Romans 8 is a favorite of mine because the entire chapter encourages me and reminds of the hope I have in eternity. Some of the verses are cliche scriptures used by people who don't know any better in an attempt to comfort someone who is grieving, and have gotten kind of a bad rep in the loss community. But I hope that through today's post you'll be reminded to look past ill-timed/hurtful comments and see the intent behind the ignorant remarks because these scriptures have so much comfort to offer!
This verse is very special to me because it inspired the name of the Etsy shop my best friend Melissa and I own called Burden Bearing Baskets. Melissa lost her daughter, Audrey, on Valentines Day in 2014 and at the time I wasn't even married yet and had no idea what she was going through. But she was my best friend so I started googling "how to support someone with micro preemie in NICU" and then, sadly, "how to support your friend when her baby dies." I literally had NO clue, I hardly even knew how to put into words what I was searching for.
Before my first miscarriage in November 2015 I had never really mourned deeply over anything. I was very close to my grandmother and when she died I grieved that loss, but she was sick and I was genuinely thankful that she was no longer suffering even though I still miss her so much. Plus losing your grandmother is expected, losing your baby is not. When I found out our baby was no longer with us, my heart shattered for the very first time.
This verse became special to me after our second miscarriage. As I've mentioned before, right around the time we found out our daughter's heart had stopped beating, I had been planning to "love" a Bible and send it to my sister who was in a religion class for the semester. I had a little ESV Bible that I had already been underlining and highlighting and handlettering in quite a bit, so I decided to add some more decoration and notes to it before sending it to her. But then our daughter died and I had surgery and suddenly it was a few weeks into the semester and I considered giving up on the idea.
I love how real this scripture is. When you're in the midst of suffering you get to a point where you can't sugarcoat things anymore. And if anyone has permission to feel that way, it's Job. After both of my losses I felt like I was very serious for about a month; I didn't enjoy small talk or joking around (which is out of character for me). And I still struggle with answering the dreaded question of, "How are you?" I don't want to fake fine, but I also don't want to make a person uncomfortable and tell them that I'm not fine. Job's words kind of define how my life was for several months after my second loss this past September.
Not so coincidentally, this scripture has shown up three or four times in my life the past few days, before I even realized it was the scripture I had scheduled to write about today. I feel like the Lord is trying to get my attention!I forget how I ever came to find and love this scripture, but the entire passage contains so much hope, encouragement, and comfort for several reasons.
Oh man, I could write a book about this verse! I specifically chose to quote the KJV above because I love how it says, "for the LORD thy God is with thee WHITHERSOEVER thou goest." Many other versions just say, "wherever you go." For some reason "whithersoever" sounds very intense to me and all encompassing of the promise given to us in this verse.
This scripture brought me such a deep comfort during my second pregnancy. We found out on September 1st, 2016 that our sweet little girl no longer had a heartbeat and she was surgically removed from my body the next day.
I was no stranger to the scary side of pregnancy, having lost our firstborn not even a year earlier, so I was constantly on edge.
A year ago today I woke up still pregnant. But by the end of the day I was empty. Physically and emotionally empty.
It is extremely hard to fathom that it's been a year since our first loss. In some ways it feels like it only happened yesterday, and in others ways it's hard to remember what my life was like before my heart was broken.
There have been many times since Audrey Lynn has come and gone that I thought of her or ached for her mother and my best friend/business partner, Melissa, but I was afraid to mention it because I thought, "What if Melissa isn't thinking about Audrey at this exact moment? I don't want to remind her right now and make her sad." But now I know. You aren't reminding the mother and causing her unnecessary sorrow and pain. You're reminding her that you remember what she went through and that you remember her child.
B r o k e n. I can think of no better word to describe how I feel.
On August 1, 2016 I found out I was expecting our second child. I was surprised how hopeful I quickly became. I always imagined I'd be more reserved in future pregnancies, but I found so much joy and hope through this child. Of course I was also fearful of losing this child, but I tried so hard to just trust the Lord, knowing that He alone opens and closes the womb.
My best friend Melissa and I recently opened an Etsy shop called Burden Bearing Baskets (BBB). Michael can verify that what I'm about to say next is true: There has been nothing in my life in that last (almost) 6 months that has come close to making me as happy or motivated me as much as this business.
As Mother's Day, the six month "anniversary" of our loss (5/15), and my due date (6/18) are quickly approaching I found myself several weeks ago hitting an all time low. I was really struggling. Not only was I feeling the usual sadness and emptiness that accompany each day, but I could feel myself slipping into a deeper depression; a place I didn't want to be in but that was too strong for me to just climb out of on my own. And I was also having so much anger. To be honest, the way I felt was really starting to scare me. I hated feeling the way I was feeling, but I truly couldn't help it.
Melissa and I have dreamed of opening a business together for probably six years or so. We've had many ideas that never even made it off paper. But as the idea for this new business was born, it lifted off the pages so quickly and in a way that let us know God was in it. It has been overwhelming in the best way!
A few weeks ago we met on a Monday at a coffee shop to discuss the ideas for BBB. After we went over some plans we left that night and started shopping for supplies. I went to Melissa's house that Friday, we put together a basket and took pictures of it, and had our shop open on Etsy by late afternoon.
I have a personal Etsy shop as well, and it took months to get a first sale. Anytime I read about starting an Etsy shop they always tell you to be patient and that it can take a good amount of time before you get your first sale. Even Etsy sellers who have really successful shops now say it took them six months before they even got one sale! So when we listed our basket we weren't expecting anything right away. But by Sunday night we had our first order!
All that next week we scrambled around to put together this basket. The basket was for a couple who had a baby that was born and passed on the same day. Their story, based on the limited information we received from their friend who purchased the basket, sounded pretty similar to Audrey's story. It was so touching that our first basket was something we could relate to.
Then we received our second order. This basket was for someone's sister-in-law who's son was stillborn (I think) last July. She bought the basket to give to her sister-in-law for Mother's Day. We include a handlettered print in each basket and the quote that was requested has been one of the most comforting quotes I have read since my miscarriage:
I carried you every second of your life and I will love you for every second of mine.
For some reason that quote just means so much to me. It makes me swell up with love every time I read it. So it was extra special to design a print with those words.
Since we've opened our shop we have had a constant flow of orders. I have no clue how much money we've made based on how much we've spent and I don't care because it is SO rewarding. It inspires me and gives me more energy than I've had since November 15th.
Right before we started BBB I was listening to a Revive Our Hearts podcast where Nancy Guthrie was being interviewed. I read a book Nancy wrote about how she lost two children due to a rare syndrome shortly after my miscarriage. And in the podcast she emphasized how important it was to begin to help others in the midst of your own grief.
As Nancy and her husband were grieving the death of their daughter, they went and did yard work for a friend who had just moved into their neighborhood and was recently widowed. Nancy said as they worked in the yard she just let her tears fall but that it was so healing. And I was feeling so hopeless on the day I listened to that podcast that I had no clue what to do. If I were being honest I didn't want to help anyone. I just wanted to curl up into a ball and never leave my apartment again. I told Michael that night about what I had heard but that I just didn't know where to start or who to help.
And within that same week Melissa came to me with ideas about BBB. It was like God dropped the answer in my lap. I still have had some HARD days since BBB started, but it has really helped to restore my hope and give me something truly inspiring and exciting to wake up for. The other day the thought hit me as I was feeling anger over my situation again, that if it weren't for both of our losses we probably wouldn't be doing this. It's possible we might have anyways, but it wouldn't be quite as meaningful for me. Not only is this meaningful, but it has been healing to me. It has been such a tangible blessing in the midst of so much heartbreak.
Some days it just hits me, like today, as I was walking down the hall at work, I suddenly felt so sad that I won't be holding my baby in June like I'm supposed to. The desire to be an active mother is a hard desire to quench. And sometimes the pain of remembering I should have a big belly by now is slightly overwhelming.
O N E H U N D R E D D A Y S
Three months a week and a day
Fourteen weeks and two days
Two thousand four-hundred hours
One hundred and forty-four thousand minutes
Eight million six-hundred and forty thousand seconds
"Through others, God reminds us, 'You are my beloved daughter.'"
I saw this quote on Facebook the other day and haven't stopped thinking about it since. Before we lost our baby I think I would've just kept scrolling and it wouldn't have meant much to me if anything at all. But now, almost three months after my miscarriage, I feel like this quote explains my life.
Usually I'm off on Fridays, but of course I had scheduled to work this Friday so I could take an extra day off next week. I was so annoyed with myself Thursday night and this morning as I got ready for work. I felt like I really needed a day off. But what can you do?
So while at work I worked on the blog post I posted earlier today and right before I left I posted it. Not too long after I received a text from a dear friend saying some of the sweetest things. While she doesn't text me all the time, she's the kind of friend that when she does, it's gold. I could not hold back the tears while reading it. It was so precious. The part that really got me:
Early in the morning on October 17, 2015 I took a pregnancy test. I had taken one the day before and got a negative. So on that Saturday morning when I awoke with terrible heartburn (for what felt like the hundredth day in a row) I wanted to take some medicine but thought I should take one more test to rule out pregnancy before I took any medication.
I was expecting a negative since I had gotten one the day before, so I took the test and watched it for a few seconds. I didn't see a second line so I walked out to our hall closet and picked out some heartburn meds. A minute or two later I walked back in and looked at the test again.
There's something about having physical items to help remember the child you lost and never got to meet. Having these things makes me feel so much closer to when our baby was still with us; just closer to everything that has to do with her sweetness.
Picking out verses and words of the year has always seemed kind of lame to me. A slew of bloggers that I follow always have a word of the year, and up until a couple days ago I just rolled my eyes. I'm not sure what exactly it was that annoyed me. Maybe that people are obsessed with their words for the first month or two and use it as a hashtag for everything and then it slowly fades away like most resolutions do. Or maybe it's just that, in general, I'm not into that kind of stuff. So I was already getting kind of annoyed as people were bombarding Instagram with their words of the year before the new year even began.
Goodbye to the best year of my life and the worst year of my life. The best because for awhile I was blissfully happy; I became a mother to a precious baby and the best daddy (and my heavenly Father) in the world were by my side through it all.