The calendar flipped to April, much as I willed it not to come. My stomach flip-flopped right along with it’s turning.
April is a marathon of happenings at SGM, and for me. The kind of happenings that leave me standing before audiences, stretched and spent, and not-at-all in my comfort zone. I am breaking every vow we’ve made to limit our engagements to one a weekend, or once a month. We have fundraisers, speaking engagements, musical performance engagements, deadlines, presentations before grant boards and hospital funding boards (where committees will decide if SGM is worthy of their support…support we very much need), and the regular day-to-day ministering needs, along with the unexpected curve balls that will surely be thrown into the mix.
So, before I begin to share more of what’s on my migraine-laden heart and mind in the wee hours of this morning, my first request to you is…
Please…if it is laid on your heart to do so…take some time this month to fast and pray for SGM, and for those serving here. For health, strength, clarity of mind, focus, grace, and for every detail seen and unseen. For His provision…every step of the way…every need that stands before us…every person that crosses our path. May the Holy Spirit enable us to do what seems beyond our human limitation to do. As He always faithfully and abundantly does. Please, please pray for us. That we may swim in His grace through this month, which I admit to both anticipating…and dreading. (Listed at the bottom of this post, are some of April’s planned events.)
Many of you know that as part of our ongoing preparation for the new SGM Perinatal Hospice Services we will be offering, several SGM staff are training to be SBD birth and bereavement doulas. We have all taken our final exams for the 8 week portion of the course, and now continue our studies as we prepare two book reviews and a community project. I have chosen to read Heidi Faith’s book The Invisible Pregnancy, which dares us to step out of our comfort zones, to peel back the layers of our own grief and muck, to delve further into this grief journey. I often marvel at the way God chooses to heal and cleanse us, through the bubbling up of all the yuck, so we can feel the pain of it, chew on it a bit, and allow him to make all things new, within our tattered hearts and souls. Only God can restore like that. I am on an adventure, learning to let Him, learning to anticipate. It is a marvelous grace that carries me.
So, part of the past couple dares was to paint. I am a word girl, as you well know. Not an artist. At least not the kind that paints. All the crafty, artsy genes went to my mother. I have the big mouth and the plethora of words. She made beauty with her hands. I am typically petrified to try things I will surely fail at, or fall short in the doing. I like to succeed. To be good. To accomplish well. Hate to step out of my comfort zone. But, there is a freedom in the stepping. A freedom in the falling…and in the realizing that there is no failure in embracing what is, and accepting it. There’s merely truth. In that regard, the outside of my comfort zone has become…well, comfortable. There’s no safer place, really, than in being so free…so stripped naked and real…so baring your heart and soul already that little is hidden. Because, you my dear…are covered completely…even in the stripping…by His perfect and merciful and wonderful grace.
So, I dug up my mother’s old craft paints, and with preschool level skills attempted to pour from my fingers all that entangles this heart of mine, full of the years. I put on some music that speaks to my heart. This song that I would like to call my “In your face, death” song…played often when faced with my own mortality after the passing of my mother. And, this song. Which represents the way God loves to make beauty from broken things, and a very special person, whose unlikely friendship reminds me to live free and love fiercely.
And, tears fell as the paint spread across the page, unleashing pieces of me, carried precious and close, wounds exposed. This first painting is one I’ve carried in my heart, a vision. Tim and I danced to Two Sparrows in a Hurricane at our down-home wedding celebration in Tim’s aunt’s basement 19 years ago. Little did know how prophetic the song would be, and how it would mirror our lives. We were the two sparrows in a hurricane, and God carried us through the storm. So, here we are in His hands…along with the three babies He carried home.
The exercise was so healing and moving for me…seeing my heart poured on to the page, I decided to invite the mothers at our Walking With You support group to join in the exercise.
We first painted our feelings about and during pregnancy before our losses:
Mine is below. This is before. I am expecting Faith and Grace. Hopeful. Anticipating two sweet baby girls. Planning. Hoping. Confident. Innocent. Looking forward to a pink-filled nursery.
We all agreed that it was more difficult for us to revisit and paint the before feelings. It was painful to remember what once was…what was lost. I thought of the day when my 90 pound mother twirled me around in her driveway after I shared that I was carrying twins. The joy. The hope.
Oh, the agony-filled ache of remembering.
And, below…our view of pregnancy after loss, as shared by the brave, beautiful mothers walking together on a Monday evening at SGM.
This is my after. Tears covering my bible, mixing with the surrounding storm. Broken. But, clinging to Him still.
So grateful for the brave, beautiful women who allow me to walk alongside them on this sacred path…and grateful that after all these years, my own layers are being revealed, discovered, and uncovered, right along with them.
Monday, April 1, 2013 ~ Walking With You Bereavement Support Group
Week of April 3-5, 2013 ~ SGM Facebook Auction at Caring for Carleigh
Saturday, April 6, 2013 from 9-11am ~ Comfort Bears
Sunday, April 7, 2013 ~ One Way at Salem United Methodist Church in Findlay
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 from 7-9pm ~ Comfort Bears
April 16 ~ Kelly presenting to grant board
April 20, 2013 ~ SGM Scrapbooking Fundraiser hosted by Sheryl Nickels
Sunday April 21, 2013 ~ One Way at Wesleyan Church in Liberty Center
April 21 ~ SGM/BGSU Work Day with the gentleman from Alpha Sig at 2pm
April 24 ~ Kelly speaking at St. Stephen’s in Hamler to the ladies’ group
Sunday April 28, 2013 ~ Kelly speaking at UM Church Rebekah circle in McClure