Category Archives: Miscarriage

Momentary Light Affliction

This blog is (or, perhaps has been) my attempt to encourage and challenge primarily myself, but other women as well, to view every area and event of life through the lens of Scripture. And to be joyfully content as we recognize God’s undeserved grace, mercy, and sovereign care in the big, unexpected joys, as well as in the difficult trials, but especially in those little, often overlooked, everyday moments.

Because, most of life is lived in the simple and the ordinary.

But, in doing so, my desire is not to paint our life as one of sunshine and unicorns, untouched by reality and troubles.

Like everyone, my days are filled with joys and failures, blessings and trials, celebration and suffering. My children are sinners. Their mother is a sinner. (I know Scripture says that I married a sinner as well. But, I’m beginning to wonder about that one. He’s amazing.)

I detest the trend of airing one’s dirty laundry to the whole of the worldwide web, under the guise of “transparency.” I don’t want to complain. I don’t want to “vent.”

My desire is to focus on that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). To look for the grace and mercy that God has so richly, and undeservedly given, not in spite of the difficult times, but through, and maybe even because of them.

Amy Carmichael wrote, “A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jarred.”

So, it is rare that I will write from a place of discouragement and weakness.

But, you want transparency? Here it is…

Life is hard.

I am not making that statement in relation to the suffering, trials, or circumstances of anyone but myself. The comparison game is futile. Comparing my situation to that of someone else is like comparing apples and oranges. No. It’s like comparing apples and turtles. You just can’t. There is always someone else going through something bigger, something worse, something harder. (And I know many who are.)

I am just stating the simple fact that, life can be hard.

And, recently, it has been.

“In this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33 (NIV)

In addition to multiple minor illnesses hitting every member of our family, teething toddlers, night terrors, mastitis, our recent miscarriage, migraines, and a stint in the ER, I have been living with severe anemia (and the accompanying symptoms and side effects) for at least a year…likely a lot longer. I am now on a prescription iron supplement, which I am praying might remedy some, or maybe even all of that.

Oh. And, did I mention that, as a result, we are still trying to finish up our school year? And the laundry and dishes have continued to multiply at alarming rates.

So, those simple, everyday, real life moments are still very much there, very much demanding that we keep up.

And, somehow, in the craziness of caring for, and keeping up with us, my husband still has to do his job. He still has to prepare sermons and Sunday school lessons. Some weeks, I have wondered if he isn’t writing his sermons on the back of a napkin on his way to church! (Don’t worry. He’s not!) People are still coming to him for counsel. Each one a judgment call. Is this an urgent need? Can they wait? And, meetings that have been canceled, long-postponed, and rescheduled (multiple times), have to be attended.

There are just not enough hours in the day.

“Why does our heavenly Father seem at times to be steadily shoveling suffering into the lives of those he loves so deeply, when he could easily relieve it?” (Running on Empty, pgs. 15-16)

You may thinking, “Stop complaining. That’s nothing.”

And, you’d be right.

“Suffering, even in its mildest forms – inconvenience, delay, disappointment, discomfort, or anything that is not in harmony with our whims and preferences – we will not tolerate. We even reject and deny it.” (A Path Through Suffering, pg. 13)

We do not like to suffer. We avoid it when we can…except in the cases when, as a result of our own sinful stupidity, we run headlong into it.

But, I say that all that to say this…I am just weary. Physically, mentally…and yes. Spiritually.

I love what Gloria Furman says in her new book, Missional Motherhood (I am quoting from a much larger section, and, I hope, doing justice to the original context. But, I would encourage you to read the entire section, or even the whole book, for yourself.):

“Things that are part of our design – our need for others in community, our physical limitations, being embodied in an “earthly tent,” and our lack of knowledge – are not failures. We have no need to repent of those things, for this is the way God designed us. God has no need to repent of making us this way, because he reserves the right to create in whatever way his holy will desires. Moms don’t need to be redeemed out of their God-given design. But here is another place where we have to “use our words” very carefully. We must be very, very hesitant to name something sin. If it is sin, it requires atonement. But we often place worldly blunders on the same level as unholy sins….The eternal Son of God did not go to the cross and suffer crucifixion and the wrath of God to atone for a moms inability to accomplish everything she wants to do in a day…..Before we call upon the great doctrine of justification by faith alone to redeem us out of our so-called calamity, or before we herald the massive truth that we are counted righteous in Christ by faith in him, we ought to consider the nature of our need….If that neediness is owing to your sin, that vile rebellion against your Maker, then you repent….But if your neediness is simply because you are a human being (i.e., not omniscient, not omnipresent, not omnipotent, not God), then you have reason to rejoice.” (Missional Motherhood, pgs. 124-125, bold mine)

Rejoice?

In weakness? In weariness? In suffering?

Yes.

And, more than that, we can be thankful for it.

“Who can be grateful for pain? Only those who see beyond to the ineffable mercy, tender and severe, which is silently at work.” (A Path Through Suffering, pg. 56)

It is a gift.

It is a gift because it teaches us about the character of God. As discipline, it confirms God’s love for us, and our position as His child. It tests, strengthens, and refines our faith. It produces endurance, character, and hope. And, it is a condition of discipleship.

If we are to follow Christ, we must expect to suffer.

“He accepted suffering. He willingly laid down His life. He poured out His very soul unto death. Shall not we, His servants, tread the same pathway?” Pg. 39

But, perhaps, just maybe, our troubles, our inconveniences, our sufferings are not for us.

Lilias Trotter, in her book, Parables of the Cross, wrote “God may use…the things that He has wrought in us, for the blessings of souls unknown to us….” (as quoted in Elisabeth Elliot’s A Path Through Suffering, pg. 15)

It has been unintentional (on my part), but many of the books I have been reading recently have had a providentially similar theme. Suffering.

In her book, Running on Empty, Barbra Bancroft says,

“Ministry brings suffering into our lives. It is the hardest gift for us to accept from God. None of us enjoys suffering and it is one aspect of ministry we are always trying to avoid. God brings his gift of suffering and our response is to begin negotiating for a different one. We want to return this gift for one we think would better meet our needs. This is why Paul’s description of himself in Philippians 3 is so startling. We are attracted and repelled by it. We want his passion for Christ. We identify with his desire to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, but to share in the fellowship of his suffering is frightening.” (pg. 15)

Now, I don’t think for a moment that our church, or my husband’s vocation has been the source of the difficulties, trials, and yes, genuine suffering that we have faced in recent days.

Quite the opposite. Our church family has been a source of help, encouragement, strength, and comfort in all of this.

But, it is true that ministry brings suffering. It has a cost. Our family, our marriage, our children, our parenting, our faults, our sins, our quirks, our sufferings…our lives are all put on constant display. And, we are willing to live in that proverbial fishbowl for the sake of others.

“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 (ESV)

Paul prayed three times that God would remove his “thorn in the flesh,” his “messenger from Satan.” (See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

“God said no to Paul’s plea because He was to bring forth, for the sake of the rest of us, the beautiful flower of acceptance, a gift of grace, enough for his need. But that flower was to bloom, not in spite of, but because of the thorn…Could he know the millions who would be cheered and comforted by his example of quiet acceptance of a painful thing which he knew God could have removed? No, he couldn’t.” (A Path Through Suffering, pg. 45)

Maybe our troubles, our inconveniences, our trials, our sufferings are not for us at all. Maybe they are put in our life for the spiritual benefit of someone else.

We do not know. And, frankly, it isn’t for us to know.

“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10)

“We may take heart from the suffering of Job. Suffering was the necessary proof of the reality of his faith – to us, as to his contemporaries and his enemy Satan (his and ours). The suffering of our Savior proved the reality of His love for His Father. The world still needs to be shown that there are those who, no matter what the circumstances, will, for love of Him, do exactly what God commands. The end He has in view is a glorious one. We can fully count on that…” (A Path Through Suffering, pg. 53)

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 1 Corinthians 4:17-18 (ESV)

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Filed under Biblical Womanhood, Life in Ministry, Marriage, Miscarriage, Mommyhood, Thinking Biblically

Sad News

Just a few weeks ago, we announced that we were expecting another little one.

On Wednesday afternoon, we went to my OB’s office for what was supposed to be a “pregnancy confirmation” appointment. Of course, in my mind, I received that confirmation over a month ago, courtesy of a home pregnancy test. I was almost 10 weeks along.

But, this was not to be the happy appointment the name would indicate.

I have had spotting during the first trimester of my last two pregnancies (three, including this one). It is, apparently, “my normal.” And, twice, it has been nothing to worry about.

So, when it started this time, I didn’t really worry. Or, rather, I tried not to worry.

But, this time, it was different.

After about a month of on-and-off spotting, it turned into true bleeding on Tuesday evening. So, I was not expecting good news going into my appointment.

As my doctor started the ultrasound, I glanced at the screen. Hoping, and praying that, despite the symptoms to the contrary, we would see the flutter of a tiny, beating heart. My doctor was uncharacteristically quiet. And, one look at her face confirmed my suspicion. “Are you sure you have your dates right?” Yes, I’m sure. “Because, baby is only measuring at 6 weeks. And…I’m not seeing a heartbeat.”

Miscarriage.

It’s the word no mother-to-be wants to hear. But, there it was.

I miscarried on Thursday, at home.

“…I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:23 (ESV)

When I announced our pregnancy, we were looking forward to meeting our son or daughter around Thanksgiving. So, I said that we had much to be thankful for this year.

We still do.

Yes, of course, we are sad and grieving.

We already loved this child. We wanted this child.

But, even though we will not have the joy of knowing this child, this side of Heaven, I am still so grateful for each moment I was given with this little one. I am thankful for the time, no matter how short, that I was blessed to be his or her mommy.

“…The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Job 1:21 (ESV)

Thank you for being excited with us over this little one. And thank you for being willing to grieve with us. We appreciate your prayers.

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Filed under Life, Miscarriage, Mommyhood

What Is A Full Quiver?

The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing; but in our culture, we apply for a curse and reject blessings. Something is wrong with this picture.

Something is wrong indeed!

Over the past year or so, I have started to come across more and more people – families – who would align with, or define themselves as “Quiverfull.”  If you have access to cable television, you have probably been introduced to one such family through the show “18 Kids and Counting.”

If this term is unfamiliar to you, Quiverfull is a movement, or philosophy, based on Psalm 127:3-5, which says “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them…” (As many of these families also tend to be from the KJV-only camp, I am quoting this verse from the good old King James Version, but it is basically the same in any other translation.)  Basing their convictions mainly on this passage, these families choose, and rightly so, to view children – expected or not – as blessings from the hand of God.  In many of these families, this conviction leads to the complete abandoning of all forms of contraception (including natural family planning and sterilization).

And, I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I agree with them!

Surprised?  Maybe it is because I am a the mommy of only one child.  Most that align themselves with the Quiverfull philosophy have more than one child – many more!  But, I firmly believe that God is sovereign and that He is the ultimate authority over every area of my life.  (And, as hard as His ways are to understand sometimes, I believe that sovereignty includes the size of my family – large or small.)  And, my husband and I firmly believe that children are a gift from God.

But, I think that a truly biblical view on the blessing of children goes beyond simply viewing your own children as blessings.  That is the easy part.  In his book When You Rise Up, R.C. Sproul, Jr., says that if we actually believe that children are a blessing from God “we not only will pray, ‘Lord bless us with many children, fill our quivers, increase our territory…,’ but we will likewise say of our children and to our children, ‘I’m glad you’re here. You are a joy in my life.  I miss you when we are apart.’ This is an important part of what it means to see children as a blessing.  Note, however, that while this may be most true of your own children, it is true of others’ children as well.” (pg. 66, emphasis added)

But… (Oh, you knew it was coming!)

While I agree with the basic tenants of the Quiverfull philosophy, and the scriptural foundation on which it is based, I am often hesitant to publicly adopt that label for myself, and my family.  As I have read more about this movement, I have observed that “…sometimes those who see [children] as a blessing take this promise of God into their workshop and with their lathe fashion out of it a baseball bat, so they can whack around other folks who won’t (or, worse, can’t) have children.” (pg. 65, When You Rise Up)

The ability to plan or prevent pregnancies and family size (seemingly) at will has become the norm for most Christian couples today.  Leaving a pregnancy “to chance” (and, by that, I mean in the sovereign hands of God) is virtually unthinkable to most young couples on the brink of marriage.  And because birth control (of any method and variety) is readily available, most people assume that the number of children a couple does or does not have to be intentional, and by choice.

That assumption is not always correct.

As our daughter gets older, I am finding that the “baseball bat” tendency R.C. Sproul, Jr. describes, is not exclusive to Quiverfull families.  Even within most mainstream (conservative, evangelical) Christian circles, there is a pre-determined amount of time in which it is acceptable for a couple to have only one child.  But, beyond that unspoken limit, the comments and questions start…

  • “You’d better get her a little brother or sister!”
  • “When are you going to have another one?”

Or, my (least) favorite…

  • “Do you (or, worse, Why don’t you) want more children?”

Well, I am only capable of giving the answer to one of those questions.  And, that answer is a resounding “Yes.”  Yes, I do want more children…more than words could possibly say.  But, as to when – or if – that desire is fulfilled, that answer is not up to me – it never was.  I agree with those who follow the Quiverfull philosophy, that it is God who “opens the womb.”  But, what if He doesn’t?

There are some within this movement (though it seems to be a relatively small minority), who imply that if a couple has only one child (or none), then they are somehow ungodly, or inferior Christians, or defiantly disobedient to Scripture! (My husband was told that it could potentially hinder his fitness for ministry!)  Some will even go so far as to say that “barrenness” (infertility) and/or miscarriage(s) are a curse from God – a sure sign of divine punishment for sin.  While I believe that these things are a result and consequence of living in a fallen and sinful world, calling them a direct and active curse for some unknown sin is taking it too far.

Yes, in some cases, Scripture does call barrenness a “reproach,” or a “disgrace,” and even records occasions where it was intentionally inflicted on a person or nation as the result of sin or disobedience.  But, stop for just a moment and consider SarahRebekah, RachelHannah, and Elisabeth.  Scripture gives us a glimpse into the lives of these godly women, who, at various points in their lives, were (humanly speaking) inexplicably denied the blessing of a child.  I could name other godly couples whom I have the privilege of knowing, who desperately long for children, but whether by miscarriage(s) or an inability to conceive, they have not been blessed in that way.  While others, it seems, easily conceive children as a result of sinful behavior (whether a one-time lack of discernment, or a lifestyle characterized by sinful choices) and carry them to term without a problem.

It is often assumed that larger-than-average families are part of the Quiverfull crowd because they have more than 2 children (or 6, or 10, or whatever the magic number may be).  But, simply having several children does not make a family “Quiverfull”.

Stacey McDonald (co-author of Passionate Housewives Desperate for God) describes it well

“As long as someone has a lot of children, they may appear to embrace the call to train up more children for the Lord; we assume that they are “quiverfull.” But by doing so, we are looking at outward expressions (which can be deceptive) and assuming deeper, spiritual attitudes. Just because a woman has given birth to many children doesn’t mean she’s quiverfull. Likewise, there is no way we can assume that a couple is not quiverfull, simply because they have no children; and we should not make any such assumption.

We believe that a couple can be quiverfull with no children at all! In fact, a single person can be quiverfull! It is a Scriptural mindset. When we welcome children into our families; when we are grateful for the precious gift of life, then we are quiverfull!

Perhaps we should define quiverfull as having a sovereign view of God’s gift of children. That being said, I think we can prove ourselves to be NOT quiverfull by being obsessed with having MORE children, when God has closed the door.”

I have always wanted several children.  And, if that were the Lord’s plan for us, I would welcome it with an open heart and willing arms!  But, what if it isn’t?

Children are a gift from God.  We live in a culture that seems to have forgotten that.  But, as Elisabeth Elliot often reminds her readers – we do not choose gifts.  And, contrary to what modern medicine, technology, and society would have us believe, we also do not get to choose how many gifts we are given.  Frankly, if the Lord chooses to bless a couple with a child, no form of birth control is going to prevent it!  And as the source and giver of all blessings (including children), is He not fully within His rights (as God) to withhold those gifts as well?

But, this side of Heaven, we may not be granted to understand just how being denied such a blessing has a purpose in God’s plan as well.  If we truly believe that our fertility, and the ultimate size of our “quiver,” is in God’s hands, then we must trust Him to determine the final number – large or small.  God is just as in control, just as sovereign – just as much God – over the godly husband and wife who willingly and joyfully welcome one little child into their home, as He is over the godly family who welcomes 10 (or more) little ones!

Regardless of how many children the Lord ultimately gives me, my job is to rejoice, to be content, and to rest in His sovereign plan.

———

**Updated on July 29, 2011 to add:

Our desire has always been that God would give us the family that would best glorify Him – large or small.

He has faithfully, and sometimes painfully, spent the past 5 years teaching us to trust Him in this area, and to be content with what He has seen fit to give.  Some of these lessons have been easier than others…as we have sought to patiently and graciously respond to the well-meaning questions and comments…not fully knowing the answers ourselves. We have struggled with joy, contentment, and confusion as we wondered what His plan for our family would be.

But, today, we are even more convinced that this is not ours to control…it never was.  Children are a gift…given from the sovereign hands of the the all-knowing Giver.  It is His, and His alone, to determine how many gifts He will give, and when those gifts are to be received.

Even so, it has been our family’s constant prayer that He would, someday, bless us with more children…

And, in direct answer to these prayers, we are thrilled to announce that we are expecting another little blessing to join our family…on, or around, February 6th, 2012!

Truly God is gracious.

(Taken from this post.)

 

 

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Filed under Miscarriage, Mommy of One, Mommyhood, Secondary Infertility, Thinking Biblically

Sad News

This is a copy of the e-mail we sent to family and friends, but since we announced the pregnancy here as well, and some of you are not on our e-mail list…

Dear Friends,

We are sad to have to share this news with you, and while we would prefer not to share it in this format, our main reason for doing so is to ask for your prayers. It would mean so much to us, and it would be effective, because God promises to hear our prayers, and to act on them.

Yesterday morning, Veronica had an appointment with her doctor, and received the sad, and unexpected news that we had lost our baby. According to the ultrasound, the baby had not grown since the last appointment (about 2 weeks ago), and the doctor could not detect a heartbeat. He termed it an “incomplete miscarriage”. As a result, she will have to have a procedure known as a D&C to complete the process this afternoon at 2:00. It is an outpatient procedure, and she should be able to return home this evening.

We would ask for your prayers for the following:
1. For the procedure to go smoothly, and without any complications. And, also that the recovery would be quick and that Hannah would be patient as her mom recovers.
2. For our family as we adjust to this news. We were excited about this baby, and it came as a complete surprise, as there had been no outward physical symptoms that anything was wrong.
3. Praise the Lord because He is good, and every moment of our lives are in His hands – we are thankful that this child will never have to suffer the effects of sin, or the pain that it causes.

We do trust that this was all in the Lord’s perfect plan for our lives. “…The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)

By His Grace,
Jason, Veronica, and Hannah Whitley

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