Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Scent of Heaven

As Jesus got out of the boat, a madman from the cemetery came up to him. He lived there among the tombs and graves. No one could restrain him—he couldn't be chained, couldn't be tied down. He had been tied up many times with chains and ropes, but he broke the chains, snapped the ropes. No one was strong enough to tame him. Night and day he roamed through the graves and the hills, screaming out and slashing himself with sharp stones. MARK 5:2-5 heart is melancholy today. I'm remembering, ya know those days when everything is just sailing along & all of a sudden there's a familiar scent or sound? When the moment you're in becomes silent & the past demands your attention? My memory is violating my heart, my mind is competing with my soul for attention. However, can't the two live in harmony? Can't... in some way...they come together & bring joy?
Let me share my memory...September 16th, I'm lying on a hospital bed holding my sweet & ever so tiny Hannah Joy. I'm studying every detail of her sweet face, she has the reddest little pouty lips & one little hair atop her head. I wrap her sweet fingers around mine & memorize the intricacies of her hands. But this is what I remember most...her sweet baby smell. I can close my eyes now & smell my sweet baby girl, I can take in the scent of this little one I said goodbye to 9 months ago! But you see, it's because the heart knows no boundaries, it doesn't know time, it only knows. It knows that a piece of it is missing, it knows a part of it was taken & it is not complete. It yearns & cries for the missing piece.
As it calls out for Hannah my soul cries out for healing. Surely, Hannah's memory can bring healing can't it? Hannah was not created to bring hurt into my heart~so do I make these two live in harmony? The agonizing pain of empty arms & the blessing I was given to hold her... even if only just once?
I suppose the reality is, satan wants to steal the joy of meeting my Hannah Girl. He wants the pain to overshadow the blessing. You see if he can just keep me in this grief, living in this pain. Then he has the power over my heart. He keeps me tied down in shackles & has the audacity to use my child to do it!
This is where the scripture from Mark 5 comes in, you see this madman, he lived in the cemetery. Among the tombs & the graves. He lived in death, he was most comfortable in a place of sorrow, a home where he could scream out his agonizing pain. Yes, this man was demon possessed & no I am not.
However, on days like today, when my heart is screaming for Hannah & Isaac too, it can become increasingly comfortable to live in their deaths. To hold onto the memory of what could've should've been. To lay in a bed of bitterness & slash myself with sharp questions.
"Why didn't I hold her longer?"
"What was the last sound she heard, was I yelling?"
"Is there anything...anything...I could have done differently to save her?"

But here...there is scripture too, very simple, very basic words. But oh so powerful, so mighty.

Be still...and know I'm God....

Can't you just feel it? The burden being lifted, the questions being removed...the peace coming down.
See, whenever I hear those words from God, it makes me slow down & breathe. I think of when my Lana who is 6 is goin a mile a minute. Just up in arms & freaking out because she can't find that ever so important & IRREPLACEABLE book for story time. She is frustrated, tense, & in tears. All along I remember she has loaned the book to her baby sister.
When I can get her to slow down, to breathe to listen, I can say "chill out baby, it's OK, mama's here, I can take care of this OK"
How many times have I been frustrated, tense, & up in arms? How many times has God tried to get my attention only for me to respond with agitation. It's at those time I need to be still & know...
So, today, when my heart is aching for my little ones...when the scent of my sweet Hannah penetrates my soul...when I am tempted to live in death...
He speaks my name....he reminds me...
Be Still & Know...I'm God

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Story of Isaac & Hannah Joy

Ya know that feeling? The one you get when you know things aren't gonna turn out like you planned. The knot in your stomach, the lump in your throat, sweaty palms...that feeling? I remember the day I got that feeling. It was February 21st '08, a Thursday. I was 18 weeks pregnant & Dan was gettin ready to leave, I was tense & I don't remember why. But I remember how you could here a pin drop when I told him not to go because I was spotting. His face took on a mixture of shock & fear...
We all got together that night, Dan & I with our 3 daughters, we prayed. I can't tell you the grief that already washed over me at the mere thought of losing this baby, I begged, pleaded, & bargained with God for this baby's life. The next day God the ultrasound room, as I lay on the table, God gently said "No"
The sun continued to shine & birds still sang their song, but my soul screamed out for life! How could this happen?? How could the world continue as though death hadn't come calling?? How was it that children were running, playing, laughing? That dogs were barking & school was in session?? Why didn't the world STOP & grieve with me? I felt as though a piece of my heart died...there...on that table.
The next several days were a blur, a mixture of shock, unbelief, & overwhelming pain. Several days after the news that changed my life I went into Lincoln Park Hospital to be induced. As we entered, I refused to look at the building, & I now know that Dan was gently pulling me along. Just getting a room was torture, having to explain to several different nurses & aides why we were there....their hushed & hurried explanations to one another.
"No heartbeat" "stillborn" "miscarriage"
Words that echo in your heart forever.
I checked into a room & waited, I was induced & was told the process would be very long~up to several days. So Dan & I started thinking about names, it was a bit surreal, we knew that everything about this was upside down backwards & wrong. Delivering a child, & naming this child, only to say goodbye. There were many surreal moments in that delivery room, moments that are too big to describe in words not big enough for God.
There was the moment I think I lost my mind a bit, I started crying & telling Dan this was so unfair, this was so wrong, why did "THEY" get to keep my baby? Why did "THEY" have a say so? This is my child & I'm taking this baby home!!! I announced to Dan that we would keep the baby at home until the funeral. Dan was scared, he told me the baby couldn't come home because the baby was dead. I started saying no no can't say that, don't say that. Dan started prayin, asking God to please come quickly, please do something, Please!!
The nurse came in & I told her how I felt, I told her I don't think I can let this baby go when it's time, I'm scared I'll go crazy. She looked at me & said "it's OK, your baby's not here, this..what's gonna happen here (gesturing to my stomach) this is a shell, your baby is in Heaven being loved on by God, you'll be OK"
I know some may say "what??? a shell?? cruel!!!" But God knew exactly what my ears needed to hear, He knew what would penetrate MY heart, He knew I needed the truth spoke to me at that moment. The truth of my child's existence would set me free.
I delivered Isaac Jeremiah Jensen, Tuesday, February 26th 2008 at 3:48 a.m.
He was perfect. He was beautiful. He is my son.
We buried my Isaac 2 days later in a beautiful small service for him. My oldest daughter read a letter she wrote to her brother, we had one of my pastors give a message of hope, redemption, & reunion. However, the most important moment for me that day was worshipping God. We were led in singing a song of praise to Him, I felt so weak, I was shaking & sick. I could barely stand but I wanted to tell God I still loved Him. That I still praise Him. He gave me the strength to stand, the strength to raise my hands, the strength to praise Him & be a testimony. His presence filled the air.
I wish I could stop there, I wish my story was over & I lived happily ever after. That I went through the storm & have survived a stronger person. But this was only the beginning of the storm, this was only the rumblings of the thunder, the flashes of lightning. However, the dark clouds were still rolling in, it had only begun.
Hannah, oh my Hannah. How I miss you.
I was shocked & amazed to find myself pregnant again within 2 months of saying goodbye to Isaac. I felt that God was really bringing healing & blessing & that this was His way of telling me I was ready. I tried desperately not to give into fear, but suffered from persistent nightmares. But I tried to stay positive, I wasn't going to allow satan to steal the joy of this pregnancy. We made it past the first 12 weeks without a problem, everything was going smooth. I went in for a check up at 18 weeks & heard my baby's very strong wonderful heartbeat! My Dr said it sounded like the heartbeat of a little girl!! I wept tears of relief & joy...this was happening, this was really happening! My baby was well & I had nothing to fear, God was giving me this healthy child.
But once that euphoria wore off the fear slithered in, & I began to get scared again. Nightmares returned & finally I told Dan, somethings not right, I don't feel right. I called the Dr. concerned the baby wasn't moving enough for 23 weeks. Knowing my history my doc said to come in, if not for anything else than just my peace of mind. I went in that day, so nervous, Dan was at work & I didn't want to be alone. The Dr was running late & I was getting more anxious by the moment. Finally Dan called & said he was done with work early, I asked him to please come to the office because I needed him with me. Dan arrived & 5 minutes later the Dr called me in, I had been waiting almost 2 hours. He took me straight to the ultrasound room, & as I lay again on that table, I knew my baby was gone. Nothing had happened, Dan & the Dr were joking back & forth, but everything slowed down & I felt God there, I felt Him holding me, I felt Him crying.
She was gone.
My Hannah Girl....
I'd like to say I was OK this time, that I did really well with this loss because we walked this path before. But I'd be lying. I wasn't OK, I was far from it. There have been many many knock down drag out fights with God. Mostly me knocking myself out. There have been countless times I've cried "why why why"
So many tears, too many to count. So many questions, "how could you do this God? What did I do wrong?? don't you love me"
I couldn't remember who God says I am in Him, I couldn't think clearly, sometimes I couldn't even form my thoughts into words. I suppose I was traumatized.
It was very very dark & very very scary. I felt as though I was stumbling around in the dark & falling, bruised, scraped, & bleeding. All along screaming, crying out, "help me!!! why don't you help me?!?!!!!"
I felt like I was dying, in every sense of the word. Somewhere in the fog, I remember my mom telling me I had to go in " survival mode" maybe she saw that I wasn't doin well. She told me everyone else is living & that's OK, but you have to understand that right now you're not just living, you're trying to survive. Shortly after that a good friend sent me a word from God. This word somehow, someway woke me up.
Isaiah 45 :3

I will give you the treasures of darkness,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord,
the God of Israel that summons you by name.

Did you get that?? Did you hear that? "Treasures of Darkness" I can't tell you exactly what Isaiah was trying to convey in that scripture, I know it's in relation to Cyrus. But let me tell you what it means for Tina. It means that I will value the treasure I find in the darkness, what is stored up in secret. God has treasures for me in this abyss I found myself in. Yes, My Isaac & Hannah are treasures, but there is so much more for me to find. There is so much He wants to give me through this. There is so much He wants to give you, dear friend, through this. You see my Isaac & Hannah did not die in vain. There lives are not without purpose & I their mother will glorify God & praise Him because He chose them. He chose to use my humble simple family for His Kingdom & for His Honor. And in this darkness, there is so much yet to be found, but I'll tell you what I've found thus far. I've found faith, faith in a God that never leaves, never forsakes & abundantly loves. I've found courage, courage in me that I didn't know existed. I found love, love for my husband that will never fade. I found friendship, I love you Sa. I found joy, joy that can't be stolen.
I know that I'll never be the same person I was before February 21st, I know I wouldn't want to be. My life has been forever changed, changed by my 2 wonderful beautiful, precious, perfect babies. Isaac & Hannah Joy who flew away home to Heaven......