The boy is napping and the hubby is working outside in the yard. I am supposed to be drinking tea and reading – but my tea (earl grey – my daily favorite) is already cold. So why not take another few minutes to say hello to the world? 🙂
We went out on a little family date today. My tires needed switched out (in fact, we never really needed my studded tires this year), so while they were being done, we went to Starbucks for a rare treat, and then to the grocery store to wander around and pick out a few special things for upcoming meals. Like delicious-looking olives for our Sabbath supper tomorrow night (after our niece & nephew’s birthday party!), paired with applewood smoked cheddar cheese & crackers & red wine.
Delicious food has been something I’ve enjoyed focusing on lately. Making dinners that are new to our palate, and coming up with some new kitchen skills along the way. I have even added some new ingredients to my fridge lately: like fresh ginger, green onions, and fresh parsley – apparently these are all much better fresh than dried, so I’ve been giving it a shot. 🙂
I have made a bunch of new recipes this week, including a crockpot version of Beef Burgundy, a Blackberry Buckle, a round loaf of sweet bread (I don’t generally use recipes for bread, but this one was worth trying), and Chicken Scampi over Lemon Noodles. Mmmm! Tonight we’re opting for quick and familiar: salad (with homemade dressing and croutons) and grilled burgers. I just hope it doesn’t rain on the grilling… it isn’t as fun to grill in a storm. 🙂
I am looking forward to giving my niece & nephew their birthday gifts tomorrow. They won’t probably love them as much as I do – especially because they will be dripping in oodles of birthday gifts from all the relatives… but hey, it’ll be fun anyway. 🙂 I can’t believe they will be one year old this week!
As much as I am excited they are turning one, it is also bringing up memories that I am not looking forward to delving into. A year ago I was pregnant with Glory Hesed. I never really imagined that I would still be newborn-less a year later. And, at the very least, I thought I would have a full womb now. But nope. Empty. And I hate that. I’m pretty sick of it, actually. I feel alone in my plight… and then God reminds me (as I will elaborate upon in a moment) that I’m not. Even though I may feel it.
One of the hidden blessings that comes with being a bereaved mommy is the perspective I can bring to others. So many women take pregnancy for granted. They take healthy babies for granted. They take motherhood for granted. And not that I am perfect either. I am a sinner, too! And my perspective isn’t always what I would like. For instance, last night I was exhausted – it had been a long day, and an even longer week. And I really just wanted Gabriel to go to bed so I could take a long hot shower & head to bed too. My normal bedtime routine with him is to read 3 books, sing 3 songs, pray together, put him in bed, give him his blessing, and leave the room. It takes a good 20 minutes. Last night I picked short books and short songs. And he desperately wanted one more book (which may have turned into four more books, if I had let it…). But I said no. Was that selfish? Or was it prudent? And how do I know the difference sometimes? I’m uncertain. I told him that we’d already read our three books, and it was time to sing. So he cried a little as I sang him three short liturgical hymns (they tend to be the shortest…), and then he was fine and ready to pray and ready to go to bed.
As I sang, I remembered my five little babies who I no longer get to read bedtime stories to. I no longer get to rock them and sing to them at night. And I wish I could. I sincerely, desperately wish I could read them “just one more book.”
One of the songs I sing to Gabriel (the one that I always end with, and the only one that I faithfully sing every single night) goes like this:
God that madest earth and heaven, darkness and light;
Who the day for toil hast given, for rest the night;
May Thine angels guard defend us,
Slumber sweet Thy mercy send us,
Holy dreams and hopes attend us
This live-long night.
Guard us waking, guard us sleeping, and when we die;
May we in Thy mighty keeping all peaceful lie;
When the last dread call shall wake us,
Do not Thou our God forsake us,
But to reign in Glory take us
With Thee on high.
I love this song. And yet it is so painful for me. I have sung this to all of my babies. All of them. And the hardest part for me is when I am pregnant, and I have to sing the line about guarding us when we die. Five of my babies have died, and I have prayed this song with them in my belly.
Yes, I am continuing to grapple with grief. It comes and it goes, against my will and even sometimes against my expectations. God continues to teach me, mold me, break me, grow me, forgive me, love me, and sustain me.
And -back to my original thought- I am beginning to be equipped with so much with which to help other bereaved mothers. I am part of a few online forums/groups of bereaved women, and I am constantly surprised by how often the Lord brings certain women to talk with me, ask for prayer, ask for wisdom, wanting to know my experiences. I feel so helpless and useless, and yet the Lord is using me. I get emails not infrequently (four in the last month) from women (some I know, others have simply stumbled upon me) who have lost babies. I feel blessed to pray for them, to weep with them (because you know I do), to grieve with them, and to offer any support that I can. Even though I feel so ill-equipped, I can tell that God is continuing to equip & use me.
I don’t know what He is going to do with me long-term. But I have no doubt that He is molding me for lifelong service. I am not in love yet with the idea of forever being surrounded by grief and sorrow – but I am called to serve Him and His people. And I will do whatever He asks of me. If I can help any hurting mother whose arms are aching & empty – it gives my babies’ lives & deaths even more beauty & purpose by the grace of God, and lengthens their legacies.
Please pray with me that God would use me in His kingdom, for His kingdom, by His power & strength.
I was reading more Amy Carmichael poetry this afternoon, and wanted to share this poem, which so aptly describes what I feel:
Not even one small pot of common oil;
For he who never cometh but to spoil
Hath raided my poor house again, again–
That ruthless strong man, armed, whom men call Pain.
I thought that I had courage in the house,
And patience to be quiet and endure,
And sometimes happy songs. Now I am sure
Thy servant truly hath not anything;
And see, my song-bird hath a broken wing.
My servant, I have come into the house–
I who know Pain’s extremity so well
That there can never be the need to tell
His power to make the flesh and spirit quail:
Have I not felt the scourge, the thorn, the nail?
And I, his Conqueror, am in the house,
Let not your heart be troubled–do not fear:
Why shouldst thou, child of Mine, if I am here?
My touch will heal thy song-bird’s broken wing,
And he shall have a braver song to sing.