Friday, August 29, 2014

Finding Contentment, Finding the Cross

So, the last several days have been rather eye-opening. As some of you know, since my miscarriage with Alexandra, Michael and I have been trying again to get pregnant. The months between there and here have been filled with mostly regularity, with the last few weeks before my period being nerve-wracking. I've thought more than once that I was possibly pregnant again because my body decided after the miscarriage that it would now be normal to have all the symptoms of pregnancy starting about 10 days before my period is supposed to start. While exciting, eventually, when my period comes, or (as has happened a couple times) is late and I've taken pregnancy tests, it's been rather disappointing.

This past week has been the same, as my period was inexplicably about 4 days late. This caused me a great deal of hope, two pregnancy tests, and almost tears yesterday when I started spotting. I had been praying for at least a week that I would be able to trust God, no matter what, and last evening as I was teary (or close to it) and being held by Michael, I wondered why most women (and I say most, not all) desire children so badly. Why, I asked myself, do women desire to have children so badly that it drives even the most level-headed to distraction? Why is it that when a woman is trying to get pregnant it very nearly consumes her thoughts and being? Is it because it's her body we're talking about? Or is it something else entirely?

I actually think it's something more than that. I think for many women, it's a status symbol to not only be able to bear children but to also be seen carrying a baby in your body. Some may not consciously call it a status symbol, but it is nonetheless. All your friends are doing it, and while everybody but you is doing it, they are also having fun, looking stylish, and gaining something that the childless you doesn't have. It doesn't help that with social media, everyone can see what everyone else's "perfect" lives look like. (I think it's important to note that Facebook, Instagram, and other social media are a very edited version of other people's lives. Lives are very seldom perfect.)

I think as we age and go through various stages in life we go from coveting and desiring one thing to coveting and desiring another thing. When we're little it's the other girl's dress-up box or nail polish collection. Then it progresses to relationships, "Why does she have a boyfriend when all the boys run from me?" Once you're in a relationship, you might start comparing your relationship to others ("He's always bringing her flowers!"), or wanting that engagement ring. Once you're married, you think it will just all go away, but it's someone's house ("We're still in an apartment!"), pregnancy ("All I've had is a miscarriage."), children ("Why are they so well-behaved and mine aren't?"), job ("He makes more than I do!"), station in life, adventures ("They're always traveling!"), retirement age ("Really? 42?!"), second house, and so on.

What this latest round of anxiety, hope, and disappointment has served to reinforce is that I am not content with what I have. As a Christian, haven't I got everything I will ever, ever need in Christ? Hasn't Jesus' death on the cross (for the sins I willingly commit/ed) so he could reconcile me to God shown me this? God showed me once that I would never need a human knight-in-shining-armor, because He is all I need. Now he has shown me that if I never have children, or never get pregnant again, he will still be enough, because I am His child. Will I still fail to forget that I have more than I need in God? Yes. But, now I know and can look back at this post and be reminded of this. More importantly, I can now look at my life and ask the important question, "What else am I not satisfied with? Where else am I failing to see how God is more than enough in my life?"

I challenge you with that question too. If this post has touched you, where are the places in your life that you see your discontentment with the God who is, has, and gives everything you need when you need it most? As I've learned, the fastest way to gain contentment is to repent of my sin of unbelief and discontentment and to look to the cross. May my eyes always be drawn there.

I leave you with this wonderful quote by C.S. Lewis, a favorite author of mine, that outlines this perfectly from his book Mere Christianity.

“Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”


Sunday, June 29, 2014

On Chaos...When It's Supposed to be Summer

Chaos is a good way to describe my life right now.

About four days ago, Michael and I moved our whole house across town to a slightly larger place that will allow him to commute to work in the fall with a little less time, and will allow me to teach violin/viola lessons in the fall as well. During this time I was also teaching music theory at Raspberry Ridge, the camp that I wax eloquently about every year.

This being the case, as soon as we finished school on the 12th, Michael and I crashed for a couple of days, enjoyed the luxury of sleeping in past 5:30am, and then threw ourselves into packing up all our worldly belongings.

Before we started packing things, I struggled with the change that summer was inevitably bringing to my life. Before my miscarriage, I had looked forward to finishing work so I could stay home this fall, have a baby, and then possibly teach violin at least part time. I had looked forward to slowly growing larger, to decorating the second bedroom that we moved to have, to enjoying baby showers, and generally anticipating the addition of a small little life that would consume all my time for at least a little bit.

With the sudden cessation of all business and school, I was suddenly faced with all the "could-have-beens" and, honestly, it took my breath away. Michael had to deal with many stormy tears.

However, Raspberry Ridge, as it has been many times in the past, was balm to my soul. The theme was on prayer, and while I taught music theory to all the campers, and then led a Bible Study, I was reminded about prayer. Also, every year I am at Raspberry Ridge, I have at least one good, refreshing conversation with someone. This year, I had a conversation with a good friend who should be moving into town in the next year or earlier. I also had a conversation with a (16-year-old?) girl who just found out that her mother's breast cancer had come back, metastasized, and they might have 3 years with her.

Seeing her grief about this brought back my own about losing Alexandra, but God allowed me to speak grace, God's goodness, and His love to her, as well as pray for her and hold her as we both cried. That is one good thing that has come from this miscarriage. I am able to know the pain that grief can bring, and because of that, I have the (new) ability to comfort someone in their grief and remind them that God is in it all.

(Another good thing about the miscarriage is Michael. He has been so patient and loving to me in dealing with my grief, which one day seems far away, and the next is so close it hurts all over. I honestly think that if this hadn't happened, I would love him less.)

As it is, while I was at camp, Michael and two friends moved all our stuff across town. After RR ended, I unpacked, and cleaned, and unpacked some more, until I was almost overwhelmed. Truth be told, I'm not done yet, but my mother and my sisters came over yesterday and moved boxes upstairs, and unpacked boxes, and helped me do the labor of several days in about 3 hours. It was wonderful. Now Michael and I can sit on the couch and watch World Cup games. Which is where I'm going right now.

Thank God for husbands, RR, refreshing conversations, and mothers and sisters.

Monday, May 26, 2014

My journey to here...

Opening up the home-school vs. public school debate is like opening up a can of worms. It can get ugly very, very quickly. Home-schoolers are prone to think that their way is the only right way. Public-schoolers think home-schoolers are weird, and probably slightly off their rocker.

As someone who was home-schooled the whole way through K-12, and has taught public school for the past three years, I'd like to think I have a good picture of both sides of the coin. Are home-schoolers right in their thinking? I don't think so. Are public-schoolers right in their thinking? I don't think so on this one either.

My parents were teachers. My parents are teachers. They both taught conversational English in Japan for several years. When I was a baby, and my parents moved back to the States, my dad decided that teaching would be the best job option for him. He got his state teaching license and taught 5th grade for five years. My parents, because of this job decided that the best thing for them and their family would be to home-school their children. As teachers they wanted to have a hand in their children's education.

It wasn't always easy, teaching 5 different grade levels, but my mom managed. My sister and I were several grades apart, but did basically the same history class at the same time. There were online classes that happened once a week to help my mom with the subjects she wasn't as familiar with (read: college biology major trying to teach good essay writing skills). Each subject was carefully planned by my mother with my father's support. We'd occasionally spend days at work with Dad, school work in hand so we could do extra-curricular activities without my mom having to run to multiple places during the day. I learned how to get along with people who were either younger than me or far older than me. I learned how to enjoy reading. I learned how to play well with others, and that, when the time came, I really very much liked being alone. Because of being home-schooled, I was able to focus my attentions on things like violin lessons, drama lessons, and social activities. My sister was able to do music lessons and sports.

When I went to college, I went knowing what I wanted. I was going to be a music major so that when I became a mommy I could stay at home with my kids and teach them at home. I didn't really see any other way. However, my college had a different say in things. They told me that in order to complete my music education degree I was going to have to spend a semester in a public school teaching children how to play their instruments in a large group. I found this pointless. At one point I went to a teacher who I knew would listen and told her that the class I was having to take from her seemed like a big waste of my time. I enjoyed the class some times, but it wasn't what I had in mind. While she understood and suggested that maybe I needed to go a change my major to performance, I couldn't tell her that I felt God's call to be a teacher. I knew that while the class was a waste of time, it would be a bigger waste of time trying to change my major and taking the wrong classes altogether.

During my final semester at college, I got the opportunity to student teach with one of the most amazing teachers I have ever met. She was constantly on the go. She inspired her students, she challenged herself, she laughed when she accidentally smashed the top of a cake against her car trying to shut the car door with the same hand that held the cake. It was under her tutelage that I realized that I could make this teaching-in-the-public-schools thing work. I could teach a large class of students. I could care for more than one student at a time, and to my surprise, I enjoyed it immensely.

The next school year found me a subbing job that then landed me a half-time orchestra position at a local high school. It was exciting, the students needed me because the orchestra program was a diamond in the rough, and I came home from school every day excited about what was happening in the classroom. Times were tough, I had a tiny box of a classroom (really a double office that they had cleaned out and let me have), no white board, tiny classes, and had to create most of my material off the bat, but I enjoyed myself.

The next year I had even more students, which meant I was now full-time, I had most of the materials already created, and I was nominated by my administration for the county's first-year teacher-of-the-year award. After my Assistant Principal wrote a letter of recommendation, I wrote a two page essay detailing how my orchestra class helped prepare my students for the real world. I created a professional teaching portfolio, and then endured an interview, and then conducted (no pun intended) class through three observations. I won. I have a plaque to prove it. My county decided I was the best first-year high school teacher. It felt good to know that they thought that I was good at my job.

This year, however, has been the hardest year of my life. Last year was pretty good, but this year, has been hard, hard, hard. The rules are changing constantly, which, for someone who likes having the right answers, is extremely difficult. Our legislators seem to have decided that teaching is a worthless job. I'm weary of having to hold my tongue when people ask me how my job's going so I don't sound like (what my husband calls) a "crotchety old teacher." Drama is rampant and I don't handle drama well. Stress has taken over the lives of myself and every teacher I know. My students are tired all the time and struggling with illnesses left and right because as high-schoolers, with all the testing they are being asked to do, they are extremely stressed. They have college next, and most of my students desire to have good grades for college. The public school system is a bureaucratic mess. Teachers are currently being paid on one of the lowest pay scales in the nation (note: I'm writing this a day after Gov. McCrory announced a 14% pay raise over two years for teachers with 5 years and under experience, which is the wrong place to start the pay raises). I am sorry for my more experienced, older teacher friends feeling like the system has it in for them. They have given years of their working lives to teaching, and with all the legislative changes and the pay raise being offered to beginning teachers, they feel as if they are being picked off one by one because they are too expensive to keep around; they are the least valued with the most experience. I'm worried that I will continue to feel extremely tired of all the drama, the bureaucratic mess, and the idiocy coming from a legislature and government who pretend to know all about education but in reality know absolutely nothing. (Being a student at one time does not give you the expertise to know what it's like being a teacher. Only teaching can teach you that. Let teachers have a voice in the education realm and learning will sky-rocket.)

My classes are still wonderful. My administration supports me as much as they can, but this year, I have felt the pull to leave the public school classroom. Mostly, it's been a very good year when it comes to teaching, as I feel like I have grown in my own self-awareness, in my professional development. My students are still very respectful. They are growing in their discipline far beyond what I could have imagined for them two and a half years ago. I'm not tired of teaching. I'm tired and fed to the teeth with everything else that the public school system has asked me to do. I'm tired of being told that I'm not trusted as a teacher to know what is best for my students. I'm actually being told that next year the state wants to implement standardized testing for the arts as well. Really? You can't measure learning in the arts with standardized testing.

I have multiple beginning strings students, who even though they all started at the same time, all have different abilities. They had different abilities on day one! One of them was a senior who came in, knowing guitar and having taught himself some music theory. Another is a freshman whose only exposure to music besides the radio, was his brother who was in my class. He wanted to hang out with his brother and his brother's best friend, so he decided to pick up music. These two students both started music with me at the same time, but my senior is so far ahead of my freshman, it makes it look like my senior could have started a year ahead of the freshman. But they're both learning and are both far more advanced than they were at the beginning of the school year.

I'm tired of people thinking that the spark for the desire for further education can be measured. Learning is not about data, but about whether or not a student wants to continue expanding their horizons through knowledge! All good teachers know this. Good parents know this too. Good learning should spark the desire for more learning. It's gotten to the point that I want to teach more than just orchestra in my orchestra class because I want to fuel my student's desire for further education. I want to pick up a good classic book and read to them. I want to open doors through research. I want to do something that matters. I cannot do this while confined to one subject in the public school system as it is right now.

Which is why, at the end of this school year, I will not be returning to the public school system.

Instead, I will be setting up a private violin/viola studio at home, and when I have children, I will teach them at home (thank God my public-school-teacher husband is willing to let me do this) and I will teach them to love learning, not just through music, but through all subjects. Learning will be exciting because it expands their horizons, not just their skill set. And I will be able to teach without having to deal with anyone but students and parents who have even a minimal desire to learn. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to grow and further their desire to learn.

Will I decide that maybe public school would be okay for one of my children? Maybe. But currently the jury is out on that as I don't have any children. I do know what decision is best for me, however, and this is my decision. No more bureaucracy, no more rules changing in the middle of the year, no more answering to people who have no idea what they're doing.


P.S. I realize this post was written some time ago. I merely waited for the correct time to post this. Now seems to be that time. If this post has gotten you wondering what you can do to help beleaguered teachers, call or email your legislators and let them know that there is a problem.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Caring, teaching, dealing

Patience is hard. It's really very hard to practice patience, especially in this world of instant gratification that we live in. I seem to be extremely bad at patience, especially when I don't have all the answers. There are many times in life where I want to be able to Google the answer right then and there and make everything better. Unfortunately, God is not Google. He tells us to be patient and wait on Him.

Quite honestly, I think that's easier said than done. We have microwaves that give us food in far less time than is healthy, we have internet that moves at speeds that get faster and faster every year, we have Google, we have smart phones that are designed to save us time, and every year it seems like some labor-saving, time-saving device is invented that is supposed to make our lives easier and more satisfactory. In a world where we can download songs, pictures, and movies that haven't even been released to the public within minutes, and even seconds, it is extremely hard to be patient.

It also breeds entitlement. If the TV, or my smart phone is going to give me exactly what I want, then why shouldn't my parents, my teachers, my pastor, or even my job? As a teacher I've seen this more and more in the students that I teach. As a wife, I've seen this more and more in myself, expecting Michael to do everything for me, or at least to do what I ask right away. As a child of God, I understand that I've always been impatient and wanted to know the answers to the biggest questions that I don't and probably will never have answers to... (why take my child?)

At every turn I have to fight entitlement and impatience in myself, and then in the people around me, mainly my students. As a teacher I am always telling them "no" or "not now" or asking them to forego things like having music in their ears at all times, having their phone out so they can be on social media or texting friends, or even simply doing what they want when they want to because they can.

There are roughly 1800+ students that go to the high school I teach at, and as a teacher, because I show up every morning, because I plan my lessons, because I cover other teacher's classes, and because I do ISS for 45 minutes every day, I am an integral part of my schools environment. Because of this, every time I get up at 5:30 in the morning (or earlier) and get ready for work, I am telling the students at my school that I care about every single one of them, if even in some very small aspect. As a teacher investing in the lives of my students, I have to care or no progress is made. It's very easy to go to another job and work without caring about it (I know because I've had other jobs!), but with teaching, it's a heavy emotional responsibility. Especially when I look at some of the kids in my school who have this "entitlement complex" and expect everything to be handed to them on a platter and I wonder if they're even going to make it outside of high school. Is the 17 year old freshman who never goes to class, but sleeps instead, going to make it even to flipping burgers at a local hamburger joint? And yet, because I'm in the building doing my job, I'm investing part of my life into that 17 year old freshman, without knowing how he's going to turn out or even succeed.

And let's not talk about the students who have violent histories, who will explode on you simply because you asked them to put their phone away, or the student whose abusive boyfriend is taking over her life, or the student whose rich parents aren't actually parenting but simply throwing money at their "problem" and hoping it goes away, or the student whose parents are so poor that they have to work 3 jobs to pay for the iPhone and the designer sneakers and have no time to spend making sure their child isn't in trouble or are getting decent grades.

So, I teach because I care, or I care because I teach. I can't decided. I know this post started out as a comment on patience, instant gratification, and entitlement, and has now turned into an explanation about what I as a teacher have to deal with day in and day out, but honestly, it all amounts to the same thing. If you as a person are investing in the lives about people around you, don't you want their lives to be as meaningful and successful as possible? Every time you invest you have to care about something, even if you don't consciously realize that you care. That's why as a teacher you can't leave your work at work. Even if you leave all those papers you need to grade at work, the students you affect come home with you. Even while on spring break I was thinking about my students and the things that I wanted to share with them when I got home.

Needless to say, society is going somewhere, and I'm not sure that I like going with it in a certain direction. Entitlement, instant gratification, and dealing with people has always been a problem. Ecclesiastes is very clear that there is nothing new under the sun. At least I know that that has never changed. This is just my first time fully realizing and dealing with it.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Color of Miscarriage during Easter

Lately everything has been colored by my miscarriage. Everything. In the past two months I've done so much that feels like it would be different if not for Alexandra. She's not here anymore, but she has left a mark on my heart.

Easter Sunday is tomorrow. Even Easter has changed for me. I chose to forget in my grief over losing my small, tiny child that God knows, really knows, what it's like to lose a child too. I assumed that God in his infinite-ness couldn't know what it is like to lose a child.

But here at Easter, I am forcibly reminded that the all powerful, good, loving God knows not only what it is to lose a child, but what it is to sacrifice his child for those who hate Him as well.

I should, if I were a selfless person, be relieved that Alexandra didn't have to live more that 4-6 weeks inside of me in this broken world. She, instead, gets to spend the rest of forever in God's arms, possibly running the streets of gold. She gets to spend time in a place that has no more pain or suffering and is in the very presence of God. (He is the light of Heaven!) And yet, I, as a selfish person, couldn't easily let her go. I still want her here with me. I would have her experience life in a world that hates God, just so I could hold her.

God loves so much better than I do. Instead of selfishly keeping his Son to Himself, He sends Him to this broken, hateful world to die for His enemies, one of which was me. I can't willingly let Alexandra go to God's arms, which is an infinitely better place than here, and yet God willingly killed His Son for His enemies. What unfathomable love and mercy is this? I used to think I knew all about love, but now, I have a hard time grasping just how DEEP Divine love can be.

O, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean,
in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me,
is the current of Thy love.
Leading onward, leading homeward,
to thy glorious rest above.

O, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,
changeth never, nevermore.
How he watches o'er his loved ones,
died to call them all His own.
How for them he intercedeth,
watcheth o'er them from the throne!

O, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
love of every love the best.
'Tis an ocean full of blessing,
'tis a haven giving rest.
O, the deep, deep love of Jesus,
'tis a heaven of heavens to me;
and it lifts me up to glory,
for it lifts me up to Thee!


Post Script, I do want to mention, that Jesus would not have had to come to die if the world, through Adam and Eve, had not sinned and fallen so very, very short of the glory of God. Every one reading this, whether you agree or not, has at some point sinned and that in itself was cause for Jesus to come. I have sinned so often, that even as a Christian, I still need Him and His death on the bloody, brutal cross each day. How great is God's love that, even while I was still His enemy, in rebellion and sin against Him, He sent His Son to die an awful death for me.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Learning to trust the Good Shepherd


The one word that women of child-bearing age fear most. Especially if they've had one before. It wasn't until just recently that I learned the power of that fear.

On February 8, Michael and I lost a child that I had been carrying for about 8 weeks. It was actually much earlier than that, but that's part of the story, so I'll get to that later.

It was early morning when I took the pregnancy test two days after Christmas and found out about our little miracle. I say miracle because I had been certain that getting pregnant in December was going to be just about impossible. I had been having cramps, but no other symptoms. I was certain my period was going to be late because I had had a very bad cold for two weeks, on top of stress from work. It was on a whim then, that I took the pregnancy test, the morning we were going to visit Michael's parents for Christmas. I was stunned and unsure that what I was seeing was real, so I took it to Michael for second opinion, and he confirmed that I wasn't seeing things.

I set up an 8 week doctor's appointment on our way to visit his parents. The whole visit was completely surreal because we had this wonderful secret. We had decided that we were going to tell our families at the 8 week mark, and then everybody else at 12 weeks.

The weeks leading up to the January 20th appointment were exciting, full of certain pregnancy symptoms and disappointment when I found out that I couldn't eat soft cheese, sushi, or alcohol. I set about tracking the growth of the baby, according to when I'd last had my period. It was exciting, different, and totally welcome.

However, when we got to the doctor, things went down hill. The ultrasound revealed that the baby was exactly 5 weeks in length instead of 8 weeks. The doctor didn't seem too worried, as if women came in all the time and they had to re-examine when they were due. There was a tiny heart beat there in the middle of the sack, flickering away. It was beautiful. The doctor said the heart had probably only started beating about a day or two before. 

I cried that night, worried inexplicably that I was going to miscarry. I had watched some documentaries that detailed the frequency of miscarriage. I'd heard about how sometimes babies at this point who seem smaller than they should might have simply slowed down because they were about to miscarry. I was scared. Michael held me as I cried, and slowly I gave my fears to God. I had had to give my fears to God a lot before the appointment, but on seeing the tiny life inside of me that was smaller than I thought, all my fears came back, as if the sonogram had validated them. Eventually when I stopped crying, I figured that if nothing was wrong, I would just continue as if nothing were wrong. The doctor hadn't thought so. I reset my calendar back three weeks.

Jan. 20 was a Monday, and the day before my sister's birthday. I had thought it would be a good idea to tell my family after the doctor's appointment, but Michael held me back, mentioning that maybe we should wait until 8 weeks. The real 8 weeks. I reluctantly let him lead on that. He's my husband, so I honored his wishes in that. That Saturday I started spotting. Not a lot, but enough to get me nervous. Sunday I passed a clot the size of a pinhead and freaked out. When I called the doctor, she scheduled an ultrasound for me the next day, Monday. I went in after work and while the ultrasound showed that the sack and baby had doubled, reading about 5 weeks and 6 days, the technician couldn't pick up a heart beat. The doctor's assistant who saw me told me that that might be the fault of the machinery. But to just allay my fears, she offered to get blood work drawn for me, and have it drawn again in another two days. That or come in another week for an ultrasound again. Since I don't like needles, I opted for the ultrasound.

Through out the next week, I continued spotting, some times more heavily than others, but always kinda brownish. The longer I spotted the more agitated I got, even though I knew that in pregnancy there were a lot of things that could make me bleed. Every day it seemed I had to give my fears to God. I prayed for the life of my baby. Michael prayed for the life of my baby. It was an uncomfortable time, full of fears.

The next ultrasound seemed to confirm the worst. Even I could tell that there had been no growth and there was again no heart beat. The technician left for a little while to get a confirmation on the pictures she was seeing. That gave me time to compose myself and pray a lot. The doctor who met with me told me I had what they called a "missed miscarriage" where the body hasn't quite got the message that the baby has stopped growing. She said I could wait and see what happened, or I could take a drug that would induce miscarriage, or I could have surgery that would suck all the "fetal tissue" out. Such sterile language, "fetal tissue". I opted to wait until Wednesday, as she could call the drug in for me if I chose that road.

I cried on the way home. I cried when I got home. Michael cried with me. It felt like all our hopes and dreams for the future had been ripped up and thrown away in the span of 20 minutes. We basically held each other and cried. We prayed, and cried some more.

Nothing happened by Wednesday, so I called the doctor and asked for the drugs. She called them in and I had two doses by Friday evening. The first dose didn't take. Saturday evening, Feb. 8, I took the second dose, and that time it took and everything passed. I cried. It was hard to go to church the next morning, but we did because Michael had praise team. It was still surreal to me that the child I had harbored for several weeks was now gone.

It's now been about 6 weeks since the induced miscarriage. I told my family. I had another ultrasound to make sure everything passed, and I was clear to heal and try again. We named the baby Alexandra. Every week it's been a struggle to go to anything church related because not only do I have no distractions, but I'm in the presence of the Creator, who for some reason decided to stop creating within me. There are days when I feel like everything is going to be okay, when I can teach normally, when I can make dinner normally, when I can read Facebook normally, but then there are other days when it feels like everything is crashing down around me.

I feel decades older. Sometimes I wish it was all just a bad dream. I've stopped talking as much in certain company. I have a hard time reading Facebook, or hearing about all my friends who are having babies, especially the ones who I thought "oh! Our children are going to be born about the same time!" I can't get away from pregnancy references, pregnant women, or babies, especially when I want to. Michael, even though he too is grieving, has had to care for me in my brokenness. He has had to quickly learn patience as I seem fine one day, only to cry through most of the next. My heart seems at times like it's been ripped in two. Other times it seems like half of it is missing or a thousand knives have been stabbed through it.

I've had a lot of questions for God and about God. It has been good to see Him at work through my parents, my family, my friends, and the people in my church, comforting me and holding on to me. I know people are praying for me. At least two people ask me at church every week if I'm doing alright. I went on a women's retreat recently, and while I spent most of the time crying during talks and singing, it was a turning point.

Since Feb. 3, when I found out I'd miscarried, I've clung to the fact that I know God is good. That and He is sovereign. I know that because He is sovereign, this was part of his plan for me. I know that because He is good, this terribly painful part of His plan will turn into good for me. I still don't see how taking my child was good, but I can see His goodness in sustaining me for the past month. And now since the women's conference on Psalm 23, I have been able to see God as loving me. I had forgotten that, or been in doubt of it. It is hard to equate a God who loves me with a God who would let me suffer, but I know He loves me. I know He loves me if only because He let His own Son die (die!) for me. He knows the pain I'm going through because He too has lost a child. He cares for me, even when I don't see it. And right now, I'm still struggling to see it. I will catch glimpses of it at times, but other times I still feel like I'm in the dark.

This miscarriage thing seems like a weird club. Before I miscarried, I was only aware that my mom and my best friend's mom had miscarried. Now that I have miscarried, there are so many women around me who have come out of the woodwork, having had one or five miscarriages. Each one is different, but no less profound or sad. What comforts me and tears me up at the same times is that I am a parent, Michael is a parent, and yet our child is with God. My grandpa who died towards the end of February has met Alexandra first.

This has been a huge process, a grieving, a learning process. Thank you to all of you who have already walked with me some of the way. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your sympathy. Thank you for your thoughts. Thank you to my husband for his steady servant heart, his patience, and his love for me. I'm not done grieving yet. In fact, today has been a fairly hard day. But at the same time, I can say that this week has been better then last week. 

As a side note: if you needed this, I'm praying for you. If you know someone who needs this, please share this with them. Take your cares, your grief, to God and He, like the good shepherd that He is, will care for you. He loves you, just as He loves me.

More later,