What do you say?

What do you say
when words aren’t enough
and the pain they feel
wont go away?

What can you do
when there isn’t a thing
that can bring a child
back to you?

How should we love
when a piece of their heart
has flown away
with the doves?

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It is with deep sadness that I share with you, that Jesse has gone to be with the Lord. He is no longer struggling or feeling pain.  Jesse died in the arms of his mother on December 26th, surrounded by love and comfort.  Please keep his moms in your prayers during this is a devastating time.

 

For my dear friends,
This is something I wrote and sang to myself over and over when I suffered my own loss.  My love to all of you…

Rock Me, Rock Me

Holy Spirit, God Divine
Come and hold this hand of mine.
Rock me, rock me in your peace,
Until my soul can find relief.

Holy Spirit, guide and friend,
With a love that never ends.
Rock me, rock me from above,
Until I feel your endless love.

Holy Spirit, Father God,
Welcomes children from earth’s sod.
Rock me, rock me in your might,
Until I feel you hold me tight.

Holy Spirit’s boundless love,
Fill my soul from up above.
Rock me, rock me in your grace,
Until my heart has found its faith.

No, I just can’t forget…

jon9

Jonathan  9.11.1977 – 8.10.1988

Who?  I’d like you to meet my brother, Jonathan.  He would have been 37 years old today.  Born in Bitburg, Germany on Bitburg Air Base, and died in Maywood, IL and Loyola University Medical Center.  My brother died tragically while riding bikes with 2 other friends.  He was hit by a car and sustained injuries that took his life.  In his death, he was able to give others life by donating organs.  Hope in the midst of absolute tragedy, devastation, and loss.  We still miss him everyday, but on days like today, he is in the forefront of our minds.  Happy Birthday little brother.  I can’t wait to see you again in the clouds.

911

9.11.2001

I’m sure you remember the tragedy and loss that people simply now only refer to as 9.11.  It definitely brought a whole new perspective to an already seared date for me.  Do you remember where you were, what you were doing, or who you were with?  I do.  I remember being in shock and saying…”we’re at war.”

I don’t know that anyone put it quite as well as Alan Jackson did.  Faith.  Hope.  Love.  God Bless you wherever you are on this September 11, 2014.  May peace shelter your souls, love fill your hearts, and hope dry your tears.

Surprise!

BlessRide35

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” ~Jeremiah 29: 11-13

Do you like surprises?  I generally like surprises, specially if they bring automatic joy.  Sometimes surprises bring uncertainty and shock.  That’s kind of what my Saturday was like. 

I got an email on Thursday afternoon that there would be an URGENT Executive Session of the Vestry this Saturday.  Now, I should preface that this is my third and final year on Vestry, and this has never happened before.  There was no other explanation, just a sense of urgency to be at the meeting.  I have to tell you, this left me with some anxiety regarding what this meeting would be about. 

I would like to tell you about my rector and priest at Church of the Holy Nativity, The Rev. Aimee Eyer-Delevett.  Yes, you can click on the link and her bio will appear, but that is not the same as hearing personal stories.  The first time I met Rev. Aimee in the Fall of 2007, I was trying sneak in to this little church that kept compelling me to “check it out” after I had moved to the area.  I tried to sneak in, but there is really no place to sneak in this church.  I did my best and sat in the middle near an elderly couple.  As the processional started, I noticed the priest was walking in, in sneakers.  Wow, I thought, this is a really casual church.  Now after the service, the lady next to me put her arm through mine and asked if I would have a cup of coffee with her. Now remember, I was trying to sneak in and sneak out…but who am I to tell sweet little Harriet, no?  Needless to say, I found myself sitting down to a cup of coffee.  As I sat people started sitting with me and introducing themselves and next thing I knew Adult Formation was starting.  (I can’t just get up and walk out in the middle of a “talk!”….I thought)  Well, so I stayed.  As I listened to the speaker, I realized she was familiar.  So I kept staring and staring until I placed her.  I had taken care of her before in the Cardiac ICU.  She looked great!  She was thriving!  Suddenly it dawned on me, connections, God brought me here.  I was already connected in so many ways to the body (the people) of this church.  Oh, and that strange priest that led the service in her sneakers…she was prepared for Crop Walk Sunday!  This was the beginning on my journey with CHN or Church of the Holy Nativity.

Through the years, as you might imagine, I’ve gotten to know Rev. Aimee so much more and on a much deeper level.  Not only is she my priest, but she is also my friend.  She has listened to my hopes, my fears, my struggles and has been there for the joys.  She provided my husband and I marriage counseling before our marriage.  She married us.  She blessed my womb before my first IVF and embryo transfer (that so many knew nothing about), and anointed me with oil.  What is special about Rev. Aimee, is that not only did she listen to my joys, challenges and hurts, but she shared hers as well.  Most certainly not all of them, but there is a vulnerability and authenticity that just exudes from her spirit.

Saturday morning, I found out that Rev. Aimee will be taking leave from her position at CHN as rector.  October 26th will be her last day with us.  She received a call from All Saints by the Sea in Montecito, CA to be their rector and accepted the call.  This is the letter that just went out to the parish (CHN).  We are so sad, but also know that God is working through Rev. Aimee, and that in our sorrow there is also hope.  Hope for us at CHN, but also hope for those at All Saints by the Sea.  As I said to Rev. Aimee, “I can only wish for you to grow and share your leadership, love and compassion to those who need you.”  Godspeed my dear, dear friend.  Know that you will be taking a piece of my heart with you, just as you are leaving a piece of yours.

Prayer2

 

Joy

6.25.2014

On this day at 12:54am in 1975, I was welcomed to the world.  The second daughter of proud parents.  My middle name:

JOY

I like to think my parents gave me the middle name Joy, not because I was such a joy to have, but because my mother wanted me to remember the joy of being Christ’s own.

June 25th has always been a day fraught with conflict for me.  Not only is this my birthday, but the day my baby brother Paul was buried.  Paul wasn’t sick.  He choked on the pit of a fruit at age 2, and they weren’t able to get him the help he needed in a country where EMS did not exist at the time.  No one was able to dislodge the pit from his throat.  I was 6, my other siblings 4 and 8.  In my adulthood, I still miss him.

I’ve recently heard the term “seared dates” from another blog, Ever Upward.  Thanks Justine.  This is one of those dates for me.  A day that at times is filled with joy and celebration, and yet one that my soul can’t help but feel sorrow and loss.  Conflict.  I am thankful for the people in my life that remind me of the joys and help me let go of the sorrows.

My husband and dog child, Freddie, are great at this!  For them, I will be eternally grateful to God.

Psalm 4: 5-8 (NIV)     Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.  Many are asking “who can show us any good?”  Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.  You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.  I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

My comfort is in God.

My peace is in God.

My joy is in God.

Many of you know I recently lost 2 little ones to a miscarriage.  A little boy and a little girl.  I was 9 weeks along.  I can’t help but think of the song I once sang in recital written by my coach, Greg Walter.  One day, I will convert the old VHS to digital format so that you can hear the peace of it.  But for now, I leave you Greg’s lyrics:

Beyond the Blue  –  By:  Greg Walter

Way up there beyond the blue, a great big house, a wondrous view awaits my coming as did you.  By your side he’ll take me to.

And in that house, a room we’ll share.  Of ageless time we’re unaware.  Of years that passed our of your care.  I’m home at last with you for-ere.

And when I die, I’ll come to see your winged arms outstretched to me.  And in them weep so longingly.  No other place I’d rather be.

And when I die, I’ll come to see your winged arms outstretched to me.  No greater love I ever knew,  awaits me there, beyond the blue!

John 5:9-12 (NIV)     As the father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

JOY Complete.

I hope you feel loved today.

I must give you up to God…

Well, it’s official.  We are miscarrying.  I guess you’d call it impending fetal demise.  We went to the doctor on Thursday.  The fetal pole is smaller.  We could see cardiac activity on the ultrasound, but could no longer measure a heartbeat because it was so slow.  We have stopped all progesterones (life support for new life), and are waiting for things to progress naturally.  I will see my regular OB/GYN on Tuesday and see how things are looking/progressing.  Currently, my HCG is 18, 198.  We will be watching for this level to decrease as well.

We are heartbroken.

It has been a long journey just to achieve pregnancy, and now this is lost as well.  In my mind, I know there are reasons this happens.  It is God and nature’s way of protecting us.  In my mind, I know the positive is that we now know it is possible for me to achieve pregnancy.  In my mind, I know that in the end, all will be well.

But, my heart hurts at the loss.

We ask for your continued prayers for peace.

I am not a poet or a lyricist, but these words have come from my heart in this time and in this space:

Rock Me, Rock Me

Holy Spirit, God Divine

Come and hold this hand of mine.

Rock me, rock me in your peace,

Until my soul can find relief.

 

Holy Spirit guide and friend,

With a love that never ends.

Rock me, rock me from above,

Until I feel your endless love.

 

Holy Spirit, Father God,

Welcomes children from earth’s sod.

Rock me, rock me in your might,

Until I feel you hold me tight.

 

Holy Spirit’s boundless love

Fill my soul from up above.

Rock me, rock me in your grace,

Until my heart has found it’s faith.

Looking for Faith

If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.  ~Mathew 21:22

Faith:  Complete trust and confidence in someone or something.  Belief that is not based on proof.

You may wonder why I’m reflecting on faith.  I’ve had a difficult time being still enough in body, mind, and heart to write these last few weeks.  It’s been a whirlwind rollercoaster with ups and downs.

Good Friday, April 18, 2014, really was a good day for me.  I went to the doctor’s office in the morning to have my pregnancy test.  I took Freddie (my dog) out when I got home, and while coming in was told that I had a flower delivery.  Really?  I wondered who on earth would send me flowers.  I got the package and opened the note.  My friend Karin had sent them to me with a note that said:  “Just because I’m thinking of you.”  I promptly burst into tears.

It was at this point that I began to wonder if I was pregnant.  I’ve never cried over flowers.  Gotten excited and full of smiles, yes.  Cried non-stop, not so much.  The phone rang at 11:50am and caller ID said it was FCI.  I’d never received a call so early with any lab results, so my first thought was “Oh no!  They need to do a re-draw.  Something was wrong with the specimen.”  “Hello?”  The other voice replied, “Congratulations!”  “Who is this?”  “It’s Fran, you’re pregnant!”  Me, I was speechless, and of course I started crying again.  I got off of the phone and texted my husband the great news, who was waiting at work with bated breath.  This is my very first pregnancy.  Ever.

It was Good Friday, and I had work to do as well.  I was to chant the Passion at CHN, my church.  It’s a beautiful service that ends in darkness and candlelight as we venerate the cross.

Veneration of the Cross

I did chant the Passion that night, and here at the foot of the cross Thanked Jesus for giving me life.  As I cried, my priest put her arm around me and I whispered, “I’m pregnant.”….and so we both cried and held each other.  Blessed.

Saturday, April 19th, came and with it The Great Easter Vigil.  We had no deacon this year, and I was honored to be asked to sing the Exultet, an opening proclamation of sorts, at our service at CHN.  I would like to share the words, so you can conceive what this newly-found pregnant woman was singing…

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout Salvation for the victory of our King.  Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, bright with a glorious splendor, for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King.  Rejoice and be glad now, Mother church, and let your holy courts in radiant light resound with the praises of your people.  All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame, pray with me to God the Almighty for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light; through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit one God, forever and ever, Amen.

It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice to praise you, the invisible, almighty and eternal God, and your only begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people.  This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and lead them through the Red Sea on dry land.  This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.  This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.  How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.  How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away.  It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn.  It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.  How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God.  Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor.  May it shine continually to drive away all darkness.  May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning – he who gives light to all creation, and who lives and reigns forever and ever.  Amen.

All I can say about that is Thank You.

Fast forward to Wednesday, April 30th, our first ultrasound.  I was exactly 6 weeks to the day.

Twins!  One embryo had a definite yolk sac and the other did not.  I was to return for another ultrasound in 1 week.

The heartbreak began on our anniversary, Wednesday, May 7th.  I should tell you that my best friend’s mother-in-law who was on hospice had just passed away, and her funeral was scheduled for this day.  I pray she finds restful peace.

My husband had a deposition this morning and I had to be at FCI for my repeat ultrasound to check on progress.  Afterwards, we were to head to the Northern Suburbs to be with our close friends/family to honor Anita, and show our love and support as well.  So, we went our separate ways to start, but I thank God that my husband was made it in time for the ultrasound.  Baby A did have a heartbeat detected by ultrasound.  You could see the movement, however baby A was 1 week behind in measurements for gestational age.  Baby B was not making any progress and there was still no yolk sac.  I am exactly 7 weeks here.  The bright white spot is the heartbeat.

We were taken into a conference room and told to be “cautiously optimistic.”  We are both medical people, and in our world, that translates to; prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Has anyone ever said this to you before?  We had naught a moment to be excited about our baby’s heartbeat, and we were okay with one, but now taking in the news that our pregnancy might not be sustainable.  The goal has never been to have multiples, but to just have a baby.

So here we are, it’s our wedding anniversary, we are filled with fear and sorrow for our pregnancy, and now we are on our way to a funeral.  No time to take it all in.  Just keep moving.  Just keep going.  This is the heart of my silence.  I just want to be strong.  I don’t want to tell you I’m falling apart inside.

I was told to come and see the doctor the following day.  When I got there, she decided to check and see how things were looking and to do another ultrasound.  I was alone this time.  My husband was at work.  Baby A still had a heartbeat seen on ultrasound, but it was a little slower, 94.  I was told we were walking on a tight-rope.  The ultrasound tech was already giving me advice about what to do should I lose the baby.  I finally said, I’m not giving up.  As long as this baby has a heartbeat, I’m not giving up.  They assured me that they weren’t either.  I cried for the entire rest of the day, while my dog, Freddie, licked my tears.

So here I am, looking for faith.  In 2 days I will be 8 weeks, and 1 day.  I am scheduled for another ultrasound and a visit with the doctor.  I need optimism.  I need prayers.  I’m anxious.  I need faith.  In my heart, I know that all will be well, that I can rise above whatever this journey brings. But also in my heart, I hope for a child to tell stories, to sing songs, and to laugh with.  I still feel that this is a divine pregnancy.  God is with me now, just as he was when we walked together through Lent.

It’s OK to cry…

Tears1

Today has been a rough day.  I’ve felt very emotional and out of sorts.  I’d even say, a bit anxious.  This morning, I couldn’t seem to stop crying, and the urge to still lingers.  The slightest thought seems to bring it about.  Why is that?

I’m on steroids and hormones.  Tomorrow is a very big day.  It’s the FET day.  The day I hope to become pregnant.

Where every day in this process I’ve felt mostly at peace, full of calm and hope…today I feel disjointed.  Sad.  Yet underneath it all, I also feel strong.  Talk about contradictions.  This is me.  This is where I am, and it’s OK.

Reverend Aimee gave me a blessing today after church.  I was anointed with oil and hands, loving hands, were placed on my shoulders.  A child crying in the background.  A stern talking to for bad behavior as the prayer started.  Excited dogs running around the kitchen.  Lunch half eaten at the table.  Can you picture it?  The craziness?  The madness?  Parenthood?  …and this I hope to fill my life with myself.  How appropriate.  I recall saying under my breath, “awesome”.

DogBlessed

And then, regrouping, we prayed.  Now four hands…loving hands, strong hands, comforting hands.  I was feeling so weak, but with the sudden quiet, the hands, even the dogs still and underneath my chair.  I felt blessed.  I felt loved.  Yes, I was blessed by 4 hands and 8 paws in a kitchen, amidst the chaos of life.  Beautiful.

David

That said, something tragic happened this week.  David Lamb, a boy I grew up with, a boy who played with my brother, my late brother, died.  This was a young man, his whole life ahead of him.  A husband, a son, a brother, and a friend to many.  How is it that this one family, at some point or another, have children who have all been affected by cancer at some point in their lives?  I remember when Michael (David’s older brother, who is my age) had leukemia as a teen.  I’m thankful and happy to say, he survived.  Now years later David, also with leukemia, has lost his battle.

I suppose in many ways it reminds me of my own family…our own losses.  I’ve lost 2 bothers at separate times, in separate places, from tragic accidents.  You wonder…I wonder…   All in one family?  Why?  Then there’s that ugly, awful doubt that comes at me from behind wondering if more heartache is yet to come.

Of course, the answer is YES.  Where there is joy, there is sadness and despair.  But then I remember the security I have KNOWING, that God is always there.  God is always with me.  And yes…You can…I can…We must get through it.  Always, through the darkness there is light, love, and promises of a better tomorrow.