Momma-in-Waiting (Part 2)

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you…. You look in the mirror and do not recognize the girl staring back at you.  That girl, the one who radiantly wore your skin, now looks worn, tired, and plagued by a silent war.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….You are surrounded by a crowd of many, and yet, you feel alone, isolated, and slightly misunderstood.  You hear the squeals of delights when others announce their impending motherhood, and all you hear is, “It’s not me.”  

All you think is, “It may never be me.”

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….At one time, you believed in happy endings.  Oh, you were not naive to the hardships of this world.  You knew that not all of life’s wishes are granted.  You understand that the Lord doesn’t give you more than you can handle, but this….this battle….is one you never imagined facing.

Instead, you thought, “One of these days, I will be this kind of mommy.”  Or, “I cannot wait to see my child for the first time.”  Here you are now, waiting to be the kind of mommy you promised yourself you would be.  Here you are now, waiting to see your child for the first time.

And yet, that first time has not happened.  You are a momma-in-waiting.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….You have felt as though the Lord is not listening to you.  You have pleaded, begged, and cried out, but all you get is silence in return, and doors closed, and negative tests, and doctors giving bad news.  You nod your head, close your eyes, stare in the mirror at the girl you no longer recognize, and weep.

You feel lost in the midst of a million prayers.  You might just be questioning your faith, or perhaps, your faith in His plan for your life.  You do not know which one is worse – to doubt the Lord’s plan, or to doubt your faith in Him.  Both cut like a knife.  Both break your heart.  Both do not resolve your struggle.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….I was once like you.  I knew I could not get pregnant, but I wondered, and waited.  I stared at the mirror, and did not recognize the girl staring back at me.  I felt forced into a war that I did not start.  I felt like the loneliest person on Earth; even though, I was surrounded by many.

I too felt lost in the midst of a million prayers.  I questioned my faith, doubted His plan, and wondered if either really mattered at all.  I did not want to raise my white flag to surrender and give up, but I was sick of fighting.  I was tired from carrying the burden of it all.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….Do you want to know something? Sometimes, I still do not recognize that girl standing in front of the mirror.  That girl, the one whose scars seemed more powerful than life, does not even see her scars anymore.

That girl, the one who doubted her faith in a redemptive and loving Lord, feels Him in the slightest of breezes, sees Him in the wonders of her children, and hears Him in the quiet moments of reflection.  The girl, the one who used to believe that being a mommy was not in her plans, understands that her plans were so very small and narrow compared to the promises of God.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….tell that girl in the mirror who you are. Remind her of who you once were.  Tell her that she is not going to give up so easily.  Tell her to be brave, to seek answers, to keep trying, and to take risks.  Tell her to listen to the Lord….

….listen to Him.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….greater things are coming.  Soon, your skin, the one once worn with radiance, will be radiant again.  Soon, you will not recognize that war-torn girl staring back at you in the mirror.

Soon…yes, soon….you will no longer be a Momma-in-Waiting.

Related Articles:  Momma-in-Waiting 

In Heaven

photo (95)We made the sad decision to put our dog, Speedy, down today.  After watching him deteriorate for the past few months, we knew it was time.  His hair was falling out, his skin was en-flamed, his legs shook, and he whimpered at night in an effort to get comfortable.  Speedy was 15 & 1/2 years old, and the last of what I call our “fur baby family before we had a human family”.

I could write so much about what I have learned through loving my dogs and cats. Dogs are especially unique in their love for their human companions, and I believe that they are a special kind of gift to this world.  They keep our secrets, comfort our sadness, and protect us with vicious loyalty.  If only we could treat each other the way our dogs do, perhaps there would be less gossip, less grief, and less victimization in the world.

This morning, I gathered our children and explained to them that when they returned home this evening, Speedy would no longer be living with us, and that we felt it was time for him to be put down so that he would not suffer anymore.  Both paused for a moment, and then spoke some wise words to me:

“Speedy will be in Heaven with Cleo and Baby Kitty now.”

“His skin will get better, and his hair will grow back.”

“God will take care of Speedy.”

After listening to them process their impending loss, I realized that their words brought great comfort to me.  It was a difficult day, but the vision of Heaven that the kids put in my mind infused my thoughts.

In Heaven, there will be great joy, and the grandest of reunions.  In Heaven, sickness and frailness, and all of the things that make us physically and emotionally ill, will be gone.  In Heaven, we will rejoice with our Heavenly Father.

Today was one of remembrance of the sweet little puppy that bounced his way into our lives.  It was one of commemoration about the many years he greeted us at the door, slept next to my feet, and gave us moments of laughter.  I was also reminded that the years may seem long, but time with each other, truly is short.

It was also a day of a grand envisioning of what Heaven will be like, and of the blessed assurance of Eternal life.

Thank you, Lord, for gifting me with Your wisdom and promises through the soft-spoken words of my children.

Momma-in-Waiting

photo taken when I was a momma-in-waiting
photo taken when I was a momma-in-waiting

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting. Yes, you…. You held your breath when the doctor walked in.  You lost his words after you heard, “I’m afraid I have some bad news…”  In that moment, you felt the weight of the world collapse onto your shoulders.  Your body went limp.  You became numb.  You had to shake yourself back out of the stupor you were in.  You were told that you would never carry a child in your womb, but what you thought was….

“I will never be a mother.”

You’ve gotten good at faking that shy smile when others ask how you are doing.  You’ve gotten even better at letting others think you are just fine.  “Fine”….that word is meaningless in your world, except for the fact that you are not fine.  That word has become the mask you wear.  Inside that mask though, you are devastated.  You are trying to keep it all together.  You are pretending to be okay with the news, so much so, that even those closest to you cannot hear the grief-stricken song your soul is singing.

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….You carry on, and pretty soon days turn to weeks, weeks turn to months, and now, it has been years since you walked into the desert.  Out of courtesy, you join in with others while they celebrate the new arrivals of precious ones into their lives.  You are on the sidelines, sitting on the bench, and waiting…waiting to be the one who is celebrating a life with children.  You feel shame for your jealousy; and yet, you cannot help it.  You feel embarrassment for those long, tearful drive homes after baby showers.  You are exhausted from crying yourself to sleep.  You cannot be comforted, and, you don’t want to be.

You don’t look forward to opening up birth announcements because you know that with each tear of the envelope, a little more of your heart is being torn.  It pains you to buy the gifts, wrap them with a pretty bow, and walk through the doors to greet the one who is carrying what you cannot.  Anger sits by your side.  It has become your friend, but it doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t care about you, and it doesn’t fix your problem.  You are a jilted daughter.  You have been robbed of the very thing you want more than anything.  You are thinking….

“Why Lord? Why can’t I be a mother?  What did I do wrong?”

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….Your life is different from what you thought.  There is great silence in your world.  The longing you feel is so deep that it feels as if it will consume you at any moment.  Your child, your baby, your dream….has vanished.  You think about your baby.  You visualize him.  He has your eyes, daddy’s chin, he is perfect, and he is wonderful.  He was perfect….He was wonderful….He was yours.  You feel haunted by a child who will never be born.

Pssst… Hey momma-in-waiting. Yes, you… You who have longed for years to have and to hold a child of your own, only to be told that it will not, it cannot, ever happen.  Your walk in this world feels heavy.  You know there are multitudes of others out there going through the same thing, but you feel like the loneliest person in the world.  You read the brochures about adoption that are sent to you, and you listen to the advice of others…but…you know this is a battle all to your own.  You are a soldier fighting in an army of one.

You are a momma-in-waiting.

Has anyone ever told you that it is okay to feel the way you do?  Has anyone told you that they too would be grieving if in your shoes?  Has anyone ever given you a true glimpse of hope for the future?

Pssst…Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you…The One who created you sat by you when the floor fell out from under your feet while in the doctor’s office.  The One who created you sees your half-hearted attempt to be happy for others.  He holds your hand when you walk into baby showers, He reads the announcements with you, and He catches the tears that tire out your weakened body.  He is in the silence.  The One who created you hears the song of your grief-stricken soul.

He sees the baby you dream about.    He knows the baby you dream about.    He is creating the baby you dream about.

Pssst….Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….Don’t give up.  Don’t give in.  You are weak from your battle, but the One who created you is standing firm.  He did not forsake you as He hung on the cross, and He will not forsake you now.  You are thirsty walking through this desert, but He is there to quench your thirst.  You feel devoid of life, but He is life.

Has anyone ever told you that there is great worth in the wait?  Soon, yes, soon…the wait will be just a memory, the pain will perish, and your soul’s song will be one of joy.

Pssst….Hey momma-in-waiting.  Yes, you….Lift your head and dry your eyes.

Soon, yes, soon….You will no longer be a momma-in-waiting.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

**I wrote this piece in hopes of both validating and inspiring women who are struggling with infertility.  As I look at the picture taken of me years ago, I can see the hardship of the years in my eyes.  If you are not a regular reader of my blog, you may not know that I am a mother through the gift of adoption.  I can look back now and see that while I was in the despair of infertility, the Lord was writing the story of my life, and the lives of my children, to include each other. For that I am truly blessed!**

Kelly

Kelly

Gosh, this was a hard post to write.  I stopped, stared at the image of my cousin above, typed a little, and deleted a lot before finally deciding on how to write about her.  My cousin has been gone now for quite some time.  This week marks the 16th anniversary of her death.  It was an extremely painful experience to lose a best friend and someone who I essentially grew up with.

Most of my friends and co-workers do not even know.  It is not that I have forgotten about her…I just cannot “go there” very often.  I am extremely blessed with amazing friends, but there will always be that space that only Kelly filled.  The vast majority of my early life memories involve her.  Cousins really do become children’s first friends.

She was only 23-years-old; yet, had many sorrows and troubles.  Addictions and sadness plagued her, even though, there was a tremendous amount of sweetness, tenderness, and love buried underneath all of the dirt of life.  She battled addictions for several years and though she wanted to live a full, healthy life, I think that the struggles she had were just too great for her.  So much life has happened since hers ended, but she is never really too far from my thoughts.

My last words to her, while she was conscious, were “baby steps, Kelly, baby steps.” I was trying to get her to slow down with her eagerness to get out of the hospital.  I knew she needed to just put one foot in front of the other and that starting a new, healthier life would be much more difficult than she probably imagined.  “Baby steps”….I regretted those words.  If I had known those words were my last to her, I would not have chosen them.

Moments before her death, I ran to the chapel at the hospital and pleaded with the Lord.  I was not an active Christian at the time and had a lot of confusion, but I still believed in a Heavenly Father who heard our cries.

“Lord, please God, I will do anything. Please let Kelly live.  Please God….she needs a miracle.”  

These words stumbled off of my clumsy lips that were quivering and drenched with tears.  My broken and trembling body laid over the back of the pew.  My hands were clasped together and I was reaching out to the cross before me.  I was alone in the chapel begging….it was just me and God.  It was me bargaining for Him to deliver a miracle to my near lifeless best friend.

Soon after, this I heard my name and turned around.  In the doorway, my aunt stood there shaking her head with tears rolling down her cheeks.

“She’s gone”

….silence.

….numbness.

I got up and nearly ran right into a lady wearing a white jumpsuit.  I remember her brown hair for some reason, but I do not remember her face and did not know she was even in the room.  She said to me, “I heard you pray and wanted to let you know that your cousin is going to be okay.  It is all-Saints day.”  She hugged me and I walked out of the chapel.  I was not Catholic (still am not), so I really did not know what she meant, but something about my encounter with her felt good.

Several months after my cousin’s death, I prayed that God would allow me to see Kelly one more time so that I would know she was okay.  My prayer was answered in a dream.  We were driving around in a car listening to music just like old times when she was breathing Earthly air.  No words were spoken, but I could “hear” her say “I’m okay Caroline.  I’m okay.”  There she sat glowing in all white with that beautiful smile on her face.  There was great peace in the car and I remember not wanting the ride to come to an end.  I woke up and even though it pained me to realize she was gone, I just knew that she was at peace and with the Lord.  I have not dreamed of her since then, but that is okay.

I believe the Lord did grant her the miracle I so pleaded for on that fateful day.  You see, Kelly had been rendered unconscious just a week or two prior to her death.  She miraculously came to, asked for forgiveness, recommitted her faith in the Lord, told her family and friends that she loved them, laughed, hugged, and then passed away.  That was her miracle.

I too was touched by a miracle on the day Kelly died.  My aunt who ran into the chapel to let me know Kelly passed away does not remember the lady in the white jumpsuit.  She told me there was no one else in the chapel with me when she came in.  In other words, I believe my miracle on that day was an encounter with an angel telling me that my sweet cousin was going to be okay even though she would be leaving the Earth.

Kelly never had the opportunity to become a mom, graduate from college, start a career, own a personal computer, use a smart phone, or travel to some far off exotic place.  She did not get to stand next to me at my wedding, attend my adoption hearings, and watch how my story of infertility unfolded.  I know she would have been so in love with my babies and would have cherished them as much as I do.  I believe a part of her will always be with me during all of the moments I share with my children.

I look forward with great anticipation and joy at the reunion I will have with her in Heaven.  I look forward to breathing in the same celestial air that she is breathing and to shine with her in the glory of the Lord.  But, for now, I will continue to hold her in that quiet space that belongs only to her.  I will continue to think of her every time I see tulips and daisies.  And, I will continue to rejoice in the miracles that occurred during that week when Kelly danced her way into Heaven.

Love You, Kelly

Messages of Tears

“There is a sacredness in tears.  They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.  They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.  They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.”                              -Washington Irving

Gosh, I love this quote.  I L.O.V.E. it.  Each time my eyes skim over it and I soak it in, it  causes me to stop whatever I am doing.  I think about the tears shed worldwide on a daily basis.  I think about the tears that have been poured out of the deepest sorrow and joy throughout generations upon generations of humans.

I think about myself curling up in a fetal position sobbing from every pore of my being while mourning the loss of not being able to have a biological child.  I truly mourned this.  Those tears held within them my secrets, my grief, and my pain.  Those tears shed were not in vain.  I earned each one.  I deserved to let go of each one.  Those tears were for the girl I once was, and the mother I thought I would never be.

I also think about the tears of joy that have navigated their way down the landscape of my face. They too spoke volumes of resilience, thankfulness, and complete understanding.  Those tears released the power of love held within.  They too held their place of importance in the history of my life.  They too were for the little girl I once was, and the mother I was discovering myself to be.

I remember hearing the “sniffles” behind me at our adoption hearings.  I quickly looked around and saw family, friends, and even some child welfare professionals with tears rolling down their cheeks.  Each tear was a message of hope and hard work.  Each one represented the efforts made to keep my children safe, to help their birth parents, and to give them the permanent family they deserved.  The Judge stopped the court proceedings during my son’s adoption and gave me a moment to gather my tears back up.  He told me that he had seen many tears of sadness throughout his court room experience, and it was good to see tears of joy.

On a vastly more important level…the most important of all, I think about the tears that flowed down the faces of those who witnessed the crucifixion and death of Christ.  I think about those who must have had tears of awe-filled joy at realizing His resurrection.  The message of unspeakable love, unselfish love, and saving love that those tears gave is still heard and felt today.  At times, I am caught off guard during worship at church.  I find myself singing a song, staring at the Cross, and wiping away the droplets that resemble the overwhelming magnitude of my Savior’s grace and love for me.

I think I love this quote so much because it reminds me of the purpose and the purity behind each tear that falls from our eyes.  The voice held within our tears speaks so much more compared to the words that may or may not leave our mouths.  There is a sacredness there, and it should never be underestimated.

Don’t hold your tears hostage.  Don’t stifle their meaning.  Your tears may be speaking for you.  Allow them to.  Your tears may be speaking to you.  Listen to them.

Embracing the Noise

joyful noises

Recently in the community I live in, there has been several tragic situations that have led to the deaths of children.  One toddler passed away following a valiant fight against cancer.  His family’s faith and their bold witness of it is extremely humbling.  Yesterday, two mothers buried their children at the same time.  All three siblings, their father, and a family friend died in a plane crash just minutes away from the local airport.  Just this weekend, I learned of a former classmate whose 18-year-old son passed away suddenly.

My heart feels so much sadness for these mothers.  I cannot imagine the despair they are going through.  I have known the pain and the notable silence of a life without children that my barrenness once caused.  But now that I am a mother, I cannot even wrap my head around going from sitting in a home that used to be filled with the chatter of a teenager engaging in an energetic conversation, a television in the background blasting a video game, or the imaginative sound effects children make when they play, to sitting in that same home that is now silent.  I cannot fathom what it must feel like to walk into a home that once housed children with great dreams, loving embraces, and inquisitive yearnings about life, that now houses empty spaces, thick tears, precious (yet painful) memories, wounded hearts, and sorrowful aches.

Sometimes I long for just one moment of complete silence in the home or the car.  Sometimes I wished my little ones could dial down the volume a bit; or at least, maybe not like the sound of their own voices quite as much as they do.  These recent tragedies in my community have helped me to keep it all in perspective though.

I will take the squeals, the laughter, the “I’m gonna tell mommy”, the fights, the cries, and the constant chatter.  I will take the background noise of a television that is too loud, or the bang of a drum from a little boy who thinks he is rock star.  I will take the non-stop questions of soon-to-be 4-year-old who still thinks it is never too early to get out of bed in the morning, or implores for her questions to be answered.

Actually, I am not just gonna take it.  I am going to embrace it.  I am going to remember the gift of noise.  I am going to be grateful for my Heavenly Father who has given it all to me.

I am going to embrace the noise.

Visions of Pregnancy

Before the adoption of my children filled my home and my heart, and before the Lord’s revelation in my life, I used to wonder what I would look like if I were pregnant.  Here is another excerpt from my memoir in a chapter where I talk about the deep longing that existed when walking around with the feeling of emptiness.  I cannot believe I am admitting this, but…deep breath…here it is:

I secretly envied my pregnant friends.  I wanted what they had.  The joy, excitement, and love they shared with their spouses throughout their pregnancies were clearly obvious and I was jealous of it.  It felt really childish for me to think “why can’t I be like that?”  Or, “why does she get to have more children when I cannot even have one?”  It was almost shameful for me to think that way, or at least I felt ashamed of having those thoughts about them.  I love my friends and I love their children and I know it is wrong for us to covet what others have, but I honestly did.

Just once I wanted to know what it would feel like to carry a baby in my body, or hold a baby and believe that he or she was mine.  Every so often, I dreamed about being pregnant.  I do not know what made me feel worse – the dream itself or waking up.  Often, I stuck a ball under my shirt, stood in front of the mirror, and just stared at myself.  I surveyed the shape from every angle.  This was the closest I would ever come to seeing my “pregnant” belly.  I always thought I would have made a cute mom-to-be.

It is a mistake to assume that women who cannot have biological children never wonder what their pregnancies would feel like.  Most of us, although sympathetic to those going through it, would give anything to know what morning sickness was like, or to have the moment when a slight kick is felt from the inside.  We would give nearly anything to have an ultrasound done that reveals the life growing inside of us.

Most of us have dreamed about pregnancy.  Most of us have had visions of ourselves pregnant.  Many of us still do.

I never, ever told anyone close to me that I used to stand in front of the mirror daydreaming of being pregnant.  It was embarrassing and I felt as though I should not have even considered it.  But, why not?  Why not wonder what it would feel like to be pregnant?  This is not wrong, silly, or senseless.  It makes perfect sense to me.

If your path to pregnancy is jagged right now and you find yourself hiding away in front of a mirror staring at your belly, it is okay.  Do not be embarrassed.  Do not feel as though you should not be doing this.  Give yourself a break and daydream all you need to.  I get it, and my guess is that nearly every one else who is struggling with infertility or barrenness gets it to.

May His vision of you fill your life with love, peace, and understanding.

.

The Day After

I remember the day of September 11th when time seemed to freeze on the image of those two proud, tall, and shining buildings crumbling to the ground.  I remember the image of people running with anguish on their faces and their bodies covered in ash.  I remember people begging for their loved ones to be found.  I remember wondering how humans could have so much hatred in their hearts that they would choose death over life.  I remember the day of September 11th.

But…it is the day after September 11th that I remember as well.  I remember waking up, running to the television, and desperately hoping for a little good news.  I remember praying and pleading that more survivors were found over night.  I remember laying on the couch in a fetal position sobbing over the strangers whose lives were gone, feeling the heart-break for the families, and knowing that life would never be the same.

I remember getting ready for work, hopping in my car, and driving as if in a quiet trance.  Going to work after such a tragedy did not even seem right.  I was in graduate school full-time while working part-time at a pizza cafe, so asking people if they wanted cheese on their salad, pepperoni on their pizza, or a refill of their drinks seemed so trivial compared to the visions blasted on every television screen around.

I remember being annoyed by a group of ladies who seemed to be completely oblivious to what had just occurred.  They were laughing, telling stories…you know….just having a “girls’ lunch” while the rest of the folks in the restaurant spoke in hush, softened voices.  I wondered if they were purposefully ignoring the news or if they did not see how that fateful day affected everyone.

I’ll admit that growing up in the middle of America caused me to get a little used to things happening far off in the big cities or on the coast-lines.  This time though was different.  I remember calling my mom and telling her, I think life in America will never be the same again.”

Out of my own ignorance or false sense of security, or whatever it is one might call it, I never really thought an attack would happen to us.  But, it did.  I also knew that it was now just a matter of time before we would be headed off to war.  To be honest, this broke my heart and scared me a little as well.

Yes, I remember the day after September 11th.

Road to Joplin

Day 2 with Joplin flag

This weekend I had the privilege of riding in a cycling event called the MS 150.  Every  year hundreds, if not a thousand or so cyclists make their way to a small town in southwest Missouri to complete a 150 mile bike ride.  This is done to bring attention and raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis.

This was my third year riding in this event.  I always seem to walk away from it with a great sense of accomplishment.  It is also quite humbling to be cheered on at the start line by people who live daily with MS.  This year, a woman with MS said to us, “When you get towards the last few miles and your legs are burning, just remember me saying Thank You.  Just remember that you are riding for many of us who cannot.”  Then, at the finish line, the same man every year, bound to his wheelchair, holds his hand out with a medal dangling from it.  As one reaches for his or her medal, the man gently says “thank you”.  It is quite humbling and I hope to ride in future 150’s.

This year though had even more of an impact on me, but for a different reason.  This is the first year that the ride took us back to Joplin, MO after the deadly tornado which claimed the lives of so many in May 2011.  Last year, the ride had to be rerouted and completely taken out of the Joplin area due to the devastation of the storm.  I had been there about a week or so after the tornado struck, and was silenced by what I had seen.  Cars with windshields blown out laying on top of each other, buildings that looked like they exploded by the force of a bomb, houses upon houses crumbled up like sticks, and trees stripped completely down to the bark.  It was shocking.  Just shocking.  The city I live in is close to Joplin and we are so lucky that the storm did not rumble its way towards us.

Although my work has taken me back to Joplin a few times, I usually do not drive through the area where the destruction took place.  This year, the MS committee planned the route specifically to take us through some of the path of the tornado.  Before I entered this area, my legs were screaming, my mind was off in some other place, there was pain tucked right in between my shoulders, and I was ready to be done.  I had been in the saddle for about seven hours, and my own “saddle” was telling me it was time to get off.

However, this changed when I entered the area where that beast of a storm stole normalcy from the lives of so many.  The few trees that survived were mangled.  Their bare branches looked like hands reaching towards the heavens in desperation.  Others bent over, all leaning to one side; yet, fresh green leaves bushed out from whatever spot they could find.

As I got closer to the eerily flattened area where houses once stood, I thought about the families and children who once lived there.  I imagined kickball being played in the streets, children swinging from swing sets, families walking their pet dogs or washing their cars.  All of this wiped clean.  Sure, there were new houses being built and definitely the vision of new growth could be seen, but I just kept thinking about how much destruction took place on those grounds.  The names of streets had been painted on the roads.  The ground was completely stripped of grass. There were partially crumbled buildings still being torn down.  It just went on and on.

As I drew nearer to the “end” of the destruction zone, I became overwhelmed with emotion.  I thought about the mothers who lost their babies, the babies who lost their daddies and mommies, and all the others who never woke again on this Earth to see the sun rise.  All I could think was “so much destruction, so much despair.”

But there in that moment on my bike with nothing but my own thoughts, I realized, or at least was reminded, that the Lord is not a god of destruction.  He is not a god of devastation.  He is not a god of despair.  He is the God of regrowth, rebirth, restoration, and life.  He lifts up our heads.  He carries us through the storms.  He gives us life.

The next morning as 800 or cyclists gathered around to start day two of the cycling event, small Joplin flags were handed out to each of us.  We placed them in our helmets, on our bikes, or held them in our hands as we rode through part of what was named “Memorial Miles”.  With just the sound of wind, the breathing of fellow riders, and the hissing-like noises from spinning our wheels, we rode in silence in honor of those killed by the Joplin tornado and in honor of the courage it has taken for the city to rebuild.

This year the road to Joplin became more than just a cycling event that I love to participate in.  Yes, it was done in an effort to support those struggling with Multiple Sclerosis.  However, I left the event with Joplin on my mind.  This weekend turned into a reminder of the blessing of health, of love, of family, of home, and of our incredible Heavenly Father who restores, renews, and leads us to Life.

Dance before His Throne

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the girl I was before my hysterectomy. My surgery was not just another one chalked up in the history of who I am. It was a life-changing event. It was something that tarnished my rose-colored glasses view of the world.

I had not been a stranger to the hospital or illnesses before. At age two, I underwent an emergency appendectomy. At age seven, intestinal adhesions caused a blockage calling for another emergency surgery. But, the hysterectomy was a far more intense and dire experience.

This surgery affected everyone around me. It was not just about recovery. It was more than that. It was a game changer. My parent’s lives were instantly changed by it. My life, of course, was too.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed life. There was still laughter, new experiences, and friendships. But, after the surgery, sadness stowed itself away in me unbeknownst to many people.

Prior to this surgery, I was a dancer. By the time I was eleven, I had danced for eight years.  I danced competitively and dreamt of performing on Broadway. My ultimate goal was to be a choreographer. However, something changed in me following the surgery. My body did not move the same way. It took more effort. My muscles had been emaciated from the infection and, to be honest, my spirit had been dampened by it as well.

Within a few years after my recovery, I quit dancing. I don’t know why really. My dance teacher told me many years later that she believed if the surgery would have never happened, I could have been a professional dancer. She too thought that it changed my body’s ability to move and nearly wiped me clean of the strength I once had.

So, here I am now at age forty still thinking of the days I danced. I’ve decided to write a poem to the little girl I once was whose dreams of dancing went to the wayside. I know that when my walk on this Earth has ended, I will be dancing before the Lord.

Dance away, little dancer. Dance before His throne. Dance for all the pain you have once known.

No longer taste the salt in your tears. Feel the movement taking away all of your fears.

Dance your life into a story, and let it be all for His glory.

Point your toes with every ounce of grace. See the expression of love on His face.

Dance away, little dancer. The one who longed to know the answer.

The answer to why that fateful time came.  The longing for a life that would never be the same.

Your life interrupted with no fault of your own. In a single moment, your life’s tapestry was sewn.

Welcome home, little dancer. For now, you know the answer.

His love is your melody. Dance your praise for eternity.

You’ve danced your life into a story. And, it all has been for His glory.