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Wonder's Story

I knew I was pregnant.  Before I got the positive test on January 5th, I simply knew. I would like to say that I was filled with ho...

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17 February 2018

Wonder's Story


I knew I was pregnant. 

Before I got the positive test on January 5th, I simply knew. I would like to say that I was filled with hope and courage but I admit that those things felt a million miles away. 

I was unable to envision a little sandy haired Wagner Baby. I couldn’t picture what life would be like with this little one. I couldn’t see beyond the elephant in the room - the word I absolutely despise. The word “miscarriage” seemed permanently tattooed across my forehead. I couldn’t escape the thought that I would never get to meet this baby.

But the Lord gave me a name.

Upon sharing my news with trusted friends and a few family members, I realized that several of my friends were pregnant as well! Truly I was happy for them. But I couldn’t shake the thought, “Great, now I will have to watch my friends go on to have healthy pregnancies while I mourn, to remind me of all the milestones I will never see with this baby.” 

But the Lord gave me a name. 

My word for 2018 was “REMEMBER” and boy, I did not want it. It hinted at the fact that suffering would hit us again and we would need to remember the Lord. Not a bad thing, but my heart felt (and still feels) so tired and worn with sorrow. I wrote this in my journal the day that I committed to that word for the year; “But the thing is, there will be suffering in 2018. Suffering and joy go hand in hand.”

If there is one thing that all of my sorrows in miscarriage have taught me it is that joy and sorrow work together. When I walk with the Lord and allow my heart to experience “negative emotions”, pain and grief it produces in my heart something positive - something to rejoice over. Walking with Jesus in my sorrow produces joy. And it makes no sense to the world that I would feel genuine joy in my grief - but Jesus. It is a wonder to the world. It is a wonder to me. 

And the Lord gave me a name. 

I admit that there has been a good bit of self-preservation going on in my heart. My heart is still spinning through the facets of grief in losing the twins. So I have welcomed distractions and welcomed the long 4 week wait before our first sonogram. 

The night before our sonogram, it all hit me. Like a train of reality. Hope had completely slipped through my fingers. I laid in bed sobbing, my steady and hopeful husband holding onto me with one hand and enough hope for the both of us with the other. Whether I was simply preparing for the worst as a way to protect my heart, or whether I really knew this baby would never be in my arms - I was prepared for what we saw the next morning. 

We have never been the exception when it comes to pregnancies, we are always the rule. If it looks inconclusive in one sonogram, it has always ended in miscarriage. The sonogram that day quickly told us, we were to take another walk in the valley of miscarriage. 

Our doctor came in. We wept. She wept. I blurted out some hopeless sentiments. She blurted out “I just don’t know what else to do for you guys.” And with a personal nurse escort - to avoid the waiting room with happy pregnant ladies - we left. 

Suffering has proven to me who the kindred spirits in my life are. Who the people who loves us unconditionally not because we are lovable but because they are loved by God and they just can’t help but spill that love out on other people. Brave people who have always entered into our grief with us. And new friends who have surprised us with their eagerness to comfort. I have been blessed with close friends who I think have grieved this miscarriage almost as intense as we have. Our home has been filled with flowers. Our tummies have been loved with meals. Our arms have been held in hugs. Our hearts and minds have been covered in prayers. Our phones have been overflowing with encouragements. 

I acknowledge that every person grieves differently. But I believe that grieving within the circle of trusted community - oh it is so sweet. Oh it is so sweet. Oh it is so sweet. 

And again, the Lord gave me a name.

We have chosen to share our story, yet again, because I believe that miscarriage is a burden that too many couples bear. And too many couples feel alone. However, this particular miscarriage is a difficult one to to share because I have actually not miscarried yet. I’m in the waiting. 

I am a walking tomb currently. And my belly is swollen with sorrow.

It may feel inappropriate to you to share such a personal thing while it is still happening, but this is a perfect picture to me of sorrow. Joy and sorrow. I carry death in my womb and yet I have laughed, I have carried wondrous joy - and hope has been restored. All while I have a daily reminder of grief under my shirt. It makes no sense. It baffles me. 

But the Lord gave me a name.

Wonder.

We invite you into our mourning. As we grieve the loss of another child. As we grieve the vision of what we hoped our family would be. As we wait for this miscarriage to happen. As we pray to avoid medical intervention. 

We invite you to grieve our baby, Wonder. And to remind you that suffering with Jesus is a paradox of emotions. May the world watch us grieve and wonder, not because of our strength (because it is admittedly absent), but because of the one living inside us. Because of the God who lives, loves and sees us. May these seasons of suffering become ebenezers of faith for us to look back on and remember the wonder of sorrow. 

Momma and Daddy love you Wonder. We will see you again. And oh what a glorious day that will be. 

Shortly after we found out we were expecting, I felt the Lord speak the name "Wonder" to me. I was walking aimlessly around Target and felt the Lord lead me to the baby section. As I turned the corner I saw this onesie and I felt like the Lord whispered "This if for you. Whether you know this is a healthy baby or not. Buy this onesie in faith. In life and in death, I am still good." 

29 December 2017

Book Reviews 2017


I am one of those people who reads several books at one time. I have learned that that works for me, and it leaves my time open to finishing the one that needs to be finished. I am entering 2018 with about 4 books I am halfway through. Here is a list of some books that I actually finished in 2017 and would recommend! 

What were some of your favorite reads from 2017 and why? 


UNINVITED by Lysa TerKeurst

This book has made the list of “books I need to read every single year”.  Lysa’s message boils down to “living loved”. Our motivation in our relationships cannot be what we hope we will get in return, that isn’t loving people that’s manipulating people. She does not minimize the fact that people and relationships DO affect us, and that we have to deal with that hurt and rejection. If we don’t deal with past rejection we are doomed to either reject others, project rejection on other circumstances or grow bitter. Lysa reminds us that “Bitterness, resentment and anger have no place in a heart as beautiful as yours.” 

Lysa elaborates on the message of living loved - living and loving others from a place of being perfectly loved in Christ. We have to realize that we are loved, by grace not by our merit, we have to slow down and let that seep into our souls. 

“We run at a breakneck pace to try and achieve what God simply wants us to slow down enough to receive.” 

"Jesus doesn't participate in the rat race. He's into the slower rhythms of life, like abiding, delighting, and dwelling - all words that require us to trust Him with our place and our pace. Words used to describe us being with Him." 

"We must feel the pain to heal the pain. If we never allow ourselves to feel it, we won't acknowledge it's there..If we avoid the hurt, the hurt creates a void in us. It slowly kills the potential for our hearts to fully feel, fully connect, fully love again. It allows the rejection of a person to steal the best potential from every other relationship we desperately want and need. It even steals from our relationship with God." 

SHE READS TRUTH by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams 

It is no shock to those of you who know me that this book made it onto my reading list this year. I have been studying the Bible with the She Reads Truth community for years! This book was a delightful surprise. I found myself weeping through parts and laughing through others, this book felt like sitting down with two new friends. 

Raechel and Amanda share their stories and how God’s Word has been an anchor for their souls. Although their stories are so different, I found myself relating and engaging with each one. The emphasis throughout this book of the activeness of Scripture was such a ministry for me. His Word is alive and active, not just for them but for me and it anchors our souls and tethers us to other believers. This book accomplished in me a deeper love for God’s Word, not for the knowledge of it but for the gift of it. What a treasure it is. 

“The Truth does not magically erase her sufferings or cure her disappointment. It does not negate her struggle or invalidate her sorrow. It does something even better - it leads her into relationship with the One who made her and makes her new, the One who is greater than all of these. The Truth brings her face-to-face with the God who has never stopped loving His children, who has never failed to do what He says He will do. The Truth is love in black and white - a love that does not change, even when her Bible is closed.” 

"The gospel calls us to hold tight. But it also reminds us that we are already being held." 


This book became more of a textbook for navigating my reality of suffering this year. I started reading this book after we experienced our 3rd miscarriage earlier this Spring. I was experiencing a faith crisis. I picked up this book and half expected it to be one big “if you’re experiencing negative emotions you need to have more faith” pep talk. I am so glad that I was wrong! 

One of the first things that Keller says is “If you are walking in the very midst of adversity, you may wish to read parts two and three of the book first.” The first part of the book is more of a theoretical discussion of suffering and can seem cruel to the person currently experiencing suffering. I appreciated that little piece of Keller acknowledging that some truths are cruel if shared with the sufferer in the inappropriate time. 

This book is PACKED with truths that encouraged me a great deal in my pursuit of Jesus in the midst of my grief. One of the biggest was that Jesus knew my pain and Jesus can be trust in my suffering because He experienced the ultimate suffering. It's hard to pick just one quote. 

“If God is no exception - if even He has suffered - then we cannot say he doesn’t understand, or that His sovereignty over suffering is being exercised in a cruel and unfeeling way, or that He is a cold king who lets things happen without caring about what we are going through…The cross makes it impossible to say such facile things. Since even He has not kept himself immune from our pain, we can trust Him.”

NOTHING TO PROVE by Jennie Allen

I picked up this book after a perceived criticism that I had something to prove. I knew the feeling that I had that this person expected me to live up to their standards wasn’t truth and I wanted to learn how to care less without being a person who cares less. If that makes sense, hah! This book was a fantastic read - and the amount of post its and page flags in my copy might indicate that it was more of a textbook than a leisure read - with the message of freedom and a focus on the real enemy (hint: it isn’t difficult people). 

Criticism has never been something I loved receiving. Sometimes because it wasn’t given from a place of love, sometimes because it threatened to paralyze me and make me slave to the critical comment. Yikes. Jennie acknowledges that criticism and the fear of critics can produce a spirit of legalism and striving. 

“It’s not my curse that I believe I am not enough; it’s my sin that I keep trying to be….He is enough so we don’t have to be. In fact, it is downright arrogant to keep trying to be.” 

“He is your enough, and the degree to which you believe that is the degree to which you will stop striving, stop performing, stop trying to prove yourself.” 

STRUCK by Russ Ramsey

I was given the opportunity to host Raechel and Amanda from She Reads Truth earlier this year. It also happened to be the very weekend that I was miscarrying Glory. Those two girls were such a ministry to me! Amanda and I spoke for awhile about suffering and after she returned to Nashville she sent me this book. Russ Ramsey writes study material for He Reads Truth. 

This book was a balm for my hurting soul. First of all, I was instantly captivated with Russ’ voice. He is truly one of the most gifted writers I have ever read! I compare this book to a modern day “A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis. Ramsey records, in real-time, his experience with a blood disease that brings him to the brink of death, it was surprising to me the amount of times I found myself relating to what he was feeling. 

But this book isn’t just about the journey of pain. You get to see, again in real-time, Russ preach truth to his heart, in turn preaching truth to my own. This book was a comfort. If you are walking in any kind of pain, I whole heartedly recommend this read. 

“I needed to be dipped in the crucible of suffering. Why? I may never fully know. But the God who brings His children low does not do it for spite. He does it to awaken desire, like a pang of hunger in the newly risen phoenix that makes it unfurl its wings to fly. He does it to give us new eyes so that we might see the world in a new light. He does it to stop us from continuing down the path we’re on and set us on a new one. He grants us weakness so that we might not trust too much in our own strength.” 

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. But though I trust Him, yet shall I lament that He has slain me.”

“So I follow. What else can I do?”


If I could recommend one book for everyone to read, this would be it. 

Because I am so open about my grief in having lost 5 babies in miscarriage, I often have others who reach out to me who have experienced a miscarriage or have a loved one walking in miscarriage and want to know what they can do to help. I am always at a loss. I am only an expert in how Rachel grieves, but often something that was comforting to me would be offensive to someone else or vice versa. So this book was so eye opening to me and so comforting to read from the perspective of a woman who has experienced great loss. 

Nancy has lost two babies within their first year of life to the same disease. Her wisdom and perspective while committed to biblical truth was a treasure. One of the things that I loved was how she incorporated other people’s stories in each chapter. You could clearly see how something was comforting to one and not comforting at all to the other. It was so interesting! 

“Even if you come up with the perfect thing to say (as if there is such a thing), it simply won’t fix the hurt or solve the problem of the people who are grieving. Does that take some of the pressure off? I hope so. Really there is nothing you can say that will make their loss hurt less…Your purpose in saying something is to enter into the hurt with them and let them know they are not alone.”

“Offering real comfort to those who are grieving is not about leaving them with a happy thought, but more about accepting where they are.” 

HUMBLE ROOTS by Hannah Anderson

Oh my goodness this book. I admit that I wasn’t super expectant to love a book on humility. I think I have wrong connotations with humility and expect feeling humble to make me feel ashamed. This book helped me to understand that biblical humility is actually freedom. So much freedom and rest. 

Hannah weaves in plant and flower illustrations and farmhouse analogies throughout this book - as someone who does NOT have a green thumb at all I found myself soaking it all in. 

“Humility is not feeling a certain way about yourself, not feeling small or low or embarrassed or even humilated. Theologically speaking, humility is a proper understanding of who God is and who we are as a result.”

“Because we could never sufficiently humble ourselves, Jesus humbles Himself. And by doing so, He became both the model and the means of our own humility.” 

Earlier this year a friend told me that if a book doesn’t resound with her or she isnt’ enjoying it, she puts it down. Revolutionary, right? But seriously, I needed this reminder because I like the satisfaction of having finished a book. These books are not “bad” books, I just didn’t want to keep on reading during this season of my life. I have many friends that love them. But these are the books that I decided to put down and maybe pick up in another season of life! 

THE FRINGE HOURS by Jessica N. Turner 

The interactive parts of this book made it a very slow read for me. I love the message here but it was hard to get through. I think if I shifted my expectation for it to be more of a study book, I would be able to get through it! 


I’m sure this shocks some people, hah! I love TGC and Gloria Furman has such incredible wisdom. This book felt very repetitive to me, like it should have been an article instead of a book. Lots of my friends love this read, so I’m hoping to pick it back up in another season! 

11 August 2017

Faith and Joy's Story

We wanted to wait a few weeks to go to the OBGYN after finding out we were pregnant again. The visits to the doctor in early pregnancy have always caused me such anxiety; the unknowns, the inconclusiveness. So I waited. For about 4 weeks I was able to enjoy my pregnancy in ignorant - although nauseous - bliss.

I had some blood work done about a week before our first sonogram, my HCG levels came back extremely high. Our first sonogram confirmed what I already knew in my heart to be true.

Twins. Two babies. TWO. BABIES.

I knew it all along. I had a feeling early in my pregnancy that there was more than one baby growing inside me.

But the sonogram was not all happy news.

We saw the first baby right away with a relatively slow heart rate of 89 bpm, but it was strong, clearly seen and measured. The technician asked about my ovulation dates and cautiously noticed that the baby was measuring small and two weeks off. She was able to get a great picture of the first baby for us.

Initially we could see the second baby very clearly but as the ultrasound went on, the technician alerted us to the very deflated gestational sac and extremely small size of the second baby. Though she tried, she could not even get a clear picture of the baby for us.

My journal entry after our appointment:

We left that day so disappointed, and so confused. We walked in thinking that things would probably be fine; in the back of my mind I think I was remembering Glory and reminding myself that we have always had healthy babies right after miscarriage.

What I learned in my struggle after losing Glory was that my faith - the strength or tenacity of it - was never ever a reflection of me.

I had sinfully made it so for years, even taking pride in this idol image of Christian faith "I" had built for myself. But Glory had stripped all of that away.

My faith epiphany was this - So I follow Jesus. What else can I do?

So I begin praying for a miracle - TWO healthy babies, measuring right on track. I called on other friends and believers to pray the same.

I believe in this miracle - not because I have great faith, but because I KNOW MY GOD. He is a life-giving, miracle-making God. AND I TRUST HIM.

During the two week wait after our ominous ultrasound, I felt so much JOY and so much FAITH. I was not naive enough to believe that God had promised me this healthy pregnancy, but I felt bold enough to believe that the same God that split the sea was the same God living in me - and He is a miracle worker. He can do it, not because all of my suffering has earned me the right to carry this pregnancy to a healthy delivery - but because He is merciful, He is all-powerful, He is sovereign and He loves me.

We went in around 8+ weeks for another sonogram, to our grief the second baby was gone and the first baby's heart rate had not increased. Our doctor expected that a second sonogram a week later would show that the heartbeat had stopped altogether. She was right.

And so, we were walking into another miscarriage. And not just one baby, we were losing two babies this time.

If I'm truly being honest here, I have never stopped grieving Hope, Mercy and Glory.

So the heaviness of another great loss just piled up on top of the weight of the deaths of my other children. I think there is this misconception about grief, that those of us who have experienced great loss will at some point eventually "get over it". We won't cry about it anymore. We won't talk about it anymore. That on some magical day our grief will turn into joy and dancing and we won't ever lament about our suffering ever again.

I don't think I believe that to be true. I think one of the beautiful things about walking with Jesus through pain and suffering is that joy and lamenting are intermingled. We rejoice in our grief because we are the Lord's; we grieve in our joy because we toil in a fallen world riddled with pain and death.

Walking with Jesus in our pain and suffering does not mean we sprint through our pain - shielding our faith from doubt and questions. It also does not mean we walk with stoic absence of emotion or surrender ourselves to the rollercoaster of despair.

Walking with Jesus in our pain and suffering is a steady pace of hope and lament.

"The Bible calls us to walk steadily through afflictions, and to do so requires that we understand its wonderfully balanced and comprehensive teaching on this subject - both profoundly realistic and yet astonishingly hopeful. This keeps us from thinking we can run from the furnace (avoid it) or quickly run through it (deny it) or just lie down hopelessly (despair in it)." - Tim Keller

The week that we found out that we would lose the twins, happened to be the week that we had long planned for my Mom and sisters to come into town for a visit. The Lord knew. In His kindness and sovereignty He knew.

The week that my Mom and sisters left we had long planned to join my husband's side of the family for a long quiet weekend in Mt. Vernon, Texas. The Lord knew. In His kindness and sovereignty He knew.

He knew I didn't want to be home. He knew I wanted a distraction. He knew that I needed my Momma's cooking. He knew that I needed some help with the kids. He knew that I needed a good laugh. He knew that I needed some alone time near a quiet and serene pond. He knew that I needed physical rest. Thank you Jesus.

 


To make things a little more complicated I looked very much pregnant. I had quickly developed the first trimester "bloat bump" and looked undeniably with-child. I spent most of the summer avoiding places where I would be asked about the bump and hiding out in the comfort of friends and family that knew better than to ask any questions.

I was truly getting a little nervous about what the physical experience of this miscarriage would hold. We have never been far enough along to see a heartbeat before and there were two babies. I stopped having pregnancy symptoms shortly after the first baby's heartbeat had stopped, so I decided to wait for the miscarriage to occur naturally.

From mid-July until early August I hadn't experienced any miscarriage symptoms. No cramping. No spotting. Nothing.

I was a walking tomb for my babies.

Then on Wednesday, August 2nd, shortly after my husband left for work, I began experiencing what I can only describe as labor contractions. They became so intense I decided to call my husband to come home and call my doctor for some prescription pain medication. When he arrived home I was already practicing some Lamaze breathing techniques to get through the pain.

I can't talk about the day we delivered the twins without talking about the gift that is my husband. Between sitting at my side to hold my hand, running his fingers through my hair and helping me with my breathing - he was also fixing snacks for the kids, changing diapers, taking the dog out and staying in touch with my doctor. It matters who you marry.

Carson is a quiet and steady rock for our family with an undeniable gift of faith. He expresses his love and caring in acts of service. He has been wisely obedient to go against the crowd to continually prioritize his role as a husband and father. I do not even know how to express how utterly thankful I am to have him as my husband.

Wednesday, August 2nd 2017 will be remembered by both my husband and me as one of the most traumatic days we have experienced.

We had asked family and friends to pray that we would be able to pass the babies at home so we could preserve them and bury them properly. Though traumatic, the Lord answered our prayers and the miscarriage happened quickly at home. 


We decided to name the first baby Faith and the second baby Joy. It feels so right to honor the short lives of our twins by giving them an earthly resting place; to give our earthly grief an anchor of sorts, to come back to and remember the brevity and sacredness of life. No matter how short.

We prayed in faith that God would answer our prayers and give us these healthy babies - they both died.

Faith that requires specific answers to its prayers - is not faith. Faith trusts God not because the circumstances make it easy to do so but because there is joy even in the crux of grief - if you walk by faith with Jesus.

We prayed in faith that God would grant us a miracle and give us two healthy babies - they both died.

The miracle that happened is this: the miracle-worker lives in me, loves me and is working in me.

I believe that God is good. Death does not change the fact that God is good. In my healthy babies - God is good. In my miscarriages - God is good. His goodness does not bend and sway with "unanswered prayers". His goodness cannot be shaken by fear and doubt.

I still feel the undercurrent of grief. It's strong, but it isn't knocking me over. It just washes over me as I walk this life, whether I give into it or not, it's there.

"Though He slay me, yet I will trust Him. But though I trust Him, yet I shall lament that He has slain me." - Russ Ramsey


And so I follow Jesus. What else can I do?

07 April 2017

Glory's Story

"5 positive pregnancy tests. 2 healthy babies. 2 miscarriages. 1 complete unknown.

There is this misconception in our faith that if we learn the lessons the Lord would have us learn in our pain, that we can cross that hardship off the list and never have to walk that road again. That if we walk around loudly enough in the victory of healing and acceptance that the Lord would not allow the same pain to repeat itself. After all, why would a good God heal us only to rip open the wound and leave us hemorrhaging faith all over again?"


I wrote these words two weeks ago; a couple weeks after we found out we were unexpectedly pregnant, one day before finding out that we would most likely be losing another baby in early miscarriage. 

The night that I saw that second line on the pregnancy test, I was honestly upset. I had no intention of getting pregnant, in fact it was my plan to not get pregnant this year. With the knowledge of every previous pregnancy has been excitement, planning and dreaming. 

This pregnancy was totally different. 

I was not excited, I was overwhelmed. I was not dreaming of my baby, I was in denial. 

After my blood work came back looking healthy, I was more preoccupied with where I would physically put another child in our little space than I was worried about another miscarriage.

You see, I thought the testing was in the challenges of raising three littles ones under three. 

I was wrong. 

I got to the hospital early for our first sonogram and texted a few close friends to pray that everything would be normal and to share that I was on the brink of excitement. Then I face-timed my Mom and found myself discussing baby names and dreaming of what this new baby would look like. 

This was the baby I never tried to have, I never begged the Lord to give her to me. He simply gave. And suddenly I wanted her with the depth of longing I wanted all my babies. This was my baby. And I was her Momma. 

 The second I saw the empty sac on the screen, I knew. 

I went numb. No tears. No sadness. No grief. No disappointment. Nothing but anger.

After the sonogram we waited to speak to the doctor, my sweet husband was processing everything that had just happened while I was uncharacteristically cold. I announced that I was tired and laid my head back on the chair and slept until we were called back. 

When the appointment was over we went to get some food. After a pretty futile conversation with my dear husband - who was grieving and desperately trying to help me process - I suggested that he go back to work and I would see him at home. 

I asked Carson if he would be willing to share a little bit of his own vantage point.

Carson: I knew this miscarriage was different. It felt different. We weren’t trying to get pregnant this time; in fact, we were trying NOT to get pregnant. But pregnant we were, and I have to admit, we weren’t super excited about it in the beginning. We really never made it to that point actually. We were slowly embracing the reality of having another baby; we talked about names and decided we were going to let the gender be a surprise. And just when it seemed we were on the brink of being just a little bit excited, we were faced with the disappointment of yet another loss.

When we got to the car, I thought for sure that the last two hours of Rachel’s silence and blank stares would give way to a flood of emotion, but instead she just sat there. No tears, no words. Nothing. It was so ‘nothing’ that I was honestly a little scared to find out what the raw emotion would be once it found its way to the surface. I knew it had to be in there, but she did not want to talk about it. I didn’t know what else to do, so I just said, “What do you want for lunch?” We had lunch, I went back to work, and she went home.

It was a strange afternoon. Being social is already more work for me than for most people, even if everything's fine. And when everything is NOT fine, I usually pretend that it is because the effort it would take to explain to someone what's wrong - and then receive whatever well-intending response follows - would be completely exhausting. Sometimes I say to Rachel, "I just can't 'people' right now." She knows me and loves me and understands what I mean. I need time to process difficult emotions, and when people interrupt this process before I really know how I'm feeing, I get annoyed. I needed space that afternoon, and I needed to work through this miscarriage in my own way. So I finished my work and went to the basketball courts. 

I know for some people, the last thing they would choose to do when they're upset is exercise. But for whatever reason, I've found that spending some time on the court gives me great mental clarity. I think when you're stuck in an emotion and don't know how to move forward, doing something else that requires you to break an action down to its core fundamentals causes the gears in your brain to start turning again. I felt like I was stuck in sadness and confusion, and also anxiousness over how I was going to comfort my wife who seemed to be broken in a way I didn't know how to fix. After an hour of practice, I feel like I can think so much more clearly about things. Plus, sometimes you just need to sweat it out. I headed home feeling a lot better but anxious about how Rachel was doing at this point. I didn't know if she would be ready to talk yet, or what she would say if she was.

As soon as he left my car and I knew he could no longer see me, I started screaming at God. I was brimming with anger. Anger that I have never known before, at a depth I can't even really describe here. I told God everything I was feeling and everything I didn't want to feel and asked Him questions that I wasn't even sure I would ever get the answers to. 

I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't want to feel anything. I didn't want to read Scripture. I didn't want anyone to try to comfort me. I wanted to be left completely alone to pass my dead baby. If you know me well at all, you know that I am typically a verbal processor. I handle most major events in my life by talking it through, so I'm pretty sure my close friends thought that I had gone mad by not communicating with them like I usually do in my grief. 

Everything about my faith became a huge question mark. How could I possibly talk that through? 

"While the afflicted person may cry out using philosophical questions - 'why do you allow such things God?' - the real concern is personal survival. How can you survive it? How can you get through it without losing the best parts of yourself? To speak in a detached philosophical manner to an actual sufferer is cruel. And yet the experience of pain leads almost inevitably to 'big questions' about God and the nature of things that cannot be ignored." - Tim Keller

Losing a third baby in early miscarriage unexpectedly rocked my faith. Instead of a wash of comfort and peace, I felt doubt and unbelief. I hesitate even writing that because most people will not understand. In fact, before we lost this baby I don't think I would have understood. I used to believe that if a woman who miscarried became angry - even angry at God - that she never really trusted God to begin with. I no longer believe that. 

"Those of us who sense the 'wrongness' of death - in any form - are correct. The 'rage at the dying of the light' is our intuition that we were not meant for mortality, for the loss of love, or for the triumph of darkness." - Tim Keller

Death feels wrong because God's original design never included death. Even Jesus himself felt this anger at death. John records Jesus' response when he sees the ones he loves grieving the death of his friend Lazarus. The Bible says that Jesus was "deeply moved", the original Greek root word meaning "to snort with anger" or to "bellow with anger". "So Jesus is furious at evil, death and suffering and, even though He is God, He is not mad at Himself. This means that evil is the enemy of God's good creation, and of God Himself." - Tim Keller 

My anger after the knowledge of losing another baby initially felt like anger at God, but if evil and suffering and death are enemies of God then my anger at the death of another one of my babies is anger at death itself, not the Giver of Life. 

At some point in my processing I began to pray for some kind of epiphany, for a sign from the Lord. I had been feeling so many negative emotions and so little comfort, I needed the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It did not come the way that I expected. 

A week after we were told that we would lose another baby, I had Amanda Bible Williams and Raechel Myers in my mini-van. 

If you follow me on any kind of social media you know that I have been doing the She Reads Truth Bible reading plans for years. What you may not know is how tethered this ministry has been to my miscarriages. I had just completed my first few reading plans with the She Reads Truth community in 2013 when we learned that we would be losing Hope, our first miscarriage. 



I had submitted one of my pictures for a study book with She Reads Truth entitled "Women in the Word" in 2015. They ended up choosing my picture for the day that we would be reading about the story of Rachel in the Bible. Over my head were the words "Then God Remembered Rachel". When I received my copy of this book I was miscarrying Mercy, our second miscarriage. 


As I was miscarrying our third baby I was given the opportunity to host Raechel and Amanda from She Reads Truth for a women's conference at our church. These two women who had created the ministry that spurred me deeper into the depths of God's Word, a discipline that has continued to change my life, were drinking coffee in my "Mom van". 


The foreknowledge of God and His kindness is undeniable. 

It has taken me days and many many pages in my journal to process everything that happened that weekend. So trying to boil it down to the main things is proving to be quite challenging. Suffice it to say that these women are walking with the Lord, and their faithfulness to share what He put on their hearts made them vessels of God to minister directly to me. 

Carson: I was so proud of Rachel for how she opened up to the girls from She Reads Truth, sharing her miscarriage stories with them and how they have played a big part in her walk with the Lord through those times. They were able to bring a comfort to Rachel that was difficult for me to find the right words to express. As a man, I always want to be the one who 'fixes everything,' but sometimes God sends someone else with exactly the right words to comfort my wife. And I have to remind myself that this isn't about me and I'm grateful for God's comfort even when it comes through someone else. 

When we received the news that we were likely miscarrying, that was immediately the biggest thing happening in our lives, but for me that only lasted a hot minute because now the biggest thing happening in my life was that my wife was suddenly broken. And all of my focus shifted from my own disappointment to the fact that my wife didn't seem to be feeling anything at all, which, if you know Rachel, is a very concerning state to witness. I fully expected at some point for her to break down and cry all the tears she'd been denying herself for the past several days, and then maybe it would feel like we were moving towards acceptance and healing. But that never happened. She just kept reading Scripture and books and letting the Holy Spirit work in her, and I watched her move from doubt and questioning God to remembering His promises and choosing to trust that He is good. 

I think sometimes we forget that God can handle emotions that are challenging to us. We think that His specialty is 'hurt' and 'forgiveness' and soft-spoken requests but that if we ever brought a loud emotion like anger, maybe He would be inclined to put us in our place - that God isn't strong enough to handle our heated line of questioning when we don't understand why He would let something like this happen. But He is. He can take whatever we can dish out. Just like a child who has been hurt and is angry will beat his fists against his father's chest in frustration, eventually being in his father's strong and loving arms softens the child's heart, and anger turns into sorrow, and sorrow into peace. 

We decided to name this baby "Glory". "Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory." - C.S. Lewis

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." II Cor. 4:16-17

"So that the tested genuineness of your faith - more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." I Peter 1:7

"Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" John 11:40

In the end I did receive my great faith epiphany. It is this: I have to decide to believe in God. I have to decide to trust Him. Romantic, spiritual movements aside. Unanswered questions gone unanswered. In the middle of death and suffering, I choose to trust Him. I choose to roll away my doubt and unbelief and commit my ways to the Lord.

And I believe that the glory of heaven will be so much more because of all the suffering here on earth. I believe in a God who not only sees me in my pain, but He is a God who subjected Himself to suffering. He can be trusted because of the cross. "Since even He has not kept Himself immune from our pain, we can trust Him." - Tim Keller 

This has been an incredibly vulnerable amount of sharing and yet there is still so much I have not shared. Miscarriage is a tragic death to be mourned. And death is never a gift. There is only hope in death because God suffers with us in our suffering, and he promises hope. "Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." Romans 5:3-4

So although my heart is brimming with hope, it is also riddled with grief. Losing Glory has been devastating. But my hope is not a hope of this world, my heart longs for heaven. My heart longs for home. 

"Our real comfort is the promise that in heaven our joy will be made greater as a result of the depth of our distress." - Tim Keller













28 March 2017

Levi Allen: Nine Months


SIBLING LOVE

Daphne has become so sweet towards her baby brother, she frequently tells him "I love you Evi!", "I missed you Evi!", "Goodmornin' Evi!" She loves for him to chase her around the house, he's surprisingly fast. She also loves to "love on" him, giving him kisses, rubbing her face against his face (he's not a big fan of that one), holding his hands and her new favorite is pretending he's a horse and trying to ride on his back (he's not a big fan of that one either). I've caught her referring to him as "E" several times, I think its adorable that she's given him a little nickname. 

ROUTINE

Levi has been constantly nursing around 4-5 AM and then going back down and waking up around 7 AM. He has also developed a routine of waking up at 3 AM every. single. night. just to scream. An hour after he wakes for the day we give him 4 oz of pureed baby food, a few puffs or a teething wafer and sometimes a straw cup with watered down apple juice. He goes down for a nap about an hour and a half after waking up and sleeps for about an hour. We repeat this wake/eat/play routine throughout the day. The mid morning routine tends to fluctuate as I try really hard to make it so that both kids are down for their afternoon naps at the same time. 

Levi is very different from Daphne and is less attached to a routine, which kind of makes it difficult for me because I loved the set routine with Daphne! But being the second kid you kind of have to roll with the punches and that means being forced to be a bit more flexible than Daphne had to be. 

LOVES

  • His mama

  • Crawling around the apartment - he's so fast!

  • Nestor - he now sleeps with both of his wubbanubs and has a hard time falling asleep if one is missing. 

  • Yelling - especially if you yell back at him, he loves that game!

  • Clicking his tongue - if you know us Haughtons fairly well, you know that we have this "click" that we can all do. It started out as Dad's way to get our attention during church. Levi is obviously a natural - its the "Haughton" in his blood!

  • We have taken him to the park a few times and he loves to swing!

GROWTH
  • Weight: Haven't weighed him since his last appointment.
  • Length: Haven't measured him since his last appointment. 
  • Clothing: Levi is wearing 6-9 month clothes. 
  • Diapers: Levi is wearing size 3 diapers. Although yesterday's blowout might be an indicator that we need to go ahead and move up a size...    

FIRSTS

  • Started saying "MAMA"!

  • Can sit up well with no help

  • Levi is a crawling machine!

  • Levi loves to clap!

  • Levi met his Papaw and Great Grandma Louise during our last trip to Tulsa!

DISLIKES 

  • Teething - I'm pretty sure it is at the root of why he has been so fussy this month, and so clingy!  

EATING

Levi nurses around 6 times a day. He has been nursing on one side per feeding for about 3-4 minutes. He has also been getting a 4 oz. jar/pouch about 1 hour after nursing for breakfast and another 4 oz. jar/pouch after his lunch nursing session. He gets 4 oz. of baby food 45 min - 1 hour after his evening nursing session for dinner. We've also been offering him puffs and teething wafers at every meal and have just recently started to offer him watered down juice in a straw sippy cup. 



SLEEPING

Levi still sleeps in a sleep sack in the pack and play in our room for all his naps and bedtime. He usually naps for about 1 - 2 hours at a time and he typically takes 3 naps a day. He goes down for the night around 7:30 PM. We always put him down awake and he usually cuddles his Nestor paci while sucking on his other Nestor paci and goes right to sleep.



DEVELOPMENT


  • Shows that he knows some words
  • Plays peekaboo by himself

  • Challenges others to play a game (usually the "yell back and forth game")


HEALTH

  • Levi cut his first tooth this month! He has been abnormally fussy and has been wanting to nurse more.