Anticipating Heaven

Today I am anticipating so many things. Finishing some things on our house. Moving day. Baby Nine’s arrival. Heaven.

Wait a second, did you read that right? Yes, indeed: you did. I said heaven.

I suppose heaven is something that most Christians would say they anticipate, but today I am anticipating it in a particular way. It’s October 15th again. That’s the day for national remembrance of pregnancy/infant loss. Last year, Gabriel and I did some special, tangible things to remember his brothers and sisters, including letting balloons float away up into the sky in their memory. If you remember, though, unfortunately the bunch of balloons was blown into our neighbor’s super tall pine tree in their backyard! Oops! So umm… while some of the balloons have slowly escaped the branches and fallen to the ground, there are still at least two left up there. So yeah… we decided not to do the same thing this year. Maybe next year the boys and I will let balloons go from the vast expanse of our own pasture. Away from trees. đŸ™‚

This year I am being low-key about things. I will light seven candles this evening to reflect a tiny spark of the glorious beauty our seven “heaven babies” are enjoying, and to remind us of the brightness & joy each of them have brought to our family. And besides that, I am simply anticipating. Anticipating with curiosity as well as great joy.

There are many things I anticipate about heaven. No more tears, no more sorrow, no more grief, no more pain (Revelation 21:4). Rejoicing and praising our Father forever alongside our Brother Jesus Christ (Psalm 11:4 and Psalm 103:19). Joining the ranks of all the saints who have gone before ~ including my seven children.

I don’t know a lot about heaven. Details, I mean. But I trust in the covenant promises of my heavenly Father (Hebrews 9:15), and believe that His faithfulness extends even to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9 and Psalm 105:8) ~ so one thing of which I am confident, is that I will meet my children again (1 Corinthians 13:12 and Philippians 3:20-21). My little host of redheads are not in my home and will not return to me; but someday I will join them in the mansion created by God the King (John 14:2-3) and I will go to them (2 Samuel 12:23).

So while I anticipate some ordinary things like my new house and some extraordinary things like holding a living baby of my own again soon… I am also anticipating some truly inconceivable things like the glories of heaven. Today I reflect on God’s goodness in sustaining us through long-repetitive grief, His mercy in allowing us to have a bigger covenantal family than we ever imagined, His grace in providing us with covenantal promises to claim, and His gift of hope for our reunion with our beautiful children once He calls to our eternal home with them.

So today I am honoring and remembering my adorable children,

Covenant Hope (July 29, 2007)
Glory Hesed (March 30, 2009)
Promise Anastasis (June 20, 2009)
Peace Nikonos (November 5, 2009)
Mercy Kyrie (January 26, 2010)
Victory Athanasius (May 18, 2010)
Hosanna Praise (November 8, 2010)

and while I continue to grieve the emptiness I feel over their absence in our earthly home, I joyfully anticipate being present with them for eternity in our heavenly home.

Anticipate the glories of heaven with me today!!

a year of paradise for Victory Athanasius

My little Victory-girl (who I had been so certain was a boy), it has been an entire year since Daddy and I had the pleasure of enjoying your presence here with us. I can’t pretend to know what time is like in heaven, but here on earth the time has both flown and crawled.

Your name reminds me of the beautiful victory you have obtained by flying to the glories of heaven. One of my little immortals. Oh, how glad I am to have the confidence that, since you are a child of the Covenant, I will see you again. How thankful I am for the promises which are not only to your grandparents, but to your parents, and thus down to you!

You make heaven that much sweeter. Oh bliss!

iloveyou, Mommy

1 Corinthians 15:54

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable,
and the mortal puts on immortality,
then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
‘Death is swallowed up in victory.'”

My Girl

Victory-girl, I have thought of you nonstop all day today.

We expected you to ring in our 2011 with peals of ringing joy.
But you weren’t here.

I wish I could tell you how my heart swells in memory of you, and in simultaneous anticipation for being reunited with you someday.

I hope you’re enjoying your new baby brother. My two littlest… shout for joy.

Love, Mommy

My Face

It’s October now.
Many people don’t know that this month is designated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. (now you do.)
Furthermore, October 15th is the specific day set aside as a remembrance day for the loss of all these children.
Including six of my children.
So while I remember and love my children every day of the year, and miss them even more specifically on their loss dates and due dates… this is a special national time to openly remember my kids. While I am never afraid or ashamed to speak of Covenant, Glory, Promise, Peace, Mercy, and Victory ~ but, in fact, love to do it because I love them and also because I want to use their lives to impact the world ~ this remembrance day/month affords extra opportunities for me to share my story. Their stories. Our story.

In honor of that, I finally got the courage to post my story on a site called Faces Of Loss, Faces Of Hope. It’s sort of a sister site to the Grieve Out Loud site that I participate in.
I was glad to get my story up there. To talk about my children. To share my faith. To give the glory to God. To cry while I did it.

Take a look at my face. I am the face of recurrent miscarriage. I am the face of grief. I am the face of a bereaved mommy. I am the face of plowing in hope.

Victory’s Rose

This morning I went outside and noticed that Victory’s roses burst into bloom! Aren’t they beautiful?! (Thanks, Jaclynn & Samantha!) The white rose is the Victory Rose, and I am not actually sure what the pink ones are called. The white roses smell like sweet perfume, and are big full blossoms; there are three of them at different stages of blooming. The pink roses are really small, there are lots of them in little clusters, and have occasional little white stripes in their bright pink petals. I love these roses. I love that they are in pots so we can take them with us to our new house once we build it. I love that they are for my children (while the white one is for Victory, I call the other one simply “my babies’ roses”).

I love that when I went out there this morning, the beauty of the roses was not hidden beneath the remaining raindrops left by a storm overnight. In fact, the drops on the petals seemed to make their fragrance stronger and their freshness more profound. It’s almost like the rain beautified something that was already beautiful.

And I thought that was perfect.
Because I needed that reminder today.

One Month

Sun shines in through my bedroom window
But gray clouds begin to line the sky.

I held you for just a few weeks;
My brokenness cries out, Why, Lord, why?

Your frame in secret was never hid,
Although I saw you not, our Father always did.

Knit together by His perfect design–
Image of His, your daddy’s, and mine.

A break in the clouds, a sun ray glows,
I strain to see heaven: you’re there, I know.

The clouds come again, the rain to pour,
I long for heaven so I can hold you once more.

The rain isn’t coming, ’tis only the tears
That Mommy cries for you darling, and will through the years.

One day as a thousand, and those as a day,
This month has seemed endless: you’re so far away.

But I will come to you, no more tears in my eye,
And we’ll glorify God together, my children and I.

These days are dark and dreary as I tread here on the earth
My womb, arms , heart and mind cry out: new life and birth!

Yet God is good and gracious, with mercies new each day,
He gives to us His wisdom, love, and comfort when we pray.

So my precious children, I praise Him through the pain,
Confident that someday I will get to hold you once again.

The Lord will bless and keep, and shine His face so bright,
While brother, Daddy, and I cling to faith with all our might.

Saturday May 29, 2010

In the deepness and darkness of our sorrow, we feel the arms of Christ around us. Stacks of cards and emails, voicemail messages, references to our Victory Athanasius in the church service, babysitting & help tending my home, making Gabriel feel special, friends bringing food, gift cards for food, figurines and chimes and candies, gorgeous flower arrangements — these things are Christ’s arms extended by His people to fill our home with love. Although it does not truly lessen our grief, it does bring some measure of comfort amidst the pain. To know such tangible love of our family & friends, both those close as well as those distant & can not sit in the dust with us, somehow helps us get through this dark valley, one step at a time. Each step is difficult. And sometimes they are backward steps instead of forward.
We are empty, very weak, feeling hopeless.
And so we are especially thankful for the arms of Christ which enfold us. So tangibly.
We need that.

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

I don’t understand this verse. And I don’t know what to learn from it.
But I can tell you that it is Truth. Painful, beautiful Truth.

Saturday May 22, 2010

Isaiah 45:5-7
I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides Me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know Me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides Me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.

Calamity. In my home. Where we grieve the death of our youngest baby.
And calamity. In the home of my friend. Where she grieves the death of her baby girl today too.
We stand with them in their grief.
We weep together for the deaths of our covenant children.
Perplexed at the calamities around us.
Certain that God is good, and equally as certain that He is terrible.

Psalm 6:2-3
Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD— how long?

Thursday May 20, 2010

Dear brothers and sisters,

I cannot tell you how much I detest writing these things. May God be gracious.
On Monday we learned that the child Melissa and I were expecting has gone to join five siblings in the loving arms of our Lord. God is good and faithful, even when our eyes of flesh fail to see it through the tears of grief. Please be in prayer for us. We feel like we have gone 6 rounds with a prize fighter. It is very hard to look ahead with any hope and in times like this faith does not come easy. Pray that God would supply grace for our every need. Pray that God would mend our broken hearts and carry us forward in peace. Pray that we would mourn the loss of another child in righteousness and that we would flee from the temptations to doubt, fear or let bitterness and anger taint our hearts. Pray that God would show His strength in our weakness.

We have named our baby Victory Athanasius, which means “victory of the immortal”. Christ has defeated sin and death. He is our first-fruits; our guarantee of eternal life. Our baby has put on immortality and is reveling in the victory bought by our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ has triumphed, and our child wears the white robes of His righteousness now and forever more.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 15:54-56)

May God grant His perfect grace and peace. To Him be the glory, even in the unrelenting tears.

Steven

Tuesday May 18, 2010

Just got home from the hospital, so it’s time to rest. But I wanted to thank you for all the compassion, love, and especially prayers. I am so thankful for that. It feels like the emotional pain is just never ending. Thank you for being our brethren. I don’t know how much I will update on the subject – but please know that we continually covet your prayers.