As June ends, I have a lump in my throat, a tightness in my chest and a little extra moisture in my eyes while I look through photos my sister sent me in an email yesterday. It started out as an after church photo shoot last weekend for Anika’s fifth birthday and evolved into a full family shoot. But as I look through the photos, I am reminded of what I expected from June 2014 and that it wasn’t meant to be.
I have not publicly talked about what I expected from June. I am not really ready to share. I don’t think I ever will be. I expected more from myself before Anika’s fifth birthday, which is tomorrow. I was expecting a fourth child. But this past year, the dream I’ve always had to have four children has not been fulfilled.
I have friends and family who have experienced deep losses, much more than anything I have gone through in the past year but I have learned we all deal with loss in a different way. I can’t even fathom the hurt and pain friends and family have gone through knowing some of their circumstances. I have been taught life lessons in repeated loss this past year and I suppose God is setting me up to be prepared for future life lessons in loss and pain.
Lessons to keep going when I don’t want to get out of bed. Lessons to turn the corner and run the race God has marked out for me. I have found strength by examples of friends and family who I know have greater and deeper losses than me and who live their lives with boldness and confidence. They don’t even know I’m observing them, soaking in their strength when I needed it most, but I have.
I have learned to not quit. In the midst of some dark moments personally, God has given me gifts. My first niece born to my sister and brother-in-law was the greatest joy November could have delivered. My son’s basketball season gave me a full schedule and purpose to keep going with each day throughout the winter. After news this spring that I was going to have another lost pregnancy, I had a string of speaking engagements I couldn’t cancel. My doctor let me go through with them while changing my travel a bit.
I kept going. I have had more blood draws and ultrasounds in the past nine months than I ever expected to have in my life. But I have seen women living out treacherous journeys with a brave approach that have reminded me to humbly give thanks for the blessings I am given, right where I am, in the heart of feeling hurt, give thanks for what I have.
Not getting what you want is a life lesson we learn at a young age. But living it at age 35 seems to be more difficult than when I was five.
A good friend told me that there is a great irony in having a baby as a single mother at age 18 and then not being able to have a fourth child at age 35, when I am happily married with three healthy children. Another lesson for me and reminder that I am not in control. God has a plan and I am going to focus on what is ahead and the blessings that surround me, doing what I can with what I have, right where I am.
My Christian faith has deepened in this process. God is my pillar of strength and hope. Plus I have an additional four solid rocks in my daily life: my three children and my husband. The girls don’t know about the losses as Nathan, Hunter and I know but Elizabeth told enough people at school last fall that her mommy had surgery on her tummy to know something was going on with me.
A friend delivered a hotdish for supper and another brought a huge pot of soup. Others sent flowers and cards. Many prayed and lifted me up with strength when I needed it most. Our girls wouldn’t fully understand and don’t need to at their age why friends and families were reaching out to me. The joy the girls find in life has been enough to get me through a few dark days and given me a greater appreciation for all that I am already surrounded by, a network of family and friends who pray for me along with three loving kids and one strong husband. As a family, we have grown closer, deepened our faith and cemented closer bonds.
What I thought was meant to be in June, was not. But what is meant to be is perfectly created and right alongside of me.
I am grateful for the endless energy of Anika, who keeps me on my toes, every day and reminds to let go of the past and live out today. Anika is meant to be. I am grateful to have Hunter, standing tall, sharing his young wisdom and mature strength with me. He made me a mother 17 years ago this summer and has reminded me by his words and actions, it is a role I am blessed to be living. Hunter is meant to be. I am grateful for happy Elizabeth, who sparkles every day. She loves life. She loves a schedule and things to do. She keeps me thinking ahead of what is around the next corner in life. And she prays, every night with the most tender heart and sincere words. Sometimes her words have been just what I needed to hear, without her knowing how much I needed to hear them. Elizabeth is meant to be.Then there is my husband, Nathan. I can’t believe I am posting this picture. He lifted me up as a joke during our photo shoot. I am not a small woman. My sister snapped the photo. His belt actually broke as he lifted me. “Cheap” as he said. The photo reminds me of how much fun and laughter we share together. He works hard, long hours, year-round to make a small business deliver and grow in the heart of rural North Dakota. He makes time for our family, survives on little sleep and has a way of making me laugh every day. He provides me guidance, encouragement and reality checks. He dropped what he is doing to be my side over the past year. Nathan is meant to be.
While I could dwell on what was not meant to be this month, there are so many blessings that are meant to be. I am humbled and grateful, for each of them, for the journey, for the lessons learned and for God, orchestrating a greater plan than I can know or see.
Thank you to my sister Kirsti for these photos, which once again reminded me of the blessings I am surrounded by and living alongside every day, but particularly in this month of June. While I am not really ready to share about this topic, I decided to dive in. One in four women lose a pregnancy in their lifetimes. Everyone has a story. This is a tiny slice of mine. Thank you for the friends and family who lifted me up in prayer over the past months. Your prayers and kind words have been a great source of strength for me. I am encouraged by each of you, reading this today. For those of you sharing your stories and living out your lives with a bold confidence, thank you.
Each and every one of you are meant to be.
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.’ Psalm 18:2