When we were pregnant with our first child, I learned that ClearBlue pregnancy tests have enough battery in them to read “pregnant” for exactly nine months – kind of amusing, really. I put her pregnancy test up in my bathroom mirror cupboard, so every time I opened the cupboard (which was about once every other day) I was greeted by the word “PREGNANT,” just in case I found myself in disbelief of what was really happening. But when we came home from the hospital with her, I noticed that the little digital window was blank.

Flash forward to today.

As a belated fifth anniversary gift to ourselves, Jack and I got a new set of furniture for our bedroom which is arriving next week. In anticipation of this, I cleaned off the dressers this afternoon and as I did this, I stumbled across a blank pregnancy test, gathering dust on my dresser. I stared at it for a long time.

It was the pregnancy test from my miscarried pregnancy.

The miscarriage happened the week before Thanksgiving. I was barely a month along, so what I suffered is technically called a “chemical pregnancy.” The nurse who saw me tried to reassure me that I might not have been pregnant — but when you’ve been pregnant twice before, you tend to know what it feels like even that early. I was certainly pregnant. And then I certainly was not.

The miscarriage started on a Sunday evening. In the first few hours, I remember thinking a lot about an old worship song we used to sing in college. I remember thinking it was a weird thing to have rolling through my head because it’s an awfully jubilant song. But the words are pulled from the book of Job:

“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

So I thought about those words often that night. I wasn’t quite praying, but rather, reminding myself. I did pray that God’s will would be done, and if it was His will, that the child would be saved.

The next morning, it was obvious that I was miscarrying. I threw myself down in bed and cried like I have never cried. But even in those first moments knowing that the baby was gone, we had the joy, comfort, and peace of knowing that the first person our baby saw was Jesus. We will spend our lives teaching our living children about Jesus, but when we get to meet him face to face, our little one will be there with Him, ready to teach us more than we ever could have taught any child. I am so excited for that day.

But back to today, and that test.

Today, I am EXCESSIVELY pregnant with our third (living) child (and I say EXCESSIVELY because he is YUUUUGE). He’s kicking away happily at my bladder as I type this — and yet, I have this blank pregnancy test from before Thanksgiving. It’s blank, which tells me that the child who died would have been born by now. Instead of the little boy we are eager to meet in a couple months, we would have someone else – now, here, demanding food and snuggles and diaper changes.

I am so curious about who we will meet one day in Heaven. Sometimes in my head I call the baby Canaan, after the song “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks” (On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand and cast a wishful eye to Canaan’s fair and happy land where my possessions lie…). Is that person a boy or a girl? Would he or she have had red hair like me (I am still waiting on my 25% chance ginger baby!)? What would it be like to have had that child? I miss who that person is, and would have been. I wish we could know him or her.

But I am so excited to meet this little boy and find out who he is. I am so excited to see my husband be a boy dad for the first time. I am so excited to see this little boy get loved on (and picked on) by his older sisters. I have arrived at this place where I am content with what God has granted, and am glad and thankful for what we have now.

But mostly, I am so in awe of how God does bring all things together for the good of His people, and how He is always near to the broken-hearted, and how the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Keeping company

A few weeks ago I was procrastinating the laundry by scrolling through Twitter when I saw an interesting comment from another evangelical I follow. I’m not going to quote him precisely because over the years I have seen many evangelicals say similar things. In a nutshell, this is the common theme:

Everyone needs a friend who is a conservative and a friend who is a liberal, who you can lovingly debate and from whom you can learn.

Some people reading this are probably saying, “What’s wrong with that?” — which is actually what I thought for a number of years, too. To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with having friends who happen to liberal or happen to be conservative (or rich or poor, or blue- or white-collar, or whatever ethnicity). To be clear, I have friends who are both! But when I read this statement this time, I thought, “Need?” What do we really need?

If you’re a Christian, you ought to know that at this point. And perhaps you’re like me (especially if you’re a mom and you hear this song ALL. THE. TIME.) and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” is playing in your head right now.

What you need — what everyone needs — is Jesus. Yes, I am sorry to tell you, you need Jesus more than you need friends. Friends cannot be the propitiation for your sin. Friends may be able to point things out to you and help you grow, but only one Friend can change your heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Only one Friend can sanctify you. And without real change, sanctification, and atonement for sin — well, you can have the most well-rounded set of friends in the world and still be hell-bound. Not the ideal, I hope we can agree.

BUT, the good news is that even though all you need is Jesus, He came that you would have life and have it abundantly, and that means that He will provide you with fellowship beyond himself. In fact, scripture commands us to be in fellowship with other believers for mutual encouragement and provision. We call ourselves “brothers and sisters” — family. These are ties closer than friendship, and even biological family.

So, it seems to me that what we need, after Jesus, is friends who point us to Him. Rather than seeking to fill worldly affirmative-action-y quotas in our friendships, we need to seek out fellow believers with whom we can live out what Paul wrote to the Colossians:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against the other, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. — Colossians 3:12-17