Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Learning to Dance in the Rain

I've always thought New Year's Eve was so overrated. I adopted this mantra after having some botched New Year's Eve plans when I was of the age where it seemed to be a big deal. Let me share a funny must have been 1994 or 1995. I was in University and was either 20 or 21. All of my friends were back home in Niagara Falls, Ontario (that's where I grew up) for the Christmas break as most of us all went to different schools. We had plans to go down to the annual "First Night" held right down by the falls. A group called "Blue Rodeo" was going to be playing a free concert...I was somewhat of a fan so I was looking forward to it. Those of you who are Canadian will know who I'm talking about. Anyway, long story short....two of my friends were going to be driving and there was some miscommunication. One thought the other was going to pick me up and vice versa. Bottom line....I spent New Year's home alone while my mother slept. Yeehaw! I think it is totally hilarious now, but at the time I wasn't laughing.

Anyway, I don't care so much as I get older what my plans are, but rather reflect more on what a New Year signifies. Most years I am usually excited about what the New Year will bring and this year is no different. Most of 2008 has been a rather difficult year for me and my family....with learning on March 20th that we were expecting our third child and finding out May 2 that our baby had some serious anomalies, getting the diagnosis of limb-body wall complex on May 20, the rest of the pregnancy that was very emotional, and then giving birth to Joy, who was stillborn, on Sept. 15. Despite all that...I am sad to see the year go. It means we are moving farther away in time of where my memories are so fresh of Joy. I don't want to forget even the smallest of details. Good thing I have a pretty good long-term memory...most of the time anyway. It's my short term memory that is a different story.....I blame my forgetfulness on something I like to call "momnesia." Some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. Regardless, 2008 was Joy's much time, thought, prayer and tears were committed to her. Obviously just because we are about to enter 2009 doesn't mean I'm done thinking about her or that I won't shed any more tears....these are still daily occurrences for me.

Even with all the sadness and disappointments over 2008 all of those have been intermixed with joy along the way. Why is it that joy and pain, two concepts that seem so diametrically opposed to one another seem to often travel hand in hand with each other?? Maybe it is God's way of making the pain bearable by pairing it with the joy? During each one of these trials that we have endured this year we can always look back and see God's hand at work sustaining us. Obviously things on many occasions never turned out the way we had hoped or prayed for, but yet our faith remains and dare I even say stronger? God allowed us enough grace for each new day.

Here is a quote I think pretty much sums up my year as I look to 2009.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain."

I'm still learning to dance and appreciate all the joys, all the pains, all the things God gives and takes away, and yes, all the storms. I feel I've spent so much of my life waiting for certain storms to pass making sure I don't get splashed by the rain, ensuring I'm protected by a raincoat or an umbrella (you know....trying to control things that are beyond my control). If you've ever been caught in a real monsoon of a storm you know it's pretty futile. No matter how much you try to stay dry in the rain part of you is gonna get wet....why not learn to dance in it? Knowing and trusting that God is in control certainly gives me the freedom to at least try even if right now all I can do is the two-step.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

God is SO Good

Over the past two weeks I had mentally adjusted my thinking to being out of work come Jan. 9, 2009. As it turns out I have been given an opportunity to stay with my current employer. The one lady in our small department of 3 who was going to be able to keep her position has unexpectedly turned in her resignation. You can imagine my surprise when I got a call from my boss asking if I was interested in staying on. The answer of course was...yes! I let her know about my plans to return to school in Jan. and when my classes would be and she is going to be planning my hours around my classes. How awesome is that? I can't tell you what an answer to prayer this is. God is SO good!

Lewis was trying to figure out why things happened the way they played out here over the past two weeks and why God did this or that. I was like "Lewis, if I've learned anything about God it is that I don't always know or understand his reasons for things." I've really learned not to try and give myself a headache in trying to figure out the why because it is all just speculation anyway. I just have to trust him.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.

During this Christmas season it is so easy to look around and see who is missing. You can imagine I see Joy's name everywhere I go during this time of year and I love it!! I really do. Some may think it would be a sorrowful reminder of what I'm lacking. On the contrary...I don't want to focus on what I'm lacking, but on how much richer Joy has made our lives. Sure I would rather have her here with us, and I miss her so much it hurts, but I don't want to be so consumed by the grief that I miss the blessing God has for me.

Be blessed this holiday season!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Three Months

I just got the most thoughtful email and pictures sent to me from my new friend, Rachel, she too knows the grief and heartbreak associated with having a daughter born still. Her sweet baby girl, Felicity Faith, went to be with Jesus on Oct.6, 2008....3 weeks to the day after Joy. You can find her blog, Home on the Range, on my blog roll.

The pictures were taken at Redondo Beach, CA by her friend Emily. Thank you so much Rachel & Emily!! You have brought great joy to this day that marks three months since Joy was born into the arms of Jesus. I miss her more than I can possibly put into words! The pictures literally took my breath away because they were so unexpected.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Name of my Blog is Really Holding me Accountable

Having my blog named "Choose Joy" has been hard to live up to this week. I was told on a phone call by my boss Tues. night that my job is being eliminated as of Jan.9, 2009. It is really just the last blow in a series of work related issues that have come since I started back to work after Joy's death. I haven't written about all of it. I let you guys know about the first cut in hours I got, but then a couple weeks later my hours were cut by another 4 per week, then I was told they were cashing out my leave because I was no longer full-time....and now this. I can't say that I am totally surprised as the company I work for has been struggling like a lot of other companies in this difficult economy. Regardless, it's still a bit of a tough pill to swallow. I have been with this company for 10 years as of Jan. 7, 2009. Ironically two days before my last day of work.

I'm sooooo glad I do not find my identity of who I am in my work. It is so much more fulfilling to find my identity and value in Jesus and who He says I am. It is also much more fulfilling to me to find more value in being a mother to my kids and wife to my husband. Those are the things that bring me the most happiness. Unfortunately in the world of work, as much as you think you might be valued or valuable, you are always expendable and replaceable. I'm so glad the creator of the universe doesn't view me this way.

With all that still has to make a living. I feel like my bachelor's degree is no longer serving me well in this day and age with the economy the way it is. Not to mention there are few jobs in my area. Soooooo, I am going to be taking classes starting next month to try and get into the nursing program at the local community college. The truth is I was registered to take classes this past summer, but with everything that was happening with Joy I did not feel I could really focus on school. It's been a few years since I have been a student...ummmmm over 11 years!! It is a little scary to me, but I'm looking forward to the change.

One door closes, another one opens. ...right? My job being eliminated is kind of a blessing I suppose. I was at a point where I was no longer enjoying it. You know, surprisingly I don't have much anxiety about the loss of income as I know God is faithful to provide. There's that crazy thing called "peace" again. It keeps showing up when I need it the most.

The real unfortunate part in all of this is that the timing could not possibly be worse. Losing Joy has really made me feel less capable of handling other stresses that come along. I know it won't always be like that, but since this has happened so close together it's hard for me at times.

So on the topic of joy, not my baby Joy, but joy. My pastor said a very profound thing last Sunday about joy. It was simple, but profound and so I had to write it down. "I have joy because I see the situation from God's perspective, not my own." That is so true! When I get caught up in feeling sorry for myself because my child died, or because I'm about to lose my job it is hard to find the joy. When I try and see it all from God's perspective,even though I don't know what his plan is, I can have joy knowing that he is in control and he's got my back. At this point I'm almost excited to see what he has in store for me. I'm anticipating good things. Honestly, it took me a few days to get to this point. I can't lie to you.

Please pray for me to stay strong in this peace, joy, and hope that I have. It doesn't always come easy. I have to pray and fight for it daily.

Jeremiah 29:11 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 a hope and a future.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm still here

I thought I should stop by and post an update since it's been a while. This is the longest I've gone without a post since Joy was born. No good reason really...I guess I'm not always prepared to put my thoughts into words. Okay, that doesn't really make sense. Yes, I think in words, but maybe a better way of putting that is I'm not always sure how to express my thoughts.

I'm having a difficult night and maybe I thought trying to write something might help. Lewis has been out of town since Sunday on business and he is gone for another 3 days. I'm not sure if that is contributing to how I'm feeling. It is the first time he has had to travel since Joy was born.

Regardless, I can't seem to stop the tears tonight. My whole body just aches with grief and my heart is so heavy. I miss my baby so much. It's just not fair! I just want to scream "Why God, I don't understand?!" I trust you, but I don't get it.

I'm not sure that it completely makes sense to me, but I seem to be more emotional since Joy's due date of Nov. 23rd. It could be because it just happens to coincide with the start of holiday season? I think I've been a little bit in denial. I didn't think the holidays would be any more difficult than any other day without Joy. Perhaps I was wrong? Perhaps I just over analyze everything and should stop trying to figure things out. How's that go...Let go and let God!

It's late and I'm tired. I think I'll end on that note....let go and let God!