Thursday, November 8, 2012

Intangible Blessing

The word blessing has really had me thinking lately.

Mostly about what it means to me.  How I often think of blessings as things I can count, see or experience.  I have mulled it over a lot in my mind.  There are some people who appear to be so blessed - maybe with big families or comfortable lifestyles.  Lives that are relatively easy and tragedy free.  But does that make them "more" blessed than others who don't experience those things?

And then I read this blog by Kelle Hampton, and I felt like she had been reading my mind.  She says this:

In observing different gratitude projects circling social media this month, I've been thinking about its very complex meaning.  So many of the things we are grateful for have inverses: having a home vs. not having a home, being healthy vs. being ill, having a job vs. being unemployed, etc.  But gratitude is more than an I'm-so-glad-my-life-is-better-than-that-person's-life list.  In fact, it shouldn't be that at all.  Being exposed to the inverses of good fortune is a wonderful catalyst for gratitude.  I can't help but kiss my babies' cheeks and feel thankful for their health when I hear of mamas huddling over sick babies in hospitals; and witnessing storm damage, gas lines, and crowds of hungry people gathered in the northeast this week certainly makes me thankful for food and power and a structurally sound home.  This is only one facet of gratitude though, lending to the very important awareness component of its meaning; but it doesn't seem a very humble definition.  The true depth of gratitude comes when you move beyond awareness and find ways to do something for someone else--to bring gratitude to other places in the world.  I still make lists of things for which I'm grateful. I still need stories of "not having" to sometimes remind me of what I do have.  But I'm learning more to breathe gratitude and to find ways of practicing it hidden in corners beyond the obvious check-lists of health, jobs, home, things, etc.

Oh, she is so much more eloquent than I am and I felt myself nodding along as I was reading.  She says it so much better than I ever could - but substitute the word gratitude for blessing and it was like I was reading my own thoughts.

The past few months for us have been extremely difficult, for several reasons.  We have personal things going on that are hard.  And sad.  And really, really trying.  I'm not just talking about losing our daughter - on top of that, there have been other really hard things we are wading through.  And it's easy to sit around and wonder where our blessings are.  To feel disappointed or frustrated and ask God where ARE YOU?

But then there are the times where I look around and can SEE my blessings.  We have a house filled with food to eat, furniture to sit on, family to laugh with.  We are warm and clothed.  We have cars to drive.  We are all healthy.  My husband works insane hours, in part so I can stay home with the kids.  I have incredibly thoughtful and amazing friends.  We have a church full of giving and sacrificial people who leave me in awe each and every week.

And yes, those are blessings.  I can see those things and realize that I am blessed.  But what about when I was a single mom, struggling to make ends meet?  Working 60+ hours a week at times, falling behind on my bills, and at one point even being evicted from my apartment with nowhere to go..  Was I any less blessed?  Was I any less important to God?

Do the hard things I've experienced - or are currently experiencing - in my life make me any less blessed?

Recently, my husband preached about the Sermon on the Mount.  I wrote down something he said that grabbed my heart and brought me to tears.  He said that Jesus values weakness, sacrifice, grief and exclusion.  We live in a world that values power, comfort, success and recognition.  It's easy for us to view personal hardship as punishment for something we've done wrong.  It's hard not to place blame on ourselves when the you know what hits the fan.  We feel guilty for not being perfect, we assume God's judgment is upon us or we feel angry for having to go through yet ANOTHER trial, hit another road block, find yet another barrier to climb over.

It goes against everything we naturally feel to be thankful for hardship.  It is natural to feel like being blessed comes in the form of something tangible or material.  And while some blessings are tangible and material, many are intangible.  And knowing that Jesus values weakness, sacrifice, grief and exclusion comforts me.  Because who among us has not experienced at least one of those?  Chances are we will all experience each one of those things at some point in time or another.

I may face hardship, sadness and trials daily.  But God has not forsaken me, and I am not without blessing.

And as we move into the final week of The Challenge at Next Level Church - Celebration Sunday - I go forward with faith, giving sacrificially because as Kelle Hampton said, "The true depth of gratitude comes when you move beyond awareness and find ways to do something for someone else--to bring gratitude to other places in the world."  

I encourage you to prayerfully do the same.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Flashback: How I went broke when I started to tithe.

Some of you may remember this post from a couple years ago (if you've been following my blog that long, you honestly deserve a medal...)

Today I'm bringing it back, in honor of our new series, The Challenge, where we are going to be challenged to give above and beyond our comfort levels.  I'd sort of forgotten about this experience until I was sitting in the auditorium this morning.  It was good for me to go back and re read it.

Yesterday morning, at Next Level Church, Todd talked to us about the importance of giving. He shared a fairly startling statistic about church goers and tithing, and how the national average of people who tithe regularly is somewhere around 9%.
This is a pretty low percentage, but yet – I get it. I totally understand how hard it is to part with money. It took me a long time to develop a real, genuine understanding of tithing and a desire to be obedient in doing it.
Years ago, I was sitting in a church, listening to the pastor give an amazing sermon on giving 10% and I was SOLD. I was a struggling single mother – living on the bare minimum. No TV, no car payment, no “fun” money…just rent, utilities, groceries and daycare. I literally had NO extra money to spare. But he incited a passion in me, and I just couldn’t WAIT to tithe and feel the love of God rain down upon me.
So off I went, writing those tithing checks every pay period, literally watching my bank account sink further and further into the red. Yep, I started bouncing checks. Overdraft fees accumulated. But I remembered the pastor’s sermon, I kept on giving, and I kept on overdrawing my bank account.
Let me remind you at this time in my life, I very literally had NO unnecessary expenses. There was nothing for me to move around or sacrifice so that I could tithe and breathe easier. And I’m sure you are waiting for me to end this story with an amazing account of how money appeared like magic in my bank account and I was able to pay the bills and life has been rainbows and lollipops ever since. But that’s not what happened.
I decided to email the pastor and explain my situation. I told him how much I’d been inspired, I told him how desperately I wanted to tithe, and I told him what serious hot water I was in because of it. He responded kindly, gave me some advice and hooked me up with a financial counselor with the church. Long story short, the church was able to help me get back on my feet. What did that experience teach me? I am ashamed to admit it didn’t teach me what it should have.
Honestly, I felt kind of mad. And a little miffed – I mean, I wasn’t expecting thousands of dollars to show up at my door…but I definitely wasn’t expecting to have to be referred to a financial counselor after digging myself into a hole by following God’s word. I was kind of turned off by the whole experience, and it was a long time before I felt ready to give again.
So there I was sitting in the auditorium yesterday listening to Todd talk about how important it is to give, and I realized that without that experience, I would not be where I am today. Even though I was scared to tithe for awhile, I still attended church frequently – built great relationships, furthered my journey in being a Christ follower, developed talents and gifts I never knew I had, and probably the greatest thing of all – ended up meeting the person who will become my husband in T minus 19 days. (Sidenote: HOLY COW that is coming fast!)
My blessings from giving were not an immediate, tangible thing. Neither a brand new car or a Publishers Clearing House check arrived at my house. I continued along as a struggling single mother. But when the church helped me crawl out of that hole, it set me down a path to where I am now and that is one of the most precious and intangible blessings one can ever receive. I now know Christ better than I did before that experience. It took a long time though – none of that happened overnight and I didn’t even RECOGNIZE the blessing that came from it until yesterday.
I am hoping many people will prayerfully consider The Challenge, and am looking forward to hearing the stories of those who do!
Saturday, October 20, 2012


I haven't updated in about a week and a half - I guess partly because I'm still processing the loss of my daughter and partly because I know at some point, most people don't want to hear about it anymore.

Truth is, some days I am feeling fine.  Some days, it's almost as though it never happened and for a day or even a few hours, I forget.  And life moves on, and I smile and laugh and enjoy the moment and I don't feel sad.

But other times, it hits me - like a sucker punch in the gut when I'm not looking.  And sometimes I sit and think about my little girl.  I take pictures like this one -

- and suddenly the thought occurs to me that there should be a little newborn girl in a picture like that one in about 17 weeks and there won't be.  And it feels like the wind gets knocked out of me for a little while.  I can't breathe and the tears start all over again.  The pain feels tangible and so very present.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't been deeply, deeply affected by this loss.  I'd be lying if I said the reality of losing the little girl I so fervently prayed for after years in a house of boys {who, as you all know, I love DEARLY!} didn't strike me as cruel.  Sometimes it seems just so unfair.  Sometimes, I want to look up at the sky and yell, "SERIOUSLY?"

Ok, sometimes I HAVE done that.

I'm pretty honest with God these days.  I have to be - the last 6 weeks have given me a freedom to be honest and real and open with people like I never have been.  To tell someone when something hurts my feelings.  To cry with my husband and tell him how deep it hurts.  To pray to God and tell Him how sad I am.  And sometimes, angry and uncertain, and very fearful.

But the peace always comes.  Even in moments where I think it won't, I always feel it.  It settles in and spreads around and I look at my life and feel blessed, even in the midst of pain and sadness.  And when my husband spoke on Sunday about Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, I was pretty sure he was speaking right to me.  It brought me a lot of comfort to think of Jesus teaching that He places value on things like grief & weakness.

I have started to thank God for this experience.

It sounds weird, to thank Him.  But I don't know what else to do - because if I don't try to maintain an attitude of thankfulness and deep appreciation I know I could easily become bitter and resentful and angry.  And even though *I* hurt, I know that God's plan is far better than anything I could put together for myself and I have to remind myself of that.

It actually occurred to me a week or so ago that my pain comes from selfishness.  Let me explain - because these "selfish" feelings are not bad feelings.  The desire to have a daughter and finally get to shop in the pink and ruffly side of the children's store - wanting to experience baby dolls and Barbies and princesses and dress up.  Wanting the mother/daughter relationship - none of those things are selfish in a bad way.  But they are all my wants.

In addition to the pink and the princesses, life is hard.  It's messy and it's painful.  And bad things can happen to really good people.  And people struggle and suffer, and no matter how we - as parents - try to shield and protect our children from it, they will feel the pain themselves at some point in time.  They will experience heartache and hurt and grief.  And Lilia skips over all that.  My sweet girl will never feel sadness.  As a parent, could there be anything more awesome to consider?  She gets to go right to the good stuff.

So I thank Him for the growth that comes and will continue to come.  I thank Him that someday, I will meet a woman who is going through something similar and will be able to share myself with her.  I thank Him that even though I didn't get to meet her, I have a daughter.

God has a purpose for all of us, even Lilia.

I bought a necklace with her name on it.  It is beautiful and simple and a constant reminder that what belongs to me, belongs to God.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

We got the call

Today we got the call we've both been waiting for and dreading.

A nurse from my OB's office called to let us know that the chromosomal testing we requested came back normal - no known reason as to why our baby's heart stopped beating.  She also let us know that we had a daughter.  Not much can prepare you for what it feels like to hear someone say, "She was a girl"  when it should have been "It's a girl!" or "She's a girl!"

"She was a girl" is a painful sentence to hear.

For the first 16 weeks of my pregnancy, I was absolutely certain I was having another boy.  I joked about it, laughed about it, and generally felt at ease with the idea of adding another boy to our family.  But when I laid on the table that day in September, hoping and praying to hear a heartbeat - I knew as soon as the image came up on the screen that we lost our daughter.

I don't know how I knew this - the ultrasound tech assured me several times that she couldn't see the gender.  I even called back a few days later to double check because I had been SO sure that it was a girl - I thought surely the tech must have seen it.  But they assured me that no, the gender was not able to be determined.

But over the last four weeks, as we've waited for these results - in my mind, I've thought "she", "her", and "daughter".  I knew in my heart that we were waiting to find out about the daughter I won't meet in this lifetime.  

Before we had the information from our doctors though, we talked about names.  I couldn't bear to use any of the names we had been tossing around already.  For some reason, naming this baby seemed a hundred times more important.  I threw out the non traditional, the trendy and the names without meaning.  I needed this baby to have an incredibly meaningful name.

It is, after all, the only thing we will know about her.  Her short little life will be summarized by the only thing we can give her.

We talked about a few ideas, but one night I was laying in bed unable to sleep when I was consumed with the desire to look up names meaning "beautiful".  Through a few different websites, I came across a name that I knew would be absolutely perfect and the next day shared with Todd, who quickly agreed.

We have chosen the name Lilia Faith for our daughter.  Lilia, comes from the flower Lily, which represents innocence, purity and beauty.  And the Hebrew meaning of the name Lilia means, "What belongs to me, belongs to God"

There are a lot of things in my life I could turn over to God with ease.  Children are hard to let go of though - and I say this knowing that there are those who have experienced losses much worse than ours.  Children who were stillborn, children who have fought difficult illnesses - these are all tragic endings to lives that are far too short.

Lilia's name will remind me that as sad as this experience is, my sweet daughter belongs not just to me, but to Him.  And she is with Him now, beautiful and perfect. And there is nothing to fear, because as my husband reminded us all in a recent blog, we are called to be fearless and death will not get the final word.

While I never got to hold her, I will think of her often and be grateful for the daughter who will continue to teach me about life, about God and about myself.


Sunday, September 30, 2012


I woke up this morning feeling very anxious.  Anxious because it was Sunday -  I've taken 2 weeks off from church, and while I still feel shaken by the past few weeks, I knew that the longer I put it off the harder it would be to return.  But since I'm all about honesty, I need to say that the very thought of walking through the doors and facing a crowd of people who knew made me sick to my stomach.  I felt on the verge of complete and utter panic.  And Beckett had woken up at 5am - it was the perfect excuse to stay home and let him nap.

But something pulled at my heart - and I knew today was the day I had to go and face people that weren't in the small group of friends I've allowed into my pain.  And I needed to worship.  I needed the music more than anything.  Music is what keeps me going.  It's what speaks to my soul.  It's how I feel the most connected to God.  It's a language that speaks to me in ways that no other language can.  

And how very perfect that one of the songs in today's worship set was a song I've been singing to myself for the last 2 weeks.  It's the song that weaves itself through my mind when I'm in the shower, sobbing and letting out the heartache of losing this child.  Over and over, it runs through my mind - 

You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning

And when the oceans rage
I don't have to be afraid
Because I know that you love me
Your love never fails

Standing there, worshipping with our church family, I felt as if God was reminding me that He knows the oceans are raging around me.  He knows the pain comes when I lay down at night to sleep.  He knows I am afraid of what's to come.  But, He loves me.  And His love NEVER fails.  How amazing is that?  And how perfect was the timing of that reminder?

I am grateful for those of you who came up to me today at church and told me you were praying for me and for us.  And the truth is, I NEED your prayers.  And I am beyond grateful to live life with the people of Next Level and to see God working in the midst of my sadness.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Be Still

Here's the thing.

I hate being sad.  Really, it interrupts my flow - the way things run day to day, the things I do, the people I's an inconvenience.  And it's not my natural way to exist in the world - I am an optimist, hopeful, always wanting to see the best in circumstances and people.  I am generally a pretty happy person - easy going - and it takes a lot to get under my skin.

So the past 2 weeks have been hard for me for a multitude of reasons.  There have been many days I've wanted to jump back into life, moving forward, pretending that things are ok.  Pretending I'm fine, things are fine, life is fine.

But there is this overwhelming theme that is running through my head to "Be Still"

Be still.  Be still.  Be still.

It's not my thing, being still.  I am not one who enjoys being alone with my thoughts.  I prefer socialization to solitude.  But through this period of grieving, God is teaching me to be still.  To feel.  To process.  To be sad.  And that's ok - because as much as it hurts, I know it's healing me.

The day after my surgery, I met up with my sister at a Starbucks so she could drop Logan back off with me after spending the night with her family.  We were talking in the parking lot when my little niece looked me square in the eye and said with an absolute, pure sincerity, "Miranda, I am really sorry your baby died."

The words both stung me and soothed me all at once.

No one wants to be in a place in life where they HAVE to hear those words.  But you know, it was really the first time anyone had said that to me.  So blunt in its context, so pure in its intention, so beautiful in the way it soothed my heart.  Her words have stuck with me for the last 2 weeks and I find myself repeating them to myself.  "I'm really sorry your baby died"

I love the sincerity and honesty of children. A child only knows how to feel and to process emotions in the raw way they should be processed.  They don't try covering it up, burying it, pretending it didn't happen.  Children FEEL - they cry, they shout, they get angry.  They laugh, they feel joy, they smile.

And being still involves all those things - to just sit and to feel.  And to allow myself the freedom to do it.

My husband posted something on Facebook recently:

"Thank you" is the best thing you can say when praised and "I am so sorry" is the best thing you can say when talking to someone who is hurting.  
I think we have both learned a lot about death and grief through this experience.  I have always been one who would shy away from talking to people about sad things.  I wasn't sure how to phrase things or what to say.  I was worried I would upset them - but what I have learned is that a sincere, heartfelt "I am so sorry" has been the best thing I could ever hear.  This experience is teaching me how to have a genuine compassion for those who are struggling with sadness and adversity.  God has taught me to be still and to be simple.

Last night I was gchatting with my husband, who was in Oklahoma on business, and he asked me how I was feeling.  I told him fine, besides the cough but that I was feeling better.  And he said, "But how is your sadness?"  And we got talking a little bit about how I was feeling on that level - I told him how I sleep with the lights on when he's gone, because the darkness makes me sad and how I was anxious for the test results to come back so we know if the baby was a boy or a girl and can give him or her a name.  I said it was hard to move forward when I know any day we will get information that will set the grieving process back to the beginning again.  I told him that when I lie in bed, I just lay there thinking about the baby.

And he said, "You know the baby is deliriously happy right now, right?"

Isn't that a beautiful thought?  Here I am, at times, overcome and debilitated by sadness.  But the baby - our baby - is happy.  Deliriously so.  I hadn't been thinking of it that way.  Not really.  Sure I believe our child is with Jesus - but I was feeling so sorry for myself, and second guessing everything I've done over the past 5 months that I hadn't really stopped to think of how deliriously happy our baby is right now.  And while it doesn't take away the pain I feel, it helps me a lot to think of it that way.  And it brings a smile to my face to imagine it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

donuts & salad

it was a donut morning on monday.

becks loved the little donut holes.

logan was all about boston cream.

and i was happy with my cinnamon crumble.

don't worry - we made up for it tonight.

Monday, September 24, 2012


I, Miranda, receive you Todd to be my wedded husband. I accept you as
a precious gift from God. I love you with a love only Christ himself could place
within my heart. I promise to give myself to you as Christ gave himself to the
church. I wish to have and to hold you from this day forward, for better for worse,
for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as
we both shall live, according to God’s holy ordinance.


I lived life as a single parent for 10 years before I met my husband.  

I learned to do pretty much everything for myself.  I raised my son alone.  I cooked, I cleaned, I packed his lunches.  I clothed him, I put him to bed, I helped him with his homework.  I took out the garbage, killed bugs, fixed broken appliances, hung pictures on the wall and at times - moved furniture by myself.  

I worked to support him.  At one point I worked a full time 9-5 job, then went to work waiting tables in a bar 3 nights a week.  I would get home at 4am, sleep for a few hours and then get up by 8 to pick up my son from my parents and drop him off at daycare while I went to my "real" job.  

I learned not to rely on anyone else.  I developed a tough exterior - one that didn't need anyone.  I could do it myself, thank you very much.  

This past week I have been a little shocked at how much I need my husband.  For the first time in our entire marriage I think I am realizing that I need him.  I know you are probably thinking, "Miranda, of course you need him - you married him and that's what marriage is about!"  And don't misunderstand me - I love my husband.  He can make me laugh like no one else.  He's the most intelligent person I've ever met, and sometimes it strikes me as funny that he likes to have conversations with little ol' me.  (Seriously, dude is brilliant.  He writes books!) 

But even though I love him and we chose each other to be with for the rest of our lives, I don't think I felt like I "needed" him.  I got married because I wanted to, not because I needed to.  

I dropped him off at the airport this morning as he travels out of town for work - which he does quite often - but this morning felt different.  This morning I felt like a piece of me got out of the car and boarded a plane.  

I couldn't have gotten through the past 2 weeks without him.  I needed him in a way I never realized - and even though we won't be struggling with loss and tragedy every day of our marriage, it has opened my eyes to the kind of relationship we can have.  The kind of relationship we should be working on every day.  One of vulnerability, one of raw honesty, one of sweet and compassionate love.  The past couple of weeks could have very easily brought out the worst in both of us.  Stress and tension have a way of doing that.  It has been amazing to see us come together and be stronger than ever, and I am so proud of his commitment to his family, to the church, to his job and to God.  He loves each one so passionately and fully and I don't think I've admired him more than I have this past week.

I am lucky he chose me.

No, seriously.  You know a single pastor is a hot commodity here in the South!  ;)

Thankful to be reminded of that this week.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

He Has a Purpose

It's another sick day at the Hahn household.

I'm having a love/hate relationship with the sickies.  On one hand I'm tired of coughing all night, I'm tired of being tired, I'm tired of being cooped up.  On the other hand, it gives me a perfect excuse to remain in the bubble I put myself in ever since my doctors appointment almost 2 weeks ago.

I realized that I've only seen a very, very small handful of people since all of this happened.  It's unusual for me to not be out and about, meeting up with friends, being social and involved - but I feel fragile still.  Like I'm walking around with a big open wound and exposure to the air itself stings.

Life will be moving along fine and then suddenly I am dissolving into tears over little things.  Nighttime is the worst - when the kids are asleep, the world is quiet and my husband is breathing deeply beside doesn't seem to matter how exhausted I am.  I stare into the darkness and think about the little one we'll never meet in this lifetime.

Last night I was scrolling through Facebook pictures and came across some of me while I was pregnant with Beckett and was overcome with sadness that I didn't get to experience that with this baby.  I felt guilty remembering all the times I complained about the way pregnancy changed my body, or the discomfort I felt with each passing month.  I would give anything to feel those things again now, to watch my belly grow, to feel the jabs and kicks in my ribs that take my breath away.

The other day I was driving in the car with the kids and a song came on the radio that I'd never heard before (not unusual these days, which I think means I'm getting old...)  One of the lines jumped out at me and with a little help from Shazam, I downloaded the song.  

The song is Home by Philip Phillips (who, apparently, is an American Idol or something - again I guess I'm old for not knowing but truth is I hate that show...)

Hold on, to me as we go

As we roll down this unfamiliar road

And although this wave is stringing us along

Just know you’re not alone

Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear

Don't pay no mind to the demons

They fill you with fear

The trouble it might drag you down

If you get lost, you can always be found

I remind myself often, "Don't pay no mind to the demons, they fill you with fear..."  I find myself feeling so out of control lately.  Realizing for maybe the first time ever just how little control I have over life.  I found myself in tears after leaving the pediatrician's office last week - Beckett was sick and even though I'm usually the Mom who waits TOO long before seeking out a doctor, this felt different.  I was seized with irrational fear about what might be wrong with him, and with the knowledge that I can't always control the well being of my own children.  If I couldn't protect the one who lived inside of me, how will I keep the children I have safe?  (Beckett was fine, by the way.  Just a cold that has since been passed to me...)

I know deep down I can't live that way - I have to trust God to carry out His plan how He sees fit.  And I have to know with every part of who I am that He is GOOD.  Reminding myself of Romans 8:28, "I know He has purpose in even the things I cannot understand"  It is hard.  This experience has taught me how fragile life is - how poorly I've handled other people's grief in the past.  It's taught me how little I knew about grief in general.  It's taught me that you can be going along happily on your own little path and suddenly your world just gets rocked to its core.  It's taught me how much I need my relationship with God to be as strong as it can be, at all times and not just in sorrow.  

And I know this experience will continue to teach me things and I will continue to learn and grow from it.  And it WILL be ok, even if I can't see the light right now.  Even if I spend the rest of my life not knowing or understanding why this child was taken away from us all too soon, I will know "He has a purpose in even the things I cannot understand."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Lord is Close to the Brokenhearted

I have missed this blog.

It used to be a place I shared my feelings, thoughts and emotions and I set it to the back burner while I pursued other interests. Grief has brought me back here today - to write down events, emotions and feelings so I don't forget.

This post will be long.  It will be real, it will be raw and it may be uncomfortable. It won't hurt my feelings if you close the page, because I need to write and I need the healing that comes with it.

A little over a week ago, at a routine OB check up, I was told that my baby no longer had a heartbeat. I was 16 weeks along.

That morning had started no differently than any other, really. My husband was out of town for work and I was trying to juggle our 16 month old and get ready for my appointment. It was the kind of morning where everything took longer than it should have because Beckett was in a particularly mischievous mood and was tearing my bedroom apart. I felt stressed and was running behind and as I went to throw on clothes, I had a thought in the back of mind to wear my regular pants. I had just started to ease myself into a few maternity pieces for comfort mainly - but for some strange reason that morning I felt determined to wear regular jeans. And I did.

 When I got to my appointment, I had a quick meeting with a nurse who went through the standard information - medications to take and not to take, how to register at the hospital. Medical history, current children, etc etc etc. After this we waited to see my midwife. They were running way behind schedule and I was stuck trying to keep the toddler entertained in his stroller. We looked at lights, at fans, watched Blues Clues on the Kindle Fire and played peek a boo. I furiously texted friends how angry I was that we were kept waiting for so long. Just when I thought I couldn't wait one more second, the midwife and her assistant came into the room.

I hopped up on the table so she could listen for a heartbeat. I waited anxiously for the sound to come. If you've ever heard a fetal heartbeat you know what I'm talking about. That glorious and ridiculously loud sound - like a horse stomping around the room. She moved the doppler around and around, and nothing happened. The room became uncomfortably silent. I held my breath, willing that sound to come. Praying, pleading and knowing something was wrong. Still she tried, and tried and tried. Said babies wiggle around a lot at this stage and maybe she just couldn't get the baby to stay in one spot long enough to hear. I wanted to say I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I felt like if I said the words out loud, they would come true. I waited as she tried to find the heartbeat again. And then she told me that she wanted me to have a sonogram done, and I knew. I knew that no good news would come of this appointment. I knew that my life was about to change. Beckett and I headed down to the room where the sonograms were done.

I was quiet and nervous as I laid down on the table - again pleading and hoping, wishing that my sweet baby was just playing around in there. I watched as the image came up on the screen. I saw that sweet little profile, and again, heard nothing. I could see where the heart should be flickering and saw nothing. I saw the tech marking measurements, all measuring behind where I should have been. I knew that the baby was gone. But still I stayed quiet, and prayed and hoped. And then she turned to me and said softly, "Honey I am so sorry, but there is no heartbeat" I can't even tell you what I felt in that moment. I remember bursting into tears and sobbing on the table. I remember looking at Beckett, so sweetly innocent, eating his snacks in his stroller and looking around. I remember the tech handing me tissues and giving me a hug. It felt so surreal and so wrong. We had to sit in the room together - the tech, Beckett and I, while we waited for my midwife to come back. And then my midwife was there, and condolences were said, instructions were being given, and there were decisions to make, appointments to make, people to call. Did I call my husband yet, did I have family in town, did I know what I wanted to do from here... I left the office in a fog.

I called my husband and tried to tell him the news in between sobs. I was crying so hard I could barely put Beckett into his carseat. I'm still not sure how I drove myself home. I called my mother and my sister and told them the news. The next few days were a fog for me. Decisions to make, messages to read, people to respond to. I wanted to curl up into a ball and never leave my bed. I wandered around aimlessly, not wanting to eat, not wanting to talk to people, not wanting to move forward. One of the most startling things for me to take in was how life goes on for everyone around you. People do exactly what they should, which is continue on. But isn't it strange that the person next to you in the car driving home from what should have been a standard doctors appointment is grappling with life altering news, and you never know.

Todd and I believed with every fiber within us that our baby was gone and with Jesus. That this child is now whole and complete and beautiful and in the arms of Christ. And that brings me great peace. This child's body, while miraculously tiny and already formed did not hold our child anymore.

The day of the surgery was beautiful. We woke up early and laid in bed together, feeling sad and unsure of what the day would hold for us. I wasn't allowed to eat or drink and I remember being so incredibly thirsty. Getting ready for the hospital was painful. I deliberated over what to wear. Nothing felt right or appropriate. Everything seemed too cheery or too ragged. This was the day I would say my final goodbye to my child. I couldn't figure out something as simple as what to put on. It felt excruciatingly stupid to think about clothing. I knew I couldn't bear to leave the hospital in maternity clothes. I tried on several outfits wondering if I would want to burn the final choice when I arrived home.

Fall has arrived in the Queen City (at least for now...) and the air was nice and cool outside, the sun was shining and the sky was a beautiful shade of blue. Again I was struck by an acute awareness of how life was moving around us, without us, oblivious to us. We were escorted into the hospital by a friendly man who made small talk about the weather and the traffic. I wanted to punch him. The women at the check in desk smiled and laughed and told me to sit and wait for them to call me to be registered. I burst into tears as we sat down in the lobby and told Todd I couldn't do this. I couldn't sit among the people there for outpatient surgeries that weren't as life altering as mine. I didn't want to sit and wait and watch Katie Couric's new talk show on the tv hanging on the wall. I felt nauseous and unbelievably, chest crushingly sad.

The next few steps of the process were mind numbing and routine - but everyone was kind, gracious and compassionate. I got into my hospital gown and stared at the wall as the nurse chatted and made me comfortable. I watched the clock. I held Todd's hand and we looked at each other. I felt like there was nothing to say, and yet there seemed to be so much to say I didn't know where to begin. Finally, anesthesia was administered. I remember kissing Todd goodbye and crying as they wheeled me to the operating room. I remember when the doors opened and seeing all the people inside. There seemed to be throngs of them. I'm sure there were only a handful, but at that moment there seemed to be so many people. I remember them asking me to slide to another table and I remember nothing else after that moment until waking up. I came out of anesthesia crying and asking everyone, "Is my baby gone? Is my baby gone?" Someone gently said "Shhh" and handed me a box of tissues.

I cried all the way to recovery. I laid there, feeling heavy and nauseous and unbelievably sad. I drifted in and out of sleep and heard the term "anti partum" several times. It's funny what sticks with you - but I will never forget that term. I was not post partum, I was anti partum. It seemed like an awful word and I wanted to tell them to stop saying it. I dozed off and on and finally it was time to see my husband again. They wheeled me to another room where I sat in a recliner and sipped water until he arrived. 

Seeing him come down the hall was a beautiful sight. I felt like I had spent hours with strangers in one of the most intimate and painful experiences of my life. My sweet husband was perfect with me that day - his birthday - he was kind, unselfish, loving, and strong. He kissed me and we hugged and I cried some more. That friendly man showed up again as the nurse wheeled me outside and he smiled cheerfully at me and said cluelessly, "Well that didn't take long, now did it?"  I felt numb.

The days that have followed have been a mix of beauty and tragedy. I have two wonderful children at home that have been filled with empathy towards me, in their own little ways.  Logan has given me hugs and offered me words of comfort that show me he is so much wiser than his 11 years.  Beckett has been full of laughter and snuggles and has sat curled up in my lap more than he has in months.  And those have been beautiful moments.  Talks with my 11 year old about life and death and God - snuggles, kisses and giggles with my 16 month old.  They have been precious, life affirming moments.

However, there is no way to escape the truth that I carried a life inside of me for 16 weeks only to have it cruelly taken away from me with no warning. We have so many questions that we know will probably never get answered. We are waiting on results of gender testing and chromosomal testing so we can have closure with what may have gone wrong and give our precious child a name. I spend hours feeling numb and then suddenly I feel fine. I want to chat with my friends and send out silly text messages again and then minutes later I want to throw my phone at a wall. Everything around me seems trite and unimportant. I don't know how to feel. I don't know what anyone can do for me. I don't know what to say, or how to act. I feel tired and confused.

I read on the March of Dimes website that only 1-5% of miscarriages happen in the 2nd trimester. These statistics are equally maddening and comforting. I can't believe it happened to us. I can't believe I fit into that 1-5% of pregnancies.  And yet it did happen to us, and I do fit into that statistic and we are surviving it.  I don't know how I will continue to survive the grief, but I know I will - because we follow and serve a good God.  And we are called to be fearless because we know that death does not get the last word.  I am reminding myself of that over and over - and resting my hope in the knowledge that I will see our child again one day.  And he or she will be perfect and beautiful.  I do not feel angry with God, because I know that we live in a fallen, broken world.  I think God intended this child to be a part of our family and I am comforted to know we will be together one day.

Still I know the upcoming days, weeks and months will continue to bring pain, grief and heartache as well as healing, happiness and laughter.  I know to expect waves of emotion, ups and downs and to watch for symptoms of post partum depression.  I am fearful of how I will respond and react to people, to my family and I can only hope that we all come out of this stronger and more in love with each other than we were before.

I want to thank each and every one of you who has reached out to me, to us, to my family.  And I know there are some of you that don't know what to say, but are praying and thinking about us.  I'm thankful for you too.  I've been overwhelmed at times with how many of you have offered up kind words, thoughts, prayers and advice.  My kitchen has several big, beautiful arrangements of flowers that are reminding me beauty still exists.

And, I remember hourly the verse a friend shared with me that brings me great comfort.  "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  It is a perfect description of how I feel - brokenhearted and crushed in spirt.  And it is a perfect reminder that even now, the Lord is with me.