My Wounds

I may have written this post a good while ago (not long after Heritage died), but it feels just as fresh, and my wounds are picked open and oozing even now. But the point is this: the wounds are not for naught. These wounds will be redeemed. There is a reason that I can not see. And God wants me to use these wounds for Him, His glory and His Kingdom, and I can not sit here silently licking my wounds in a corner. He calls me to share them, to utilize them, not to waste them.

These wounds scab over, and they will scar someday. The pain and trouble they bring will change over time. That’s what God is in the whole business of doing. And I’m thankful to put my pain to good use.

The scar will be knit into my skin, reminding me that I am not the same as I was before. God tends to scar me over in particular ways, as though He were creating a pronounced alignment within my soul in a single direction, toward a specific goal. Each baby of mine that has died has left me with a gaping wound—and each one has also eventually left me with a pronounced scar. While the scars are most obvious to me—sometimes they even make me a little self-conscious, a little embarrassed, wondering if I stick out amongst the crowd—others notice the scars too. Some people comment on it, some people notice but keep it to themselves. I used to think I had to hide my scars, but now I know better: now I know that God did not give me these scars to be hidden away. They are not something to be ashamed of, but something to be utilized.

And so I wait for the scar—I wait for the relief that it will bring, for the hope it will carry, for the unique way God will use my newly knit skin for His glory. I am crying to Him for this blessing, and I trust His grace to extend to me in the form of healing. I have no control over when or how, but I believe His Word, and I know that His favor is for life, and He delights in bringing mornings of joy following night (Psalm 30:2-5). May I bleed and scab, scar and heal for the greatness of His mercy and the furthering of His Kingdom—may He give me pronounced singleness of direction as I toil for Him, even in this.

To read the rest, hop on over to Mommies With Hope, where I share Wounded straight from my own broken-yet-blessed heart.

What Was, Would’ve Been, Is, and Will Be

I am seeing God’s kindness and mercy in so many details of life right now. But things are still hard, nonetheless. It has been 9 1/2 weeks since I held Heritage in my hands: ten weeks yesterday since we found out she died. Gabriel continues to talk about her, and it is really beautiful to listen to him regarding his baby sister, and he asks us to try explaining what God has done, and what we’re praying He will do next.

I am remembering my tiny baby girl and what she looked like both on the ultrasound screen and as she laid so peacefully in my hands, thinking about what it would have felt like to feel her kicking and hiccuping from inside my womb, and wondering if she will have the chance to be a big sister sometime in the future…

And I miss her all over again. What was. And what would’ve been.
Meanwhile trusting that God knows, and controls, every single what is & what will be in our future. :pray:

Isaiah 45:7
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the Lord, do all these things.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord,
thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope.

Psalm 115:3
But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.

Four Weeks

I just looked at the clock: it is 12:42 on Friday afternoon. It was exactly four weeks ago that I held my daughter in my hands. What a beautiful moment, what a horrible moment. What a piece of history. What a painful wound.

Have you ever had those moments where you felt like something was etched into you? Like it’s written into, not only your story, but into your skin, your very being?

Heritage did that. She—her life as well as her death—left me wounded.

Just twenty-eight days ago, my wounds were gaping holes: the kind where ripped skin, torn muscle, gushing blood, and deafening screams of anguish set the stage. And I know that someday the wound will heal over to the point where it will be scarred: most people may not even really notice it, they will no longer ask about it or wonder “oy! How did THAT happen?!” But that time is not yet. Right now, my wounds are scabbing—they’re in that stage of going back and forth between bleeding and scabbing, bleeding and scabbing. The wound is not as fresh and gory as it was a month ago, but it is still a wound. It hurts, some days maybe just stinging but other days completely throbbing. As much as I wish I could rush the healing process, there is no way to make a wound heal prematurely—the scabbing, scarring, healing process takes time.

Four weeks sounds like a lot to some people, and in some perspectives and in some situations, it may be. Can you imagine being without food for four weeks? Can you imagine standing still for four weeks? Of course not, because four weeks is a long time. Then again, four weeks is also a short amount of time. Can you imagine marrying someone you just met four weeks ago? Can you imagine climbing Mt. Everest four weeks after you learned to walk? Of course not (or at least, it’s incredibly remarkable and rare if you can!), because four weeks is not much time at all.
People not only wound differently and react to their wounds differently, but they heal differently too.
There may be two people with identical wounds, yet they may heal differently. They may heal at different rates, their scars may look different, their pain levels or pain tolerances may be at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Every time I see a baby or a pregnant belly… every time I even hear about one… every time I think about August… every time I look at my shelf piled high with injections and medications that are sitting untouched… when we hear news from my specialist that makes me think we might not be able to even try again, let alone have success again—these things pick at my scabs. I bleed. I hurt. I cry.

That’s where I am. That is my reality.

It isn’t where I will always be, it will not always be my reality. Because my scabs will harden, dry up, scar over. I won’t always bleed when poked (although I may if I’m sliced or sucker-punched).
The God I serve is the Great Physician, and He is in the business of healing, of redeeming, of making all things new.
Even this grief over the death of my baby girl will be nothing but a scar someday. I don’t know if it will be the kind of scar that you have to squint to see, or if it will be a bulgy purple thing that will burn if something so much as brushes by it. But I know it will scar. That is one of the ways God works: He doesn’t take us on a journey, and then bring us back where He got us at the first place. He takes us on a journey, and then takes us on another one as a changed person. There are purposes for the scars He gives me. One journey leads to another, and the scars I received on previous journeys will be there for reminders—for myself, for others—on subsequent journeys. These scars show who I am, who He made me to be, and how He is remaking me.

So as odd as it sounds, I look forward to the day when I am scarred. When the scabs are gone, when the blood stops flowing, when things have reknit and been remade into something new. It is hard to predict what the purpose will be, but I look forward to finding out.

And in the meantime, I ask for grace to endure the bleeding, the scabbing, the picking.
It’s been four whole weeks already!
It’s only been twenty-eight days since I held her…


It is beautiful, and sometimes bittersweet, to listen to the conversations held by a 5-year-old.
I love listening to him talk to his brother and sister, sometimes instructing, sometimes encouraging, sometimes telling stories.
And I love listening to him talk about his other brothers and sisters too.

Lately, he has not shied away from talking about Heritage Peniel. Today, in fact, he told his cousins about his baby sister, her name, and told them confidently about how the baby’s body died but how her spirit (he worded it like, “her new heart”) is alive in heaven. It wasn’t a very short conversation. He likes to talk about her. And I love to hear about her.

It is bittersweet music to this mommy’s ears.

They’re too big to miss

As I miss my baby girl (yes, Heritage is a girl… and apparently her chromosomes look a lot like her mommy’s… which makes me dream about what having a second little clone of me would have been like, just 18 months younger than her precious big sister…), I am clinging to faith, and clinging to Christ and His promises BY faith. There are giants in the land. Some of them have to do with the death of my baby daughter, and some of them are giants of other nations that we are facing at the same time. And what we are seeking is to approach these giants by faith, and to rest in God who is the One we trust will not only guide our steps but also equip us for battle, as He triumphantly gives us victory… one giant at a time.


We have to recognize the importance of fighting giants.
It is truly odd that pictures of this (in Bible story books, and so on) do not record the fact that Joshua led Israel into the land of giants, in order to displace those giants. This is a motif throughout Scripture. …
[W]hat are the giants in your life? What are you called to do about it?
The Great Commission says what it says very plainly. The Christian faith is a religion of world conquest through evangelization.
Are the giants here big enough to qualify as giants?
There are two approaches to take with giants — the first is that of unbelief and the second is one of faith.
Unbelief says that the giants are too big to defeat.
Faith says that giants are too big to miss.
~Douglas Wilson, blog

Grace given to us…

Most of the time, I can not stay curled up in a ball in my bed, alone with my tears… when I went through the majority of my miscarriages in the past, it really wasn’t so hard to spend hours of my day curled up with my tears, because Gabriel either wasn’t around yet, or was so little he was oblivious to Mommy’s pain. At this point, the miracles of life (times THREE, thanks be to God!) around me require my attention, and require me not to give in to a drowning of tears throughout the day. It almost feels like I have to schedule time alone in the bathroom (which comes at a premium anyway, of course) in order to let go of my guard and indulge in tears. I miss my darling baby. I hate that I am empty, when I should be round and full; just a few days ago, there was absolutely no buttoning of my jeans, but suddenly, I can almost button them again without a problem, and I hate that. There are so many dreams that lie shattered around me now, and I don’t have the strength to sweep them up and toss them away. I still want to grasp at those dreams… giving it all up just feels impossible. Last evening I was stopped in my tracks by some pains in my belly, and out of nowhere, I grabbed my belly and thought, “no! Oh God, please don’t let anything be wrong with my baby!” and in another split second, I remembered the awful truth: there ISN’T anything wrong with my baby, because my baby is truly alive in the glories of heaven where there are no more tears, no more sorrows, no more pain. But as for Mommy… I’m left here feeling empty, with nothing but blood and shattered dreams to show for it, with tears and sorrows and pain.

That’s one aspect of my reality.

Then 5pm rolled around…

A friend showed up on my doorstep with a box full of freshly homemade Mexican food ~ enough probably for three dinners for us! She apologized for not calling to tell me she was coming, and the thing is… having her show up like that just oozed Grace.
A few minutes later my darling husband got home from work, and brought in the mail. In that mail was a box containing a bouquet of beautiful lavender flowers from some of our dearest friends who recently moved eight hours away. In that mail were a couple of cards from people who wanted to share their prayers and love and sympathies with us. In that mail was a box packed full to the brim with tangible love: coffee beans, chocolates, notes of sincere Christian love, and gift cards for dinners & lattes ~ a box from people I hardly know, yet who love us with such Christlikeness and such Grace that it brought us to tears and absolutely blew me away.

When someone in the body of Christ is hurting, the rest of the body ought to feel it. And this evening, I was shown, through various gifts that God graced some of His people with, that parts of His body are throbbing with us and for us. Nobody had to tell these people to love on us ~ they just did it. There was no committee organizing these folks to surround us with gifts ~ God urged them to use what gifts they had, and they did it. These things today are added to a couple other cards and flowers we received a few days ago after we found out our baby had died. And once again, we are reminded that the Lord inspires His people to do His work, and that His faithful followers are called to share Grace together not because we have to, but because we love to and long to. Thanks be to God.

Romans 12:6
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…

Oh, how thankful we are that the Lord our God takes care of His children, and that He uses others of His children in order to be His tangible arms!
Brethren, thank you for blessing us with your gifts that God has given you; the gifts of words of encouragement, the gift of being our prayer warriors, the gifts of hospitality and helping us feed the hungry bellies here in our home, the gifts of beauty as you put flowers on our tables. Thank you for listening to the urging of God to share the grace He has given to you. Thank you for bearing with us in our weakness. Thank you for weeping with those who weep. May the Lord truly bless you and reward you for these sacrifices of grace.


First and Last

Yesterday was the first and last time I ever got to hold Heritage in my hands.
It was horribly painful yet terribly sweet at the same time.
I am thankful that God gave us the opportunity to hold our baby, to see those precious arms and legs in their miniscule forms, to see the bright blue eye pits where eyes were being formed ~ to see God’s image on such a small but perfectly formed little human.

Tomorrow we will begin celebrating Evangeline’s first birthday. I remember the first time I ever held her, too. I praise God that He continues to allow me so many sweet times of holding her in my arms. Having her with us does not negate the pain of losing her younger sibling to heaven, but it reminds us that God is faithful ~ and that is the reminder we need right now.

Psalm 77:1-12

I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

You hold my eyelids open;
I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
the years long ago.
I said, “Let me remember my song in the night;
let me meditate in my heart.”
Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.

Heritage Peniel

One thing my husband and I do for each of our babies is give them a name, and my husband writes a beautiful eulogy that we then share with our friends and family. We haven’t (yet) had a memorial service for any of our eight children in heaven, but we plan to someday ~ when we’re done (to the best of our knowledge) having kids. And at that time, I think we will read all of them aloud, and it will be beautiful and bittersweet. For now, I just wanted to share this one last thing we have for our “Little Leven” ~ the baby’s name, meaning, and eulogy. May God be glorified by this, and may we bless Him through our pain.
Brothers and Sisters,

It is with hearts weighed down by grief and sadness, that we tell you of the passing of our baby from life to death to everlasting life. This baby now joins seven brothers and sisters in the church triumphant, where our treasure is, now all the more, laid up. We know that God is sovereign over all, and that none can fall except he wills it. Our God is a true and faithful God. We eagerly await the resurrection – the putting right of all things – the defeat of death, and the beginning of life eternal.

We have named our baby Heritage Peniel, which means “Inheritance Facing God.” As a child of the covenant, our baby has the right of an heir of God to receive the heritage of seeing God face to face, even as our forefather Jacob. This little one now enjoys in fullness that which we only long for in the shadows, to see God face to face, and to reap the bounteous pleasures of one who has conquered – life forever more.

“I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God, and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:7)

“So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.'” (Genesis 32:30)

Please pray for us as we mourn the loss of this little saint. Pray that we would love on our three living children even through pain and sorrow. Pray that we would mourn as those who have hope in the grace and faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pray that we would flee from the temptations to doubt or to let bitterness or anger invade our hearts. Pray that God would grant beauty from ashes, and would take joy in raising our hearts from depths of sadness and would plant our feet firmly on the high places, according to His loving kindness.

“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.”

(Habakkuk 3:17-19)

May God grant His peace and love in abundance. May He be glorified, even through pain, sorrow, and death.

Steven, Melissa, Gabriel, Asher, Evangeline
Covenant, Glory, Promise, Peace, Mercy, Victory, Hosanna, and Heritage

Thrown back into the valley

We have been walking on the mountaintops of LIFE. Blessed beyond description by the gift of living children, by renewed dreams, by bigger hopes… and suddenly we are dashed from the bliss on the sunny mountaintop and thrown back into the valley of the shadow of death.

Our eighth miscarriage… but not one we exactly expected. You’d think that after seven already, we would simply have expected it. But we didn’t. My OB said, after he did the ultrasound that showed no heartbeat, “are you just totally surprised?” And I said yes and wept. He said, “did I give you false hope? I hadn’t meant to; I’ve been concerned from the start.” I said, “no you didn’t; I had wished you had! I just know that God is bigger than pregnancy complications, bigger than a too-small-sac, bigger even than possible genetic problems. We’ve been praying, and hundreds of other people are praying for our baby; and I know that He COULD have preserved this baby for us here on earth. And somehow I guess I somehow came today actually thinking he WOULD.” And that pretty much sums it up.

We were sent to the hospital an hour later for a more thorough ultrasound, where the most compassionate tech (I’m so thankful God put us in her path yesterday) gave us some really nice views of our little baby, pointed out those precious arms and legs and eye pits. Printed some pictures for us, too. I am so thankful to have pictures of our beautiful baby.

When we finally came home, Gabriel came and hugged us and asked “how’s the baby doing today?” When I started crying, he started crying and said, “is the baby okay? is the baby’s heart beating okay?” Telling him, and holding him while he wept, and grieving and talking together with him… I think that is the hardest thing I have ever done. And it’s one of those continuing things: he is continuing to cry, talk about it, ask questions.

Last night, my boys ran in to say goodnight to me: Gabriel kissed me, then kissed my belly and said, “Baby, I love you, and I’ll see you in heaven!” and Asher rubbed my belly saying “bye bye baby, love you” blew a kiss, and they both ran upstairs.  Looking at the living miracles I have and realizing (not that I ever forgot) that THAT is what I wanted for my Little Leven. I would never take the glorious choirs of heaven from Leven, but oh… how sad I am that those glorious choirs get to be with the baby rather than me. :tears:

It has been over three years; we were in a different house, and I was confident that we left all those skeletons in the closets there… and all our dreams about this house not being tainted with this horrible thing came crashing down yesterday. So many “little things” that have grown into big dreams and almost monuments (not in a bad way, but in a Joshua 4 kind of way) of sorts in my heart are suddenly broken. It’s like starting all over again at ground zero. Those dreams that I used to think were unreachable (like having stairsteps; having 3 under 3; maybe even that dream of having 2 boys and 2 girls) suddenly felt touchable… and then it’s like I touched the bubble and it POPPED. And it’s almost more horrible than it was before I thought I could touch it. Back when I KNEW it was unreachable. Before I had felt like I COULD reach it.

Suddenly, we are told to make decisions about what to do… and things I honestly didn’t expect to face again are staring at me, waiting for me to make the call…

I know we’ve been this broken before. But at the moment, it’s hard to remember that. I know I’ve survived this by God’s grace numerous times before. But today… just for now… I feel like the world is over for the very first time. :tears:

Why did God throw me back into the valley of the shadow of death?
Dancing on the mountaintops was so blissfully beautiful. :(

What is “His best”?

I have an honest confession that I need to make, but it is very difficult to make this confession publicly. I feel like I should be stronger than I am, or at least more joyful even if weak. But the true confession is that I am really struggling to cope and function on the most basic levels, and not give in to overwhelming anxiety. I am now pretty much past all seven of my past miscarriage marker dates (with the exception of one that was a missed miscarriage, and while it took my body a while to actually miscarry, her development had stopped by now)… but because the problems we are facing this time are totally unrelated to my immunological problems that caused all seven of my previous miscarriages, I feel like I am in frightening territory that is completely new, unfamiliar, unknown… and it is so terrifying.

My plethora of medications, thanks be to God, are once again controlling my immunological problems and protecting this baby, allowing my body to nurture him/her! I am SO grateful for that. It makes every pill, every injection, every past hiccup and mountain totally worthwhile. Praise to God alone for providing these things!!

But that does not help with the problem this baby is facing: that of seeming to be outgrowing the gestational sac. I had never even heard of that before, and now I’m too afraid to “research” it online because knowing the level of risk just wouldn’t really help my coping right now.
I’m trying to take it easy, as limited activity was suggested as “it couldn’t hurt and might help.”
I’m also drinking at least a gallon of water a day, again suggested along similar lines; I guess thinking that if my body is super hydrated, maybe the baby would get more amniotic fluid and maybe the sac would grow better…?

It is such a helpless feeling, especially as a mother: to know that I am doing everything I can, yet still feeling like there is absolutely nothing I can do.

One thing is for sure: I do NOT know how anyone could cope with such situations without resting in Christ and His sovereignty.

So we are thankful that we are His. We are thankful that this baby is His, and only lent to us. We are thankful that we know with certainty that Little ‘Leven’s days are already numbered, and that the Creator of all things and Sustainer of all creation is the One who not only created but sustains this darling baby.

I definitely find myself living and breathing that C.S. Lewis quote,

“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us;
we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

May God sustain us, and may He grant me the ability to cope little by little because of His great grace, so that I can follow Him with faith and continue doing what He has called me to do as the mother of this beloved child.

This morning as I read a daily devotional snippet by Nancy Guthrie, the Lord spoke to me right where I need a continual reminder today, and I am so thankful that even little things like this can be exhorting even while I sit here trembling, crying, wondering what the future holds:

Joshua 1:9
This is my command ~ be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Walking through life with Me does not mean that there is never any struggle, or that you will never face opposition or difficulty. It means that you can encounter whatever comes without being crippled by fear or depleted by discouragement. Instead, you can know a strength and courage that comes from your settled confidence that I am with you. I am out in front of you, leading you into the abundant life I have promised to give you. I am beside you, speaking words of encouragement and instruction, pointing out potential dangers. I am in you, filling you with My power and conforming you into the image of My dear Son. When I tell you I am with you, I do not mean I am present in a general sense, but in a personal sense. You have My attention and affection. Wherever you go, you can reach out and find Me right beside you.