charlie's song


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Proof of God’s Goodness

About a decade ago there was an engaged couple who lived a few towns over from ours. And on the very day of their June wedding, as the bride and her bridesmaids (the grooms sisters) were driving to the ceremony, their car was struck and they were killed upon impact. All of their hope, all of their excitement, all of their dreams for not just the day, but their whole life ahead…gone forever. In a single moment of impact.

This is how it feels when a baby dies right before birth. I have thought about this story a thousand times since we said goodbye to our sweet Charlie James. Because being pregnant is so very much like an engagement. You find out you’re pregnant and you immediately begin to hope and plan and dream about your new life together. It hurts beyond words to lose a baby at 37 weeks at the height of anticipation and hope.

And now we have a new hurt. Having an early miscarriage is like a broken engagement months before the wedding would have been. It isn’t like losing your love on the very day of the wedding, but to lose someone you had hoped to have a lifetime with…still hurts so very much.

My heart hurt a lot today as I took my kids to the pool and VBS. The usual Mommy joy I feel at watching them splash in the pool and sing songs about Jesus…is tangled up within all of the deeper sorrow we now carry in our hearts. Between all of the newborn babies and all of the pregnant women around us, simple summertime activities have become a constant reminder of all that is missing from our lives. Of dreams shattered. Of hopes deferred. Of hearts broken and sick.

And our hearts are broken. But it isn’t just the brokenness that makes life hard right now. The hardest part is actually the mirage of “wholeness” that presses in all around us. Weddings and babies are incredible gifts that really are some of the sweetest parts of life. Even people who don’t believe in God and acknowledge Him as the Giver…still see the goodness in such precious gifts.

But have you ever noticed how reality shows about weddings and babies always seem to end with the gift? Most rom coms end when the bride and groom finally say “I do.” Most baby movies end when the chubby, cooing baby is brought safely home. We, both as a culture and, dare I say, the church, have made these gifts the end.

And perhaps even worse, we have made them the proof. The proof of God’s goodness. The proof of His favor and love. We don’t usually say it like that, but we still say it. We say that “God is good” or it’s “God’s grace” when something wonderful happens. I’ve noticed that these words get thrown around an awful lot at weddings and baby showers, but we get strangely quiet about them in hospitals and cemeteries. I know it’s usually because people just plain don’t know what to say. But our silence kind of betrays our lack of trust.

Is God not good when tragedy strikes? Is God’s grace not abundantly present when you are finally brought to such an utterly soul-decimated place that you no longer have anything to cling to and to hope in but God and His sustaining goodness and grace?

It’s easy to sit in an ivory tower and speak lofty theological sentiments when all is well with the world…but when you’ve buried two babies in five months, I promise you, words are not enough. You need proof. Proof that isn’t wrapped up in more things that could end up being lost. No matter how long a wonderful marriage lasts…it still ends when death do you part. No matter how many healthy babies you bring home…there’s still a goodbye that awaits every single one of earth’s sweetest relationships.

And no matter who you are and what you have…it only takes about one devastating minute for you to suddenly, have-not.

Proof of God’s goodness, the kind that is wrapped up in things that can never, ever be taken away from us, comes only from God. Who God is. What God has done for us. Not just in our temporal realm of love stories and weddings, and pregnancies and babies…but what God has done for us in the eternal realm. What God has done for every single one of us who have been bought with a price, and belong forever to Him. When we can see this…then the world is no longer broken up into the neat categories of “the haves” (those who get to enjoy Valentine’s day and baby showers) and the “have nots.”

When we really see God’s goodness and grace as being all about the kind of Giver we have…then the world becomes about one thing alone…the “eternal haves.” Those undeserving people who have experienced the unmerited forgiveness and love of Christ. Those who have Him. And then suddenly, life takes on one simple purpose…fighting for that in both our lives and the lives of others.

Since very few people (and probably wisely so) would venture to wax poetic on God’s goodness to someone who has just suffered as much as we have, I’m going to say it myself: God, is so very good. His grace is so very evident. I believe it. And I see it. Even as I still struggle so much with what God has chosen for our story. Even as the tears fall daily as these pages are being written about Him, through us. We ache, and we hurt, and we wrestle with every single word He is writing through our lives right now.

But I am going to die on this hill…our God, no matter what He does, is so incredibly good.

In even the darkest valley of our entire lives…the Lord is a loving Shepherd. In the absolute pitch black of sorrow…His goodness and mercy still surely do follow us (literally “wildly pursue us”) all the days of our lives. And in the most wild display of His goodness and grace…we will someday dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I sit here on one of the darkest nights of my life, and I can honestly still say that God is so very good. And I really believe that this dying, aching, sin-sick world is going to believe this only when we who know Jesus, can sincerely, with broken but honest hearts, still say that this is true. When we can say it no matter what.

And I am so very thankful for the man who said it first…

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

We owe so very much to Job, for standing up at the funeral of his ten kids and saying, “God, I believe, that no matter what You chose to do in my life…You are still good. You are still grace. You are still God. And I trust You, no matter what.”

He didn’t say this in chapter 42 when all was once again “right” with his world. He said it in chapter 13. He said it right smack in the middle of his chapters of heartache and brokenness and loss. He said it when so much of his story was yet to be written. He said it…when he had not.

This…is proof of the goodness of God.

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Little Ones To Him Belong

Today, we said goodbye to another little one who looked like us. Another baby who, if given enough time, would have had Mommy’s chin, and Daddy’s cheeks, and dark brown hair…like all our little ones do.

On the night Charlie died, as I laid awake in the hospital room waiting for labor to start, I kept asking myself, “If I could not keep this baby…would it really have been easier if God had taken him away sooner?” The immediate answer is yes. A thousand times yes. Because eight months is just such a LONG time to have hope.

When a woman has a miscarriage and people ask her, “How far along were you?” what they are really asking is, “How long did you have hope?” How long did you have hope that this little person would be coming home to live with you? How long did you dream about names, and plan a nursery, and start rebuilding your whole life around the arrival of a new tiny person? How long did your dream of loving this little person grow? And I can honestly say, it is so, so very much harder…the longer you have hope.

But any amount of time you hope…you hurt.

A miscarriage is hard, because we didn’t even know if this little person was a boy or a girl. Losing Charlie was so hard…because we did know. I know, every day of my life, that Freddo is missing a little brother. Holding the tiny body, and knowing the actual name, and seeing the very face of the little person who is missing from our home is so unspeakably hard.

Not knowing is hard too. I don’t know if we lost a little girl who would have loved pink tutus, and toddling after her big sisters…or if we lost a baby boy who would have finally been the little brother Freddo has so desperately wanted to play with. We just don’t know. And so, we live in what we do know. We call this little one “Baby Zeller” because all we know for sure is that this little person whose tiny heartbeat we saw a week ago…is one of us.

Today, we went to the cemetery to have a little memorial service for Baby Zeller. I was struck by how much has changed both around us and in us since the last time we were there.

The beautiful green hills that stood tall and silent as we buried baby Charlie’s tiny body…are summer brown now.

The balloon our kids sent off into the sky…was red today, instead of Charlie’s blue. I had never, ever wanted to buy another balloon.

And our sweet children, whose lives have been filled with so very much sorrow, are a little taller and more grown-up looking than when we were there a few months ago.

And what of their souls? Their souls are different too.

Yesterday, Emma came into our room and saw us crying. The very first thing she asked was, “Did the baby die?” I cannot tell you how much it hurts my heart that our sweet girl would know to ask this the moment she saw our tears.

But what are you going to do? Should we just teach our kids (and ourselves for that matter) to never, ever dare to love any one again? To never, ever have hope of a person coming to live with you…just because God could end up having a different plan than the one you had wanted? That would be an ugly, and unfortunate way to live.

And so, we chose to live in a world where we love, regardless of the risk. Because the moment you open yourself up to that risk…is the moment that you have just invited either the hardest sorrow…or the sweetest gift…into your lives. And I’m here to say friends, YOU do not get to chose which way it’s going to go. You cannot just “pray” a baby into existence. We prayed every day for this little person. You cannot just strong arm God and pray Him into your will.

And you can’t just “doctor” a baby into existence either. Charlie died because my placenta, spontaneously, without any warning or ability to prevent it, completely broke away from my body. This sweet baby, didn’t even have a placenta yet. I had already had more blood tests, more ultra sounds, and more doctors visits at eight weeks in the womb than any woman I know, because I really believe we are called to do all that we can do. But when God says how something is going to be…there is absolutely none who can stop Him. I have read a letter sent to me (via a friend) by the leading expert in the nation on placental abruptions and he said, “At the end of the day, some of this, just comes down to God.”

We knew that going into this pregnancy what we were really saying was, “God, I will trust you…though we have no idea whether another heartbreak or another joy is waiting for us at the end of this nine-month road.” We just didn’t know.

No matter who you are…you just don’t know.

To love is to risk. Before the womb. In the womb. After the womb. Love is a risky business. Because to love is to willingly sit in the not knowing. To love is to cling to the God who actually gave us this life, and actually had the power to do whatever He believed would best glorify Himself with it. In the end, that is what happens in every single one of our lives. God does, what God has deemed best. And none of us…will live one day past that. And we believe that God, no matter what He choses, is still good.

I was reminded of this as Reid and I read Lamentations chapter 3 this morning together. You can almost still see the tear marks on these pages of the Bible as Jeremiah wrote these ancient words…

“Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (3:37-38)

“For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he CAUSE grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.” (3:31-33)

And my favorite of all…

“But this I recall to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” (3:22-24)

I was also reminded today that God is still God, and God is still near… from something even more simple. As we celebrated Baby Zeller today our family sang a few of the kid’s favorite lullabies together. I am so thankful for the sweet reminder of what is true, in the simple beauty of a children’s song…

Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong.

I know exactly how weak and fragile a tiny baby is. I have now buried two.

And after the last four months of suffering, I know how weak and fragile we “big people” actually are too.

I am so very thankful to belong to Him. I am so very thankful that He is a good and loving Father, and that my little ones…belong to Him. I am so very thankful for the only real hope I have in my life…the hope that Someday when I meet Him…I will finally meet them too.

The Jesus who loves them.

The Jesus who wrote me this whole big Book telling me so.

The Jesus who is strong, and holding my little ones safe in His arms.

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Loss Upon Loss

This was a post I never wanted to write. But this blog is about our life. Our real one. And we can only live, and love, and glorify God out of the actual lives He has given us. So it is out of that…my very broken life, and deeply broken heart from which I write these words.

Many of you probably didn’t know, but a month ago we found out that we were pregnant with a new, glorious little person. I think the best way to explain our emotions in that moment would be to share the two reactions from others that meant the most to us. The first was exactly how we reacted. The second…was the opposite.

A month ago, Reid called his little sister to tell her the news that a new life was growing inside my body, and our hearts. Immediately, she broke down. She couldn’t even talk. When she finally did talk, her first words were, “I’m so excited. And I’m so scared.” It meant a lot. Because it was exactly how we felt. We were so very excited for this new life the Lord has given us to love. And so very scared that we might experience even more heartache and loss. You have no idea how much faith and courage it took to trust God to get pregnant again after having to place the body of our precious Charlie in the ground. But we don’t want to live lives dominated by fear of anything or anyone except God. It was a step of faith we felt like He was asking us to take, and so we moved forward with tears and trust. Excited. And scared.

The second reaction that meant the most to us…was from our kids. At first, we had really hesitated to tell them. They, like us, are still very much walking through the grief of not getting to keep baby Charlie with us. I was afraid of telling our kids about the new life growing inside of me before we were in the 12 week “safe zone.” But after losing a healthy, full-term baby you realize that things like a “safe zone” are just ridiculous words we humans invent to try to manage and control our sorrows. There is no such thing as a “safe zone” with God. Our lives…all our lives…belong to God. And because of that, we want our kids to grow up knowing that every life is a precious gift from God, and worth being celebrated and loved from the very first moment. And so, in another huge step of trust, we told our kids. And we were absolutely blown away by their response.

The moment we said the words, Emma and Fred rushed up to my belly and began hugging and kissing the baby inside of it. Emma exclaimed, “Oh baby, we love you baby! We love you and we can’t wait to meet you!” And that was that. Absolute, uninhibited joy and celebration for this new life. And as I watched their fearless joy, I felt so deeply challenged. My joy has been so cautious. But their joy…knew no bounds. Even though they knew what it is to bury a baby. Even though they knew what it is to hurt so much over dreams and love lost. And yet…the moment they found out there was a new baby in Mommy’s tummy…they were all in. Filled with joy and hope and love for this precious new life. Emma has told me every single day for the last month how excited she is about this new baby. And every day I’ve had to remind our kids, “God has given this baby life. And only God knows if He has chosen for this baby to live with us on earth or with Charlie in heaven.”

And now…we know too. We know where God has chosen for Charlie’s little sibling to live. And it is not with us. And it hurts so much. This week, after 8 wonder-full weeks in my womb…another one of our children has gone to be with Jesus.

This week started out with so much hope. On Monday, we saw our precious baby’s heartbeat. The heartbeat was strong. And the baby appeared healthy and whole. And in a story only God could write, this baby’s due date was January 28th 2014…one year to the day our sweet Charlie James was born.

But today, our sweet new baby, joined Charlie in heaven. And as I held Emma this morning and felt her tiny body wracking with sobs, I was reminded of how much has been lost. A baby has been lost. A sibling has been lost. A friend has been lost. A dream has been lost. And though absolutely nothing compares to the loss of Charlie after 37 weeks with him…that pain does not lessen this one.

I just keep thinking about a trick the Nazi’s used to play on their prisoners. They would release them for one whole day…just so they could arrest and imprison them again. There is a breaking in being given a moment of freedom and hope after suffering, only to be brought back to a prison of pain once again. We are in so much pain right now. And we desperately seek your prayers.

For my physical pain. My body feels really wrecked from carrying five babies in six years. I have been pregnant for almost all of Emma’s life…so much so that when someone asked her what her parents do for work Emma said, “Daddy goes to meetings, and Mommy goes to doctors.” It’s true. I’ve been to the doctor three times this week alone. And my body is incredibly fragile and broken right now.

And then, there’s my heart. Our hearts are hurting so very much. Our emotions were already raw as we were by no means done processing the loss of our precious baby son. But if we waited until we were no longer hurting over Charlie’s life…I can promise you that that wait would never end. I have many friends who have been given “rainbow babies” after the loss of a little one. Sadly, for now, and maybe for forever, we’ve just been given more rain.

It took so much faith to began this journey with another little person, and there have been many tears and much sorrow over my sweet Charlie James, even as I carried this new life. I still cry out to the sky daily asking God why we could not have kept our perfectly healthy baby boy. And now I find myself crying out to God over another precious love lost. And that’s of course, what we seek your prayers for the most. For our faith.

In the months since Charlie died, there’s been one Mumford and Sons song that has continuously been on my heart…

“So give me hope in the darkest that I will see the light, cause oh they gave me such a fright. I will hold, as long as you like, just promise me that we’ll be alright.”

There is just so much darkness right now. So many things that scare and overwhelm us. Ironically, it was one year ago today that we found out we were pregnant with baby Charlie. And now, one year later, we bury, if not the body, but at least the dream, of another baby we had wanted to know and to love here on earth.

I have cried out to God a thousand times over these last few months of darkness, “I WILL hold…as long as You like…but You have to promise me that we will be alright.” And I have wondered many times if God and I are actually going to be “alright” in the end. There have been many moments it has felt very hard to trust Him. And today, is another one of those. It is not easy to keep praying that prayer when all around me, and all within me, there is so much sorrow and loss.

But that IS the prayer of those who trust in Jesus. It doesn’t matter the circumstances. Those who are His…are called to love Him and to hold unto Him…NO MATTER WHAT. And in His kindness, the one thing that matters on even the darkest days of our lives…is His promise that our relationship with Him…will be alright. And at the end of the day, even on the best and worst of days, this is all we have. No matter who you are…this is absolutely all you have. We have Him.

Please pray that God would give us renewed hope in what feels like the never ending darkness that has become our lives. Pray that we would hold…as long as He likes and calls us to walk this dark road. I am in a lot of physical pain right now. We are in deep emotional and spiritual anguish as we navigate through these new shadows in the valley of the shadow of death. A valley we never really left. A valley that has sadly become a new home for us. We don’t know for how long we will be called to live here. We just know that we have been called to hold.

I had wanted to be holding something else. I had wanted to be holding the babies God had given us to love. And now, those two babies we had so very much wanted to celebrate on January 28th, are both celebrating in a far grander place. A place where heartbeats never stop. Where people never ache as bad as we are hurting right now. A place where people always live. And some day, we will meet our little ones there.

Until then, we would desperately appreciate your prayers.

Until then, by the grace of God alone…we will hold.

And wait with tears and trust.


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A Poem From Charlie, On Father’s Day

fly-fishing adventures on rivers wide

you feel my heart beating wild inside.

playing hoops till late in the night

all that was faith…finally sight.

hiking on hills and painted gold

adventuring in mountains yet untold.

teaching me of Him from a lifetime you’ve known

and I…from my lifetime before the throne.

And I will wait, I will wait for you

the son you loved but never knew.

seeing the stars our father saw

in a sky now free from curse and law.

the new earth filled with wonders to see

both, finally forever free.

we’ll be bold, as well as strong

with 10,000 years to sing this song.

not one day closer to the end

as father, son, and forever friend.

And I will wait, I will wait for you

the son you loved but never knew.


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Marriage…After the Hardest Year of Our Lives.

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Today, we celebrate seven years of marriage. Seven years of more adventures, more babies, more joys, and more heartache, than I ever could have conceived of when we said “I do” on that brilliant June day.

But even if God would tell us all that He has in store for our lives…would we really want to know all of that anyways? Could we even handle the knowing? Would it help us to take heart and to walk in greater faith? Or would it cause our hearts to break?

In some ways, God did tell us what was in store for our marriage…by the things we vowed on our wedding day. We chose very traditional vows for our ceremony. Things tried and true. Things simple and packed with meaning. Things we could actually…remember. We didn’t want to make a bunch of rambling promises that we couldn’t even recall to mind, let alone keep.

And some of our vows come to my mind almost daily. I do promise, and covenant before God and these witnesses, to be thy loving and faithful wife. Am I actually being loving? Am I actually being faithful? These questions can, and do, and should come up almost daily in my mind. They are after all, why promises are made.

Because there is beauty and life and freedom…in the keeping.

Other promises we made at our wedding, do not come up daily. They come up in the rare, (ok, not so rare in my case) moments when I’m in a hospital room, or struck by one of my many bizarre ailments and disease. In our brief seven years of marriage, Reid has walked with me through viral menengitis, shingles, campliobacteriosis, NINE spinal taps, and most of all…the birth of each one of our precious babies. It’s been WILD to say the least.

And then there are those promises made that come up only, it seems, once or twice in a lifetime. Those moments when you look into the eyes of the person you love most and realize you are knee-deep in a moment which holds, at once, ALL of the hardest things you vowed to love one another through on your wedding day.

Moments…like the night we gave birth to our precious Charlie.

For better or for worse. In so many ways, the worst and hardest moment of our entire lives.

For richer or for poorer. We had never felt so poor, so broken, so helpless, and so needy in our entire lives.

In sickness and in health. I am convinced that there is no more physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally anguishing moment in life…than giving birth to a baby who has already died. I can’t even think about this day of our life, without weeping now, even as I type.

And yet, when I think about our vows…those bright and bold words promised in the height of love at a wedding ceremony…Charlie’s birth is the FIRST thing that comes to my mind. Because moments like Charlie’s birthday are the meaning of marriage.

The meaning of marriage is to glorify Christ. To show, in the love between two people who love and are loved by God, how tenderly Christ loves His bride all the way through this messy, broken, miserable life. And perhaps, more than any moment of our lives…the nurses and doctors saw this…as they watched Reid carry me that night. As they watched us love Charlie…this little person whom OUR LOVE had MADE. As they watched us love one another through the unspeakable sorrow of having to say goodbye to a baby we had so desperately wanted to keep. This…is marriage.

And because marriage is meant to reflect Christ…marriage is also meant to reveal His suffering. Reid and I are best friends. We have more joy, more laughter, and more adventures than most couples I know. We also have lots of suffering. It’s been seven years of suffering because of one another at times. Because if you truly love someone their sin will be your pain. And it’s been seven years of suffering alongside of one another. One night, at one of the lowest moments of my grief, I turned to Reid and asked him in all sincerity, “What if I don’t make it? What if I don’t get to the end of this suffering still believing in and loving Christ?” And without a moments hesitation Reid looked at me and said, “Then I will still be your husband and you will still be my wife. And I will still love you more than anything and pray for you constantly.” This is marriage.

Some people go through 60 years of marriage and don’t experience this much suffering. And I’m absolutely convinced that the only reason we made it…is because of Christ. Christ in us. Christ in between us. Christ carrying us. Every. Single. Day.

I am also convinced that I have been given an incredible gift in the person God gave me to “get through” this life. Even when our souls were so ravaged and the brokenness so deep that the getting through…meant simply surviving to the next day. The point is…we survived. We, who’ve been given to one another to “get through this life”…got through our seventh year of life together as man and wife. This is marriage.

I am so very thankful for you Reid Zeller.

We…have had it tough. And the road has been so incredibly bumpy and rough. But it has been the greatest joy of my life to journey together. Life with you has been full of adventures. Lizard infested hikes. Hotel rooms crawling with poisionous scorpions and C.O.U.S. (That’s short for Centepedes of Unusual Size.) Hospital rooms filled with unimaginable sorrow and anguish. And days filled with children…children we’ve watched take over our lives, our hearts, and our dreams in the most beautiful and breathtaking ways.

Our life together has taught me that this bittersweet journey isn’t really so much about the journey after all…it’s about the destination really. And we’ve been destined for Eternity. Thank you for reminding me that a Destination awaits. Thank you for journeying with me in the meantime. Thank you for the many times you actually just picked me up and outright carried me. Thank you for reminding me of the One we made our vows to, and for showing me His deep, unwavering love for His broken Bride. And thanks for being my exit buddy as we ride each wave through this wild, glorious, messy life to the Place where we’ll finally get to meet our baby boy.

And just in case we do have the privilege of sitting on that park bench at ninety, and we’re no longer able to remember very much of this crazy ride…here’s my seven most memorable moments of our journey to date…

1. The day we hitchhiked through Italy, met an angel, and had the best dinner of our lives.

2. The night Emma was born…and we saw, for the very first time, someone our love had MADE.

3. Battling foot-long centepedes, snorkeling Trestles, and our two hammocks by the bay.

4. Every single time we found out God had given us a new baby to love. Every. Single. Time. Sophie’s especially comes to mind. (I guess all those baby pickles, baby goldfish, baby carrots, and mini Oreos I bought didn’t really communicate clearly enough that we were having a baby…)

5. That time the sun shone during our stroll along the Seine.

6. The moment when I was in the ER and we realized it was very possible that this was “goodbye” for you and me.

7. Charlie’s birth. And all of the days we have walked as one through the hardest journey of our lives. I never knew what it truly meant to be one heart in two separate bodies. Now, I do. Thanks for sharing a heart with me.

And if we had to do our “first dance” over again…this, of course, would be our song.

You’re no longer alone.
We’ve found a space to name our own.
There aint no need to fret or fuss.
We’ve got all the strength we need in the shape of us.

And I know you’ve had it tough.
Your road’s been bumpy and rough.
But say goodbye to a world that you once knew.
I have every faith in me and you.

Hold my hand.
Hold my heart.
Let go your fear.
Darling I will always be here.

I never felt quite so at home.
Your sweet caress is the best I’ve known.
Now that I’ve proved to you that I’m worthy of your trust.
Let us build a world in the shape of us.

I love you Reid Zeller…and I am immeasurably thankful for God’s great kindness to us over these last seven years. I have loved building a world in the shape of us.

Yours Until Death Do Us Part,

Misty


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I Miss Happy

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There’s a picture on our fridge of Happy.  It was taken at Freddo’s third birthday party three days before Charlie died  It is the last picture I have with Charlie alive inside of me.  We’re standing on the platform, waiting to board the train for Freddo’s Party.  The whole crazy party was on a train. The whole party was fun and sweet and a wonderful memory.  The whole party was so very happy.  At the end of the party we stood on the train platform with our friends and our sparkling cider and toasted Freddo and his wonderful, glorious, amazing life.  Fred felt super loved and celebrated, and it was such a great day.

So there it is…our last captured moment of happy on a 2 by 3 inch polaroid.

I miss happy.

I miss that innocent feeling I once had that everything, for the most part, would probably be ok.  Or rather, that nothing truly, truly important to me was so very (this side of heaven) permanently broken beyond belief.  I miss that kind of happy.  That kind of happy will never, ever again be our life.

That isn’t to say that we never have joy.  

We are still, sometimes, very much surprised by joy.  Joy that pushes up from the eternally wrought, Christ-blood bought wellspring deep inside of our lives.

Joy that stands superior and set apart from circumstances and feelings and happenings.

Jothat comes from knowing that all of this (insert everything our eyes and ears and minds and hearts can conceive) is not the end of The Story.

But I still desperately miss happy.

Some words like happy are just permanently and irrevocably no longer a part of our vocabulary.  And then there’s other words like trust and “trusting God” that have now been permanently redefined.

This week I had the opportunity to meet one of Charlie’s friend’s moms. Though her story is very different than mine…in the end…it’s exactly the same.  She too had to say goodbye this spring to a baby she had so very much wanted to keep.   She too lives in a life so permanently changed from the one she knew before her baby girl died, that she feels like an entirely different human being.   She too, remembers…but only as if from distant dream…happy.

But what I was struck by the most as we met together and talked and cried and shared and prayed…was how deeply we have both experienced how our view of God and “trusting God” has changed.   As we shared our stories, we both felt the exact same staggering reality that we no longer believe that “trusting God” means He will basically give us what we’d want and like.  You don’t realize how much you’ve bought into this “prosperity Gospel” of sorts, until God so distinctly gives you something you didn’t ever, ever, ever want…to the point that you now believe that “trusting God” means an entirely different thing.

For example, in the weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, I used to drop Emma off at school each morning and think, “I’m just going to trust God in this place of fear in my heart…and trust that He will protect my daughter and keep her safe.”

I don’t think that any more.  Because God didn’t do that.  He didn’t do that in the lives of those sweet kindergarteners at Sandy Hook Elementary, and He didn’t do that in the life of my precious baby boy.  Or at least, “Safe” and “Protected” did not look like I had wanted it to…it did not look like keeping Charlie here on earth with me.

And so, now I think…“I’m just going to trust God that anything…ANYTHING could happen to my precious girl when I drop her off at school this morning and walk away.  And that, by the grace of God, no matter what happens to Emma today…she belongs to God, and I belong to God…and we are His for eternity.”

I used to go through each one of my pregnancies thinking, “I am NOT going to fearfully obsess about my babies health and safety.  I’m just going to place my baby in the hands of God, and trust Him that He’s going to take care of this baby and bring this baby safely into my arms in 40 weeks.”  I don’t think this anymore.  Because God didn’t do that for me.

And so, now I think, “Even if God gives me ten more babies, and choses to take ten more away, I’m going to trust Him to hold my babies, and my heart…through the deepest sorrow and suffering of my life.  I am going to trust Him TO BE GOD, in the midst of ANYTHING.

I cannot tell you what a radical paradigm shift this is to the American, happy-go-lucky, God’s-got-our-backs, prosperity way of thinking that I’m convinced we ALL think at times.  It’s not that we never think of what could happen…we just chose to believe that it simply won’t happen to us. Well, sometimes it does.  Sometimes God does what you didn’t really ever think God was going to do.  And then you no longer have the luxury of thinking that “trusting God” means it’s all going to be “OK.”  (Read:  the way you want.)   Then, you live in the knowing that it’s NOT all going to be “OK.”  Some of it, might actually be miserable and painful every day of the rest of your life… and yet God will be GOD.  And that’s what you’ve been promised, and that only.

And there’s something deeply soul-altering about realizing that this is the only kind of thinking about “trust in God,” that is grounded enough biblically that it WILL NOT DISAPPOINT.

There is no disappointment in the hope that God will hold unto me and carry my broken and bleeding heart through every single valley of life.  Because He has promised this to me.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil,  for You are with me.

There is no disappointment in the hope that the Jeremiah 29:11 “plans” that God has for us are actually about seeking God and finding God.  What these verses are not about are all our “wishes” coming true…even the wishes packaged in faith, and prayed for fervently.  That kind of hope…sounds a lot more like Disneyland, than Yahweh.  The God of the universe has promised something so entirely different for those who trust in Him.  He has promises that He is GOD.  He has promised to “do all things according to the counsel of His will.”  And He’s defined the hope and future He will give in the verses we hardly ever read when we quote Jeremiah 29:11…the ones in 12 and 13.  “Then you will call upon me and  come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”  

This is what we have been promised.  GOD.  Finding Him.  Knowing Him.  Being loved by Him…if we search for Him with all our hearts.

There is no disappointment in the hope that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  This, He has promised us.

There is no disappointment in the hope that God will one day literally carry those who are His to the place where FINALLY there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain.  Because this He has promised to me.

And this He has given each of us as a foreshadowing of our first, real, permanent, always and forever, eternal…happy.

All of these promises will be happening.

And when they all come together at once…it will be happy.  The happiest moment of our entire lives.