weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Finding Peace In Your Grief Journey
Negative, defeating, discouraging thoughts will always come. Often, they come as seeds planted by others’ words, or the experiences we have. After a loss, they may come in the form of statements such as, “You need to just move on,” or “Don’t cry,” or “aren’t you over that yet?”
I’m sure you’ve heard your share of well-intentioned but hurtful comments. People often say hurtful things, simply because they just don’t know what TO say and end up with a foot in the mouth.
While you may know some of the things others say, or the things you say to yourself aren’t helpful, and usually aren’t even true, it’s easy to fall into the trap of treating yourself as if they are true and dwelling on them. Its easy to do, surrounded and weakened by a fog of grief, but it doesn’t allow for healing.
What often happens if there are such barriers to healing, is that it goes beyond typical grief and can develop into long-lasting depression and anxiety, characterized by guilt and anger. The grief process naturally lasts a long time, and I believe it would be safe to say it leaves a scar that never fully goes away. With that said, the barriers can be like glass in the wound that keeps it from healing properly. It may not always be obvious, but if it gets bumped in some way, it’s like it’s still very well raw and fresh.
Today, I want to ask you if you have glass in your wounds. What unhelpful thoughts keep you from finding that peaceful healing. Are you thoughts leaving you feeling guilty? Angry? Bitter/resentful? What is standing in the way between you and finding peace? Are there lies you are telling yourself that maybe you would never tell another parent here? For example, “I should be over it by now.” “If I had only….” “I shouldn’t have/If I hadn’t ______then this wouldn’t have happened…”
One of the best ways descriptions I could possibly give for working through your grief would be to find a purpose and peace in your experiences. This isn’t possible, though, if you focus only on the unhelpful, guilty, resentful, negative thoughts. It’s not possible if you continue to focus on blame. It’s not possible if you don’t give yourself permission to experience the grief and feel what you feel. It’s okay to admit if your heart is broken, or if you miss your children. It’s okay to admit that you are grieving, even if it has been what others may consider “too long.” It’s not about them. It’s about you and your journey to finding peace with your loss.
Most importantly in your journey to finding peace, it’s important to focus on what is helpful and healing. For me, personally, I have found peace by focusing on the fact that I fully believe that God loves us, that He’s not selfish, and doesn’t allow painful things to happen to us for our own amusement. Scripture tells us that He is Love, and describes in a very detailed way what Love really is. I believe that, and believing that helps me find peace. I believe, as scripture also says, that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us – to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11-13). So if God loves us, love isn’t selfish, and He has plans for us, there must be a loving purpose in my daughter not being with me. Because I believe this, I can honestly say that I would still rather have had my daughter with anencephaly than not at all. She has touched the lives of many and will continue to do so through our non-profit, founded in her name. God had a purpose for her, even though her life here was short. A final thought that has helped me find peace is that I believe fully that Heaven is for real, and I will live my life in such a way that I will be with her again.
I’d like to leave you with a verse that helps me keep my focus:
New International Version (NIV)
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
I've Never Been Here Before
This is "normal."
Is there ever really such thing? I'm getting to experience a "normal" pregnancy with all the normal quirks and symptoms (and some discomforts I didn't really experience with the twins too, but hey, I'll take it).
Yet it doesn't feel normal. Even now, I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have absolutely no reason to actually believe anything will go wrong from this point... he has been growing and everything has gone completely as expected, but it's still hard to just relax. I've heard so many of the horror stories.
Did you know it's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month?
This is part of it... the aftermath of pregnancy and infant loss. Even normal things don't really seem normal after loss.
Throughout this pregnancy, I've allowed myself to be distracted by so many other things (largely feeling stressed about work)... but I wonder how much of it is my way of coping too - trying to keep myself from focusing too much on the what-if's. Once a baby loss mom, always a baby loss mom. Even had another dream last night about Paxton falling and having what seemed to be a potentially life-threatening injury. Just like the last one, it was some kind of brain trauma. I know every parent has those kinds of fears, but for me, it's another reminder that I need to get the fall flower arrangement to the cemetery for my baby girl.
I do have peace in knowing that whatever happens, God has a plan and we'll be okay. I just still find myself pleading, "God, please don't ask that of us again..." I know very well that if He did, it would be because He had a very big, loving reason for doing so. I know that He'd give us what we need exactly when we need it. I know that and I believe it... but at the same time, there's such a part of me that is just still so weary. The part of me that longs for Heaven regularly - the eternal home where things are stable and God's love and peace saturates EVERYTHING. That part of me hopes that Heaven comes before any more major losses. Maybe that sounds bad to someone who hasn't been through a journey like ours, I don't know. I'm being honest though.
We've not announced this little darlin's name. Not really because we're trying to keep it a secret, it's more because we've just not been sure ourselves! We're continually being asked, and I can't give a definite answer, even though we're about 99.9% sure. What we do know, however, is that we plan for his middle name to be Isaac.
During the last pregnancy, the story of Abraham and Isaac came up so frequently. I wasn't asked to sacrifice Carys on an altar, but we were asked to sacrifice our hopes and dreams for her and trust that God had other plans for us. I had to be willing to let her go before I could find peace. I know all too well that the same could be true for any other loved one. I have to be willing to let go, no matter how much it hurts, and trust that God will provide. That certainly includes this new, very loved little boy.
God always provides. Sometimes, we're just too busy clinging to things we need to let go and we completely miss what He may have for us. Trust isn't always easy. It's not always comfortable. But God always provides.
New International Version (NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
For those who don't know....
Life gets crazy, right? Sometimes it seems like we're pulled in a billion different directions. Sometimes it's far from fun. Sometimes, it's exciting. It's always full of blessings (even if we don't choose to focus on them).
I've definitely been aware of and thankful for my blessings lately, even when I get overwhelmed with other things. In fact, as I type now, I'm enjoying listening to Paxton and his daddy laughing together playing in the other room.
This brings me to the other news, "for those who don't know."
Baby Kitchen #3 is on the way.
This morning, we got another peek at Baby Kitchen #3, and everything looked perfect. After last pregnancy, we're overly aware of how easily things can change. I've heard so many "horror stories" at this point of so many of the things that can go wrong, that even though things have been perfectly smooth, I can't help but be nervous. Even so, we're at peace and know that God still knows what He's doing. Every appointment, we leave feeling relieved to have another good report.
As strange as it may seem for a blogger to be quiet about something so big, I've had a hard time posting here on the blog and haven't even posted anything publicly on facebook until now. In part, I've wanted to be cautious about how I approach announcements because I have so many people on my friends' list whose losses are still fresh or who continue to struggle with infertility. I know when someone is hurting, it can be difficult to see others' happy, healthy pregnancies plastered everywhere. To those who are hurting, please know I wish you peace and comfort.
The other part of my hesitation to publicly post about our newest little blessing is that it still seems hard to believe. Even though we're currently at 31 weeks, it's hard to believe that in a matter of weeks, we might get to bring another baby home with us. Those who have a baby or babies in Heaven will understand that, I'm sure.
However, as long as things continue to go as well as they have, our newest little boy will be arriving in a little under 2 months. We're very thankful, blessed, and excited about the opportunity to welcome another baby boy into our family. Paxton is excited about "baby brudder" and often puts my hand on my belly over his and calls for his daddy, "daddy, come feel baby wiff us!"
Yes, life is crazy sometimes, and things get overwhelming and stressful at times, but I'm so very thankful for my family. They bring me so much joy! I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be called mommy. I recognize that it is a privilege not all have a chance to experience. Trust me, I don't want to ever take it for granted.
|left: baby K #3, right: Paxton ... think they might look a little bit alike? :)|
Sunday, August 4, 2013
As I've recently posted, there are many good things happening. I'm very excited about the foundation, I'm very much in love with my family... I am a very blessed woman.
In other areas, I can't help but feel that no matter how hard I try, it will never be enough.
I was thinking recently about the one shift I worked in the cafeteria in undergrad. I remember being at the brink of tears most of the time I was there. It wasn't the work I minded, it was that it was another tie I had created there when I felt horribly unsettled about being there. I didn't have a rational reason to give, just that I felt very out of place (in a place I had loved until then). When I tried to think of a solution, the one that gave me a great deal of peace was "simple." Transfer.
I didn't know why, but I was miserable. For whatever reason, I didn't belong where I was. After calling home in tears, my parents were supportive in allowing me to pack up and transfer to a local university where I spent the next semester. Even though I was going to classes with all new people in a place outside of my comfort zone, I felt more peace. I knew I had to go, and I went.
Looking back, there were a number of things I experienced because of that semester that seemed to be parts of the reason God was directing me there - and I do believe God was leading me there. I often wonder, though, if a big part of the reason for leaving for just the one semester was simply a lesson in following. Simply recognizing that when I had no peace where I was, it was because I needed to be elsewhere.
While I do have many blessings to count, I've also been feeling very out of place in a couple of areas. I don't feel like I can really be open about details right now, but the general idea is simple. If I'm struggling so hard in something to make it work, but no matter how hard I try, it doesn't work... Maybe i'm trying too hard at the wrong thing(s).
In college, the answer was simple. Transfer out of your comfort zone and trust. Now that I'm older, it's really not as simple. I have an idea of what changes I need to make, but I'm limited in how much I can do. My choices don't only impact me. I'm willing, I'm just feeling stuck where I don't belong while I wait for what's coming next. So, for the moment, I guess my answer is to continue to pray for wisdom, and trust.
I trust that God knows where I am in my journey. He knows where I'm headed. Best of all, He sees what steps are next, even when I don't.I'm trusting... wearily... but ready to take the next step in the right direction, as soon as I have peace about what direction that may be.
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The Grocery Store Debacle: The Two-year-old vs. Mommy
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Life gets busy! .... and it's about to get even more busy.
Really though, I'm not posting to talk about the struggles... I'd actually rather not even go into that right now. I just wanted to take a few moments to throw out some good updates. First of all, I announced in April that the foundation is officially tax exempt. We're still moving forward! It's been a slow road so far, but I'm still so excited to see the potential we have in front of us.
I've recently had the opportunity to engage in some discussion about the future possibility of some research in the area of pregnancy and infant loss. I won't go into details right now, but I can say (while trying to stifle my nerdy excitement) that i'm pretty excited about the possibilities of the information we can give back to the medical and mental health communities!
In order to raise funds for the projects we have planned for the future, we're having our first big fundraiser this coming weekend (all day July 27th). It will be an online auction, hosted on the foundation's facebook page (www.facebook.com/carysrainn). We've had lots of great donations and support so far! I'm very hopeful and looking forward to the auction (maybe not so much the shipping chaos that is bound to follow... but it'll be worth it!).
For now, that's all I'm going to share. This momma is exhausted and I've been looking at my computer screen the bigger part of the day, writing, calculating shipping estimates, and trying to get organized for the big auction.
Don't forget to watch for rainbows!
Monday, June 24, 2013
As you know, it's a Monday again. My thoughts are drifting to the negative and I'm starting the week feeling weary and worn down. I need your help. Help me, Lord, to be positive in my thoughts and speech. Please, help me be an encouragement to those around me rather than a dark cloud. Help me to be the employee and therapist you'd have me to be. Let my words be your words.
Lord, as this new week begins, help me to be the kind of wife, mother, friend, and family member you have called me to be. Lead me to actions that will reflect you and your Amazing Love.
Thank you for your many blessings. Thank you for the opportunities in front of me. Thank you for my family and friends. Thank you for giving me a way to earn money for my family. Thank you for loving even me.
I need you Lord.... and I love you. Please, let others see you when they look at me.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Numbering our days...
Since becoming a Maranomi, I've met many others with children in Heaven, and have heard the stories of many, many more. Early pregnancy losses with unknown causes, knotted umbilical cords, birth defects, rare infections and complications, and difficulties in childbirth. SIDS, death from crib accidents and falls, furniture and appliances being overturned. Car accidents, child abuse, and murders. Cancer and other terminal illnesses. The list goes on. As a mother, the thought can be terrifying.
I used to just hear that miscarriages are common in the first trimester. As if we no longer need to worry about losing our much-loved children after 13 weeks gestation. Insert sarcastic "ha" here. I've always know anyone of any age could leave this world for eternity at any time, but not until I became a Maranomi did I really FEEL the fragility of life. I've touched Heaven. I know how close it is.
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
It seems like I do number our days now. I'm overly aware of how quickly any of us.... from the smallest to the oldest could leave this world in any moment. I know that, if God has me stay here for any length of time, I will most likely experience more painful losses. Though the thought of it makes me feel ill....and weary all over again, I know...without a doubt, that God will always provide.
Numbering our days helps put things in perspective. It's easier for me to look for the bigger picture and not focus so much on the details. The biggest picture is that we are ALL in this world for a period of time that, relative to eternity, is extremely short. Heaven awaits for those who have accepted God's selfless gift off forgiveness and chosen to follow Him.
The big picture is that I'm forgiven and Heaven is Real. The big picture is that I want to see you there. Any moment may be our last. Are you ready?
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Two years ago, late at night between April 20th and April 21st, I was at the height of my grief. The pregnancy was coming to an end and I was a few hours away from my scheduled time in the O.R. for the C-section.
Two years ago tonight, I was broken, but anticipating morning. What I didn't know at the time was just how much peace God would give us. Enough to not only get us through the day, but also to give us a glimpse of Heaven.
Part of me is still broken and always will be on this earth, but that's okay. It's part of life as a Maranomi. I embrace it now... it keeps Heaven feeling nearby.
I have a feeling I will always have the urge to revisit the journey as their birthday approaches. I have been going back and reading from the caringbridge entries and going through my rough draft of their story. I never want to forget the details. God had so much planned when He created my babies... and I am still seeing how His plans fit together in so many amazing ways.
So... tonight, as I'm up later than I should be, I'd like to offer a word of encouragement. When your storm is at its darkest.... when you are most weary, broken, and beaten down... hold on just a little bit longer. God still loves you. Trust that He has a plan to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Even when it hurts. You never know if He's just about to let you touch Heaven. Keep your eyes on Him or you may just miss what He wants to show you!
Friday, March 29, 2013
Easter will always be a reminder
As we were sitting in revival last night, I asked Aaron, "Have you thought about the fact that it's the Thursday before Easter?"
My babies were born the Thursday before Easter two years ago. I thought it was very significant. I remember so clearly the peace we felt, even as Carys' heart stopped. I remember what it felt like to touch Heaven.
I also remember how, as the peace we so desperately needed that day faded, I started to feel so down and defeated. I remember how dark Good Friday started to feel. I remember us reading the Easter Story and how I could relate to the disciples in a way I never could before, with my spirit being willing but my flesh being weak... and sore from surgery... and just utterly exhausted.
Thankfully, though, I remember the excitement as we started to focus on the miracle we experienced when we touched Heaven. I remember the excitement and gratitude as we focused on (and still focus on) how because Christ loved us THAT much, we have a home in Heaven where we can see our daughter again.
It'll actually be two years in a little less than a month from now. Heaven still feels closer than it did before Carys came for her brief stay. I am so grateful for the peace in knowing Heaven is Real. I'm so thankful... beyond words... for the gift that was given at Calvary. I'm so eternally grateful to know that, although our baby girl is not here with her brother and us, she's not lost forever.
Easter will always be a reminder. I'm so thankful.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
How Carys Changed my Prayer Life
After Carys' diagnosis, I craved knowing people were praying for us; even after God told me, "no" to my request that she be made whole. I didn't need people to pray she'd be made whole (God assured me that it wasn't His plan and I knew I had to accept that), but I needed people to pray for strength and comfort for us. I know God was taking care of us anyway, but it seemed that we'd always hear, "We've been praying for you!" at times we'd felt the peace and comfort the most.
I always believed in prayer, but hadn't found a resolve in my thoughts when it came to the idea that, "if you pray hard enough, you'll be healed," or if you weren't healed, "you must not have had enough faith." That never had seemed right to me, but in the midst of our storm, I came to a much more confident, secure place in my faith as it pertained to healing.
God had created her. He formed her, as no human could ever successfully have done without Him. He created her. There was no doubt in my mind that He could form her skull and develop her brain in an instant. I believed and believe that He was capable. Even after her diagnosis was confirmed, I wouldn't have been surprised if He'd chosen to do so. But, I also knew that earthly wholeness is not always in God's plan. I trusted Him to take care of us, even when it hurts.
I have a harder time praying for life now. I find myself praying more for eternal preparedness, comfort, and peace, with whatever the outcome may be. He knows better than I do. Who am I to make a request on someone else's behalf that may rob them of something beautiful God had intended to create through their pain? I pray they feel His love; that they are open to His peace. Receptive to His plans.
God knows what He's doing. I don't need to tell Him how to be God. I can make my gift requests for others, but I can much more easily pray, "Your will be done." I'm continually learning to trust Him to give us a glimpse of beautiful through the storms. He's got this.
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Room for Improvement
I've been pondering the reasons/excuses/barriers people have when it comes to seeking mental health services. I recently asked on the After The Rainn facebook page what others thought, and the following are some of the responses I received. I tried to categorize them as much as I could.
"What other people may think of them."
"The stigma that goes along with having a mental health problem"
"Misconception that seeing a mental health counselor = crazy."
"Fear of judgment from someone who knows nothing about what is going on in their lives."
"Fear of admitting that something is wrong and that it's something they can't handle on their own."
"Shame that they can't handle a problem on their own.
"Fear in admitting that you have a problem."
"I think that saying 'mental health' may be more offputting as it has an underlying tone of "maybe I am crazy" rather than "i just need some guidance""
"the culture in this area...it's not "socially acceptable" to talk about your problems and pay someone to listen...i think that this is more of a "put on your big girl panties" and deal with it kind of culture where kids are taught not to cry and talk about feelings."
"Difficulty discussing feelings/problems."
"Fear of failure even with professional help."
"Fear of hearing the feedback for your feelings/problems."
(rural areas) "the reality that you know who the counselors/therapists are outside of the therapy setting."
"I would worry about confidentiality and from experience I can say it sucks running into people at the grocery store who know all about your dirty laundry..."
Not knowing who to see
Lack of available resources
"Denying that they need help."
"Some people believe there is nothing wrong with them and everyone else around them is at fault."
"Inability to recognize that there is a problem."
"Don't think their condition is worthy of a MHC."
Looking at the list of responses I received, it would seem that the majority are about social fears/a stigma attached to mental health services.
I'm going to suggest 5 reasons to consider seeing a mental health counselor.
1. Nobody has it ALL together. Everyone has areas of weakness and areas of strength, and talking to someone who is neutral ( and trained) can help give you great insight into your own weaknesses and strengths so you can make the best of both. This can be especially helpful in times of transition (education, career, relationships, moving to a new place, marriage, divorce, etc.).
2. Counselors are trained to help you process difficult life experiences, meaning that it's our job to help you find some peace with or meaning in the potentially traumatic experiences in your life. In reality, we all have difficult, painful experiences (some more than others). If we're not finding some kind of peace with them, they don't go away, they are just swept under the rug with everything else; and after a while, it's easy to trip over the rug.
3. We all form bad habits in how we relate to others and ourselves. This could come in many forms, such as negative, unrealistic messages (like telling yourself that you are always a failure or you just can't do anything right...), or just focusing on your own wants to see your loved ones' needs.
4. Often, mental health symptoms may be rooted in physical health problems, but if you are not discussing them with mental health/health professionals, you may be missing something!
5. It's okay to ask for help. If you are not feeling well physically, it's okay to ask a doctor for help. If you are not feeling well spiritually, it's okay to ask a pastor/spiritual leader for help. If you are not feeling well over-all, it's okay to ask a counselor for help!
If you're not ignoring your physical needs, don't ignore your spiritual or mental/emotional needs either!!
If you are having difficulty finding resources, check your local yellow pages or go to www.medovin.com to find a counselor licensed in your state for distance/online counseling (this form of counseling is not for emergencies or those under 18 years of age, who would need to find a local mental health provider instead).
If you are seeking mental health services in Kentucky via online video-based chat (and you are not among my family and friends because that would be a conflict of interest), visit my counseling page at http://counseling.aftertherainn.com.
As a mental health counselor, I believe that everyone can benefit from mental health services. Consider it finding a life-consultant!
Wishing you peace, health, and healing!
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
2012 started off with some remaining fog while I was trying to pull myself together to start moving forward.
Since that time, there has definitely been some progress. In 2012, we started a non-profit corporation in Carys' memory and it is starting to move forward (though we are waiting for tax exempt status still). I returned to a more flexible work schedule. I finished my first book (available at Amazon). We've watched Paxton grow into a joyful, smart, (very, very... very) active toddler. Carys' grave has a monument. Good things have happened as time moves on and we continue to miss our baby girl. There have also been areas where we have continued to feel... stuck.
While we're making progress, some of the things we want to see happen the most are just not happening very quickly.
I was reminded today of the site, www.myoneword.com. The concept is to pick one word to be your focus and theme for the year to come. We chose a word tonight.
Our word, to combat feelings of ... stuck-ness (haha) ... is ACTION.
God is always in action. We are in action. We are moving forward.
Even when we feel stuck, there is action. I know this because God is always working. He always has a plan. His timing is ALWAYS right, even when we can't see the big picture and think we must just not be moving.
So, as we begin 2013, I am choosing to not focus on feeling stuck. That will get me nowhere. Instead, I'm focusing on taking action where God directs, and actively waiting on His timing (continuing to do what I know He has called me to do while I wait for the bigger pieces to fall into place).
God is in ACTION.
Happy New Year!