In 2001, Roger and I were surprised to find out that we were expecting our 5th child (at age 40 !!!). This news had come right after the passing of my Dad and a very stressful time in our ministry life and an upcoming major move on the horizon. God, in His gracious love, gave me time…time to process, time to accept the unexpected and most importantly, time to completely love this sweet little life growing inside of me. I was able to carry this baby for 10 weeks and then realized there would be another unexpected event…this baby was going to grow up in heaven instead of here on earth…I was miscarrying. Now the emotions ran even wilder and deeper — Again, God gave gracious time… time to process and walk through this journey of grief. As the doctor said, it takes a short time for your body to physically heal, but a long time to heal emotionally. So true… getting pregnant or staying pregnant had never been a problem for me…this was a completely new journey for me and one I wasn’t at all ready for– or used to (is anybody??).
Processing through grief takes many forms but I choose to plant a hydrangea in memory of our little one that I named, Sarah Emily. I bought the original hydrangea at a local store and planted it in our yard in Madison, Alabama. Hydrangea’s are one of my favorite flowers so I thought… how fitting this would be to plant this as a memory to our little one– and that’s exactly what we did in Madison, AL that year. Except we weren’t going to end up staying in Madison, AL — we would be moving back to New England in the fall and at the last minute I realized I just couldn’t leave behind the hydrangea — it felt like leaving behind one of my children or something !! Roger — being the very patient , loving man that he is — dug up the plant and put it on the moving truck with the rest of our stuff and we carried it off to Agawam, MA … only we weren’t to stay in Agawam either !!! We would end up moving to East Hampton, CT … and yes… of course I packed up the memories I had and brought it with us– yet again– and moved it to CT ! By now, the original hydrangea had been replaced with another one from a cutting my Mom had given me from her own yard. This one was very sentimental to me because it had originally come from my Grandma Carrie’s yard … had been transplanted to my mom and dad’s yard in South Carolina …and now I had a “piece” of it in my yard in Connecticut as well.
The only problem is, God is moving us to Alabama in July and as I looked out our window and saw the hydrangea beginning to take on the spring growth (I might add here that after the transplant from SC to CT, it took 5 long years for the plant to actually bloom for us… but that’s another God-story 😉 I thought… “I can’t leave you here ! I have to take you with me… or at least leave you with family!” So I decided that I would transplant the hydrangea to our daughter Carrye’s yard here in Connecticut and how fitting that would be since, after all, she was named after my Grandma Carrie !
As I was still looking out the window and thinking over this whole emotional journey, the Holy Spirit spoke the words of the Father into my heart…
“I have loved YOU with an everlasting love.”
It was like He was saying,
“I’ve loved YOU like that ! I’ll never stop loving you and I’ll never stop taking you with me wherever I go.”
I had to run look up the Scripture and found that Jeremiah 31:3 confirmed the words of the Father into my heart. And then I knew that this mother’s heart had been formed by the heart of the Father and I understood a little bit more how He loves us.
And, as if that weren’t enough to illustrate His personal love for me — for us –I looked up… just beyond the hydrangea and our small pond… to a tree bent way down to the ground because of the strong winds of Hurricane Irene last fall. God always seems to give me a song to “wrap up the moment” and the song that immediately came to mind was David Crowder’s “How He Loves” …
“…Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great Your affections are for me…
and OH — how He loves us so, Oh, how He loves us, how He loves us so…”