Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pollyanna vs. Joy-Killers

1.  an excessively or blindly optimistic person.
2.  (often lowercase). Also, Pollyannaishunreasonably or illogically optimistic (www.dictionary.com)

In doing some research recently for my memoir, I looked up the dictionary definition of my name and was unpleasantly surprised at what I found:  “excessively,” “unreasonably,” and “illogically” optimistic?!  Seriously?  Such negative connotations in reference to optimism!  What in the world?  My very first reaction was that I was—and am—greatly offended by the dictionary definition.  My second reaction is that somehow or another I have to find a way to get in touch with whoever creates these definitions and begin a petition to get the definition changed.  My third reaction is that it is no wonder there are so many joy-stealers/joy-killers around me.  Rather than seeing optimism as a positive or good thing, people are conditioned even through definitions to see optimism as something negative.  So when someone comes along with a “glass half-full” view of life, said person is ridiculed and condemned for not seeing reality, for being “unreasonably” optimistic. 

All my life I have dealt with joy-killers.  It feels as if every time I have felt any measure of joy in my life, there has been someone waiting to make sure that I know how ridiculous it is for me to feel such joy.  There has always been someone to bring me down out of the clouds and help me plant my feet firmly on the ground.  In spite of stories like The Neverending Story that teach that it is perfectly okay to dream and live in another world, someone is always there, waiting to crush my spirit.

I imagine myself—and other optimists like me—walking through life holding a giant bouquet of large, helium-filled balloons.  (Think of the movie Up and you’ll come close to the number of balloons I see in this bouquet.)  My balloons are gorgeous.  They are all colors, but there are more pinks and purples than the rest because they are my favorite color.  Not only are they all colors, they are all variations of colors and some even sparkle with a few that glow.  My bouquet is magical and it lifts me up into the clouds on wings of joy.

Along comes a joy-killer with a bow and a quiver full of arrows. 
This joy-killer sees me in the clouds with my amazing balloon bouquet and immediately lets an arrow fly, popping at least a dozen of my balloons with one shot.  The joy-killer doesn’t stop there.  No.  The joy-killer won’t be satisfied until every single balloon is popped and I am back with my feet planted firmly on the ground.

As my balloons pop, I plummet towards the earth.  When I land, I hit hard, breaking bones, bruising parts of my body I wasn’t even aware could be bruised.  Not one balloon survived.  I am surrounded by broken pieces of my once beautiful balloon bouquet.  The sorrow and sadness well up in me to the point of pure rage, but the joy-killer is strutting around demanding to acknowledgment and thanks for having saved me—rather than having harmed me.

No one helps me up.  A few around me feel sorry to see my beautiful bouquet destroyed, but they all believe that the joy-killer has saved me.

Only I know how destructive the joy-killer's arrows have been.  Only I feel the aches and pains in my body.  I am alone as the sadness settles over me now as a warm, comfortable blanket.  I wrap it around myself and shuffle away, isolated and dejected.

Why?  Why is it that there are those who would rather we all walk around looking dejected rather than with smiles on our faces?  Why is it better to be sad or angry than it is to be filled with joy?  Why does the glass have to be half-empty rather than half-full?  Why does even the definition of a “Pollyanna” have to filled with such negative connotations as  “unreasonably” or “illogically” optimistic?  What in the world is so very wrong with being optimistic?

My Bible tells me to be FULL of the JOY of the Lord.  I am told in
my Bible to serve the Lord ENTHUSIASTICALLY.  (See my previous posts for the scripture references.)  Jesus himself was a man of Joy and laughter.  Jesus was also criticized for being a man of Joy and murdered upon a cross because He was full of life, love, and joy.

So go ahead and criticize me.  You go right on ahead and pop the balloons of my joy bouquet.  You go ahead and try to keep me down, bruised and broken.  Go ahead, joy-killer and knock me down.  Go right on ahead. 

Just like my Lord and Savior who rose again, I will get up again.  I will have a new, more beautiful bouquet than I had before.  My balloons will be bigger.  They will be even more colorful.  I will fly higher in the clouds on wings of joy than I did previously.  Joy-killer, you may do everything in your power to knock me down and keep me under my blanket of sadness, but I am POLLYANNA and I will throw off that blanket and take hold of my beautiful balloon bouquet and rise above you……!!!!!!

8 “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10, NLT)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mommy Issues

I admit that I am probably overly lenient where my son is concerned.  I try not to be, but I find myself wanting to give him everything he asks for, to protect him as a Momma bear does her cubs, to love on him every chance I get.  I know that I need to be his Mom and not his friend and I do try.  I really do.  I believe that in many instances, I am successful.  But I also find myself caving when I shouldn't.  More than that, I always wonder if I am doing the right thing where he is concerned.  I tend to question every command I give him and every demand I make of him.  I question whether or not I am giving in to him too much or not enough.  

My son is my life.  He is EVERYTHING to me.  He is my only living child out of four opportunities I have had to have children.  I want to do this parenting thing right.  More importantly, I want my son to grow up in the love and admonition of the Lord, knowing Christ not only because his parents are in the ministry, but also as a personal relationship with Christ for himself.  Sadly, in spite of the fact that Samuel attends church with us and has been in Sunday School all his life as well as attended Vacation Bible School most of his summers, I feel that I am failing my son in this area.  

We do not do devotions at home together as a family.  I read my Bible every day.  I have Bible studies I do on a consistent basis.  My husband certainly studies his Bible, especially in sermon preparation.  But we do not do anything as a family which means that Samuel is not doing a Bible study at all outside of what he gets at church.  I have purchased several Bible studies specifically for Samuel at his age, but they continue to sit on the bookshelf where they were put after first bringing them home.  

One of my very first memories growing up is of my mom having
Bible verses posted all over the house, especially in the kitchen.  We were memorizing Bible verses before we ever learned to read.  When Samuel was younger, we worked hard on learning all the books of the Bible.  At one time, he could tell you all 66 books of the Bible.  Now, sadly, because we haven't continuously reinforced that, he has difficulty knowing which book of the Bible is where and whether or not a book is even a book of the Bible.  

And Bible verses memorized?  He is sorely lacking in that area, I am thoroughly ashamed to say.  When I was his age, I was part of the Bible Drill program in the Southern Baptist community.  I loved it.  Every year for about 4 or 5 years, Kevin Qualls, Brian Edwards, and I (there were others, but we were the only 3 who stuck it out every year) memorized Bible verses and went to competitions--and won at every level--church, district, and state.  We even competed one Sunday against our Pastor as a demonstration, each us beating the pastor at every turn.  I admit to some level of pride concerning my Bible knowledge while at the same time, feeling great humility that I have not passed on or shared that knowledge as I should have already with my son.

I accept the fact that in large part, my depression has gotten the better of me for too many years and that it has negatively affected the things, especially as far as Samuel's religious/Biblical education is concerned, I have wanted to do with Samuel.  I was in so deep and it was not something I could just "get over" without help beyond the Word.  (Yes, I am on medication--and it is helping.  I am also seeing a Christian counselor and getting help for my medical issues which have not helped my depression.)  I was not in a place within myself where I was able or even capable of looking after anyone's salvation, let alone my own, for years.

But now that I am coming out on the other side--now that I see the light, the opening to my tunnel and beginning to find my Joy in the Lord again, I find myself wanting more and more to find ways to teach my son about the Word so that he comes to love it as I do.  I want him to be able to quote Bible verses.  I want him to be able to say all the books of the Bible, in order--and to be able to spell them!  (Yes, I can spell them all, too.)  I want him to be able to pull out scriptures as he needs them when he is teased at school or when he has struggles of his own.

More than anything, I want him to be able to have such a wonderful relationship with the Lord for himself that when troubles and trials come his way throughout his life--as they inevitably will; they already have in his young life--that he will be able to stand firm in his faith and to count it all joy regardless of the struggles he goes through.  I can't fight his battles for him, but I can teach him how to fight those battles--how to keep his armor on.  

Will you help pray for me--and Samuel--as I begin this journey with Samuel?  And for my husband as well?  That we will begin, as a family, to seek the Lord earnestly and to teach Samuel to put on his own armor of God so that He may be able to stand????  Let me know if you will join me in prayer....I need all the encouragement and accountability I can get.  In advance, thank you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

BEST time of the year!

If I let myself think too much about it, I can easily be surprised that Fall is my favorite time of year.  So many of the trials (tragedies, struggles) of my life have happened in the fall of the year:

1.  the doctors found the cyst on my left ovary in the fall (I had surgery just before winter started)
2.  my first miscarriage (Panya Ruth) was in November of 1999
3.  my second miscarriage (Anna Rose) was also in November, but in 2005
4.  my diverticulitis attack happened in the fall, November 2009--subsequent surgery
5.  I had my ablasion in the fall of the year, October/November 2010
6.  It was fall of 2012 (?) when I underwent one procedure after another in an attempt to figure out why I was throwing up every single day
7.  It was in the fall of the year when I blew up at my husband.

There are probably more things I could add to this list, but you get the gist.  In spite of all the horrific things that have happened [to me] during the fall of the year, though, I still find that it is my favorite time of the year.  
I love a big, full, orange Harvest moon!  

I love that it gets dark earlier.  

I love, love, love the cooler weather!  I hate the heat of the summer!  (Of course, the summer heat reminds me, very effectively, of the fact that I do NOT want to spend eternity in hell!)  I love wearing sweatshirts, hoodies, jackets, and long-sleeve t-shirts!  

Even though I don't get to go as often as I would like, I love fall football!!!  

I love the colors of the leaves--red, orange, yellow.  I often drive with my eyes on the trees rather than on the road!  I can't wait to take a drive up to the mountains to admire the fall foliage even more!  

I love the food that comes with the fall of the year--chili, s'mores (although, s'mores are wonderful year-round), apple pie, turkey, stuffing, and other fall delicious wonders!  

Campfires.  This is the time of year when all I want to do is have my husband build a campfire so we can sit out under the stars and the moon and just be still in the glory and wonder of the season.

I love the new fall seasons on tv!  All my favorite shows come out with new episodes, yeah!  I love that school starts in early fall--ok, late summer, but still!  

We have always associated fall with the start of school, so this is when you see pictures of teachers
and apples and pumpkins and other great fall wonders!  And I love school!  I would have been a professional student if it paid!  Since I couldn't do that, I became a teacher!

I simply love the colors associated with fall:  orange, yellow, red, pink.  Pink and purple are my absolute favorite colors, but when fall comes, I am reminded of the wonderfulness of the colors that make fall so incredibly gorgeous.  I can't help but feel that God is showing off when it comes to the fall of the year.  This is the time when His creation shines and shouts for Joy and wonder--and He is not just pleased, He is very pleased.

Fall is probably my busiest season of the year, so I have to remind myself every year to slow down and remember to enjoy all the wonders of the season.  Maybe being so busy is part of what I love about it!  For some reason, I'm always most inspired to write during the fall of the year.  I just can't stop writing during the fall.  It's part of what draws me to NaNoWriMo every year.  I WANT to write during the fall.  When I look back at all the writing I have done throughout the years, I see that my most productive times when it comes to writing have always been in the fall--even the years I did not win NaNo, I've still done a LOT of writing.

In spite of--or maybe because of--all the tragedies I have dealt with in the fall of the year, this is the time of year when I feel God's presence more than any other....when His joy fills me as no other time of year does or is able to.  This is the one time of year when I love being outside.  I feel His touch in the very air during the fall.  

Personally, if the whole year could be like fall, it wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit.......

Sunday, September 21, 2014

God rejoices over ME with Singing!

Did you KNOW that God loves you so very much that "He will rejoice over you with joyful songs"?!  We all know that "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16) and we believe it.  It is the verse that draws us when we first accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

Over the years, though, I have found myself saying the words of John 3:16 from rote/memory rather than from my heart.  I believe them in head; I know them like the back of my hand, but sadly, they no longer have the power to stir my heart and soul as they did in the early years of my life as a Christian.  I can't help but wonder if I am not the only one.....

As I have been reading my Bible and studying JOY over the past few years, Zephaniah 3:17 has become a verse that has hit my heart in the same way that John 3:16 did when I first accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.  I needed this verse and the Lord showed it to me at just the right time.

It's powerful knowing that God loved me so much--even though I hadn't even been born, let alone thought of yet--that He sent His only Son to die a horrific death just so I could live eternally with Him in Eternity.  But now that years have gone by and I have suffered and struggled and dealt with deep depression, it is powerful to be reminded that He loves me so much that "He takes delight in me with gladness" and "He will rejoice over me with joyful songs"!  

Do you get that?!  Do you realize that means that God Himself sings for JOY when He sees me?  When He thinks of me??  


I listen a lot to Dr. Gary Smalley.  Many years ago, I watched his video on Hidden Keys to Love where he talks about Honor.  He brings out a Stradivarius violin and the whole audience gasps in awe.  He goes on to talk about that is how we should be when our Beloved (our loved ones) walk into a room.  I've always remembered that and I've always loved it when someone gets excited that I walked into a room.  It doesn't happen very often, but I admit that the few times that it has happened have been pretty awesome.

Do you GET that God gasps in awe EVERY single time He thinks of you?!  So much so that He even SINGS JOYFUL Songs as He rejoices over you?!  Hahahaha!!!  That is SO cool!!!  God doesn't sing about my sadness, depression, failures, sorrows, pains, ugliness, or even my anger.  He simply sings JOYFUL songs over me!!!!  

That makes me smile!  It makes me laugh!  It makes me want to sing right back to Him with love and Joy!  Someone loves me so much that He sings with Joy over me!  

Have you ever felt the joy of seeing someone you love only to met with a feeling that the loved one is not as happy to see you as you are to see him/her?  It's a horrible feeling.  It only takes once or twice before we no longer want to be around that loved one any longer and only once or twice more before we find excuses not to have to be around that no-longer-loved-one any longer.

But when our loved ones receive us with a smile on their faces and obvious joy, we reciprocate!  We know we are loved and we love in return--fully and completely!  It is difficult, if not impossible, to love someone who doesn't APPEAR to love us in return.

God is ALWAYS filled with JOY when we come into His presence....when we spend time with Him!  We can ALWAYS run to Him knowing that He will receive us with open arms full of love and JOY!  Best of all, He loves me so much, He sings with JOY over me!

Hallelujah!  JUMOY!!!  (Jump for JOY!)  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

I Choose Joy

Even from the first when my depression started to get the better of me, I have hated the way it made me feel.  Yet at the same time, there was some measure of comfort in my depression.  Because I carried it with me for so long before seeking help, it became my new normal.  For a long time, I was
not sure I wanted to quit being depressed because I had forgotten how to live a life in the fullness of God’s joy and peace. 

I also wanted, for the longest time, for SOMEONE to come along, pick me up, dust me off, and fix me—tell me what I needed to do to quit being so depressed.  Even when I first started seeing my counselor, as I would leave my weekly sessions with her, I wondered how and why she had not admitted me to the local mental facility rather than let me walk out the door.  I did ask her during a recent session why she had not admitted me; she said that she had seriously thought about it, but the bottom line was that I had not asked for it and she did not like to admit people who did not ask for it.

Those were powerful words because if I had known that, I would have asked her to admit me.  I was lost in more ways than one and not only did I not know how to get un-lost, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to. 

More than anything, her words made me realize that while I was getting help through counseling as well as other sources (seeing a doctor on a regular basis, getting prescription medications to help with the severe depression, seeing a chiropractor, and so on), I could not depend on these doctors, etc. to make me feel better….to make me better.  They could only help give me the tools that I needed to be able to make a choice of whether or not I wanted to get better.

It all boiled down to the simple fact that I, Polly Anna, had to make a choice that I wanted to get better, that I no longer wanted to allow depression, anger—rage, actually, low self-esteem, and a lack of confidence to rule my life. 

So, okay.  I made the choice that I no longer wanted to live that way, but then came the “Now what?!”  I had no idea where to go from there.

I admit that I found it strange—I still do—that me, a woman who has been saved, a Christian, for most of her life (since I was about three or four years old) had no idea where to begin finding my way out of the deep, dark, cold cave I had been in for so long.  I only knew that I needed to get up and start moving.

Thankfully, with the help of my medical team (most of whom are Christians) and the Holy Spirit, I gradually began to see a change in my whole being.  There is no one thing that I can put my finger on that has led me at least to the entrance of my cave.  I will always be near my cave.  It is my home now.  At least I no longer have to live in the deepest, darkest, scariest recesses of my cave.  I can live in the opening of the cave; I can even leave it for longer and longer periods.  Because of the tragedies I have suffered in my life, my cave will always be my home.

My counselor and I talked about what started me on my path to healing.  I said that it was a combination of many things that have happened over the past two or three years.  While she agreed, she also said that she believes, more than anything, that my healing truly began when I started studying Joy in depth.

One of the first things I did when I realized that only I could change the horror of my life was to begin reading my Bible in earnest and doing one Bible study after another.  I have always read my Bible on a consistent basis and I have memorized a lot of Bible verses, so that wasn’t something I had to learn to do.  I had, though, gotten slack in my Bible reading and Bible studies simply because I was too depressed to care to bother with it.  I knew I needed to get back to reading my Bible on a daily basis, so I chose a Bible reading plan and got started reading my Bible every single day.  Then I found a Bible Study on Joy—I liked the pretty pink cover and it was by the Women of Faith, so I knew it was a good study—and began serious Bible study on a daily basis—again. 

I did not make it all the way through my yearly Bible reading plan that first year, but I did make it through eight months.  Rather than beat myself up over it, as the new year started, I chose another plan and started again. 

As soon as I finished my first Bible study on Joy, I found another one on Joy and went through that one, too.  At first, it was not conscious on my part that I was doing a focused study on Joy, but after about three or four of them, I realized that I was doing a word study.  Then I began to take it deeper.

I searched for every use of the word Joy in all of my favorite Bible translations.  I marked each verse in my different Bibles.  I found that I associate the word Joy with the color pink, so not only did I mark my Bibles in pink ink or pink highlighters, but I even bought a couple of pink Bibles in the translations I wanted to work with. 

I studied the definition of Joy.  I took it a step further and marked the variations for the word joy in all my Bible translations as well as studied the definitions for each:  rejoice, enjoy, glad, happy, happiness, etc.

Eventually, I began noticing songs and poetry that focus on Joy.  I now have files of the lyrics to songs about joy as well as copies of poems.  That naturally led to pictures about Joy as well. 

And then one day when I was sitting quiet before the Lord, He showed me—again, Psalm 45:7 and Hebrews 1:9—“You love justice and hate evil.  Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”  I said, “I know, God.  You showed that to me a while ago.  I really love those verses.”
And the Holy Spirit said, “No.  Read them again.  Slowly.  With your heart.”
“Ok, Lord.”
The words began to sink in to the deepest recesses of my soul.  God wanted to pour out His oil of joy on ME more than on anyone else [I know]. 
Wow.  “But I’m so unworthy, Lord.  I’m still so depressed.  I’m still so angry and even full of rage.”
“Let me handle it.  Just trust me and let me fill you with my joy.”
I wish I could say that the infilling of God’s anointing oil of Joy filled me immediately and that my depression, rage, and anger faded away as the sunset, but the truth is that I am still working on it.  I still have days when they rear their ugly heads and try to take me back down.  At least now I know that the enemy is trying to keep me from receiving God’s full anointing oil of joy and I am better prepared to deal with the challenges. 
I have a long way to go, but I know that God will not give up on me, so I can’t give up on myself, either.
I share all of this with you to say that no matter where you are in your journey, it is important to get quiet before the Lord and let Him reveal a verse, a song, a poem, whatever it is He wants to give you that He has for you.  The scriptures (the anointing oil of joy) God gave me more than likely will not be what He has for you.  Maybe He will give you the same verses, but I very seriously doubt it.  In my studies on joy, while others have found Joy to be a focal point of their lives and studies, I have yet to read about someone else who received these exact verses from the Lord as I have.
God works in His own way with each individual as is best for each individual.  What I need from Him is not necessarily what you need from Him.  He gives each of us exactly what we need when we need it, but we have to be willing to listen as well as be obedient to what He wants of us.  God is not going to conform you to what He has for me or anyone else; He wants you to be you and your ministry to be your ministry.  In order to find that ministry, you have to find the source of your ministry.
Think of it as your mission statement.  Your life verse.  The thesis (point) of your own life.  Your purpose.  God uses our own personal experiences, quite often our tragedies, to help create our individual ministries.  I am working on mine and I share all of this because it is my heart’s desire to see you find yours.
After being depressed for more years than I can count, I can tell you in all honesty that the natural high I get from allowing God to anoint me with His oil of joy is greater than any drug, any shopping, any food, or anything else I have attempted to find joy in.  It all boils down to the simple fact that I am finally working on being in His will and following the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than believing the lies Satan has fed me.
I CHOOSE to be a woman anointed with God’s oil of joy—more than anyone else!  I receive His anointing oil of Joy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Teaching No More

In February of 2000, I received a letter from the school board wanting to know if I planned on being back to teach the following school year.  I felt in my spirit that I needed to respond in the negative.  But we were finally at a place financially where we weren’t living from paycheck to paycheck.  We were coming to a point where a new home rather than our single-wide would be more than a possibility.  I had health insurance, something I obviously was in desperate need of.  Things were looking good for us at least as far as finances were concerned and I could not bring myself to give up that financial security.  So I told them that yes I did plan on teaching at the Christian School the following school year.
Sometime in early May (I am not sure exactly when), I was called in to the principal’s office.  I liked him—a lot—so I was not at all nervous or worried about an opportunity to speak with him.
We exchanged pleasantries and then he began talking in a way that left me with my mouth open far and wide enough to let a normal-sized bat fly in if one had happened to be in the room at the time.  It took a couple of minutes for his words to sink in to my consciousness, but it finally hit me that in spite of the fact that I had said that I would return the following school year, I was no longer being asked by the school (or the school board) to be back.
The shock washed over me like a tidal wave.  I tried to hold back the tears, but I am not sure that I was very successful. 
I was told that I could not tell anyone, my co-workers and/or my students, of my imminent departure.  I had to keep that information to myself.
As one who has never been good at keeping secrets, this did not work for me.  Plus, I truly cared about my fellow teachers as well as my students.  It tore me to pieces that I was not allowed to tell them what was going on.
Then came the day when I had a back spasm so severe that I couldn’t breathe or move.  It took a good ten minutes or so before I
was able to catch my breath enough to begin attempting to work out the kinks.  I was still unable to move, but at least I was finally able to breathe.
I quickly realized that the spasm had come as a direct result of the stress I was under—the secret I was keeping.
I had a student close the door to the classroom and I told my students that I was not being asked back for the following year.  My students and I cried together.  Almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was able to breathe freely and my back released.  I was still sore for several days from the spasm, but it loosened the moment I spoke the truth.
To say that I was devastated is an understatement.  I loved teaching at the Christian school.  I had made some great new friends.  I loved my students.  In spite of the fact that the principal is the one who told me I would have to leave, I loved and respected him and his family. 
On Awards Day at the end of the school year, I was given a
gift from the school.  As I walked towards the front to receive it, my precious students stood to their feet and gave me a standing ovation.
The wonderful part is that even today, I am in contact with many of my beloved students.  Social media has given me the amazing opportunity to keep in touch with them even though I may not get to see them or interact with them beyond the digital world.  They are still very special people in my life.
My depression worsened.
But I knew I had to look for another job and I had to do it as soon as possible.
I didn’t.

But God is good.  He is so very good.  And He has a plan; I just need to be willing and faithful to walk through the doors when He opens them.

*Picture of students have been posted without their permission, but I just had to share!  I wish I had more....!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Panya Ruth: My "Little Panda"

            It did not take long before we were pregnant again.  We lost James Isaac in March 1999, and I was pregnant by September. 
            Once I had a positive home pregnancy test result, I went to the doctor as soon as I could get an appointment.
            Everything looked great and we were given our next appointment with the admonition to enjoy the pregnancy.
            On Sunday, November 7, just a few short weeks before Thanksgiving—approximately eleven weeks into my pregnancy, I was on the phone with my sister, Katie.  While I was talking to her, I had to go to the bathroom.  Nothing new.  In my family we had even had a telephone installed in the bathroom in my parents’ home because we were always in there when the phone rang.
I had a little bit of red coloring (blood) on my toilet paper when I went to the bathroom.  I also had some sort of draining.  It was as if I went pee in pants, but I did not pee.  The bleeding was so slight, I thought that maybe I had irritated my skin when I wiped and had just rubbed it raw. 
There was that small part of me that felt that something was wrong.
It really scared me.  I spent a LOT of time praying for a couple of hours.  I am just so scared that something will happen.  I am trying to “trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not unto my own understanding—in everything I do to acknowledge Him and to allow Him to direct my paths,”  but I am just so scared.  I want this baby.  I want a healthy baby.  I want to hold this baby in my arms—to bring him or her home from the hospital with me.  Please, Lord. . .please keep my baby safe. . . .Help me to trust in You. 
            I did not say anything to my sister.
            I also did not say anything to my husband.

Monday was normal.  I do not remember having any bleeding on Monday.  On Tuesday morning, I had just enough blood on the toilet paper to scare me witless. Again, I did not tell James about it. 
As soon as I got to school, I began making arrangements to go see my doctor.  I asked a parent who was on campus that day to watch my class until I got back.  Then I went up to my room and made out lesson plans for the whole day, just in case.  As soon as she came in, about 8:25 am, I went down and called my doctor’s office.  I talked to a nurse and she acted like she did not want me to come in, but somehow or another, she did tell me to go ahead and come in and they would squeeze me in. 
I left immediately.   I did not have much of anything with me.  I cannot even remember if I took my purse with me or not. 
I got to the office within just a few minutes and did not have to wait long.  My doctor examined me (he thought that maybe I was in because I had the crud).  I was not bleeding at the time.  We went and did a vaginal ultrasound.  He could not see anything at all—not even the baby who should have been in my uterus. 
There was nothing there.  He sent me over to the lab at the hospital to have some blood drawn to test my hormone level.  I was back at the school in about an hour and a half.
I was told that I was possibly miscarrying, but I needed to wait and see what happened.
            I was very reassured.
            So I went home and waited. 
            Tuesday plodded along with little change.
The next day at school, when I went to the bathroom and wiped, there was even more blood than there had been the night before. 
            We had chapel on Wednesday.  I sat in the back by myself, praying the whole time, “Please, Lord.  Please.  Please.  Please.” 
I had no other words. 
I fought the tears but in my heart, I already knew the truth.  I just did not want to accept it.  The tears flowed no matter how much I attempted to staunch them.
            By the end of the day, I knew that a miscarriage was inevitable.  The bleeding was getting more and more severe. 
I spoke with my principal at the end of the school day about going ahead and having a sub prepared to come in for Thursday and Friday.  He told me to do whatever I needed to do.  I asked our secretary to take care of it for me and she asked me if everything was ok.  I told her that it wasn’t.  She prayed for me.  I went back upstairs and got ready for the sub to come in for both Thursday and Friday.
            I went home as soon as I could and took a nap.  James left to go to church.  I told him everything I could.  By the time I woke up from my nap, the bleeding had worsened.  I began passing fist-sized blood clots—almost every five minutes.  Then the cramping began in earnest.  I called James at church and told him that I was cramping so bad that I would not be able to make it to church and that my bleeding had worsened. 
At some time during all this, I called Mom and told her what was happening.  She reminded me, “Polly, you have to trust in God.  Hang in there.”  We shed a few tears together. 
My cramping and blood clots got so severe, I finally decided I had better call James and get him to come home.  I accidentally called Mom.  She attempted to reassure me again, “You must let God be in control.” 
To my shame, yet I believe God understood my heart, I screamed into the phone, “God isn’t doing a very good job of handling things right now!”  I then exploded in sobs.
She asked me if I needed her to come and I told her, “I think I do.”  She said that she would call me when she got home from church—around 8:30
I got through to James and told him that I needed him to come home. 
In the meantime, Mom accidentally called me back—she was trying to call Katie.  I told her that James was on his way.
The bleeding continued, getting worse and worse with each passing hour. 
James came home and called the answering service and within five minutes my doctor called.  I told him what was going on and he said, “If you are bleeding that much, then it’s obvious that you are miscarrying. You ought to get a D&C.” 
He said that it was my choice. 
As if I felt I had a choice at that point!
I asked him what he thought I should do and he said that he recommended that I get a D&C.  I told him I would follow his recommendation.  He told me to meet him at the emergency room.  We agreed to meet him there within the hour. 
James turned everything off on the stove—he was hungry, but we needed to get going.  A friend arrived with some larger pads, but I did not take the time to change.  (That was el stupido!)
I know this is gross, but I took the blood clots with me—just in case.  (I had been catching them in the sitz bath that I still had from before.  They did not need them.  Oh well.)
            When we got to the ER, we told the girl at the front desk that my doctor was expecting me.  She told me that I still needed to see the Triage nurse.  As we walked over, there was a lady sitting in a wheelchair right outside the Triage waiting area.  She informed me that she was last in line—before me. 
James and I sat down to wait.  We listened to the woman already with the nurse.  She had to tell him (the nurse) every ailment, ache and pain, and type of medicine she took and was allergic to, ever since she was a little girl.  It took her forever to get through. 
I was scared and upset.  And I was bleeding…a lot.
I told James that he needed to ask or find a way for us to be next.  I could not wait any longer. 
(In the meantime, I overheard the girl who was in the wheelchair make a phone call on her cell phone—she told the person on the other end of the line that she had broken her toe (or foot) at the hotel and that she had already talked to her insurance company and the $5,000 that she was going to get would make her foot feel much better!  In case I forget, she was still waiting to see a doctor when I was wheeled out three hours later.)
My husband whispered to the other waiting patients what was going on and asked if they
minded if I went next.  They were all so sweet and said that would be fine.
My relief was palpable.  The other patients did not have to wait long as the triage nurse assessed me and got me back into a room within just a few short minutes.
            I had to change into a hospital gown.  I bled all over everything.  Everything I touched had blood all over it.  My doctor came in to do an exam.  He started to insert the thingy (I do not know the technical terms of these things) to open my vagina and the blood gushed out like water going over Niagra Falls.  He could not do an exam so he started the process to get me to the operating room so he could do a D&C. 
James came in and my doctor tried to explain that the baby had never begun developing as he/she should and that this was “just Nature’s way of taking care of that.” 
            The nurse had tried to start an IV before the doctor came in, but she was not successful.  My doctor told her that they would do it down in the operating room.  (I had nasty bruises everywhere that they stuck me, one on my left arm and two on my right.)
            They wheeled me down to the OR where James prayed over me before they took me in.  I had the same anesthesiologist as when I had my surgery just eleven months prior.  I recognized him by his bushy eyebrows.  He put an IV in and tried to get some blood—it did not work so they had to try my other arm. 
I told him, “I have a place where you can get all the blood you want.”  
He said, “That’s ok—I’ll get it from somewhere else,” and patted me on my shoulder. 
I still cannot believe I was trying to make a joke. 
They got a good vein and they got quite a bit of blood quickly. 
I started to feel sleepy and they wheeled me into the OR.  I had to get onto the OR table by myself.  There was a hole where I had to put my butt.  I was too short for the table and they had to move the arm rest.  I asked them if they were going to strap me down and the guy told me, “Only if you get frisky.” 
We all chuckled.
The anesthesiologist put the face mask over my mouth and nose.  That is the last thing I remember until I woke up in recovery.  They had to put a tube down my throat into my stomach because I had eaten earlier in the day—too close to OR time.  My understanding is that it would catch any food left in my stomach and keep me from throwing up or choking during the surgery.
            I woke in recovery up crying like a baby.  The recovery nurse let me cry.  She told me that she had been through the same thing twice.  She gave me some ice and a lollipop to help my sore throat (from the tube).  She told me that I had been awake earlier and had talked to my doctor.  I do not remember speaking to him after the D&C at all.
            We soon learned that they had put the wrong name on my wrist band.  For some reason or another, I was “Carol Watson.”  All of my paperwork had “Polly Anna Watson,” but for some reason, the wrist band and a blue card had “Carol.”  It took them awhile to get that straightened out.  I do not know why that matters now, but it stands out as one of those surreal moments in a sea of impossibilities.
Someone went out to get James.  They had left him in the waiting room longer than usual.
I was able to sip on some Sun-Drop, my favorite soft drink that I had not allowed myself since I first learned I was pregnant. 
Praise the Lord for small blessings.
I told the nurse I had to go to the bathroom.  Once I went, she helped me to get dressed.  She had given me a shot of a medicine to help my uterus contract and to stop the bleeding.  Then she had to give me a shot of the Rhogam because my blood type is negative.  She gave me my instructions and signed that I could stay out of school until Monday.  James signed the papers, and they wheeled me out. 
(I am embarrassed to say that I took a perverse pleasure in seeing the woman with the broken
toe—or foot—still sitting in the ER waiting to see a doctor.  God forgive me, but I could not help but think that she deserved to wait.) 
We left the hospital right about 11:00 pm.  A few friends were still there.  Others had come before I went into the OR, but I did not get to see them as they had had to leave before I came out of recovery.

On November 10, 1999, I had to have a D&C because, at approximately eleven weeks, my baby had ceased to be.  There is no way to know the sex of the baby, but I named her Panya Ruth in the belief that she had been a girl. 
I had been looking through a baby names book and I found this adorable name, Panya.  It means “Little.”  What drew me to the name this time, though, was not so much the meaning but the fact that it sounded so much like my favorite animal in the world, a panda.  But since to name a child Panda could be considered odd, I felt that Panya worked well for my purposes.  Ruth had been my grandmother’s name (on my father’s side) and I had always loved it, so it was natural that it be her middle name.

After the second loss, the doctor recommended that we wait a little longer before we begin trying again.  James had heard from somewhere that it would take my body no less than a year to heal from this most recent devastation and subsequent operation, so he insisted that he would not even consider trying again for another baby until a year had passed.
I admit that it was one of the longest years of my life.  I lived on a roller coaster of emotions. 
As long as I was at school or working, I was fine.  I was able to function as if all was well.  I was able to function as if I had not just a few months prior survived two child losses.
At home, I was a wreck.  I did not shower unless I had school.  I did not spend time with friends.  It was too much work emotionally. 
We did go home for Christmas, but we ended up leaving early on Christmas morning because I could not hold myself together.  As much as I love my family, even being around them was more difficult than I could manage at that time.  I Praise the Lord that they loved me through that time.
One minute I would be laughing as if nothing had ever been wrong; the next I was sobbing soul-wrenching sobs. 
I remember this one day in particular at school where everything made me angry:  my students, the papers I was grading, the staff, having to go to a meeting when I had work to do.  I was venting to my co-workers during the meeting, but I did not realize how much anger I was spraying all over the room.  When the meeting was over, our precious Principal’s wife stepped over to me—after everyone else had left the room, put her hand on my shoulder, and asked me, “Polly, dear, what’s really wrong?”
And the floodgates erupted.  I screamed as I clung to her as a life-line, “What kind of mother doesn’t even know there’s something wrong with her own baby?!”  I was broken and spilling out my hurt, anger, grief, disappointment, frustrations—everything—on this wonderful woman as she wrapped her arms around me and held me until the storm passed. 
I was emotionally exhausted when I was able to pull myself together enough to leave, but I felt better as far as the anger was concerned.  Her simple action of caring enough to notice that I was not angry at my students, my co-workers, or whatever else I had been complaining about gave me the opportunity to release a lot of pent-up emotions, especially anger towards myself, my own body, that needed to come out.         
I attempted to live such that I did not have to think or feel beyond the moment I was living in at any current time.  It hurt to think about the past and it was devastating to think what my future might—or might not—hold. 
My husband and I began to draw apart. 
But I still wanted a living baby.  And I was determined that nothing was going to keep that from happening.  God had placed the desire in my heart to have children.  He would fulfill His promise of giving me the opportunity to have them.  I leaned on the story of Hannah and cried out her prayer of supplication at every possible opportunity: 

10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”

12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”

15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”  (I Samuel 1:10-16, NLT—emphasis mine)

When I prayed Hannah’s prayer of dedication, I knew what I was promising the Lord.  I had already experienced the worst imaginable losses.  I poured out my heart to the Lord, like Hannah, and He heard my prayer, too. 
I also knew that I had the name of any future son I might have:  Samuel, “asked of God.”
            Right now, I would rather be with my babies than here in this world—in this place.  I do not want to have to wait until I get to heaven to hold my babies for more than just a while.  I want them here with me—NOW.  I want to hold them both—NOW.  Why me?  What is so wrong with me that I cannot have my babies?
            I want BOTH of my children.  Yes, I now have two angels in Heaven, but how do I hold them when they are in heaven?
            We considered demanding to see a specialist up at Chapel Hill, but I was scared.  Was it the fact that I am Rh negative?  Is there something wrong with me physically that we just cannot know about until something like this happens?  Even if I did go to a specialist, would they be able to tell me anything?
After the loss of my Little Panda, my cave became my Safe Haven rather than a dungeon of fear.  I found comfort in the fear, loneliness, darkness, and yes, even in the depression that weighed me down.  Rather than looking for a way out of my cave, I chose to stay broken in the dark.

I will end with a few entries from my journal:

Sunday, November 14, 1999
            Numb.  I feel so numb.  I watched Steel Magnolias today.
            “I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing.”
            “My head knows [that my babies are now angels and I will one day soon be able to hold them and to be with them forever], but I wish someone would tell my heart.”
            “I’m so mad!  I’m so angry!  I just want to hit someone!  I want to make someone feel as badly as I do!”

God is good.  Even though I feel numb, I do feel His loving arms wrapped around me.  I stand upon the promises of His Word.

Friday, November 19, 1999
            I haven’t been doing well.  I am so depressed.  It does help to be in school—to work—to be busy—to keep my mind busy.  But let’s face it, there hasn’t been any closure.  James and I haven’t had a chance to be alone together, to talk.  Neither one of us is eating or sleeping well.
What do we do now????  Where do we go from here?  Do we want to go anywhere?  To do anything?  Will we ever have children?
            But I want my babies I’ve already had. . .both of them.

Wednesday, December 1, 1999
            Exactly 3 weeks today.  Life has gone on.  I’ve laughed…I’ve cried…I’ve been angry…I’ve been depressed…I’ve been irritated…I’ve felt God’s presence…His Holy Spirit comforting me…and I’ve felt NOTHING…numb.  It is hard to believe that life can go on; that I can still feel and live. 
I must admit that rather than pulling together, James and I are pulling apart.  I don’t feel like I can talk to him.  When I do talk to him, I get the impression that he’d rather not talk about it, so I don’t say anything.  He hasn’t said all that much to me, either.  I’ve tried to talk to him a little, but I just don’t feel like he’s responding. 
He is having a harder time with the loss of this baby than even I can imagine, but I need him.  I need him to share his feelings with me. 
Do you know what we’ve talked about—beyond “how was your day?”—having sex and whether or not we should use condoms or some other form of birth control.  What’s so strange is that he’s hardly touched me.  Don’t get me wrong, we’ve “known” each other over the past three weeks, but I don’t feel close to him. 
He’s gone hunting a lot.  I sure do wish that I knew what he thinks when he’s out there. 

He’s talked more to others than he has to me.  We talk about things that are so superficial.  I’m getting stressed out about not being able to share with my husband and I’m getting angry with him about  dumb stuff—and I don’t want to do anything for or with him.  I know that’s not the way to be, but our not sharing how we’re feeling with each other is causing a wall to be built between us.  There have been walls before, but never this high or thick.

(If you don't know what a D&C is, here is a link to WebMD:  D&C.)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Your Ways are not my Ways, O Lord

Your ways are not my ways, O Lord.
I understand that.  I don’t doubt Your ways.
I don’t question Your purpose for my life.
I long to do Your will and follow the
            path You have for my life.
But, I am afraid, of my past and of my future.
I try to follow Your word:
            to not worry about tomorrow
            because tomorrow will take thought
            of the things of itself
                        and to
            Trust in You with all my heart and
            not lean unto my own understanding,
            in all my ways to acknowledge You
            so that You may direct my paths.
But reality hits me like a Mac truck and
I again feel the warm, unmoving body
            of my beautiful, beloved son in my arms.
I again feel his deathly cold skin against
            my lips as I kissed him that one and only time.
I remember all the blood indicating a second loss.
I notice my empty womb when others’
            all around me are full and growing.
Does Your plan for me include such blessings?
The hurt is deep and strong,
But I promise, O Lord my God,
to continue to seek Your will
And to always trust in You.
I still desire that my life be a living testimony of You.
Even when the pain is so overwhelming that I wonder
if the wounds will ever be completely healed -
You are my King, my Lord, and my God.
                                                                        - Polly Anna Watson

                                                                                    April 15, 2000