Today I Cried

Today I Cried

Today I cried because I’m about to leave my firstborn child 1500 miles from home. And I know this is just the beginning of a new level of letting go.

Today I cried because I know this same girl is going to thrive and grow and totally rock out this next year of life.

Today I cried because as soon as we get home we are visiting with my baby’s pre-K teacher.

Today I cried because this baby girl is so excited and so ready for this season of her life.

Today I cried because I don’t have my Malachi to keep me company while everyone else goes off to school in the fall.

Today I cried because my middles are heading into their second year of public school in this season and my heart is happy because they totally overcame and killed it last year.

Today I cried over the way all my kids have grown in life this last year. I’m so proud of who they are and who they are becoming.

Today I cried over the lack we are experiencing in our lives right now.

Today I cried over the abundance we experience every day.

Today I cried over the miracles we have seen Him do in the last 2 weeks.

Today I cried over the opportunities we are still asking for.

Today I cried over people all around me who are hurting and broken and looking for Jesus… though they may not know it yet.

Today I cried over the beauty of these same people who Daddy God created with such uniqueness and purpose.

Today I cried over the vastness and creativity of God and His creation.

Today I cried over the parts of me that are still broken.

Today I cried over the parts of me He has restored and redeemed.

Today I cried… happy tears and sad ones. Joyful ones and agonizing ones. Fearful ones and grateful ones.

Today I cried.

Malachi’s Feetprints: A Vulnerable Look at the Pain of Miscarriage

Malachi’s Feetprints: A Vulnerable Look at the Pain of Miscarriage

(Long post of a heartbreaking story. It’s a short version of a book that will come sometime in the future. With hopes of bringing a bit of comfort and a bit of “I’ve been there before too” to the many women out there who have lived this same story but have had no one to process with and have not yet found healing for their broken hearts.)

I’m one of the many, many women who has experienced miscarriage. For me, I’ve experienced the loss of a baby from my womb, twice. My first miscarriage happened nearly 15 years ago when I was barely nine weeks along.

My second born was less than a year old at that time and I was a bit surprised I was already pregnant again. Because of that surprise, at nine weeks, I hadn’t really bonded with the pregnancy yet. And because of that, though the loss was painful, it didn’t grip me and impact me in the same way my second miscarriage did.

Yesterday was the one-year mark of delivering my second son’s lifeless body. We had gotten the news, via ultrasound, five days earlier that I was carrying a tiny body that had quit developing weeks before, with no sign of life.

The impact of that news dazed our entire family. We had taken all four of our daughters with us to the ultrasound, so we lived that fateful moment together. Looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted it any different.

But I have to back up to tell the story of Malachi’s feetprints…

Our first three daughters are stair stepped at 2 1/2 years between each. So when we found out we were pregnant with our fourth daughter, nearly nine years later, we were shocked and then got the best surprise ever with our Journey Joy. Having her so far down the line, sent us into a conversation whether we should have another for her to grow up with. That conversation went back and forth for a couple years.

It wasn’t until about the summer of 2014 that I begin to have an intense desire for another baby – but not just another baby – a son. I love my daughters and our girly world but my heart began aching for a son.

Months went by. My husband didn’t have the same urgency to add another little to our crazy home and lifestyle, and though we weren’t using any sort of birth control, I also wasn’t getting pregnant.

I would tell myself it was a ridiculous desire. We were so good with just our four girls. I had never had a desire to have a son in the past so I tried to ignore the yearning in my heart.

Finally in January 2015, I sat before the Lord on the front row of my church, having a moment with Jesus. I told Him that, if this desire wasn’t from Him, He needed to take it from me. I told Him I didn’t want to feel this way, especially since my husband wasn’t necessarily on the same page as me.

And then…

The Lord began to speak to me about how He doesn’t do things to tease us. He is not a God that shows us something good, giving us a desire for something, only to withhold it from us. His voice is so tender and loving. So, I came to terms that this was from Him and I was going to continue to ask. Little did I know that I was actually pregnant at that time!

Usually when a woman is pregnant, every one has an opinion on what gender the baby is. This pregnancy was no different. The unusual thing about this pregnancy, is that in 20 weeks, I came across only ONE person who thought I was carrying a girl. Everyone – family, friends, strangers – all thought it was a boy.

Though we had to wait until 20 weeks to get the ultrasound confirmation, we all knew I was carrying my promised son.

I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people pray over my womb, so many prophetic words spoken over this little one – all in those 20 weeks. This unborn child was destined for greatness and impacting the nations.

When we went in that day for the 20-week ultrasound, there was so much anticipation with everyone who knew we were going. But then…

I had to write the most painful Facebook post of my life, telling our friends and family the devastating news.

The prayer support that came rushing in from friends, literally, all over the world was beautiful. I know the grace that undergirded us during this season was due to those prayers.

Over the next five days, I lived through the most heart-wrenching pain I’ve ever felt. We believe in miracles and, at times, a wave of hope, would come and we would pray for a raising of the dead. Then, the reality of what was happening would grip my breaking heart again, and I would grieve my loss.

I remember waking up every morning, thinking, “OK. I can do this. I feel better today.” But by the time I made it to the couch with my cup of coffee, I was sobbing, telling my husband, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.”

The best advice I received was from my spiritual mama, “Make sure you cry enough.” I believe I accomplished this.

When we went to the hospital 5 days later to induce labor to deliver our baby’s empty body, I had cried buckets of tears, yelled at the devil, soaked up comfort and love from my Faithful Jesus and bonded in a special way with my family. And with the friends who checked on me daily.

That day of delivering that tiny body went as well as it could have, medically speaking. When the doctor said with confidence, “It’s a boy”, I knew the promise the Lord had given me less than 20 weeks earlier, was fulfilled.

The nurse asked me if I wanted professional photos done. And if I wanted his footprints taken. I said no to both. But when she later brought me a birth certificate with his tiny little feetprints, I was so grateful she didn’t listen to me.

Those little feetprints, Malachi’s feetprints, have been a beautiful and whimsical remembrance of our son. The little boy who’s body never took a breath on this side of heaven, but who’s tiny feet and life have made imprints on his family and on people all over the world.

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Lighten the Load

Lighten the Load

“Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the Law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2…

Back in my day of Missionettes (Christian girls program), I memorized a lot of Scriptures to achieve the honor of being ‘crowned’ and graduating the program. This Scripture is one that has stuck with me through the decades.

I don’t think I knew much about bearing others’ burdens in my teen years. I was pretty overwhelmed with my own ‘burdens’ of trying to get along with my parents and hiding secular music from them.

Fast forward, 20+ years and I’m starting to understand this verse a bit.

I’ve carried my own share of burdens, especially in the last decade. And I’ve been exposed more and more to believers bearing burdens over the years. The more I understand relationship and community, the more I find myself living out this verse.

I have friends all around me carrying burdens – some much greater than I have ever known. It’s tough stuff, y’all. I think the past me would have whispered and judged, maybe prayed a prayer but then sunk back into my safety bubble away from the mess. But the now me realizes that messy is life and a life that God isn’t scared of, so I shouldn’t be either.

I am finding that God is bigger – oh, so much bigger – than any burden or mess anyone finds themself in the middle of. I have come to believe that God’s plan is for victory, redemption and restoration for everyone. And victory and overcoming… actually. can. happen. Because Jesus can really win. Really. Even in the ugliest and messiest situations. Did I say He’s not afraid of messy? Because He’s not.

He’s not afraid of the sin, the affair, the bad report from the doctor, the abusive husband, the marriage heading towards divorce, the infertility, the miscarriages, the substance abuse, the cutting, the lying, the premature death of a family member, even the suicidal thoughts… He’s not afraid of jumping right into those messes and neither should I be. These are burdens that people bear, and, as a believer, it’s my job to come alongside and help them shoulder the burden, as The Voice translation says…

“Shoulder each other’s burdens, and then you will live as the Law of the Anointed teaches us.”

The Enemy wants you to believe several lies about burdens.

Lie #1: You shouldn’t have them. You’re a believer and – *gasp* – you aren’t perfect?!?!?! You must not be a good Christian like _______. Lies from the pit. of. hell. Some burdens hit us without any warning, like death and accidents. Other burdens we may have set ourselves up for. It doesn’t matter – trials and sin are a part of this world and they will affect us all. Don’t believe the lie that anyone is exempt.

Lie #2: Yes, you have a burden but you don’t want to BE a burden, so don’t share with anyone. You can shoulder this on your own. Again, lies from hell. When we cut ourself off from other believers, we lose the most powerful weapons there are – prayer power, faith power and encouragement power. When you surround yourself with praying and hope-filled friends, things really can change, because heaven is drawn into your situation.

Lie #3: There is no hope for this burden to ever to be lifted. God’s plan is for us to move through sin, pain, crisis, and the mess. There is breakthrough and victory to be had if we will hold onto Him and those He’s set around us and let Him guide us through, with the support of our community around us.

If you have a few burdens you’re shouldering today, be brave and let someone with faith in Jesus know, so they can stand with you, cry with you and most importantly, pray with you.

If your life is pretty burden-free right now, open your eyes. There are those around you who could really use a shoulder right now. Don’t be afraid of the mess. Be hopeful and faith-filled and help lighten the load for a friend.

 

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“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.”

~Galatians 6:1-3 (The Message)  

Day 27: Offering Up My Own Comfort

Day 27: Offering Up My Own Comfort

I don’t mind hugs but there comes a point, if they last too long, that I start getting uncomfortable. I’m not a clingy, touchy type. Especially when I’m perfectly fine.

When I miscarried our son, this past May, there was grief. Grief is meant to be consoled. And hugs are a great way to let someone know that you care and are hurting with them.

Because church is an awesome place to feel the Lord’s presence and comfort, I very rarely was sad or grieving while at church. I usually felt (feel) refreshed, whole, and happy at church. But that is where you encounter people that you know and there were a few times over the first few months that I was approached by someone who wanted to show me how much they cared by giving me a hug. I was fine with that. But every once in a while the hug would turn into one of those clingy ones. The kind that make me uncomfortable. Especially because I wasn’t feeling any sadness in the moment.

With the first awkward, clingy hug, I could feel myself start to withdraw when the Lord began to speak to me. “This hug isn’t about you. It’s about their own healing.” As a woman would begin to sob into my shoulder (as I remained dry-faced), I would have to remind myself that this hug wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about what I was comfortable with, it was about someone else’s healing through my own loss. Others have loss and grief that maybe didn’t get dealt with in a healthy or thorough way – for whatever reason. And my own loss, and the grace that was encompassing me, was not only for me but for the healing of others as well.

***This is Day 27 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 18: Offering Up My Hurting Heart

Day 18: Offering Up My Hurting Heart

I may be ‘just emotional’ but my heart is hurting today. I’m not mad, depressed, or even really sad. If you would meet me in the store today, you maybe couldn’t even tell what was going on deep inside me, because it is more that kind of hurt that can be easily buried with the rest of life that is much more in the foreground. But if I quiet myself enough, if the chatter of my family slows enough, if I don’t concern myself with the football game on TV, my heart aches and the tears will well up.

I hurt for the young man that walked onto the field parentless on Parents Night. I don’t know his situation. He may have the best parents ever and a great family life. All I know is that while all the other players walked out with (most of them) both parents, arm in arm, he walked out alone and stood alone.

I hurt for the young mama I had the privilege of having coffee with this morning. See, this young mama carried her sweet daughter in her belly all the way to the very end of the 40 weeks, only to lose her to heaven. She is walking her situation leaning on and embracing the Grace of Daddy God. But that does not change the reality that her arms are empty when they should be full.

I hurt when I scroll through Facebook and see the photo of a handsome young man who went missing yesterday. The last place he was seen was just blocks from my house. I don’t know if he ran away, if he was taken by force. All I know is there is a family frantically looking for a missing son, grandson, nephew, brother, friend…

I hurt for a situation in a small town school not far from here. When a young teacher violates highschool girls’ privacy and purity by installing a video camera in their locker room. Those girls are forever impacted by this violation on their lives. This teacher is lost and empty and needs the satifsfying love of Jesus to fill the void he is trying to fill in unhealthy and destructive ways.

Yes, my heart is hurting today. So I offer up my broken heart to Jesus. There is nothing I can do in any of the situations – only pray. And release them all to Jesus. As I’ve discovered more and more over the years, ‘only’ praying is the best, most powerful thing I could actually ever do. So I offer up my hurting, praying heart.

***This is Day 18 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 15: Choosing Your Perspective in the Offering Up (A tribute to Grandpa Dick)

There are some offering ups that are you making a choice to let go of something – to choose the sacrifice or the surrender. Other times, there is no choice – you are being stripped of something dear to you. In those, your perspective can be that you “had to give that up” OR that “you get to offer up something of beauty, knowing there is a reward”. Sometimes the choice is a difficult one. It can seem easier to kick, push or fight the sacrifice that must be made instead of embracing the reality of it.

Death is one of those. You have no choice in the letting go but your perspective can make all the difference in how you proceed in life. How healthy your journey goes on to be.

Growing up, I was blessed to have 3 sets of grandparents. But as I have gotten older, obviously they have too and death is imminent for us all. A few years ago, the first of my grandparents  – my grandpa – died unexpectedly. He was well into his 80’s but really pretty healthy. He continued to golf most days there wasn’t snow on the ground. He and my grandma went on road trips several times a year – though they had finally given up the camper. He was not sick. He just didn’t wake up one morning.

When I got the news, our family had just returned from France and we were sitting with good friends over lunch. My mom called and was, with good reason, a bit out of sorts. It took me a minute to understand which of my grandparents had passed away. When I finally grasped what had happened, I was heartbroken. I had the most memories with this grandpa.

He taught me how to dive. I would spend hours shouting, “Watch me grandpa!” (while wearing his nose plug), as I practiced my dive over and over again. Well into adulthood, I would sit on the arm of his recliner, (my perch, Grandma called it) watching golf or the fights or an old cowboy movie with him – or maybe, Gunga Din, his favorite. There was the Christmas, when I was a young teenager, that I got shoelaces from him. Because those were the days that we DIDN’T wear shoe laces in our canvas tennis shoes and I had told him that only ‘dorks’ wear laces. So the tiny package under the Christmas tree read “To Dani – the dork”. Yes, this man would be incredibly missed in my life but I would need to choose my attitude – my perspective – in this offering up.

Still to this day, I see men that remind me of him and I get a little sad and miss that stubborn, and sometimes crabby, but wonderful man. And I really wish my grandpa could have known my Journey… my fiery redhead toddler. I think they could have gotten into a lot of trouble together. 🙂

***This is Day 15 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Day 12: My Greatest Offering Up

A year or more ago, I really developed a desire to have a son. We have 4 girls. I love my girls. I love our girl world. In the past, honestly, I was a bit afraid of boys. I was raised with 4 sisters underneath me in age. I was 16 before my first brother was born and I was a bit removed from growing up with him or my brothers to follow. So when my desire to have a son became so overwhelming, I was actually surprised by the longing.

When I became pregnant at the beginning of this year, I knew it was a boy. The whole story is a book to be written someday, but in short, the Lord showed me and confirmed it several times so I just knew. There were many prophetic words spoken over the baby in my womb. Greatness and destiny spoken over his life in those short 20 weeks.

We went in at 20 weeks to have a gender ultrasound performed only to find out our sweet baby had no heartbeat. From the day we got that news until 5 days later when I went in to have an induced miscarriage, began the story of my greatest offering up to this point in my life. This son (which we still didn’t have doctor’s confirmation of that point) that I had so longed for, that the Lord had promised me in January 2015, would never live on this planet. I wouldn’t get to hold his little hand, I wouldn’t get to smell his sweet baby breath, I wouldn’t get to watch him grow up and so know the difference between raising a girl toddler and a boy toddler. I wouldn’t get to watch him become a man through those awkward teen years, I wouldn’t get to watch him fall in love and chose a wife. All these things have become my greatest offering up.

The day I gave birth to that tiny little, misshapen body, that indeed was a boy, will mark my life forever as one of the deepest and most painful offering ups of my life. But it is not without reward. I believe I have only begun to taste the reward of that one. But I know it is promised. The Lord never intends that we go from the place of sacrifice empty-handed.

***This is Day 12 of “31 Days of Offering Up” – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.***

Bandaids Don’t Fix Bullet Holes

Bandaids Don’t Fix Bullet Holes

“Bandaids don’t fix bullet holes….” Lately it seems like every time I get into my van, it doesn’t matter which of the hundreds of satellite radio channels my kids have turned the radio to, Taylor Swifts “Bad Blood” song is playing.. Thus the reason I woke up at 5am with this line blaring through my brain. So, as I wake up enough to pee, I can’t shake the line or what God is speaking through it soooo, I write at 5am….

The truth is bandaids don’t fix bullet holes and two weeks ago, I was shot through with bullet holes. Getting the news that my 20-week gestation baby has no heartbeat, and in fact, his little body doesn’t even measure 20 weeks, so he probably hasn’t had one in a while was like a machine gun tearing through my skin. And, as I’ve discovered over the last 2 weeks, many, many women have experienced this same torturous pain.

What breaks my heart is that, though bandaids don’t fix bullet holes, bullet holes can be fixed but there are all too many women that haven’t been ‘fixed’, haven’t been through the process of healing. It could be that they were told, “It’s just a scratch. This isn’t THAT big of a deal. Just cry a little, stick a bandaid on it and move on. Time is the best healer.” (That thing about Time is a frickin’ lie) Or maybe they told themselves this, because that’s what was expected. Or maybe they recognized it was a bullet hole but couldn’t bring themselves to go to the only One that can bring healing because they thought that HE was the One holding the gun. How could you ever go to your shooter for healing? (And, dear one, I do not have all the answers on why these things happen but I do know that the devil is the author of death… not our kind Heavenly Father) Whatever the reason, I’m finding there’s a whole lot of women walking around with bullet holes, even ones that possibly have been covered up for years and don’t bleed much anymore… until they get around someone that has the same holes and then those scabs are ripped right off.

I’m surely not claiming that in two weeks my wounds are completely healed. But as there has been grace to run to the only One that can delicately and thoroughly treat the wounds and apply the beautiful healing salve of His love, I’m well on my way to a full recovery. I will always have the scars of losing a baby that I so desperately wanted to love into this world and have the privilege of raising and watching pursue his dreams and goals. But they will be be perfectly healed scars, no infected mess, no scabs that bleed when picked throughout the next 5o years of my life.

The overwhelmingly great news is that, no matter how long ago you’ve been shot through by the bullets of losing a baby, you can go to the One that makes all things new and let Him work on you. Let Him do the work of a skilled surgeon, pulling the infection out, delicately working on the wounds until they are a completely healed – not just covered up – part of who you are. I’m not going to lie and say the process doesn’t hurt. Facing your grief head-on can be grueling and seem like even worse torture than the shots you took. But as you embrace the reality of your wounds, walking the road of grief with kind Jesus holding you, you will find His love is enough… enough to get you through the process of true healing.

So, dear one, if you are one of the MANY that knows the pain of these bullet holes I write about – if you are one still bleeding – no matter if it was decades ago or if your wounds are brand new, go to Him. Show Him your wounds – He sees them anyways and longs to bring His healing touch. Let Him start His restorative work. What He starts, He is faithful to complete. You don’t have to go through life oozing infection and blood every time the scab is picked. There will be complete healing on the other side of this ‘surgery’. Not because bandaids were slapped on your bullet holes but because you embraced the process of complete healing by the tender and kind Healer. He loves you intensely and wants you completely whole.

The Gift & the Path

The Gift & the Path

This is Day 1 of my 31 Days of Whimsical Encounters – part of the #write31days challenge. To read all the posts in order, please visit the overview page.

 

 

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I see myself before our Creator, Daddy-God in a large room – maybe that written about, Throne Room. I’m making a sacrifice – kneeling down and laying down the small thing I had in my hand. A sadness grips my heart but I know what I’m doing is required and so I leave my gift at the altar and turn to walk away.

Daddy-God calls me back and gives me a gift. A ginormous box. I laid down a small sacrifice, He rewarded me with a much larger gift. I am shocked but then I wonder if it’s required that I immediately give this gift on the sacrificial altar as well. Daddy-God shakes His head, ‘no’. No, this gift is to keep, to take along with me.

I turn again to leave. I start out the way I came, down the path I feel like I have always taken. But I’m told, by whom I’m not sure, that no, I’m to take the other path. I start to argue but I’m told that this gift I’m carrying will not fit down the worn path, the path I’ve always taken. It is narrow and what I am carrying now is much too wide. And so I take the wide path…               

(to be continued)