Last year, I wrote about how to enjoy a simple Christmas - even when it isn't by choice. I wrote about some of the hardships our family was encountering - illness, surgery, and my husband being out of work for the last six weeks of the year. I wrote about choosing joy when things are hard. I wrote about not allowing our circumstances to shift our gaze from the One who holds not only the season, but the whole world in His hands.
I had no idea that just a couple of weeks later my ability to live out those words of encouragement would be seriously challenged.
A year ago today, I gave my husband an early Christmas present. I videoed him opening the bag, my heart pounding, barely able to contain the secret I'd been holding. He cried tears of joy as he declared this was the best present he'd ever been given --- the news that he was going to be a Daddy again.
Our youngest was in the room with us, and I panned to him, asking if he was ready to be a big brother. He pouted out his bottom lip and gave a firm, 'No!' We laughed at his response, thinking how precious it would be some day for him and his sibling to watch this together!
It wasn't planned by us, but it was planned by God. And we celebrated this precious new life with joyful anticipation. We were concerned about finances, but knew God had always made a way. I scheduled a doctor's appointment, and we laid awake late into the night dreaming about how big our lives would change with our 7th child! We talked about waiting until we knew the gender to surprise everyone. I made my husband promise we could use the name I had picked out for a baby girl. It was sweet.
We had no idea how brief our joy would be before turning to sorrow. The very next day, it became evident I was losing the baby. Somehow even that terminology made me feel like it was my fault. I know now it wasn't, but my heart shattered.
On the way to Christmas Eve service, I tried desperately to keep my tears in check. I was in horrific physical pain and my heart had never known such confliction. God is good. All the time. Christmas. Immanuel. God with us. But He felt so far away.
By His grace, we enjoyed our Christmas - all of us together. He drew near, even as I pulled away. He is true to His word - He is close to the broken hearted. Last Christmas, my heart ached until I felt it would fall right out of my chest. We celebrated the birth of baby Jesus as I grieved the loss of our baby.
Oh, friends. If only healing always came right when we wanted. We would miss out on so much. We would miss out on knowing the persistent, unchanging, unwavering faithfulness of a Father who loves us with abandon. We would miss out on knowing what it is to seek Him, not just because He's giving us what we want, but because He is who we need. We would miss out on being able to identify the suffering of others, and extending the mercy and compassion He's lavished on us.
And I'll admit. I couldn't have written that last paragraph last Christmas. The pain was still raw. The ache too deep. Today has been bittersweet. I held tight to my memory of my sweet husband's lit up face and our little one's boyish objection to being a big brother. I've cherished the memory of the idea of expanding our family and having a baby. I've thought about how different today could be with a 3 month old in the mix!
Before today, I have told very few people about our joyfully expected little one. My heart could not handle what I feared would come... indifference... thoughtless comments... questions about why we would be grieving this loss when we'd never held our baby/when we had 6 healthy kids already/when it wasn't the most responsible time financially. My heart could not handle having anyone belittle the love and grief and brokenness I held.
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I thought about just keeping all this tucked away. Treasuring them in my heart - similar to the way Mary treasured the words of the angel on that night so long ago. But here they are, in prayerful hope that if you're reading this and your heart is aching this Christmas, you'll know you are not alone. I can tell you from experience, friend, He is faithful.
It's okay to not be okay. It's okay to grieve and cry and ache. It's okay to get messy in front of our Savior - the One born of a virgin in a stable. He came into this messy world in a messy way because He's not waiting for us to make it out of our mess on our own. He isn't waiting for us to deal with our heartaches - He is pursuing us, drawing near, and relentlessly loving us.
How can I pray for you this Christmas? Are you grieving a loss? Is your heart aching? Do you know the hope that can be found in the Savior of the world, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas?
Here you will find the musings of a homeschooling, work from home, adoptive Momma of 7! Adventures in faith, family, adoption, and training up a tribe to follow hard after Jesus are spilled into these posts --- most often written with a cup of coffee in hand. I hope you'll stick around a while and find something - more likely SOMEONE! - that brings you hope!
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