Drive-Thru

​I have this weird talent for getting people to talk to me and learning a whole lot about them in a few minutes.

Tonight it was the drive-thru girl at McDonald’s. I know and remember her name, but I don’t want to get her in trouble. I made a comment that, the past few times I’d been there, everyone seemed happy with their job. They have been so pleasant. 

She said, “Girl, we just have to be there for each other. Today was bad. We had so many mad and rude customers. My manager was in tears and it was almost too much. People forget we are people. Most of us are going to school and sometimes it’s just a lot. It’s so rare that people are pleasant. We just have to support one another and we do have a good time.”

She wasn’t whining, she was just very articulately speaking the truth, and what was on her heart, because I brought it up. She was sincerely laying her feelings out there and it broke my heart. She likes her job, is working to grow beyond it and just wants to be treated like a human being in the process. She’d had a rough day.

I understand that life can be frustrating; that we all live in a place where now is the time we want everything and that we live in a culture that says we should expect to be the center of attention. You truly never know what battles someone is fighting beyond the 5 seconds you interact with them. I promise saying “please” and “thank you” will not take up too much time. Make it a habit. If you don’t know how to treat someone the way you want to be treated, then treat them the way you’d want your mother or spouse to be treated. 

I actively listened, and told her I’d be praying for her and her team.  She looked overwhelmed. That’s when she gave me her name and told me she hoped I’d come back again. Took 10 extra seconds, made both our days better.

Please be kind to one another. I physically ache when I hear from people like this young lady who are just genuinely giving it all they’ve got, but feel shot down. Take an extra minute to build someone else’s worth. You’ll never regret it.

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Reflecting

I don’t believe everything happens for a reason, but I do believe God will use everything for His purpose (Romans 8:28).

I don’t believe God won’t give us more than we can handle, or that any of us are given bigger battles because we are “His strongest soldiers,” but I do believe God’s grace is sufficient for me and that His strength is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-11).

I don’t believe that everyone who dies becomes an angel, because angels were created to do God’s will (Psalm 103:20) and were witnesses to the creation of the world (Job 38:4,7). However, I do believe there is a greater life than we can imagine, where every tear is wiped away and death shall be no more.  No more crying, no more pain (Revelation 21:4) and many rooms where a place is prepared for those who love Him (John 14:2-3)

I believe His truth is so much better than anything we can put into words. Just some reflections from today.

Saying Goodbye Again.

 

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 I love when people that have been through hell walk out of the flames carrying buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.

I’ve joined a club.  I didn’t mean to join it.  I would have avoided doing so with everything I had, if I’d known a way I could.  It’s a well established group of strong women from all over the world. In fact, this club boasts an estimated more than 1 million new members a year in the United States alone.

On July 13, 2016 I took a pregnancy test.  I didn’t expect it to confirm anything, as we’d been leaving it in God’s hands for several months with no changes. However, my body felt different and, after having a dream about pregnancy, I thought it best to just see.  Sure enough, there it was. The confirmation that brought me to tears.

The result for which I’d prayed. It had finally happened.

hCg tests showed positive results, and the levels climbed as expected. Everything was going according to plan. One night, however, the spotting started. I immediately text my doctor (because my doctor is amazing and available 24/7), who assured me that it could be normal but that we’d keep an eye on it.  Progressively, over the weekend, it got worse. Monday morning I made an appointment.

With my hCg high enough for an ultrasound, we scheduled to take a look.  What we found was not what any of us wanted to see.  No visible heartbeat, and a large hematoma (which explained the bleeding).  Not only was something very wrong with me, the baby was not showing to be a viable pregnancy.  I maintained my composure until the tech left the room, and then it started to hit me. We scheduled a follow up for the following day.

Walking down the hallway, a group of employees were in a room loudly laughing and discussing their day. For some reason that was salt in the wound, and I completely fell apart. Right there. The contrast was too much.  My world had stopped, and no one had any idea.

Then, it got worse.

That night, watching TV, I felt an urge to be alone. I believe we have instincts and mine said to get somewhere quiet. I went to the shower and waited. It wasn’t long until I miscarried. I was thankful I was able to pick up what remained, gently wrap it and bury it outside. I’m sure to some people that seems odd, but that was my child and as small as it was, I needed that chance to say goodbye.  I text my doctor, and followed up the next day as planned.  We did another ultrasound, as it’s imperative to ensure all of the remains and tissue had passed.

What we found instead, was a miracle. A tiny heartbeat. I cried out to Jesus, the doctor (who had opted to do the ultrasound herself) hugged me and the nurse was stunned. None of us expected to find life. We can only assume there was a twin. The hematoma hadn’t given us a clear view of what was inside, as it was so large. My heart had never been so full. Disappointed by a loss the night before, but overwhelmed with new hope, I rushed home to tell my husband (who I’d insisted stay home for this appointment to stay with our son).  I’d already started gaining weight and, that evening, ordered some gorgeous maternity tops to get me by for a while.

In the meantime, my bleeding hadn’t stopped. The hemorrhage (as we came to realize it was) grew and grew, and I bled more and more. I could feel anemia setting in and I knew my body was in danger. I was determined, however, to just hang in there as long as it took and do whatever it might take to see this precious life grow.  I slept a LOT, fell behind on orders (answered some hateful e-mails from people who didn’t understand, or sometimes simply didn’t care. My ability to just pretend life had gotten busy was gone. I began telling some customers that I was in the middle of having lost a child, and predicted I might be losing another) and felt like the life was literally draining from my body.

I don’t like being behind on orders, but I simply did not have the strength to move. I also wasn’t ready to announce to the world all that was going on. I’d started planning a state-wide family picture day for first responders prior to finding out I was pregnant.  Answering questions and e-mails was painful. How can I tell you more than I’d already written to assist your family, when all I can think about is how my world inside me is dying? I can’t say I’m especially proud of all my patience. I eventually found the end of my rope and had to ask a couple of ladies to help.

It was time to do another ultrasound to see how things were going.  Sadly, the news was not good.  The child was measuring 5 weeks, 6 days when it should have been well over 6 weeks. There was no heartbeat. While it was possible to be early, we decided to wait one more week for confirmation. I had no appetite (and hadn’t for quite some time), and the not knowing was a mental torture I’d never wish on anyone.

The arrival of those maternity clothes was a cruel tease.

On the next ultrasound, there was again no growth.  There was, however, a great (the doctor’s description was “impressive”) amount of blood that was no longer leaving my body.  It was just pooling there. We could see the sac beginning to deteriorate. It was truly over.

I prayed over and over that, if this were going to not be a viable pregnancy, God would just let me pass it on my own.  I had that much down. I could handle it. I could say goodbye and we could have closure.  The last thing I wanted was a D&C, as to me it sounded terrifying.

Just…please. I was tired of being brave.

That didn’t happen. I had my D&C this week. As I stood in the shower getting ready, I spoke to the baby. I knew it was no longer with me, but I prayed God would deliver the message.

Sweet child, you are loved. You are wanted.

I prayed that they’d find one another in heaven and that God would pass along how my heart ached to see them.  The experience of the actual surgery wasn’t as terrible as I expected, except I now feel a huge part of my heart is lying in a lab somewhere. I did ask to see if we could have the baby returned, but was told that wasn’t possible. I think that hurts me most. I just wanted my true goodbye.

This roller coaster of hope and heartbreak was something I’ve not found anyone able to completely relate to, in that it was so unpredictable. Just when the sun would shine, a storm would set in. Over and over and over. I prayed more in the last few weeks than I have in 29 years.

However, I am so determined now to help women know that they are NOT alone. 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage. That’s 20%! It’s so common in the first 8 weeks that many doctors consider it a normal part of the reproductive process. I think that sounds sterile and cold.  After all, if it were such nonchalant event, there wouldn’t be so much pain from it afterwards. As word got out about what had happened to me, I was overwhelmed with messages that basically said, “Me, too.” I made new friends. Even the young woman who checked me in for my surgery had just had the same thing in March. Everywhere I turned, there was a “me, too.” What killed me was how many of those started with, “I’ve never told anyone, but…”

Ladies- here’s what I wish for you to know. You are not alone. You are not at fault. You are not forgotten. You are allowed to grieve. You have every right to count your loss. You are lovedYou have no obligation to suck it up. 

THERE IS NO SHAME IN HAVING A MISCARRIAGE. 

One message in particular told me that this individual felt like a failure as a woman. She’d had several, before giving birth to a sweet boy.  A recent study shows that 40% of women felt like they’d done something wrong. 47% of women felt a sense of guilt.

You are not guilty. You are not guilty. YOU ARE NOT GUILTY. 
You are not a failure. You are not a failure. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. 

A few more misconceptions about early miscarriage as listed from a recent study (from Obstetrics & Gynecology):

  • 76% of the participants thought that a stressful event could cause a miscarriage
  • 64% thought lifting heavy objects could cause a miscarriage
  • 41% believed it could be caused by an STD
  • 22% thought past oral contraceptive use could be a cause
  • 22% thought lifestyle choices (like smoking and drinking) were the HIGHEST causes of miscarriages.
  • 21% thought a pregnant woman could miscarry from getting into an argument.
  • People believed miscarriages happened in 6% or fewer pregnancies

Here are a few more statistics:

  • 41% reported they’d felt like they’d done something wrong
  • 41% reported feeling alone
  • 28% felt ashamed

I’m so thankful for everyone who reached out to me during this time. I was those last 3 statistics, so isolated and full of hurt. Not a single woman made me feel like I was overreacting. They just came together to hold me in their thoughts and prayers.  They checked on me, and I grew close to them knowing we had a bond.

Today, for the first time, I feel stronger. I know I’ve walked through hell and back, and I am here to tell you that there is hope. I never want another woman to feel as if they are alone, or that they should just shoulder their pain. I also feel like men have to process this loss for themselves as well. It’s their hurt, too. My husband just said he’d be ok when I was ok.  It was a lesson for both of us in having no control.

I hope we can continue researching the causes of miscarriage (most, in the first 8 weeks, are due to chromosomal abnormalities). The same study cited above said we are still working with a lot of the same information we had 50 years ago.

I don’t know what our future holds for my family, but I do know who is captaining the ship. Praise God for all He has done. For more on my thoughts on this, please read my post here:

https://sparrowsanddandelions.com/2016/08/10/5-weeks-6-days-again/

All my love.

Brandi

5 weeks, 6 days… again 

If you’re going to read this (and anything else I write), please read it thoroughly without typing a response only halfway through. This is my heart and if you’re going to respond, you should at least hear what I actually have to say (not just what you might presume I’d say). 

Twice in 2 weeks. Once is torture, but twice in 2 weeks. I have so much to say on this. This is just one small piece of it. 

Oh, my. I have hurt and worried, and wondered and asked, and lamented and burned inside with this incredible confusion and grief. Once was enough, but over and over and over again with this roller coaster that had the doctors puzzled was too much. When they don’t know, life gets a lot scarier. I’ve been trapped in an isolated hell I’d wish to see sentenced on no one. 

I have felt betrayed, tortured, beaten and (as of yesterday, finally) hopeless.  Never faithless. Just at the end of what strength I had. I asked my LEO to put me in an institution where I might  be medicated to the point of oblivious bliss. Instead, he put me to bed and later fed me carbs. Equally effective and cheaper.

I have to tell you, the phrase “Just give it to God” was almost painful during this journey. My immediate thought, as I tried to politely thank the well meaning advisor, was, “You think I haven’t prayed? I have spent more time in prayer the past 2 weeks than I have in 29 years.  Just give it to God? Honey, I slapped a bow on it and shipped it out special delivery. You know what? It kept showing back up on my doorstep, unwrapped and grinning  back at me.”

Tonight that phrase has latched to my back like a rabid monkey. Chewing on my neck and brain until I finally clawed it off to stare it in the glazed eye.  

What do you want? This phrase that Christians serve on a ready-made platter? A regular in the Christian rolodex.  What is it you want me to know? Where are you rooted, and why are you the Kudzu of comfort phrases?

So, I went digging. Ruthlessly ready to shred this colloquial serving to pieces and spread its ashes in an unknown place, never to be heard again. Ready to file it in my subconscious to be censored every time it lit upon my ears. “Just give it to God.” This flippant, piercing, seemingly empty calorie sentence.

Rabid monkey of a phrase. 

WHAT IS IT?! 

The Bible verses that I believe have poured the foundation of this statement are as follows:

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22), & “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

Ok, but that still doesn’t clarify what I’m supposed to do.  So easier said than done. What does that even entail? 

Well, this. I think this is what we are actually saying.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Give it to God means to be strengthened by His promises. Casting my cares on Him means to let His wind direct my sails.

Maybe I kept writing my own address on that package and not God’s? A big “return to sender” in my own stamp?

But why? What purpose for my good could this possibly serve? How is God glorified in this? I’ve had my heart ripped out, and explored the darkest parts of my inner being. What good can come of that? I kept telling Chris there had to be something. That every life is created fearfully and wonderfully. That He knows us in the womb and that isn’t something I believe God takes lightly. He certainly doesn’t see us as disposable. Every heartbeat matters. I don’t believe God *does* things to us, but He’s definitely not going to let it go to waste.

Why?

In Romans, I finally found a sense of peace. Not a complete answer, but peace.

“Knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

“Give it to God” means to grow closer to Him and His promises. Find strength in His strength. Be free in His direction. All of those concepts could take a novel in themselves to clarify, but it’s more thorough than the four words we so easily hand out. My weary search for some sort of understanding in this dark place came from Romans. That doesn’t mean I’m not sad, or worn, just coming to terms with it all. I think we have to be careful not to discount people’s experiences by blanketing them with comfortable phrases. Hurting hearts need a little deeper sowing of hope. Not tossed like a wildflower, but cultivated as an orchard.

I don’t believe I’m done writing on this topic. This entire piece is certainly unfinished.  It’s all so fresh that I’ve not completely gained my entire perspective. I never know what I actually think until I write it down. This is just my heart tonight.

Warship

I’ve always thought when our pastor says “worship,” it sounded like “warship.” Maybe it’s like that when everyone says it, I just hear him say it most often. Maybe it’s just my ears.

You know what? There’s something to that.

Per Wikipedia, “…a warship typically carries…weapons, ammunition and supplies for its crew. Warships usually belong to a navy, though they have also been operated by individuals, cooperatives and corporations.”

Sometimes they carry the troops. Individual, cooperative and corporate worship does give us the weapons, ammunition and supplies we need for our spiritual battles. There are so many forms of worship (beyond the music on Sundays). It also often carries the troops to face their personal battles.

I need to do some more digging on this idea, but I’m starting to think he does it on purpose. Haha! Thanks, Bro. Chris!!

He May

thin_blue_line
Today, there is a police officer who went in service.
 
He will likely pull someone over for speeding, cite someone for a seat belt not worn, help change a flat tire, visit a school to read to children or answer a call for service by someone needing to report a stolen dog.
 
He may comfort a son who has watched the last moments of his mama due to a heart attack, work a car accident wherein injuries were sustained by someone going to work, breathe life into a man who was no longer breathing on his own because he didn’t want to face another day of not making ends meet, arrest someone for possession of stolen prescriptions he took from his grandmother’s cabinet, be met at the door by a little girl at a suspected meth lab (and be able to tell the suspicions were well founded by the smell when the door is opened) or be in the right place to intercede in a tense moment between a married couple arguing about a wayward text message in a parking lot.
 
He may see shots fired at him for being behind a badge, sit with a driver who can’t be pulled from burning wreckage, be the first to discover the remains of a daughter who had her last round with a heroin addiction, be the answer to prayer when someone hears their back door being kicked down, see a child delivered into the arms of a social worker because she came to school with lacerations from daddy’s last drunken rage or be part of a team working to see a family let go safely from their own home when they were taken hostage.
 
But before he left today, that same officer helped find tiny socks. He tied the shoes of his 5 year old, gave hugs to his family, made a mental grocery list and loaded that same child onto a school bus. He carefully pulled out of his driveway towards whatever unknown hell awaited him. In the back of his mind are bills due, an upcoming dentist appointment, paperwork needed at the office, court dates and how to creatively make ends meet while his salary is less than $15 an hour.
 
Today he will go and be involved in numerous moments of life change, while leaving his own behind. Every instance in which he is involved with a citizen, from a ticket to a news worthy event, will be discussed by those affected for years to come.
 
Tonight, God willing, he’ll return to be father and husband.
 
Tomorrow, he’ll be thankful to wake up and do it all again.
 
BG 2016
To our LEOs:
Thank you for your service and sacrifices. The world will thankfully never know what sort of chaos you keep at bay. We are grateful.

5 Minutes to Change the World

Do you know why the world stops and stares when people are unexpectedly loving and forgiving, but doesn’t bat an eye when we see hate on the news? Doesn’t that scream something about our culture?

Please- take 5 minutes today to do something for someone that doesn’t benefit you. A small random act, even if it’s just holding a door for someone and smiling. Pray with someone if they’re hurting. Pray for them, even if you’re sitting in your car and they have no idea you’re there.

I PROMISE you’ll be blessed. I promise.

Then, don’t post about it on Facebook or brag. Take it to Jesus and say, “Thank you for the opportunity to serve in a world that desperately needs to see You.” Let Him keep score.

Do it every day until it’s habit, and you don’t even think about it anymore. It doesn’t have to cost a dime. Seek out ways to do good. They’re limitless.

Matthew 5:44 is hard.

I’m working on praying for people I don’t like and, especially, those I know don’t like me. It’s been a really big challenge for me. At first, it was like I had my mama standing over my shoulder telling me to “say something nice.” At least, in prayer, I’ve come to realize God knows my heart and sometimes I just have to put out there what I can.  I can’t pretend it’s with a joyful heart if it’s not. Prayer isn’t “fake it ’til you make it” business.

I’ve found a big theme for me has been to just pray that these people are overwhelmed with the experience of Jesus this week (or that day). I don’t have to say I like them, or expect that we will ever get along, but it’s one way of loving them. I hope they’re praying the same thing for me.

I’m also working on trying not to characterize people by what they do, but to view it as being caught in sinful habits. I have my own, for sure.

It’s all a work in progress, but I guess that’s kind of the point.

Glint

It’s been my theory, for a long time, that officers are…human, which breaks the rules society

Underneath the Kevlar, lies an impeding unrest. The kind you get from hearing the cries of abused wives and children, holding the hand of the dying while they’re unable to be pulled from the wreck and the biting of tongues while being lashed by the public. The kind of stress most people will never understand, past what they “witness” in the movies. One person’s hell gilds an officer’s existence, encountering the worst of humanity through the eyes of the Badge. Not only do they breathe it, the weight of being a Saint is crowned upon their shoulders. A small crack, wherein a glint of humanity shines, is blinding to those who expect our officers to be living incarnates of St. Michael.

Coming home means being who they’re expected to be; not by the public, but by those who know them by their first name.

To leave the hell they’ve trudged in the hands of Cerberus, like a jacket they hang on a hook when they punch out by the gates.

It doesn’t work that way. Not always. Not really.

Entering the doors of their home means that the calls are perhaps done (unless…), though they can’t scrub clean the soot of the flames that crawled beneath their uniforms. Questions of how they’ll afford to keep this life in the budget (while their pay is often less than they could be making at the factory down the street or at a department store), ring so loudly that suddenly the pool of peace from which they draw to be a Peacemaker seems barren.

The ringing of this reality reminds them of the lack of blood they’d witness at the department store. Quickly, their inner calling sings of how it would never let them do anything but be a cop.

And, still, they smile. They help with homework. They love.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Tomorrow is a new day but, again, not really.

The determination of seeing justice served, and perhaps being the answer to hope, will bring them back to the gates tomorrow. Picking up their sword, and finding the courage to face the flames for one more day.

-B.G., 2016

1989

In my quest to find out who, exactly, Jerry Hall is (as she’s trending for her engagement to Rupert Murdoch), I found myself watching an episode of David Letterman from 1989 and, subsequently, 1989 commercials.

While I believe I’ve got Jerry Hall figured out, here are a few notes I took about life when I was 3 (from a very small sampling of additional commercials and this ONE episode of Letterman):

-Norm Abram was a legit celebrity. If you ask my dad, he still is.
-Cocaine specific commercials were as commonplace as the marijuana commercials we see today.
-Declaring a city as “nuclear free” was newsworthy.
-Almost every ad had that 80’s glow around it.
-The word “sensible” in advertisements
-6 packs of soda = $.59
-Sealy Mattress= $300-$800 depending on where you buy it.
-You don’t see as many department store ads anymore. Thanks, Walmart.
– I was very surprised at the lack of cosmetic commercials.
-Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
-Food ads. So. Many. Food. Ads. (specifically junk food, and how they’re really healthy for you)
-Bill Cosby
-Hardees commercials were about food, and not sex appeal.
-Not McDonald’s. There was no mention of food on the commercials, but focused on their characters and toys.
-Robocop’s gun had caps, and you assembled it all (including the car) yourself..
-Disney Double- A VHS and Chip or Dale stuffed toy- $2.99
-What ever happened to cereal sweepstakes?!
-Ford Ranger- advertised to be (new) $6,766
-Join the US Armed Forces to get high tech training (also, as a whole, rather than individualized branch ads)
-Kid mullets on Hot Wheels Commercials
– “I am Batman”
-Bottled water. I was a little surprised to see bottled water in 1989. It wasn’t individual bottles but, rather, the kind you see in the fountains at offices.
-Show hosts actually hosted. Now, it seems, the guests dictate the direction of the interview. That wasn’t the case here. Letterman would cut guests off in the middle of a story, and they wouldn’t finish it when they came back. I won’t touch on my thoughts about the ratio between that happening with female vs. male guests. I’ll leave that alone for now. However, I felt there was a stark difference (maybe it was just the specific guests).

Well, that’s all. I have a sudden craving for Hi-C and Poptarts. Gonna go add some volume to my hair, and dig out my brightest lipstick.

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