Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Just Breathe

April 20. 

In and out. 
In and out. 
In and out. 

Just breathe

5 years. 

In and out. 
In and out.
 In and out.


The diagnosis. 
The beginning of the end.
 The day we found out that our lives were going to be changed FOREVER. 

I've become an expert at living again. 
But I've also become an expert at hiding the grief. 

Most people have forgotten. 
Most people have moved on. 
Most people say, "It's been 5 years. It's time to move on."
But it's impossible for me. 

Yes, I live. 
I breathe. 
I laugh and love.

I can pray again. 
Thank you, Jesus. 
I can worship again. 
Thank you, God.
God is, indeed, good.

But there is a part of me that will NEVER forget. 
The pain will never go away.

April 20, 2010. 
"Your baby has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome…….
blah blah blah…mumble mumble mumble….
100% fatal without intervention…..
mumble mumble mumble….blah blah blah….
open heart surgery immediately after birth
blah blah blah…mumble mumble mumble…..
unknown life expectancy…." 
Everything else from that point forward was just a blur. 

I cried, sobbed
No, wailed for days….

And now, here we are 5 years later. 

I don't grieve without hope. 
My hope is found in a resurrected Savior.
my heart hurts. 
My soul longs for a baby that isn't. 
The black pit of despair threatens to overtake me. 

How can it be that 5 years is upon us? 

Just breathe, Jill. 
Just keep breathing. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Complete Brokenness

A post in which I show you what an ugly person I truly am. I'm almost embarrassed to admit most of what I wrote here, but I have Shane's permission to share and I feel like it could be helpful to some of my readers. Not to mention, that it's always SO good for me to write things out. It helps me process my grief and my awe of God in such a significant way. 

I don't write here often anymore. Thankfully, I don't need to. I spend my days raising my children, loving my husband, caring for my home, and loving my God. My life is full of love, laughter, and light. Healing has transformed my tears into laughter, my brokenness into strength. God has been faithful- so very faithful.

This weekend, Shane and I participated in a marriage retreat through our church. We were asked to examine where we fall short as husbands/wives. We were asked to examine our strengths. We were asked to look at ourselves before trying to "fix" our spouse.

This got Shane and I to talking about our marriage and where we are now compared to where we were before Joshua. It seems that everything in our lives is measured in "Before Joshua" and "After Joshua." Joshua seems to be the turning point for every aspect of our lives.

As we were talking, we discussed our relationship in our early marriage (before Joshua). I was controlling, impatient, spoiled, inconsiderate, greedy, selfish, and blind. Don't get me wrong, we lived under the illusion that we were happy, but looking back, we can both see how miserable we were. We were young, inexperienced in life, overwhelmed, and just barely surviving. Most of the issues we had were because of me and my pride.

And then Joshua came.

It was through our discussion last night that I realized how drastically God broke me through Joshua's life and death. He didn't just break me in my faith (more appropriately, my lack of faith), and He didn't just allow my baby to die and allow me to grieve the most painful grief imaginable. He broke me of me.

Looking back, I see God's hand of protection over me and our family. (I speak of only myself because all I can speak of is my own personal outlook, I'm not neglecting Shane and his loss or the kids and their loss or lessons learned.) God knew my heart better than I did back then. He knew that Shane would be more patient and understanding with me than I would be with him if our roles were reversed.

 He knew that I needed someone to blame for Joshua's death, and he provided a way that I had no one to blame BUT God. (God is the only one who would be big enough to handle my blame and anger.) He knew that if I could blame someone, I would. And He protected our marriage, our family, and our life by orchestrating the specifics of Joshua's life and death.

I look back to the day that Joshua died:

 I was alone with Joshua. Shane was 2 hours away at work. Caleb and Hannah were in daycare.  I arrived in Joshua's room that morning and he immediately coded. God knew that if he coded while I was away from him, I would have blamed the doctors. I would have searched for any possible break in the chain of command or quality of care, and I would have blamed them and myself for not being there when it happened.

When Joshua coded that morning, and there was no hope. The previous few times he had coded, there was always hope. This time, there was none. I didn't have to make the decision of when enough was enough. Joshua was ready to go Home, God's timing was perfectly orchestrated, and there was nothing I could do about it. He allowed me to come in and hold my baby as he was ushered into the mighty, loving, and healing arms of Christ.

Shane was not there that morning. How easy it would have been for me to go home and spend time with the older children and allow Shane to care for Joshua. This is where it gets really ugly and I'm making myself really vulnerable with you… How easy it would have been for me to blame Shane for Joshua's death, had he been there that morning instead of me. My heart is so ugly that I could have easily blamed him for not doing enough to save Joshua, for not being responsive enough, or  thorough enough with his care. It's awful for me to admit this, but looking back, I know I would have blamed him. My heart is a wicked awful, dark, and dirty heart, and I am NOT proud to admit these things.

God knew that Shane would not even imagine blaming me. I can't even begin to tell you what an amazing man Shane is and how completely and utterly undeserving of his love I truly am. He knew that Shane's love for me was patient and kind. He knew that Shane's love for me would not blame me for not "being enough" to save Joshua. God knew that Shane would carry the weight of Joshua's death gracefully and with patience. (A few days after Joshua died, and in the midst of the personal attacks on our family, I was terrified to admit to Shane that I was SO worried that he blamed me for Joshua's death. Shane was completely and utterly FLABBERGASTED that I would even THINK such a thing. he's the one with the good heart here- not me, that's for certain.) God didn't even allow my mind to go down that dangerous and ugly thought process.

God orchestrated protection over our marriage that morning. He knew how ugly and horrible my heart was. He knew I was too blind to see it until almost 5 years after the fact. He knew how strong Shane could be (giving him His strength when needed), and he orchestrated each of our roles in Joshua's life perfectly. He took away every single person or thing that I could have possibly blamed, knowing that I would eventually take out my wrath and grief on Him. God knew that He was the only one strong enough to handle my blame- Shane would not have been, our marriage would not have been. Remind you much of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, carrying the wrath of our sin?! 

God saved our marriage. God saved my life. God pulled me out of the darkness, carried me when I was weak, healed me when I was ready to receive healing, and continues to break my pride and selfishness.

I am not at all proud of admitting how deeply God broke me through Joshua. I am not at all proud of how ugly and awful my heart was and is. I pray daily that God would transform that ugliness into something that would bring Him glory. And He is. Hewill.

As Shane and I spoke of our marriage before and after Joshua, we both broke down in tears at the reality of what our marriage faced back then. We broke down in tears when we realized how deeply God broke us and how fully He protected us from ourselves (or me, mostly). We rejoiced in the love and vulnerability that we share so openly and completely.

But most of all, we are in awe of our all knowing God who protected us, broke our ugliness, and bound us up to fashion us into something beautiful that radiates His power, mercy, and glory.

The complete brokenness I experienced, after Joshua died, was excruciating. I wouldn't wish the pain of  that time in our lives on anyone. But I rejoice in the Glory of God that has been revealed through it all. What a good and mighty God we serve.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Not Connecting


It's already October.

The time period that Joshua spent alive is coming to a close…again.

October 6 is when my world changed forever.

It's a day that represents the loss of my ignorance. It's a day that thrust me into an unknown world of grief, disbelief, anger, mistrust, and questioning.

It's a day that I saw the ugly side of humanity.

It's been 4 years since I lost it all.

4 years….

A lot has changed since then. New home, another child, new jobs, new vehicles, relationships dissolving, relationships strengthening, a new church home, another loss. My life looks nothing like it did 4 years ago, and for that I am thankful.

But it's difficult to connect that old life to the new life.

My mind has forgotten the pain. It has forgotten the trauma. It has forgotten the details. It tricks me into believing that none of this happened. It allows me to step outside of my pain and think rationally again.

My mind has freed me from the grips of slavery that grief held over me.

But my heart has not.

I have such a difficult time connecting my head and my heart. How can a heart continue to hurt so badly, even after the details of the mind have become fuzzy? How can a heart hurt so deeply while the mind has freed itself from the pain?

How does my heart continue to feel so broken and empty while my mind tells me how full my life really is?

I just cannot connect the two any more. It's impossible to reconcile the two "lives" that my head and heart live.

This is a weird place for me. It's a place of deep healing, but also of deep pain. It's a place that leaves me clinging to God to find my strength just as much as when both my head and heart were in sync. It's a place that is allowing me to move forward, but at a snails pace. It's a place that allows me to both remember and forget. It's a place that leaves me feeling vulnerable, exhausted, free, and thankful.

Maybe someday, it will connect.
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