A note on miscarriage

"Last couple of years have been a beating."
Those were the words Larry Crowne says in the movie Larry Crowne when he is informed he is being fired because he cannot go higher in the company due to his lack of college degree and he cannot stay forever in the same job due to company policies. We learn later in the movie Larry has recently divorced and will lose the house he thought he would make a family in. The words have lingered with me.

I thought of those words: last years have been a beating. It certainly has felt that way. The hubs has been unable to find a steady job. He gets a job whose project gets canceled due to funding. I was fired for getting pregnant and later fired for not being an American in Honduras (feel the irony). And we haven't been able to move from our in-laws.

But I realized we haven't taken a beating.
We didn't bury a loved one.
We are not in debt.
We are not homeless or alone.
We are not battling a permanent illness or a terminal illness.
We are not struggling in our marriage or as parents.
We have a good relationship and we support each other in everything.
We have two beautiful, gorgeous, perfect, healthy, smart, kind, funny daughters.
We are blessed beyond what we deserve.
And even though we are not were we wished we'd be, we were very happy to find out we were pregnant.

So much information in two little lines.

This was last Wednesday during Holy week.
We were scared, for like a second, and then the excitement hit us hard.
What if my prayers are answered and they're twins?
What if it is a boy?
Who cares is it is another beautiful baby girl!

I dreamt of beautiful baby feet and baby toes, the smell of newborn, the joy and pleasure of breastfeeding, how would Emmalee and Kaylee treat the baby, what would we name him or her ... or them!
And yesterday, while I was in a meeting all day, I felt the pain in my lower abdomen while my baby was being ripped apart from my body. I left the office in scary tears when I saw blood and ran to the doctor's. An empty womb showed in the ultrasound.

No. It is still not a beating.
We are still blessed beyond what we deserve.
But the real pain of a miscarriage is that it is only a death to me.
People tell me they are sorry and they will try to comfort me, but no one will mourn this life like me. No one will know the pain of watching my dream drain down in red from my own body. No one will forever remember the baby that was lost because it was only a baby to me. I will think about this baby for the rest of my life. When I see the girls, I'll think of the brother or sister that could have been there playing with them. On every birthday from now on, I will calculate what age the baby would have been by now. People will do this with you if you lost a born child. Only you will do this with an unborn lost baby. Only I was in love with that child for the six days I knew of his or her existence. Only I am heart broken. It is a very lonely and hard place to be.
I just don't want another person tell me this was God's will or everything is gonna be ok. These are truths that come about on their own. I am glad most have only said "sorry."

My heart aches more when I ponder on whether my baby was a human or not, having failed to implant. A fully formed zygote that could not cling to the nourish that would make it grow, was that bundle of cells with half my DNA in it even a baby? The issue of abortion, so abhorrent to me, is that it claims it was not alive. How then, can we called cells live things? Should this change how I view every living thing?

And then there is the spiritual issues. Will I meet him or her in heaven? Did the baby have a soul yet? Was there even a beating heart? I remember how we found out we were pregnant with Emmalee really early. On her first ultrasound, she was nothing but a tiny bean where all we could see was a white dot turning on and off signaling her beating heart. That intermittently white dot was so beautiful and awe-inspiring to me.

Most women don't even realized they have miscarried. They didn't know there had been conception. I did. My brain has no idea what to do or where to go. All it knows is that it was a mommy to three. My heart finds comfort in God giveth and God taketh, but blessed be His name!


Why turning 30 is so dreadful

I was pondering on the dreaded thirties  and  being halfway through mine.
Why do people loath so much turning 30 years of age? This is not only true for women, as most would assume; it is as universal and much dreaded for men as well.
I was watching a movie of the so called coming-of-age transition and wondered why this theme has become quite trendy as of lately. These movies depict almost 30 year-old people trying desperately to hold on to the last shred of youth in them by acting out, ignoring their responsibility, wallowing in self pity for their failures.

When you turn 30, you feel this self-imposed pressure to define who you are. I tried to remember the phrases we used to define ourselves in our youth:
*most artistic
*Gothic look
*best "insert instrument here" player
*best student
*most athletic
*could-care-less-about-school friend
*grunge look
*rebel who thinks he is a devil may care
*all about "insert sport here"

Think back to your high school years and you will probably have a face in mind for each of the words I just listed. All these words have a thing in common: freedom. Freedom to dress a certain way without much resistance from the outside, freedom to act a certain way without long-lasting consequences, freedom to have the time to pursue likes and develop them into hobbies. Freedom to be.

"Youth is wasted in the young." A phrase I once thought was bogus that I now find myself using. If I knew what I know now, would I have acted differently? It is usually a question that resonates in these coming-of-age movies. I often wonder if my mother prepared me enough for adulthood. Should I have been given more responsibilities, warned how hard things would get, advised on how much rejection and failure we would endure. I think I should be grateful I didn't have to grow up so fast. I should thank my mom for the time to be who I wanted to be with the time to be that and enjoy a period in my life where I was totally free.

What are the words or phrases that typically describe a 30 year-old?
*in a dead-beat apartment
*in your own house
*employed in their dream job
*employed in a dead-beat job
*not-able-to-find-employment status
*spinster (seriously, at 30?)
*single and unmarried
*wife or husband
*mother or father

All of these have one thing in common: time is ticking. Again, you probably have a face in mind for each of these. They all carry with them responsibilities. The crisis depicted in the aforementioned movies usually has to do with not wanting these responsibilities anymore, wishing we could go back to the time we thought college was hard.

I have sleepless nights most nights. I had them in my youth as well, but the nights in my youth were spent songwriting and composing, coloring and designing, praying and praising. I woke up feeling great about my sleepless night and didn't mind repeating it. My nights now are filled with screaming babies, crying toddlers, holding, caressing, praying even more, scolding, giving discipline, and wishing I don't have to repeat that night. Don't get me wrong. I love to do it, but I do it for love of my children, not for love of myself.

When you turn 30, you feel there are certain things you should have accomplished already. And those few friends who have accomplished what you feel you are lacking are also not satisfied. You should be married already. You should have a great job already. You should have your own place already. You should have your own family already. And the dread of the thirties  is this voice in your head telling you if it hasn't happened yet it is very unlikely it will. Just remember Rachel turning 30 and her plan way out of time.

The thirties is a time when you feel your life should have purpose. And though many seek this purpose intentionally and have so for a long time, the struggles of the world you'd have to overcome seem daunting. Even more daunting is that there is so much you want to do and never feel you can.
Youth had the promise of time, of hope to be able to achieve anything, of a whole world waiting for you with open arms.

So yes, there you go! That's why they're dreaded. I'm not going to sugar-coat it. It's hard. It's a little lonelier. All those friends you had and with whom you could hang out every weekend? They're tied up in responsibilities as much as you. Getting a good job? Super hard. Buying your own house? Seems impossible. Starting a family? With what money! Getting money? Not happening!

Are there any good news?
Yes! The most wonderful news!
This dread is all in your head!!!
That's right! It's all your making. Everything is temporary and your thirties is where most of your dreams will come true. Your twenties where the last ounce of freedom and fun. Your thirties have new fun in them, but a fun that is mostly earn and not freely received like in your twenties. This is also the source of dread and the reason for the crisis occurring in these movies. You are in control of what happens to you and you have to make things happen.
Want that place of your own? Get serious with your money administration and start saving.
Relationships are not freely given. Your girlfriend won't stay on girlfriend status forever and she will demand a change.
Your love life is not what you want it to be? Stop accepting less than what you deserve and only seek relationships which will give you that. It is no longer a time to go for Mr. Wrong because he is Mr.-Right-now.
Your work is not what you wanted? Polish your skills, get that degree, get that masters, do something about it, send more CVs, keep trying.
Your body is not what you want it to be? Get healthy, get active, get moving.
Didn't make enough sacrifices in your twenties to be closer to where you want to be? Time is not over.

I find this to be so truthful.

Time is not over.
You didn't reach a deadline when turning 30.
The dread of the thirties is that it comes with the dissatisfaction of life we have been embracing for some time because the promises of our twenties aren't here yet, because we grew believing we were deserving of more and never seem to achieve this more.
The wonderful thing is that the thirties will teach us to appreciate what we do have, see how blessed we truly are, see how much we've been given that we don't deserve and still receive. The thirties will show you that family is important and you should have taken good care of it in your youth and still can. It will show you that those big circles of friends don't last, but the few ones you are left with are pretty much the bomb and all you'll ever need and can cultivate. It will show you to step up for what you believe and to believe in yourself because you can do this thing called life.

It will show you how important it was to follow this verse:

Ecclesiastes 11
9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth. And walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment.
10 Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity.
Ecclesiastes 12
1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, “I have no pleasure in them”;

I turned 30 in beautiful La Ceiba next to the most beautiful family I could have dreamed of.

Making memories with these lovely ladies, including our beloved Tia Sara

With mom on Skype watching Tia Sara give me my first cake smash face.

How wonderful that my youth gave me time to serve Christ 24/7, spend nights without end in His presence, and have that sustain me through the not bad days but harder days filled with more to do. The thirties require courage. They are not for the faint-hearted or the lazy who want it all to be easy. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can start being 30!


Being a Good Mom is Scary

I am not surprised to figure out I am so terrible at being a mother.
I was praying with Emmalee and Kaylee last week, as we do most nights, and realized how truthful this is. I take my time to be grateful for every little thing, including this day the Lord made, and later ask for the daily request in my prayer life: health for my girls, safety and maturity for my husband, health for my mom, strength for my sister, prosperity for my father and father-in-law, Dela's and Denise's baby, Giana's recovery, and for myself I ask for a meek and quiet spirit.

I was praying for Emmalee that night specifically because she had had some attitude problems. As I prayed for her, I prayed I might emulate that which I was asking for her. When they were asleep and I went to bed to meditate, I found out I was far from being a good example.  "Give her patience, kindness, soft-spokenness, humility, a serviceable heart, a sharing heart, quick to obey with a good attitude, submission to honor her parents" is what I prayed for her. I realized this is what I've been praying for myself most of my christian life. And although I've prayed this for a long time, I have never felt I am closer to having those character traits. The other day a co-worker said they never know if I am there because I am so quiet. That was completely new to me. Quiet? Me? Definitely not! or maybe prayer has had some effect? I've written before how when I fervently ask God to help me overcome a character area I am failing, I end up failing even more after praying for it. I pray "God, help me with my anger" and spend the rest of the day snapping at my husband or the girls for every little thing. I go back to prayer feeling a complete failure and ask again.

Last Monday I had just finished praying with the girls when Emmalee pushed her sister. When I was about to spank her, she wiggled out of the way and I hit my thumb with the paddle and the edge of the bed. I thought I had broken my finger. I even shed some tears. When she saw me crying, she became very silent with a concerned look on her face. Mommy made a horrible grimace and spoke very coarse. If any of the girls is having trouble falling asleep, they ask to lay in my bed. I try not to let them do this much, but I sometimes oblige. That day I told Emmalee, who kept asking to come to my bed, that she was punished for hurting mommy and she had to stay on her bed.

Imagine me saying no to that face.

I went to my bed remembering our prayers and felt, for the first time in a long time, how the Spirit filled me, changed my heart, and renewed my mind. "It was an accident. You are teaching her blame, guilt, and not a good way to deal with the unexpected that hurts." I got out of bed and went to her bed. "Mommy was wrong, sweetie. Mommy makes many mistakes because she is human, but she must correct her mistakes. It was not your fault that mommy got hurt, and mommy should have not reacted so angrily. I am sorry mommy got angry and said you had hurt me. You didn't do it on purpose. Please forgive me." She looked at me with her big eyes and gave me hug with a sigh of relief. She was feeling terrible! She later grabbed my hand and asked which finger got hurt. I pointed at the thumb and she started giving it kisses, as mommy does. She was caressing it and fell asleep doing that while mommy prayed a little more.

I was very humbled at the fact that God could teach my daughter through my shortcomings. I was glad I had spent enough time with the Lord to be filled with the Spirit to overcome my sinful nature.
We teach by example. I cannot teach my daughters to pray if I don't pray. I can't teach them to ask forgiveness if they don't see me asking for forgiveness. I cannot expect them to have self-control if I don't show them what that looks like. And that scares me.

Beautiful girls. Let me raise them well, Lord.

I fail most of the time, all the time.
I am scared of the time I'll get to be a full-time mom.
I want to get home and just lay in bed 80% of the time. I do hide in the bathroom for some quiet time and hope the girls' fighting for a toy won't cut that alone time short. I fail at showing empathy, soft-spokenness, compassion, grace, and patience 100% of the days. I dream of nights of uninterrupted sleep; of wipes lasting longer because I am not cleaning floors, chairs, tables, fingers, faces all of the time. What all that means is that there is life in my home. It means I have a home. It means I woke up today with some strength, even though my body mostly feels pain, because I can do it all over again. It is scary because I have to do it all over again and I somehow have to make it better than yesterday.
I guess having a meek and quiet spirit would be easier if I wasn't strained and sleep-deprived. There was a time I wasn't and still didn't have a meek and quiet spirit. It is scary because I can't stop striving for it, today more than ever. It is scary because if I fail, my girls won't learn what that looks like.
Lord, have mercy on me!

Let us look at the light at the end of the tunnel:

1. The Lord has commanded us not to be afraid:
Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
2. We fall but we can stand back up:
Proverbs 24:16
16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

3. HE is the One Who holds us:
Psalm 37:23-24
23 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;
24though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

4. Even great man like Paul fought this reality:
Romans 7
15 For that which I do, I know not. For what I would do, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do.19 For the good that I would do, I do not; but the evil which I would not do, that I do. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!

5. There is power in my weakness through His grace:
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

6. Through Christ, we get a new opportunity every day:
Lamentations 3:22-23
22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

7. Through Christ, we can do it better each day:
Philippians 3:13-14
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Dear Lord, 
Thank you because it is not up to me alone the task to raise my daughters. Thank you because you have promised to be with me everyday and everywhere I go. Thank you because you have promised to forgive me and give me new mercies each day. Thank you because you have promised through your grace and power to use my weakness. Thank you because through the blood of Christ I was made free from the bondage of sin and I can strive to be a good example for my daughters. Thank you because it is Your Spirit that enables me to shed my old being and live in the Spirit and not in the flesh. Thank you because by your mercy I am perceived more quiet. Help me, Lord, and don't leave me. I can't do this. I can do it in You. Keep teaching me the beauty of each day and see Your hand held me through it. I love You forever. Amen.


Christian Ethics part 3

Telling someone not to be in fornication when he or she is, not to be addicted to drugs when he or she is, not to feel ill about someone when he or she is is a counsel of futility.
We don't come to give advice. We come to give good news.
Telling someone what he ought to do is an act of futility unless you have Christ.
He is the One Who will give you the power to do what you ought.

Ephesians 1:17-19
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might…

When God speaks, it is truth and we must obey. If you are to say you are a Christian, this is not negotiable. God's truths are immutable. If He said fornication and adultery are wrong, they are still wrong in the 21st Century. The Bible says God determines what is right or wrong, not us. This is what we call moral values and ethics. You can chose to obey God or not, but you cannot chose to disobey God and claim His blessings. 

God Himself is powerful to do anything, but it is in keeping with His own holy, righteous, truthful, loving nature. The Christian conservative fundamentalist goes to the Bible and begin with God and by a process of analysis try to say what does the Bible try to say about life and nature and by a process of deduction try to apply that to life. If the Bible says God cannot lie and you are called to be perfect like your Father is perfect, you cannot justifiably lie. 

Luke 6:46
"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?

Galatians 5
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Ephesians 5
3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let them not once be named among you, as becomes of saints;
4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not befitting, but rather giving of thanks.
5 For this ye know: that no whore monger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things comes the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

All orthodoxy begins with God. When you come to Biblical ethics you have basic presuppositions. These are that God is, God has revealed Himself, and God determines what's right and wrong. 

Sin resides in will, the will to not do what God commands. 
Man is free in that he can chose or reject to obey God. 
Man is under God and is obligated to do what God commands. 
When you sin against God, you are judged to be wrong and sinful. 
The only way you can put this into effect is by a moral transformation of your nature. 
It is exactly why counsel about right and wrong was futile. 
Is there any power that will enable us to do what we ought to do?
The basic concepts in Christianity is that the goal of life is to become like Christ in character. 
The reason God created us was to bring glory to Himself. 
We glorify God by reflecting back to God the purpose for which we were created. 
You were called to God to conform to the image of Christ. 
We want to love the evil and hate the good, and we want to do the evil and reject the good. But through Christ I receive a new nature in which I can glorify God with my life by His power in me.
Moral likeness of Christ is my purpose, to be clean in my character, moral inwardness.
Not merely to not commit murder, but also not to be angry with my brother without a cause. Not merely not commit adultery, which has a social involvement, but also not be vile in my thinking. 
You take the power of sex which God gave you to be united with one person in the invisible bond of marriage for intimacy and unity and oneness and all the joys of fellowship to be one together and bring to the world those conceive in the image of God, to process it like the dogs in the field.
But through Christ and in Christ, we may do what we ought to do.

Christian Ethics part 2

Today we study ethical values.
It is that which deals with it is morally right or wrong, but studied from Christian ethics. 
Biblical ethics because it is God Who speaks, the Creator, it must be accepted. 
God's Word is the one instrument He uses to accomplish His will. 
There is conservative Biblical ethics and liberal Biblical ethics. 
God has revealed Himself in scripture for you to know the nature of God, which is the purpose of scripture. From there you understand that He says in His Word that you must be perfect like He is perfect. From deduction, we conclude that lying is never justified from a Biblical standpoint because it is against God's nature. What is right is what is in accordance to the nature of God. 
In Liberal ethics you determine what is right and wrong through a process of induction of philosophy, history, religion, etc.+
Liberal ethics is autonomous, while Biblical ethics is heteronomous.
A physicist did not established the speed of light; he discovered it. 
When you think you can establish what is right or wrong you take the moral values of life out of revelation from Scripture and what you have done is said: "I am my own God."

When God says thou shall not commit adultery, you might think you can justify the act God has forbidden because it is done out of "love." Well, the Bible says that Love is the fulfillment of the law. You must love your neighbor as yourself and in committing these acts your aren't. 
The Christian in Biblical ethics is determined by God. 
Let us review the presuppositions: 
Man is a moral being. Man was created in the image of God with the ability to reason and feel. He has a moral nature that understands right and wrong. His conscience in him obligates him to do right (whatever is that you believe to be right, and this is not necessarily correct and it must be educated) and not wrong. We are free to do the things we choose. 
To be moral you must be free. 
Now what is sin? Sin means that you have refuse to conform to the will of God or transgression of the law as revealed in Scripture.
God speaks of sin as that what you do that you shouldn't do.
"Thou shalt not kill..."
The greatest sins a Christian does, however, is not what he shouldn't do that he does, but the things he should do that he doesn't.
"Love thy God with all thine heart, soul, and mind..."
Is not what you are outside, but what you are inside.
So why do people reject God?
Well, the purpose of Christian ethics is to conform to God's will. Basically, let him run your life and control you.
This is not appealing to man because we are wicked.
You see, when you preach accepting Christ as your Savior, you must include that this entails accepting Christ as your Lord.
People ask: Will he dictate what I wear, what I do, who I marry, how I make my money, how I spend my money, how I chose to live?
The answer is: Yes!
What is your goal?
If your goal is wealth, you will judge everything for wealth. You might cheat, you will take away the right time to your family, you won't give offerings to the Lord, you won't help the needy and widows...
God brought you to the world for the purpose of growing in character.
What about women? What is their goal?
Are you to fulfill your potential as a musician? Leave your home for a career?
The goal of a Christian is Christlikeness.