When Life Throws You A Lemon, Make Lemonade and Plant an Apple Tree

Sometimes just typing or writing something out is the best therapy.  This is one of those posts that I both dread and long to type up, all at the same time. Emotion, excitement, disappointment all thrown into one inevitable cup, that when swallowed, goes down both bitter and sweet. Bitter crushed dreams and hard choices, mixed with a little bit of unexpected events, all somehow leading to sweet displays of love, kindness, and glimpses of all the promise and potential that the future holds.

Last weekend, after being pregnant for over two months, we lost our baby. A miscarriage.

If you were expecting funny/cute pictures of our goats or yak, sorry, this part of our story is a bit more personal. We have made good progress on the house recently, but that will have to wait until the next post too.

To lay out a bit of background information, Shelly and I currently have four children.  At this point, some may judge us and think we are crazy, but we truly couldn’t care less. We love each one dearly. Each one is irreplaceable.

We both come from families of five children. Each of us has adopted siblings. We love large families.

(my fam)

(her fam)

With adoption a common thread in our families and very commonplace among many in our local Church, we have, even way back into our days of dating, had it on our hearts to adopt. As a matter of fact, as Christians, we are commanded to care for orphans and widows. How, in good conscience, can we sit back and surround ourselves with all the pleasures this world has to offer, while there are children in difficult situations or without any family or home to call their own.  Adoption comes with many sacrifices, unique struggles, and other issues, but they can be overcome.

About fourteen weeks ago, we had planned to call the county office and begin the process of fostering with the intention of adopting. Only, to our surprise, at about the same time, we found out we were expecting our fifth. Surprise! Okay, well that settled that, we would put off adoption and take the new road that had been set before us. Next spring, we would have five children. Breathe… This was not what we had planned!! Not yet. We were supposed to adopt our next child! I won’t lie, there were a few tears shed and many mixed emotions, but, over the span of the next several days, reality set it, and eventually, so did the excitement!

As the pregnancy continued, Shelly met with a midwife, as we had been seriously considering a homebirth. A day after the visit with the midwife, Shelly began to feel a bit off (this had absolutely nothing to do with the midwife). Bleeding and cramping followed. She immediately assumed something was not right and went to the local clinic for a checkup. They ordered bloodwork and an ultrasound. After the ultrasound was completed, the hospital broke the dreaded news to Shelly, our little unborn baby had passed away. Confusion swelled around our household for the next few days. Our excitement was squelched and our newly formed plans and dreams, again altered by an unplanned event that was out of our control. Again, why was this happening? This was not part of our plans!

Pain and bleeding continued for my wife over the course of the next few days, during which she passed the unborn baby (thankfully, naturally and without medical intervention). After having a couple of days for everything to sink in, my mother stopped in and surprised us with an apple tree to plant in memory of the baby. The next day, we put the baby in a small box and our children drew pictures on that box, each a glimpse into their own little thoughts and dreams of this dear little one.

As the father, speaking from personal experience and second hand testimony, that although difficult, a miscarriage is typically not as much of a challenge on the man as it is for the woman. But, seeing my children coloring on that box was different. It was emotional. It was heartbreaking. We placed the box at the bottom of the hole I dug and we each covered the box with some dirt. We then planted that young apple tree there, directly over our baby. It will be a living memorial outside our kitchen window. A refuge for birds, shelter from the summer sun, spring food for our honeybees, and a source of fruit for our family and the many deer that call our property home.

Now, that a little time has numbed the pain and healing is having its way, we have time to reflect on the past few months. Although none of what has happened was part of our plans, it does seem our Creator has his own perfect plans, plans more intricate and beautiful than our own. Many of the reasons are not for us to know.  However, some reasons were made perfectly clear as the days went on.  For sure, without these events, we would have missed seeing His perfect love in action through the many dear friends and family that brought us meals and shared tears with my wife in the midst of this trial.  True community.

Whether you are a Christian as I am, or not, we most probably can agree that humans are social creatures. We can live alright alone, but when we live together in small tribes or communities, we can thrive. We are stronger together, especially when we allow the strengths of others to compliment our own inadequacies. Here, our own little community is varied and diverse, and apart from Christ, we would probably have very little in common. But that common bond is stronger than all others and transcends personal preference. I am extremely grateful for those who have chosen to share their lives with us. I pray our relationships evolve over the future to handle the obstacles that we are bound to face, and that this little community will stand the test of time and the inevitable and unavoidable struggles.  Together, we can make a positive difference and be a true reflection of His love.

Through this process, our position on adoption has not changed. Okay, maybe that is not quite true. Personally, I think the desire to continue with the adoption process has only grown stronger. In fact, we made the call to the county this week and will be receiving our first batch of paperwork in the mail. Our road may be winding, but this journey is not over.  In fact, I sense it is just getting started.

-Jeremy

 

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7 Comments

  1. Gods Blessings and love to you and your family. I am sorry to hear of your struggles. Know I am here if you need anything.

  2. I just love your family. It’s rare to witness such grace, and faith in such a hard circumstance. What a blessing it is to know you all and call you friends. God has amazing plans for you!

    1. We love your family also! We are thankful you are our friends! Love how God brings people together! 🙂

  3. Jeremy and Shelly, thank you for sharing your story! I am so sorry for your loss and am very encouraged by your strength and faith! God bless you both and your family!!!

  4. Thanks for writing this out and sharing the difficult times along with the good times. Your testimony is made strong by the grace of our God. It causes me to examine my own heart, and strengthens my faith.