Spirit of the Living God

There is a song we sing in the United Methodist Hymnal called “Spirit of the Living God.”  It’s a very simple song, often used in a time of prayer as a way to center ourselves and ask God to be present and moving in our lives.  The lyrics are as follows:

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me; 
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. 
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. 
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

I have sung this song many times, often praying that God would “Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.”  I’m not sure what I thought I meant when I was singing those words.  Perhaps I thought God would use me in mighty ways to speak his truth and work with him in transforming the world.  Perhaps I just meant the “fill me” part, because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be filled?

Most of you who know me or read this blog (as inconsistently as it is published) know that Matt and I have experienced much turmoil in our attempts to begin a family.  Over seven years of infertility, including four miscarriages, and we are still where we started – childless.  I have prayed many times that God would use me.  That he would turn these awful circumstances into something that can be used for good.  Tonight I was given that chance.

My dear friend’s little sister is in the midst of her first (and hopefully last) miscarriage right now, and I told my friend to have her contact me if she wanted anyone to talk to.  I’m so glad her sister got in touch with me.  I talked with this woman tonight – shared my story with her, and listened to her story as well.  Making myself available to this conversation meant that I had to pull back that curtain on the grief that I try to keep hidden day-to-day.  I had to get in touch with that part of myself, and remember what it was like when I experienced this loss over, and over, and over and over again.  As she told me her story, my heart broke for her.  It broke for me and my four losses.  It broke for all the women I know who have felt this pain.  I prayed with her over the phone, and assured her that I was available if she wanted to talk more.

I hung up the phone with her, and crumbled on the spot.  I laid my head on the table and heaved giant sobs of grief again for those babies I have lost and for this new friend’s loss as well.  As I cried and swiped mascara-tinted tears from my face, the song “Spirit of the Living God” was playing on repeat in my mind.  “Melt me.  Mold me.  Fill me.  Use me.”  I meant those words when I prayed them before, but I had no idea how much it would hurt to be melted, molded, filled and used.

Think about the process here: To be in situation so hot and painful you literally melt into an unrecognizable puddle. To be poured into a mold that the artist has chosen. To be filled with whatever object you are now designed to carry.  To be used as this object is shared with others, and you are subsequently emptied time and again.  It hurts.  This goes against all that the world tells us we should be doing with our lives.  It requires sacrifice, a relinquishing of control.  It is downright painful.

So as I sat and sobbed in grief for this hurt that I don’t understand, I was reminded that of this song – this prayer that I have recited many times.  Thank you God for hearing my prayer. For turning this bleak part of my life into something that can be used for encouragement – for your glory.

Do I like that this is my story?  Of course not.  Do I wish I was tucking those four babies into bed right now instead of writing to all of you (again) about this subject? Of course I do.  But this is my reality.  This is my story.  And I will tell it again and again if it helps even one woman find comfort in her grief.  Will you pray with me tonight for my new friend and her family?

SpiritofthelivingGod

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Miscarriage is a very lonely type of loss.  To grieve the loss of a life that had barely begun – that some don’t even recognize as actual “life” – is confusing and painful.  You grieve the loss of the hopes and dreams you had for that child.  You grieve the loss of what could have been.  And a lot of people don’t understand that.  A lot of people think it’s a grief to be kept inside, not to be dealt with publicly.  Friends and family members of parents grieving in this way are even more confused about how to handle the pain.  Should we ask questions?  Should we acknowledge it at all?  And many choose to simply pretend that it’s not a big deal.  Everyone is different, but in my case I think it’s better to be open about it.  I don’t enjoy this part of my journey, but I will gladly share it with anyone who wants to hear. I hope that every time I do, it helps peel away a little bit of the mystery surrounding miscarriage.   

I have gleaned a lot of encouragement and comfort from this blog.  I hope you find some comfort in it as well:  http://www.calebwilde.com/category/death/miscarriages-stillbirths/

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“When it’s snowin’ I’ll be goin’ back to my country home…”

This past Saturday my family gathered for one of our favorite annual holiday traditions: COOKIE NIGHT!  Mom makes these delightful sugar cookies in various holiday shapes, and we have fun slopping colored icing everywhere as we decorate them.  Festive music plays in the background, and we all sing along as we paint our cookies.  It’s so much fun!

The other night as we were playing with icing, one of our family’s favorite Christmas songs came around on the shuffle.  It started playing, and my little niece piped up – stating clearly that this was her favorite Christmas song.  We cranked the iPod louder, and all sang together in harmony.

Emmylou Harris released her Christmas album, “Light of the Stable” in 1979.  I’m not sure when my parents purchased that record, but we Kermeen kids grew up listening to that album every year at Christmas time.  These 10 songs have played as the soundtrack to every Christmas season I can remember.  Some songs are better than others, but the entire album makes me nostalgic for family, for Christmases gone by, for a crackling fireplace and sparkling tree.

As an adult, Christmas often seems to have lost its lustre. When I was a child, presents under the tree brought so much excitement, my breath would catch and my heart would skip a beat.  Now seeing presents under my tree makes me remember how much money I spent and the paper-cuts that were inflicted as I wrapped each gift.  When I was younger, I longed to hop from one Christmas party to another – donning sparkly dresses and a little blush and lip gloss.  These days all the Christmas parties on my calendar make me stress about what I’m going to wear, and how long it will take to get there, and do I really have to wash my hair AGAIN?  As a kid I remember the magic of traveling downtown to see the lights on the Circle and riding the train at L.S. Ayres to visit with Santa and tell him all the things my little heart wished for.  Now L.S. Ayres is gone – replaced by a nice department store that just isn’t the same – and I wish for things that Santa just can’t help with.

I got older. My life got harder. Christmas doesn’t seem to have the magic it once did.   But sitting around the kitchen decorating cookies with my family and singing harmoniously with one another to Emmylou Harris sparked some Christmas spirit in me.  Kamryn declared “Christmas Time’s A Comin'” her favorite Christmas song.  My sister, mother and I all merrily sang along with her six-year old voice.  Even my Grandma Alice joined in on a few with us (Silent Night was beautiful!).  Our harmonies may not be perfect, and we may not always remember the words to every song, but I know that our singing brings joy – even if it’s only to ourselves and our wistful hearts.

I can get so caught up in Christmas – the way that the mall wants to define it anyway.  I love the shopping and the wrapping and the entertaining and the decorating.  I stay up too late shopping online or ordering Christmas cards, and then when people ask the next day why I look so tired, I wearily explain, “I was up late doing X, Y, and Z for Christmas. Tis the season!”  Tis the season indeed.

Before I went to Cookie Night, I was feeling stressed about the last few purchases on my Christmas list and wrapping and cooking and parties.  After our Kermeen Christmas Sing-Along, I was reminded that “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” This is what matters.  Christ matters.  Family matters.  Joy matters.  Gifts are nice, but Spirit matters.

Thank you Lord for sending your son right when we need to see Him most.  And thank you Emmylou Harris for always being the best conduit for Christmas spirit…

Eleven Years

It was a Tuesday morning, just like today.  I was on vacation in Las Vegas with some of my family – celebrating my 21st and Grandma’s 75th birthdays.  The night before I decided to stay in Grandma’s room.  I was barely waking when I heard Grandma talking to Mom in the adjoining room.  Grandma asked if she should wake me.  Mom answering that they should let me sleep as long as I could.  That I would find out when I woke up.

That got me up pretty fast.

I went into the other room, blinking sleep out of my eyes, and asked what was going on.  I’ll never forget the feeling that washed over me as we watched the news play that tragedy over and over again.  I remember looking out the window from our hotel room at the Flamingo Hilton towards Caesar’s Palace.  I kept imagining a plane crashing into their new tower they had just added.

We tried to call home to loved ones – all circuits were busy.  We were supposed to fly out that day.  Obviously we could not.  We ended up extending our trip to Friday, when we loaded ourselves on a Greyhound bus, and journeyed 48 hours across the country to the bus station in Indianapolis.  Me, my mother, my grandmother, and my two aunts – all packed in a bus with no opportunity to shower or stretch our legs much at all.  It was a long, depressing trip.

Those extra days in Las Vegas were odd for sure.  We walked the strip to entertain ourselves, and the entire city was eerily quiet.  American flags were raised proudly all over town.  The fountains at The Bellagio danced to Lee Greenwood.  The attitude was very subdued (for Las Vegas) as we all were steeped in a quiet mourning – wondering what was to come next.

I’m not a hyper-patriotic person.  I worship my Lord, not my country.  But I will say that the land I love was damaged forever that day, and so was my heart.  I will never forget.

As we’re remembering our country’s pain from that day, let’s remember that other countries feel similar pain so much more frequently.  Let’s remember those across the globe who will never forget their particular terrors as well.  Most of all, let’s remember that God mourns this evil with us.