It's early in the morning and the grey light finds its way through our white curtains. I stare up at the ceiling for a moment and pull the white duvet to my face. There's something comforting about the soft, heavy, blanket on our bed. There are days when I wish I could stay in that space - that safe space below the blanket - and sleep away the reality unfolding before me.
Victory isn't growing safely inside me anymore. We prayed for so many days that God would undo any damage and bring healing to her. After my contractions had come and gone, I just barely whispered, "Resurrect her now?" The tears find us each day right now. We hold each other and cry almost every day when Isaac comes home.
I am writing her story and I want to share it with you in the coming weeks. Today I want to tell you about the things that have been deeply encouraging to me because that seems most urgent. There are so many mommas who have lost their babies and I want you to know that I hear you. I hear the stories you're telling me. I hear the ache in your heart and I want you to know that your child's life matters. I want you to hear the things that have encouraged me in hopes that maybe encouragement will resound in your heart as well.
To those of you who have lost a child through miscarriage and stillbirth, I'm so sorry. I'm sorry because it was truly never supposed to be like this. Death was not supposed to be taking our babies. Death is singing sins song and it's a horrible, no-good song. But one day, God will raise our babies to life. One day, because of Jesus' death and resurrection, our babies will be raise from their grave to a forever life that can't be touched by death ever again. Our hearts long to hold the babies we have never met and one day the Lord will satisfy that longing when He resurrects His children. Until that day.
Things that have encouraged me in grief
(1) The Resurrection Playlist
Isaac and I immediately started a playlist to help us fix our eyes on Jesus and His promises. When my sister, Jaelyn, texted me and asked me what she could do, I asked her to send me her favorite Resurrection songs. Youtube videos poured in for the rest of the day.
(2) Habakkuk 3:17-19
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.
(3) Homecooked Dinner
A couple friends have sent us gift cards or brought us dinner. It's been a blessing to let someone else take care of dinner every so often. In grief, it's easy, and even natural, to isolate yourself. When someone offers to bring you dinner, just say, "yes."
As it turns out, my friend, Lisa, makes the best jumbo shells I have ever had. Stephen and Rachel sent us a gift card to one of our favorite restaurants.
(4) New Music
My friend Savannah sent me a worship album just minutes after I told her.
(5) Hebrews 4:16
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(6) Silence with Jesus
I wondered where He was when everything was falling apart and I was begging Him to save my baby. I wondered where He was in those first hours of grief and I asked Him, "Where are you? Where are you, Lord?" And He showed me this image of one of my friends crying with me while I cried. I want you to know that Jesus is grieving with us when we are losing our sweet babies. I want you to know that nothing has escaped His eye and He weeps with us. We see that in the story of Lazarus: John 11.
(7) My mom came over
I had wanted to spend the day by myself and I'm so glad I didn't. She came over and cleaned our house, did my laundry, took care of lunch, gave us a baking pumpkin (baking is one of my favorite things), and she gave us mums so we could start a garden for Victory.
(8) My sis, Jaelyn, dropped everything
She is a new wife, a college student, and a nanny and she dropped everything to come down and hug me. It was the same day my Mom was over, so we watched a movie and talked about nothing (because that's what I felt like doing).
(9) I made a list of how I felt loved.
In grief, it's so easy to try to find a person, or people, to blame. I started making a list of verses, songs, cards, and people who encouraged me and supported me. I have continued to do this and it's been a blessing to have a record of how we have been loved.
(10) An unannounced visit
My friend, Kim, blessed me so much with an unexpected visit the day after I told her what had happened. We sat on my deck and she let me tell my story. She let me say the hard things and she didn't try to explain my pain or my loss. She just listened.
I wouldn't suggest just stopping by, unannounced, when someone is grieving, but Kim knew what I needed and it blessed me so much.
(11) Going to a conference with a friend
Deena went with me to a women's conference the weekend after we lost Victory. She was already planning on hosting me, but when everything happened, she gave me freedom to come or to stay home. She and Rod quickly offered for Isaac and Daniel to come and stay so that we wouldn't have to be apart - and that, that right there - was the biggest blessing someone could have given us.
So we went to parts of the conference and they ordered takeout from the best BBQ in St Louis - Sugarfire. So good.
(12) A trip to Kentucky
Isaac is taking classes at Southern through their online program and his in-person classes just happened to fall the week after we lost Victory. While we were trying to figure out if Daniel and I should go to KY with him, Isaac's parents offered to get us a suite so that we could be together. We decided to go and even though we only saw Isaac in the evening, I can't imagine doing that week any other way.
(13) Southern Seminary
We received a lot of emails from Isaac's professors after our loss. I wasn't expecting a Seminary to take note of what was happening and show us so much love, but they did. You have the freedom to let people in your life know what's going on.
(14) Praying over us
It takes a true friend to pray over you. It requires vulnerability on their end and on yours. Friends have prayed for us over the phone and in person. This is something I would have forgotten if I hadn't written it down (#9).
(15) We buried our baby
Miscarriage isn't something we talk about. And I almost wonder if it's a topic considered taboo in our culture. We decided to bury our baby on Isaac's parent's land. It was just Isaac, Daniel, and me under the stars one night. It was one of the most painful preparations we have ever made, but it brought so much healing. If you have lost a baby, no matter how long ago it was, I would encourage you to have a private ceremony. It is one of the hardest things that we ever did, but it has brought so much healing.
This is a hard thing to share with you. If you have had a miscarriage and didn't have the opportunity to bury your baby for whatever reason, I love you and there is no shame in this part of your story. I only share this in case someone is wondering what to do. If you're wondering what to do, I want you to know that you can bury your baby. You don't need anyone's permission to do that.
(16) our friends released balloons
My friend, Brandy, printed verses, tied them to balloons, and shared our story with her children. They let the balloons go and she whispered to her boys, "but Victory belongs to the Lord." Tears.
Thank you for remembering her and honoring her life, friend.
(17) Psalm 16:1-11
Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.[b]
The sorrows of those who run after[c] another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.[d]
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(18) Thy will
I found this song in my inbox one morning from Deena and it put words to my heart. I have listened to it countless times in the last weeks.
(19) Christa Black Gifford's interview with the Influence Network
I listened to this interview before I found out I was pregnant. I cried in the car at Starbucks and hurt so deeply for her and her family. I listened to it again the Friday before everything started. It's a moving interview.
(20) Isaiah 57:1
"Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come."
This verse wouldn't be encouraging to me except for the fact that Isaac read it to me. It's not a verse you should throw at a grieving person. But Isaac, who was grieving with me, found comfort in this verse and it has, in return, comforted mine as well.
(21) Matthew 7:7-11
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"
He gives blessings, and not curses, to His people. I will be honest with you and tell you that Victory's death feels a lot more like curse. And certainly the blessing doesn't lie in her death, but in the full life she now has in Jesus because He defeated death for her, giving her the forever life. I know my Jesus has not given me a snake when I asked for bread. One day I will see with my eyes what I know in full now: she has a body she never had while she was with me and she has a life she never had while she is with me.
(22) Psalm 139
I want you to read this whole passage: click here to read.
There are two things that have encouraged me from this text. One, the Lord sees me. He sees me in all my grieving and in every tear. He sees Isaac and I when it feels like everyone else has forgotten.
And He sees Victory.
He sees Victory even though we cannot. He still chose to give her life and He chose to know her. He chose to love her and be grieved by her death. She cannot be unseen.
(23) There will be a day
My family was coming over so that we could tell them the news. The Lord gave me a vision of Victory, grown to 8 or 9 years old. One day I will share that vision with you, but let me tell you the words He said to me. His words, which aren't just for me, but for you, too, grieving momma: "I know it feels like it will be forever before you see [them] again, but there will be a day when you feel as though no time has passed."