Friday, December 24, 2010

Because of Christmas...

Because of Christmas…
...we have Easter.

...we have a Savior.

...we know that there is life after death.

...we have assurance that we will be with Jesus when we die.

...we know we will see our loved ones in the Lord again.

...we know they are in His presence right now, worshiping and enjoying LIFE.
...we can look forward to being reunited with our children someday.
...we do not grieve "as do the rest who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13).
In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman:
God, I know, it's all of this and so much more
But God, You know, that this is what I'm aching for

God, you know, I just can't see beyond the door...
I know there's more to Christmas than this, but this year...this week...tonight, this truth is a balm to my soul.  May it be to yours as well.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas is hard

Let's face it - Christmas is just plain hard when you have lost a baby, or when you are unsuccessfully trying to have one.  All of the elements are there to push your buttons - pictures of children everywhere, pictures of families (usually with two or more kids), stories for children, Christmas pageants featuring children, memories of childhood traditions that you wanted to share with your children in heaven.  Plus the Christmas story itself - two miraculous pregnancies, an infertile older couple (Zechariah and Elizabeth) given the child of their dreams, a pregnant teenager (Mary), a birth, a baby --  it's hard to get through Christmas when you're jealous of Mary!

I was glad, then, to read what a friend posted on the Hannah's Prayer forums that I belong to.  She had received a Stepping Stones newsletter in the mail and posted an article about Christmas.

Here is a portion of what blessed me:
Rather than focusing on toddlers kneeling in wonder before the manger, let me focus on the birth of our Lord and kneel in wonder at His feet.

Instead of the ache of my empty arms, let me feel the magnetism and strength of His open arms as He says, "Come until me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give your rest."

When I see pictures of the baby Jesus, broaden my thinking beyond the maternal desire to feel the soft skin of that baby's tiny hands, and enable me to feel the nail prints in the rugged palms of my Savior.
They also have some suggestions in "Christmas: Keeping the Holiday Without Getting Hurt."  Here is one that I found helpful as a parent of babies in heaven.
Recognize and accept your feelings of loss and grief over what might have been.  These are legitimate emotions...This may be a good time to commite yourself to the Twenty Minute Rule.  When you feel sad, discouraged, or angry, allow yourself to deal with it for 20 minutes - but no more.  Cry...share your frustration with your spouse, or call a friend...
If your loss is fresh, I don't think you need to stick to the "Twenty Minute Rule"...but the idea is sound.  Know that your feelings are legitimate, and they tend to be sharper at the holidays.  But God can also use the holidays to encourage our hearts and comfort us.  Give yourself permission to continue grieving, but also look for ways to enjoy (not just endure) the season, even if it's not in the traditional ways.

Click here to read the entire publication.  These portions were reprinted by permission from Stepping Stones, a newsletter for infertile couples published by Bethany Christian Services. For more information go to http://www.ssministry.net/

May the remainder of this advent season not be a time of dread, but of peace and yes, even joy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Empty nest

I recently made a new friend, Bethany F., on Hannah's Prayer.  She posted this about her little girl Sarita Joy, and with her permission, I am sharing it with you.  It was a great encouragement to me to think about my task in parenting my sweet babies in heaven.  I hope it will be to you, as well.
In the weeks and months since Sarita Joy blessed our lives, I have journaled on and off. I would like to share with you one of the things I wrote.

A friend of mine who lost her first child a few weeks before we did wrote a letter to me. She called herself and her husband, “empty nesters.” I think it is a perfect metaphor. One of the ultimate goals of parenting is to have a child who is able to live responsibly on her own. A parent's task is complete when a child no longer relies on mom and dad for her daily needs. Indeed, some children have to be pushed out of their nest to find out that they have wings.

For most parents, children fly away from their nest when they are 18 or older. After a long labor our little Sarita came into the world suddenly and sharply. One hour later, her journey complete, she spread her wings and flew into glories that I cannot begin to imagine.

Mark and I expected to have the blessed task of raising her to fear Jehovah God. To care for her every physical need as an infant, to fold her little hands and teach her to say “Lord bless...”, to feed and clothe her. We planned to teach her Bible stories, to sing Psalms with her, to send her to a Christian school and catechism. Mark looked forward to teaching our beautiful daughter to watch out for boys (!) and someday to see her fly away on the arm of a Godly man in marriage.

Instead, we accomplished our calling to our daughter in one week. With love and tears, Mark and I have laid her body in the grave in the hope of a glorious resurrection. Our task when we had Sarita was to care for her and pray for her while she was within the womb, and we prayed every morning and night for our baby's health and strength. More importantly, our deepest prayer was that our baby would live holy and love our heavenly Father. We fulfilled our task and she has flown away. Soared to the clouds, to Jesus' presence and all the saints.

Our calling fulfilled, our Sarita flown to the arms of the Bridegroom. Our nest empty. Our child safe.
Thank you, Bethany, for that beautiful picture of the glories our children experience. 

Praying for the hearts of all who read this and are missing their children in heaven.

Love,
Kristi

Monday, December 6, 2010

Entrusted

I’ve just finished reading “Choosing to SEE” by Mary Beth Chapman. Mary Beth is the wife of singer Steven Curtis Chapman, and the mother of six, including three adopted daughters from China. One of them, five-year-old Maria, died in May of 2008 after being hit by a car driven by her 17-year-old brother. As you might expect, the book is a powerful testimony, not only of how God met the Chapman family in their grief, but how Mary Beth has struggled throughout her life to allow God to write her story, both the happy chapters and the sad ones. It is a powerful and honest book that I highly recommend.

But that’s not the main thing I wanted to share. What hit me the most powerfully was not in the book itself, but on the dedication page. This is what Mary Beth wrote to her son Will Franklin, who was driving the car that hit his sister.

“You have been entrusted with an incredible pain! I’m so sorry. I wish as your mom I could take it away, but I know God has a plan for you to steward this story well and to minister to others through your suffering. You are my hero, as well as Maria’s…she loved you so much, as do I!”
Wow. That is profound, and I want each of us to hear those words as if they were spoken to us.

You have been entrusted with an incredible pain. There is no pain like losing a child, and many of us have circumstances that make that pain even more difficult to bear. Consider, though, that this pain was entrusted to us. What will we do with it? Will it destroy us? Or will we master it and use it?

I know God has a plan for you to steward this story well and to minister to others through your suffering. God has a plan. He is sovereign. He also loves you more than you can possibly imagine. And He alone can help you use your story to minister to others, to “comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:4). If you are just beginning this journey, you may find that hard to believe. But please hang in there…and wait to see how God moves in your life.

I’m so sorry. I wish…I could take it away. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish that my body hadn’t failed both me and Naomi…that Kyria had lived…that Jordan were still growing within me. There are plenty of days when I just don’t care how many people God blesses through this ministry or how perfect heaven is, I just want my babies back. And it’s okay to feel that way. I feel that for each mama and daddy I meet with a baby in heaven. I’m so sorry…I wish I could change things…but I am absolutely convinced of two things. God is loving. And God is sovereign. And tragic losses do not change who and what He is.

So…my prayer for all of us is that we would trust the One writing our story, even when it is painful, and SEE how He wants us to steward our stories well to minister to others – and in the process, to heal and know His joy and peace again.

In Him,

Kristi

P.S.  If you would like to share how God has used your story to minister to others, please e-mail me or share it in a comment here.  You are my hero, as well as your child's!  God bless you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Christmas

I hear that on the Earth below
This is a special season
With lights and songs and gifts and such,
And Jesus is the reason!

In the place I would have lived
Are strings of light that blink and shine,
But you should see the light up here
That glows from Jesus all the time!

In the place I would have lived
Carols play, and special songs,
But you should hear the music that
The angels sing here all day long!

In the place I would have lived,
Gifts are giv’n on Christmas Day,
But you should feel the joy we feel
Because God’s gift is here to stay!

In the place I would have lived,
Tears have flowed because I’m gone.
My family wishes I were there
To see and hear and feel it all.

But in this place where I now live,
It’s Christmas all day, all year long,
And the sights and sounds I’d see with them
Are pure, unblemished by all wrong.

So on this day that would have been
My first Christmas on the Earth,
Mama, Daddy, you need to know
I’m celebrating Jesus’ birth!

When you sing songs to worship Him,
I’m singing with the angels, too.
I’m never closer than when we all
Praise Him for our life anew.

I know that life began for me
Sooner than you thought it would.
I know your hearts are hurting now,
And you would change things if you could.

But in this place, where you’ll come, too,
We’ll be together, forever.
And there will be no more good-byes
When we celebrate Christmas in heaven – together!