Thursday, November 1, 2018

November Gratefulness

Happy November! 

A month's reminder of thankfulness for God's grace, and its commencement is remarkable.

Today I am 20 weeks and 0 days pregnant, the same point in pregnancy when Elias was induced and died. 

Yet, this pregnancy continues healthily and Baby Brother kicks a storm when I never felt Elias kick due to his condition.

Thank You, Lord.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Elias' Birthday Trip

Praise be to God for an amazing trip.

So glad and grateful we could go away and spend time together amidst the beauty of His creation.



























1 year.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

To Celebrate and To Mourn

Miss you, my Elias baby.

Miss you so much and forever.

You were 20 weeks loved, and we loved you fervently until the end.

Your adoring brothers still talk about and draw you with affection.

You turn 1 in heaven today. 

We thank God for His kind & merciful wisdom to take you Home and imagine you playing at our Savior's feet, toddling on your feet.

1 year of experiencing God's faithfulness in new and deeper ways.

How firm our foundation, how sure our salvation, and we will not be shaken. Jesus, our firm foundation! (Bryan Brown, Jason Ingram, Tony Wood)

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
    Your faithfulness to the clouds.
How precious is Your steadfast love, O God!
    The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They feast on the abundance of Your house,
    and You give them drink from the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
    in Your light do we see light.
- Psalm 36:5, 7-9

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Packing List

Elias' first birthday is about a month out, and we will be taking a trip away. I just know I want to be somewhere else than home and its surroundings for that time.

..........................................

The last thing I added to our packing list was

          "Elias' ashes"

and then sobbed.

Who packs their child's ashes for a family trip?

..........................................

We will be scattering his ashes into the ocean, a beautiful reminder of his memory every time I see a body of water in the future.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The First Year

The first year of grief is as remorseless as everyone says it is.

There were so many firsts without Elias -- loss upon loss after the initial loss: his due date was abysmal, the first Mother's Day deplorable, and I imagine his first birthday will likewise be arduous.

Grief continues to show up uninvited, unabashed. There seems to be endless facets of mourning his absence as life marches on, swiftly and deliberately. I can barely keep up. My friend described the passage of time as "chafing and torturous", but that over time, God taught her to bear her grief as "one part of [her] life and to process [the grief] when it came, and to still keep on living." That inspired in me great hope, and has proved true by the grace of God. My extended/abnormal postpartum recovery + difficulty in getting pregnant again magnified and in some ways, exaggerated, Elias' painful loss.

I would be remiss to not simultaneously highlight the Lord in this past year --

His seeing us through, rebuilding us again. We would have been destroyed if we were not known by Christ. His steadfast love is great to the heavens, His faithfulness to the clouds.

The truth of His Word endures without condition. His works and purposes can never be thwarted. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection leave us untouchable.

God's patient kindness despite my unbelief and hardness of heart many an occasion.

God's tender mercy to allow us to know, love, and trust Him more through this.

To hope in God alone.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Melancolie by Albert Gyorgy

Auntie T sent this to me today to commemorate Bereaved Parents Month --

“Do not judge the bereaved mother.
She comes in many forms.
She is breathing, but she is dying.
She may look young, but inside she has become ancient.
She smiles, but her heart sobs.
She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works.
She is, but she is not... all at once.
She is here but a part of her is elsewhere for eternity.” - Unknown

"We may look as if we carry on with our lives as before. We may even have times of joy and happiness. Everything may seem normal. But THIS 'emptiness' is how we all feel... all the time." - John Maddox

It is a Genevan sculpture composed of copper and tin, created by a man who lost his wife.
Image result for melancolie sculpture albert györgy

https://www.facebook.com/totallybuffalo/photos/a.1856841141264724.1073741829.1800823653533140/2133597843589051/?type=3&theater

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Standing Firm (Eph. 6:10-14)

Finally completed a post from many weeks ago --

........

Our pastor has been preaching through Ephesians, and it has been outstanding.

We are in the second half of chapter 6, where Paul describes our lives as a spiritual battleground, and to stand firm by taking up the full armor of God. We must resist the devil's lies, stand against the schemes of the devil with Scripture, our personal holiness, and faith & trust in our good God.

I realized that I have not been standing but collapsing, crawling. Rather than waging war against the devil, I have been listening and agreeing to his distorted truths. "Surely God is not good." "Why do bad things keep happening to you? God cares not for you." "Curse God and die."

No wonder I have been despairing, self-righteous, bitter, and angry toward all. Including toward God.

If you are also struggling to stand and endure, be exhorted by Eph. 6:16: In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.

........

In his sermon on the shield of faith, our pastor explained faith as knowledge (of God; it is not "convincing ourselves of something where there is no evidence"), moving to assent (agreement or acknowledgment), moving to trust in God.

// Our pastor articulates things so well that I will quote much of him verbatim!

Our pastor pointed out that Paul says in all circumstances. In all circumstances, we are to take up the shield of faith. "We don't whip out the shield of faith only when the arrows are flying. The shield of faith represents a daily ongoing cultivation of growing knowledge, growing assent, growing trust, growing delight in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. We need to grow in our faith because that is the very thing Satan seeks to destroy in us. At the very root of all sin is some form of unbelief. Some sort of distrust in God. So if he can somehow separate you from faith, he wins."

In Luke 22:31-32a, Jesus says to Simon Peter: Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.

What Satan wants to do is "push and squash, and squeeze Peter, and you, Christian, through his sieve to squeeze you out, and separate you from faith and trust in God. Satan is hell-bent on getting us to sin and lose hope, to live in unbelief and distrust toward God." Our pastor urged us to pray that God would turn our unbelief into faith.

The devil aims to deceive us. "He makes you doubt God's goodness. He causes Adam and Eve to distrust God's Word. Satan knows our constitution; he knows where our weaknesses are. He is an astute pupil of the human nature. And he will launch his missiles in accord to what he thinks will get us most likely to stumble that we may grow despondent in character, and for us to feel burnt out, discouraged, dejected, despairing."

"Satan’s scheme is for you to stay where you are. He wants you to sit there in the dark, exhausted, feeling depleted, and he would like nothing better than for you to make peace with your melancholy. He wants you think 'nothing’s going to work, there’s no point in going on.'"

"It is at this moment that the shield of faith is employed."

"Now more than ever, we must trust in the promises of God and fight our depression rather than yield to it. We must be preaching truth to ourselves from God’s Word."

We can start in 2 Cor. 4:8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 

Then we bring the devil to Ps. 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults and with my song I give thanks to Him.

Then, to Ps. 30:5 For His anger is but for a moment, and His favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

And then, Ps. 42:3, 5, 6a My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’ Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.

Aside from depression, Satan "uses trial and trying circumstances to make us doubt. He will tell us, 'God has not treated you very fairly, has He? Do you see how your disease threatens to undo all your dreams? Do you see how God has taken your precious child from you and your family? Do you see how God has made you? Do you see how your spouse has deserted you? You have been trying to follow the Lord. God is sovereign, isn’t He? He could have stopped any of this at any moment. He could have prevented this all from happening. Just give up. Hate Him.'"

The devil attempts to sift us again. "We must grip onto these Scriptures tightly, and lean our whole weight upon it."

Rom. 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?

Jas. 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Matt. 7:9-11 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Our pastor concluded with this: "It is so important for us to deepen the object of our faith, to know God better and better, so that when the devil comes at you, with all his slings and arrows of misfortune, when he shoots at you with arrows to burn up all your defenses, you can say with Job, 'Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. (Job 13:15)' God is good and loving, sovereign and just, and in your tears, you will be steadfast in the midst of loneliness and bereavement, because in faith, you have taken hold the promises of God."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Acuity

Dear Elias,

I visited the OB/GYN last week, and it was awful.

I went alone; Baba was unable to come.

At the landing of the stairs, exiting from the OB/GYN area, I was met by a pregnant woman. I gulped and mentally steeled myself for the multitudes of pregnant women I would encounter during the appointment.

Every woman in the waiting area happily chattered away with her husband, one hand grasping a brown paper bag. Each was there for an OB visit; the brown bag held her urine sample to test for protein and glucose levels during pregnancy. There was a lightness and innocence of the visit for each couple, something I had once known and would not know again. They were glowing but I felt ancient and anemic inside.

An expectant father approached the front desk to make the next OB appointments, informing the girl of his wife's impending due date next week.

I tried to busy myself with my phone but could not think of which icon to press. I stared, dumbfounded frozen, at my home screen.

I looked up at the board showing which doctors were in, and caught sight of the name of the OB who ripped you out of me. The OB who said nothing to me after you were born; showed no look of compassion or condolence. The OB who performs D&Es on innocent lives.

The more I suppressed the growing lump in my throat, the faster the hot tears dribbled down.

Everyone stared at me without saying or doing anything. I remembered weeping heavily in the Labor & Delivery elevator after delivering thank you packages to our nurses, an elevator full of people yet no one said or did anything. I knew they did not know what to say or do because they had not experienced anything similar.

I felt like I was having a panic attack: I inadvertently found myself pacing outside the waiting area.  I was sweating while trying to focus on staying in my seat.

At last, I was called.

I was ugly-crying by the time we arrived to the exam room.

The nurse tried to hide her horror. "Did you just have a miscarriage?" she inquired.

Another flood of memories from my postpartum appointments for you, like the nurse asking if I was breastfeeding as soon as I walked into the room.

After squeaking out a brief explanation of what happened to you, the nurse (thankfully) tried hard to be comforting.

The nurse left, and I loudly sobbed into my thin drape.

Everywhere I looked was a fresh memory of you... funny how I could hardly remember anything about these appointments for your brothers.

And then I did not know where to look in that exam room.

Should I look at the adjacent wall full of holiday cards with newborn babes and joyful families? Or should I inspect the posters on the opposite wall of normal female reproductive health, the reason for which I was there because I was lacking it? No, or should I stare at the ultrasound machine screen we last saw you moving and alive? Or should I look at the large, framed photograph I gazed at when the OB told me that everything had come out, that there was no more remaining tissue inside?

Somehow, I made it through the remainder of the appointment. My doctor was kind and understanding.

I still never want to go back.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

J's Processing

6 months in, J is still making sense of Elias' passing.

As younger siblings are born to his friends, J monologues aloud with contemplative pauses in between:

          "But where is our baby?"

          "Our baby died. Our baby was sick."

          "Why do my friends have a baby?"

          "I miss our baby."

          "Why do my friends have a baby?"

          "We need to pray to God for a healthy baby."

J will randomly tell me he misses our baby and that he feels sad.

More heartbreak.

Numbering My Days

I have been thinking about time lately.

They say time heals, but each ensuing month's disappointment of a new pregnancy just intensifies the pain of our loss. It feels like we have waited 1 year for a baby.

Our church's women's group is reading through None Like Him by Jen Wilkin.

Last week's read on God's eternality was a (good) punch to my gut. Wilkin skillfully expounds the incongruity in God's vs. our perception of time:

"Free to act within time as He wills, He exists outside of it. He is simultaneously the God of the past, present, and future, bending time to His perfect will, unfettered by its constraints. [. . .] The writer of Ecclesiastes goes on to say this: 'He has made everything beautiful in its time.' [. . .] " We expect Him to make everything beautiful in our time. But the One who determines the beginning and the end does not operate according to our timelines. He will work all things according to His purposes. Every sorrow or harm we suffer will be redeemed for good. But sometimes it takes more than one lifetime for the ugly to be made beautiful. [. . .] This does not mean what God is doing is not perfectly timed. (pp. 71-72)"

Nothing happens that is not unknown to Him, and all things happen at their appointed time.

Wilkin then suggests 3 ways to redeem our time.

1. To let go of the past. This includes idolizing life before Elias, or wondering what life would have been like with Elias. "We are allowed to grieve the passing of happy seasons, but we are not allowed to resent their loss. There is a difference between missing the past and coveting the past. The antidote for covetousness is always gratitude: We can combat a sinful love of the past by counting the gifts given in the present" (p. 75).

2. To let go of the future. This includes fretting over if/when God will give us a healthy baby. "We indulge sinful anticipation when we constantly covet the next stage of life. [. . .] As with sinful nostalgia, sinful anticipation is quelled by gratitude for the gifts we have been given in the present. We feed anxiety when we live in dread of the future" (p. 76). I must put away coveting a healthy child and not under the guise of being resigned to getting pregnant again.

3. To live today fully. "Redeeming the time requires being fully present in the present. [. . .] Note the generationless, everlasting timelessness of God laid against the grass-and-flowers brevity of man [in Ps. 90:1-4]. Moses responds to this knowledge with a supplication: 'So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom'" (pp. 76, 78).

May our patient God grow in my heart contentment of my today and wisdom from numbering my days.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Trauma

As I walked by Z, I casually asked him to play by himself while I made a doctor's appointment.

"Do you have a baby?"

          -- "What? ... No, I do not."

With terror in his widened eyes, Z stopped playing, sat up, and continued. "I am scared, Mommy. Where will Dai Dai and I go? Will you be gone for a long time? I was afraid when you were gone with Elias. Why are you seeing the doctor? Is there something wrong?"

I studied the anxious and earnest face of my 4-year old.

        My heart breaking, I remembered how traumatic the experience was for ZJ. It was the first time we were separated for so long and so suddenly. They bounced back and forth between grandparents each day, and were horrified seeing me in a hospital bed with IVs/wires everywhere. All they knew was that Mommy and Elias were sick, and that our baby had died. How could I have thought to just mention making a doctor's appointment in front of Z? Even now, ZJ become extremely distressed around doctors and medical appointments.

I explained the reason for the visit.

     -- "A 15-minute appointment is still a long time. I don't want you to go."

     -- "But why do other people get healthy babies?"

     -- "Why did God decide to have Elias die?"

     -- "Why did God make Elias not healthy?"

     -- "Why can't we have another baby?"

I preached to Z and to myself the sovereign and kind wisdom of God, His goodness despite our circumstances, and the reality that we may not have a baby in the future.

J came out of his room and the conversation abruptly halted.

Monday, April 23, 2018

A Piece of My Heart

Dear Elias,

I know it is inane to write to you because you will never read this, but it does not feel as personal and intimate when I write to this blank space.

Our family just returned from a weeklong trip to Disneyland. It was a fantastic time! Even played with many church friends there.

I silently missed you.

I wished we could have brought you to experience Disney for the first time alongside your brothers. I wished I could have worn you around in a soft wrap baby carrier, snuggles and cuddles constant. I wished you were with us, still.

We had postponed this trip until we regained the mental and physical strength after your traumatic passing.

At Disneyland, the multitudes of pregnant women, itty bitty babies, and families of 5 took me aback a little. I reminded myself that you are with the Lord (never fails to comfort), to be content in my station, and that our kind God knows and sees me.

At Disney's California Adventure, I caught sight of a sizable store titled "Elias & Co.". My heart lurched, and I was frozen by its brazen reminder. I have not forgotten a friend's description of grief taking one's breath away at unexpected and inopportune moments.

An awning featuring Elias & Company signage illuminated during the evening on Buena Vista Street
From Disneyland website

You will always have a piece in my heart; a permanent piece of me died when you died. I will never be the same, and here on earth, I will always carry a very sad part of me with me, wherever I go.

I love you.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Please Do Not Ask

While we knew Elias would forever alter our lives, the exact details of what that meant still take my breath away.

It is so painful grieving new and different parts of the loss as we live life.

..........

Taped onto the outside of our mother-baby recovery room door at the hospital, was a tattered but laminated photograph of a black rose. Something similar to this one... but deader with its petals falling off.


It served to warn anyone entering of our "fetal demise", and to act appropriately.

..........

Sometimes I wish I could permanently pin that photograph to myself when going out into the world, into social settings unfamiliar with an uncommon experience like ours.

          "Please do not ask."

..........

There can be no blame assigned, as everyone is (mostly) well-meaning and I know they just do not know. Or, they do know but are doing their best with the information and experiences they have.

Yet, I still get upset, sad, and leave feeling more isolated.

..........

It is difficult being around moms and pregnancy all the time. Even though I am one.

I have recently found myself in more situations where the conversation is not just touch-and-go with a stranger... like with friends of friends at a shared activity for our children.

          The completely normal and appropriate query of how many children I have, what are their ages, and am I trying
          for Baby #3 make me want to disappear, as I try to suppress the floodgates that threaten to overtake me.

Or like today, strapped to a dentist chair and the hygienist would not stop asking me about my children, how I need a daughter, how J seemed so well-behaved and that must be why I want to have a third because her niece is crazy and rambunctious that her parents could only handle one.

          PLEASE JUST STOP.

          But I could not get a word in, with her hands in my numbed mouth.

..........

This is 1 detail of many I did not anticipate post-Elias.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Psalm 23

Shane and Shane

YouTube

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want
In green pastures He makes me lie down
He restores my soul and leads me on
For His Name, for His great Name

Surely goodness, surely mercy
Right beside me all my days
And I will dwell in Your house forever
And bless Your Holy Name

You prepare a table right before me
In the presence of my enemies
Though the arrow flies and the terror of night is at my door
I'll trust You, Lord

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
You are on my side

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Pervasive Loneliness

The loneliness of grieving a complicated pregnancy is vast and atrocious.

     It is difficult to effectively convey this portion of the heartbreak.

.................

I write at the risk of offending wonderful community who has gone above and beyond to support us.

     It isn't you; it's me.

     And it's how God { graciously } designed human relationships to not suffice, that we may dig our heels still deeper in
     our intimacy with Him.

.................

Lately, the boulder of grief takes the form of loneliness.

     Its weight constricts and crushes the breath in my chest.

-- I am lonely in my marriage and friendships.

     It is an odd (and new) feeling to feel lonely with my one flesh.

     Whether it be my husband or friends, I do not blame them one bit for an experience that was uniquely mine. Of 
     course they would not know or anticipate or understand.

     I surely did not understand myself when I was the "friend".

.................

May the truth of His Word pierce my heart, I pray.

Only Christ knew loneliness that I would not. Upon Jesus was the iniquity of the world laid, and did the Father turn His face away.

I have never been and am not alone (Psalm 139:1-12):

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    You discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from Your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there Your hand shall lead me,
    and Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to You;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with You.

God, please help me to count everything, even human relationships, as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3:8).

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Jehovah is God

My darling Elias Abel, now in heaven with God,

Today was your due date.

It was a date I recited for months to the nurse before our OB appointments, to others inquiring of your arrival, and with Baba and your older brothers in anticipation of and in preparation for you. Your brothers asked me at least 1x/day when you would be here.

It was a date I recited for months after you came, dreading and despising that day.

That day is now, and it is hard but it is also the day the Lord has made so I rejoice and am glad in it.

Interestingly enough, your brothers have been talking about you much more this month. They notice Mommy is sad because "Elias is dead", and talk about how they feel sad, too. They draw pictures of our family with you and Mui Mui (guess it will be part of our story; it made a strong impression). When strangers ask how many children we have, Z quickly corrects us and says we have three. Your brothers still remember.

This afternoon, I carefully reread your birth book, reliving our memories together and when you left us. It is amazing that God numbered exactly 20 weeks in the womb for you. My memories of you are fading: what it was like to carry and then hold you, what you looked like, how surprisingly warm you were, what Mom and Derrick said in the moments after you were born, etc. I am grateful for Uncle J's photos.

I miss you terribly.

There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss you.

It does not matter that you lived only half of a full-term gestation, or that you had so many things wrong in your body, or that you were our third son. You were a grace and a life created by the God who fashioned the world by His Word. We loved you.

And God's Word surely lifts our head, as well as many faithful prayers, and undeserving visits, gifts, and acknowledging texts from sweet friends today. Our kitchen counter and refrigerator tell also of the overwhelming breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ that compels people to love like this. Thank You, and thank you.

Your first name means "Jehovah is God".

I praise God you are Home and singing Psalm 118:28-29 as I pray it with joyful sorrow today:

You are my God, and I will give thanks to You;
    You are my God; I will extol You.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
    for His steadfast love endures forever!

.................................................

God is

     good;

for

His

     steadfast

love

     endures

          forever.

.................................................

Listening to this.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Humbled

All that I have,
all that I have built,
all that I have watered,

all that is,

is by

God’s

     grace.


When I have come to the end of myself

and
     things have not gone my way,

The only conclusion is that

     God has shown Himself

          incontrovertibly

     in control,

and that it is

God's grace.

All by God's grace.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

But God

Tears have been my food day and night, and my heart feels faint.

The deluge of emotions have returned as if Elias came yesterday, threatening to asphyxiate and inter me.

But God.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 2:4-7, emphasis mine

My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. - Psalm 73:26, emphasis mine

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Lifetime Ago

This video was taken a week before Elias came.

Back when life was simple, care-free, happy, and ignorant of Elias' conditions.

I had taken ZJ and my huge belly to Hidden Villa for a wonderful morning filled with laughter, hiking, and creek play. This was taken on our long trek back to the car. It was one of the best mornings I have ever had with the boys.


This month is so emotional and hard.

Elias would have been due in 14 days. I typically deliver 2 weeks early, and had been anticipating a Valentine's Day baby.

Life, here, will never be the same.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Gain

My hair has been falling out, and it is everywhere -- on my clothes, my cooking, the kids, and on the floor -- which means it is ~3 months postpartum.

In general, life has resumed to normalcy, like how things were before Elias. I rarely, if ever, feel sorrowful. Thank God for His kind grace. The pain from previous triggers of grief cuts only superficially.

I read somewhere that processing new triggers of grief is helpful for healing, as one grieves new parts of his/her loss...

As I clean up the hair each time, there is a twinge of sadness as I remember my baby I miss and love. But he is with Christ, and his earthly death is gain (Phil. 1:21).

I also remind myself each time that what I perceive as loss is not worth comparing to what I have gained through and in Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior.

Paul proclaims in Ephesians 1:3-14: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory."

How utterly shattering and humbling. My eternity is purchased, my sins forgiven, my spiritual eyes opened, an inheritance gained through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

What lovely truth God graciously reminds me multiple times each day. In Christ, we have gained all things. In Christ, we are untouchable.

Everything Is Mine In You
Christy Nockels

Everything is mine in You
Even when my heart is breaking
Everything is mine in You
Even when my hands are empty
Everything is mine in You
Oh, in You

Everything is mine in You
I can trust You with my longing
Everything is mine in You
Even when the road is lonely
Everything is mine in You
Oh, in You, Lord

'Cause You are, Master over all
And You say, You are my inheritance
And in You, I have everything I need
And You are, seated in the heavenlies
And You say, forever You're my hiding place
And in You, I have everything I need

Everything is mine in You
And I know my future's bright
Everything is mine in You
Past or present, death and life
Everything is mine in You
Oh, in You, Lord

Against all hope
Help me hope
Against all fear
Draw me near
I will draw near
I am drawing near to You, Lord

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Closing Out 2017

Thank you, friends, who have faithfully prayed for us and inquired how we are doing this first holiday season without Elias.

We cannot see who reads this anymore... but let us first say that God is and has been so faithful and gracious in dealing with us. He is healing our hearts and we are moving forward with gusto. The waves of sadness are less acute and frequent. Life feels "normal" again.

And so, though we miss Elias terribly and wish he were still with us this Christmas, we are comforted and strengthened by the reminder of our Messiah Jesus Christ gifted to us. As Chris Tomlin sings, "Jesus, the love song of God". Hallelujah!

Derrick and I are not the same people as we were a few months back.

          Looking forward to trusting the same marvelous God of 2017 as He will be in 2018.

Let It Be Jesus
Christy Nockels

Let it be Jesus
The first name that I call
Let it be Jesus
My song inside the storm
I'll never need another

For me, to live is Christ
For me, to live is Christ
God, I breathe Your Name above everything
Let it be
Let it be Jesus

Let it be Jesus
From the rising of the sun
Let it be Jesus
When all is said and done
I'll never need another
Jesus, there's no other

Should I ever be abandoned
Should I ever be acclaimed
Should I ever be surrounded by the fire and the flame
There's a Name I will remember
There's a Name I will proclaim
Let it be
Let it be my Jesus

Friday, December 29, 2017

Book Recommendations

I have read several Christian books on grief and infant loss; all were mediocre, average.

Perhaps it is because I do not relate to miscarriage or stillbirth the way those books are typically written.

Last night, I read Holding Onto Hope by Nancy Guthrie from cover to cover in one sitting. It was biblical (study on Job, through which I had just finished reading), concise, well-written, practical, relatable (not just for infant loss, too), encouraging, and helpful. Came with a study guide in the back. Would definitely recommend to others.

Prior to Elias, I had read I Will Carry You by Angie Smith. It was instrumental in allowing me to glimpse a solid Christian family's experience with and through infant loss. At that time, I was desperate to understand even a tiny bit of what our friends were going through with their complicated pregnancy. The book delivered; I wept every few pages for our friends. I re-read it as we journeyed with Elias, this time with more profound identification. Derrick found the chapter written by Angie's husband (how men and fathers grieve) helpful, as did I.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Church Sharing

Before we left for our trip, Derrick and I shared about Elias with our church. It was the first time we talked about him publicly. We were extremely grateful for our pastors extending the opportunity.

I think it went ok. The nerves disappeared after we stood up front, praise God. And if it was anyone we were sharing with, this was the most gracious and loving crowd to do so.

Our friend led worship beforehand, and had thoughtfully asked us for song selections. I bawled through his beautiful piano-playing, and the church singing with one voice He Will Hold Me Fast, Come Thou Fount, and The King of Love My Shepherd Is.

We cried throughout the sharing, but soldiered through. I expected to cry yet was relieved that I could recover and still talk.

At the sharing's conclusion, our pastor asked for a few people to pray aloud for us. I again wept as most of those few had also lost loved ones.

May God grant our one prayer that the sharing be encouraging.

If anything, it was encouraging to ourselves in providing major closure to move forward.

Our First Trip

We took our first trip without Elias this past week.

It was so refreshing to get away and escape for a little, to have family time, and enjoy hotel life.

For 4.5 days, I did not feel sad or think even 1 time about Elias. :0


Thursday, November 30, 2017

What Grief Is Like

In my limited experience, (my) grief is difficult & unpredictable.

No one can tell me how I will feel and when because I do not know

          when

my grief will be triggered.

No one can tell me what will spark memories or what could have been, and let me tell you, they are everywhere, sometimes in the most inconspicuous places.

In my first outing after Elias, one of the teachers in this play class introduced herself. Her name was my top choice for a girl name. What were the chances? It suddenly took my breath away, and I nearly lost my composure.

Nancy Guthrie is a prolific Christian writer, speaker, and teacher. She has also lost 2 infant children. I found her description to be on point in those first weeks.

          She described her grief like a boulder on her chest. It took her breath away with its weight, constantly squeezing tears out that were ever close to the surface.