The Day I Went Back to Church.

Last Sunday, I did it.  I went back to church.  If you know me at all, you know I’m a Jesus-lover, worship-dweller, service-oriented person.  So this topic may seem kind of silly at the onset, but bare with me.

I haven’t been to church since we found out Clara’s heart had stopped beating.  Not because my faith was questioned.  Not because I was angry at God.  Quite the opposite actually.  I leaned harder into my Savior than ever before with the loss of our Baby Girl.  I proclaimed His Truth and His Grace and His Mercy over and over because there was no way I was letting Satan take even more from me at that particular moment in time.  I knew God would take the tragic loss of our Baby and bring beauty from those ashes, and He has proven faithful in that time and time again over these last two months.  Being open about our loss has allowed me to serve others who are silently suffering, not ready to share their loss.  We’ve started a little project called Clara’s Grace to serve others who are struggling and hurting.  I’ve seen Him move in big ways and little ways, and I’m anxious to see what beauty He brings about next.

 

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So why the hiatus from my church family?  Why this break from worship?  My church family lifted us in ways I couldn’t imagine when we lost Clara Grace.  They made sure we had meals for the next two weeks.  They sent care packages.  Our pastors reached out to us and offered prayer and services.  Our volunteer dates in the kids ministry were immediately covered for the rest of the year without us having to lift a finger.  Oh yes, our church family served us with the humbleness of Jesus.  It was beautiful and humbling and filled out hearts with so much gratitude.

But the truth of the whole matter is- I wasn’t ready to face all the people.  I wasn’t ready for the sad hugs, the questions, the physical “loving on.”  I wasn’t ready to answer the questions of how I was doing or politely reply to the well-meaning words of those who said the wrong thing not knowing what to say.  (PS- there is nothing you CAN say in situations like these.  Simply saying “I’m so sorry” is all that’s really needed ❤ )  I wasn’t ready to face those who may not have heard yet that our Baby Girl had passed.  With our past two miscarriages, no one really knew.  They were early, and we hadn’t shared we were expecting with many.  But it’s different when you’re 16 weeks along and starting to show.

I wasn’t ready.  And that is perfectly ok.  Grief knows no timeline.  It’s an endless ocean of calm and waves.  Sometimes the tidal waves come out of no where, and sometimes it’s a beautiful scene of remembrance.  Grief is forever unanswered questions and constant faith in a forever God.  I knew I would know when the time was right for me.  I knew I would know when I was ready…and so did God.

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He started planting that little seed a few weeks ago so that when I found out my Boys would be celebrating the end of VBS in church last Sunday, my heart was ready to go.  God orchestrated this beautiful return of allowing me to slowly see our dear Friends in Christ each night as we brought the boys to and from VBS (which ironically, or not so ironically, was the perfect theme- Shipwrecked) so that when Sunday came, I could simply focus on worshipping the Lord.

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I feel like this post is all over the place, and I had a hard time writing it but felt like it needed to be said.  Healing after a tragedy can only be done with grace and time.  I knew if I rushed back into “normal,” it would catch up with me all too quickly.  As I’ve navigated these waters steadily with my eyes fixed on Him, I’ve found He’s put me right where I need to be when I need to be there.  So whether for you that’s church, a Mom’s group, a volleyball team, a family reunion, a book club, or something else, take your time, my Friend.  Grief knows no timeline.  Whether you’re feeling tossed among the waves, like you’re drowning in the tide or sitting on the beach remembering all that was lost, your grief is part of your story…and your story’s not over.

The Time I Ugly Cried

I ugly cried in the shower today.  Not a few tears or tears streaming down my cheeks.  Ugly, sobbing, couldn’t catch my breath crying.  The kind of crying you do when you simply can’t think of anything else to do.  When things seem so far out of your control, you feel like your only recourse is to cry.  I’m a fairly emotional person and find I need to ugly cry every few months or so.  The ugly cry comes when I’ve been doing my best to keep it all together, stressed beyond words with multiple things expected of me.  The ugly cry makes my eyes and my head hurt, and while I feel so much better afterwards, today I thought to myself while I know women just need to cry sometimes (I totally get that), why does it take getting to this point for it to happen?

Sometimes the Ugly Cry has good reason.  The last time it happened was when we lost our Baby Girl.  We found out her heart was no longer beating on a Monday evening.  To be honest, I had little emotion.  I had had this weird gut feeling for the last few days that something was wrong, but was trying to write it off as being paranoid from previous miscarriages.  All I could think of was what was next.  Tell family and friends. Check.   Call the doctor Tuesday morning.  Check.  Ultrasound and doctor appointment.  Check.  Discuss options and schedule surgery.  Check.  It wasn’t until Tuesday evening when I was in the shower (that’s where I prefer to do my ugly crying), that I completely lost it.  This was a justified Ugly Cry.  Heartbreak deserves ugly crying.

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But what about other times?  How do I let myself get to this point?  Since losing Clara, I’ve been making it a point to spend my time on things that matter to me, not others.  I make time to do the things that bring joy to my soul.  I literally schedule time to bake, go to the gym and make sure  my kids are getting plenty of mommy-time.  But this last week?  I’ve felt pressure from all directions that took some of that time away from me.  The stress of finances while we wait to see if workforce insurance is going to cover my husband’s back injury has me moving savings around to cover his six days of missed work and overtime.  The stress of needing to make my work quotas to ensure I get my monthly bonus.  This last weekend, I had a lot of places I was supposed to be, but I also had cranky kids, have been battling an ongoing stress headache (remember I said this last week has been tough) and it was Father’s Day weekend.  I finally realized I had to choose, and I couldn’t do it all.  I prayed for grace for the things I decided to opt out of.  My hubby lovingly let me go the gym after a busy morning of serving my amazing customers on Saturday, knowing that working out is a huge stress reliever for me.  Sunday, we spent some amazing family time together and did yard work but still didn’t get it all done.

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This morning, as I looked at my to do list, realizing how far behind I was, it all culminated into the Ugly Cry.  I’ve been working really hard on being ok with it when the vacuuming doesn’t get done the day I planned to do it.  I’ve been learning to be ok with it when I don’t check off everything on my to-do list for the day because I chose to go to the zoo with my kids instead.  But as I write this and stare at my sink full of dirty dishes (and cupboardless kitchen cabinets because life has kept us from completing the project by the time we wanted to), I can’t help but think of all the women just like me.  The women who strive to do it all and chide themselves when they don’t get it all done.  The women who work hard to please others and feel guilty when they fail or don’t do what others think they should do.  The women who try as they might to keep their stress levels down find themselves ugly crying in the shower because her checkbook makes her nauseous right now and she’s cut everything from her budget that month that she possibly can and she has to pay for her dog to get fixed tomorrow because he’s started marking everything in the house.

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To my fellow Ugly-Criers, you are Daughters of the King.  You are loved and your value and worth is not derived from how much of your to-do list you get done or how many people you please on this Earth.  Take a deep breath, and take a good look at that to-do list.  Will the world end if the laundry doesn’t get folded today?  Will things fall apart if you take an extra day to get those bathrooms cleaned?  Will your Friends disown you if you decide to go MIA from Pinterest night?  Don’t ever, for one second, feel guilty about taking the time to do the things that make your soul happy.  Don’t ever, for one second, feel bad about choosing family time over other’s expectations of you.

When we found out Wyatt had Sensory Processing Disorder, we had to be stricter in some areas and experiment with different therapies until we found what worked for him.  I know we were judged harshly by some for some of those decisions, but my child’s well-being was far more important than what somebody thought of my parenting.  My Friends, your well-being is no different.  Say “no” to the things you don’t need to do, even if you disappoint others.  Heck, say “no” to the things you don’t want to do!  When you look back on the years, you will never once regret saying no to something so that you could do something that made your soul sing or your children smile from ear-to-ear.  Schedule that time at the gym.  Schedule time to read on the deck with a glass of wine.  Skip the yard work for a day and go to the zoo.  To be clear- I’m not saying abandon all responsibilities.  I’m one of those people who get super stressed out by a disorganized home so keeping it orderly is a priority for me.  What I am saying is don’t get so focused on the to-do lists and expected activities that you miss out on the things that make you happy.  Choose joy, even if it means you take your kid out of one of their five activities so you can enjoy more time as a family.  Give yourself grace to to do those things.

And sometimes, you just need to ugly cry.  Sometimes, you need to scream and let all those emotions out.  Then you get to look at the world through those tears and realize you are right where you’re meant to be.  You have so much to be grateful for.  You have no need to worry because Jesus holds the world in His hands, and Sisters, He has your back.

The Day He Turned Seven

Today my oldest turned seven.  SEVEN.  Seven years ago at this time I was desperately trying to feel up to going to see my baby in the NICU after my first C-Section.  (I wouldn’t lay eyes on him for about 6 hours after he was born, and it would be another five days before I would hold him.)  Friends, this one has been hard for me.  Do you notice that or is it just me?  Some years I do ok with them entering a new year of life.  Some years I have a really hard time.  This is one of those years.  Some time in April, it really hit me.  I really started noticing that he has become a “big kid.”  He can read things to me.  He tells knock-knock jokes that are actually funny.  He tells me things about history and science.  He plays Battleship and understands the strategy of it.  He can reach things in higher places.  He can do things I used to have to do for him.  He asks harder questions.  He’s seven.

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Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am incredibly grateful and blessed that my babies are healthy and thriving and growing.  But I am so sad at the same time because those “little years” are quickly coming to an end.  And for Wyatt, I am already missing them.  The snuggles are becoming rarer.  The requests for assistance with the basics are becoming less frequent.  Little by little, we give him a little more independence, and he dances off into the day handling it with ease.  He makes me so incredibly proud, but when they say the time goes so fast, they ain’t lying.

That big kid has taught me so much from the very beginning.  He taught me about trusting God’s timing.  We tried for almost a year to get pregnant and suffered a miscarriage before he came along. He came into this world seven weeks early.  He taught me about patience as I laid in a hospital bed for a week before we decided to induce labor, and then when we did, he wouldn’t come.   He spent a month in the NICU.  I was convinced Wyatt would come home on his one month birthday.  The NICU nurses gently tried to tell me it was highly unlikely.  He taught me about prayer as I fervently prayed every single day to bring my baby home.  He taught me about faith and the power of seeking as we walked out of the hospital, baby in tow, exactly one month after he was born.

He has taught me about humbleness.  Wyatt is easily my toughest child.  His crazy energy and unending quest to climb all the things keeps me busy.  But when he was four and five, I felt like the most unqualified mother ever.  Wyatt couldn’t control his behavior.  It took him hours to fall asleep at night.  I researched and researched.  Nothing I tried would help.  I could look at him and see he physically couldn’t calm himself down.  I humbly had to ask for help when I knew I could no longer do it on my own.  I felt like a failure with one of “those kids” who couldn’t stay calm.  We sought out a couple different professional opinions before finally learning he has a form of Sensory Processing Disorder.  He’s taught me about advocating for my child when no one else will.  Not being willing to accept something when I know in my gut there’s a deeper issue.

But most of all, this child has taught me about grace.  Grace when I lose my patience and yell.  Grace when I humbly go to him to apologize and ask forgiveness to show him that everyone makes mistakes.  Grace when he immediately falls into my arms and tells me he loves me.  Grace when he makes mistakes, and I have to allow natural consequences to follow, even though I could rescue him, because I want him to know his actions have consequences.  Grace when I feel like I’m failing as a mother (like spelling ‘birthday’ wrong on his already very un-Pinteresty cake!).  Grace when he has a rough day at school because he couldn’t calm down enough to listen to the teacher, and I remind him that we all have bad days.  Grace, grace, grace.  How to extend it and how to receive it.

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To My Firstborn, I know you have so much more to teach me as we enter these “big kid” years, but I am ever so thankful that tonight you climbed up beside me on the couch to snuggle.  This Mama’s heart cherishes those fleeting moments because it feels like tomorrow I will wake up and you’ll be driving, bringing home a girlfriend or heading off to college.  Happy Birthday to you.  I am so honored that God chose me to be your Mama.