“If you just trust God…”

trust

“If you just trust God, everything will work out.”

Is that true?

            Earlier this year, we learned we were expecting our first child. I floated around the house singing “I Get to Be the One.” We thanked God for the new life we got to nurture, and I trusted everything would work out. In fact, I just “knew” it would.

Only a few weeks later I sat bleeding in the ER, as a dear brother in Christ (and doctor) sat beside me, looked at me with sadness, and said, “You may be losing this baby.”

…But I had trusted God!

___________

            All my life I wanted to get married and live happily ever after. The years ticked by, with no relationship The One. Age 27, 28, then 29 – it sounds young, but when you come from Christian circles where everyone’s committed to abstinence until marriage, that’s old! Pastors and friends told me God would give me my heart’s desire – that this romance would happen for me someday.

     But part of me stopped believing it would. I could no longer “know” for sure.

            Then one summer, at a community garden workday, I met a man who thoroughly impressed me: When we met, he stood to shake my hand. (Thank you, U.S. military, for teaching your service members signs of respect.) This man became more than I could have asked for, calling me to be better, calling me to be humbler – and holding me when life brought us pain that couldn’t find words.

…But I hadn’t trusted God!

___________

Trusting God and having things “work out” is not a guarantee. There is no formula.

What I’m trying to trust, instead, is: God is here. I hope all of us can take comfort in a God who is present in any season, both the ones we couldn’t have wished for, and the ones we wouldn’t wish on anyone.

so Lent begins

Kate Bowler Ash Wed

I watched a grandmother take her toddler granddaughter up for ashes. The priest said, “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” Afterward, the little girl kept wiping her eye. Some black dust must have fallen in.

I watched the grandmother carry the girl, wiping her eye, back to their seat.

“We are creatures destined to die,” says Stanley Hauerwas. And mothers consent to give birth to such creatures.

“Hope” is bigger than a happy ending.*

IMG_1512

Today marks four weeks exactly for the date I count as the “date of death,” the official day we lost our baby.

Today marks the first time I needed to write a sermon, post-loss. When it’s my turn to preach, I take Thursday morning to write from home, looking out at the drizzly rain. Today I couldn’t do it. The last time I preached at our church is the day the miscarriage began. I couldn’t conceive of going back to writing sermons — what would I say?

How do you talk of the Good News when sometimes there are no words? How do you reassure people they should have hope, when you might not have hope — or, at least, might not be ready to talk about hope just yet?

As with every other Thursday, I finally wrote the sermon. I decided to make this sermon’s Good News simply that we can express all our grief and pain to God — that God gave us books like Lamentations (a.k.a. “Complaints”) for just that reason. We have permission to bring it all to God and not force ourselves to rush to hope.

My comfort comes in knowing God gives us this freedom.

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a quilted banner on the wall of our sanctuary
* a quote from my dad after I called him for help this afternoon

the probable causes of my miscarriage

waiting for baby 1.19.19
We had just started taking photos to track a baby bump.
  • I went running.
  • I took a hot bath.
  • I ate Caesar salad dressing.
  • I ate sesame seeds.
  • I ate smoked salmon.
  • My prenatal vitamin says these statements haven’t been analyzed by the FDA.
  • I tried to sneeze quietly when my husband was asleep.
  • I strained too hard to poop when I was in the church bathroom and only had thirty seconds before someone else would come in.
  • I ate celery that had white mold on the ends but I cut the ends off.
  • I carried Christmas decorations up to the church attic.
  • I wasn’t constipated enough. Other pregnant women are constipated.
  • I never threw up. Other mothers throw up.
  • I cried too hard when the spotting began.

on death, part II

Should you put an app on your phone that will remind you, five random times a day, that you will die?

WeCroak
photo credit: The Christian Century

Just finished this essay by a man who installed the app to finally gain power not over his life and death, but over his iPhone. It achieved all of the above.

“And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”

– Jesus, Luke 12:25

a poem by Ted Kooser

Winter Morning Walks

He wrote these poems while receiving cancer treatment that made his skin sensitive to the sun. If he wanted to take a daily walk, he had to do so in the dark.

I read these poems four years ago, on increasingly dark mornings. I read them slowly, aloud, while taking slow steps around my bedroom. I came across one I copied in my journal on October 22, 2014. Will God grace me with a marriage someday, I’d asked, — a good one? Will my childhood self finally know what she has only daydreamed about? Will it be all she hoped?

december 29

     Windy and cold.

All night, in gusty winds,
the house has cupped its hands around
the steady candle of our marriage,
the two of us braided together in sleep,
and burning, yes, but slowly,
giving off just enough light so that one of us,
awakening frightened in darkness,
can see.

Someday, I wrote. Someday.