The Face I Can’t Forget

I can still see his precious little face.
I see it at 5 a.m. before my eyes adjust to the darkness.
It’s been almost 6 months.
Seems like this shouldn’t happen anymore.
But how am I supposed to erase the memory of the perfect features that belonged to my sweet Ezra?

Eyes that never opened to see a sunny day.
Mouth that never smiled and cooed for parents’ joy.
Ears that never heard the words, “I love you” whispered from tickling teeth.
Nose that never inhaled the comforting aroma of mother’s embrace.
The cutest lil’ “Finney chin” he shares with his daddy’s family and his sister Jo.

I can’t forget it, but I don’t think I want to.

It’s hard to see his face sometimes, but most others it brings a smile to mine. Ezra Coleman was a precious gift from the hand of God. I would have preferred his life to linger on this earth, but my Jesus had other plans for my little guy. I can’t imagine the JOY on my baby boy’s face as he basks in Heaven’s glory…

As his eyes behold the indescribable glory of the Almighty God.
His mouth sings continuous praises to the King on the Throne.
His ears are filled with the sounds of a heavenly choir.
His nose is kissed by angels that keep him ’til Jesus calls his mommy home.
His chin rests on the breast of the Savior.

With the gift of motherhood came an innate desire for the absolute best for my babies. There’s nothing this mommy could give him that is better than what he is experiencing today. I never really appreciated being told that “he was in a better place,” because selfishly I wanted him here. But this heartbroken mommy knows there’s no better place to be than in the arms of Christ and I’m thankful that’s where I will find him someday. I will look into his precious face, and I will see Jesus, and the sorrow of my loss won’t even be a distant memory. Just the darkness of life vanished by the blazing light of eternal glory!

Due Date Disappointment

Well, it’s here: My due date. The day I would have said my first “hello” to my sweet little boy had I not said “goodbye” to him on May 15.

I shared with a sweet friend who implored about my feelings on the matter that I am surprised that the overriding emotion is not grief, sadness, or anger, but rather disappointment. I had expectations that were not and will not be met.

I expected to have a smooth, uneventful pregnancy but had a high-risk pregnancy that went undetected.
I expected to bond with my baby, feeling him wiggle and maneuver inside of me, but I felt a phantom kick just one time.
I expected to take beautiful maternity pictures around 30 weeks of pregnancy, but I had family pictures with a not-so-round belly home to a lifeless child.
I expected to celebrate a gender reveal with my family on May 14, but I called to share the news of the loss and we gathered instead to mourn.
I expected to have my family gathered together again at Northside Hospital to welcome our precious gift, but we are spending time together in Ohio unsure of how to pass the time without dwelling on the significance of the day.
I expected to give birth to a healthy, beautiful bundle of joy on September 23, but I’m holding just a memory of his tiny, frail body.
I expected to embrace my healthy baby with exhausted yet unadulterated joy, but instead I embrace family and friends who help us deal with the disappointment.

I never expected to bury a child before my 24th birthday, but that’s exactly what I did.

IMG_0659

Disappointed I am, but defeated I am not. I expect today to be a pleasant, meaningful day. because I am a child of the King who loves me and gave Himself for me. He has a plan in all that happens in my life, and I expect the end result to be wonderful even as there are disappointments along the way.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11).

Mommy loves you, Ezra.

Mommy Guilt

I’m about the share my biggest battle on deputation with you. It’s not sleep deprivation, lengthy drives, financial struggles, or excessive carb-consumption (though at times, all of these wear on me!). It’s Mommy Guilt.

All of those little things about deputation not only have an affect on my life but also on the precious life of my toddler. At times, I begin to feel guilty about the long hours in the car, the 100th french fry (or 4th chocolate chip cookie) of the day, or the fact that she has worn the same thing for 3 days in a row and has had the same 5 toys to play with for an entire month. I get frustrated by our lack of schedule and bedtime that fluctuates by 1-3 hours which sometimes results in the following:IMG_0291

Thanks to my informative friend but victimizing enemy, Facebook, I see mommies doing activities I had hoped to experience with Jolynn this summer, teaching new things in creative ways in their home, purchasing new play items to stimulate and entertain their children and creating healthy, yummy lunches. As I peruse these displays of mommy perfection, the scum rises to the surface. Jealousy (there it is again). Guilt.

So maybe my child hasn’t had milk in her sippy cup for a few days, and has watched the same episode of Veggie Tales 16 times in a row. But this mommy needs to forget Facebook and focus on what my sweet girl does get to experience. She has fun, meets new friends, and learns everywhere we go. She gets to see her grandparents, great-grandparents, and other extended family on a much more regular basis due to our frequent travels.And not only that, but she gets to be with her Daddy a whole lot! We sure are lucky ladies to spend so much time with Daddy!

IMG_0254

She is loved by many people in many states. People all over the US have her picture on their fridge and pray for her by name. I would venture to say that she has had more hugs, snuggles, and kisses than the average kid, too. She plays with brand new (to her) toys and meets new friends in different nurseries 3 times a week. Many people give her gifts to keep her looking spiffy and staying entertained.

photo-13

She is learning to sit in church and will soon be learning from the Bible! She has become extremely sociable and will go to anyone. The most common thing we hear about Jolynn is, “She never meets a stranger!” With each person comes laughs, learning, and love.

If I think on the right things, I can see that truly, my girl is a blessed baby, and I am one blessed missionary mama!

photo-14

Babies, Babies everywhere!

I love babies, I love friends having babies, and I love that Facebook has become, in recent years, what I have deemed “Baby Central.” But along with every uncontrollable smile, “eek!”, and cheek-squeeze in response to each swaddled burrito of cuteness comes a little twinge of hurt and a small but fleeting feeling of jealousy.

It’s ugly, I know. It’s discontent at it’s finest. Trust me, the Lord is dealing with me on all counts. I don’t feel as though I have been dealt a bad hand, and I wouldn’t say I am bitter (if you see this in me, please stage an intervention!) I would acknowledge, however, that I’m still grieving.

I listened to a podcast about grieving loss today while I was walking (an activity I have found to be very helpful when I’m feeling the blues). I was reminded by the speaker, who lost her daughter after 199 days of life, that contrary to popular belief, you can be sad and have joy at the same time. It might seem like an enigma to some, but it shouldn’t to Christians.

This has been particularly my experience. I DO have joy and carry on from day to day with a peace that only could come from the Lord. BUT… I’m still sad.

It’s only been 3 months. His headstone was just put into place. His due date hasn’t even come around yet. I don’t even think I’ve begun to deal with the full weight of what has happened to us.

But this woman who suffered such great, unfathomable loss reminded me that just as I expected those who love us to weep with me when we experienced our loss, I have the same responsibility to REJOICE with those who experience the wonderful things life has to offer (and there is nothing more wonderful than a newborn baby!).

Scripture is clear: Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep (Romans 12:15-16).

So, in the midst of my pain, when my sadness seems like it might win, I will choose to rejoice because that’s exactly what I’m commanded to do.

So bring on the babies, and bring on the JOY!

**This post is not written in response to any birth or birth announcement. There has been no perfect time to post this since this baby boom began!

The gift of a ministry

I’ve always been a dreamer, and I’ve long dreamed of serving God in BIG ways. I’ve specifically asked that God would use my passion for writing in HIs kingdom work. The answer to that plea, however, was not even close to what I had envisioned or ever would have dreamt up myself.

Though I wouldn’t realize it until a few days later, the answer came on the morning of May 14, as I lay heartbroken in an ultrasound room having received the news that the precious boy I had been carrying for 21 weeks was no longer thriving inside me. We shared the news with family but didn’t let it go much further for a little under 24 hours. I wanted my secret pain to be just that- secret.

I posted a status update on Wednesday morning, 8 hours after Ezra had been delivered and about 5 since we said our final goodbyes: I delivered our precious baby BOY (approximately 17 weeks gestational age) at 12:35 this morning. Sweet Ezra Coleman weighed 5.8 oz and was 7 in. long. We thank God for the gift of life, no matter how short, and we rejoice knowing our son is safe and whole in the arms of Jesus.

It was short and to the point. It communicated my heart at that time, but it didn’t express how painful the experience was. I wasn’t ready to make that public knowledge. Maybe I was putting up a strong front as I had done for my family. I spent much of my time making sure no one was uncomfortable, which, of course,in hindsight, I know was pointless. We were all hurting.

The next morning, when I woke up, along with tears came an idea that seemed like it had been planted in my head: I couldn’t keep this story of grace to myself. I had to write the ways that God was working as He was doing it or else He would never receive the glory that He deserves for sustaining us the way He did during this excruciating time in our lives.

So I wrote. Through tears, through doubts, and devastating grief. I wrote with family next to me, trying to comfort me, but nothing was as therapeutic as putting it down. Writing has always been a release for me. It made me recognize His hand in it all, put into words those He spoke to me, and accept what He had allowed in our life.

But that was not all I hoped for it. I wanted it to, first, bless the name of the Lord, who gives and takes away. I also wanted it to speak to those who had suffered loss or who were experiencing difficulty in their lives. I wanted it to say, “God is good. He knows our pain, and He will carry us.” Finally, I wanted it to speak to those who grieve that have no hope, that I have it only because I have Jesus Christ.

It was hard to do, but I wrote. And people read. People from many cultural, family, and religious backgrounds. I heard from many people whom I had never met who wrote to tell me they were touched by Ezra’s three part story. When Ezra was born, my ministry was born. And though, like his life, it may have been short lived, I am thankful it had its moment.

I will likely never have as many readers as I had those first few days after his birthday. I will probably never have the opportunity to influence like I did during that time, but I do know that I can minister to the heart of each mommy that suffers this kind of loss one heartbreaking case at a time. While my ministry was once many words in the public sphere, the words that mean the most will be the ones silently uttered to my Heavenly Father. I can pray for these women in a way that most people can’t. It may sound strange, but my loss paved the way to a dream come true!

If I had known that being used in a BIG way would mean MAJOR loss in my life, would I dare to dream? I’m afraid I would not. I’m just glad that God is the author of my story, and all He asks of me is to tell it!