Prayer ~ For Those Suffering Miscarriage

I have made a practice of grieving. Moving toward, not away from, grief has been healing for me. It is the place where the brave acknowledgement of what is broken (death) intersects with a place to begin to hope (resurrection) in the power of the Gospel.

img_8271

In the middle of suffering, I tend to employ some defensiveness to varying degrees. When I lost little ones, I pressed into the pain as best as I was able at the time. I have lost eight through the years. The number on the whole is a source of gravity and weighty remembering. Here recently, I have tried to think of each particular child, begun to give each one a name, and work through their losses individually.

I also feel for those who continue to experience this most intimate loss, many times grieving or feeling alone. Whatever the circumstance, mothers (and fathers) know the void miscarriage brings. Knowing one is a mother or father without a living child or children to hold can be excruciating and isolating. For those whose arms are full, being aware of both our living children and the ones gone before when asked “How many?” can be a source of mental and emotional conflict. It is difficult to speak about. Difficult to think about. Difficult to process.

One of the most helpful gifts to the church in the Anglican tradition is the liturgy. The focus on gospel is verbal, literal, and woven into each and every Sabbath service. The union of the saints and continuation of the work of the Word both spoken and heard connects generation to generation of faith for centuries. Having appreciated the prayer book particularly when I don’t know what to pray has been a blessing to me. Knowing the verses have been repeated by so many multitudes of voices, experiencing both the agonies and joys of this life, is an encouragement. Knowing the writer’s, Thomas Cramner, commitment to the scriptures is profoundly meaningful as well.

The following prayer was born from these thoughts and influenced by the impact Scripture and the Book of Common Prayer has had on my soul. For some, it may not be helpful. For others, I wondered if having words to utter when the pain is fresh or even faint may be helpful in both the acknowledgment of hurt and leaning into hope. I also pray it proves that you (nor I) are alone in what we may feel is such intimate, private pain. The God described in Psalm 139 is for us all, both born and unborn, in the work of Jesus, and is near to us by His Spirit.

~

Heavenly Father, we come to you acknowledging the life of baby ___________. Our lives are forever changed as a result of knowing this child, even for a short time. We thank you for such a gift. We also feel the pain of death. Even as our hearts grieve, hold us in your never-failing love and in the hope of heaven where death will be no more and eternal life, secured by the person and work of Christ Jesus, awaits us. Thank you for accepting our praise and ministering to us as we lament. As you are close to the broken-hearted and save those who are crushed in spirit, draw near to us, Holy Spirit. Continue to hear our petitions of peace, soothe our pain, increase our faith, and provide mercy in times of need.

~

 

Advertisements

Throwback to 2012: Jumping on the Furniture

Friedrich Nietzsche and C.S. Lewis are sitting at my kitchen peninsula having a most important conversation (I won’t disclose to which of the boys each description refers).

“What if parents make up God as a way to get kids to obey?” Nietzsche asks. This is not his first intuitive question about the existence of God. C.S. Lewis comes to the defense with creational logic and catechism recitation. “What do you think, Mom?” I am asked in reference to one of the most pivotal questions in the universe —as I step in squashed watermelon on the floor and clean spit-up off the exersaucer. Just moments before, my escalating voice could be heard over all five children requiring adherence to the simple house rule, No Jumping on the Furniture. I was definitely not engaged in meaningful, patient conversation with my boys. Micah of course is working this particular evening so I have been stretched in every way to get to this point in the day and I am mentally and physically exhausted. Here we are, big and small products of the fall. And here is where things matter most.

These are the conversations I so desire~ when my children have been considering the eternal, asking intelligent questions, and want my input! I pray for opportunities that ears are open and ready to listen. Then, it suddenly occurs to me that I have already answered the question, over and over throughout the day… and throughout their young lives. It does matter what I say, but then again it really doesn’t. I could sing “Blue Skies” but if I live in gray, they know. They are smart like that… especially Nietzsche. This realization puts me into a bit of a panic. For me, words are easy… actions speak louder.

Enter pain. God made what is most inherently near to my heart and most true to my biological fabric ~conception, birth, and the raising of children~ the thing that always brings me to the brink of knowing something is terribly awry. My relationship with Micah does too, but it is not built and nurtured in the same way. Who are those in the animal kingdom we want to avoid for fear of serious retaliation? Mamas with babies nearby. On top of nature and nurture, the ways I am called to love my children make the stakes much higher. I love my little ones with a fierce love; a love that is unmatched by any other.  It was indeed painful to bring them into the world and it is painful to love them so deeply as I watch them learn lessons for themselves. I have 18 years to prepare my completely dependent babies and fewer for the boys starting to make independent logical connections to go out into the world alone. It is painful to discipline and constantly morph into the mom they need as they grow and develop. All the time, they are a mirror to the very worst in me. I know from which side of the family tree they inherit and perpetuate behaviors both helpful and harmful. I want to do right by them. I want to do all those things stated in Proverbs that show I am a wise mom. Their souls are at stake. I want them to rise and call me blessed. How do I do that with watermelon on my foot, feeling overwhelmed with my own lack of patience, while drowning in a sea of laundry?

Not too far from the curse it the cure.

Interestingly enough, the cursed Eve mothered by extension the One who would crush the serpent’s head. Clothed in animal skin, she lives out her life connected to the Cure~ the Victor and One who abolished the curse for all those who believe. There is life changing power in His name and work. There happens to be so much power that the fact I am simply carried through the day by my Loving Shepherd is enough to challenge my questioning children. They need more than a right answer. They need to see me needing Jesus. And in God’s wisdom, mothering provides an unending number of opportunities to do so.

It is obvious to my husband and especially my children that I am not able to do the right things always, often, ever… Sometimes I do and there He shines through me quite clearly. Whether drawn to the cross for forgiveness or continuing to realize who I already am in Christ, He living in me is the attribution and I pray it is obvious especially to those who watch me the most; my children. I can have compete confidence in His work in me and there is absolutely nothing more assuring. He who promises is faithful. All I can say on this particular evening is that God saved me. I sit and confess to my boys that I once was lost and hell bent. I own all they already know about my current state~ sometimes struggling, many times failing. But God saved me. He knows me. He loves me. He has clothed me, like Eve, in garments fashioned just for me that make me beautiful in his sight. Jesus Christ is my righteousness. I can trust Him with all my desires for my children as He weaves my prayers into the fabric of their lives (Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief). And that makes me want to jump on the furniture, too.

Grace Upon Grace

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace might also reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Romans 5:20-21

 

As children grow, the number of opportunities to parent in a gospel direction grows. (Duh, you say). It is a little more complicated than that. I guess what I mean is that as my children grow older, I move from giving straightforward, simple commands (like “Don’t touch.” or “Come here.”) to giving directives where a whole counsel of rules take effect. I think of sending my older children outside to play with the admonishments to be respectful of our neighbors’ property and show love to them in the process (just to name two). All past simple commands combine and problem solving takes place. The more the rules increase as well as imparted wisdom, the more the opportunity to mess something up, somewhere.

When major messing up occurs, that presents a big opportunity for me as a mom. I realized this the other day as I considered disobedience that carried with it other failures— like lying and blaming others. The list of wrongs had piled against the child. I could tell that on this day, this particular child was feeling the crushing weight of the list of wrongs against him. The situation had moved from bad to much worse very quickly. Defenses mounted. Fear and shame were visible in his eyes and heard in his words.

Then there was my response. I must admit, many times, when failures and complications land at my feet in a heap, my frustrations pile with it. Instead of speaking life, I get bogged down by the consequences of actions. Even worse, I think of how this situation has affected me and breaks into my day. I get flustered and add my struggles to theirs. To up the ante even more, all the laws that have been written on my soul for 35 years accuse me all the more.

The worse the situation, the more opportunity for grace to be just what it is— it is and should always be good news. It washes away all the eternal weight of our failures and even makes temporary consequences bearable. In contrast, its beauty is unmatched when held against our worst. God help us not pile sins to see grace— yet grace is seen most clearly because of our piles of sins.

So if the ultimate goal of parenting from a Romans worldview is to train children who never fail, then I fail. Failure is inevitable. As the law increases, the trespasses increase. But what happens when they fail? Or when I fail? That is a distinctive Christian question.

Our worst is precisely where the gospel operates. There is something bigger than training children to keep rules.  Sure, I want them to stay safe and love their neighbors. I want them to be good citizens and maintain a reputation of a trustworthy person. I want them to not bear hard consequences in the horizontal plain of this earthly domain for bad choices. But the function of the rules that speaks the loudest is the demonstration of how they (and I) need a rule keeper. What a better time when they are experiencing mounting failures to move into, “God has loved you so much that He sent Jesus to do everything all right for you… in your place. You can repent, believe and move on.” Even when the situation warrants a good grounding or time out, they will grow to know (by grace) they are safe to bear the consequences. My relationship and posture toward them has not changed nor has their relationship with God. I love them because they are mine. When I am able to speak good news into the situation the load lightens— every time. When I don’t, the gospel brings the good news to me.

Regardless of the failure or the success, our focus is out — not in — to the beauty of Jesus. Our sins are great, combined, and complicated, but the One who bore them is greater.

This is one way the gospel is relentless in taking hold of me these days.

Mothering in the Hope that He is Enough

We pour ourselves out— mind, body, and soul. We give nutrients. We give hugs. We let them in. We point them outward. We hurt with and for them. We reason calmly. (We speak sharply.) We encourage. (We discourage.) We play. (We tire.) We smile. (We weep.) We understand one another. (We belabor points until the other feels belittled.) We are patient. (We are clearly impatient.) We spend time making sure they know we love them. (With one stern glance, they question.) We train. (We neglect to train.)

At the end of every day, there is one haunting thought:  In the gamut of all that happens in a day, is what I did to mother, to nurture, to love enough?

My answer is always, “No”. Something is always done or left undone.

The reason is simple yet one I forget as I beat myself up and run myself ragged. I cannot love my children as only God can love them.

In his book Sacred Parenting, Gary Thomas says, “God had called me to focus my efforts on introducing my kids to God, even using my own failures and inadequacies as compelling causes for my children to find their refuge in him.”

For mothers, the bigger question becomes, Is what God has done for me enough? If you and I could believe that it is— He is enough for us— we could believe it for others, particularly for our precious ones, our children.

The hope of all mothers who hope in Jesus is that His life, death, and resurrection and pronouncement of “It is finished” is enough for us.

And it is enough for each one of our children. He is enough for our children.

His perfect love frees us to mother as best we can. The balance will always shift in favor of us pointing them, not to us and our efforts, but to Him and to His.

Christian mothering is not to saying all the right things or doing all the right things, even as much as we would like, but to sing over our children the Good News that Jesus is enough for us all. The Son of Mary is the hope for all sons and daughters.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.