His Love Endures Forever

Here I am again. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know the big picture. I don’t know God’s plan in this, or what His purpose is. But here I am, mourning the loss of another child. My fourth miscarriage.

I feel like my flesh and my spirit are at battle. My flesh keeps thinking “Does God hate me? Is He punishing me?” and my spirit is fighting back with the knowledge that God loves me, that I am His, and that all things happen according to His will and purpose. But I feel like this knowledge is just that – knowledge, and I’m having a hard time holding onto it as truth. I know the right answers. I know my theology. I know what I believe. But in times of sorrow it is so hard to move beyond knowing to truly believing and holding onto what is true. 
I feel like I am standing on the edge of a pit and the pit is calling me to fall into darkness, depression, and despair. And there seems to be one little string wrapped around me that is just barely holding me back. I keep looking at the pit and then looking at the string, inching forward and then back, my mind pressing me towards the pit and my soul calling me to keep holding on. It feels like the pit it bigger and stronger than this tiny little string. This string that reminds me I have been here before, that God was always there, and that He brought me through. He can do it again. He will do it again. His Word, His promises, His enduring love, is a life preserver. 

“If the LORD had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in silence. When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’ your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up. When the cares of my heart were many, your consolations cheer my soul.” – Psalm 94:17-19

Rylie – January 2013

Rylan – May 2013

Jesse – January 2014

Elisha – June 2016 

I hope and pray I will never have to add to this list again. But naming the babies that I have lost (for life begins at conception) is truly comforting to me. Every single time I have named the baby, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I have felt a sense of peace. It may seem strange to name a baby that hardly lived, but for me it acknowledges that this baby was a part of our family and a part of our lives, even if for a very short time. I chose Elisha because it means “God is salvation” and I am needing that reminder daily. So now every time I think of Elisha, I’ll remember God is salvation, just like every time I think of Jesse, I remember that God sees. And even though Rylie and Rylan’s names have no special meaning, when I think of them I remember that God is hope and peace. 

My God is a God who gives hope and peace and is a God who sees and saves. That is what the Lord has taught, and continues to teach, me through these losses. It is hard to say it or even believe it right now, but God is good to use this sorrow and pain to sanctify me and to bring glory to His name, and in ways I may never know. 

One of the hardest parts of this miscarriage is having Grayson, who is old enough to know something is wrong, ask why I’m upset and why the baby is gone. It’s really hard to hear him ask these questions, even harder to give him an answer, but it’s been a great opportunity for him to see what faith in God looks like during grief. I’ve been able to tell him of God’s sovereignty and that even though really sad things happen, God is still in control and He has a plan. 

I heard him talking to himself yesterday while he was playing. He was saying “The baby in Mommy’s tummy is gone. God doesn’t want the baby to be in Mommy’s tummy.” He doesn’t know or understand the full concept of this but in his child like understanding, he does get that God is the One who decides and that it’s okay. Grayson has hugged me and comforted me when I’ve broken down crying and he has listened when I have tried to explain, in simple words, what has happened. He’s been able to accept that “God doesn’t want the baby to be in Mommy’s tummy” (his own words, not mine) and I always remind him that God might give us another baby someday. It has been a bittersweet experience to teach him through the pain and sorrow. And to see him grow in understanding and knowledge of the good God we serve. 

This miscarriage has had so many ups and downs for me, as you can see. I go from staring into the pit to rejoicing that God is good despite my pain. Both are true, both are real. The pit yawns before me many days but knowing, believing, that God is sovereign, that His love endures, that He is good and faithful despite what I feel, and that joy comes with the morning, is what will keep me from ever succumbing to despair. He has given me so much and He has never left me. Never. He will continue to sustain me. All is not lost. 

Because…

His love endures forever. 

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Beyond the Costume

photo-2Back in November my favorite author, Ted Dekker, came to a church in Dallas to share his testimony and do a book signing. Having never seen him in person I was eager to go and hear him speak.

Some time after I received an email from Ted’s manager asking for the attendees to share how Ted’s talk had impacted us. I replied with a short version of my story. I came across that email today and it inspired me to write this post. Here is what I wrote:

Ted,
My name is Sarah Kerby and I am 24 years old. I am known as one of your diehard fans having read almost all of your books. I truly enjoyed seeing you in Dallas and having the opportunity to hear your heart and get a glimpse of who you are and why you write what you do.

What you had to say was very relevant to what I have gone through this year.
I am married and I have an 18 month old son. My husband and I desire to have more children and in January we found out I was pregnant. I lost that baby a few weeks later. In May I was pregnant again! But, just like last time, I lost the baby a few weeks later. It was utterly devastating. Tests have been done but there is nothing physically wrong with me that would lend reason and answers to why I had two consecutive miscarriages after having a healthy child. It’s a mystery, as so many things are.
In between my two miscarriages the Lord was working on my heart in an extreme way. I finally sought Christian counseling for the anger and depression issues that I had had for so long. It was a humbling and cleansing experience.
All that to say that the Lord has shown me an immense amount of grace. He has taken me beyond this “costume” that experiences heartbreak, pain, sin, and wondering and has shown me an unexplainable peace that penetrates my soul. There is more beyond this life that we live day to day. We forget who we are, always, but then God sends a reminder. He has done that a lot this year and He did that through you and what you shared.
I thank the Lord that He has chosen to speak through you and that He has given you such an amazing gift. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.
Faithful reader,
Sarah

Since that email I have lost a third pregnancy. And now I’m at a point in my life where the future of my family isn’t so clear. After three consecutive miscarriages I feel like we’re at a crossroads. What do we do now? Do we stop getting pregnant or keep trying to have a healthy pregnancy? What is the Lord’s will in this?

My doctor is going to be running more tests and we’re going to be praying about what the Lord wants us to do next but right now, in the unknown, I am at peace. I’m at peace because there is more to life beyond this costume. I’m just here playing a part that God created. This body that makes up Sarah Kerby is just my costume. The roles that I play, the experiences that I live, and the choices I make are just one small part in the greater drama that is the Gospel, that is God’s divine plan.

It’s not that my struggles don’t matter. They do matter. They are real. But there is more to life than this alone. There is more to life than fulfilling the dreams of Sarah Kerby. There is more to life than doing what makes Sarah Kerby happy.

I have this soul that is in dwelt by God Himself. And it is my soul that says, amidst the feelings of my costume,  that “it is well.”

My costume says, “God must not love me since he’s taken three babies away from me.” But my soul says, “I don’t deserve God’s love and yet He extended His grace and gave me a son.”

Beyond the costume. That is where I look when all seems lost and things don’t make sense. The costume confines but the soul is free. The soul knows that this body and this life is just a costume and that I am meant for much more than this.

My costume has always desired to have many children. I dreamed of having a big family. But my soul knows that the Lord is sovereign over that dream. I can let go of that dream because my soul is content with God’s purpose for my costume and ultimately, my soul itself. I may yet see that dream, maybe not biologically or maybe not at all, but I am at peace. I am not my costume. I am my soul. And my soul belongs to God. In belonging to God, I have nothing to fear. Not death, not unhappiness, not suffering, not future unknowns. I can rest here, now, in all of this, because I know Jesus and Jesus has set me free. I am not bound to this world. I am not bound to this costume. I am bound to Christ, to His unfailing love, and to His grace which carries me through life until He calls my soul home.

The following song written by Horatio Spafford is, for me, the perfect way to end. I cry every time I sing this song as I’m sure Mr. Spafford did as well. He wrote this song during his own personal tragedy and it wonderfully expresses the anguish of pain and loss of our costumes as well as the deep spiritual strength, gratitude, and humility of the rescued soul.

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll
What ever my lot you have taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul

Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul

It is well, with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight
And the clouds be rolled back as a scroll
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend
Even so, it is well with my soul

It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul

A Peace that Surpasses all Understanding

If you read my post, When the Unexpected Happens, then you know that as a result of my second miscarriage my doctor was performing blood work to see if there was a medical reason for the recurring miscarriages. I received the results of the blood work today and all the tests came back normal. My doctor said that according to the blood work there is no medical reason for my miscarriages.

A part of me was hoping that something would come back abnormal so that I had a reason, an answer, to why I’ve had two miscarriages in a row. If there was a problem then it could be addressed. But there isn’t a problem and I have no answers. I’m not disheartened though. The Lord has given me peace that surpasses all understanding and has strengthen my faith and trust in Him. Thinking about His sovereignty and goodness brings tears to my eyes. I surely could not survive this heartache without Him. Because even though I am at peace the pain is still real and it is still felt. I still grieve.

There is evidence of that everywhere. The evidence hangs around my neck in three little charms that remind me of my babies.

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The evidence is in my home where I put up a memorial of sorts. It’s like having them at home with us. It shows that they, at some point, no matter how small or how short, existed and were a part of our family.

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The evidence is in the graphics that I have made as a way to express my grief. When I make these things it helps me feel close to them and it brings healing.

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Even though I grieve, I am at peace and I have faith. I am able to have joy through the pain because I know without a doubt that God is sovereign and that His will is infinitely better than my own. Though there is pain and sorrow in this life there is also hope for those whose lives belong to the Lord. This is not all there is and this is not the end. Me and my family are in God’s hands and that is the best place to be. Whether I get pregnant again and whether I carry to full term is completely and totally up to the Lord. My hope is not found in medical science (though the Lord can certainly work through that) but rather my hope is found in the One who created me, who understands all mysteries, and who forms with His hands the children He gives me.

“Our God is in the heavens and He does whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:3

When the Unexpected Happens

Back in January of this year I had a miscarriage. It was a devastating experience. But then in May, on my son’s birthday, we found out that we were expecting again! I was overjoyed! I was certain that this was God restoring what we had lost. I was so full of hope. 316312_10151434920735897_188035758_n

But then I started spotting. I was crushed. I cried in fear of facing another loss. Then the spotting went away and I thought that it was nothing. Some bleeding can be normal during early pregnancy so I didn’t throw out all hope yet. But then on Tuesday I started bleeding and this time it didn’t stop. I went to the doctor and a sonogram showed a gestational sac measuring 5 weeks when I was suppose to be 7 weeks. It was playing out just like last time. They took my blood and had me return two days later to draw more blood and compare my hormone levels. Since Monday was Memorial Day I had to wait a long weekend before getting the results. I never had any cramping and the bleeding was never as heavy as it was last time. I was very hopeful that everything would turn out okay. I was even more convinced of this when the bleeding became very light on Monday and by Tuesday it was completely gone. I thought for sure that it was some random bleeding caused by something other than a miscarriage. I was certain that when I got the results from my blood work on Tuesday that I would receive good news.

I was laying in bed playing with Grayson when I got the call. The words I heard on the other end of the phone made my heart drop into my stomach and all my hope came crashing down. My hormone levels had decreased. The doctor would follow up with me at my appointment next Monday.

I didn’t know what to say. The nurse was so matter of fact, no remorse or sympathy in her voice, and I thought, “Is that all?” But what could she say? My levels had gone down which meant a miscarriage had taken place. A second baby gone.

I was so sure this baby was our restoration. I had so much hope. I don’t know how to communicate just how hopeful I was. Having this second miscarriage was unthinkable and, in my mind, not probable.

I had my follow up appointment today and during the sono I was told that everything had passed but when I saw my doctor she said there was a small area of what could be tissue or the sac (though she said it didn’t look like a sac) that is still in the uterus. She wasn’t concerned and didn’t feel that I needed to rush for a D & C or anything. She said that we’d just watch it and see if it will pass on it’s own. She explained that she wanted to run blood work and tests to see if there is a reason for these two miscarriages. She used a lot of big and weird sounding words that I have no clue how to spell but basically there could be some antibodies that could be interfering with healthy implantation. So they took a bunch of blood (ouch!) and are running tests to see what comes up. If I have an abnormal result she said that the minute I get a positive pregnancy test they will provide me with shots to give myself everyday throughout my pregnancy. I can’t remember what they are called (they are not progesterone shots) but she said they are tiny shots you inject into the skin of your stomach and they have proven to help keep pregnancy viable. She said even if all the tests came back normal she would still recommend that I do the shots because they can only help. So as sad and as heartbreaking as this is there is hope, by God’s grace and the help of medical guidance, that my next pregnancy will last.

Kyle and I have named this baby Rylan. I’m going to get two charms this time to add to my necklace. One will say “Rylie” and the other will say “Rylan.” I am thankful for them both and praise God that He is loving, faithful, and sovereign over my life and the lives of my children. In circumstances like these we ask “why?” Why would God allow this to happen? I have wondered the same thing. I don’t have any answers but I do know that my God is not cruel. I believe that with my whole being.

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My last miscarriage challenged my faith but this time my faith has only become more solid. God can give and He can take away but I will never curse His name. If it were not for Him I could not endure this heartache. I fully and completely trust Him and His sovereign will. I can rest in Him. I can find peace in Him. I can find healing in Him. He is my everything and I could not live without Him. He is so good. Despite whatever physical issue there may be that has caused these miscarriages God worked beyond them and gave me a son! I’m beginning to believe that Grayson is a miracle. Kyle and I both have been feeling increasingly blessed to have him. I lost Rylie and Rylan but Grayson is here, smiling at me, cuddling with me, and letting me kiss his face. I am so thankful for him.

My hope and prayer is that my next pregnancy will be healthy and that it will result in a healthy baby. My heart longs for that. But more than anything my heart longs for the Lord and His will. That I would know Him more, serve Him better, and be used by Him in whatever way pleases Him most. He is such a faithful God. He is so good.

Reader, I pray that as you take in my story that you would be encouraged and challenged. I don’t know what the Lord is doing in your life right now or what you are going through. But I pray that you would praise Him through the storm and the sunshine; that your soul would find contentment in Him. He may allow hard times to come but He doesn’t leave us in our sorrow. There is hope in our sovereign God.

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Rylie

I wasn’t going to give the baby a name because I didn’t know the gender (which is a part of the reason my heart grieves). But I kept thinking about it and I didn’t like not having a name. I don’t like referring to the baby as “it” or “the baby” or “the baby I lost” when that baby could have a name. So, after some gentle encouragement from a friend, I spoke with my husband and we decided on the name Rylie. It’s a name we had both said we liked when I was pregnant and it is gender neutral. After choosing the name I wondered what it meant so I looked up its meaning. Oddly enough, Rylie means “courageous.” How fitting.

I have had a lot of fears since discovering my pregnancy complications and then losing Rylie. A lot of fears. And I’ve had to be courageous and face those fears as they suddenly flew at me. I was fearful of losing Rylie when I didn’t know what was going on. Then I was fearful of the miscarriage process, how much it would hurt, and how traumatizing it would be. I was fearful of how my body would respond, whether I would lose too much blood, whether my body would take care of it all on its own or whether I would need medical intervention. I was fearful of the grieving process. I was fearful of my doctor’s appointment. I was afraid of what they might say. Now, I’m fearful of seeing people I know, fearful of what they might say, and afraid of falling apart in front of them. I’m fearful of what each new day holds for me as I grieve. What else will I have to face? I’m fearful of how long I will be bleeding. I’m fearful of what others may think about the ways I am choosing to grieve. I’m fearful of getting pregnant again and having another miscarriage. Like I said, I have had a lot of fears.

Rylie’s short existence was an event I needed courage to go through. Even when I didn’t know it was a failed pregnancy, I was fearful of my future as the mother to two babies! I was fearful of how hard the pregnancy would be when having to care for a baby growing into a toddler. Truly, Rylie’s life for me was about courage, facing the hard times and getting through, having hope. I’m thankful for Rylie. I’m thankful for the little life that lived inside of me for a very short time. Though Rylie’s life may have been short it was a life that has rocked my world, my faith, and has forever changed me.

Thank you, Lord, for Rylie.

“Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. 
In Your book was written
All the days that were formed for me,
When none of them as yet existed.”
~Psalm 139:16

The Silent Pain

Since announcing my miscarriage many women have shared with me that they too have lost a baby. Many women experience this tragedy and keep silent. I understand why. It’s a taboo topic. It’s not something you talk about in everyday conversation. It’s not something you include when introducing yourself. When asked how many children a mother has she’ll most likely reply with the number of children living and not include the number she has lost. It makes sense. It would be awkward for most people to hear the response, “I have two children. One is 8 months old and one I miscarried at 9 weeks.” How do you appropriately respond to such a statement? Yet, I would venture to say that most women hold that number in their hearts. I know I do and always will. However many children I go on to have, I’ll always have “x” amount plus the one I lost.

It has been hard to put into words the fact that even though this baby did not develop any further than what it did, it was still my baby. It was mine. Me and my husband’s. It may not have been recognizable as a baby but the egg was fertilized and implanted into the uterus. It was my baby. And had it been healthy it would have grown and developed and come summer I would have given birth. I would have held my baby. But the only way I will ever carry that baby now is in my heart.

Throughout the weekend I was holding myself together and feeling strong. I believe I had put up an emotional roadblock and was holding all the pain and loss at bay. I even kept having thoughts as if I was still pregnant. Maybe I was somewhat in denial. I don’t know. But today I’m starting to feel again.

I feel angry. My heart hurts. I miss my baby. I wish I could have known whether the baby was a boy or a girl. I wish I could have given him or her a name. I wish this hadn’t happened and I wish the baby was still inside of me, growing healthy and strong. My heart hurts thinking about it and I’m tempted to push the hurt away but I know in order to grieve in a healthy way I must deal with the pain. I’m reading a book called Empty Arms and it is helping me accept that I must grieve. And I bought a charm that will be printed with the word “hope” on it along with little footprints and the date of the miscarriage. I’m going to wear it on a chain around my neck as a representation of the baby I lost. It is something I can touch and remember this experience. I felt like it was something I really wanted to do and include in my grieving process.

My heart truly hurts tonight. I am feeling the loss deeply right now. That is good. I am on the road to healing and not stuck behind a wall of pretend strength. I want to be free of this pain. I want my heart to stop hurting. In time, it will come, but for now I ask God to give me peace so I can sleep.

Sweetly Broken

This past week has added a chapter to my life story that I never expected. Never.

After bleeding all week, receiving a worrisome sonogram, and bad blood work results, I received the news that my pregnancy is a failed pregnancy due to a blighted ovum. Last night, during an hour of cramping and heavy bleeding, I miscarried my second pregnancy.

You may think it strange that I want to write about this so soon, or even at all, but this is how I process difficult situations. And besides, I want my story to be told. I don’t want to pretend like it didn’t happen or simply forget over time. I want to write about it while it’s still raw.

When I first found out I was pregnant with Grayson, I was so afraid of something happening that I didn’t let myself get attached until after my first sonogram. This time though, I felt more confident so I quickly became attached and was very excited about having another baby. I thought the baby was a girl this time so I was enjoying coming up with girl names and thinking about having a son and a daughter. My prayer had been that this pregnancy would make it to full term since I had Grayson at 34 weeks, but I never imagined that I wouldn’t even make it past the first trimester. The thought of miscarrying never even entered my mind.

This week of bleeding but not having any answers was emotionally terrorizing. The bleeding was getting a little bit heavier everyday and I was constantly going between believing everything would be okay and the baby was fine to believing I was going to miscarry. That emotional roller coaster is an exhausting ride. All the while, I had to still go about my usual routines. I still had to function. I still had to care for Grayson and meet his needs. It was awful. One moment I would be playing with him and making him laugh and the next I would be breaking down crying. I felt like I had no control over my emotions, my thoughts, and I felt so guilty for losing myself in front of my baby. I felt like a terrible mother not being able to hold myself together.

I was continually praying, asking God to stop the bleeding, to give me strength, to have mercy on me, to please let everything be okay. But He felt far from me, absent, and uncaring. I knew my theology and I believed in it but the reality I was living did not fully mesh with the God that I know and love. I wrestled with Him almost constantly and became angry with His perceived absence. I wanted so much to feel His peace through this situation but I didn’t. . .and I don’t know why.

When I finally got some answers from the blood work, I slowly began to feel God in the situation. I had been told by a nurse at my doctor’s office that it would be unlikely for me to receive any news on Friday since they had just taken my blood on Thursday. So when I called late Friday afternoon I was expecting them to tell me that the results had not come in yet and to try again Monday. But the results had come in and I finally had some answers. It was devastating but I also felt some relief in at least knowing what was going on and what would happen.

Friday night as I was getting ready for bed a song came to me and I found it on my iPod to give it a listen. It was comforting and I posted the lyrics on my Facebook. Five minutes after I did that I started cramping. It was dull at first but grew in intensity. It hurt and I was afraid of how long it would last. My hope was that it would pass quickly but I wasn’t expecting it to. The cramping, heavy bleeding, and passing of tissue and other “stuff” only lasted an hour. It was a devastating experience and in between trips to the bathroom I cried, mourning my loss, and continually thinking, “I can’t believe this is apart of my story.”

Like I have said, I know my theology and I believe in it. Through out all of this I know and believe that I am undeserving of life itself, let alone all that God has blessed me with. I know that God does not owe me anything. I know that He is completely just in taking away my pregnancy. I know that He loves me and that His will is far better than my own. I know all of this. I believe in it and that hasn’t changed. But it’s hard to feel it right now. It’s hard to feel the love I know God has for me. It’s hard to feel anything.

I know that time will heal this wound. I know that I will go through a process of grieving and that it will most likely be a roller coaster of emotions. It’s hard. It’s heart breaking. And I don’t know why God chose me to go through this experience. I don’t know why He made it apart of my story. But He did and even though I do not understand it, nor do I feel Him in this, I believe that if I claim what I know is true, one day I will feel it again. In the meantime, I am sweetly broken.

In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Your redeeming love and
How great is Your faithfulness