Monday, March 25, 2013


We don't imagine bad things happening to us. Illness, death, accidents and loss are anecdotes in a sermon or stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul XVII. And there isn't much to prepare us when the bottom does fall out, because tragedy is an abstract fear until it is all too palpable.

I knew early in our relationship that Joe will be an amazing father. Perhaps even earlier than I knew I wanted to marry him. So even more than my desire to be a mother, I wanted (want) Joe to get to be a father.  When we found out I was pregnant in December, the joy was overwhelming. Truly overwhelming, in the best way possible. I couldn't wait to be a parent with the man I look up to and respect more than anyone. I would lie in bed and think about the little peanut, praying for each little toe and finger I knew I already, we already, loved so much.

But a few weeks later, we learned we would never meet that peanut. And that love would become the sickening kind you feel when you lose something. A silent ultrasound at the ER was one of the worst sounds  we've ever heard and it broke our hearts.

Being told you've lost a baby is a fear every woman has. We know, if nothing else, we have that one thing on men, I guess, and we are specifically designed to do it. When we can't, it's a biological gut punch. And it seems to be the worst thing imaginable. And it is, because I would never have imagined there was something harder than hearing I'd lost my baby.

The doctor ordered a D & C as opposed to waiting to pass the "tissue" naturally, which could take two weeks. And yes, "tissue" is the cold, clinical term that I kept hearing to refer to my lost peanut. I agreed with the surgery because I wanted to grieve and be sad, but to be moving in a direction away from this as soon as I could. Two weeks of waiting for my body to painfully expel something sounded too gruesome for me.

In an episode of Friends, Rachel says, "I really thought I just hit rock bottom. But today, there's rock bottom, 50 feet of crap, and then me."

I couldn't find her saying the quote I used,
but this sass will do. 

50 feet of crap farther than rock bottom, it turns out, is being told you had a cancerous pregnancy.

My "condition" is called a molar pregnancy. It is a rare freak fertilization malfunction that results in a tumor that eventually kills the cells trying to make a baby while still mimicking a pregnancy. Pretty rude, right?

I told my doctor she needed to repeat herself because I had just hallucinated she told me I had a tumor.

" You probably don't have the tumor anymore. We most likely got it all in your D&C, but you'll still need to wait 6 months to a year to try again. You will get a blood test every week till your hormones are normal again. If they don't get back to normal, than you'll have to do some chemo. But it's light chemo."

A series of explicatives ran through my head and thankfully not out of my mouth. Vomit, though, did almost come out of my mouth.

The doctor explained everything again and said I was lucky that I was getting to keep my uterus, "that's the silver lining."

That's the silver lining? That's what I am supposed to tell my 24 year- old self who is facing chemo and being told to wait 6 months to a year, that at least I get to keep my uterus?

The suffering seemed relentless.

After calling Joe, who was already on his way to Florida, I spent the next few days in the same pair of sweatpants watching a  Criminal Minds marathon. Polly rarely left my side-- proving dogs are the best things ever.

Fictional friends 
 I began  wandering around the house one day in between episodes. Polly followed me, curious as to why I left the bedroom, I am sure. I found myself in the room, the one that was supposed to be the baby's room and I thought about all the plans I had already bookmarked in my computer to decorate the room. And all the cute, tiny clothes I was excited to buy. And all the nights I has planned on Joe and I staying awake, taking turns feeding or holding or just staring at the little person who was supposed to live in there.
Real friend.
Yo, mom, I am fine with staying in bed
all day. 

And it was that nondescript day to the rest if the world  that I realized I had been asking God the wrong question.

I was determined to not be bitter or resentful with God. And I was doing a decent  job. But I wasn't praying the prayer I needed to be praying.

I had been asking why instead of asking where.

In Matthew 4:19-20, Jesus comes to Simon and Andrew in the middle of their work day and tells them to follow him and they will become fishers of men. Matthew 4:21-22 has a similar response but I love the syntax of James and John's actions. The bible says, " He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father, and followed him." It's all one sentence, it's one fluid motion separated by commas so you see that John and James  have no hesitation. They don't even think about it long enough for the bible to document periods; they leave their job, their father, and they go.

When Jesus says, "Follow me," it isn't a conditional statement. He doesn't say, "Follow me at your convenience," nor does he say, " Follow me only as far as you are comfortable. Only in leaving our metaphorical boats or even real fathers or families, and asking, "Where to?" can we fully receive and embrace God's love for us. And we wonder why people are unsatisfied in their faiths; because merely liking Jesus isn't enough. Simply accepting Christ in words or even prayer does not a disciple make. We have to get up and go where he calls us to be.

The where just may not be where we wanted to go.

By now, we've all experienced mishaps with autocorrect on texts. There are even blog sites dedicated to these sometimes very embarrassing "corrections." My phone gets hooked on autocorrecting " I love you" into " I live you."  It's not as silly or embarrassing as the " something" coming out as "some thong," but it is a message that has made me stop and think. Do I love Christ, or do I live him? Saying I love him is awesome and important, but he is asking for more than words, he is asking that we live our love out.

Actions speak louder than words, right?

Not a very delicate piece
of jewelry. 

During the French Revolution people wore guillotines as jewelry. Sounds gruesome. But then I think of how many different pieces of jewelry I own that have a cross on it. A symbol we have attributed to purity to holiness and to salvation is actually as gruesome as a guillotine. A cross, The Cross, is all of those nouns, but it is a sign of suffering.   

My suffering seems, at this point, to be not letting up soon. My hormones have not dropped as they were supposed to and I could have another D and C, bumping us back another 6 months. If the surgery doesn't work, I face "light chemo, " which sounds oxymoronic.

This is my cross to bear now. This is my battlefield, and I am fighting for more than my health or my motherhood, I am fighting for God and His promised Kingdom. Because right now it would be totally socially acceptable to break down and curse my Lord. In fact, it would prove the points or reasons non- believers cling to. But even " the demons believe" (James 2:19) and God hasn't abandoned me, so I will not abandon Him.

Being close to Him may bring you to uncomfortable,  socially compromising, and challenging positions, but those are just your mission fields. You don't have to go to a remote village in a third world country to be a disciple. Your mission field may be closer than you think. Like next cubicle over. Or the lady next to me in the hospital waiting room. We have opportunity to worship God and serve Him in our most average and everyday lives. So while we may feel worldly suffering, we should look to the path that allows us to be a light in a place of darkness.

I feel closer to God because of these past few months than I ever have before.
I am devastated to lose a baby Joe and I already loved; but in that loss I have found a greater understanding of God's love. He sent His son to die for us, if anyone knows that grief, it's God.
I am afraid of cancer and chemo and being sick; but I am more afraid of becoming bitter and resentful when God is asking me to take on a new ministry.

I know if I relentlessly pursue God he too will relentlessly pursue me.
I've spent time mad at God. I asked Him to follow me and my rules. Other major world religions involve our reaching to god or to a state of holiness. In Christianity, God reaches for us. His plan is so much more important and awesome than mine, and yet he reaches for me and "calls me by name" ( Isaiah 43:1)  and offers me a spiritual life I don't deserve.

Jesus tells Nicodemus in John 3 that humans cannot do to go to heaven, we have to be. Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin (Old Testament scholar) asks how can he change, how can he become something he's not?  Jesus has the perfect opening to tell this educated, knowledgable, doing man, the man that wants to know what to do to go to heaven but yet comes to Jesus at night so as not to be seen-- our state of being cannot be changed by anyone but God. God opens our hearts and changes who we are and who we are to become. Acts 16: 14 we get that exact active wording with Lydia, " The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul." When we pursue God, He will open our hearts, He will tear down the walls we've built, He will provide us with His love and the path He wants us to take to show more people that love.

My battlefield, my mission field, right now is not one of comfort or contentment.  But then this wouldn't be a mission field. I wouldn't be given the gift of suffering that will allow the Holy Spirit to work through me to plant seeds in other people's lives. I get to be a witness to Christ in the way He wants, nay, He trusts me to be.

Christ is asking me, giving me the opportunity, to follow him. It is my faithful duty to leave my comfort zone and simply say, " Where to?" 

*For a more formalized study on following Christ, I recommend the Clear Creek Community church app the "Complete" study. For reading on this, Follow Me by David Platt and Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. Also Crazy Love by Francis Chan.


  1. LOVE YOU WOMAN!!! LOVE this post!!! You are AMAZING!!!! I think of you often....let me know if there is EVER anything we can do!!!!

  2. What wonderful words of encouragement! Even in our darkest moments, Jesus is the only Light. God takes these painful moments when we lose our "peanut" to remind us that He voluntarily gave up His child--for sinners like us. I marvel at Abraham's faith when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. I don't know if I could have done it. But I know He didn't hesitate to offer up His Son. Wow! May He strengthen you, Joe, and the peanuts to come. (Be encouraged--after two miscarriages, God gave us two beautiful girls and a Phillies fan!)

  3. I found this post through a friend posting it on Facebook and it is such a great read. I just wanted to encourage you with a sermon by a pastor that I know out here in California (who also happens to be a dear friend of Francis Chan, who lives out here in SF as well.) Anyway - this man, Britt Merrick just endured the death of his 9 year old daughter who had cancer. This sermon that he gave after her three year battle and just before she died addresses that question of "why?" from his perspective and I found it incredibly encouraging. Hope you will, too! Here's the link:

  4. As you can see having the baby9or trying to) is a very dangerous thing that can even kill you. Many women dies during birth while they could live a long and happy life. It's MUCH better not to have children - and live a long and healthy life.