Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Gift of Years

Today, I am attempting to pause, reflect on the past few years, and thank God for how far He has carried us.

One of the greatest gifts that has come out of the trials, prayers, unknowns, and eventual resolve, is the gift of contentment.  Are we always content?  Certainly not.  Does contentment remain a daily struggle and desire?  Of course.

Let me give you a little glimpse into the past four years of my life through this magazine…

This is one of those magazines you get for free by submitting your info when you are pregnant and registering for baby items or purchasing the oh-so-wonderful maternity clothes (sarcasm here). 

Well, being the eager beaver that I was during the first pregnancy and due to the fact I was on bed rest for over 5 months (starting this exact time four years ago), I devoured literature like the one shown above, read every book I could find on twins, and perused the websites that came forth in my Google searches.

Yet when my world came crashing down with that first seizure after the twins were born, and with the tubes, the incubators, the ventilators, Warren’s death, and John’s struggles, my world stopped but the magazines continued to flood my mailbox. 

I’d try to flip through them only to collapse into a puddle of tears… giving into both the anger that life hadn’t turned out my way and also the extreme sadness of unrealized expectations, worst fears come true, and the debilitating pit of comparison. 

This magazine, like the charts in the pediatric office, spoke of milestones my son wasn’t achieving.  It showcased mothers all smiles as their children took their first steps.  It gave advice on age-appropriate activities to engage your child in as he grew. 

I couldn’t take it.  The magazines continued to come, but I knew my best bet was simply to toss them in the trash before the triggers could mount and I was left stripped of my strength to make it through that one day before me…. the grief, therapy, doctor’s appointments, attempted phone calls, chronic worry over John, and the seemingly bottomless hole in my heart left from Warren’s absence on earth…

Well, the years have passed and while there is still pain and holes surely remain, the pain is not as raw and the triggers aren’t as strong or as frequent.  John has stabilized despite still needing prayer and additional miracles.  Our marriage has grown stronger through it all.  We have cherished our moments with John, drawing so much joy and worth from being his parents.  Furthermore, we realized our family wasn’t a broken mess but that it could be a blessing we could extend to future children.  And we were given the gift of Daniel. 

We were birthed into parenthood with hearts for multiple children.  And one must prepare for life, not death. Then when Warren died, we still had two sons but only one on earth.  One baby to take home (even if that didn’t come until 3 months of age), one car seat to fill, one crib to sing lullabies over, one baby to dedicate in church.  Our hearts ached, empty and mourning even while grateful for John’s presence despite his tentative future.

Back to the present day… What a gift our little boy, Daniel, is!  He doesn’t replace Warren; we still have 3 children.  But now, through Daniel, we have multiple children on earth...  something our heart desired and was prepared for from the start when we found out we were having twins (and even prayed for and sensed it before we witnessed it on the ultrasound screen). 

It feels good, so very right to be a family with two kids here on earth.  Moreover, it struck me sometime in the last year (probably after I got some sleep once we let Daniel "cry it out" as a 4 month old!), that there was a new feeling in my heart.  A feeling of contentment.  Not perfection, not having all the answers, not filling all the holes, not forgetting the past, but I now had some contentment…deep down.  

Contentment the evil one can not rob, contentment that allows me to be excited for my friends’ pregnancy announcements rather than experiencing both joy for them but also the unwelcome rush of sadness, comparison, and feeling behind in my number of children on earth.

And for whatever reason, once we moved to Atlanta we started getting Parents Magazine in the mail again.  Just out of habit, I threw the first few out.  But then, it came one day and I didn't feel like I needed to throw it away.  So I added it to my magazine pile.  A few weeks ago, I took John to a doctor's appointment (with his new holistic doctor here who we just love!), and I slipped the magazine into the diaper bag in case there was any down time at the appointment.

Here, John and I are flipping through the magazine, his little hand on the little boy on the cover, mine to the right.  It hit me at the doctor's office that day: the Lord is healing my heart... one day at a time.  The ability to simply flip through this one magazine was evidence of the greater work going on inside me. 

Contentment is the gift our sweet Daniel has brought.  The gift you sometimes only get through years.  Through the passing of time.  Through the perspective and healing time brings.  Time may not heal all wounds, but God works in and through time to massage our hearts, pour His balm into our wounds, and let us know He is there, He cares, and there is joy yet to be had… even in an imperfect world.  There can be joy.  Peace can be found.  Contentment can be ours.

Part 2 to come…


  1. What a beautiful post, and indeed a great gift. I love the photos, as always!

  2. Great post!

    Next to the Bible, the most life-changing book I have ever read is "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment" by Jeremiah Burroughs. It's a Puritan Paperback published by the Banner of Truth.

  3. Typical for me, I'm crying over your story! Amen, amen, amen. God is our healer. Praising HIM right now for how He's healing you every day!

  4. So weird because this is the second time you've written something I've been thinking about myself for my own family! Thanks for sharing.

    One of your praying Michigan friends