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.

new dani whimsy

 

Pain and Escapism

Pain and Escapism

Though my journey of encountering the Lord and seeing into the heavenly realms began before my miscarriage last May, my encounters with the Lord are one of the main things that gave me grace through such a traumatic time. And out of that season I decided to write and publish my first book, Journey Through the Door, which is all about encountering the Lord.

In this journey of sadness, any time I have been grieved to the point of despair, I have told the Lord, “I need to see my son.” He has so graciously opened up my heavenly eyes to see in His realm and I have seen my son – usually playing with his big brother, or Jesus or even interacting with angels. A few times my Malachi has even spoken to me. Without these moments, my heart would still be a broken mess. Instead, though my heart was broken by losing my son last year, there has been tremendous healing that has taken place.

Just a couple months ago, the Lord spoke the word “escapism” to me. I didn’t even really know what it meant so I looked it up,

“the avoidance of reality by absorption of the mind in entertainment or in an imaginative situation, activity, etc.”

The Lord began to speak to me about how even encounters and seeing His realm could become escapism if one didn’t bring the grace and revelation of the encounters back into the life they were living right here and right now.

Experiencing heavenly realms has been a healing experience for me but He gave warning that experiencing heaven was not to remove any one from the reality of living on earth. He has created us human and placed us on this planet. It is our realm for this moment in history.

This realm – our realm – of life will bring trauma, loss, heartache and misfortune, and humanity is forever looking to numb the pain of these things. Pain hurts. We don’t like to hurt. When we begin to hurt, our immediate response is to get rid of the pain.

But Jesus was different than us. He endured the most painful and traumatic death of the Cross yet when He was offered a pain-killer, He refused.

“Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call ‘Skull Hill’, they offered him a mild painkiller  (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when he tasted it he wouldn’t drink it.” Matthew 27:34 (The Message)

Jesus wanted to feel everything. And the ‘everything’ was brutal and hellish. But for YOU, He embraced the pain.

As we walk through painful experiences in life, it’s easy to walk in denial or compartmentalize or just stuff things away in the back closet of our hearts. Honestly, I think Believers are some of the highest offenders. We know the ‘right’ way to feel, to respond, to pray… so instead of embracing what is in front of us, we babble off a Scripture and move on. And, in doing so, we embrace a lifestyle of escapism.

We don’t want to feel the pain. So we find something to numb it and pretend it’s not there. Some of us have done this so long, we honestly don’t remember it’s there, until someday, there’s so much pain stuffed, that we pop. And some sort of sinful behavior displays itself. It could be fits of anger, drinking too much, busyness is popular in Christian circles, even immersing ourselves into constant ministry… any thing to silence and numb the pain.

But escaping pain is never what Jesus intended. He told us we would face pain. But He always intended on us truly overcoming and finding healing for the wounds that are causing the pain.

“I have told you these things so that you will be whole and at peace. In this world, you will be plagued with times of trouble, but you need not fear; I have triumphed over this corrupt world order.” ~John 16:33 (The Voice)

And so He wants us to bring our pain to Him. To walk through it with Him. He wants us to face it, never alone, but with Him and to let Him minister to our hearts. He wants to heal the wound that is causing us pain.

But He will never have access to healing that wound, if we continue to “avoid reality” in escapism.

If you are ready to quit trying to escape and numb your pain and ready to face it head on with Jesus, I highly recommend the book, “Heart Made Whole”,  by Christa Black-Gifford. This book releases in just 3 short weeks, and as I have had the honor of having an early release copy, I cannot say enough good things about this book. It will help you take the journey to having your heart truly healed. It will help you quit trying to escape the pain and give you the tools to find the path to freedom. There truly is freedom – from pain, from trauma, from hurts and wounds. Holy Spirit wants to take us there – if only we will give up all our methods of escapism and let Him minister to our hearts.

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” ~John 10:10 (The Voice)

new dani whimsy

 

“Double Will Be Your Share”

“Double Will Be Your Share”

Isaiah 61 is a familiar chapter to most believers. I’ve heard it preached many times. Maybe you have too. So when the Lord led me there for 2016… again, it felt a bit cliche. But God’s Word is fresh and alive and though I’ve heard the verse He placed on my heart dozens of times, the words are becoming alive once again.

“Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall posses a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.” Isaiah 61:7 (ESV)

“…Yet you suffered doubly and live in disgrace: So double will be your share, and with joy everlasting.” (The Voice)

The words from The Voice translation, “yet you suffered doubly”, make sense to me. In May 2015, we suffered the loss of our son. He was just 20 weeks in the womb and, for reasons we don’t know, he went to be with Jesus before he took a breath on our planet. Maybe you suffered in 2015 too. Maybe it didn’t take on the form of loss of life, but loss and suffering come in many different forms. Maybe a big change happened and you lost some of the familiar of your life. Maybe you suffered physical and health problems. Maybe you suffered in a relationship.

So, perhaps you’re like me and would welcome a double portion of rejoicing in 2016. If so, this is a promise that we all can take hold of. For me, I don’t know what form that portion will take – I believe I’ve seen some of that with the release of my first book just a few weeks ago – but I believe there is more in store in 2016.

As I look again, I am struck by the phrase, “instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot”. We definitely did not rejoice in the ‘lot’ of losing our son. There were other times throughout 2015, we were not rejoicing over our lot. But the promise of “rejoicing in my lot” in 2016 brings beautiful hope for the new year. If this rings true in your heart, grab hold of this promise as well.

Lastly, let’s look at the phrase “everlasting joy”. We all know that joy is not just about being happy. I could find joy even in the suffering of last year. Because joy is found in Jesus, we can find it even in our troubles. But, as I look ahead to 2016 and the promise of Isaiah 61:7, a joy everlasting combined with a double portion sounds like a beautiful thing.

So, for me, for you, let’s hold tight to God’s promises this year. For me, that includes Isaiah 61:7!

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 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.