Monday, August 27, 2012

I Will Not Be Silent

A silent suffering- that is where I am currently at. Strangers pass me in the street and have no idea the storm that is going on inside of me. That pain that is threatening to strangle me and builds, becoming toxic until it bubbles over, spilling out of me as if floodgates had just been opened. I HATE THIS. I hate that this is now part of our story. That suffering knocked on our door a month and a half ago and decided to move in for what seems to be permanently. How can this happen? How can I experience the best year of my life and the worst year of my life all in the same year? How can the direction life is going change so drastically? Because of this abrupt direction change, I'm so lost.

I long for the day when I am on the other side of this. The day when I can look back on this time and see how far I've come. Jerry Sittser writes:

               "The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun & light of day is not to run west, chasing after the              
                 setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise."

I love this analogy because if I run from this suffering, this darkness that comes along with losing someone you love so dearly, I will maybe have fleeting moments of comfort, but the darkness will always catch up with me. So I've decided to run straight into the darkness- facing all those things that scare me: Quinn's nursery, pictures of her, talking about her and our memories, my fears of never having more children, letting go of MY plan of how life was going to be. Once I do that I am down to the most basic, primal parts of me. Even though it hurts so bad, I know it has to be done or else I'm just delaying the inevitable.

I don't know where we (including me) got the idea that life isn't supposed to be hard. That bad things happen to "other" people, but if we're "good" enough it won't happen to us. We (including me) have this sense of entitlement. I was reminded of this last night when reading Romans 8:15-17:
               "The Spirit we received does not make us slaves again to fear; it makes us children of God. With
                 that Spirit we cry out, "Father". And the Spirit himself joins with our spirits to say we are God's
                 children. If we are God's children, we will receive blessings from God together with Christ. But
                we must suffer as Christ suffered so that we will have glory as Christ has glory."

As I was reading that verse in my Bible I noticed I had  previously read this and had the entire verse underlined but stopped at the last sentence beginning with BUT.  See, I failed to underline the suffering part. We want a nice neat box to put Christianity in and throw in those fuzzy verses about love and conveniently leave out the suffering parts.  Brennan Manning writes:

              "Christianity doesn't deny the reality of suffering and evil... our hope... is not based on the idea that
               we are going to be free of pain and suffering. Rather, it is based on the conviction that we will
               triumph over suffering."

Just this week I realized something pretty simple that I can't believe I've missed all these years of growing up in the church... Those whom God loves dearly, the faithful, the righteous, they all have some of the deepest suffering. Moses was given away as a baby, kills someone and goes into exile. David was chased & sought to be killed by his mentor and then loses his baby boy. Mary has a son who is born in a barn, is persecuted most of his short life, then dies a criminal death for no crime. AWFUL! But we skip over those parts and go right to the triumph of Moses leading his people out of slavery and seeing the very face of God, David being the greatest king to ever live, and Mary being the mother of the Savior of the universe who rose again.

My cousins came last weekend to spend some time with me and asked me about this blog. They were surprised I was doing it because I'm normally more private with things of this matter. I waited a moment to answer them because I had not put into words why I was writing this. But the answer came quick. I had so many dreams and hopes for Quinn. I envisioned her being a character, charismatic, loving people hard, and changing every life who she came in contact with. Now my daughter is gone. And the only possible way that she can still change lives is if her story is told through Tim & I. Here is her story:

Once upon a time there lived a mommy and daddy who prayed and cried and prayed to have a baby. Finally the time came where God blessed them with that baby. When she was born their whole world rejoiced because a light was born and she grew into a round-faced, happy, beautiful, blue-eyed baby. Then, quicker than she came into the world she left the world and that flame went out. The mommy and daddy were heartbroken and thought they'd never see that kind of light again. But that's when others around them caught fire. Mommies and daddies held their kids longer, told their kids how much they loved them, and vowed to be better parents, friends and coworkers dropped their differences and showed each other more love and grace than ever before, and that world turned to the Light Of The World for their own struggles. Even though the one little light had gone out a wild fire had started and there was no putting that out.

So even though I am silently suffering in my day to day life- I will not be quiet about how my daughter changed me, how she moved me from a place of complacency to a place of fervency.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Are You Afraid?

By Quinn's Dad

Are you afraid?  I am.  I am so afraid that I don't know how to live on.  The thing that I cared for the most in this world has been taken from me.  If you would have asked me a month and a half ago what I feared most, it would have been Quinn dying.  I am living out my worst fear, my nightmare.  The one that wakes you up screaming and sweating in the middle of the night.  Now, everything scares me.  Getting in the car I think, "What if I get in an accident?  Will Ali be OK here alone?"  What if I wake up next to Ali and she doesn't wake up.  I am just waiting for the next tragedy to hit.  I already can't stand living without my little girl, how am I supposed to get through life that is filled with this kind of pain and suffering?  And please listen and believe that this will not be the last thing I suffer.  I know and expect this and it scares me.

Then, I remember the one thing that comforts me, the one thing that I simply cannot ignore... Jesus Loves Me. It is a simple truth that we learn as little kids in Sunday School. It may sound strange, but I believe this more than ever right now. Yes, I am bitter. Yes, I have never had so much anger. Yes, I am working through some serious trust issues with God. I have never questioned God or something I think I believe in so much. My life is in complete shambles but the fact remains that God is the same perfect God he was 2 months ago.

I used to hate it when people would say, "God never said being a Christian wouldn't be hard."  Why not? Why would he make our lives seem so hopeless sometimes? Why would a God that seems to love us allow such grief? What kind of God would do that?  I will tell you right now, from personal experience, that if life was good all the time, I wouldn't need God. Why would I need him if I have everything? For me, I have realized that He has been a God of convenience.  Still, I can't escape the finality that my little girl is gone. What kind of thing could come from this that would make it worth it? I don't know and I don't think it is possible, but I have faith in a God that could someday show me.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Jesus Wept

And Jesus wept (John 11:35). Words that mean so much more to me now that tears are such a regular part of life for me. My soul, mind, and body all long to see Quinn, to have her near me. I carried her for 9 months, went through 28 hours of labor to be with her, I spent 24 hours a day caring for her... she is a part of me. I feel like someone took a chainsaw to me and cut out a huge chunk of me and now I am hurt, raw, with some of my most intimate parts for the whole world to see. I know I will eventually heal, but it will take a long time, I will forever have a scar, and it will never be the same.  C.S. Lewis in "A Grief Observed" relates grief of losing a loved one to losing a leg... yes it will heal, but nothing is the same again- not the way you put on your shoes or pants, not the way you walk or stand, nothing. You will never again be known as a biped.

That is another aspect of my grieving- over the loss of who I used to be... trusting, sarcastic, naive.  And the loss of who my husband used to be. We will never be the same. We can't be...part of us is missing. My prayer is that Tim & I will be better versions of our selves after this, but the verdict will be out for quite some time on that. Sue Monk Kidd in "When the Heart Waits" describes the word crisis as "a holy summons to cross a threshold. It involves both leaving behind and a stepping toward, a separation and an opportunity." Tim & I are at that threshold. Isaiah 43:2-3 states:
                 "When you pass through the waters,
                   I will be with you;
                  And when you pass through the rivers,
                  they will not sweep over you.
                  When you walk through the fire,
                  you will not be burned;
                  the flames will not set you ablaze.
                 For I am the Lord, your God,
                 the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

Tim & I are the definition of walking through the fire and as much as I want to walk around it, or jump over it or just stand still, I can't- but i have to keep reminding myself that MY LORD, MY GOD is walking me through it. That he knows what is on the other side. See... In the story of Lazarus when Jesus wept- he knew the ending of the story. He knew what he was about to do. He knew Lazarus would be resurrected.  Jesus wasn't weeping because Lazarus was dead. He was weeping because he saw how much hurt and pain Mary & Martha were in. He wept because he knew they couldn't see the whole picture, they didn't know the ending, they couldn't see what was on the other side of the fire. He empathizes with them. He is fully God and knows all things and how they will work out, but He is also fully human understanding our pain- hurting with the people he loves dearly.

When Quinn first passed away Tim & I poured over 2 Samuel 12 when David loses his first child and the verse that struck both of us is when David said, "Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."  I will go to be with Quinn someday, but she will NEVER return to me. That hurts. Children are supposed to run to their mothers. I know someday I will run to her, but that is not the way it is supposed to be. And that is why Jesus wept. Because to Quinn it will just be but a moment and she'll be reunited with her mommy and daddy, but Jesus knows it will seem like and will be a lifetime for me.

I have said in the past that death doesn't scare me because I know where I am going. But now, in hindsight, I think I was just saying that because that is what Christians are expected to say. But I can say to you today that Heaven has never seemed more real to me. It is sad that is takes something earthly for me to declare that, but it is what it is. I CANNOT wait to get to Heaven and run to my babies (Tim & I had a miscarriage before Quinn). To have that first time when you meet your child here on Earth is such a heavenly experience, but to meet my first child in heaven will be surreal. But mostly when I think about heaven, I think about Quinn. I think about holding her again and singing to her, I guess singing with her praises to the King. And knowing that I won't cry for her anymore and that I'll never have to say goodbye to her again, but that we will be together for eternity. It seems so far far away, when all I want to do is hold her now. But it makes me look forward to Heaven more than ever before. It makes me more thankful than ever of what Jesus did to make that possible and ironically God- who watched his only son die so that one day I may be reunited with my own children. Until then, I am homesick.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Quinn would've been 5 months old today and the words escape me for how much I miss her. It has been 3 weeks since she passed away and the reality and longevity of her death are finally starting to set in. I miss her big beautiful eyes and infectious smile. I miss coming into her room after her nap or sleeping to find her smiling at me. I miss her voice ,that she had just found, filling the house.  I miss taking showers with her in the bouncy seat and poking my head out and looking at her. She usually had no idea I was looking at her, but when she looked up from whatever she was playing with (usually Rosie or her hands) she would smile as if to say "Hi Mom". I hear other children calling for their mothers and I long to hear her say my name... "Mommy", I see other children passing me in the street and they haunt me like ghosts. They are all my "what ifs" siting in the backseat of the SUV. But I don't see children & feel bitter. I don't want those children. I WANT QUINN.
This death is different from other deaths because I am not just mourning the tiny memories I have with her. I am mourning the death of hopes and dreams I had for her. The things I will never get to do with her. This morning I cried because my daughter never got to know me & I prayed, "God, will you tell her about me and what I would've been to her? Will you tell her about how much I love her and miss her? Will you tell her how funny I am, or how her mommy and daddy fell in love, or how much she moved and changed us?"  I know no one can love her like The Father, but what is so wrong about her being here with me? I know many parts of this are selfish, but it was who i was made to be... a mother.
The song that kept running through my head the night we lost Quinn was "Worth It All" by Rita Springer. My hope and prayer is that this pain, heartbreak, brokenness, and suffering that came at such a HUGE PRICE will be worth it in the end when I see my Maker's face. That he will say "Well Done", that lives would be moved for Christ. Psalm says that God is near to the brokenhearted and I believe that with my whole heart- Tim & I have both commented on how we have felt it.
Tim & I are in Vail, CO this weekend as a short getaway and I have started the 1st book of many that people have given us to read through this journey of suffering. It is called "I Will Carry You- The Sacred Dance of Grief & Joy". In it the author, Angie Smith (who lost a child of her own) writes about the relationship between joy & suffering. This is the quote that hit me...

                   When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
                   & you shall see that in truth you are weeping for
                   that which has been your delight,

                   Some of you say"Joy is greater than sorrow"

                   & others say, "No, sorrow is the greater"
                   But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

                   Together they come & when one sits alone with you

                   at your board, remember the other is asleep upon your bed.

                   Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.

                                                                        -Kahlil Gibran

This is the beautiful mess Rick McKinley talks about in his book "This Beautiful Mess" of an upside down kingdom of heaven here on earth. One that Psalm 34:18 talks about:
                   "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted & saves those who are crushed in spirit."
The one  Matthew 5:3-4 talks about:
                   "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
                    Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted"
The one Lamentations 3:13, 19-22 speaks of:
                   "He shot His arrows deep into my heart. The thought of my suffering
                    & hopelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful
                    time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet, I dare to hope when I remember
                    this. The unfailing love of the Lord never ends. Because of the Lord's 
                    great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  
                    They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness"
The one Lamentations 3:55-58 speaks of:
                  "I call your name o Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea:
                      'Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.' You came near when I
                   called you, you said 'Do not fear.' Oh Lord, you took up my case, you
                   redeemed my life."
SEE?... FOR IN OUR SUFFERING HE IS NEAR! Don't get me wrong. I have been in some deep depression... that "deep pit" & have been in the most bleak, dark parts of life. It has been hard to get out of bed some mornings, some days I won't talk, some I will cry all morning. BUT GOD IS NEAR TO ME. I haven't doubted that for a moment. I have been reading John 11 a lot lately of the story of Lazarus & I believe that Jesus knows my pain & is weeping with me.
Even before Quinn was born my main prayer for her was that she would bring joy to the lives of others. And even though this situation is as far away from my prayer that it could ever be, I believe that God is still working to answer that. That through this grief & suffering that joy will come to the lives of other through Quinn's story. A joy that doesn't fade, but an eternal joy.
As I read through this joy/suffering relationship yesterday out on the deck in Colorado. A huge storm rolled over the Mountains about the same time I was reading a verse in the Bible that said "I am God"- thunder rolled. I felt that God was letting me know that this was not my plan for my life, but that he was still in control, not me. But as that storm rolled in, I was still sitting in the sunlight (really, I was! Tim couldn't believe it, but still told me to come in). I felt it was a physical reminder of this crazy dichotomy of suffering and joy. That I am in the thick of the storm, but that over this mountain will come joy. And so in my darkest of days, that is my hope.