My Seven Arrows

Today R2M brings you a story from Liz and how God has shown her his providence, even in the midst of three separate miscarriages. It is easy to assume that a woman with children “has it all” or can’t possibly relate to the struggles of a childless women. I hope this story changes your perspective and opens your heart to the millions of women who miscarry after children. Thank you Liz for your honesty and for your wonderful outlook on God’s steady hand on your family through all the different seasons of life.

A message from Liz:

“My name is Liz. I am wife to Brett and full-time Mom and teacher to our four sons; Noah (10), Asher (8), Luke (5) and Seth (3). I’m also privileged to be Mom to Haven, Grace and Jordan, who I look forward to meeting one day in Glory. Their story is mine but mostly God’s, as He orchestrates all of life’s events according to His perfect plan.

Background

Brett and I met halfway through Christian college and were married soon afterwards. Looking back we were but babies, being married at 22 and 23, but we were excited about the future and in love. Three years later we were settled into a ministry in beautiful California and things couldn’t have been better. We decided it was time for a family, and three months after going off birth control, Noah was on the way. Two years later Noah’s sidekick Asher joined the party. We decided if we were going to have more children, we’d keep them close together, so soon I was expecting for the third time. We were young, optimistic and invincible.

About that time, God in His perfect wisdom began to challenge our self-confidence. Just as I found out I was expecting child number three, we began to pray about leaving California to move back East. The ministry was struggling and at the same time we were concerned over Brett’s father’s health, having just received a cancer diagnosis. If you had asked us if we trusted God through good and bad, we would have said a resounding ‘yes!’, but truthfully God was starting to test the depth of that trust.

Still, we took the leap of faith and God met us in North Carolina with His sustaining grace and providence. After facing multiple closed doors in church ministry, Brett finally landed a job in car sales, and our family took on a new dynamic with him working long days and me home with the boys. The car dealership job took up to 60 hours a week including weekends, so I juggled a four-year-old and two-year-old while pregnant, mostly on my own, until Luke made us a party of five in January 2012. I won’t lie…. I was thrilled and exhausted all at once. We were so in love with our family and SO confused that God had put such a desire in our hearts for church ministry with multiple closed doors. Instead I was stuck at home as a quasi-single mom and my husband desperately wanted out of his job with nowhere to go. Weren’t we following the Lord? Why were things so hard?

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Trials and Tribulations

Enter 2013. The trials came faster than we could make sense of them. My husband began to lie awake at night, for no apparent reason, and this went on for weeks. In March, he began having scary symptoms that led him to seek a doctor’s advice, and while at an office visit with his heart pounding, he was sent to the ER for further testing. The diagnosis came back: panic attacks. What? We were dumbfounded! As we began to process this information we realized that the constant stress of the high-pressure environment of the dealership was taking its toll on Brett, causing his body to get flooded with adrenaline when he least wanted or expected it. We began spending our nights pleading with God to remove this burden, both of the job and the physical effects, and many nights I read Psalms out loud to Brett late at night in order to help him get to sleep.

First miscarriage 

Right about this same time I found out I was pregnant. We hadn’t been trying for this pregnancy but were excited nonetheless…it was joyous news in the midst of our current storm. However, only two weeks later, unexpectedly, I began to bleed. I was stunned and ashamed. I was caught between the paralyzing fear that something was wrong, and the embarrassment of not wanting to create an awkward situation by telling anyone I thought I was having a miscarriage. On top of that, I finally called my OB/GYN, and when I told the advice nurse that I was 6 weeks along and bleeding, she just brushed me off and told me to stay home and that coming in wouldn’t do anything. I felt confused, abandoned and scared.

The Lord wasn’t surprised though. In His kindness he had recently introduced me to Kristin, an OB/GYN who had just left her practice to stay home with her kids, and who was always ready to lend a listening ear. She met me at the park for lunch with all of our kids that very day, and listened with great compassion as I shared my symptoms and fears. For the next few days, she checked in with me almost hourly, until I had passed the remains of the pregnancy and the bleeding had slowed down. God also sent a dear friend, Christie, who drove across town with her four small children, just to deliver Chick-Fil-A to me and the kids as a show of her love and support. Their empathy during my heartbreak meant the world to me, and they both remain dear friends to this day. At the time they were the only friends I told about my miscarriage, as I struggled with the awkward feeling of not knowing how others would respond to my news.

Healing

Despite the love I had received, my heart was devastated. Why did this happen to me? We were dealing with major stresses in our home, but fertility had never been an issue. Didn’t God love me? How could He allow this and call Himself kind? I spent the next several weeks in a fog, going through the motions with my children, unable to cope with the difficulty of telling them what had happened, and trying to function through the pain. The world seemed grey and bland and my heart was heavy and distracted with grief and confusion. Gently though, God began to whisper truth to my heart. He is good. He is love. He hurts when I hurt. I see ashes but He is creating beauty. He Himself lost a child on Calvary and is not unable to understand my grief.

The words from two songs spoke deeply to my heart during this time. One was, ‘10,000 Reasons’ by Matt Redman, that recounts the boundless number of God’s graces poured out on His children. I kept this song on repeat ad nauseum, but it fed my soul as I turned my heart towards God’s goodness and away from my pain. The second song was, ‘Hide Away in the Love of Jesus‘ by Sovereign Grace Music. One section of the song has the following lyrics:

Come, weary saints, though tired and weak
Hide away in the love of Jesus
Your strength will return by His quiet streams
Hide away in the love of Jesus
Come, hopeless hearts, do not despair
Hide away in the love of Jesus
For ten thousand joys await you there
Hide away in the love of Jesus
Hear Him calling your name
See the depths of His love in the wounds of His grace
Hide away

The reassurance that God’s love was deeper than my pain brought comfort and confidence to my heart. We named our child Haven, as she was resting in God’s haven of peace and joy. Naming her brought peace and comfort to me that she would not be forgotten.

Second miscarriage 

Only three months later I joyfully found out I was expecting yet again. Brett’s stressful work situation hadn’t changed, but he was learning ways to cope with it, through medication, exercise and habits that could help him relax when he felt tension. We were both running a few times a week and feeling great. I was 10 weeks along and was struggling with holding back the news from my friends, but the week before I was to announce my pregnancy, I woke up one morning to that gut-wrenching realization that I was bleeding yet again.

Healing

God’s providence never ceases to amaze me, and this day was no different. As I started my day and began to realize what was happening, God went before me with His amazing grace. Within the space of 15 minutes, my phone announced not one but two text messages from ‘random’ friends, who ‘just so happened’ to have me on their minds that day, and wanted me to know they were praying for me. How kind is the Lord! My heart was broken again, and yet this time I faced the familiar pain with a better understanding of God, His love, care and personal knowledge of me. He gave me Psalm 139 for comfort for that day and the days to come. Verses 5-6 say ‘You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.’ That truth became my anchor as I faced my second miscarriage in four months. I named our child Grace, for during that time I saw God’s grace carry me through my pain.

It’s important to mention that during my time of grief, my husband did not go through the same pain as I did. This is not to say that he did want those children, but did not have the same connection with them that I did. However, he was wonderfully patient and allowed me to cry and grieve as much as I needed. That was the most meaningful thing he could have done.

At the time of my first two miscarriages, my oldest son was 6 years old and I simply didn’t want to share with him what had happened. At the time I was dealing with enough overwhelming feelings of my own that I didn’t feel ready to sit down and try to explain to him what had happened to Mommy. Since we hadn’t yet told our kids that I was expecting either time, there was no need to say that that Mommy’s baby was with Jesus now. There were times I doubted if that was the ‘right’ thing to do, but I was just emotionally spent and not ready to discuss it with the kids.

Months later when I began to open up to other ladies I knew about my losses, I was quite surprised as to how many had also experienced miscarriage. I felt very awkward sharing my news with people because I didn’t know how they would react, and so as a result I also felt isolated in my pain. When I allowed myself to tell that first friend, and then another and another, I realized how much love and kindness I had missed by keeping silent.

The Lord gives generously, and in November 2014, Brett and I welcomed with great joy our double rainbow baby, Seth. Seth means ‘appointed’ and was the son born to Adam and Eve after the loss of their son Abel. We give thanks to the Lord for our Seth and believe God appointed him as a special gift to us to complete our family. I spoiled that baby rotten and enjoyed every last minute of his tiny baby days. What a joyous gift He was to me!

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Third miscarriage

God’s providence often is seen in His good gifts, though sometimes it’s seen in circumstances we simply can’t understand in this life. And so it was with my third miscarriage. When Seth was 16 months old, Brett was still working crazy hours and now I was homeschooling two children and juggling a baby and a preschooler. I found myself falling asleep at 8:30 at night and after several nights of this I began feeling nauseated. I took a pregnancy test ‘to rule out the obvious’, and was floored when it was positive. In my heart I panicked, thinking, ‘Lord, you know my hands are so full as it is! I can’t do this!’ I was struggling with receiving this very unexpected gift that the Lord had for us, and feeling overwhelmed and fearful of my ability to parent five children while Brett worked long hours. My fears changed though, as two weeks after that positive pregnancy test I began to bleed heavily. A trip to my OB/GYN confirmed the miscarriage and required a same-day D&C, which ended with an overnight hospital stay. Two weeks later my HCG levels were not dropping, so it was back to surgery for a second D&C, and finally that chapter was closed. I look forward to meeting Jordan, who has already crossed over the river to God’s kingdom, someday in glory.

Healing

Why God allowed that ‘random’ pregnancy, or my other miscarriages, are mysteries only known to His perfect plan for my life. I can confidently say, however, that walking through these valleys of pain and confusion have brought beauty from ashes. I have seen God’s deep love for me through my hurt. I have learned of how He lost a child on Calvary, and knows my pain of loss as well. I have seen others in His body reach out to me in love to minister to me in my time of need. I look forward to meeting my children in glory someday and rejoicing with them in God’s perfect plan for their short lives here on earth. I hurt when I hear of others’ losses because I’ve been there. I rejoice in each of my living children because I realize how precious and delicate their lives are.

Family

My sister in law gave me a beautiful necklace after my last miscarriage. It has 7 arrows on it, with four being bright silver and three being dark bronze. They represent each of my children, and are a reminder of Psalm 127:3-5, ‘Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!’ One of my children saw me photographing my necklace one day, and asked about the arrows. That was the Lord’s perfect moment for me to share with my son, and eventually the others, about their siblings waiting in Glory. It does my heart good when they see me wearing my arrow necklace, and talk about Mommy’s children here and Mommy’s babies in heaven.

In the months since my last miscarriage, God has graciously allowed my husband to change jobs and he now works from home. He has much more time for involvement in our family as well as church, and is able to pursue that ministry desire through involvement in teaching and serving in various capacities. We’re so grateful for this change that God allowed after so many years.

I’m told often by strangers at the store that my “hands are full”, but truthfully my four sons make my heart even more full. I never would have chosen to walk this path of miscarriage but my heart has forever been changed by my experiences and the kind providence of my Father through them, and for that I’m grateful.”

If you need further encouragement there is a sermon on the website Wisdom of the Heart by Pastor Davey. In a series title The Singer, he goes into detail about the complex discussions around miscarriages and babies that die early. The sermon is titled, “Do Babies Really Go to Heaven?” 

If you would like to share your story please click here. You can follow us on Twitter @Traci_R2M or like us on Facebook.

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