Crashing Waves

2 Thessalonians 4:13

They say drowning is very peaceful. Many who are saved don’t remember the experience.

My life, until recently, has been smooth sailing. (Hindsight is 20/20, after all.) But just as I saw land on the horizon, I was met by a colossal, crashing wave. It pounded my tiny boat until only pieces remained, floating in the water that is once again still.

From the day of Ryder’s birth up to today, I have felt an overwhelming sense of peace. I do still feel the pangs of grief, but I know that my anxieties, anger, and fears have subsided much more quickly than is “typical” when loss is experienced.

At first the peace felt terribly out of place. I remember thinking to myself I must be drowning in my grief–losing grip with reality. There is no way this feeling can be healthy. I need to snap out of it.

But eventually I remembered the countless prayers that had been lifted up on our behalf–prayers said for us and by us.

Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” And that is exactly what I have experienced. True peace–not drowning.

Praise God!

If you have experienced loss, I know that it is very difficult to put your hope and your faith in God. It feels like he has abandoned you. But I promise he hasn’t. Remember that poem “Footprints in the Sand“? He hasn’t abandoned you; He is carrying you. When you feel like you can’t take another step, let him carry you. When you feel like you are drowning, let him rescue you.

The LORD is close to the broken-hearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” – Psalm 34:18

With hope and love,
Kristen

Life in Pieces

Groucho Marx

I had such a wonderful week. But today was a different story. Today was just one of those days when I wanted to curl up in bed and cry.

I have many more good days than bad days, but when bad days come, they hit hard. They take the breath right out of me and make me forget all the reasons I have to be joyful.

It’s difficult to feel happy for other people when their lives seem so put together while mine is in pieces. And sometimes I get jealous. (I know that breaks God’s commands, but I’m only human.) And it isn’t really about material things. I mostly measure my life in experiences. Making friends, mission trips, vacations, getting my Master’s, buying my first house, creating a family, etc…

It’s hard to watch friends hit milestones before me. I’ve worked so hard to be where I am and sometimes I feel like I’m not getting anywhere. God seems to have hit the pause button on my life a few times. In the two years that we’ve been married, we’ve lost our son and dealt with job loss twice. Only by the grace of God have we survived.

And that’s pretty much what I’m doing. Surviving. Taking one day at a time. I try not to look too far into the past or into the future. The Devil is quick to remind me of the sadness in the past, and tries to convince me that the future will only hold disappointment. Most of the time I succeed in stifling his nonsense. But occasionally he sneaks up on me, lurking unnoticed until it’s too late.

By then, the only resolution is to cry it out. And maybe take a nap. Naps are always good for the soul.

Today I got discouraged and cried and took a nap. Tomorrow is a new day. A new chance to remember the hope I have in God.

With hope and love,
Kristen

A Future and a Hope

As I stood in the jewelry store, getting my wedding ring cleaned, I watched a blonde-haired, blue-eyed toddler play as her parents picked out jewelry. “Such a happy girl,” I thought. Suddenly, she turned towards my direction and ran to me with open arms.

I laughed and picked her up as her momma frantically ran after her, trying not to lose sight of such a tiny girl in such a busy place. The mom, oblivious to the fact that I’d recently lost my only child, let me hold her and entertain her for a few moments until she was ready to move on to the next thing that attracted her bright, curious eyes.

My smile quickly faded as I let her go–thoughts swirling in my head of hopes and dreams that may never come to be.

People ask me often if we’ll try again any time soon. The truth is, I have no idea. There’s a constant battle between my head and my heart–neither of them knowing exactly which side they’re on. My inner monologue goes something like this:

Oh, let’s try again, please!

Um, no. You’re not finished grieving.

Well, I’ll never be “finished” grieving.

But what if you have another boy? That could be rough.

What if I DON’T have another boy? That could be just as hard. 

Well, you’ve always wanted a girl.

Yeah, but I’d feel really guilty for being excited about a girl. Or any baby for that matter. 

And there’s always a possibility that you won’t/can’t have anymore children…

It’s that last thought that tugs at my heart the strongest. What if I can never have another baby? (Don’t get me wrong–adoption is always on my mind. As a matter of fact, there’s a red-headed, freckle-faced teenager running around somewhere that will always have a piece of my heart. It just hasn’t been in God’s plan for her to be part of our family, no matter how hard I’ve prayed for it.) However, after experiencing pregnancy and holding my baby in my arms… I can’t imagine not at least trying for more biological children.

I often find myself starting (and quickly stopping) sentences like, “When we have kids, I can’t wait to…” Then, there’s no stopping the flood of other thoughts that follow. You can read more about my thoughts on that here.

I was really hoping I would get to the end of this and have some incredible insight to share with you–some word from God about how I’m getting through it. But, alas, here I am with no new wisdom, no encouraging word other than “hope“.

But then again, maybe that’s the only word I need, the only word we need. Hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

With hope and love,
Kristen

Thoughts on Mother’s Day

I was a bit anxious last week leading up to Mother’s Day. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel on the “big day.” Would I be overcome with grief? Which would make me more upset — being acknowledged or ignored?

I’ve joined a few groups for grieving mothers on Facebook and I’ve noticed a recurring theme. Many women are never acknowledged on Mother’s Day, even by their own spouses. It just breaks my heart.

Did you know that Mother’s Day was originally created to honor a mother who had lost multiple children?

Franchesca Cox, founder of Still Standing Magazine says, “A mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love she holds in her heart.” Oh, how very right she is! There are so many types of moms… moms who have children, moms who yearn for children, moms who have lost children, moms who foster children, moms who adopt children, moms who parent stepchildren, moms who care for others’ children, moms who are distant from their children, and so many more!

A year and a half ago, God lead us to a new church home. We’ve been so happy there, and this chapter in our lives has only solidified my belief that we were brought there purposefully.

On Sunday morning as we approached the front door, I was handed a little bag of candy and a flower by a sweet little girl. I had never met her before and I highly doubt she knew our story. You see, she was giving Mother’s Day treats to all women, not just those who appeared to be mothers to the naked eye.

And when it came time for our pastor to take the stage, mothers weren’t singled out by asking them to stand. Instead, we were prayed over. All of us. The joyful, the grieving, the content, the yearning, the strong, the weary.

Many ministries in our church revolve around fostering and adoption. This allows for quite a bit of conversation about misscariage, stillbirth, infant loss, and infertility. It can be a tough subject to dive into for many people, but I’m so very thankful that these conversations occur.

As I have grieved, my church family has grieved with me. And I don’t just mean my friends and acquaintances. As I said in a previous post, several strangers have approached me letting me know they’re praying for us. And I have learned of many more through Facebook and mutual friends. 1 Corinthians 12:25-26 says, “This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.

The first words out of my husband’s mouth that morning were “Happy Mother’s Day!“, friends at church hugged me and told me the same, and I received many messages and texts throughout the day with sweet Mother’s Day wishes. I wish I could express what it means to me that others acknowledge Ryder’s life and my motherhood. Each day, a fear tries to creep in, saying that Ryder will be forgotten. I shoo it away with all my might. He will not be forgotten. Not by God and not by the body of Christ.

I got through the day with very few tears, and those were not of grief but of joy and thankfulness. I am incredibly thankful that Ryder made me a mommy. I will always be his mommy.

{My Mother's Day gift from Samuel}

{My Mother’s Day gift from Samuel}

It may not have been the Mother’s Day I imagined it should be, but it was still a good day and I rejoice.

“For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name.” Psalms 33:21

With hope and love,
Kristen

Ryder’s Memorial Service

This afternoon, with family and friends, we celebrated the short but meaningful life of our sweet Ryder Hudson. It was beautiful. It was perfect.

image

{Ryder’s urn, heartbeat bear, and crib quilt}

I stressed all week about what the service would/should look like. How many people will come? Should we have had it at the funeral home instead? What music should we play? What will we say? Will I cry through the whole thing? Will it be enough?

Turns out there was no need to stress. It was absolutely perfect.

Hope was the theme for the day. We talked about hope this morning in Sunday School, I mentioned hope in a letter I wrote to Ryder this afternoon, and Pastor Pike’s devotional during the service was all about our eternal hope. I love it when God puts pieces together like that.

I knew I wanted to write something for the service, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to read it without breaking down in front of everyone. Sam volunteered. I have no idea how he made it through, but he did… with a few tears. I’m so proud of him. He’s my rock.

We wanted the service to be a time of fellowship. We just wanted to spend time with all the people who have shown us so much love and kindness through this journey. I’m pretty sure I speak for both of us when I say that quality time is high on our “Love Language” list. We are so glad that we got the chance to celebrate Ryder with all of you.

Here is the letter I wrote and Sam read for Ryder:

Our Precious Ryder,

We don’t know the plans God has for us, but you were not a surprise to God. He knew you before he made you. He knew every inch of your broken heart. And He knows every inch of our hearts that are now broken for you.

Even if God let us see into His plan, it wouldn’t take away our pain, our grieving. We’d still be here mourning the loss of your precious life that we’ll never get to know.

In the last six months, we’ve had nothing but hope. First, we hoped for the days when we’d get to hold you and watch you grow and learn. Then, our hope turned towards your healing. Now our hope rests in God and the day we will get to hold you again in heaven.

We have been so blessed by our family, friends, and even strangers through this journey. They have loved us and seen us through the good times and the hard times. They have rescued us when we couldn’t see beyond our immediate circumstances. We will never forget the kind words, the thoughtful gifts, and the time spent with us. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts.

We will always be your parents. You will always be our child, our son, our warrior, our precious Ryder Hudson. We love you.

With hope and love,
Kristen