Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It Doesn't Matter

(I hesitate to write some of these thoughts out because the last thing I want is controversy, but I feel like part of my healing and being able to move forward has depended on being able to accept some truths about Joshua's death. In an effort to remain open and transparent, I feel like it's important to share how I have reached the peace that I have reached. Please refrain from bashing, discrediting, or attacking anyone regarding what was said about our family when Joshua died.)

If you haven't followed along at The Real Life of a Redhead then you don't know that Joshua's death caused a great deal of controversy among a certain group of activists. They took Joshua's death as an opportunity to further their cause. While not all of them were heartless and awful, a good handful of them took the opportunity to blame his death on us. They spread our story far and wide (40,000 unique hits on my blog every day for almost a month after he died) within hours of his death and they said things like, "They will receive no compassion from me. They were warned and didn't listen. Their sons' death is on their hands." or "They obviously didn't love their son and wanted him dead. This is all their fault."

Their harassment continued for 2 years after he died. When Luke arrived, they speculated about our choices in regards to his care as well as threatened to call CPS on our family due to "possibly harming" our child. (All based on assumptions because I have not once shared our decisions publicly.)

I tried my hardest to ignore their comments, but sometimes the pain was so great that it made it difficult to keep the emotions to myself. There was no reasoning with these people, and their words stung. Their persistent accusations left a small seed of doubt in my heart.

But, after a long conversation with a friend a few months ago, I have come to a conclusion.

I have nothing to prove to anyone about Joshua's death. Why or how he died is not something I care to discuss with anyone besides my husband and a few other close friends. There are no "facts" or "proof" about his death. We have the death certificate that clearly states his cause of death being exactly what I have stated from the very moment that he died. That should be proof enough, but like I said- the seed of doubt was always there- even though I knew it to be false. Joshua's death is just something that happened, whether caused or uncaused. None of us will ever really and truly know the answer. The how and the why really isn't important because my God is a sovereign God who knew the number of days before Joshua ever took his first breath.

Because of this, I trust in God's sovereignty. Joshua's life and death were never a burden that I had to carry. God knew the plans for Joshua's life and He loves my son more than I will ever be able to comprehend. I don't carry guilt, doubt, or anger. It's not mine to carry.

After Joshua died, I posted these verses:

For you formed my inward parts;
                                                                                        you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, 
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;   
 my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,   
 intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,   
 the days that were formed for me,    
when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139: 13-16

I continue to cling to those verses because they are truth. God's sovereignty is true and just. It has brought freedom to my life by recognizing that I had no control over Joshua's life and death. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Dad

It's been a year.

My dad began having back pain around Thanksgiving of last year.

He went to the doctor and they treated him for degenerative discs.

It kept getting worse and worse and worse.

This time last year, we didn't realize that he wouldn't be here with us a year later.

3 months later he was gone.

Lung cancer took his life just one day after he turned 56- tumors riddling his spin, lung, glands, and bones. Lung cancer took my dad from me just 14 months after a Congenital Heart Defect took my son. It came out of nowhere- my dad was never a smoker. By the time we found it, it had taken over his entire body. He didn't even get the chance to fight it.

Grieving my dad has been different than grieving my son. It hasn't been as painful. No pain could ever touch the loss of Joshua. I have a lifetime of memories with my dad- I have 51 days of memories with Joshua. As a daughter, you expect to say goodbye to your parents. You don't expect to say goodbye to your own infant child.

But grieving my dad as still been incredibly difficult. Losing my dad left my mom a widow at 56 years old. It left us dazed and confused, wading the murky waters or life insurance, health insurance, 401k's, and buying and selling a home without his guidance. It left a hole in our family that cannot be filled. It left a hole in my heart, right next to the hole from losing Joshua, grasping for some understanding of how my dad could possibly be gone.

I havent' shared much about losing my dad. I've been sensitive to the fact that I am not the only one grieving his loss. My grandparents, aunt, uncle, brother and mom are all grieving too. In an effort to give them some privacy, I've grieved my dad privately- putting on the brave face for my mom and brother when I need to. It's been difficult to not write about it, but I've somehow managed.

But as Thanksgiving is coming, I'm remembering him. I'm remembering what a wonderful and loving daddy he was to me and my brother. I'm remembering what a great example of a husband he was. I'm remembering his love for his family, his quirky sense of humor, his love for my children, and his acceptance and love for my husband.

This holiday season is going to be difficult for our family as we begin new traditions without him. We will grieve, but we will not grieve like those without hope. Death has lost its grip because of Jesus' sacrifice. We will live forever with Him. I'm so thankful for that truth.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Better Attitude

Allowing God to form me into who He wants me to be is a difficult task.

This blog was originally going to be about my weightloss journey. While I know that God wants me to be healthy and to love myself like He loves me, I also know that he demands more of me than just my physical appearance. He cares more about my heart than about the number on the scale.

So, my goal changed. I need to make my heart right and then focus on the physical aspect. (Or maybe better put: I need to make my heart right and my body will follow because of the love and grace of Christ) That doesn't mean I'm going to go buck wild and eat everything in sight, but my weightless cannot be the main focus of my life right now.

Right now, I've taken on a challenge from Philippians 2: 14-16. "Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain."

I still find attending church incredibly hard for me. Worship is so deeply personal for me.  I usually weep through the entire service. I am overwhelmed with love for my savior, but still hurting so intensely. The mix of love, hurt, trust, and grace are completely overwhelming and exhausting to me. But, I find that, week after week, my heart struggles to go.

It would be so incredibly easy for me to skip, to find some excuse to not go. "I'm too tired." "I'm not feeling well." "The kids have exhausted me this morning." "It's too hard and emotionally draining."It's so easy to grumble and complain. It's so easy to find excuses. It's so easy to share my complaining with others who will usually tell me what I want to hear. (Thank you to those of you who continue to speak truth into my life (even when it's not what I want to hear!) and continue to encourage me to move forward!)

 But  Sunday after Sunday, I drag myself to church- often with a darkened heart. I get there and I weep and I cry and I fight the feeling of anger and frustration with myself and with God. Without fail, week after week, I find myself blessed and ministered to in ways that I never expected. I meet God in a way that fuels me for the rest of the week. I find myself surrounded by people who truly love our family (and we love them just as equally) and are there for us- even when we have questions that they don't have answers to.

So, this week, I am remembering- do all things without grumbling or questioning. God has blessed me, even on my darkest days. He has loved me. He treasures me. He longs for me to draw near to him in everything that I do- changing poopy diapers, waking in the middle of the night to calm a crying baby, doing laundry, going to church, worshipping...EVERYTHING.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Transformation of My Heart

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." Psalm 34: 4-10

It has been a long journey for me. Anxiety, grief, depression, self centered-ness, distrust, anger, resentment, and selfishness have taken root in my heart.

But God has been so incredibly faithful.

I remember the early days after Joshua died, feeling a love for God that I had never felt before. I trusted him and I believed in Him. Somewhere along the way though, I lost sight of that love. It morphed into something ugly and scary- something deep and dark.

I still have bad days. I still have days that I cry. (I've started babysitting a couple children during the day and the little boy is 2 months, to the day, older than Joshua would have been. Talk about a punch to the gut!)

But deep down inside, there is peace. Peace that only comes from the restoration of my soul. I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. He didn't turn me away, even with all my ugliness. Instead, he chose to receive me with open arms when I came running back to Him. Not only did He allow me to come back to him, but he healed me. What an awesome God we serve.

He is continuously reminding me that I am his daughter- His precious jewel. He treasures me and loves me more than I will ever be able to comprehend. So much so that He sent his son to die for me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm Finally Here!

I've had this blog created and ready to use for quite a while.

My original purpose with this blog was to help with my weightloss.

However, life got in the way, and I ended up not using it like I wanted to.

Over the past few weeks, my life has changed in ways that I never expected. God has been working on me and preparing me for something much bigger than myself.

It's been a long 2+ years since Joshua died. His death rocked me to my core. It shook me up, tore me apart, and stripped me down to nothing.

But here I am. Still standing. Still believing. Still trusting. And still putting one foot in front of the other, trusting in God's sovereignty.

God has healed me from the anxiety. I have handed over my grief. I still experience sadness, but not the overwhelming and paralyzing kind of grief that once held my life in it's grip.

Now that those things are surrendered at the feet of Jesus, I feel Him telling me to pick myself up. Find myself again. Get rid of the physical weight that I am carrying around. Start taking care of myself. Figure out who I am again so I can effectively reach others.

So, here I am. Starting slowly. Finding myself.

Being a stay at home mom, I've really let myself go. In an effort to simply survive, I've found myself in a place of not even owning a single pair of jeans. Over the past 2 years, I have gotten rid of every single piece of nice clothing that I ever owned. I haven't owned a non nursing bra in over 3 years. My make up stash was down to mascara and 2 shades of eyeshadow. My hair dryer was dusty and shoved in the back of the linen closet.

It may not seem like much to some, but I am consciously making an effort to take better care of myself. I'm starting out slowly, but it has been my goal to make sure that every morning, I get up and do my hair and make up. Even if it's just to put on sweats and a sweatshirt and change diapers all day, I need to do something for myself.

Please. Join me in the next chapter of my life. This will be a chapter of saying goodbye to bad habits and saying hello to finding myself. It is a chapter of allowing God to form me and mold me.

He is preparing me. He is telling me to get up and move forward. So I obey.

Obedience has never felt so good in my entire life.
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