Mike&Sarah

Tag Archive: marriage

A Word from Her Daddy

written by Mike on February 15, 2012

Here I am writing my first blog. You may be wondering with the rest of the world, “What in the world possessed Mike to blog?!” No one has ever asked me to blog, nor do I think anyone could get me to blog till today. The one who has the unseen powers to get me here is my soon-to-be-born baby girl.

My baby girl is due the end of March. I did not know about her till 2 weeks ago. But God knew her before the creation of the world.

Sarah is much better at painting the picture for you on the ups and downs of our journey. I’ll leave that up to her to bring you along. It possesses a lot of miraculous turns and excitement. I’m only here to make a couple of things clear.

I want it to be clear to my baby girl that I wanted her and loved her before I ever met her. She is not born yet, but she is already mine. I cannot wait to meet her and anticipate her arrival. She is loved already by her daddy and mommy. Since we met her birth mother I cannot stop thinking about her and praying for her. Daddy was so excited that he bought her a tutu the day after the birth mom said she could be ours!

I want her to know that her birth mom loved her tremendously. She chose to give our baby girl life. She chose to give her up for adoption knowing she wasn’t in position to care well, for a lifetime, for this precious baby. She chose not to receive the unconditional love from a baby, but rather experience the pain of giving up her own flesh and blood.

I also want it to be clear that she is not replacing the child Sarah and I Iost thru our miscarriage in September. She is not a replacement, nor does she have the power to take away our grief. We still mourn over the death of our child and will never forget the life growing inside of Sarah. Our unborn baby will aways be a part of us and helps shape who we are today.

Some may say “See, this baby girl is the reason why you had a miscarriage.” I say “NO” to that! There will never be an acceptable reason for why my baby had to die. Could a parent ever accept a “here-you-go” reason for the death of their child? I can accept that death is part or our world as a result of sin entering into it. I accept that God has and does mourn with Sarah and I over the loss of our unborn baby. And I trust that God can redeem our loss and bring life out of death. That is what Christ did on the cross. Beauty can come out of death is what my faith promises.

Others may think, “We are so happy for you, but I’m sure you’d rather have your baby whom you lost.” Again, I say “NO” to that!  In my heart, and for always, I want them both. They are both my children.  I could never want one over the other. God is big enough to have brought both children into our homes. Stranger things have happened in this world. I am grateful that the Lord will fill our arms with a our little girl before our biological one was due. He is kind and merciful to do that though He did not have to give us our adopted baby girl to prove His mercy and kindness.

I want my baby girl to know that she has never been a second choice. She is loved and wanted simply because she is ours. Her mom and I always planned to adopt with hopes of having biological children. She is part of our first choice and we love her dearly. Her mom and dad have talked of summers at the beach and winters in the Big Apple.

I anticipate another wave of grief the end of April when our biological baby would have been due, even while holding our one-month old baby girl. I anticipate hilarious moments and fond memories of our girl in her tutu while remembering the one we lost. Embracing the ends of both spectrums of emotions simultaneously is the Christian life: living in the fallen world while holding on to faith in the One who gives life.

 To my baby girl who is due in 6 weeks, know that our home is already yours. Diapers are being bought, showers are being planned, and our budget is being refigured. We long for your arrival into the Evers home!

(Note:  Phoebe Irene Evers was born on Tuesday March 13, two weeks early.  She arrived just six weeks after we first heard of her, and we’re thrilled to finally hold her.) 

Welcome Baby Girl!

Mike and I have good news to announce:

We grew by two feet…We have a baby!

 Short Version:  We’re adopting a baby girl who was born 11 days ago, and she is with us now.

Daddy and Daughter on her first day

Longer Version:  On Wednesday morning February 1st, I took a call from an out of state pastor.  He got our name from mutual friends after he was approached by a young woman who was not in a position to raise her unborn baby girl.  (Interestingly, this call came just one day after we attended our first informational session about becoming foster parents in New York City.

Four days later, on Sunday February 5, we met the bio-mom.  We had about an hour together, and it was wonderful.  She seemed to understand the emotional difficulties associated with the adoption, but also acknowledged that she is not able to give her little girl the kind of life and home that she would want her to have.  The bio-mom is very brave and wants her baby girl to have the best in life.  We got along very well and she invited me into the delivery room!  (Mike had to wait in the hallway.

Mother and Daughter

The weeks following that meeting were full: hiring a lawyer in NY as well as one in the birth state, requesting letters of reference from friends, writing short biographies, helping my sister move out of our apartment, registering for baby gear, planning a nursery, getting physicals and getting finger printed, legal back ground checks, keeping all of this quiet while bursting with joy and caution.

Our St. Patrick’s Day Parade (aka: First Family Walk)

Phoebe Irene Evers was born two weeks early, but we were ready… barely!  Dear friends in NYC loaned us their car for as long as we need it, so we hit the road to be closer to the birth place.  I bought a car seat an hour before our bio-mom called to tell us to meet her at the hospital.  But when that call came, we ran in circles trying to get out the door!

We’ve grown to love and care for our bio-mom.  She’s been so sweet to us, and she followed through on her invitation to have me in the delivery room.  I coached our bio-mom through her labor and witnessed the birth of our daughter, holding her just minutes after she was born.  Mike soon came into the delivery room and was able to feed her her first bottle.

Will you take a moment to pray with us:

Heading to the Hospital

    1. Pray for the bio-mom’s continued confidence in her decision and her healing emotionally, physically and spiritually as she recovers.
    2. Pray for our Phoebe to stay healthy and connect with us quickly.
    3. Pray for us as we move forward through a mountain of paperwork to finalize the adoption and enter into the responsibility of being parents for this little one.

We are honored, humbled, overjoyed, delighted, and in awe of what God has done.  We held Phoebe in our arms just six weeks after we found out about the opportunity to become her parents.  Our heads are still spinning, and we’re so grateful.

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Great is Thy Faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see

Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not

Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me

(We’re registered at Babies-R-Us,  Target, and Wal-mart, and we’ve read the article about raising children in the city.  We’re excited about becoming parents in NYC!)

Summary of Our New Life 

Empty

Photo from http://www.andol.info/life/1222.htm

I shoved my gloved hands deeper into my jacket pockets.  It wasn’t a frigid winter day, but it was windy and damp, having rained on and off.  Staff meeting was over and I headed back to our apartment to finish up a report for our team leader.  We had a team dinner in three hours, so I had just enough time to make the final edits and revisions.  I was glad to have words to wrestle with for the afternoon because near the end of our staff meeting sorrow had wrapped itself around me like a warm blanket on this chilly day.  I didn’t expect the sorrow, so when I realized what I felt, I was surprised.  I needed the comfort of mindful editing so I could ignore the unexpected sorrow.

This was a unique day.  Because three of our teammates are leaving the city, moving out, we had a day of farewells with fond memories and an encouraging send off.  But walking away from that, I didn’t feel happy.

It felt like everyone else on the team was moving on to something new: new ministry locations, new teams, new adventures.  And the one other couple remaining in the City  had a baby just a few days ago.  It seemed like everyone had new chapters of life to explore.  But I felt the weight of empty arms and was reminded again of the baby we lost.  If I hadn’t had a miscarriage, I’d be 5-6 months pregnant by now and we would’ve had our new chapter to look forward to, too.

Oh Lord, how do I move forward in this sadness, this sorrow, this emptiness?  May my wounded heart learn how to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.  Fill my heart with healing, with hope.

Update from Sad News

I’m so thankful for dear family and friends who drew near to us during the first horrible days of our miscarriage and these four weeks since then.  We are the recipients of so many kind words and thoughtful gestures that my words of thanks seem inadequate, but my gratitude for people’s kindness, gentleness and compassion goes even deeper now.

One friend sent the book I’ll Hold You In Heaven which is written to parents of children who have been aborted, miscarried, stillborn, or died in early infancy.  This book was a quick and reassuring read exploring through scripture the idea of the unborn having souls from conception.  It helped me realize that I have a child waiting in Heaven.  What a humbling thought.

Other friends sent prayers which made me cry as I read them.  I’m overwhelmed at how many people have suffered the loss of an unborn or stillborn child.  I never knew the depths of grief so many friends have struggled with, but as a friend who struggles with infertility recently shared with me, “loss is loss.”  You don’t have to have experienced the heartbreak of a miscarriage to understand the heart ache of unfulfilled dreams and longings.

Several people told stories of friends who held memorial services for their lost little ones.  I thought I was “beyond” that, for I’d already poured out my heart in an authentic, vulnerable, soul-bearing way just days after I lost my heartbeat-less baby.  In other words, I’d checked “grieving” off of my list and I wanted to move on without experiencing any more grief.

Mike, though, thought it was a good idea, and I wanted to be supportive (but not too emotive), so I begrudgingly agreed.  I didn’t want to open that wound again for it felt like the healing had started — was well in motion — and I wanted to simply move forward into the future with vague reflections on that sad time in our lives.

Two weeks after our loss Mike and I took the Hampton Jitney (bus) out to Montauk, NY, where my family has been going for over 50 years.  My Gramps and my Dad are both buried in that small, unassuming, unpretentious beach town, so Mike thought it would be an important place for us to memorialize our long-prayed for baby.

The weather was perfect: a sunny October day with clear skies.  There was even a festival in the middle of town.  Mike looked for a baby blanket or some kind of object we could use to represent our little one, but none of the boutiques he walked into carried the kind of items he wanted.  I didn’t think I could handle shopping for baby items without crying so I sat on a park bench near the town square and watched happy families buy large jars of pickles.

As a last resort we stopped into White’s Drug Store deciding on baby socks. Because the florist shops were closed, Mike gathered wild flowers from along the winding road as we walked up to Fort Hill Cemetery.

Fort Hill is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited.  From that quiet, grassy place you can see Montauk Pond, the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.  There’s a meandering trail with scenic vistas and teak benches which are perfect for long, thoughtful rests as the sun sets.  There’s usually a soft sea breeze blowing across the top of the hill, too, taking the edge off the heat and humidity on hot summer days.

Sitting beside my Dad’s grave, Mike and I spent an hour praying to God and talking to each other about the baby we never held.  It was a surprisingly, unexpectedly healing time for us. I didn’t know what to say at first but sometimes silence suffices.

Here we are one month later.  Physically I’m healed.  Emotionally, I’m tender.  Spiritually, I have questions.  See, I had hoped that after my previous foray into writing about our miscarriage I’d be able to dam up my emotions and move forward with veiled references to loss and heartache.  But I’m learning that God has more for us than that: He is calling us to live authentically with loss.  We will have many opportunities in the years to come to celebrate with others while taking our broken hearts to Jesus.  We will live with the reality of lost dreams in a way I never imagined, marking milestones by someone else’s precious baby.

Sad News

It was our sweet little secret.  Our joy and delight.  And we’d only shared it with our immediate families so they could pray with us through the tender time.  We were debating about with whom to share our news after this first appointment and with whom we’d share the news when we were finally in the clear after the first trimester. When would we make it “facebook public”?

After three years of trying to get pregnant, of seeing fertility specialists, undergoing rigorous tests and being told we’d need “medical help” to get pregnant, we were so excited and surprised by this unexpected gift.  We found out the weekend we moved into our new apartment.  While surrounded by boxes and the chaos of moving, and with my younger sister also moving in with us, I walked over to the Duane Reade drugstore to buy a pregnancy test.  I’d never done that before.  I took that test while Mike was napping, and then held in my giggly news while he continued to nap and my sister shared her dilemma about her weekend plans.  Meanwhile, I searched the internet for pregnancy due date calculators and to check the growth and development of our tiny little baby.

It was pouring on Friday.  During a meeting break I ran out from our ministry office to one of the shops at Grand Central Station to buy rain boots.  After our first prenatal appointment later that rainy day, my oldest sister planned to pick us up and drive us out to Montauk to meet up with the rest of my family.  The next day Mike and I were to volunteer in the rain to give out water to the runners during my younger sister’s first half marathon.  She ran her race, but we never made it out there.

Wearing my new polka-dotted rain boots, I suggested we take a taxi to the hospital for our appointment rather than taking the subway and then having to walk the four long blocks.  But it was hard to hail a taxi in the rain, what with the traffic from the UN General Assembly being in session.  Eventually we jumped on a bus to take us uptown.  Our weekend bags were soaked, and it didn’t matter that we had umbrellas; we were soaked, too.

I called my doctor’s office from the bus to alert them to our delay, and we finally rushed into the waiting room about 15 minutes late.  They handed me a pile of papers to fill out and as I struggled to balance the clipboard and papers with my wet bag, wallet, insurance card and dripping umbrella, the nurse told us we could go back to the examining room.

This was it.  This was finally the day that Mike could see proof of all the changes I could feel happening in my body.  For three weeks we held tightly to our happy secret, but I was the one who had just outgrown her current jeans and had to start living in a larger size (not maternity sized yet!).  I was the one battling exhaustion, sometimes even taking two naps a day (a big deal for a gal who doesn’t nap!).  My breasts were tender, I was waking up a few times in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.  I was starting to deal with hormonal acne break outs.  My body was changing.  But today Mike would be able to see his baby, and see the heart beat.

Maybe I should’ve suspected something when my doctor didn’t turn the screen around on our ultrasound machine so Mike and I could see it.  Instead she said, “Let me just take a look around.”  But the words she was about to say to us were not even in my categories.  It was just this week that my jeans didn’t fit!

But then she said she was sorry.  She couldn’t find a heart beat.  She didn’t have any doubts about it, but she wanted us to be confident so she sent us for a second opinion.  We gathered our wet jackets, weekend bags, office bags, umbrellas and papers, then had some blood tests before going up to the seventh floor for the second opinion.

I sat, wet, cold and shaking with chattering teeth, for 45 minutes while we waited to be squeezed into someone’s schedule.  The waiting room was full of pregnant women accompanied by their mothers, boyfriends or husbands.  The air conditioner was on full blast to keep those over-heated women comfortable, but I was freezing in my wet dress (but my feet were dry thanks to my new boots).

I had to drink glass after glass of water for the next ultrasound while right in front of me two pregnant women shared a joyful reunion.  The air was full of “I didn’t know you were pregnant!” and “How far along are you?”  These friends hadn’t seen each other in months, but then they counted, out loud, “one, two, three” and lifted their shirts to show off their growing bellies. Their bellies full of promise.  Their bellies pregnant with joy, and dreams and possibilities.  I averted my eyes and cradled my belly with my baby who didn’t have a heart beat.

Fighting tears several times and yearning to get as far away from the room full of potential and hormones and beating hearts, I was glad when our ultrasound technician finally called us back to her room, which was easily four times the size of my doctor’s exam room.  We had plenty of space for our wet weekend bags.

She told me to pull up my dress as I climbed onto her table.  Mike sat in the chair by my head.  We both looked at the monitor mounted near the ceiling.  The gel she squeezed out on my water-filled belly was unexpectedly warm, a welcome relief after the frigid air from the waiting room.  And that’s when we could finally see our baby.  For the first time; the only time.  On the screen.  Our baby looked like any other baby I’d seen in ultrasound pictures at this early stage.  But this technician agreed with our doctor about our baby’s heartbeat.  It was missing.

All day long this woman looks into expectant women’s bellies and tells them happy news like their baby’s gender.  But today she affirmed our doctor’s sad diagnosis of no heartbeat.  We did another ultrasound, and then she left to call in the supervising doctor.  He, too agreed with my doctor.  That put us at three ultrasounds on two machines and three people with one voice confirming that our baby didn’t have a heartbeat.  Devastating.

Mike and I clung to each other in that room, crying tears of sorrow, sadness, disappointment, heart break.  They gave us some privacy, so we stood in that room of promise for everyone else; that room which held no promises for me.  And I wept.

I later called my mom to share the wretched news, which meant two of my three sisters who were with her also knew.  But my oldest sister had been stuck in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike for hours (was that a Divine delay?) and had just crossed the George Washington Bridge.  Mike texted asking her to pull over and call us.  I didn’t want to share this news while she was driving.  She suspected something was wrong (as did the rest of my family) when she didn’t get cheery text updates from us during the last few hours.  Rather than coming across town to pick us up and then head out to Montauk, she drove to our neighborhood to wait for us.  We hailed a cab and headed home.

Jennifer spent the weekend with us in New York City.  On Sunday the rest of my family came over for a few hours.  Mom then spent Sunday and Monday night with us.

The weekend was rough.  I didn’t want Monday to come.  I cried.  I slept.  I did laundry.  I was in shock.  In my belly I still had our child.  But our child didn’t have a heartbeat.  How strange.  And on Monday my doctor took our child out of my belly.  How wretched.  It really was a horrible weekend.  I didn’t want Monday to come.

But Monday did come.  Waiting in the “Ambulatory Surgery” unit for a surgical room to open up so they could squeeze me in, wearing the drawstring surgery pants under the ubiquitous hospital gown that is open in the back, with the seer-sucker robe and anti-slip socks did not settle my nerves.  Mike waited with me for hours in the chilly pre-surgery room, then walked with me as far as the hospital personnel would let him when they led me to surgery.  He held me and whispered, “I love you,” before I pushed my IV pole into the elevator.  As the doors closed, I couldn’t help but feel fear.  And feel alone.

My sweet, kind, gentle husband wanted to be in the surgical room with me.  He didn’t want me to be alone.  But I couldn’t think of anything worse for him to have to endure. The hospital didn’t even give us this option, so he sat in a different waiting room until my doctor reported to him about the surgery and he was allowed to find me in recovery.

I was escorted to the surgical suite.  I walked in.  There were several people in the room wearing surgical masks.  Two greeted me and asked questions: Do you have all of your teeth? Is there anything in your mouth that is removable?  Do you have any allergies?  Have you ever had a bad reaction to anesthesia? Have you had anything to eat or drink since midnight last night?

I don’t know why I thought this, but I remember thinking, “Don’t cry! Don’t cry!”  But why?  My world was falling apart.  I was in a surgical room, and they were going to take my baby, my baby without a heart beat, from my belly.  I could feel the tears burning the rim of my eyes.  My chin was starting to quiver and now the nurse and anesthesiologist couldn’t understand my answers anymore.  I stood next to the surgical table crying. I still had a kleenex in the pocket of my hospital-issued seer-sucker robe.

My doctor appeared.  My doctor.  I am so grateful for her.  She shared the horrible news on Friday with such gentleness and compassion.  She called me on Friday night to explain (again) our next steps and options.  She called on Saturday night to answer any questions which may have come up.  She had one of her interns call us on Monday morning while she was in surgery to answer questions and let us know it was time to come to the hospital.

The last thing I remember before the anesthesia lulled me into a peaceful, numb oblivion, was my doctor holding my hand and saying she that she hoped to see me under happier circumstances in labor and delivery.  I clung to that little bit of hope as I slipped into my silent slumber and they removed my baby.

It’s three days later.  My belly is empty.  My breasts aren’t tender anymore.  I don’t wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night anymore either.  I have to lose the weight I had started to gain (story of my life).  I’m still tired, though.  But I don’t have the pain I expected, or the bleeding I anticipated.  Instead, Mike and I both have pretty bad colds.  We’re welcoming this opportunity to slow down: to grieve, mourn and rest.

I love the three floral bouquets we’ve received.  I’m surprised at how meaningful they are to me.  I’m thankful for the emails, voice mails and texts from friends who mourn with us; but I don’t want to talk on the phone or return any of those emails.  I’m also thankful to the two friends who brought us dinner the last two nights: we’d eaten a lot of delivery from Jesus Taco over the weekend.

We have three retreats for the next three weekends, and after that a week of leadership development in Orlando.  Mike and I are again giving leadership to the two-year national leader development program our organization holds for senior leaders.  It’s one of my favorite jobs with the ministry.

The everyday groceries which my family brought are nearly gone.  We need eggs and milk and cereal and fruit.  The kitchen floor needs to be swept and mopped.  Life moves forward.  My heart is broken, but healing.  I’m still sad, and I don’t want to give voice to this pain.  But writing about it has felt good, honest.  I’m hopeful that we’ll get pregnant again.  For two people who were told that we have “unexplained infertility and will need medical assistance to get pregnant,” this baby was a clear sign and reminder that God is the author of life, with and without medical assistance.  Perhaps He’ll enable us to get pregnant on our own again.

But for now, I’m taking it one hour at a time.  I’m reading my Bible.  I’m praying.  I’m resting.  I’m watching TV.  And I’m writing, which is so good for my soul.

It’s still raining. But today, maybe I’ll put my rain boots on and go outside.

Prayers for Ivanka

“I saw your update on facebook.  Are all of your dreams coming true?”

A friend asked this when she saw a picture of me with Ivanka Trump on facebook. But before I tell you that story, let me give you a little background…

Ivanka Trump and the Evers

In May 201o I felt like God invited me into a time of asking Him for specific things, and really persisting in prayer (read that blog entry here).  At the time I had recently read Ivanka Trump’s book, The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life, and walked away wondering how she turned out so well in comparison to other young women of privilege in New York and Hollywood who make the headlines for all the wrong reasons.  So I started to pray for her daily.  Yes, daily.  I thought God was asking me to pray for Ivanka Trump everyday. (My mom prays for her every Saturday.)

I prayed daily for a long time, but I’ll be honest, I started to lag in endurance.  I’m not very persistent, so this was a good exercise to keep me focused and stretch my capacity.  But ten months after the commitment, I was probably down to a few times a week, prompted by watching Celebrity Apprentice or catching her tweets on Twitter.

All that changed last week! While watched the 250th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on the upper east side of Manhattan, I got a text message from a friend telling me that Ivanka Trump was at Macy’s in Herald Square to promote her new shoe line, and the first 200 people in line could have their photo taken with her!  Knowing I was praying for her, he and his wife stepped in line to hold a spot for me.  But that meant I had 30 minutes to make it from the upper east side to Herald Square. That’s not a lot of time during the St. Patrick’s celebration in Manhattan!

But we made it!  I arrived and we were nearly next in line.  As I thought through witty introduction banter, I was thrown off when one of the body guards snapped at me saying, “No touching!”  Startled, I meekly walked over to Ms. Trump, who is a tall, beautiful woman (and six months pregnant?!  I didn’t see a baby-bump!).  I was star-struck and very careful to not touch her, and she towered over me with her stiletto heals.  I felt small next to Ivanka Trump, who was fresh-faced and lovely.  Macy’s even had a fan blowing to keep her cool under the photographer’s lights.  I felt all the grime of a long day in the City cling to my now-tired appearance as my rehearsed witty banter faded from memory.

She kindly chatted with me for a few seconds before our photo was taken and then I heard the guard bark, “No touching!” to the person in line behind me.

Sisappointed that I didn’t talk with her (and only smiled or nodded), I asked Mike to stand in line with me to have another picture taken with her.  Now that I knew the routine, I could try to share something significant with her.  After our photo was snapped (of course, Mike was ready with witty banter about people wearing green), I made eye contact with Ms. Trump and told her that I pray for her nearly every day.  She said, “I appreciate that.  I really do.”  Sincerely.

So, what do I pray when I pray for Ms. Trump?  I pray for faithfulness and fidelity in her marriage to Jared Kushner.  I pray for her growing business empire, that she’d lead with grace, wisdom, insight, justice and moral integrity.  I pray for safety in her pregnancy and for this little life she carries within her.  I ask God to reveal Himself to her and that she’d have a growing spiritual hunger.

OK, i’m a little nervous about  posting this… I mean, I’m not some dangerous stalker, and I don’t want to get on her security people’s radar.  There’s only so much “No touching!” I can handle.   But maybe you’ll join me in praying for Ivanka Trump as well.

Mirror, Mirror

I spent several days flat on my back after my back went out last week.  I’ve seen vast improvements every day.  I can’t believe the mobility I’ve recovered.  I can’t believe the ingrained independence I’ve discovered.

My mom suggested that God had something for me in my “confinement.”  Knowing she was right, I asked God what He wanted to give me during this time: what lesson to learn or what to observe about Him or me.

My independence is nothing new to those who know me well. But the depth of it is what surprises me.  As soon as I was able to get around the apartment on my own, I made dinner (a homemade black bean soup, and it was wonderful, thank you. Get the recipe here.)  Nothing wrong with cooking, but the heart behind the culinary artistry surfaced something to consider.

Here are a few of the observations I’ve made from the sofa:

  • I fear being a burden to others.
  • It is hard for me to receive from others. I feel compelled to “repay.”
  • I feel like I have to prove myself.
  • I feel like I have to defend myself.
  • I need to have something to show for my time to justify my existence.

I think these are signs or evidence of my inability to rest in God’s mercy and grace.  Could self-righteousness be at the root of my independence?  I didn’t make that connection until reading Whiter Than Snow by Paul Tripp.  Here’s an excerpt from page 28:

…Why are you and I devastated when our weakness, sin, and failure are pointed out?  Why do we find confrontation and rebuke painful even when they are done in love? … Why do we find comfort in pointing to people who appear to be worse sinners than we are? Why do we make up self-atoning revisions of our own history? Why do we erect self-justifying arguments for what we have said or done? Why do we turn the tables when someone points out a wrong, making sure that they know that we know that we’re not the only sinner in the room? Why do we line up all the good things we’ve done as a counter-balance for the wrong that is being highlighted? Why is this all so hard to accept?

There’s only one answer to all of these questions. There’s only one conclusion that fits.  We find this all so hard to accept because we studiously hold onto the possibility that we’re more righteous than the Bible describes us to be.  When we look in the mirror of self-appraisal, the person we tend to see is a person who is more righteous than any of us actually is!

OK, that was a long quote, but so are the comments in my journal!  I might be stretching on some of these connections, but it is all very logical in my head.

Having Mike serve me was hard.  Being humble enough to ask for help, to wait for him to help get me out of bed and “dance” me into the living room, or the bathroom, was humiliating.  Seriously, he waited on me hand and foot. Did Mike complain about it?  No.  But I imagined him complaining.  I feared my requests would become burdensome and he would resent me.  I hate to think of myself as helpless and dependent.

But I am.  We all are in a way, aren’t we?  We need other people in healthy ways, but many of us resist reaching out and asking for it.  We polish our reputations so that we appear great and self-sufficient to others.  Reading Whiter Than Snow and the readings for my daily-Bible-reading-in-a-year online community helped to surface my determination to pull myself up by the bootstraps and make something of myself.

But that nullifies the good gifts of God’s grace and mercy which tell me that I am not good enough on my own, nor can I make something out of myself, but God loves me anyway, forgives me anyway, gives me good gifts anyway.  While I know I need grace and mercy, they are can be hard to accept.  But aren’t grace and mercy the pathway to freedom? Aren’t they the pathway to resting?  When you know you are loved, forgiven and safe regardless of your ability to impress anyone or prove yourself, or make yourself invaluable, then you can really rest, relax and enjoy life.  Then you are safe.  And the pressure is off.

I don’t know if this makes much sense to anyone else (or if anyone else is reading this), but I think I’m starting to work it out.  When I look in the mirror of self-appraisal, I don’t want to justify myself and list out my strengths or value-added contributions.  I want to fully embrace these gifts of grace and mercy and find freedom.

This is author Paul Tripp talking about his book, Whiter Than Snow:

Bad Back

It hurt.  Unexpectedly.  It was my lower back, and I was VERY aware of it. It felt like nothing I’d experienced before, in a bad way.  I wondered if I would be able to make it back to bed, for I felt like passing out.  I couldn’t stand up straight, nor could I bend down any lower.  Moving at all was miserable.  But I hobbled to my side of the bed and somehow managed to get in.  Mike was still sleeping, but not for long!

We were supposed to meet with a pastor for coffee that day, and in the spirit of multi-tasking, I thought I’d clean the bathroom before getting a shower.  I didn’t make it very far. 

When I woke him (gently, for who likes to be awakened harshly?), Mike jumped to action, putting a pillow under my knees, bringing me juice, ibuprofen, my cell phone, my ipad and my eye glasses before leaving for that meeting.  What else could a gal want, right?  A nap, and how about no more back pain?

Since this is the first time my back has “gone out” on me, I called those who I thought might have some advice.  On facebook several people suggested investing in sturdy footwear, but I couldn’t imagine getting out of bed, let alone wearing shoes!

I spent most of the day in bed, and only spent time on the sofa when Mike convinced me of the social benefits of being in the living room with him. The challenge, though, was getting me out of bed.  I don’t know how we did it, for standing and putting weight on my feet (on my back?) really hurt.  Once Mike got me out of bed, he held me as though in a big bear hug and we shuffled into another room together, as though dancing closely, but without music. Back pain aside, that part was kind of sweet.

Today is Bad Back Day #3, and I’m improving.  I need Mike’s help getting out of bed, but I can manage the rest of the day’s mobility challenges on my own. Following the advice of friends in the medical profession, I’m resting, taking ibuprofen (with food!), using a heating pad and gently stretching.  Today Mike and I even went for a short walk.  I’m not trying to be a hero, but I think moving is good.

I don’t know what brought this on.  Did I walk around the City in bad shoes?  Were my muscles too tight?  All I know is that I want to avoid this kind of pain and debilitation again. This is miserable! I imagine some kind of exercise, stretching, strength training could be in my future.

Do you think I can go to yoga soon?  That seems like an exercise which focuses on stretching and strengthening your core muscles.  I need that.  How will I know when I’m ready to dive back into life again?  Those of you who are back pain survivors, I’d love some advice!