Thursday, May 9, 2013

Until it Happens to You

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I realize it is a bit unorthodox to write about things that are painful.  But I promised myself, and those who read these posts, that I would keep our blog real, open, honest and raw.  There is very little that is more raw than the events that transpired this week.  Nonetheless, I still felt God asking me to share them.  We are meant to live in community, we were not created to deal with things alone.  For it is in loneliness that Satan thrives and strives to isolate us into shame, embarrassment and doubt.  Through transparency and a genuinely-lived life, I believe it is where we conquer Satan through our Savior.  Where we give him no foothold to grab, where we leave no stone left unturned.


It's the kind of pain that starts in your heart.  Not the actual muscle located in your body but a place that begins somewhere deeper, that doesn't appear in a medical book.  It slowly pulsates upward through your lungs and spreads wide across your chest, radiating into your shoulders, slowly penetrating your arms.  It makes its way to your hands, to the tips of your fingers.  It's so electrifying that you feel like anyone who is within a one-mile radius of you must feel it too.  You hope they feel it too.  You hope you're not alone in your suffering.

From the moment the two pink lines show up on that plastic stick, something is lit inside of you.  You can't explain it, you can only feel it.  With every week that passes, more and more of this little future begins to unfold in your mind.  Promises, hopes and dreams; they already exist.

Physical signs that life has started to make you acutely aware of this miracle taking shape inside of you.
Names begin to circle in your daydreams.
All the "firsts" they will experience play out like an old movie in your thoughts.

You wonder if they will be blonde or brunette, boy or girl.  Will they be fiery like their sister or sensitive like their big brother?  Will you finally have a child with blue eyes, that maybe could look a little like you?  Those Braisted genes are awfully strong.

You grin when you pass by your husband as he washes dishes because the fact that you share this intimate secret only brings you closer.  You sign up for "Baby E-mails" and put a weight tracker on your electronic devises, this time you are going to keep those pounds in check.

In the back of your mind there's a little dark corner of "what ifs" that you keep smashed behind happy memories of your past two experiences.  It's still such a slight chance, and really, that kind of thing only happens to other people.

Until it happens to you.

I sat there thinking how wrong it was that my child, the one I already had playing soccer in my mind, was now sitting in a place to be flushed down like waste.  The child with Mike's infectious smile and my blue eyes, was no longer in a warm or caring environment.  Coupled with the fact that I could barely grieve because every time the kids saw me crying they thought the end of the world was coming.  In their eyes, I'm a rock, and if something could upset Mommy this much...

I used to be sympathetic to mothers who lost a child in early pregnancy.  I never knew what it was like but in my mind I said things like, "Well at least the baby was only the size of a sesame seed.  She didn't get to see the child's face or anything.  That must feel better."  But now that our baby was just the size of a sesame seed I completely understand.  That is our sesame seed and it doesn't make me feel any better.

The kids were occupied and the sun was setting, I could barely make out some rogue rays creeping over our backyard wall.  The same place from where my hurt was seeping through, called to me to come see beauty through it all.  I yearned for it.  Not for an answer or a quick fix but to see beauty through the ashes of what was left of my broken heart.  So I climbed the stairs to our roof and saw it.


In the clouds, the rays of light, I saw God's heart breaking for mine and at the same time His healing powers flowed over me like ocean waves.  For a moment, and if only for a moment, He spoke through His creation the way words never could:

"I love you, my child.  My mercies are new with every sunrise, my grace is new with every sunset."

I have been in this love affair with Christ long enough, through enough battles and hard places, to believe His words.  To know that as His Word promises "to work out all things for the good of those who love Him," He will do just that.  And like all the other circumstances throughout my life, I can't see it, not standing in the middle of a messy and painful place, but after a few more sunsets I know He'll show me just how much mercy and how much grace He planned to give.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Brown Paint and Refrigerators

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Phaeton, Haiti
Many years ago my mom was opening up several Curves for Women clubs and she wanted to do some murals on the walls to spice up the place.  So we did some caricatures of women exercising.  Given that I was an art major and loved anything to do with painting, she asked me to help.

We used an overhead projector (yes, I just said overhead projector) to reflect the images on the wall and I traced around the edges of the design and later painted it in.  All was going well until we got to painting the women's hair color.  I could paint every shade of blonde or red or black or gray but I absolutely could not mix the right color to make brown.  Being a painting major at the time, I was incredibly frustrated at the fact that I couldn't make that darn brown paint.  I may have even thrown a little bit of a temper tantrum too.

My mom and I decided to take a break and go out for lunch and I expressed my frustration with the brown paint, to which she replied, "Well, did you pray about it?"  "Mom, God doesn't care about brown paint." "Well, why don't you try and see."  So in my most snotty, attitude-y, teenage voice I prayed, "Dear God, I need to make brown paint.  Amen."  I'm sure I rolled my eyes and crossed my arms and stared out the window at the sheer ridiculousness of the conversation I had just had with the "Almighty Deity" about a bit of tinted media.

After lunch we returned to the club and I took out my paint brush, grabbed some paint colors and just threw them in there fully expecting a disgusting color of blah to be revealed.  But within seconds, the most beautiful Auburn color that any woman would die to achieve showed up in my little Dixie cup.  I couldn't believe it.  I didn't even try.  I completely expected there to be no brunette gym bunnies on my mother's club walls.  But there it was; brown paint.

Although I wasn't a Believer back then, I never forgot that brown paint.  For many years after, when I had become a Believer, I caught myself in the most trying of circumstances quietly saying to myself, "brown paint."  I fully expected that no matter how impossible something seemed, if God cared that I could make brown paint He certainly cared enough to walk me through anything with more serious ramifications.

Monday, my refrigerator stopped working.  Of course something like this would happen when my husband is out of town.  Of course this would happen when I just went to the grocery store and bought a month's worth of meat to freeze.  Of course this would happen when I live in a Spanish-speaking country where I don't know the technical way to say "the external temperature control" or could possibly not know the technical terms they would throw back at me if I called someone asking for help.  So after panicking for a little bit and then calling the manufacturer (which wasn't as traumatic as I thought it would be) the words "brown paint" came to my mind.  I hadn't thought of the phrase in quite a long time so I paid special attention to the fact that it resurfaced in my desperate time of need...and I use desperate loosely, of course. 

I walked over to my refrigerator, put both hands on it and said something to the effects of, "Lord, I hate that my husband is not here to take care of this.  I just want to sit on my couch and drown my sorrows away in chocolate but I am choosing to actively seek You.  I know that You are the God who controls the wind and the waves, the sun and the moon and you even probably control the electricity somehow.  I need this refrigerator and really don't have the energy to jump through the hoops I will have to jump through to get this fixed.  Please fix my refrigerator."  In the exact moment that I said "Amen" I felt the urge to unplug my fridge.  I thought it kind of odd considering that would seemingly be counter-productive but I have learned to pay special attention to things, and thoughts, that are out of the ordinary.  I walked over, unplugged my fridge, plugged it back in and instantly heard the glorious sound of the temperature fan kicking in.  All the lights came back on and cool air was flowing through my perspiring food.

Some may call that coincidence.  Some may call that my own intellectual knowledge of a working refrigerator.  I prefer to call that an Infinite and Mighty God who takes small moments everyday to remind us of how Intimate and Loving He really is.  Our God who paints the colors of a Haitian sunrise the most majestic colors of red, orange and yellow also whispers to our souls His unbelievable love for us through brown paint and refrigerators.