Grace Extended

So, friend, I had a different post ready to share with you, but I’m going to need to put it away for now because God has something else in mind for me to share His love and mercy through.  How do I know?  Well, I was in bed …and now I’m not, and it’s 2am.  Although this season of cold can be difficult to get through because of limited sunshine to give us the natural vitamin D, I try to think of it also as a time of year where we seem to take longer portions of time to be together and where lingering over conversation with family and friends is coveted.  Recently, I sat across the table from a precious friend with whom I have several significant things in common. We didn’t have to explain what we felt or meant by what we were sharing, we just knew. You know the kind of friend that you can almost finish one another’s…..sentences? This gal is my friend for life. It was easy conversation, but our topic was far from that, and I just can’t seem to get it off my mind.  So my prayer is that God will reveal fresh hope to us for something that is far too familiar to so many… to my precious friend, and to Doug and me. We had only been married for a little more than a year; Doug was fully into his master’s work, we were in the ministry, and I was full throttle ahead as a new middle school teacher. We were having so much fun with friends who also were just starting out together. Doug and I knew we wanted children, but we were not wanting to rush things.  We were just getting used to sharing our lives with one another, not to mention sharing a sink.  We took the precautions necessary to prevent a pregnancy but…I still got pregnant. Although it was sooner than we had planned, we were so excited, especially with my history with anorexia. Some people cannot get pregnant because of the consequences of the beast, so I was elated to not have that issue as there had and have been other health consequences to battle as part of my chronic eating disorder.

As weeks turned into months, my check-ups were starting to show that our little guy was not very strong as he was being watched very closely by sonogram.  He was, however, still very much alive, and we believed he would get stronger, but I was strongly advised to eat more.  I wanted this baby much more than I wanted to deprive my body of food, so my eating began to increase regardless of how I felt about my deserving of food.

One morning, when I was well into my second trimester, I woke up feeling even more exhausted than usual as our little boy was taking a lot out of me at this point, so I grabbed some breakfast to eat on the way to teach school.  As I got buckled in, I noticed that my tummy was a touch harder to get the seatbelt around, and like any anorexic, I panicked for a moment, but then felt truly relieved that any growth may be taking place with our little one.  I so badly wanted to be a good mommy even before he was here.  To get to my school, I had to drive over one of the highest overpasses in the DFW metroplex, and, that morning, everyone seemed to be headed in the same direction.  I had a serious car accident.  I’d rather not get you lost in the details of the accident, but I was hit by 2 eighteen wheeler trucks at the top of the overpass. As my car bounced off the retaining walls, I could see over the railing enough to see the traffic down below. The whole scene was a living nightmare.

As I was rushed to the hospital, I remember lying there in the ambulance with tears rolling into my hair as they tried to get a heartbeat and, to all of our surprise, the paramedic said we still had a baby.  I covered my face with both hands and just cried in relief.  That’s all I wanted to hear. My injuries included a severely bruised sternum with some internal bleeding, a fracture to my left ankle and my right knee was badly bruised, but we still had a baby!  Isn’t it amazing that you don’t realize how badly you want someone until you don’t know if you still have that someone?  As a result of my sternum injury, my husband bathed me for the next few weeks because I couldn’t sit up on my own. This just made me love him more.  His actions reinforced that God chose my husband for me for so many amazing and loving reasons which have slowly unfolded over the last 20 years.  Please never underestimate the importance of God choosing your spouse or close friends.  His wisdom surpasses all we can see and imagine. We don’t know the road ahead.

The internal bleeding did not heal like my legs did.  So I only got to carry our baby boy for only a few more weeks after the accident.  The accident was too much on my body and, coupled with my low weight, this became too much for him.  In addition, this loss, for the next months, was almost too much for our young marriage. I was skinnier than ever with casts on both legs as they wheeled me past my sweet husband to do the first on two surgeries to take our son so that we could supposedly get some closure and so my body could begin to heal. But I didn’t care about healing. I wanted to be a mommy to our baby, and I didn’t want in the days ahead to hear that we would need to wait at least a year to even try to have a viable pregnancy. I wanted this baby and for the hurt to go away so that the full magnitude of pain from the loss wouldn’t have to come. I had come from hurt, and I wanted to be done with it. I wanted a new and fresh start.

Doug and I…we grieved alone. We didn’t know how to handle things any other way, and it’s taken years for us to even talk about this difficult time  - even after our little girls came along and defied what specialists said was possible.  But I got stronger with the passing of time, and because of God’s mercy and sovereignty there was a next pregnancy.  We were pretty much scared to death with this “at risk” pregnancy, and  I had 11 ultrasounds. She arrived on her due date and was perfect.  Then 2 ½ years later God brought us through another at risk pregnancy with only 9 sonograms to give our oldest little girl a “bestie,” and they have been inseparable since day one.  God sustained them, and me, and our marriage. He is in the business of healing and restoring.  With the loss of our precious son, we still dealt with loneliness when we were together, and we felt alone when we were with our friends.  I felt like I didn’t deserve to be here if our son wasn’t, and although time can be a healer, it has been God’s mercy letting us be parents which has trumped the sadness many days.  The enemy has tried to kill me emotionally over this loss, but it has been used by God as a patient tutor to remind us that He has had a plan all along. Even on our darkest days, there is hope when we let God in, okay?

God’s mercy and love have given us two healthy and amazing girls who take our breath away.  But I want to say that grieving our son’s loss does not compromise the thankfulness we celebrate with getting to parent our girls.  God knows that one child’s life does not delete the pain of another child’s death. We have 3 kiddos in my mind. I have to say this for my own sake even if not out loud. I have to, and sometimes keeping this reality in my heart makes his life even more precious.  When we see a little boy walking around the church or a restaurant  or a store, we seem to stop and watch him as if that’s how Beau Bennett would look, forgetting he would be almost 19 now.  We forget this until we see a cute strawberry blonde young man walk by and Doug and I make eye contact with one another realizing it has hit us simultaneously. But we are okay!

As I share more of my life, please know it is so not my goal to be able to identify with everyone on everything on every level.  Believe me…I am forever thankful to be able to proclaim God has not only brought us to this place, but that He will absolutely not leave us here.  Life, however, can absolutely be tough!  And when we live in community, and share our experiences when the timing is right, God allows us to comfort one another and suddenly there is meaning to our hurt and experiences.

I am trying to believe this truth:  in my weakness, He is not disappointed in me or who I’ve become or what has happened.  In my weakness, He ushers in His strength and the amount of faith I place in Him helps to determine where He will take me.  I don’t want to miss out, but my faith can be so weak; so when I am suffering, He often shows me Himself through Scripture. It helps to focus on Him, so I read in  Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever,”  to remind me that HE knows we suffer, so we will need His promises to get us through!

Living in hurt and guilt over loss is paralyzing.  It will kill us if we focus on it.  I can only live in His grace (I am so new at this - and sorta bad at it!), and can only stand on His promises.  He is God and whether you have had a miscarriage or lost a child full term or  have lost a child at any age, he or she matters and is in the company of the ultimate Father.  He wants to heal you in your loss. He wants to heal our hearts and help us to breathe deep in His presence. Loss of a child is devastating and this, God gets.

I have had the blessing of sitting next to so many precious women who have shared about their loss or losses. And maybe if we were to sit and talk, you would say that your story hasn’t played out in the way you had so hoped, and you are angry with God about the absence of children in your arms. He can handle your anger, and He can grasp your depth of sadness. But we can’t stay in that anger.  He sees our hearts, so maybe it would be good to sit with Him and give Him your anger, guilt, as in my situation, and your sadness. He is the master of meeting us right where we are.

Thank you for letting me share about our son, Beau. Many of you reading this have gone through so much in an effort to be a parent and you have experienced loss. I am so sorry. Please believe that when we come to the point of sharing what we have gone through with even one other person, we can heal a little bit more and you will find … it’s not so lonely anymore.

“Jesus… Thank you that what we go through here on earth is not in vain. You can use anything to draw us close to you if we let you which is the ultimate purpose of our being here.  You know I have been overwhelmed with guilt and sadness for many seasons in the past about how we lost our son years ago and all of the issues around him not making it. You hurt with us over  the loss of a child and you understand the devastation so well, so please, meet each of us where we are in our healing.  Thank you that loss isn’t for nothing, and that You are the ultimate comforter when a life is lost, no matter how brief the life.  Bring joy to the darkness of those hurting, please Father. Thank you for raising the children who can’t be here with us. No one is more able.   We love You!”

Love to you…

Stacee

I’ve memorized this brief verse to help me through today…so I hope you will consider memorizing it too.

“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, AND MY HOPE IS IN YOU ALL DAY LONG.”  Psalm 25:4-5