Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Surreal Life

For some reason, it seems like I've had several opportunities to talk about Caroline recently. As time goes on, I don't really talk about her as much as I used to. I still think about her everyday and everything, but the need to talk about her has subsided a bit. I'm not ashamed to talk about her, and I don't shy away from it either, but the urgency isn't there anymore.

So the fact that I've talked about her several times lately is a little out of the ordinary at this point. It's been a little over six months now since she was born. As time passes, her time with us begins to seem a little surreal. I look back and think, "Did that really happen to me? Did I really go through that?" Of course I did, and it changed my life. I will never forget Caroline. I will always miss her. But time is dulling the pain a bit, that's for sure.

I think part of why she's come up a lot recently is because there are about a million people I know having babies. Haha. I've mentioned this a little bit before now, but it's still true. It seems like just about every week I find out a friend or acquaintance is pregnant. I'm ecstatic for them. I do, naturally, feel a little twinge now and then, but it's not jealousy. God has been gracious in that I've been able to rejoice with others without becoming bitter myself. The twinge is more just that dull ache that comes after you lose a loved one and are reminded of the loss. Whether it's a baby or a grandparent, sometimes the pain just pops up.

Anyway...it's been kinda sweet lately because people have made a point to tell me they're praying for me specifically because of all these babies. They say something to the effect of, "I know it can't be easy to see all these other babies, so I've just been praying for you." It's been touching, really, that people have been so supportive and sweet. And while I do have those pesky twinges occasionally, I know that God is good and His grace gets us through just fine. :)

But yeah, Caroline's come up a few times. I've gone back and looked at her pictures, and I've gone back and read bits and pieces of my blog again. I've reminisced about our time with her, about everything that's happened since. It's truly incredible, really, to see what God has done. I know He's not done yet, either. But like I mentioned, it's become a bit surreal. I suppose that's a natural reaction. I guess you start to kinda separate yourself from the intensity. I look back and wonder how the heck I did that. Obviously the answer is through God's grace, but it's been a little crazy to think about.

You know how sometimes you see people doing something slightly out of the ordinary, and you think, "Wow, I could never do that," or "They must be made of different stuff to be able to do that." For instance, military people, fire fighters, policeman, etc. I think we tend to romanticize people like that. I have a little experience with that because my hubby is military. Those people don't necessarily see themselves as something special. They're just people doing their job. It's kinda that way with my experience with Caroline. A lot of people looked (or may still look) at me as being something special, doing something extraordinary. I don't feel that way at all. I'm just me, dealing with something that came into my life. I know I had a lot of help from God. I know I wouldn't have made it otherwise. But I guess that's why it seems so surreal looking back.

I know that what happened was different. It was unusual. It was out of the ordinary. And I handled it in a way that many people told me was unusual and out of the ordinary. I can't take credit because Jesus was carrying me, but I do realize that something special happened with Caroline. It seems surreal because I'm still me, just a normal person, but I got to experience something extraordinary. I took part in something unusual. Jesus blessed me with a situation that can only be called extraordinary. It was, and continues to be, quite a ride. I am humbled by it, because I realize that I am a simple human being who was carried through an insane experience to show God's glory in a unique way. I continue to hope that my testimony can help others, that this blog will be shared, that Caroline's story will be shared, and that others will come to know Jesus or know Him better because of her life.

If you ever want to share something with me, I'd love to hear it. You can always leave comments on posts, or you can email me at the email address on the contact tab above. Thank you for being part of Caroline's story.

Friday, June 8, 2012

What Is Love?

"What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more." You know you just sang that.

That's totally not what this post is about. But it is about love. I wrote the title and the song popped in my head, so I had to share. :)

We're coming up on six months since Caroline was born. I've been through Mother's Day, and we're coming up on Father's Day. We're starting to get asked a lot (see my previous post) if we're gonna start trying for another kid soon. Lots of progress, so to speak.

As I've been preparing my heart and mind for whatever God's will is in the future, especially related to children, I've asked myself a lot of random questions. Are we ready for another child? What would happen if we lost the next one too? Can I keep myself from making an idol of the next child? Will I be able to surrender my child to God's keeping and will, or will I try to grasp on and hold on? Will I be a good mother?

What is love?

That question right there probably can help me answer all the other ones. I'll admit that I am a little fearful for the next go round of pregnancy/motherhood. I don't think I'd be human if I didn't have some fears and anxieties. But I also don't want them to rule over me. I don't want them to stunt my spiritual growth. I've been praying a lot that God would protect me from that fear and anxiety, that He would help me not to lose focus. That He would show me love, and how to love. He is love.

I know there are a million verses in Scripture that talk about what love is. Laying down your life for a friend. Patient, kind, not proud or rude, not easily angered, not self seeking, keeps no record of wrongs, doesn't delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It never fails. Jesus' death on the cross while we were still sinners. I could go on and on. There are also commands to love God more than anything, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and then to love your neighbor also. Obviously love is important to God.

I know in the English language we use the word love a lot. We love tacos, we love our spouses, we love a tv show, we love our kids. With such a wide spectrum of love, and only one real word to use to describe it, it's no wonder that the definition of love can get a little skewed or muddled. So I had to ask myself as I've been wrestling with all my emotions and thoughts, What is love? What does it mean for God to love me? What does it mean for me to love others? What will it mean to love my children?

There are simple, cliche answers to all of those questions. But I don't want to stop there. I want to dig a little deeper and figure it out. It's too important not to. God showed His love for me by sending His Son to die for me, then raising him again so that death has no victory, and we get to spend eternity in Heaven with Him. Sunday School answer. Having lost a child of my own, and not voluntarily, I can't imagine the pain that caused God. Not only God, but Jesus. He voluntarily gave up His life, was disowned momentarily by His Father while He took on the sin of the world, and then overcame it all so that the very people who killed Him could spend eternity with Him if they choose to. Talk about love. I can't even begin to understand that kind of love. And I can in no way pay God back for it. I can do my best to love Him, but only because I want to. I can't reciprocate what He's done for me. He loved me sacrificially and unselfishly, and I want to do that too.

If God can do that for me, I should be able to show others love while I'm here on earth. What does that look like? Being inconvenienced. Offering hospitality when it's not comfortable. Telling people about Jesus, even if I'm rejected for it. Putting other people's needs and desires above my own. Making myself nothing so Christ can be everything. Always pointing people to the Savior of their souls. The most loving thing I can do is make sure the people I care about know Jesus. Without Him, eternity will be miserable beyond imagination. With Him, it will be paradise beyond our wildest dreams. So I need to share that. I need to be loving.

When it comes to children, that doesn't change much. The most loving thing I can ever do for my kids is show them how to know Jesus. All the other stuff is secondary. Kissing boo-boos, wiping tears, feeding, clothing, encouraging, supporting. Without Jesus, it doesn't matter much. I'm not saying it's not important. Some of why our kids find Jesus is because we're willing to kiss boo-boos. Kids see Jesus' love for them in our love for them. I get that. One of the best ways I can love my kids is to love Jesus first. To let His love flow through me.

And as I battle my fears about our next child, I have to remember that. I have to remember that I have to love Jesus first. I have to trust Him to be in control of my child's life. He is sovereign, and whatever He does is for the best. I can't hold on and try to manage my child's life beyond the responsibility God has given me. I'm not God. I can't play God to my kids. As I learned with Caroline, I am not worthy of Christ if I love my kids more than I love Him. So I've been working on loving God, and letting Him take care of the rest. I have certain responsibilities. I have to take care of myself physically. I have to go to doctors when the time comes. I have to take care of any children God gives us. But I also have to rely on Him to do that. I can't do it on my own strength or by my own plans. If I truly want to glorify God as a mother, I have to let God be in control of my efforts as a mom.

So, as the fears and anxieties wage war against a God-given peace and security, I have to choose to let God be in control. I have to constantly lay those fears and anxieties at His feet, letting Him take them away from me. Sometimes, that's pretty frequently. And that's ok. I'm not perfect. I'm a human being. I have to deal with a fallen world and a fallen me. But God's still in control. He's still taking care of me. And that's all that matters.