Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's Christmas

Thanksgiving has come and gone. December is upon us. The countdown to Christmas is here. I love this time of year. I cannot contain my joy. I admit, and most of you know, I am an extrovert by nature but there's something extra special about the spirit of Christmas that extends to holiday cheer.

I don't have anything profound to share today. In fact, just a few days ago someone asked me "Why haven't you blogged in awhile? Is everything okay?" Truthfully, yes. I realize I left you all hanging after my "I was mad" post. My deepest apologies. I'm happy to report I am not mad.

Today marks two months since we lost our little one. There's a special ornament on the tree. It's placed right beside a Christmas ball bearing the verse "For unto us a child is born..." It commemorates the Liberty Godparent Home in 2007. I hung it at the top of my tree that year as my prayer and faith in God to give me a baby. You know the story... The following year I would hang that ornament right beside the one that read "Baby's First Christmas." It brings tears to my eyes to recount His faithfulness. Bless You, Lord. I praise You for Your many blessings.

We did the unthinkable and put up the tree before Thanksgiving. Gasp. This month holds so much hustle and bustle, we decided as a family we wanted to be able to enjoy it as much as possible. It brings me so much joy to be able to place each ornament, recalling the memory attached to the ones that we've now had for three Christmases. Starting over can be difficult. It can also be healing. Once again I am reminded of His love and faithfulness, extended to even me.

What brings even more joy is watching the wonderment of the season through this little boy who continues to grasp more each year. He makes it even more fun. I admit I'm still having fun with our Elf who happily returned the day after Thanksgiving. I decided Jokey was never going to be the main emphasis for us. He's here to have fun and thankfully, by year 3, he's learned the house rules. Most of them, at least. He watches our creative thinker and promotes the active imagination of one curious little boy. It sure keeps this mama on her toes! But yet another reminder of how quickly things change, how fast the days go by, how many Christmases have come and gone since I was prayerfully asking God for this child.

I'm thankful to be in a place where I can say that I can give Him thanks in all things. It doesn't come without occasional tears or the sting of memories. It often comes through prayers and faith in what we still hope for and the assurance of what Christmas represents. Jesus. The One unto us who was born. The One unto us who was given. The One unto us whom we can place our trust in. The One unto us who causes us to believe in miracles. Not the Hallmark kind. The miracle of immaculate conception, a virgin birth, the fullness of God wrapped in the humanness of man. God's spoken word of redemption as a babe in swaddling clothes.

It's the reason to have joy. No matter what this year has brought. No matter what heartache you've endured or how many tears you've cried. It's the reason to sing. No matter how empty and hopeless you may have felt. It's the reason to celebrate. No matter what darkness you've journeyed through. It's Christmas. It's Jesus.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I Was Mad

I could feel it welling up inside me. It was an emotional fit I wasn't prepared for. My chest was heaving. My heart was pounding. I couldn't think - all I wanted to do was throw something. Where was this anger coming from? I was MAD!

It had been building up all week. I'd become increasingly aware of the baby bumps around me. Everytime I saw someone - complete strangers even - I was somehow drawn to their growing bellies. I seemed to feel physical emptiness each time I saw someone else's belly and became aware of the absence in my own.

Pregnancy announcements continued to pop up on the news feed. Not just one - multiple. Some due in May. Some I can genuinely say I am happy about - friends who deserve to be happy with their glowing pregnancies. But all reminders of joy that I was feeling left out of.

It wasn't one thing. But there was definitely a trigger. A handmade gift, something of a memoriam, that I found destroyed. Somehow my 65 lb doodle had confused it for a chew toy. There was that gift - in pieces. It seemed as though I was looking at my shattered heart. I knelt to pick up the pieces and then came the tears. But this wasn't a moment of sorrow. Sadness was void in my heart. I was full of outright anger and I just wanted to scream. 

I wasn't mad at God. I knew better than that. But I certainly told Him outloud how I felt. I knew He already knew but it didn't stop me from asking Him all the questions that had been tucked away. I had a good cry. An even better honest talk with God. 

Before anyone feels the need to reach out to me and offer your sympathies, let me explain something. Please hear me. I'm not still mad. I'm writing this days later. The truth is the only reason I'm writing this is for someone who may need to read this and know it's okay to feel this way too. I'm sharing this for the sheer fact that I'm normal. Human, in fact. Emotional and sometimes overwhelmed. And yes, sometimes even mad. It's okay, really, for me and for you. The thing I also know is that along with all the pregnancies that are being congratulated, there are other hearts aching who never even got the chance to announce their good news before they were all too soon experiencing grief. 

"Be angry, yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil a foothold." Ephesians 4:26-27

Anger is a normal part of the grief process. Necessary, if you will, to help reach acceptance. Taking the biblical guidance on how to handle anger, we cannot let it be a place we set up camp. We can't allow it to be a breeding ground for evil. It's a part of the process, not the ending place. 

So I admit. I was mad. I was mad. And I'm glad I was. I needed to let that out. I needed to feel it. I needed to go through it. I don't feel something everyday, not all the time. Sometimes I don't know when it will hit or what will be the trigger. But I do have my moments and I believe they are not only normal, they're allowed. All part of the healing process. 

(Now, please, pretty please, don't get all stressed out and worried. I'm not mad anymore!)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thankful for His Name

"Oh give thanks unto The Lord; call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people." Psalm 15:1

Today I give thanks for the name of The Lord. The name that will one day cause every knee to bow and every tongue to confess. Today, this day, His name holds power. By His name we are saved. 

What does His name mean to you?

Jehovah Nissi - Banner
Jehovah Rophe - Healer
Jehovah Jirah - Provider
Yahweh - Lord
Jehovah Shalom - The God of peace
El Shaddai - God Almighty
Adonai - Master
Elohim - Strength
Jehovah Shammah - The Lord is there
El Elyon - Most High
El Roi - The God who sees
El Olam - Everlasting God
El Gibhor - Mighty God

At His name the demons tremble. At His name the angels rejoice. At His name mountains bow, seas are calmed. The power the name of The Lord holds is beyond what we can even comprehend. 

Today I am calling upon the name of my ever personal Father, The Lord my God and giving Him the glory He is due. There are so many more I could list, so many attributes He is, but for me today I give thanks for His name. The very name that I can utter and experience His presence. 

Thank You for Your Name, Lord!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy November

It was Halloween. I happened upon the candy aisle to purchase some goodies for work...When what to my wondering eyes would appear but the conflict of two holidays opposing forces on either side of the aisle, both fighting for their rightful place on the calendar. 

In case you can't see the full scope of the photo, Halloween's frightening fight on the left is taking on Christmas cheer on the right. I posted the photo only to have others remark about this not being the only store to do it. In fact, multiple stores were listed with the same celebratory conflict. Several other posts asked "Where is Thanksgiving?" Another even wondered, "What's a turkey gotta do to get some attention?"

Listen, I am one of the most festive people you will meet. I love to decorate and celebrate just about every holiday and Christmas is the epitome of pomp and circumstance in my world. But somewhere in this sea of commercialism is a lesson that I hope we all get.

It's not only November 1st, the start of a new month, it's also the month we kick-off the biggest holiday season of the year. Thanksgiving is no longer sacred given that Black Friday now begins on Thursday. I can't remember how many turkey dinners we had to post-pone until my dad's restaurant work shift was finished. I'm not going to turn this into an anthem to fight commercialism and stay home on Thanksgiving. However, I am hoping to share my declaration of "thanks" throughout this month as we anticipate the holiday that seems to be forgotten.

Let me explain something. My perspective has changed. Too many times I've experienced pain or loss or the disappointment of what I had hoped and planned. And too many times despite what has happened, I've witnessed an Almighty God work His Sovereign plan in my life. More than that, even when what I wanted wasn't what I got, I've seen God provide comfort, grace, peace, love and mercy for whatever I've faced. So I'm declaring the right to give thanks. I'm claiming a reason to celebrate. I'm giving God the glory - for everything - and making November a time to remember. At least for me. 

My hope is that this month I can give Him the praise and honor He is due but learn all over again how to give thanks in ALL things. Give thanks unto The Lord. Enter His courts with Thanksgiving. 

Today I give thanks for a new month, a new day. Happy November

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

OK. Not Okay

#7 on the list I shared the other day...It's okay not to be okay. 

I guess I should heed my own advice. Understand something. If you know me at all you know that I don't go into anything half-heartedly. So going back to "normal" (whatever that is) would also be full throttle for me. Or so I had hoped. The thing is if I lead everyone to believe I'm okay then they will treat me that way. I didn't want everyone to be afraid of me. I didn't want to - once again - disappoint. 

But honestly - who am I trying not to disappoint anyway?! Because the only three people who matter right now are God, my husband and my son. Oh, and me. I'm just being honest - I had convinced myself everything was fine. And most days (moments?) it is. I am. But not every moment. Not every time. Not every day. 

I went back to work and did it with joy in my heart. I had spent some exceptional time in the Presence of The Lord, completely basking in His glory, relishing His Spirit and claiming the power He promises is mine. I felt it down to the marrow of my soul. I went through the day with that supernatural empowerment only to receive a phone call on my way home. It was the hospital calling to follow up after surgery and to also invite our family to a Walk to Remember where we can have Baby Wright's name called out and plant a tulip bulb in our baby's honor. Yep, you better believe I lost it. But it's okay that I did! In fact, it's healthy that I did. Whatever others may think or feel (or not feel) this is a death for us. There is grief and as I very well know, grief comes with stages. For a goal-oriented person like me, reaching the next "stage" in the grief process, doesn't mean I've earned my badge. It doesn't work that way. This is a process that rides much like a roller coaster. Just when you think you've reached a plateau, you find yourself climbing only to drop and twist and turn again. 

Yesterday a nurse and mother and someone who has experienced miscarriage shared her experience with me. She also shared the knowledge from her doctor to "treat this as if you've given birth - they tell you to take 6 weeks to allow your body to readjust. You may even experience postpartum depression." What?! I'm not depressed. Six weeks? Physically I feel okay after the surgery. At least I physically feel healed. And no, this isn't like having a baby at all because I am left with empty arms. But for real - six weeks?! Certainly I, Carrie, don't need that much time. You want to know what happens when you try to play God? Okay, what happens when I try to play God and take control of my circumstance? Inevitably He reminds me that He does not require or need my help and it is up to me to surrender fully to Him. Okay, God. Maybe I do need more time. Maybe I'm not healed. Maybe things are still out of whack. Maybe I am still experiencing unexplainable things - physically and emotionally - that I have to still work through. How many more times do I have to hear it to let it officially soak in - to give myself permission?

I'm relieving myself of the added pressure (put solely there by my own doing) and declaring that it's okay to not be okay. Thank you for the many who have understood this even when I stubbornly have not. Thank you for still checking on me. Thank you for giving me the freedom to not be "me" all the time. Thank you for not expecting anything more than a broken version of myself that is still in healing. Thank you for reminding me that it's okay to not be okay. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pregnancy Loss Awareness

Two days after surgery I received a message. Someone else was going through the exact same thing. She was scheduled for a D&C the following day after just learning she had lost her little one. A few days later while my body is starting to "feel" healed someone shared her tears as she mourned with us. More than three decades later the memories and emotions came flooding back to remind her of her own loss. 

As I've walked this journey I've found a commonality with so many women, so many I never even knew about, and have realized the truth in the statistic that one in four pregnancies end in a loss or miscarriage. I've read forums, scoured websites, poured over the stories of other women who have experienced the same grief and loss. Some have struggled to feel the ability to grieve over their pregnancy. Others have hesitated to even refer to the life as a baby. I understand there are so many different emotions that came and for most they come in waves. 

Our journey began three weeks ago with what we were told was a threatened miscarriage. From the very beginning they told me I couldn't do anything differently and nothing was my fault. The only thing I can now say is that I've had those moments of "what if..." What could I have done? I've also had those moments where everything is fine...then something hits me and everything is not fine. 

I'm writing this post, and a few others to come, as October 15th approaches. This isn't just for me and Baby Wright. This is for every baby lost. For every dream that died. For every plan that never came to be. This is for all the women who have reached out to me because they have felt what I feel. The thing I've learned is that no matter how much time has passed, they can still feel it. While it may not be as current, it's a feeling they can instantly and always go back to. 

October 15th is pregnancy & infant loss awareness day. Even if you haven't experienced a loss, you're reading this and becoming aware of the feelings that come for those of us who have. I don't think that anyone has said or done anything to make me feel adversely but I also know that everyone deals with this differently. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for taking the time to honor our babies. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Rain Boots

Several months ago Elijah was given a pair of rain boots. Rain boots come in all styles but these are fashoined just like a fireman's boots. It may be one of the best hand-me-down presents he's ever received. Truthfully, I was afraid the boots were too big and thought he might not wear them, save for a rainy day. I would be more than proven wrong.

These boots have done more walking, more splashing, more climbing, more digging, more kicking and more dirt collecting than any other pair of shoes he's ever owned. I may not be exaggerating if I go as far as saying these boots may have in fact collected more wear and tear than all the shoes he's owned in the past 6 years. But for real...

One of the best discoveries of my little boot-wearer is the purpose they were acctually made for: rain. More importantly to a boy, puddles. I won't blame Peppa Pig for the splashing in mud puddles episode that provided added inspiration. Certainly this boy didn't need any help with the idea. Rain + rain boots + an active boy = jumping in every single puddle produced by rain and any other moisture.

The last few days have provided ample rain and accompanying puddles. My little boy didn't mind the rain. Not one bit. He put the boots on and headed out to play. 

Fast forward to a break in the downpour and I saw him outside but the boots were sitting on the porch. Clearly not on his feet. What to my wondering eyes would appear but his fairly new Nike tennis shoes bought intentionally, and solely, for school and outings. NOT MUD PUDDLES. Make no mistake, he was in fact jumping in the puddles with his tennis shoes. The boots were made for puddles - the tennis shoes were not. 

I admit I had one of those freak out mom moments, "What on earth are you thinking?" I could tell by the completely shocked and confused look on his face that he wasn't - he wasn't thinking at all. We had gotten home and he hopped out of the car and went straight to playing, never paying attention to the shoes on his feet, never realizing that he wasn't prepared for the puddles. Not only were his shoes a muddy mess but the inevitable splash had transferred to his pants and somehow even managed to travel all the way up to his shirt.

"I'm sorry mom," he said, hanging his head, "I just wanted to splash in the puddles because they're so much fun!" 

Here's the point. Rain will come. Puddles will happen. You can't control the weather. Every so often you may even choose to make the most of the situation and splash around. But if you're not suited up for the rain and the puddles, you'll find yourself in an inevitable mess. The other point is this: even though you may save your good shoes for a not-so-rainy day, you may just find that the splashing and puddle-jumping makes for a really good way to make the most of what you can't control. You may in fact realize, just like my outdoor-loving boy, that the rainboots are your favorite even if it's not a rainy day. After all, they make quite a fashion statement, don't you think?! 

(This picture is a representation of his own style, complete with PJ top, magnetic darts on his lampshade hat and the infamous fireman boots.)