Posts Tagged ‘loss’

April 25th, 2014

We’re Having a Baby!

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We're Having a Baby!

The "Broken" Pregnancy Test

Yes, folks, it’s true. We are having a baby!! I’m 12 weeks pregnant and due around November 8. Can you believe it?!

As you can imagine, we are unbelievably thrilled to be expecting a little one. We were rather surprised to see a positive pregnancy test. I actually thought it was broken, “Where’s the not before the pregnant?” Just weeks earlier we’d discussed finally going in to have fertility tests; we had not expected to become pregnant just a few weeks later.

We are very, very excited. I am (obsessively) pinning nursery ideas on Pinterest, while Israel is patting my barely-different belly.

Today, I had the privilege of sharing our news with the BFA community during Chapel. I have spoken many times over the past few years about the miscarriages and infertility. This community has shared in our suffering and sorrow. We were thrilled to also be able to share our joy! Our joy is multiplied by BFA’s joy on our behalf!

Some people have asked if we are worried at all. We have moments of fear, but we are trying to walk in faith, rather than fear. Actually, a couple weeks ago, I had a little bit of bleeding. We know now that all is well, but we were pretty frightened at the time. Even so, we both responded from positions of faith. Israel said that he was choosing to believe and pray the baby was okay. We asked other’s to join us in that prayer. I told God that, even though I didn’t know what would happen, I trusted him, knew he was good, and knew he would be with us. In the past, we didn’t know how to choose faith over fear. We praise God that he has brought us to a place where we are able to walk in the truth more fully.

There is also a little apprehension in making our news public. What if something happens and we lose the baby? We know, though, that there is nothing we can do to control whether we meet this baby on this side of eternity, and we know that we can trust God with this little life, as well as our own lives.

Isn't this the cutest alien baby you've ever seen?

Because we are expecting, I will not be returning to BFA next year, though we will stay in Germany. This is a sad goodbye for me—I have loved my job—but I cannot think of a better reason to leave this beloved job. We plan to continue to be involved in the BFA community next year.

Many of you have prayed for and encouraged us through the years. Thank you. We have felt so loved and cared for during our six-year struggle to have a child. God has chosen to bless us with a pregnancy now, but he also blessed us with those years of infertility and loss. We would not trade them; from that dark time, we gained the invaluable riches of Jesus’ presence, goodness, and redemption.

Please join us in praying for:

  • A continued safe pregnancy and healthy baby.
  • That I will remain healthy. We will be traveling to the States this summer and hope that the pregnancy will remain complication-free.
  • That we will continue to choose faith over fear.

Also, join in our rejoicing! We are not ecstatic like we might have been at age 24, but our joy is much deeper than it would have been otherwise. We sense the great privilege of this pregnancy. We are joyfully expectant of what we have waited so long to receive.

 

February 6th, 2013

Joy and Peace

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Joy and Peace

Joy and peace.
Those are the words that chose me this year.

Joy and peace.
They have been lacking in my life for a long time now. I am weary of being weary.

New Year’s Day marked the five-year anniversary of Israel and I trying to start a family. I cried a lot this holiday season. I felt heavy again with grief. No one really knew but Israel. I didn’t really want anyone to know. I think I’m ashamed of this extended sadness, tired of confessing it to others. Infertility is such a private grief. Perhaps all grief is private?

It was a sad holiday season. We passed half a decade on this leg of our journey. I can’t believe it’s been so long. Christmas always reminds me of the children who live in my heart, but not in my home, of the family and friends who are far away, separated by miles or by brokenness.

I celebrated my 29th birthday. I am almost 30, and my life is not what I thought it would be. There is a quote, from a book I haven’t read, which says, “So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.” Yes, that sums up my birthday quite well.

A few days before Christmas, Israel’s sister told us she was pregnant. This will be the first grandchild. I’m staring at the screen, trying to put into words the jumble of emotions this brings—hard-fought joy and expectation for this new life, deep sadness and confusion.

My heart has long been a dark and barren place. I have walked what seems an endless storm of sorrow and grief. I am so very different from who I was when we started down this path. I am so changed.

Joy. Peace.

These words have sprouted up from the cracked ground of my heart.

I am tired of dwelling in the darkness. I am tired of living in this fog of confusion. I am weary of this thing that has controlled my life for so long.

I desperately want joy.
I desperately want peace.

I would not trade these five years. I would not trade the years of trying, and failing, to conceive. I would not trade the two barely-there babies. I would not trade the tears, the confusion, the despair, even my darkest days.

I would not trade these things, for from them I have seen the goodness of God. I trust God now. I believe this time, these losses, this darkness, have been gifts. Gifts for my sanctification. Gifts for our marriage. Gifts for the good of others. Gifts that not everyone receives.

My heart is roomy now. I have welcomed in many beautiful souls. I am willing to love. I know better now what it means to love. I am comfortable with others’ hurt. I am able to sit with them in their heartbreak, to simply hold them through the confusion and tears. I am comfortable with the conundrum now, with the whys of our loss.

These are graces of God.

But I am ready to leave behind my mourning and turmoil.

I still have no answers. I still have no idea what the future holds, where our path will lead, but I do not need to know.

Joy and peace.

Right where I am
here
today
in this place
with these people
with this heart
and these losses
and these uncertainties.

God is good. God is sovereign.
Joy.               Peace.

This is the year I fight for them.

 

May 2nd, 2012

Of Ripped Canvas and Thankfulness

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About a year ago, I finally painted a long-bare canvas. I inscribed on it a poem I’d written. This art piece was in memory of our heaven-dwelling babies. I’ve had this canvas in my office at school all year. It’s precariously balanced on an electrical outlet, waiting to be more securely attached to the wall.

Today, that canvas fell, not for the first time, but this time, it met the corner of my desk, resulting in a gash. I was meeting with a student at the time. At first I was bewildered, then angry, then deaf to all that Beka was saying. And then I started crying. I don’t think poor Beka quite knew what to do. I wanted to show my broken canvas to Mari Ellen—she’d appreciated this piece of memorial lament—but she wasn’t there to sorrow with me.

That canvas is the most personally significant memorial I have of my kids. Seeing it abruptly torn, jerked to the surface my hibernating sorrow. For the rest of the day, I was exhausted and slow-moving. It’s funny how such a small thing can summon the heavy, familiar weight of grief. I didn’t expect this small incident to cause such a strong reaction.

Tomorrow, I’ll be participating in the Senior Transition Seminar. It’s a time for Seniors to process saying goodbye to BFA and transitioning to college life. I’ll be talking to the girls about relationships in college. Tonight, while thinking over what to say, my thoughts turned to all of the girls who I’ll be interacting with.

I like these 30 girls. A lot.

I have one month left with them. One more month to enjoy their smiles. One more month to hear their thoughts. One more month to laugh until I cry at their quirky humor. One more month to hug them. One more month share their lives while I can touch and see and smell and hold them. And then they’ll be gone. Off to places all across the world. I may never see them again. And that makes me so very sad. I don’t want BFA sans them.

I was thinking, just before writing this post, about that torn canvas and how sad it made me, how it affected my day. And I rather surprised myself by saying, “Thank you God that I’m sad about that canvas.” I had to consider why I was thankful.

Thank you, God, that I loved, and love, my children. Thank you, God, that I remember them through art. Thank you that these things are meaningful to me because these people are meaningful to me. Thank you that my life is filled with people I love. Thank you, God, that I care about these senior girls, who will soon be moving on to bigger and better things. Thank you that I will miss them. Thank you, God, that my hurt comes from deep love. Thank you for filling my life with things so good, people so good, that I miss them when they’re gone.

April 16th, 2012

Invisible Things

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This morning I found myself dazed while attending an all-staff meeting. I sat. I stared. I payed no attention to the conversations going on around me. At one point, I thought how familiar this felt. I felt this way all of last year.

Grief is like pea soup. It’s thick, it’s heavy, and, Israel would say, it tastes like dirt.

A little over a week ago, a friend and BFA colleague passed away unexpectedly. Mari Ellen Reeser had worked at BFA for over 20 years. Most recently, she was BFA’s sole counselor.

Mari Ellen was my friend. We lived in her house last year, and I was terrified of her. That year was incredibly difficult, and I felt so very guilty about the state of our home. It wasn’t clean, and we’d managed to break more things in those few months than I had in my entire life. But Mari Ellen was gracious. She wrote in an email, “PEOPLE are always more important than THINGS!! It’s the invisible things (like souls!) which are eternal. The visible is passing away!!”

When Israel and I finally met Mari Ellen in a local cafe, I was shocked by how very loud she was and by how often she laughed—loudly.

Over the past year, Mari Ellen has been my safe place, my sanity. I’ve had a lot of conversations with girls about things I was required to report. I hate reporting. It feels like a betrayal. But I can’t think of a better person to report to than Mari Ellen. She was ever gracious. She was always loving. She was always patient. She did was what necessary, and she did what was best.

Most of the “reported” girls didn’t like Mari Ellen. They felt threatened by her. She was the bad guy. Apart from their one or two required meetings with Mari Ellen, they usually chose to see me exclusively. But Mari Ellen didn’t seem to mind. She was never jealous, or petty, or unkind. She wanted to work through the avenues that God was using, whether that was me, her, or someone else.

Mari Ellen was the only person I could talk with openly about my girls. With her, I didn’t have to disguise identities, talk around an issue, or be vague. I could express my confusion, and hurt, and heartache about the pain and suffering these girls experienced. She always offered advice on how to proceed. She always encouraged me in the ways that God was working in and through me. She always prayed for me and for our students.

I’ve only really felt the loss of Mari Ellen once so far. It stills seems unreal that she’s not here. I expect that it will begin to seem very real tomorrow, while attending her memorial service. And the next day, when I meet with the students she cared for. And in a few weeks, when someone tells me something I’m required to report.

I am sad that Mari Ellen is no longer here. I am sad that she’s no longer here to care for our students. I’m sad that she’s left a hole in so many of my friends’ lives. I’m sad that she’s no longer just a few steps away, when it seems like all of my questions have meshed into one great knot that I’d like her to help untie.

But I’m not sad for her. She is dancing with the Holy Trinity now (an idea she once told me passionately about). She is holding my Blueberry and Beatrice until I can. She knows the complete healing and wholeness of eternity. As she referenced all those months ago, her visibleness has passed away, but her soul is eternal.


I wrote this poem over Christmas Break. Now seems like a good time to share it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t copy the formatting without hours of work, so you’ll have to read it as is.

 

A Boxing Day Reflection
By Dani Jernigan

There are moments
and days
and years
that are shot through
with such exquisite sadness
that they must be strings to somewhere else.

They must be threads
that tie the shattered and murky
to the solid and clear,
where there are answers to the
why? and
how long? and
how come?

Where every heartache
and teardrop
and bloody heart-spasm
is perfectly reflected as a glorious groan
that sings forth
honor
glory
redemption
love.

For when we are huddled
in masses on the ground,
alone and aching and raw,
there must be a holy reflection on the other side,
that shows someone beside us,
whispering words of comfort,
weeping tears of heartache,
giving embraces that don’t let go
until we awake
to see the arms that have been holding us
all along.

Surely,
each empty seat
twinkling light
hug from father to daughter
and belly swollen with promise
that makes my brittle heart creak
connects me to a pool
of longing
and hope
and expectation
that is millennia old
where ancient souls come
to remember their sadness
and rejoice
at their joy realized.

Surely,
each empty womb
branded cheek
bruised body
and whimpering child
flies to a bottomless pool of compassion
that forever hides in our Father’s heart,
where he comes
to remember his children
and their great cares,
where he weeps tears of
compassion
brokenness
love
that mingle with our own
to form a sadness so rich
it can only be holy
and precious
and meant for a place
where we are loved
and never alone
and always wanted.

May the balm of that place reach us even here.

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March 11th, 2011

Goodbye, Baby

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Several of you have asked how the High School Retreat went. Unfortunately, we can only tell you what we’ve heard from others, because we didn’t go.

We had another miscarriage.

 

I don’t really know what to say….

 

We were seven weeks pregnant. I’d known I was pregnant pretty much since conception. I’d felt better about this pregnancy because I’d had morning sickness. I’d even looked at names, which I didn’t do last time. The one that kept running through my head was Beatrice, which means “bringer of joy.”

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October 2nd, 2010

A Day in Holzen

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In case I haven’t told you lately, I love living in Germany.

It’s beautiful. I’ve never lived in a cleaner place. Every building has delightful flowers and gardens. I believe that over 25% of Germany is set aside as green space.

It’s simple. Every few days I walk three minutes to the grocery store to buy a couple (reusable) bags of groceries. We walk to school almost every day. I can buy a big bottle of mineral water for 19 cents. Doing official things (like bank transfers, car registrations, and even surgery) is so much less complicated than it is in the States.

It’s nostalgic. Every time I drive past a swath of forest, I’m reminded of looking at the same forest as a child. Today, I saw a booth of puppets and stared for several minutes while I remembered the puppets of my childhood. Last week, I played on a fantastic wood and rope play ground. It was so much more fun and imaginative than the plastic and metal contraptions that fill the States.

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September 22nd, 2010

In the Valley of the Shadow of Death

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Please read this entire post. Thanks.


This post is my heart. It is raw. It is bloody. It is desolate. But I want you to see it anyway, because this is real. We are going through a deep hurt. We are walking in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I’ve never understood what that meant, but I do now, because I can see death looming up next to me.

I’m sharing this with you because you are important to us. I want you to know what is going on in my heart. I want you to share in our sorrow, so that you can one day rejoice with us too. I feel like I should ask something of you when you read this, but I don’t know what that would be. I’ve found great healing in being honest and vulnerable, perhaps this is a part of my healing, or yours.

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