Listen to your children when they talk about their bodies…

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“Adelyne, what is your greatest fear right now,” I asked my 11-year-old over a private Italian dinner we were eating, just the two of us, following the EEG she just had in Poznan, Poland.

“My biggest fear,” she repeated the question.

“Yes, with all that has been going on in your life, what is your current greatest fear,” I wanted to hear the heart of my daughter, and I had her alone, no little brothers or sisters to distract her.  Just Ada and Momma.  Together.

“The fear of being afraid,” she replied.

It makes tears come into my eyes right now.

If there is one thing we want to do as parents, it is to protect our children.  To be their stalwarts.  To be their walls.  To be their protections.  To be their everything.

And then you realize you can’t.

Unless you lock your child in a bubble, never letting them escape the house, you will quickly come to realize that you cannot be your child’s everything.

With the very act of living, they will experience many different joys and pains.

And sometimes, in that living, they experience very scary moments.

A little over a month ago, my daughter experienced at school what she describes as a heart attack.  She then spent the next three days in a foreign hospital, hooked up to heart monitors and enduring multiple blood draws and tests to see what is going on with her body.

Then, not even 3 weeks after that, she experienced what is described as seizure-like behaviors before slipping in and out of semi-consciousness.  Once again, at school.

This daughter of mine.  It’s not that she is completely fearless—but, out of EVERYONE I know in the world, she is the bravest kid that I know.  She has traveled the world. She has surfed.  She has crossed borders.  She has been surrounded by machine guns on territory where we literally have NO voice.  And she hasn’t even batted an eye.

So for her to say that her biggest fear is fear itself, makes me, as her mom, sad.  The freedom for her to live a life of great adventure is the greatest gift I wish to give her.  And now she is wondering if she will be okay to ride her bike.  Or swim.  Or paddle board.

Will she surf again?

Can she jump off a mountain like she plans in February?

Can she jump out of an airplane, like she tells us she’ll do at 18?

Afraid of being afraid.

It’s a life-changer, for sure.

And I hold her hand and tell her that we are doing everything we can to eliminate a bunch of scary stuff in hopes that we find out she is perfectly healthy and just had some bad stuff happen to her for reasons unknown.

But that doesn’t erase what happened.  And it doesn’t change the fact that now she may not live quite as carefree.

And I need to listen to her.  I need to listen to her body.  I need to listen when she speaks.  Because she is the one living inside of her body, and she knows how it feels and needs to be able to communicate that to me.

A childhood friend of mine recently watched her son go through his third concussion.  And, with that concussion, his entire life changed.  Now, together, they are realizing that life has a different journey than the one he was walking.  And it is something he must do to remain healthy and able.

She listened to her son.  Now together they are fighting for his best life.

Here is his recent news interview, telling his story:  http://www.azfamily.com/story/36611797/chandler-hs-senior-quits-football-due-to-concussion

Here is a second story on concussions and high school sports:  http://www.azfamily.com/story/36162154/concussion-study-reveals-most-valley-parents-will-let-kids-play-football

Here is another childhood friend, Dr. Javier Cardenas, speaking of concussions and how to identify one in your child, as well as an App that can be used to teach children about concussions:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHm4RPFgwEM

In the end, all we can do is live and teach our children to do so, as well.  But, in living, we also need to stop and listen.  What is our body telling us?  What is our children’s bodies telling them?

Growing up, we learn that if you ever catch on fire, you are to do three things:  Stop; Drop; Roll.

I find myself in this same position with my daughter:

Stop.  How are you feeling?

Drop.  Let’s stop everything to figure out why you feel the way you do.

And Roll.  Let’s put out this “fire” in your life, so you can go on to live your best life possible.

It may be with a little more hesitation than before.  But it’s still living.

And, in the end, that’s what counts the most!

 

Failure to Live Faith Results in Failure to Teach Faith

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I have been the VERY unfortunate teacher of Genesis of recent.

Boy! What a way to start an article, eh?!

Very. Unfortunate. Teacher. Of the Bible.

I sound like an extremely swell Christian, don’t I?

But let me elaborate, and I hope that you will join me for this article and journey.

You see, we have been following the reading encouragement of Good Morning Girls to read through the Bible with a group of ladies.

And we have had an AWESOME semester to date.  The books have been fantastic, the conversations unbelievable, the ladies (from all over the world in our study:  Poland, United States, Russia, Turkmenistan, India to name a few) have been purely lovely, and the topics OOOOH Boy!  Tough.

But real women like TOUGH.  Right?

Well, when it comes to reading the Bible, I say, “Eat nails.”

I believe the common expression is, “Eat your Wheaties!”

Or, in general, just prepare for the difficult.  No wimpy women, please 😉  Okay, wimpy women still welcome.

We started by reading Esther.  Then we read 1 and 2nd Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, Psalm 1 and 2, and now we have been reading through Genesis.

But, you see, we did not start with an easy book.  I mean, really?  Is Esther really a lovely story about a young girl becoming a queen?

I don’t personally think so.  I mean a queen was banished from her marriage and position because of her failure to satisfy the instruction of her husband.

And then women from all over the dynasty were chosen to come and present themselves to the king where he would get to decide upon a new queen.  And Esther was chosen to be one of the potential suitors but was instructed to NOT share her heritage.

And then there was a plot to kill a king but his life was spared; later an entire race for failure to honor one man in authority; a woman that did not want pretty much any job given to her; then boldness accompanied by a change of heart—despite if she should die; later a hanging;  and then the opportunity for the people scheduled to be slaughtered the right to defend themselves and their properties.

I mean.  Esther.  Did she really want to be queen?  Did she have a choice?  What fate did become of her later when one of Xerxes sons took over the throne?

And, yet, the conclusion is just as Esther states, (I’m paraphrasing), “Perhaps she was chosen and put in her position for ‘Such a time as this.'”

And currently, in Genesis, it has not gotten any easier.

Our conversations are honest and blunt.  And we question the people in the Bible and the scriptures we have read.

And there is one question we find ourselves asking over and over again after watching these people fail big time.  Not once.  But once more.  And then yet again.

We wonder—how can God use these people?  They are okay.  Pretty normal.  Not that courageous or strong.  Not too convicted at times or quick to make decisions that were not okay at others.

And why, sometimes, were such harsh punishments bestowed upon some?

And how could Abraham be considered a great man of faith?  Not just once but twice he claimed that his wife was his sister so that his life would be spared?  Wouldn’t it be better for him to defend his wife with his very life?

Oh, my, my friends.  I haven’t even begin to touch all of the scripture we have covered.

Sodom and Gomorrah?

Lot.

His daughters.

Tragic tragedy after tragic tragedy.

And we are not shying away from any scripture.  Not any verse.  Not any choice, decision, or consequence of action.

Lives altered.  Years numbered.  Families made.  Families destroyed.  Children had.  Children abandoned.

Where am I going with this?

This past week as we finished reading through the story of Sodom and Gomorrah with Lot, his wife, his daughters, his sons-in-law, and the death of his wife, sons-in-law and then what took place after with his daughters, my stomach was sick and my heart heavy.

But let me first say, If you want to read a pretty story without gory details and blunt honesty, find a different book.  The Bible has never shied away from sharing the ugly truth along with the redeeming truth.

And, if you only look at it in parts, you will miss the beauty.

Which also came by way of ugly.  Death by brutal crucifixion.

But let me stop rambling and get to the title of this blog post: Failure to Live Faith Results in Failure to Teach Faith.

You see, story after story in the Bible shows men and women taking life upon their own shoulders. They choose to be angry or self-indulgent.  They choose to live loosely or make choices based on fear of their future.  And they choose to go about their lives in ways that separate themselves from God.

Sin will always separate us from God.

And, believe it or not, when we fail to live in faith we have opened up a whoop-bottom (I did want to write the other word for emphasis) can of trouble.

Because when we fail to live in faith we fail to teach faith.

And that, my friends, is the moral of my rambling…

So many times through the scriptures we have read so far, people have taken it upon their own shoulders and lives to make decisions EVEN if God has directed them in a different path.

As I continue to teach through the scriptures, not shying away from any, I had a HUGE heart check!

Am I faithful to teach my children that despite an overwhelming task set before me; despite fear of the future of the unknown; or despite feeling as if better is deserved—I must teach faith!

As a Christian that believes wholly in God the father and the gift of salvation through his son, Jesus Christ, I struggle daily.  I struggle daily with doing things my own way.

I struggle with fear.  Fear that what I believe needs to take place and how it may not come to fruition.

I struggle with trust.  Trusting that if I remain faithful to God’s instructions, His way will be done.

And perhaps that is also why I struggle.  Because what if God’s will is not my will?  What if I desire a different outcome in my finite mind than he has planned in all of his omnipresent knowledge?

What if????

All of these questions and doubt and fear are probably EXACTLY why the scriptures in the Bible share the blunt honesty of the stories of the men and women in them.

Because these people were not perfect.  They were not all full of “God is awesome and I will never sway in my faith of him!’

They were human.  Human and fearful.  Human and fearful and real.

And real is sometimes very ugly.

Ugly and not understood.

We can all shake our heads in understanding.  What we need to do, however, is STOP.

Stop living in fear.  Stop living in half-hearted faith.  Stop living as examples of “I’ll take care of this on my own!”

You may not know the future.  Heck, you may not even know your current present.  But what you do need to know is that God is here in your present.  And God is there—in your future.

And I believe one of the main reasons the scriptures are so clear to show the good with the bad and the ugly is so that we can see that God has always had a plan, but sometimes we like to try to change it—instead screwing it all up.

And the greatest lesson I have learned along this reading journey is this.  God’s way will be done.  But how we go about fulfilling it or accepting it is up to us.

Do I want to live in fear of the unknown and make choices along the way that God had wished I wouldn’t.  Teaching my children and those around me that faith is only okay when I don’t have fear?

Or do I want to live in faith.  Making difficult decisions along the way despite the unknown, my faith remains?

In faith, I am choosing the latter.  And, I hope through my life, my children learn to trust and have faith.  That my children learn to overcome fear.  That my children learn that God has, is, and will be there.

And we are to live according to His Will in our lives-even if we are unsure what that is.

Because that is what it means to have faith.  And this is what I hope to teach.

After all, as FDR once stated, “…the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

And when you choose fear over faith, you, too, are paralyzing your efforts needed to convert retreat AWAY from God’s will in your life to ADVANCE for what plans he has for you.

Today, my friends, that is what I pray for me.  For my husband.  For my children.  And for you.

God bless.

I forgot to feed my daughter. And we sent her to a counselor.

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Living in a different country, in a village, where hardly any English is spoken is a bunch of fun. Especially when you forgot the differences of the beginning of the school year.

Things that are quite important like…

Oh, packing your daughter’s lunch for her.

You see. I forgot that they don’t start serving school lunches the first day of school. I even made sure to tell my husband, “Richard, make sure to go and pay for school lunches so Adelyne will have money on her account.”

So, Richard went to pay for lunches. The lunch lady said, “Oh, no worries. Pay by September 15th.”

And we thought, “Wow. What a relaxed country. How nice!”

Little did I remember (until well past lunch time) that they don’t serve school lunches that day.

AHHHH! Well, good thing I packed Adelyne a cookie to snack on. Oh, and Smarties because, after all, it was the first real day of school and I wanted to remind her to be a “Smarty”. Smarties are like M&Ms. Therefore, technically, she did have two things to eat. Both sugary. But I guess sugar worked well enough. She made it through the day 😉 And, yes, she came home HUNGRY.

To make it up to her, I had bought her favorite French pastries for her arrival home…apple! She was so happy to see them and devoured them quickly.

But forgetting her lunch was not all. Somehow, lost in translation, was the fact that she would need PE clothes to change in and out of.  She did, however, change her shoes from outside shoes to hallway shoes.

So, let me set this all straight:

She was the only student that did not have a lunch.

She also was the only student that did not change clothes after PE.

And she was the only student that DID change her shoes from outside shoes to hallway shoes back to outside shoes.

That’s it.  Three strikes.  We definitely struck out.

But in spirit and adventure and smiles, we still won.  Adelyne came home completely happy to have been at school and back amongst her friends in Poland.

Now for the counselor…

Before we returned to Poland, my husband and I were completely breathless, having near panic attacks, worried about Adelyne’s return to Poland.  After all, we had been living in the beautiful and glorious USA for the past year and a half.  That’s a very long time for a child.  Especially when you go from 1st grade to 3rd grade.  The maturity at 8 that was not there at 6 is astounding.  Her entire being is different now.  And school in Polish.  Eek!  The language is so difficult.

And, so, we, trying to be and ahead of the game parents, decided to set up a back-to-Poland counseling appointment.  Hoping that it would be 1 of 3 appointments.

We met with the counselor and spoke to her about our concerns and told her about Adelyne.  She was extremely perceptive.  Probably a great trait in a counselor, eh?  And we scheduled the time for her to meet one-on-one with the counselor.

Adelyne was told that she was going to meet a lady that she could share openly with her feelings about returning to Poland, or anything else that laid heavy on her heart.

She seemed okay with it.  So off we went.

Now, here’s the funny part, the lady that we sent Adelyne to is specifically a counselor for children.  She has toys and crafts and art supplies galore in her office so that the children can play and talk at the same time, keeping the atmosphere very safe for them.

Well, Adelyne decided to sit on the couch across from her and speak the entire time.  You see, Adelyne was an only child for 6 and 1/2 years.  And for that entire time, she has helped us build a foundation for the poor in Poland.  Meaning, she has spent the majority of her life in meetings or doing grown-up stuff.

The counselor was funny.  She said, “It’s the first time a child has sat on the couch the entire counseling session.  It made me a bit uncomfortable.”

Haha.  A piece of the counselor’s own medicine—being on the other side of the couch, eh?   (But I say that in respectful love because I truly believe greatly in good and Godly counseling and hold the utmost respect for the counselor herself)

Back to the counseling session.  Adelyne shared a lot.  The counselor after spoke with me about what was said and her advice on how Richard and I could help with the transition back to Poland.  Overall, it was a beautifully great and helpful session.

And with everything in my being, I had intended to take Adelyne in for 2 more sessions before our move back to Poland.

One session to address the difficulties Richard and I had in our marriage the past year that she was witness to.

The next how she felt when Maxwell was sick (Our son is a NICU and then later an ICU, blood transfusion, and coma survivor).

So, you see, there is a lot that a little 8 year old could share with a counselor.  And I had really wanted to get her back…

But life got in the way of my best intentions.  My husband was once again out of the country for a month.  I was packing and moving a house without him.  My daughter had daily dive lessons.  And I have 2 wee ones that were even wee-r at the time (if there is such a word).

All of this means we did not get back to the counselor despite my heart telling me it was so needed.

And then we went and did it.  Moved back to Poland.  And we began to settle back into our lives of living in a foreign country and all that entails (which is  lot on its own).

Happy, happy, happy has my daughter been.  And then it hit!

Bam!

Maxwell, our son, had a horrible allergic reaction to something.  His face swelled up, his eye was swelling closed, the red was creeping along his neck.

He looked horrible, felt horrible, and I began to panic.

Can he breathe?  What happened?  Did he touch something?  Did he eat something?

And then something even worse happened.

My daughter lost it.  She just sat there and cried and cried and cried.

I felt for her, but, at the moment, we had to take care of Maxwell (and the regime that comes with a horrible allergy attack) and then monitor him closely for about 20 minutes with our epi pens right next to us.  We were debating, do we call my brother, a fire captain and paramedic?  Do we call our brother-in-law, a doctor?  Do we call the Polish emergency number 1-1-2?  Do we ride it out?

Who knows if we made the best choice, but we made a choice that we felt was best.

And while Maxwell slowly started to improve, Adelyne started to dis-improve.  She melted.  Literally melted.

She climbed in my lap like a small child would and crumpled against my chest.  No matter how many times we tried to assure her that Maxwell was fine, she seemed unable to breathe peacefully.

And that’s when I got to the heart of her panic.

Laying flat against my chest with her legs curled up into my lap she said through her tears, “Do you know what it’s like to have your brother almost die on you?”

No.  She wasn’t talking about his allergy attack (as severe as it was), she was talking about when no one knew if Maxwell was going to live or die when he was a baby.

In the midst of something sad but not so extraordinary (although I don’t take allergic reactions lightly, especially with my nutty son), the past came back in a rush to my daughter, and I could tell the future will continue to hold a lot of healing.

And while we have epi pens for our son Maxwell, dealing with the heart of Adelyne may require a different kind of medicine.  Called time.  Love.  And lots of hugs.

Now, to end on a funny note.  As Adelyne was super sentimental about Maxwell’s horrible allergy reaction, she just wanted to cuddle her precious baby brother.

Max, on the other hand, kept kicking her away and tackling her and shouting, “Noooooo!”

Yes.  This did eventually make the waterworks worse.

But, truly, isn’t that what brothers are for?!

 

We could all use a little Southwest humor here and there…

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I fly over the contiguous United States and then the ocean.  And it doesn’t matter how much I have made the journey, I still NEVER like it.  It doesn’t help that many of the airlines are stiff and serious and rude and cramped and crowded and take your overhead luggage and stick it underneath, breaking all the valuables you were carrying in your overhead so that they WOULDN’T break…

I never, ever, ever get used to the long transcontinental journey.  And I seldom enjoy flying.

I don’t have a fear.  But I don’t have a love for it.

My daughter has no fear and great love.

My husband has no fear but is realistic about service so has hesitant love.

My little son doesn’t remember…

And my newest has never been.

Regardless of my feelings and flights and impending transcontinental journey, this news article today made my day.  I think if she was my stewardess (do we call them that?), I would smile a bit before my flight.  No.  I take it back.  I am sure I would be the loud laugh-out-loud passenger recorded on the video.  And I would appreciate her.  And the captain that let her put the cabin at ease.

After all, a big metal bird in the sky is not for everyone…

But a good laugh is.

Enjoy the brilliant safety-talk humor.

Click here:  Southwest Safety Talk Humor

Orphan Train

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There are so many thoughts swirling through my mind today, and they all come back to Maxwell. Today Josephine celebrates her second month of life. She is as cute as a button and big as a bear. I understand that she was born at nearly 11 pounds, but I would lay money on the fact that she is 16 pounds today. Her 2-month appointment is next week, and I look forward to her stats.

So, if today is Josephine’s big day, how do I continue to circle around back to Maxwell? It’s simple. As each day is simple. And it’s simply this, every day I reflect on Maxwell’s milestones and compare them to where Josephine is today.

Is that okay? I don’t know. It’s hard to know because they are close in age, and just as I was recovering from our first year with Maxwell, we find out we’re pregnant with Josephine.

It’s hard to go from watching one baby slowly die, be revived, and fight every day for his life for months on end. After he makes it, you still watch him. Daily. Fiercely protecting the very air he breathes.

Once out of the hospital, you gladly sacrifice sleep as his apnea mat, tucked protectively under his crib’s mattress, ticks methodically soothing your very spirit. The very tick keeping you awake is the same tick keeping you sane. There you have to find your balance between sleep and sanity. And that’s when you realize that sanity wins because sleep eludes you so that you can continue to hear that tick, tick, tick, tick.

Because there is the tick, you know that your son lives another moment. He is with you. The sun has set, he is sleeping, and you have made it through another day. A day with him. You should be sleeping to prepare for the next day, but you can’t. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

And then it’s hard to find out you have another little one coming.

You become a tornado of emotions. Joy being the forefront followed closely by fear. Joy. Fear. Joy. Fear. And sometimes they mesh together and you don’t know where one begins and the other ends.

That’s when you have to make a decision. To stop. To stop living in fear and to focus on joy. But it’s harder than that single word, Stop.

I just finished reading an amazing book, Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. It parallels the stories of two girls that go through the foster care system during drastically different times of American history. One, Vivian, goes through during a time of immigration in our country followed by the Great Depression. The second, Molly, is in present-day foster care. Their lives differ. Their lives imitate. One is 91. One is 17. Decades may separate who they are, but circumstances resonate who they are.

And it is in this book that I saw a bit of where I am. Who I am. And why I am. Today.

Vivian is asked a metaphorical question by Molly. Does she believes in ghosts? It is then that Vivian pauses before she responds. And her answer is simple, “Yes…They’re the ones that haunt us. The ones that left us behind.”

Later in the book there comes a part when Molly is pondering over Vivian, her statement, and her life. And Molly has finally understood what Vivian had to say, coming to this conclusion, “…Vivian has come back to the idea that the people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting our most ordinary moments. They’re with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles.”

Bam! It’s ironic that on the very day that I am rejoicing upon Josephine’s second month of life and mourning where Maxwell was at that exact moment in his life, that I read this passage.

Today I am in a car, driving to the mountains, to spend quality time with family during Sprint Break. Happy 2nd-month of life, Josephine.

With Maxwell, I was in a hospital, sanitizing every ounce of my being, still having to put on full hospital garb, mask, and booties, while finding myself fortunate that I could grasp his very finger. That his finger still pulsated with life. Very weak, unstable life. But life. Praying to God that one day he would make it out of where he was. Happy 2nd month of life, Maxwell.

Vivian didn’t believe in literal ghosts, but the way that Christina Baker Kline describes the weight of Vivian’s past and the people that traveled with her daily in who she was and how she lived reminded me exactly of where I am today.

Celebrating Josephine. Reflecting on Maxwell. Intertwined. Forever.

I will never be the same person. Woman. Wife. Mother.

I will never be the same human being.

I watched my son take his last breath. I ran into the hospital’s hall screaming for anyone to come and help bring him back to life. He was revived. After that it was a waiting game. A waiting game for life.

And a year and a half later as we celebrate Josephine, I remain haunted by Maxwell.

His life has made me who I am today.

A different woman. A different wife. A different mother.

Fear. Joy. Fear. Joy. Fear. Joy. When will it stop?

It stops long enough for me to celebrate Josephine while playing peek-a-boo in the mirror with Max.

For God does not give us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

My Nose Ring was NOT a Good Idea…And we got a puppy.

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(c. photo Hel Ka Photography)

Have you ever tried to compensate for something missing in your life?  For example, when Richard and I were struggling through infertility, I got a rabbit. This rabbit ruled the roost.  Literally.  I let this rabbit, named Sylvester, run wild.  It had free reign of our home…Of our balcony…Of our couch cushions—which it gnawed to smithereens…Of our electrical cords—which in turn had their revenge on Sylvester-shocking him 4 feet off the ground (Don’t worry—no bunny was hurt in that revenge.  Well, maybe temporarily).  This rabbit was my compensation for no children. When Adelyne arrived in our lives, rainbows abounded, the sun sang to us with its rays, birds chirped melodious tunes.  Life was so complete.  Life was so beautiful.  Life was richer than we had ever imagined. And Richard and I were completely content.  For nearly 5 glorious years of Adelyne’s life, we had more joy in our souls and family than imaginable. We had no idea, however, that life could get grander than Adelyne…That is, until we experienced Sam. When I first thought I was pregnant, neither my husband nor I believed it.  But after I saw two little pink stripes—I knew!  My husband took the rest of the day to let it sink in.  But, by the end of the day, I had a beautiful bouquet of flowers and our daughter dancing around the room at the news of her impending sibling. Let me say, the entire reason we were given our second baby is because I had a daughter that for two entire years of her life PRAYED faithfully for this sibling. Notice I said my daughter prayed.  I did not.  You see, Adelyne was miraculous enough.  I never thought God would grant us a second.  So I became content with my family and did not ask God for more.  And, despite my lack of faith, my daughter said, “I want to pray for a brother!”  And so, from the age of 3, she prayed.  Nightly.  Faithfully.  Beautifully.  Truly, I admired her great faith-even though I had none of my own. And, sure enough, 2 years after she started faithfully praying, God gave us our 2nd most amazing miracle.  Our Baby Sam. When I was pregnant with Adelyne I was in great shape.  I had no pain.  I had no complications.  The girl hung out in my belly for 42 weeks.  I went bike riding pregnant, rode alligator boats, swam with Manta Rays, was stung by a jelly fish, jumped off a mountain in Austria (jumped off a mountain before I knew I was 6 weeks pregnant) and off a 30-foot platform too (again-before I knew I was 6 weeks pregnant).  And through all of Adelyne’s belly adventures, I had the most gloriously easy pregnancy known to man. When my pain began with Sam, I was astonished.  But the pain was unmistakable.  And then the contractions began.  The bleeding was daily.  Through it all, the baby kept growing.  The doctors became confident that we were making it—although painfully—through the first trimester and would make it to the finish line. So when I woke up that morning—full of energy, without the need to run to the bathroom, and not starving my guts out—I knew.  I knew my baby that my daughter had prayed for years—My baby that I had fought so painfully hard for—My baby was gone. I went to the doctor the next day and received the beautiful picture—and the tragic news.  My baby was curled up with beautiful toes and a hand reaching to the sky.  But there was no heartbeat. I had never before in my life experienced such heart wrenching and hollow pain.  I curled up inside of myself.  I would lie in a dark room for hours at a time.  And I wondered if the pain would ever go away. And I told my husband to let me be.  I needed to grieve.  And he did.  He allowed me my grief. And my daughter—what could I do for her?  Her very being was crushed.  She cried for months after.  We lost our baby in the summer.  But one wintery and snowy day when I was picking her up from school, she started crying as I was putting her in the car. “Why, Momma?  Why doesn’t God give me a brother?” And she cried.  And she cried.  And she cried. I couldn’t even start the car.  The two of us sat in the car, and, despite the snow outside, we sat there and cried.  And we allowed our pain to reveal itself deeply in the car, in the parking lot, of her school. And that’s okay.  Because pain needs to be felt.  Pain needs to be shared.  Pain needs to be relieved. But what could I do? I couldn’t give Adelyne what she wanted most—and so I did something for her. I got her a puppy. You know, to replace her sibling.

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Does it really? No.  But that is what many of us do in life. We try to replace our pain with something else. For some, it’s alcohol.  For others, it’s eating.  For many men, it’s pornography.  For too many, it’s seeking love from the wrong places.  Others it’s shopping.  The list goes on. Compensation for pain is very real.  And it’s what I did.  With a puppy. As we headed into our second year of our loss, and our pain lessened, and our lives went on…I did two things to compensate for what my heart truly desired: First, I went car shopping—looking at a sporty little convertible (no—not a good idea for a freezing country like Poland).  We even took it on test drives.  At least I had fun, eh?! And secondly…I got a nose ring. Yep, an honest to goodness nose ring. Now, let me tell you…I am a HUGE fan of nose rings.  They.Are.Awesome…in my opinion.  And, I finally felt like—Hey!  This is something I can do.  This is a way that I can have a bit of control over my life—I can pierce my nose. I know.  I know.  But, again, like I said—we all try to compensate somehow…in some way…for something we have no control over.  And a nose ring was my way. Let me also share—getting your nose pierced in Poland is the MOST EXCRUCIATINGLY PAINFUL EXPERIENCE OF YOUR LIFE! The lady, in the little city next to our little village, said, “Lie back!”  And then she started the SLOW process of the Stone Age’s way of inserting a nose ring—she started screwing it through my nose. My sister-in-law, here in the States, has a nose ring.  I just found out that there is a FAR faster way to get said ring—and it’s called a nose ring gun.  Yep.  Didn’t have that.  Had the hammer and chisel way to go about getting what I could control. Talk about PAINFUL control, eh?!  Yep.  But, in the end, I had what I had control over—a nose ring!  And I loved it.  Or at least I thought I loved it. How, then?  How was your nose ring “snot” a good idea? Well—life is great at throwing us the unexpected. Just as my husband and I were preparing to fly a social worker out from Germany to Poland for a home visit so that we could start the process of adoption, we saw the most glorious two lines!  A positive pregnancy test…It is now eleven years into our marriage. This time, however, my heart smiled—but in smaller measure.  This time, however, we kept it a secret.  This time, however, we approached with great fear.  Not great rejoicing. And…all of our worst nightmares began to reveal themselves.  Pain.  Bleeding.  Cramping. And, so we did what many of us also do in life—we threw the “Hail Mary” pass.  We called up our families and said, “Please!  We’re pregnant and it’s not going well. PLEASE pray for us!” Friends, let me share now…Yes, sometimes touchdowns are scored on the Hail Mary pass—but God would ALWAYS prefer us to come immediately before his throne.  Don’t wait to seek His face.  Come first—and bring along your prayer warriors. Our families…they immediately responded to our pleas.  Prayer became intercessory around the clock for us, around the world, on behalf of our baby. But, despite the prayers—despite the support—despite it all…Fear became present in my very being.  In my core.  In my soul. The pain did not subside.  The cramping did not subside.  The bleeding did not subside. I did what any normal human would do—I cried.  A lot. And that’s when I realized that my nose ring was definitely “snot” a good idea. Here I was fighting for the life of my baby…crying…and snotting.  And so something had to go. I had to let go of the ONE thing that I had control over—my nose ring. I had no control over my body. I had no control over my baby. But I had control over the 1 thing that I got to exercise control—my nose ring. Isn’t it funny how in life we sometimes have to relinquish the one thing we have control over? And that’s how I went from awesomely cool momma with a nose ring (okay, that’s my opinion of myself) to fighting momma with a hole in my nose. I’ve learned a lot in my 37, going on 38, years of my life, and I’d like to share them with you. We have many desires in life.  Sometimes, we are freely granted the desires of our hearts.  Other times, we lose the desires of our hearts.  And, on occasion, we go through hell to get the desires of our hearts. But compensation for desires never fulfills your very heart.  Your very soul.  Your very being.  And, so, Friends, I leave you with this… When you are in pain—cry. When you are afraid—seek help. When you need to be alone—be. When you need a friend—tell them. When you need a hug—receive. But always, always, always go about your life with God. Compensation will never fill the void.  But God will always be there.

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I have found an article that I think beautifully states how we need to be very aware of how we speak to someone that has lost a child.  Please take the time to read “Why Miscarriage Matters When You are Pro-Life”.  It compares how Pro-Lifers react to abortion and how some of the very same people react to miscarriage.  It gently shares that many have the mentality, “one is a tragedy the other is a blessing”.

Both are losses.  Enjoy the read:

http://thelewisnote.blogspot.com/2014/02/why-miscarriage-matters-if-youre-pro.html?m=1