Thursday, September 25, 2014

Losing our second child

A beautiful pocket made to hold our ultrasound pictures, made by Denise Green, with Saskatchewan Angel Dresses, and given to me by my sweet friend, Samantha.

Two weeks ago, we lost our second baby. I have been having an incredibly hard time processing it all, or knowing how I should feel or act. I was just over 11 weeks pregnant on September 11th, when my doctor sent me to Moose Jaw for an ultrasound because she had some concerns (as did I). I was really not sure whether it would be the worst news or the best, so I kind of went numb. Sure enough, it was clear within moments, that my uterus on the screen was far too small for an 11 week old baby to be in there. We saw Hannah at 12 weeks gestation, and she was fully formed and dancing. So we knew, even before we saw the flat line of the heartbeat monitor on the screen, our baby was gone. Although I thought I was 11+ weeks pregnant, the baby had likely died somewhere around 6-8 weeks.  I don't know how to describe my feelings when I knew our baby was gone. I cried, of course, but I had this calmness and peace that I never thought I would ever experience if I lost a baby. I thank Jesus for that.

Only an hour later, just as we were leaving Moose Jaw, the process of "passing" the baby began. I had no idea it was going to be so painful.  It was a very difficult evening, but I still remained in peace, and slept soundly. It was a miracle.

We had not announced our pregnancy to many people yet, but there were family, friends and church family who we wanted to know about this child, even though he/she was already gone. So we have since told our church family, grandparents, siblings, and some close friends and family that we were expecting our baby, but he/she is gone.  I have been debating with myself about whether or not to "talk" about the miscarriage on my blog or Facebook, but as I'm falling asleep at night I think about our little one, and wishing the world knew about him/her.  I know that many women and couples choose to keep their miscarriages private, and I understand and respect their reasons; but I'm just having this deep desire to share about our experience. During our struggle with infertility and our adoption application process, I was open and vulnerable on my blog.  I found that the response from women (and some men) was positive and reaffirming, and there were many women that told me they had been in my shoes, or that they were on the same journey as I was. So, with a bit of fear and insecurity, I decided to share. 

I'm still a little lost, and still feeling like I'm missing something (which I am). I am sure in the days to come things will become more clear and I will be able to work out my feelings a bit better. The thing that has given me tremendous peace and many tears, is picturing our little one with Jesus. I am so glad I will get to meet and hug our little one when I get to Heaven.

With Devin's blessing, I unofficially named our baby "Joy", because I couldn't stand the idea of referring to my child as "baby" or "it".  We obviously didn't know the sex of our baby, so Joy is not meant to be a gender specific name for a girl. But Joy is to represent the joy that he/she brought us in their short life. We had so many interventions while trying to conceive before Hannah came, and this little baby made his/her way into the world without any doctors, pills or tests to help us. What a joyful surprise it was to know that we could conceive naturally, and what a joy to know our babies would only be about 16 months apart. We want a large family, and wondered if that would/could happen, and maybe it won't...or will? Joy's life brought us hope and the reminder that we just need to continue trusting God for our children. One way or another, it will all work out how it's meant to. There was also the joy of announcing to our parents that they would have another grandbaby to love. Those are some of the reasons our tiny one is named Joy. Even though he/she is gone, it doesn't take away from the joy that was brought to many in his/her short life.

I miss our Joy, and wish I could still carry Joy. and give birth to a live, healthy Joy, and hold and mother Joy. I don't know what the days to come will bring, but for now I am basking in the peace of the Father.

I have read, repeated and meditated on these verses in the past 2 weeks.

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

Psalm 139:13-14
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Philippians 4:4-9 
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Psalm 34:17-19
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This Christmas

This year, we will be celebrating Christmas with a tiny little human who will forever change our lives. I.am.so.very.excited!  Living over 4000 km from family, Christmas can feel like a much too quiet, sometimes lonely occasion. We have been blessed with friends so dear, we feel like they are family...but this is their home, and they have relatives and events and meals to attend to, and it's a reminder that in the end, it's just my sweet man and I.

Well this year feels a bit different. We will now be three, instead of two. We will now be Mom and Dad, totally preoccupied and in love with our new baby, probably exhausted. Everything will be just a little bit more magical. Baby's first Christmas Eve, church service, stocking, tree ornament, Christmas morning. Of course our little one will have no idea what is going on, but Devin and I will always remember the first Christmas we could look at our miracle and be so full of gratitude.

Since I've been thinking about Christmas a little more than usual, I've also been thinking about how I would like our family to "do" Christmas.  I want the focus to be on Jesus, people, memories and love; and very little focus on decorations, presents and "stuff".  Lately my heart has been leaning towards simplicity and living with less, and my hope for Christmas is no different. We decided our baby will not be needing much for gifts this year, or any year really. We'd like to keep the presents minimal, and the focus on the important stuff.  I saw a neat little poem on Pinterest awhile back that said a good rule of thumb for giving gifts to your children is "something they want, something they need, something they wear, and something they read".  This year we got baby Roddick many books, a baby Bible, a stocking with their name on it, and a personalized Christmas ornament. We also will keep our gifts to each other minimal this year, and hopefully for good. I love the feeling of changing the focus and making it simple.

As our child (and hopefully others to come) grows, I imagine reading the story of Jesus' birth from the Bible together, watching Christmas movies, lighting the Advent candles, baking together, visiting neighbours and friends, decorating the tree, bringing baked goods to neighbours, shoveling out driveways for elderly people...I could keep going. I'm sure it won't always be as sentimental and warm and perfect as I'm imagining, but as long as our family remembers to put Jesus first, to keep it simple, to think of others and show them love, it will be excellent.

Monday, October 21, 2013

I'd never change it

This morning I was reflecting on my relationship with Devin, and how I feel so blessed to have a happy marriage. I am very aware that this is not the reality in many marriages, so I'm certainly thankful. Then my thoughts turned to our baby, and I thought about their future spouse, and I began to pray that our child will find a person who loves God, and loves them a lot. Then I began to think about all of the things that could bring our child hurt or disappointment in their future (I immediately thought about infertility) and in my Mommy instinct I began to pray that these things wouldn't happen.  As soon as the words were out, I knew they weren't quite right though. Thoughts of our own infertility issues and waiting came to my mind, and of course I don't want my children to have to deal with that, but I found myself changing my prayer. I began asking God to use any struggle that our child may face, in the same way He used infertility for good in my life. My first true test of faith came with the hurt and disappointment of infertility, and I'd never change it.

Now that I'm bursting at the seams with our precious babe waiting to make an appearance to the world in about 5 weeks, I am overwhelmed with joy, peace, gratitude, and a rush of other emotions. There were times when I really couldn't envision looking down at my pregnant belly. I knew God loved me, but felt like maybe I wasn't worthy of being a Mom. That was just one wrong idea I had on top of a pile of others. Some of the ridiculous thoughts that crossed my mind while we tried to conceive were: "It's my fault, I'm probably not healthy enough." "Maybe I did something wrong that I haven't asked forgiveness for." "Maybe God is trying to point out a problem in our marriage that we need to resolve before we can have a baby", and the most embarrassing one as a believer: "maybe God isn't so kind, since He could give us a baby and He isn't".  From the time we hoped to conceive, until the magical day we found out I was pregnant, I pushed God away, and came back to Him over and over again as I studied the Bible, prayed for answers, and spoke to beautiful encouragers he put in my pathway. One by one, God used specific situations, people and Scripture to eliminate these doubts, fears and lies the Enemy was speaking.

Though I fell for a lot of lies during that hard season, there was at least one lesson I believe I really did need to learn before being blessed with a baby. Last winter I was becoming angry and impatient, and I was worried that my attitude was becoming too bitter, so I decided to go to a Christian counselor in Moose Jaw. I don't remember much from the hour long session except the counselor's question: "if you never are able to have a baby or even adopt a child, do you think God is still good?".  In my hurt and vulnerability, I knew that my truthful answer was I'm not sure...maybe not. I felt extremely guilty for that answer, but at the same time, it was the first step to completely opening my eyes up to the inherent goodness of God. The next couple of months my heart was beginning to change. I was finally aware that the wall between God and I was put there by me, and began to chip away at it as I drew closer to Him and realized His beautiful goodness.

The final breakthrough seemed to happen when I went to a beautiful, remote island off of Vancouver, to a women's retreat called "Come Before Winter". I thought I was going there to help me improve my knowledge and skills in church ministry; boy was I wrong.  During that week of intense worship, prayer, solitude, Bible study and very rainy walks by myself, God revealed Himself like never before. I was overwhelmed by His presence...and when you're in God's presence, there is no doubt about His goodness, I just knew it. At the end of the week we had to do a 3 minute talk to the group about what we'd learned while we were there, and my little speech was about this wonderful new knowledge I had: "God is good, all the time, no matter what, God is good". I told them how we had been waiting for a baby for about 2 and a half years, and I compared my time of waiting and wandering to that of the Israelites wandering in the desert. Though they complained and grumbled, God never left them, and His goodness never changed. He gave them manna and quail to eat, a pillar of fire and a cloud for guidance, among many other provisions as they did their desert walk. During our "desert walk", God provided dozens of people who hugged me, cried with me, prayed for me, shared their own heartbreaks with me. He gave me sermons and Bible verses that inspired and encouraged me. He gave me a husband who was always there to pick me up. Though I complained and grumbled like the Israelites, He was there, and He was still so good. The amazing ending to that story is that while I was having a spiritual transformation on a rainy little island in BC, God had blessed us with a perfect little miracle probably a matter of days before I went on this trip, that I wouldn't know about for another week and a half. I don't believe it was ironic or coincidental, but just His perfect timing.

So, back to my original thought. No, I would never take away that 2.5 years of waiting even if I could change the past. Coming to the end of this desert walk (though I`m sure there will be others) has been the most amazing, affirming, beautiful time in my life, and I will forever have the lessons I learned while I waited. My faith is so deeply entangled and rooted in God now, it gives me confidence that He`ll be there in every trying time that is sure to come in my life, and that when those challenges do come, He is still good.

Looking off of Keats Island, BC

Sweet friends

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Assuming positive intent

I've always heard that you should "never assume, because it makes an (ya know) of 'u' and 'me'." I've never thought too long or hard about this, but always kind of laughed off that silly little quip about the word.  However, lately I've been starting to think more about assumptions and how they affect me and others. 

I heard some great advice from a dear friend of mine that I met when I moved to Gravelbourg.  The advice wasn't actually directed at me, I think I have heard her say these words in different settings like Bible study or book club, but they stuck with me. These wise, simple words are: "Always assume positive intent".  I've been really pondering this today and it came to me that she is so right. When I assume the worst of a person's intentions, I truly do make a fool of myself, and it's unkind to the other person. I could easily get my feelings hurt and assume that person intended only to hurt, frustrate or anger me; but the truth is, most people don't have the time or energy to live their lives to irritate or hurt me, and assuming they do is pretty self involved of me.

My dear, patient husband has taught me a lot of things in our 4 and a half years of marriage; but one influence he's had on me that I appreciate the most is how he's helped me to "just relax". Not just in the way he helps me sit down and watch an entire movie without getting up and running around the house just for the sake of being busy, but more importantly, he's shown me how to just let things roll off my back. He's shown me that some things just don't need to take our time or energy worrying. Yes, there are circumstances that warrant our time and attention where people are trying to hurt us with their words or actions, but I think those are fewer and further between than we might think.

I have days when I'm feeling pretty nice and relaxed and I do assume positive intent; but there are other days when I'm quick to judge, and quick to let my negative internal chatter rear its ugly head. I don't want to do this, and I need to make a conscious, prayerful effort to assume positive intent, because wasting my time assuming the worst is unloving and hurtful.

We've all been around others who seem to have nothing but the worst to say about others, and it's exhausting. I do not want this for myself. I do not want to be known for my negativity, but for my grace and compassion.

Lord, my prayer today is that You will fill me with overflowing grace for others around me. Help me to always assume the best intentions of others, and to shut out the negative thoughts that I'm tempted to have. Thank you for the wonderful example of love you have shown me, and please help me extend that love to others.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013



This is how Devin and I have been feeling about television and movies lately. Complete and utter frustration. I feel silly even bringing it up sometimes because it's such a "first world problem". But the reality is, it is our reality. We don't have to watch anything, EVER, if we don't want to, but we do want to. Life is slow in Gravelbourg, and sometimes it's nice to sit down and watch something on Netflix or television and just do a little nothing for awhile. The issue here is we can find very little lately that is not making us cover our eyes or squirm with discomfort. The nudity, the sexual innuendos, the cursing, the accepted immorality, the crude talk, the sex scenes...and on and on it goes. Even advertisements in the middle of the day are showing far more than I'm comfortable looking at.

I'm a big girl, I can turn off the TV when this happens (and I do), but it is happening more and more and it is starting to really get under my skin. Maybe it's pregnancy hormones, maybe it's personal convictions, maybe I'm starting to think about our precious baby coming into this messed up world. I feel the need to run and hide from this ridiculous world sometimes. I feel helpless to change it. I will just continue to turn off the screens, and pray:

Lord, have mercy on us. Protect our eyes, and guard our hearts. Give us discernment and self-control to turn away from the filth, and cleanse our minds of what we have already let in. Forgive us for the times we have thought these types of shows and movies were acceptable to watch, and protect us every time we turn on the television. Help us to honour You in all that we see and listen to.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to stay in love

1. Choose love.
2. Love selflessly. It's not only about you.
3. Choose love.
4. Treat him as you want him to treat you.
5. Choose love.
6. Affirm him with kind and uplifting words.
7. Choose love.
8. Find/make alone time with him.
9. Choose love.
10. Spend time doing something together that you both enjoy.
11. Choose love.
12. Talk, communicate, explain yourself...he cannot read your mind.
13. Choose love.
14. Have the same patience with him that you would have with a friend or co-worker.
15. Choose love.
16. Pray for him and your marriage everyday.
17. Choose love.
18. Forgive quickly, and quickly ask for forgiveness.
19. Choose love.
20. Don't look around, don't look at pictures, don't look at movie stars, don't look at your neighbour-Look at HIM and love what you see.
21. Choose love.
22. Say Thank You.
23. Choose love.
24. Laugh together, laugh at his jokes, laugh at yourself.
25. Choose love.
26. Choose him over work, hobbies, house cleaning, friends and family.
27. Choose love.
28. Do random acts of kindness for him. Surprise him.
29. Choose love.
30. Read the Bible together.
31. Choose love.
32. Pray together.
33. Choose love.
34. Count his amazing qualities and all of the reasons you are thankful for him.
35. Choose love.
36. Remember the reasons you fell in love in the first place.
37. Choose love.
38. Be honest and trustworthy.
39. Choose love.
40. Always defend him, support him and show him respect.

And when all else fails...Choose love. It must be a choice. Not "like", or infatuation, or passion, or romance. But lifelong, unconditional, selfless, difficult, forever love.

Proverbs 17:9
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

Song of Solomon 8:6
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.   1 Corinthians 13:4–8a
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...

Colossians 3:14
And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A letter to myself

Dear Holly

About 5 months ago you were preparing yourself for a trip to Cuba. Worrying about new bathing suits, flip flops and SPF. You were hoping this trip would help ease the difficulty of that incredibly long, hard Saskatchewan winter, and give a nice distraction from your longing for a baby. Off you went with your beloved Devin to the beaches of Cuba where you snorkeled and swam and ate weird food. You were very tired, and not feeling all that great, and a tad bit emotional. You were a bit surprised that Cuba maybe wasn't as great as you thought it would be. You even marched stubbornly out of one of the evening shows put on by your resort because you were appalled at the lack of clothing the dancers were wearing, and wondering how in the world was this type of show acceptable for children?! You may have been a tad bit irrational that evening. You were ready to go back to winter after 7 days of sun and sand.  Although you weren't totally consumed by it, you (as always) were thinking of your cycles and temperatures and charts. You were anxiously awaiting the moment where you could test to see if "this is the month", just in case. Though you were anxious, you were unfortunately not all that hopeful. You had "been there, done that" month after month; but it didn't stop you from wanting to test once more.

So you arrive back in Canada. Tanned, burnt, and exhausted. But before leaving Saskatoon, Devin stops at Wal-Mart so you can buy a 2-pack pregnancy test. Cuban resorts didn't think that was a priority item to sell in their gift shops! You get home incredibly late and go straight to bed.  The next morning you wake early, and you don't want to waste an "opportunity" so you tested. I'm still not sure what you did, but the test didn't work. No positive or negative showed up. How disappointing! You head back to bed for a few hours and then when you wake again you hold your bladder as long as possible until Devin awoke. Sometime around 10:30 or 11 am, Devin was awake, and you had to go now, so you tested again...and this time, there were lines. The test worked this time, but wait, it had TWO lines. That meant positive. That meant a baby. That meant a miracle! Let the celebrations begin!

Holly, the reason I'm writing this letter to you, is to gently remind you that a miracle has happened, and is still happening inside of your womb every single day as your darling little one is growing. I want to remind you that there was a time when you had to plead and pray and claw at hope from day to day because the wait was becoming long and worrisome. I want to also remind you of the faith it took to believe that God does love you SO much, even though He didn't give you that baby the moment you desired to be a mother.  I want to remind you of how painful and vulnerable infertility is, and to remind you of the women and couples that are still facing this challenge. Who have not seen the end of their wait yet.  Please continue to be sensitive to those who physically hurt every time a friend or family member announces they are expecting...even when they want to be happy for them. I want to remind you of the trust it took to believe that God had a great plan for your future, even when you couldn't see it, and that same trust will be necessary in so many other circumstances in the future...so hold onto it!

I want to remind you that the "dry season" you have just gotten through in your life will not be the last one, and you need to hold on to the lessons you learned during that time, and thank God for opening your eyes.

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