When The Tears Stop

20120225-005645.jpgI never showed much emotion throughout my life. Probably only a few close friends ever saw me cry.

Then one day my world turned upside down.

Monday February 24 will mark three years since our first son Caleb was born. He was born prematurely, halfway through my pregnancy. Although I knew people who had lost infants or miscarried, I never expected to be in their shoes.

Nothing can prepare you for such heartbreak.

It was as if a switch flipped and the tears started flowing. It didn’t matter where I was or who was around me. I cried in the grocery store seeing a mom and her children. I cried at Bible study when I passed a kid’s bag that said “Caleb.” I cried when there was a reason and also when there seemed no reason at all.

This week, as I anticipate Caleb’s third birthday, I’ve been crying. But the days are so busy I end up not crying until I lay in bed, when I should be sleeping. And then I’m tired during the day because I didn’t sleep much at night.

It wasn’t until I finally told Jeff, and then my Bible study group about crying at night, that I was finally able to sleep. I’ve found peace when speaking about my feelings. Just breaking the silence has made a difference.

Caleb Chun - Feb 24, 2011

Caleb Chun – Feb 24, 2011

I’m not afraid of crying anymore. In fact I’m more afraid of the tears coming to an end. Sometimes it seems that if I stop crying then Caleb’s life will have stopped mattering. But I know that could never be. You never stop crying for your children. You never stop wanting the world to know about them.

The tears are less frequent after almost three years. But nothing could ever make Caleb’s little life insignificant. He changed my world, my faith, my life forever. And I am so thankful.

When Mother’s Day Isn’t Happy

IMG_1761I was at the grocery store on Friday shopping with Jack and already the cashier was saying “Happy Mother’s Day.” While I appreciated their comments, I wondered if I should say it back to her. She didn’t have any children with her, obviously, so how could I know if she’s a mom.  Really the awkwardness of it just reminded me of how this special day can be challenging for so many. While it is great to set aside a day to celebrate the wonderful mothers in our lives, maybe you can take a minute to remember and pray for those who’s day is sad.

  • Children whose mothers have recently died
  • Mothers who have lost children through miscarriage, stillbirth, or early infant loss
  • Women who long to be mothers but struggle with infertility, or aren’t married, or don’t have the opportunity to become a mom
  • Women who are like mothers – physically, spiritually, emotionally mothering others

I read a letter online recently also bringing attention to churches about recognizing moms in church. Its a great letter so you should check it out.

Last year while I was pregnant with Jack I wrote about being a “Mom.” I know it resonated with a few friends so I thought instead of rewriting something really similar I would just repost it below.

May 11, 2012 – Mother’s Day for a “Mom”

IMG_1750Mothers Day is challenging for me. People see me pregnant now and say “Maybe this will be your first Mothers Day!” as if delivering the baby before then will ensure that I am a mom this Mothers Day. I don’t understand why we say life begins at conception and consider the thing inside me to be a baby, but don’t consider pregnant women mothers.

Furthermore, last year was my first Mothers Day. It was about two months after I gave birth to Caleb and proceeded to lay him in the grave. Just because my two children aren’t in my arms doesn’t mean I’m not a mom, or any less of a mom than someone else.

But what are you supposed to say to me: “Happy Mothers Day?” It’s kind of happy. I’m certainly excited about this new little one and getting to meet him face to face soon. I’m happy that I had Caleb, even though it was a short time. I’m happy to celebrate my wonderful mom and mother-in-law, my grandmother-in-law, my sisters who are moms, and a host of other great mom examples.

But for me Mothers Day is lonely. It’s a reminder that Caleb isn’t here. He can’t ever be replaced with another child. I imagine part of me will always feel like this on Mothers Day.Someone is missing. When people acknowledge me on Mothers Day, it’s a reminder of this. Yet when people don’t acknowledge me, it makes me feel like Caleb has been forgotten.

I feel like I’m a “mom,” always having to qualify my role… “Is this your first child?” Kind of…. When they ask all the moms to stand up at church, do I stand? What questions will I have to answer then? If I don’t stand, is it like I’m ignoring Caleb?

I don’t write this so that you’ll acknowledge me in some way on Mothers Day. It’s really not about me. It’s really about a Mom who doesn’t want her children to be overlooked. I’m sure there are other “moms” in your life: women who have struggled with infertility, women who have miscarried, women who never had the opportunity to give birth to their own children. Maybe you’ll just take a minute to think about what makes someone a Mom. As you celebrate this year, be sensitive to the “moms” whose children aren’t in their arms but are forever in their hearts.

For the Moms, the “moms,” and all others, may this Mother’s Day be a day of celebrating the wonderful mothers in your life, but more importantly celebrating the God who loves us and is our example of how to love others.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving; let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

Never Early Never Late

If  you have ever tried to meet up with me for lunch, you would know the title of this post doesn’t describe me. I am often late… at least now I can blame Jack, right?

In the early days of our marriage, Jeff would yell to me “We’re leaving in five minutes for church!” Which was approximately five minutes after I woke up. Thankfully I’ve had lots of practice getting ready in a short amount of time (basically because I’ve done this my whole life). Then I’d get downstairs, Jeff would be standing at the back door, and I’d proceed to fill a water bottle, and/or make a chai, and grab a granola bar. Jeff still doesn’t understand why I always have at least one beverage with me. What can I say? I like to stay hydrated. And, I’d like to point out, that he often steals a sip from my water bottle.

While “never early, never late” doesn’t describe me, although I’m getting better, it does describe God. A lesson I learned most tangibly after having Caleb.

“All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before even one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16

All of Caleb’s days – 19 weeks 3 days – were planned by God before Caleb was even conceived. It’s easy in our human nature to say Caleb was born too soon and died too soon. No matter how old our loved ones are, we would be likely to say they died too soon. Before our hearts were ready to say goodbye.

Knowing that Caleb’s days had been planned by God has always comforted me. There’s nothing I could have done to prolong his life. His premature birth wasn’t a surprise to God. It was His plan.

Your child, teenager, mother, grandpa didn’t die too soon. They had lived every day God has given them. Although we can question and wonder why God would allow children to die, we know that heaven is way better than earth. Our hearts may hurt and long for them, but they are experiencing more joy than we can imagine.

I wonder how many days God has planned for me. And for you. Every day really is a gift from Him. May you find peace, comfort, and joy knowing that the God who created you has planned your days and loves you more than you can imagine.

Caleb Chun - Feb 24, 2011

Caleb Chun – Feb 24, 2011

Leaning On God

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Over the last two years I’ve stood at Caleb’s grave, leaning against this tree many times. I’ve cried because I miss him. I’ve prayed because God promises comfort and peace. I’ve smiled remembering how cute his little face was and how small his feet were. I’ve read the Bible to find hope and strength.

One month after Caleb was born I stood at his grave and read the story where Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. I told God I believe He could do it, so please Lord raise Caleb from the dead? Then I stood there wondering how it would happen, looking for the ground to shake and Caleb to crawl out. But Caleb wasn’t raised that day.

Today, Caleb’s second birthday, I drove out to his grave. Jack was fighting taking a nap this afternoon but he is powerless against napping in the car. So I put Jack in the car and drove out to Caleb’s grave. As I drove I asked God to speak to me. Give me something insightful, comforting, peace-giving today.

I saw a flower and note from Grammy and Granddad. I had nothing to lay at his grave since I left with Jack in a bit of a hurry, so I wrote “we love you” in the snow. As I stood there leaning against my tree, I prayed, cried, and read Scripture. The last verse of Psalm 33 is on Caleb’s headstone so I read the Psalm.

“For the word of The Lord is right and true. He is faithful in all He does.” (v4)

“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in You.” (v20-22)

We wait in hope that one day we will see Caleb again in heaven. We rejoice in The Lord for giving us Caleb as our first precious boy. We trust The Lord. We look to Him as our help and shield to comfort us along this journey. As I wrote about yesterday, the sadness hasn’t really gone away. It comes and goes depending on the day. But there’s purpose in it.

Because of Caleb I have real faith. I’ve learned to depend on God to get me through each day. I’ve read the Bible not out of duty, but because it is life-giving. My worship is more true, understanding that God gives and takes away, but still I bless His name.

What God reminded me today is that He is all I need. I know God, but I’d really like to have Caleb here. I am all you need. Though I don’t always live it, I know it in my head. And for today, that’s enough.

Happy birthday Caleb! We love you always!

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