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Even If

Isn't it strange how time can pass, but one song, one familiar scene, one reminder and suddenly you're right back in the moment like no time has passed at all?

Photo by Priceless Images by Ashley

Yesterday's culprit was Facebook's Memories feature. Song lyrics posted on Thursday, March 30, 2017:

"They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when you choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul"

- MercyMe

Rewind three days to Monday, March 27, 2017. I remember throwing on my Living Water t-shirt with a red sweater and nervously heading out the door. I remember cracking up laughing at the roadkill on the side of the interstate because it was a raccoon and it looked like the animals Shrek used as balloons in that goofy movie (yes, I have a warped sense of humor). I remember being nervous and wondering whether we'd see two heartbeats or one on the ultrasound. With three positive and rising betas, it never occurred to me that we wouldn't see a heartbeat at all.

Blood work was perfect. Maybe we'd just done the ultrasound too soon.

March 30, 2017 was the day we confirmed God had chosen to leave the mountain unmovable. My heart was in shambles and I'm not even sure my faith was as big as a mustard seed at that point. I was drowning in a sea of grief like never before.

But, God.

He sustained me. He used so many around me to lift me up. He helped me put one foot in front of the other when I didn't have the strength.

For years, I'd heard it said in Sunday services and small groups that it's important to cultivate faith in the good times so that it's strong enough to sustain us in the worst times. In the spring of 2017, I suddenly understood.

I can't ever hear that MercyMe song without at least briefly being back in that moment. Most days I just sing along and give thanks that on March 30, 2019, I woke up to a smiling 9-month old ready for a dry diaper and her morning meal. But every once in a while, I change the station or hit next on my Spotify because I still wonder who they would have been. And you know what? That's okay. There's no time limit on grief and healing isn't linear.

Today, March 31, 2019, our little family went to church, snagged some lunch, and got all spiffed up for family pictures--the last in our current home before we hand it off to a new family and start our new life down the road from the family farm.

In a mere two years, God has changed everything. He has redeemed our story, given us new beginnings, healed our hearts in so many ways, and created beauty where once stood scattered ashes.

He is good in our lowest valleys. He's good in our every day. He's good when we can't see it. He's good when we can. He's good when we can't understand. He's good in the waiting, in the silence, in the heartbreak, and when we don't get the answers we long for. And He was as good on March 30, 2017 as He is today.


One. That's how old you would be today, had you come on your due date. You'd be messy and confused, wondering what in the world that weird mushy hunk of sweet food is that we plopped in
front of you. You'd wonder why a room full of people were staring at you, phones in hand, obsessively snapping pictures. You'd be having your first experience with that wretched off-key birthday song.

Do they smash cakes and sing "Happy Birthday" in Heaven? I have to imagine a choir of angels is a much prettier sound than our earthly attempts.

You'd be a boy and a girl on the move, making the transition from snuggly babies to tiny toddlers exploring the world around you. You'd probably both have a tooth or two by now, but you never know. Some kids get them later than others.

The two of you, well, you'd be the guinea pigs of our parenting adventure. Your poor little sister is stuck with that duty now, but she doesn't seem to mind too much. She's a pretty happy little camper most of the time.

Speaking of your sister, isn't it strange to think that if you were here, she would still be a frozen little embryo waiting for Mommy and Daddy to decide we were ready to grow our family by one more? Life is weird like that.

I sat in church yesterday listening to the pastor talk about grief and the fact that it doesn't ever really go away. He's right. There's healing and there's happiness, but there's also the missing pieces. I think that's the part that many struggle to understand. You made me a mom. You're irreplaceable.

You were wanted, prayed for, longed for, loved. I'll always wonder who you would have been.

I don't obsess. I'm not angry. I'm not crippled by the sadness anymore. I've found healing. But I still miss you.

The story of your lives has impacted some people, you know. It's helped other families to know they're not alone. It's opened the doors to new friendships, given me a heart for other loss mamas, and given me a chance to educate those who (thankfully) have never had to experience this. I once heard it said that God never wastes a hurt. It's true. He's used the hole in my heart in so many ways.

So this November 19, I choose think of you with thanksgiving. I choose to remember the joy I felt when I knew you were growing. I choose to look forward to the day when I will know you.

Thank you, my sweet babies, for making me a mommy for the first time.

The Old Volleyball Net

Mom was a volleyball player. So was I.

At some point during my childhood, a couple of permanent wooden poles and a net made their way into the side yard between the farm house and the grain bins. I don't remember exactly when or why Mom and Dad put them there, but there they stood. I don't even know if they were regulation width. It didn't matter.

Each spring, when the weather was finally warm in Indiana, Mom and I would bust out the net that had been collecting dust in the garage all winter long and we'd play ball. Over the course of three warm seasons, we'd spend hours at the eastern end of that net (the western end was a little too close to a walnut tree for ankle comfort).

Bump. Set. Spike. It's hard to tell how many hits that multi-colored volleyball took over the years.

And oh if that net could talk, I'm sure she'd have some things to share. She heard some stuff. You see, Mom and I? We were never just playing ball--even if I didn't realize it at the time. High school is rough, y'all, and those hours of volleyball practice were the times when Mom and I could just talk. It was conversation, subtle and gentle life lessons, laughter, precious moments.

There was the one slightly less precious moment when I decided it would be funny to de-pants my mother after a shanked volleyball went skidding across the yard. She was none too pleased to be standing in her underpants in plain view of God, the neighbors and any passing motorists. In my nearly 35 years, I don't think I've ever seen someone move that fast again.

Sorry, Mom.

Pants or no pants, when I look back, I now realize the time at that net was priceless and safe. Common ground between mother and daughter.

I don't remember exactly when that net came down for the last time. Did we know it was our last foray onto the grass court at Stewart Farms? Eventually, those old wooden poles came out of the ground too (but the walnut tree still stands threatening ankles and delighting the hungry neighborhood squirrels).

Hours at the net gave way to calling cards and cordless telephone calls from my dorm at Hanover College. Free night and weekend calls on our cell phones from my apartment at Purdue. Sporadic weekend visits as I stepped out into the the professional world.

And while the volleyball court is gone, what never went away is the memories made or the lessons learned.

Neither Mom or I play any volleyball these days. Years of wear and tear on both of our bodies brought that to an end. Now we lunch and shop, our common ground womanhood and motherhood. She's still gently guiding me and teaching me life lessons.

Some things never change.