Hallelujah: A Joyful Praise to You
It would have been your first snow day.
I woke up this morning a little later than usual and quickly scurried to get Lichen out the door to relieve himself. I pushed my glasses up on my nose and glanced out the window as I fumbled for his leash. “Wait a minute, is that snow?… I mean I know that I heard we might be getting some flurries, but I had NO expectation of any real accumulation. It was a wonderful festive morning surprise. A snow day.
Naturally, today was no longer a day to let Drew snooze any longer. I practically skipped back to our bedroom and pulled the covers off Drew and started tugging on his arm. Kinda felt like it was Christmas morning and I was yanking my siblings out of bed to go see what Santa brought. Drew obliged and groggily came with me to the door. A magical surprise for him too. A wonderful, refreshing, renewing, snow day.
Drew headed back in to start his getting ready rituals. I brewed myself a cup of coffee, grabbed my bible, threw on some cozy socks and headed towards my chair on the front porch. I sat there in stillness and thought about how the snow is so refreshing and renewing… how I could literally hear the snowflakes gently falling perfectly into place. And then a joyful scream sliced through the snowy silence.
A little girl screamed and giggled with pure joy.
Today would have been your first snow day…. You would probably be confidently sitting up on your own by now and would for sure have your tiny little expressions all of your own. I wonder if you would have my eyes and your daddy’s reddish-blonde hair. I know I would be taking cute pictures of you all bundled up – watching the snowflakes kiss your little precious red cheeks while daddy made you a snowman – just your size.
It’s not often that I let myself go to this place. In all honesty, for the past 467 days, I’ve done everything in my power to avoid this place and these thoughts. Not because I didn’t want to be there, but because I emotionally haven’t been able to.
Rivers of tears streamed down my face. In the peace and quiet, I found myself longing for you to be here with us.
I sloshed my coffee, took a sip, and cracked open my bible. Calvary Chapel Chattanooga is doing a church-wide, 3-year Bible reading plan. Today’s reading was Jeremiah 29. I silently prayed for God to reveal Himself to me today and to speak life directly into me and then I started to read. Jeremiah 29 is home to one of the most “cliché” verses in my opinion. Jeremiah 29:11. This isn’t a new verse to me and I knew it was coming when I opened my bible, but today the Lord used it to speak directly to my heart and cradle me.
Jeremiah 29 1-14
English Standard Version (ESV)
Jeremiah’s Letter to the Exiles
29 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 2 This was after King Jeconiah and the queen mother, the eunuchs, the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, the craftsmen, and the metal workers had departed from Jerusalem. 3 The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to Babylon to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. It said: 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,[a] 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.
10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
** I want to throw in a little disclaimer that briefly explains what the exile was and what its impact was for God’s people. It was a violent consequence for a people who knew of God and yet ignored and rebelled against His commands and all of His warnings and instead participated in vile idolatrous practices — which I don’t feel is my story or why I am in a season of “exile”.
So while the exact passage isn’t about me, because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross, God’s word is living and active and has met me where I am with an understanding and a promise that does apply to me. But I would say this season of loss and grieving and desiring a child of my own is suffering from the fallen state of the world and not the Lord’s judgment on my life. David Guzik- Jeremiah 29 Commentary **
Recently I have been talking with Drew about how much I love being a nanny – 5+ years now, but I’m really, really, ready to be at home with kids of our own. It’s so hard to love on kids as if they were your own and then just one day you’re gone and forgotten. As I read Jeremiah 29 God revealed to me that Jeremiah was writing this letter to the captives in Babylon. And it was a letter written to share a future and hope. UGH. I felt like I had just been SEEN. It feels aggressive and dramatic to call this season being babyless a season of exile, but it’s exactly how I feel. When I found out I was pregnant in October 2018 I thought I was finally going home. It was finally time for me to love on a baby of our own, in our own home. I was overwhelmed with joy. And just as quickly as the joy came, it rushed quietly on by. The word exile literally means to live away from one’s home. Whew. Wow. Ugh.
ex· ile | \ ˈeg-ˌzī(-ə)l
the state or a period of forced absence from one’s country or home
Then verses 5-9 talk about how even in a season of exile you are to make yourself at home and to be good citizens of Babylon. CALLED out. I haven’t been living my best life in my babyless season AT ALL. In fact, I find myself withdrawing from friendships where baby talk is all the chatter. I spend more time longing for the day that Drew and I will have kids than I do being happily present with our current season. Which isn’t fair to Drew, because I know there will probably come a time that I will miss this season of just us two. And my intentions aren’t to rob us of the joy of this current season, but here I’ve been NOT making a home in this season of “exile” and not being a good citizen of my current home. I really felt like the Lord told me to dwell in Babylon—wait, I mean, my babyless season.
God put me in this season and He is calling me to be a blessing where I am set, but to pray for the thing captivating me.
January 1st Drew and I went to watch the sunset at the park right by our neighborhood. We sat on the dock watching the day fade. I noticed a unique rainbow in the sky with the sunset and a rainbow reflection in the river. I jokingly told Drew that I thought it was weird to have a rainbow pointing upwards and the reflection pointing directly towards us. It was such a unique sunset I will never forget it. I continued to joke about how maybe that was a sign of a promise from God to us. Drew and I both agreed we had NO idea what the promise would be but kept feeling drawn into my quiet time… Almost as if God was telling me to rest and wait….wait and rest. That he would reveal it in His perfect time through His word.
Verses 10-14 of Jeremiah— The promise to RETURN to the land. God promised an end to the captivity in Babylon. Specifically, he promised it wouldn’t go longer than 70 years. While I read that verse I was crushed. 70 years, Lord!!! Clearly, I can’t wait 70 more years for a baby…. Maybe for me, it will only be 7 years. Maybe when Drew and I have been married for 7 years that’s when this season of exile will end… The length of time is really irrelevant to me, but what He revealed to me is a promise. In that, I received a promise that this babyless season of exile would have an end. It wasn’t going to be short like the doctors promised me, but that it would have an end. Also, I felt like I was being told to not expect more than what God had promised, but to seek out and acknowledge the fulfillment of what God has promised me. After all, I don’t know the specifics of God’s promise (meaning perhaps Drew and I will be called to adopt and not ever have biological children) other than I feel confident that I won’t always be babyless.
As you can imagine, or perhaps you know from first-hand experience (I pray not), it’s a pretty interesting place to be. SO many of close friends, heck – even my little sister – are in a season filled with JOY and little giggles of their own precious little babes.
I know now what it means to feel overwhelmed with joy and heartache at the exact same time. I watch my parents hug and kiss and play with my little baby nephew and my heart is smiling so big and yet I feel this emptiness and longing for them to know of “you” too. Grief and immense joy can coexist. Mostly joy, and for me occasional uncontrollable moments of grief.
It’s been super easy for me to slip into feeling unseen. First, because I haven’t shared about miscarriage with many people. So people just don’t know. And second, because my joy is visible and I keep my grief hidden, of course I feel unseen.
In this letter written by Jeremiah, I feel like he is reminding us that God thinks about us and that His thoughts aren’t just about us, but TOWARDS us. Wow. Whew. Today I really felt that. I cried out in prayer asking for God to reveal himself to me, and he reached down, spoke directly into me, and showed that he was thinking towards me. I’m not unseen but fully seen by Him. What a wonderful place to be still and know…
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me. When you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
So here, in this babyless season, I rest in the promise it won’t be forever, that one day I will get to go home – literally home with my own children – but until then I will build a life where I’ve been set. Boasting in Christ and acknowledging and proclaiming that He fulfills his promises.
With teary eyes, I glanced up and saw Drew standing there confused and concerned. He wrapped me in his arms and I rested there. Through mumbly and choked up words I explained how God had used the snow day to bring me to stillness and refresh and renew my soul. What a wonderful reminder that God is the one placing every single snowflake perfectly into place.
We named the baby we lost, Halle. Halle is the first part of the word Hallelujah. Hallelujah in Hebrew is a two-part word. Hallel, the first part of the word means, “a joyful praise” and to boast in Christ. The second part of the word means “to you” or “to God”. Even in my weakness, I pray that I boast in Christ and what he has done for us and what He is still doing and promised to do. As Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight,’ declares the LORD.”
Halle, mommy & daddy love you. ❤️
Want to read more personal blogs? This is one of my favorites–> 10 Reasons Why Vision Weekends are Important