Monday, February 25, 2013

The Cost of Surrender

Over the past few months, God has been moving in our lives.  Our church had sermons on God's sovereignty.  We had been pressing into God and excited about the new ways we were experiencing Him in fresh ways.  We spent time talking about living whole heartedly for Him.  He had given us a love for His Word, more than we had ever had.  We had been ever convinced of His faithfulness and His goodness.  As I have worshiped over the past few months, I would raise my hands in surrender to His plan, to His way, to His Word.

In those times of worship, I never would have or could have imagined that we would be called to surrender our daughter into His hands.  It is easy to sing about God's faithfulness and to surrender our lives to Him when life is going well.  But, as I struggled with just yesterday, how will I respond to Him when there is a cost to my surrender?  When it means I won't be able to watch my daughter grow.  When it means, I won't be able to hear her laugh or see her smile.  When it means, she will not be a part of our family each and everyday.  When it means, I can't hold her, kiss her or tell her I love her.  How do I respond then?

Does the fact that I don't have my daughter here with me change the fact of who God is?  Like I said earlier, just months and weeks before we lost Charlotte, God had been revealing to us who He is...that He is good, He is faithful, He is sovereign, that nothing that happened in our lives didn't first pass through His hands.  In the weeks before losing Charlotte, we had even been working on memory verses with our kids.  Can you even believe that the verse we were working on was Proverbs 3:5&6?

Trust in the Lord with all of your hearts, lean not on your own understanding.  In all of your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.  
God was working on us, because He knew the cost we would face.  He knew what the future held for us.  He knew the plans He had for us.  He knew we would be in a place when all we could do is to trust Him.  He had been working in our lives to build our faith so it would be easy to trust Him.  I think I've said in another post and I tell people all the time that if I couldn't trust God in His faithfulness even in the midst of the hurt of losing my daughter, I would have nothing to hold on to.  I would be hopeless.  That is too scary for me to even fathom.

Surrender today looks ever so different than it looked to me a month ago.  But, even as I hurt and I don't understand God's ways, I trust Him wholly.  As I shared with my small group days before we lost Charlotte, I asked them to pray that I would trust God for His faithfulness, His goodness, and His love.  And today my prayer is exactly the same.  Just because my life circumstances changed, doesn't mean God has changed.  He is who He says He is.  He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and I trust Him.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

When Life Moves On...

...but I want to hold on.

It's been two weeks since we found out our precious Charlotte had no life inside my womb.  Two weeks that have been a whirlwind.  Everything happened so fast and then it was all over.  I still sit and wonder what happened.  Did we really lose our baby girl?  This must be a horrible dream and when will I ever wake up?

I am so grateful for my family...for my children that I do have here with me.  They have been a great distraction from the hurt and the pain, but also at the same time, life goes on for them and for us.  I have a large family and I am still a mother.  Just because I lose a child doesn't mean I can stop living or stop being a mother.  I even found myself disciplining my children at the funeral home the morning of Charlotte's funeral.  That part of my life doesn't stop.

Last night I was hit with the realization that my life right now looks exactly like what my life looked like two weeks ago before we lost Charlotte.  This realization hurts me.  My biggest fear in losing Charlotte is that I will forget her, especially since we never really knew her.  Everyone keeps telling me that I will never forget her and I know they are trying to help, but I see it happening each and every day.  I am caught up in my job, being a mother to my other seven children.  It is a big job.  There is still laundry to wash, meals to make, beds to make, discipline to be dealt, fights to break up, noses to wipe.  These keep me busy and distracted.  Don't get me wrong, I love my job.  This is the only job I have desired my whole life.  I have the best children and husband.  But, among all of this my arms still ache to hold my precious baby girl.

My body is healing and it doesn't even feel like I was pregnant two weeks ago.  Somedays, it feels like the nightmare we have been through has never happened, except I remember.  I remember when we found out we were expecting Charlotte.  I remember us naming her middle name Faith.  I remember telling the kids we were having another baby and I remember their excitement.  I remember feeling Charlotte move inside of me.  I remember how I never tired of feeling her and I how I got excited each and every time.   I remember when we decided her name would be Charlotte because it was so beautiful.  I remember getting to the end of my pregnancy and aching to hold her and to know her just like I have all my other children.  Only this time it would be different.  I would only get to know her for nine months and see and hold her for three short hours.

I don't want to forget one moment of any of it.  I long to remember my sweet baby girl.  I long to remember this pain I feel because it means I love her.  I long to hold on even if life does move on.

Charlotte Faith

The following is a letter Steve and I wrote and had read at Charlotte's funeral.

Since people didn’t get a chance to know our daughter, we wanted to tell a bit of her story and share how we knew her and what we knew about her.

For the first time, the name of our daughter, Charlotte Faith, had significance beyond just being a name we liked.  Once we knew that we were having a girl, we started to more seriously look for names for her.  Charlotte was a name suggested by one of our kids that we both immediately fell in love with and that seemed a better fit than the other names we were considering.  

But the name Faith, that was a name that God had given us shortly after she was conceived, even before we knew she was a girl.  

You see, as is often the case for us, we had recently struggled with God’s plan for our family. Thirteen years ago God called us to total surrender with our family, to put all of our faith and trust in His plan for us.  We had been resisting this for a while, but then God reconfirmed clearly that He wanted us to fully surrender our kids and our plans to him.  This brought peace and joy beyond measure.  There’s no better place to be than walking with Him.

Eventually we found out we were expecting a baby.  God had confirmed through his Spirit that our new baby was a gift from him and that we needed to trust him, to have Faith.

Little did we know at the time, that her name, Faith, would also become something that we would have to hold on to with all of our might.  When we look back at this journey, it is clear that God was preparing us for this loss and that he is calling us to a deeper Faith than we have ever known.  We had often wondered, that if tragedy struck us, would our faith be strong enough to trust Him.  Now that we have experience tragedy, trusting God is all we have.  It is all we can hold on to. It is the only hope that we have.  If we don’t trust him fully, then we have absolutely nothing.

Psalm 134:15 says “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in you book before one of them came to be.”  

God formed our daughter in the womb, he knew her before she was formed.   He had her life planned out before she was born.  God is never surprised.

We are heartbroken beyond measure at the loss we feel, but we are also so thankful that God has called us to have faith and that our faith has taken on a depth that we would never have imagined.  We have never felt a hurt so deep, but have also never felt God’s presence and peace so strongly.  Our hope and prayer is that Charlotte Faith’s life and death would bring glory to God and point people to the source of all hope, Jesus Christ.

“The Lord give and the Lord takes away, BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD”