Sunday, March 26, 2017

Collateral Beauty.

About a week ago, late one night when the kids were in bed, we rented the movie.

It's a very interesting story. And has all sorts of twists and turns. I'm not here to promote it or say you will love it. I'm in a place of deep pain and so watching a story about someone else's deep pain...often has very applicable moments.

This one was no exception.

When the movie was over, I went immediately to bed and sobbed my eyes out.

How in the world could my story have collateral beauty...? How could anything good come from this nightmare?

I blogged months ago, right at the beginning of this story unfolding...about the complete stranger that told me to look for the gifts along the way. And we did. And we saw them. Many.

That's really what collateral beauty is.  The beauty that comes from the pain.  In the movie, the lady who lost her young child was told the same thing also by a complete stranger.  "Be sure to look for the collateral beauty..."

Then there was this moment.

This moment in time when our world changed. For the better.  It was the strangest moment for me because 2 minutes before her entrance into the world...I looked at Dean and said "I'm still prepared for the worst...I can't even imagine hearing a cry...or seeing a baby..."  Yes. What an awful way to go all the way up to the delivery of your child. Our world has been ravaged by pain and loss and horror in the last ten months. I was just terrified of getting my hopes up that something beautiful could really be my heart blocked it out.

And then there she was.  Actually...for many reasons one I will never forget. My doctor (whom I adore) said "Janice, reach down and help deliver your baby..." and I couldn't even open my eyes. I couldn't see...I just did it.  I grabbed her shoulders and pulled her to me.

I've cried at the birth of all my children. You know...those happy tears. But not these.  This was at least 10 minutes of sobs.  I...sobbed.  I said nothing. I just cried.  The room was full of joy and laughter and she was crying and I had never even entered into that being a possibility.  I was...sobbing.

Dean asked if I was ok and all I could say was "I never believed she'd really be here...that this would really happen..."

I heard my doctor tell everyone that our family has suffered unimaginable trauma and that this was deeply emotional for us.  There was this moment...where the baby is laying on my chest under the blanket and my doctor leaned forward. It was a moment I'm so thankful to have captured. There's a lot of feeling in this picture. Not just the normal feels...the happiness of an amazing entrance into the world. goes further than that.  It was that moment of us both knowing without saying a word...we were looking at collateral beauty.

How could something so very perfect and pure coming from our ashes? How could this story possibly have any positive twist?

Everyone in the room waited with baited breath to hear her name.  My nurse (whom I adored and will love forever) was wiping the tears telling me she had goosebumps.  Her name forever marks the time in our lives she entered the world. The fact that she is indeed our...collateral beauty.

Topaz Treasure.

Topaz is a precious gemstone. A birth stone. Tirzah's, in fact.  A fun way of naming our last after our first.

But it's more.

Topaz is named after an island in the Red Sea called Topazios. An island surrounded in thick fog. It was so difficult to see that only the most skilled of sailors could find it. Once they did...? They were rewarded with the find of this beautiful stone...since named Topaz.  It means "To seek".

Treasure.  A few weeks before our nightmare revealed itself...I woke in the night several times with one line from one of my favorite songs. Diamonds by Hawk Nelson. The line was "Here in the ashes...I'm finding treasure..."


In the ashes of the last 10's hard to imagine anything beautiful being born. But...she's here.

Topaz Treasure.

Our most searched for treasure. Out of the ashes.

Collateral Beauty.

Then the next day...Dean gave me this gift.  Oh...he not only knows me and gets me...he loves me. Deeply.  And this was just one way of him showing me.  This ring.  It's hard to see it...but here's what it says:
"My story isn't over yet; Topaz Treasure 3/23/2017"

I'm crying just writing that.  I have felt like my story was over.  Not in a pitiful, all-about-me way. In a  'where do we go from here...?' way.  In a 'nothing good come every come out of this nightmare'...way.

I love every part of this ring.  That he thought of this. That it was all his idea. His wording.  And that he got right to the heart of the matter. He knows how I feel.  He knows my deepest pain.  He knows I've struggled to find hope.  And yes...he said it so well. She's the proof that our story isn't over.  She's the collateral beauty.

Monday, March 6, 2017


Last night Dean said "oh I got something really awesome in my reading today...I wanted to share it with you...."

He went on to read several verses and I had to be on my left side or I start to black out (anyone else like that late in pregnancy...?) so I was turned away from him. jaw was open.  These were for me.

Whispers...perhaps much louder and clearer than whispers.  They spoke right to my soul.  

I've been struggling so much in our journey with the complete lack of ... how do I say it... justice.  Things have not been 'right' or 'true'. The more the obvious lack of 'justice' the more my heart hurts all over again.  I find myself longing for common sense...heart...and justice. Just for someone to see the story and hear the truth.  I lay awake at night haunted by the lack of it.  Tormented...honestly.  I've learned to see the world so differently than I did a year ago.  And that...saddens me.  I've never lived in a rainbows and lollipops world. My world has been full of 'hard' for years. But doable hard.  Manageable hard.  And hard with great rewards along the way.  Then there was this part of our story. This part that threw us to our knees...literally.  Moments I will never forget so long as I have breath. Moments that increasingly make me wake in the night screaming, sweating, convulsing.  Did this all really happen? Is this really true? Please tell me it's just a horrific nightmare. No. Alas...this is our reality.  And to top it off...a complete lack of justice.  I lay back down to go to sleep and hope for peace just for a few more hours.

And then there were these whispers.

Straight from Heaven.

Psalm 37 (NIV)
Do not fret because of those who are evil

    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;

    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;

    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord

    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;

    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more;

    though you look for them, they will not be found.
But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.

You'd have to know the details of our situation to know how this applies but ... it does. And I'm guessing it doesn't only apply to us.  Verses 5, 6, 7.... tears.  

So right now we wait on Him. To do as He has promised to do.  And to bring peace.  My heart feels more broken and shattered with each passing day.  The healing process is long and grueling and hard. Hard things? Who knew all those years ago when I whispered hope into baby Azlan's ear that he could do hard things...that I was whispering to my own heart for the future? Yes. Yes...God knew.  He knew.  Every step in our journey was leading us right here. To the most heart wrenching, soul breaking, earth shattering place we now find ourselves.  Thank you for praying with us and for us.  It means everything.  Everything.  And yes...this has inspired me to continue to hope and pray for justice. 

Some of you are also feeling stuck in this land ... in between. Knowing His promises, believing His word, and doing your human best to keep your eyes on Jesus instead of the storm...I hope and pray these whispers speak to your heart too.  May He mend us and you. May He bring new life into both of our situations. May you find the glimmer of light to keep giving tomorrow a chance.