Opportunity to give hope to others as we approach Gabriel’s due date Monday

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 1.45.46 pm

IMG_2626

I’m not one for stuffed animals, but when Joy offered this bear to me, I gratefully reached out and received it.

A moment later, my brain registered the fact that the bear wasn’t a fluffy, win-at-the-fair animal. It was unusually heavy, almost like lifting a gallon of milk assumed empty, but actually full.

I sobbed.

A weighted bear.

It was in the first hours after Joy’s incredible team of nurses settled me into the hospital room, given me hugs and space and time I needed before I was induced to deliver Gabriel, carried 15 precious weeks.

With Scott next to me, we talked with Joy and soon found that her compassionate care stemmed from a love for God. She told us about a gift she had for us, given by a woman who’d lost a full-term baby.

Joy returned to the room a bit later with the weighted bear. I became the 4th in a line of women touched by loss and the gift that placed weight into empty arms and acknowledged the weight of a precious life lost.

My bear and precious letter was from Erin Ashley, a mama who’d lost a baby girl at birth. She’d received her bear from Lindsey, a mama who held then said goodbye to two baby girls. Lindsey received her bear from her nurse who’d experienced loss.

“Dear friend,” the letter began, “My heart is burdened for you as I write this letter, knowing that in this moment you are experiencing a depth of pain and trauma that so few parents will ever experience.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 2.01.38 pm

“To have weight means to have significance, and everything about this moment–and your little child, and the story God is writing in your life–is weighty. It’s significant.”

screen-shot-2017-05-18-at-2-01-23-pm.png

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 1.51.09 pm
Last November, Erin Ashley (center) and her family presented 12 Comfort Cubs to Joy (right) labor and delivery’s head nurse at Florida Hospital-Altamonte.

One month later, on December 6, 2017, I received one of those bears.

This week I learned that there is only 1 bear left, meaning 11 of us mamas (and families) have lost a baby in just 6 months at this hospital in this little part of the globe. My heart drops with that news, knowing that my story of delivery of a tiny baby in miscarriage at a hospital is rare. Wow, what would that number have been if we also knew how many miscarriages happened outside those hospital walls in those months?

An Opportunity for You

Gabriel’s due date would have been this Monday, May 22nd. Our family longed to celebrate his tiny life by celebrating other tiny lives and comforting moms and their families and pointing to Jesus, our very great hope.

So, here’s an idea. How about we, together, put more Comfort Cubs and an instrumental CD, below, (listen here) that’s ministered to me incredibly–into the arms of those who face loss this next year?

Here’s how you can give, if you want to come alongside us. 

Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 2.05.31 pm
                               +
Screen Shot 2017-05-19 at 2.19.21 pm

Advertisements

Like being on a pit crew (May newsletter)

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 11.41.10 am.png

“My Mac laptop is so slow. I’m think I might need to get a new one. Is there anything you can do?” Cristina asked us.

Cristina is a young woman who serves with Cru’s hispanic ministry, Destino. This ministry was born out of a dream that Latinos could come together to worship Jesus without sacrificing the unique expression of their cultural heritage.

She arrived in Plano, Texas to attend a conference for all Cru missionaries whose passion is to reach ethnic minorities with the gospel.

As a service to these staff members, my (Scott) team flew there to make ourselves available to fix any computer/phone problems they were having.

I glanced over at Javier (photo, above), who is a certified Mac technician sitting at the desk with me. “Here, I’ll see what I can do,” he said, reaching for her computer.

Cristina’s Mac is 6 years old and has several failing parts, but not a total loss. While she attended the conference sessions, Javier worked on her computer. Cristina’s laptop went from almost unusable to performing like it was brand new!

Over the next few days my team upgraded computer parts on laptops, removed computer viruses, and replaced smartphone batteries as well as offered one-on-one training about how to use various software programs.

It’s a bit like a pit-crew team. We help our missionaries like Cristina with her computer, getting her fixed up and back on the track to do what God’s called her to.

Technology is a wonderful, wonderful tool to help life and ministry work much more efficiently. We all get stuck sometimes and need a little help!

Thinking about Revelation 7:9, I look forward to the day when you have the privilege of worshiping the Lord side by side with Cristina, and representations from every tribe, tongue and nation.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 11.40.57 am

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 11.41.04 am.png

The Expulsive Power of a Greater Affection

I’m on a journey of emotional eating and have been for years. There are times I’ve walked over to join someone else walking the path, or motioned over for them to join me.

But most the time, I’ve chosen to journey alone. Often, tired from lugging huge suitcases around. I keep hoping to “arrive” (whatever that looks like) sans all baggage and throw a huge party with banners and confetti and then! invite friends and announce, “Look where I am! Ta-da!”

That seems so very silly–even ludicrous to actually say out loud–but that’s what my flesh thinks would be good.

I’m so thankful that Jesus is stronger than my flesh. As the song “Thy Mercy my God” remembers, “Dissolved by the mercy, I fall to the ground and weep to the praise of the Mercy I’ve found.” (More on that in another post.)

It’s God’s incredible mercy that dissolves me in the most wondrous way, at times. Like recently. He is stirring in me a desire to stop living solo and ask friends to sojourn with me.

I’ve had seasons of wanting to read the latest book or try the latest “fix” but something’s shifted in my soul in the last handful of years. I have a keen awareness that if I could’ve changed things on my own by now, I would have.

(Oh, that Mercy doesn’t allow self-sufficiency to fix ourselves! I think I finally see this as a gift!)

Rather, what I’m hungry for is a bigger view of Him (thanks for putting that to words in my kitchen, Meredith).

My gut (no pun intended) says that’s the core of real, lasting change and freedom. As I consider His character, His attributes and what He’s done for me…oh! How that affects my heart. He becomes more the Greater Affection.

And herein lies a huge piece of the puzzle for me: The Expulsive Power of a New (I’d say Greater) Affection.

Thank you, Thomas Chalmers, for your sermon with that name. You were born 200 years ago, but I think we’d be contemporary sojourners if you lived today.

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 5.11.53 pm.png

Tim Keller writes:

Thomas Chalmers, the well-known Scottish preacher, in his famous sermon “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection,” says it all: Seldom do any of our habits or flaws disappear by a process of extinction through reasoning or “by the mere force of mental determination.” Reason and willpower are not enough.

“But what cannot be destroyed may be dispossessed…The only way to dispossess [the heart] of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one.”

A young man, for example, may “cease to idolize pleasure, but it is only because the idol of wealth has become the stronger and gotten the ascendancy” and is enabling him to discipline himself for prosperous business. “Even the love of money ceases to have the mastery over the heart” if it’s drawn into another world of ideology and politics, “and he is now lorded over by the love of power.”

But “there is not one of these [identity] transformations in which the heart is left without an object. Its desire for one particular object may be conquered, but… its desire for having some one object” of absolute love “is unconquerable.”

It is only when admitted “into the number of God’s children through the faith that is in Jesus Christ [that] the spirit of adoption is poured out upon us. It is then that the heart, brought under the mastery of one great and predominate affection, is delivered from the tyranny of its former desires, in the only way that deliverance is possible.”

So it isn’t enough to hold out a “mirror of its imperfections” to your soul. It’s not enough to lecture your conscience. Rather, you must “try every legitimate method of finding access to your hearts for the love of him who is greater than the world.”

Until you’re melted by the amazing sight, knowledge, and sense of Jesus taking the fire for you, you can’t have that transformation of identity. You can’t just decide, “I think I’m going to change my identity.” It can’t be done. It has to be an experience of love.

What do you think?

A letter to “You”

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 12.48.31 pm

I was going about a normal Monday. You sprung from my inbox and landed on me.

My heart felt accosted. Such an internal battle about unsubscribing from the weekly Baby Center updates. I can’t bring myself to do it. (Some weeks you don’t pounce from that update. Some weeks, like this one, you do. Seemingly no rhyme or reason to how you work.)

Keeping things, like these emails, is what my heart pulls me to do, even when I feel the American/Western culture pull to toss and move on. But it’s not like I can toss you and move on. You’d still show up.

My beloved boy-blue Ergo lays dusty on a closet shelf. And my pregnancy journal hides in a side table drawer where I’m fully aware that it’s there.

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 3.26.11 pm.png

Seeing these things is hard but there’s something about them that’s powerful proof that Gabriel was real.

I was going about a normal Sunday. As the breeze blew warmly outside of church, a friend shared the brittle news that he’d become a grandfather. That news took long moments to translate. His grandson had been born early. Two pounds. Alive and fighting well. He is a gestational-twin of sorts to our little Gabriel, due the same week.

Unexpectedly, you blew in as a cold front. Freshly aware that life is beautiful and so thankful for baby J, and–at the same time–choked with my own desire to continue to hold life in my body.

I was going about a normal Monday night. Scott and I winding down for the evening, talking about our upcoming 10-year anniversary of meeting, this April, and all life has encompassed in that time.

“Two continents…” one of us said, then words stopped like the air in a hose suddenly stepped on. Not sure who said it but it sent us into silence.

You made entrance into our room like a tiny, deflated balloon, pushed under the door. With each moment—minutes?—that we sat in silence you grew larger and larger and you filled the space, pushing against my heart.

“Where are you?” Scott gently asked.

You popped into a million pieces and tears free-fell.

4 babies,” I responded.

I was going about a normal Wednesday. Bedtime routine with the kids. A bit of light was still visible through the blinds. Joshua’s face turned sad. I pulled his big preschooler/little man frame onto my lap.

“What’s wrong, buddy?”

“I thought we had a baby.”

“Oh, buddy. I know. I know.” He buried his face in my shoulder.

You show up, dark and heavy. Uninvited.

It’d still be too much and too mean and too unfair if you just showed up to stalk me. And fling yourself on me at expected times.

Landmark days I brace myself, sure that’s when you will attack.

But most of the time, those aren’t the times.

Instead, you come so unexpectedly.

And the worst? You attack Scott and the kids, too. I hate watching you attack them.

Oh, Grief.

You’re like a wild creature, indeed.

“If I have learned anything about grief in the past two years, it is that grief is a wild creature. Grief will resist every attempt to tame it, to control it, or to keep it tidy and well-behaved. Rather than managing it, grief asks instead that we tend it, listen to it, question it. One of the surest ways to calm it is to give it some space in which to speak—or to holler, or weep.” –Jan Richardson (Thank you, Judy, for sending this.)

And so I give you space, Grief. Fearfully, apprehensively I give you space today.

Everything in me wants to run from you. You are wild.

But you, Grief, are leashed and held by the hand of the One in whom I trust.

Update from Scott

IMG_0383

Hey, friends! This is Scott checking in.

The overall goal for Cru is to empower 10 million Christians around the world, in order to reach the 5 billion who have never heard the gospel. (A huge goal we believe God is directing.)

Since our new assignment at Cru’s global headquarters began in August, I’ve been working on a variety of projects with that aim in mind.

This morning I’m back in my old stomping grounds working on video conferencing equipment. (Cables, web camera, etc).  I’m loving this.

I’m imagining what amazing conversations our global executive teams will be having with our leaders around the world, strategizing, celebrating and praying for the great commission to be completed!

All so that more people can have opportunity to hear and place their trust in Jesus.

What a great morning!

White Space

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-12-55-31-pm

For the last ten or so years, I have taken some time to stop and reflect on the previous months.

Below are a conglomeration of some of my favorite questions. This year, Scott and I decided to share them with you, praying that they’d stir you and encourage you to live deeply from the well of God’s grace.

They’re not questions prompting you to make new resolutions or asking you to pledge to try harder to change.

Relieved? (Me, too.)

Rather, they are invitations to stop.

When I was in college studying advertising, I learned about the crucial element of white space. The purpose behind the empty space surrounding text is to help the reader’s eye find a place to “rest.”

However, we’re often like ads runs amuck, our text spilling out to the very edges of the paper.

No wonder that kind of printing is called “full bleed.”

Would you consider building in 20-30 minutes of white space sometime in the next 7 days?

Screen shot 2017-02-02 at 12.58.21 PM.png

Annual Questions

What 3 books from last year affected me the most?

In what current relationship(s) do I feel like the best version of myself?

What characteristic/attribute of God became more real to me this year?

What activities caused me to lose track of time (good or bad)?

What was one big highlight this last year?

What was one hardship?

Do I have daily white space built into my daily life?

Sorrow and Joy

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 11.17.01 PM.png

“Joy and sorrow are never separated. When our hearts rejoice at a spectacular view, we may miss our friends who cannot see it, and when we are overwhelmed with grief, we may discover what true friendship is all about. Joy is hidden in sorrow and sorrow in joy. If we try to avoid sorrow at all costs, we may never taste joy, and if we are suspicious of ecstasy, agony can never reach us either. Joy and sorrow are the parents of our spiritual growth.” -Henri Nouwen

My friend and mentor, Judy, texted me these words of Henri last night. My heart resonated as if it identified someone speaking its rare and precious dialect on the far side of a crowded room.

This season of grief has surprised me with unexpected joy. I wouldn’t have had his words to explain it, but it’s been true. Wonderfully true.

It is joy, come in the form of discovering even deeper riches of the relationships God’s provided me.

Here are just a few examples:

Two dear friends who brought chocolate and wine and their unrushed selves to my living room. They gifted their ears to me to tell them whatever I wanted/needed about the days I was navigating between hearing of no heartbeat and finally actually miscarrying the baby.

Sorrow and joy.

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 11.46.22 PM.png
Lizzy’s creation of breakfast for Scott and I (a first). When I asked why, she replied that she knew I was sad because of losing the baby so she wanted to make breakfast.

Joy and sorrow.

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 11.44.38 PM.png
A beloved friend who texted me this picture on the week anniversary of delivering our tiny baby and wrote, “At Andrew’s Christmas program, but wrote Gabriel’s birth time on my hand so I could remember to pray for you right now. You are in my heart, dear friend. I love you.” I sobbed to be so remembered by the Lord through her.

Sorrow and joy.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 12.33.10 AM.png
At first I thought it was an accident that our sweet family friend included this box of tissue in the bags she dropped off with the delicious meal she’d made us. But then I noticed her handwriting.

“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

Joy and sorrow.

Screen Shot 2017-01-05 at 11.16.50 PM.png
This may-his-stubbornness-be-used-for-good-not-evil-oh-please-Jesus boy turned 4 today.

I dropped him off at preschool and hot tears warmed my face. Deep sadness that I won’t be dropping Gabriel off at preschool one day.

A fresh awareness of Joshua as my last baby fell on my heart like a rock over a cliff.

But, then, joy surprised me and crawled up over the side of the dropoff.

So even though I wouldn’t have designed it this way, I’ll trust the One who decided that sorrow and joy are to be embraced and somehow, somehow enhance the other.

Oh, Jesus. One day. Someday.

I believe in the rest of the story
And I believe there’s still ink in the pen
I have wasted my very last day
Trying to change what happened way back when

I believe it’s the human condition
We all need to have answers to why
More than ever I’m ready to say that I
Will still sleep peacefully
With answers out of reach from me until

Someday all that’s crazy
All that’s unexplained will fall into place
And someday all that’s hazy
Through a clouded glass will be clear at last
And sometimes we’re just waiting for someday

We were born with a lingering hunger
We were born to be unsatisfied
We are strangers who can’t help but wander
And dream about the other side

Every puzzle’s missing piece
Every unsolved mystery
More than half of every whole
Rests in the hands that hold you for someday

Someday all that’s crazy
All that’s unexplained will be beautiful, beautiful
And someday all that’s hazy
Through a clouded glass will be clear at last
And sometimes we’re just waiting, we’re waiting for someday

Nichole Nordeman :: “Someday”