Sometimes I feel so compelled to say something-- to write-- when something big is overflowing from my heart! There's so much joy that oozes out of seeing our children these days, and the new squishy face that stole our hearts, but the past couple weeks we've been at a bit of a crossroads of joy and sorrow. My emotions have been in highs and lows, and it's not just the exhaustion of a baby. As a woman I know that's not uncommon, especially for me (just ask my husband!), but it's been different lately.
On July 31, we quietly grieved in remembrance of our daughter, Bailey Faith, who I miscarried and birthed at the hospital 9 years ago. Some years we bawl like babies together, recollecting what we've endured...or I will eat junk food and chocolate to the high heavens. At this point, Heath and I just give each other long hugs as we just know how the other feels and send sweet text notes of love. It will never be easy to pass that date on the calendar, and that's okay. It means that we had a real daughter that we conceived together, and that we really loved her. It was a traumatic event in our life to lose her, one of the most traumatic things I've endured! My only birth story is one that was dreadful instead joyful. If I can be real with you. I couldn't have survived it without Jesus being with me, crying with me and interceding to the Father on our behalf while I was being induced and waiting to birth our lifeless little baby. I will always say that I really felt Him carry me through that awful time, and He gave me the peace I needed desperately to sustain my emotional and mental health. The support of my family, with my parents and grandparents being with us, was enormous! We didn't have to go through it alone, not in the hospital and not at the burial. But Heath...he was my rock at that time! He was the best husband I could pray for, and excels in adversity, but I didn't know how much he went through beside me the entire hospital stay. While I was sedated part of the time, he saw it all. He saw Bailey. He remembered it all. While I was in and out of it, he was there. Yes, like a training marine, he was going through the rigors of what I think of as boot camp for the professional which is medical school. Even though he worked on a cadaver by day it was nothing compared to seeing our tiny, red baby, the one we prayed years for on a table with their spirit with Jesus. There are details I'm not sure I'll ever share, on here anyway, that haunts me sometimes if I allow my thoughts to really "go there".
What I do know is that Heath, I and the Lord have endured and walked through a whole lot together!! We've climbed some mountains that looked impassable, but God said I will create a path with each step you take. My words will create the ground beneath your feet. Keep walking.
That's how the Lord works -- sometimes in mysterious ways -- you hear it a lot, but it's true. His ways are higher, so we can't understand or comprehend most of the time the plan that He's laying out before us. The one where our family is started "for such a time as this". Only He knew when this would be and for what reason. In the meantime, we sorted through every single possible and probable emotion one could face on planet earth.
The journey for us really began after losing Bailey Faith. The journey that would mark mine and Heath's lives as truly knowing and loving God with eyes wide open. It's as if over the decade of infertility and miracle and loss and adoption, the Lord was saying to Heath and I ---
Why do you really follow Me?
Do you really believe Me at My word?
Do you really trust Me as your Father?
Do you know that I love you, no strings attached?
Are you willing to love Me no matter what I give to you, or take away?
Will You allow yourself to trust Me completely if I let you free fall?
That time in my life, the time when I was healing from the loss of Bailey 3 years earlier, He told me to free-fall into His love! That was very important for me to learn to do that. He specifically used the term free-fall. He let me see it in a way that I could understand: My Papa used to throw my 3 year old self high in the air and catch me without me ever wondering if I would fall. I loved Papa so much ,and knew he loved me so much, that I knew I would always land back in his big hands.
That's how my Heavenly Father wanted me to be with him, with my life. He wanted me to put myself out there and live like I knew that I knew whatever may come that I would land in His big hands. I mean absolutely whatever may come my way. I literally laid out every scary scenario in my head and told the Lord.
What if I never had children and never became a mom on earth? What if I lost another child? What if I lost another loved one? What if we have a failed adoption? What if people knew I struggled with anxiety and depression? On and on.....
Leslie, I want you to live without these fears holding you back. I want you to free-fall trust Me and take Me at My Word! Step out in obedience and trust Me.
Knowing if He called me as the song says "out into the water" as my Father, I could trust Him. To walk in a new found freedom! It wasn't careless, but as freedom always does, it took the chains of fear and utter anxiety off that had wrapped itself around my life after losing Bailey, and it allowed me to live again! It was a process that at last needed me to make up my mind to not give fear a foothold anymore in my life! I had scriptures plastered in the room I was in most, the kitchen, and I read His promises to me multiple times a day. Replacing fear with Truth. Over time I began to hear clearly from God and I stepped into that!
It was that freedom that helped me share my testimony and speak for the first time in my life at a women's conference. It was how Heath and I plunged head first into a huge "Yes!!!" to God by adopting two toddlers as our entry into parenthood! I never wanted to ever do domestic adoption because I didn't think my heart to could take the pain if it didn't work out. But I was free falling and trusting God's call over my fear! This is why Kylie's middle name is Hope, and Rosemary's is Grace, and Bailey's was Faith. Our children continue to serve as a legacy of what God can create out of our pain. I always pray that they walk out their own lives with faith and hope, and in the grace of God! The nature of our Father God is in their very name!
Our full story is a journey that would probably take hundreds of pages to fully write out. In the process of learning to love the Lord will ALL my heart, All my mind, All my soul, All my strength over a course of about 6 years was intense and beautiful. He used the rock bottom places, the places you wouldn't expect to come back from, to be the place where He remakes us into His image. The place we could run and never look back, or we can reach out to Him hands surrendered and heart broken, and willing to love Him whatever the future may bring. The Lord has used our journey thus far in what I call the Refiner's fire to forge Hope that doesn't disappoint in my spirit. The outcome looks like a stronger and greater marriage, and a patchwork quilt family birthed from a barren womb. It looks like children's lives redeemed and their hearts set in security.
All the hurt and trial and mistakes and petitioning in prayer; and all the steadfastness, faithfulness and redemption from a sovereign God -- all that God used to bind up the broken places in our family. In every one of us.
It's because God pulled me out of the miry pit, and set my feet upon a rock, that I have moments like I did this morning -- of utter JOY uncontainable for my children!!! I love them so much it hurts. A tangible love that makes me hold my baby so close, and kiss her with a million kisses and cuddles. It makes my feet jump up and down in worship when I'm the only one in the building who thinks they could burst by standing still! I'm not perfect, of course, I have bad days and even bad weeks. I can get overwhelmed and discouraged. But there's something about the peace in the Lord that's in my marriage and in my heart that bubbles out and that reminds me what I came out of. My myriad of feelings aren't wrong, but they show that I'm alive, and I love passionately, and put myself out there and love again.
This morning I woke up and hopped in the shower very first thing. When I was in the shower I shuddered realizing Rosemary never woke up last night like she always does between 4:30-6:00 to eat. I couldn't get out of the shower fast enough to check if she was okay -- if she was still breathing. In those frantic moments that I was trying to wash out my conditioner, I told God I will love Him no matter what happens. See, He understands that sometimes there are residual effects from trauma that are triggers, even PTSD. Instead of feeling convicted after checking on my breathing, sleeping baby this morning, I didn't feel guilty at all for worrying about her. I felt grace extended from the Father! I felt a love so deep, even more so after a loss so deep. These emotions are complicated at the least.
-- God can handle complicated! --
I'll say it again, God can handle our complicated, if we would let Him. He is there for you!
He reassured me that He loves Rosemary more than I do, and I find myself resting in His unfailing love more than ever before. His love is the sanity and the hope that I have to live freely!!!
I decided to let you in on my life a bit more, so that I may talk to the one person who is reading that deals with complicated emotions.. I want to say to you -- God can handle those! You need to give those thoughts and emotions to Him, and allow Him be the first to know your thoughts. Ask for the truth of God's word to replace fear. Don't feel condemned or discouraged if you have experienced trauma and you're learning to do life afterwards. You are not alone! So many other Christians quietly deal with hurt and are seeking healing. But take the most comfort in that if you are a believer, you are never ever alone with Holy Spirit inside of you! He is closer than our skin! He empowers me and calms me and redirects crazy emotions to healthy ones.
He can handle you!
He can alleviate the worst of anxiety and fear. He can handle your questions. He can handle hard and messy! He did it with Abraham and Joseph and Moses and King David and Job and Hannah, (just to name a few) and me. He can with you.
I am so grateful for my family and for our marriage even more now! I am so very thankful for the relationship I have that runs deep and true with the Lord! He has put my feet upon a rock and put a new song in my mouth! He put a song in my heart that sometimes I can't hold in, so I write.
Thank you, Lord, for redemption being our story as sons and daughter of the Living God!
I wanted to take a moment between writing on our adoption story to write something that I believe somebody needs to read today. It's this testimony of healing and joy after pain and loss. Like everything I write on here, this is the nutshell version; but I do understand extensive surgery --if you will-- by The Great Physician to heal my hurting faith and my hurting heart. He is gentle and gracious, and wants you to know that He wants you to run to Him and surrender. The plan He has for you is far greater than you can ever know!
If you need to reach out for prayer, I will pray with you! Find someone to talk to you who will come along side you on your redemption road.