His Goodness in Our Grief.

For anyone unsure of our story I will share a little history.  My husband and I struggled to conceive and found out we had fertility issues in 2015 and decided to become foster parents in the hopes of adopting.  We got a call in August of 2017 to go pick up a four day old baby girl named Kimora.  They gave us a few hours to go get her and bring her home and they told us it would most likely be an adoption case once parental rights were terminated.  When Kimora turned four months old we got a call from our case worker that a relative was interested in taking custody.  On December 20th 2017 DHHS came to our home and took Kimora and gave custody to the relative.  It has been a little over seven weeks since we have seen her.

As I reflect on what the last seven weeks have been like the only word I can really use to explain is, “grief”.  I am 26 years old and have experienced some very sad things in my life, but I am unsure I have really ever experienced true grief until now.  You see, grief is such a funny thing… it is something no one can see.  Grief is all your own, it doesn’t show a scar or change the sound of your voice and it doesn’t give you a temperature.  Grief is the scary, and silent stillness we experience while the world continues to move and dance.

In the grief however, I have experienced a few things I would like to share.  I have experienced a deeper prayer life.  I have experienced the fall to your knees, scream out, cry for hours prayer that leaves you desperate for Jesus.  I have experienced the gratitude prayer when you (still crying haha) are on your knees thanking God for sending you people who make you laugh again, and for allowing you to smile the smile you thought was gone forever, again.  I have experienced the prayer of fear.  The prayer you pray as you (maybe still crying) seek God’s plan and confess to Him you are still so afraid of the future.  In this time of great grief I have experienced a prayer life filled with truth, pain, and depth.

In this time of grief I have also experienced what it means to grieve.  I know your thinking I just had a typo, but I mean I have learned more about what it means to grieve.  I have learned it is okay to take time to heal, time to hurt, time to cry, but also time to be strong.  I have learned in grieving you need community, your church, and your friends.  I have learned it is okay to grieve, but not to do it alone.

Grief has taught me a lot in these last seven weeks.  It has taught me a lot about God and myself.  It has taught me a lot about my marriage, my family, and my friends.  I feel differently about grieving than I did when we first said goodbye to Kami because I have experienced goodness in the grief.  I have experienced the goodness despite the grief.  I have felt His goodness amidst the grief.

I am not writing this blog to ensure you that if you are grieving it will all be okay.  I am writing this blog to share with you my personal experience with a subject we talk about so rarely.  I am still grieving, and I am still hurting.  There are still some days that come with what feels like 30 pound weights strapped to each shoulder and bury me in my bed as I pray to God to see Kami again.  There are still days I struggle to get through a workout without crying.  In my journey right now grief is not gone, but I have seen His goodness despite the grief and that is what I wanted to share with you.

I have spent the last four weeks working with Kami’s biological mom to get her into housing and to help her in anyway that we can so that she can get her children back.  We have discussed babysitting when she gets Kimora back and discussed Tyler and I possibly having a part in her life when she gets them back, but for now we are blind to the future.  For now, we pray for a photo of her every few weeks, continue to talk with her mom, and pray to God that Kami knows we didn’t leave her and that we love her more than anything.  For now, we pray for another chance to hold Kimora again, but we continue to discover Him, His goodness, and His grace in a sea of grief we navigate everyday.

Kami,

We love you with every piece of our soul.  We pray to see you, to hold you, to see your beautiful smile again every single day.  There is not one day that goes by that we do not love you and I hope one day you read this and get to know that.  Happy six month birthday to the most beautiful princess we have ever laid eyes on.

We love you more than any words,

Forever,

Your (foster) Mom & Dad.

Thank you God for Kami, her family, and her life.  Please use us to bring them to you and bring Kami back into our lives.  We love you, always… Amen.

 

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Hope in the Suffering

A few months ago my mom called me, I could hear the anxiety in her voice as she said “are you home?  I just need to talk to you when your home.”  It is when my mom asks if I am home that I know she has awful news.  I put my car in park in front of my apartment as my mom told me the doctors found a spot in my Grammie’s lung & they had fear it may be cancer.

I prayed.  I text my closest friend and he put it on his prayer chain at his church and I text my friends on the church staff and we prayed.  I prayed for God to remove the mass and for the doctors to be in SHOCK that following week at the scan.

At that next scan or maybe the next, it becomes so jumbled when your looking back.. the doctors revealed the mass was cancer, but they would do a surgery to remove it.  It seemed like no big deal almost, cancer seems scary, but removing it seemed wonderful.

We prayed.  God please let this mass be gone.  Perform a miracle, but thank you for the blessing of a hopefully easy surgery.

A few weeks later it came back they couldn’t remove it due to size so my Grammie would need radiation, but maybe not chemo.  Here is where I want to pause and share with you my real prayer.  Not the fake Facebook prayer in which zero pain is revealed, but my “yes I am a pastor, but it doesn’t change my REAL pain right now” prayer.

GOD WHERE ARE YOU?  CAN YOU EVEN HEAR ME?  I AM SO FRUSTRATED.  I AM SO SCARED.  DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH MY GRAMMIE MEANS TO ME?  HOW IN THE WORLD COULD YOU NOT CURE THIS?  HOW IN THE WORLD COULD YOU NOT TAKE THIS FROM MY FAMILY?  IN WHAT WAYS AM I NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU TO HEAR MY PRAYERS?  GOD, WHERE ARE YOU?

That was my prayer.  Raw, real, sad, and scary, but that was it.  That was my prayer not just once, but multiple times that week and the week or so to follow.

We prayed. Lord no chemo please no chemo.

New results return, she needs radiation and chemo.  She may not lose her hair though!

We prayed.  God please let my Grammie keep her hair.  

My grammie lost her hair.

….I think at this point of my blog you are realizing why my previous prayer was screaming at the Lord.  I also realized a miracle wasn’t occurring, at least not yet.  I realized I had two choices.  I could be terribly mad at God, or I could keep praying (even sometimes angry prayers) and I could have hope and peace that only could come from Him.  I chose the second one.  As I changed my prayers a little, God gave me verses like this in my daily devotion (GoTandem is the best if your seeking) and in my Bible as I studied his word…

“I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2

“I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.” Hosea 14:8

Slowly, but surely regardless of what the doctors say, regardless of what they continued to say I maintain a hope that surpasses all understanding.  Although if you read my story you may ask where is God, but as I awoke today and felt so heavy for my grammie and just started to get that fear again, this was my daily devotion today 5.27.17,

“I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me.”Jonah 2:2

Here is what I hope this blog says to you, I hope as you read this you see a pattern.  A pattern of our God who is constantly hearing your prayers, burdens, and struggles.  A pattern of love and grace.  A pattern of a child of God crying out to her God and although you cant see a mighty miracle from the outside He is constantly calming the storm within her soul.  I hope if you read, see, or hear nothing else that you can see the love of God as he speaks to me through his word.  I pray and hope that you can see a story that looks as if its hopeless and scary, but realize I have more hope and confidence than ever before.  I hope you read this and wonder, “How in the WORLD could she be so sure its going to be okay?”  That you re read the scripture God gave to me and realize even when we cant see, He is speaking, He is hearing, He is MOVING.  Here is my prayer today, it looks a little different than the one above…

Father,

Thank you for hearing my cries.  Thank you for taking my burdens.  Thank you for being my rock.  Thank you for taking care of my grammie even if her health isn’t great right now.  Thank you for every memory, every laugh, every single moment that fills my soul because you made her my grammie.  Thank you for your miracle healing that I know is upon her.  Thank you for working all things for the good of THOSE WHO LOVE YOU even if I am a little unsure what that means for us right now.  Thank you for my papa, and for showing my grammie how strong he is.  Thank you for my mom and for keeping her right where she is, in Sylvania for such a time of this for my family.  Thank you for every single blessing you are giving to us that we sometimes cant see because of this illness.  Thank you for the doctors and nurses caring for my grammie.  Thank you for calming the storm in my soul, for being my father, and for holding me in a time when I have never been more scared.  I love you God, I feel you, and I just please continue to ask for your love to surround my soul, and my grammie’s every single day in this journey.

Your daughter,

Chelsea.

Praying today you feel the Lord and the peace and joy of the spirit, even if you feel like the storm is too big.  Remember, He created it all, what is a big storm to us is a small rain cloud for him.

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