Power in Praise & Corrie ten Boom | A Mother’s Journey, part 8

April 12, 1988

Went to a Bible study today. A friend spoke on Power In Praise. I needed to hear it today. I haven’t praised God for the present situation. In fact, I’ve been pretty grumbly. 1) The enforced sedentary lifestyle, 2) the difficult pregnancy, 3) my bad back, 4) my weight.

I know that even these must be put into thanks. God loves me and has brought me to this point. God has allowed these difficulties in my life. Here are the last two pages from The Hiding Place.

[What follows is a devotional that was included at the end of Corrie ten Boom’s book, The Hiding Place, with my mom’s notes added in. — Jonathan]

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God wills us to give thanks. Our praise and gratitude in some mysterious way opens the door for Him to bless us as He wishes. On the lines below write down the five things for which you are currently most grateful.

  1. Mark
  2. Jonathan
  3. Kathryn
  4. Home
  5. Good job

Several times a day pause to thank God for these blessing; watch your sense of the goodness and love in the world—and especially of His love—grow accordingly.

On these lines, note five present situations for which you are most definitely not grateful:

  1. My weight
  2. Difficult pregnancy
  3. Enforced sedentary lifestyle
  4. Going through a pregnancy and not having a baby

Now set yourself the discipline of giving thanks daily for these things as well. See how God is able to use your changed attitude to change facts.

The High Cost of Growing | A Mother’s Journey, part 7

April 1, 1988

I am now 26 1/2 weeks pregnant — 13 1/2 weeks to go. I have not done too well with the waiting.

Today I read The High Cost of Growing by Joyce Landorf and here are some things she says about being in “God’s waiting room.”

[NOTE: It’s unclear whether the following entries are direct quotes from Landorf or summaries.]

Christian growth takes place during the still, quiet times of waiting.

God’s waiting room is the most tiresome and unpleasant place in our Christian experience. We sing “Have thine own way Lord. Mold me and make me after they will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”

  1. Waiting never comes easily or automatically. Our attitude toward it will determine our demise or our development.
  2. The waiting process is used by God to shove us into a position of trust and dependence on him.

Perhaps there’s no way to come to a full position of trust except through the “waiting room” experience. For example, Noah, Job, Abraham, Joseph, Moses

We seem to show signs of irritability if our lives are narrowed down to a waiting room period, or a day is intellectually limited by mundane chores. Our Father knew we would need quiet, ordinary, even boring days to put our confidence and trust in him.

We must begin to see the times of waiting for what they really are: long-term growth.

Habakkuk 1:2-4 and 2:2-4.

  • We have to wait in silence (not time to run here and there telling our tales of woes.) Be still and know that God is God, sovereign and sufficient for our ability to continue.
  • We have to blindly trust God before we see results or successful conclusions.
  • We have to understand that no matter how dark the picture, God will still be in control.

Habakkuk 3:17

God can give you contentment in your waiting room, period. Don’t be discouraged.

Philippians 1:6 is the promise to:

  1. Help us to grow.
  2. Help us to endure.
  3. Help us to not self-destruct in times of stress.

O Lord, thank you for all these different ways of growing. Help us to learn our lessons well, for when we are obedient to you, our 1) joy knows no boundaries, 2) our love sets no limits, and 3) wisdom ever broadens.

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All these thoughts are very helpful to me. I am trying everyday to “wait on the Lord.” and to “be content in the state I’m in.” This is not easy for me. I am very overweight and can neither diet nor exercise.

I love to walk but it hurts my body and I fear going into early labor if I do anything too strenuous. So every time I look in the mirror it is almost with disgust.

And yet how would I feel if I weren’t pregnant? Help me to enjoy the beauty of nature as it prepares a body for a baby.

The movements of the baby are so active and are a real comfort to me. I pray for encouragement everyday. My anxiety comes and goes like the tide. It’s gone, then it’s back.

Mark is so steady in his feelings of safety and security for our family. I’m so thankful for it. I want to grow in this time of waiting… waiting for the physical pain of pregnancy to end, waiting for this special baby that God promised me. I want to be learning to BE CONTENT in this present state.

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Of Tulips and Death, part 1

When Your Baby Dies, part 2

“Malformed Babies” and Dust, part 3

Waiting, part 4

Still Waiting, part 5

Romans 8:28 and C.S. Lewis, part 6

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Romans 8:28 and C.S. Lewis | A Mother’s Journey, part 6

February 22, 1988

I was so angered today by a lady who said, “See, everything has worked out fine.”

With all my heart I believe that God will work out everything and I believe Romans 8:28, but how dare someone with three children and a healthy grandchild say that to me!!

She said it to me New Year’s eve and I sobbed all the way home. Christmas had been so hard but we were almost through the season when she said it. I couldn’t believe the tears and anger that welled up inside me so immediately.

C.S. Lewis, in a Grief Observed writes about a mother mourning the death of her child. The verses used to comfort, comfort only the “spirit within her.”

“But not to her motherhood. The specifically maternal happiness must be written off. Never, in any place or time, will she have her baby on her knee, or bathe her, or tell her a story, or plan for her future or see her grandchild.”

That physical separation, those empty, aching arms are for a body that no longer exists. A body that has no life. But my arms are still wanting, aching for that sweet smell and feel and sound of a newborn.

I don’t feel like I will fully be able to let go of all my grief for Laura until I have a baby in my arms. It would literally kill me to grieve that powerfully I’m afraid.

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Of Tulips and Death, part 1

When Your Baby Dies, part 2

“Malformed Babies” and Dust, part 3

Waiting, part 4

Still Waiting, part 5

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Still Waiting | A Mother’s Journey, part 5

February 7, 1988

I’m still waiting. The Holy Spirit has given me two scriptures in times of dark despair. One from 2 Corinthians 1 — “The answer is yes.” And one from Psalms — “Weeping shall last for a night but joy will come in the morning.”

Both verses had to be looked up. I didn’t know where there were. They were really just given to me. I’ve been trying to learn, “do not fear.” I’m so human as I vacillate between courage and utter despair.

I’m 18 and 1/2 weeks pregnant. I can feel the baby move. I’m getting larger everyday, and we still haven’t told anyone. We will have to soon. I feel like this is one big exercise in faith. When you exercise everyday you get stronger, you get more endurance. I hope that’s the way with faith — “tribulation works patience; and patience experience; and experience hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)

These truths are becoming more real — thank heavens! I want to know God’s perfect peace and to rest in it. I want my churned up feelings to be calm and confident in God’s ability to love, care for, provide for, and nurture me. I need to know that God is working his will in me for my good — “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

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Of Tulips and Death, part 1

When Your Baby Dies, part 2

“Malformed Babies” and Dust, part 3

Waiting, part 4

Waiting | A Mother’s Journey, part 4

January 6, 1988

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

“Teach me Lord, teach me Lord how to wait.” That’s how the song ends. And I’ve sung it often. How do you learn to wait? By waiting. The same way you learn anything else. Practice.

Now I’m practicing.

At 10 weeks pregnant (Dec 10) I was bleeding and cramping… the doctor says we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. At 11 weeks — the same. At 15 weeks (next week) I’ll have another sonogram, go off my progesterone and wait to see what will happen.

Will I miscarry? And if I don’t miscarry, then I’ll wait 5 more months to see if the baby’s healthy. I’m nervous, anxious, scared.

I don’t think you can have a genetically abnormal baby, then spend two weeks at a children’s hospital and not know that sometimes things do go wrong. The odds are in our favor, but again, it’s only in God’s hands, not mine.

I’m trying to “cast my anxiety on him” — I just cant bear the weight of it.

But it’s hard to do.

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Of Tulips and Death, part 1

When Your Baby Dies, part 2

“Malformed Babies” and Dust, part 3

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“Malformed Babies” and Dust | A Mother’s Journey, part 3

November 6, 1987

Yesterday I was thinking about how the word “malformed” makes a mother feel; “malformed ears,” “malformed heart” — sick to my stomach.

That’s how Laura was described.

Today I went to my first parent-teacher conference for Jonathan. She used words to describe Jonathan such as “well-adjusted, “self-motivated,” “hard worker.” These make a parent feel so good. And yet I take no credit or blame for either description. With both babies I did everything within my power to ensure good health (good nutrition, rest, vitamins, exercise, excellent prenatal care) and yet the outcome was out of my hands. One was formed perfectly, one “malformed.”

As we drove by the cemetery the kids started talking about Laura’s bones — that’s all that’s left, they imagine.

I told them even the bones would turn to dust eventually.

I couldn’t help but think that almost a year ago I was so concerned about that little physical body that my physical body was nourishing. My body, not knowing that her physical body was doomed from the start, did everything within its power to build a healthy body for her. It’s good to be reminded, I guess, that only God is in control. We can do the best with what we’ve been given but it’s God who has control of the situation.

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Of Tulips and Death, part 1

When Your Baby Dies, part 2

When Your Baby Dies | A Mother’s Journey, part 2

Read part 1 here.

~~~~~~~~~~ September 12, 1987 ~~~~~~~~~~

Laura died September 1. We brought her home Friday, August 28 after taking her off the ventilator. Everyone expected her to die then.

I know there is much comfort in having the memory of her dying in my arms at home rather than hooked up to the equipment in the hospital. It was very peaceful and I’m really grateful for these memories of her last days and final hour.

I have hesitated to write down my deepest feelings — somehow writing them down will make them more painful; like setting them in stone or something. Our house is still full and active and bursting with children’s activities (soccer, etc.) and music and friends.

The baby things are slowly being put back in the attic and that has not been as painful as anticipated. The things were used (the mobile) for 3 days and that makes packing them up easier.

My body is the worst reminder. Big and fat, ready to nurse a baby — 30 pounds overweight. It’s the worst reminder of all. Usually I have an unsightly body for 3 months but it’s balanced with the joy of a beautiful baby — not a high price to pay. Now it’s just the thought of having to lose the weight, wanting to get pregnant again.

My body, however, is so strong and healthy I hate to be too critical of it. After all, I had a baby, left the hospital three hours later, and went nonstop for three weeks. How can I hate a body that serves me so well?

Tomorrow is church. I’m already dreading it.

People don’t know what to say — what do I say? I’m fat, what will I wear? It’s terrible to feel like everyone is looking at you wondering “how you really are.” Are you going to crack up? I don’t think so. I hope I can reassure them of that.

Yesterday I went out with a friend and her new baby. A lady at the store asked me when my baby was due. I said I had had her and she had died. It wasn’t hard to say — it was just a bleak reminder of the truth.

I went through a pregnancy (never a fun event), had a baby, and now I don’t have one in my arms. And that is the saddest part.

Laura couldn’t have survived; I didn’t even want her to. Her body was not compatible with life and I was actually very much at peace with her going on to God and getting a new body. But that still has left me with empty arms. And I will live through that too. My hope is so strong for another baby. I don’t know when, but I feel like I know God has promised me a healthy baby and that hope gives me comfort and energy to get through these next weeks.

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Laura Beth Trotter

August 14, 1987 — September 1, 1987