jess