My Girl Abbey

My Girl Abbey
Mother's Day 2015

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Abbey,and an American Girl Doll

In 1986, a new doll was released to the public.  It was probably a few years later before I knew about them, but American girl dolls are pretty much the doll you want to play with if your into dolls.  I never had one, but when we found out we were having a girl, it was on my list of things I couldn't wait to do with my daughter.  A few years ago, I decided that it wasn't really a practical investment since Abbey wouldn't be able to play with or take care of the doll properly.  They sell for almost $100, not including clothes and accessories! 

Some time ago, we started getting the catalog in the mail.  When the first one came, I just threw it out like I do the letters that say, "you're daughter is in 4th grade, perhaps she would like to represent NJ in  Washington D.C. with her chosen peers."  When the next one came I decided to look through it and for some reason it just made me so, so sad! A reminder of an yet another experience I wanted to have with her, but wouldn't. (Self-pity is so attractive isn't it? lol) I decided Abbey would be my American Girl Doll. Her story is  completely inspiring, and she loves to be dressed up and accessorized!

But, Abbey is always surprising me...always.  This year has been especially exciting with her new school (PG Chambers School for the Disabled) because they are really opening me up to so many new "feats" for Abbey. 

I got an e-mail from her speech therapist this morning.  They added a new category to her i-pad speech program for clothing.  Here's part of the e-mail from her therapist.  "In speech, Abbey and I worked on identifying icons on her iPad and initiating more sign language. I added a “clothing” folder to Abbey’s iPad. When learning the new icons, we played “dress-up” with dolls.Abbey got VERY excited during this activity. I would tell her we need to pick out a specific article of clothing and she would find it on her iPad. If Abbey needed help putting on the piece of clothing I would try to prompt her to sign “help” and then find the icon on the iPad (i.e. “help (with) shirt”). This activity was motivating for Abbey and I was happy to see her progression throughout the session. "

At the end of the e-mail she included these pictures, and look at the doll she is holding.  You guessed it, an American Girl Doll! 

There are a thousand dolls they could have used and taken a picture of, but they used the one doll that opened up a tender spot in my heart.  It's like the Lord was whispering over me this morning, "it matters to me."   It just got me thinking how we never know what God is up to.  Perhaps there is a dream you gave up on, a goal you never reached or grew tired of striving after? Maybe you've been struggling through something for so long that you just accepted it would never change.  I don't know about you, but for me, this was just a little reminder of  Matthew 19:26 "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"  

 Hope you enjoyed Abbey's little success with me! I'll borrow a little letter closing from the apostle Paul.
"20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
Ephesians 3:20-21

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Is His Grace Sufficient Enough for Me? Part III

A month or so after we lost our son, a friend shared a song with me that changed everything.  I would play the song and cry and cry and cry, but I also found so much comfort in it.  I was thinking one afternoon while the tears were spilling down my face, that everyone who’s ever lost a child should hear this song.  No sooner had I thought that, did the Holy Spirit tug on my heart and whisper to me, “including all the women who have lost a child to abortion.” You see, in my frustration and grief I failed to remember that my calling as a follower of Christ is to love.  To love the way Jesus did.  My hate was my judgment, and I have absolutely no right to that.  Only God himself can see into the hearts of men and women.  He is mercy and love, truth and justice, light and life.  I can barely get out of bed in the morning without sinning!  I’m a walking billboard for screwing the whole thing up!  I had to humble my heart and ask for His forgiveness…and pray for him to open my eyes to see people the way that he does. 

Now my heart was broken again, only not just for myself…but for all the moms out there who have had to grieve the loss of their children in silence and shame. Here I am with a whole congregation and family behind me while there are women out there who suffer in complete silence and isolation.  I’m just devastated for them…I want to come over and cry with them, to share in their grief and loss. I want to be a safe place for someone to say, “I had an abortion when I was__. I think about my baby all the time.” I want to love people in a way that makes it very clear that my heart and home are a safe place to let your guard down.  I have so much to learn, so many ways in which I need to grow.  As Christians, we are so very comfortable with our own sin, and so uncomfortable with everyone else’s. We’re such idiots sometimes!  

I know sin is a hard word to hear if you’ve had an abortion.  Most people are very uncomfortable with the word “sin.”  Proclaiming God’s truth is a very unpopular choice these days, and I’m sure that there are those who will go to their own grave defending a woman’s right to “choose.”  The point of this post is not to try and change someone’s mind about it, but to share what the Bible says and how that’s affected my own life.  So, I will only briefly touch on why I believe that abortion is not what God desires. I’m certainly no expert or theologian, but I know what sin does to a person firsthand …and I know how Satan would just love to keep my friends and family in bondage to a choice they cannot un-make.   

The question of abortion for me has never been, “when does life start?”  In my mind, the more important question has always been, “when does a soul begin?”  I believe that is a question that only God himself can answer. Listen to part of Jeremiah 1:5 and Psalm 139:

Jeremiah 1:5a  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” (emphasis is mine)

Psalm 139: 13-16
“13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.”

Did you catch that? God has accounted for our souls before we are even conceived!  

So where does that leave you, friends, who have had an abortion? I believe it leaves you and I hand-in-hand wading through the same deep waters of loss.   We are more alike than we are different.  I’ve shared with you my own weakness and the sin of hatred that I was wrestling with.  I’ve got plenty more sins I could list off if you need further proof of my complete inadequacy!  But, I found forgiveness in Christ.  I love Psalm 103.  Listen to this portion:

“8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

This is what separates Christianity from every other religion in the world.  There is literally NOTHING you can do on your own to gain Christ and eternal life.  There is literally NOTHING you can do to be excluded from his offer of grace and forgiveness.  It’s a free gift, and once accepted can never be lost.   

If you’ve never given your life completely to God, I encourage you to get down on your knees as I have and surrender it all.  If you thought that whether or not to have a baby was the most important decision of your life, you were very wrong.  This is by far the most important decision…with eternal significance. You have a perfect Heavenly Father who wants nothing more than to draw you up under his wing and to protect you.   In His great love, you will find a God who is big enough to take your loss, as he has mine, and make it into something beautiful.   But don’t sorrow alone…we should never sorrow alone.  I encourage you to seek out a Christian pastor, friend, or pregnancy center that offers post-abortion counseling.   Share your story and hurt, and be amazed as our Great God and Wonderful, Merciful, Savior comes into your soul and begins to restore what was lost. If you ever doubt if His grace is sufficient enough, take heart:

2 Corinthians 12:9

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."

I’d like to leave you with the song that touched my heart.  It is by a group called Selah, and the lead male vocalist and his wife carried their daughter, and delivered her, knowing she would die during delivery or shortly after.  She lived just long enough to take some family pictures, and to change my heart forever.  This song captured every sentiment Ryan I have felt toward our son.  I hope if you have experienced an abortion, you will hear this and find healing with me.  I pray someday at the greatest of all reunions in heaven, we will be standing side-by-side with each other…and hand-in-hand with our sweet babies. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Is His Grace Sufficient Enough for Me? Part II of III

Well, as you can imagine, the weeks and months that followed were unbearable.  The night after the funeral I couldn’t sleep or get comfortable in bed, and when I finally got up in the morning I had somehow thrown my neck out.  For the next week, I would sleep sitting upright because the weight of my own head on a pillow made it worse.  I went to a chiropractor for relief and while I was waiting in her office I stared blankly out the window.  Fall in this state is nothing short of spectacular. But when I looked out, all I could see was death.  Every plant, every blade of grass, every tree was screaming back at me, “See, everything dies!”  

My own body was in confusion…I delivered a baby, and yet there was no one to nurse.  The swelling, throbbing, and aching of my body were a constant reminder of my loss. I remember telling Ryan that I felt like my actual body was in mourning.   I had only one desperate prayer that I prayed throughout the days and nights, “Lord God in Heaven, have mercy on my mind.  Don’t let me go into depression again.”  You see, when Abbey was around two and we found out she was suffering from cerebral palsy (and not just a “developmental delay” as we’d been told)  I went into such a dark place.  I could write a whole different series on that (which I will at some point) but for time’s sake, let me just say that for someone who is generally upbeat and loves a crowd, the isolation and sadness I went through were suffocating.  I gained a ridiculous amount of weight, had social anxiety that at times kept me home-bound, and cried more than I thought humanly possible. I did not want to go there again, ever again. 

The Lord was in fact merciful to me.  Our church and the  community cooked enough meals for me to last two months.  I was amazed at how many of the older women from my church would come up to me and privately share their own similar experience.  Social times and media have changed so drastically over the years.  These sweet little old ladies were never allowed to talk about their pain and suffering, but they carried their loss inside for all these years, and then blessed me so much by letting me know I wasn’t alone.  My senior pastor’s wife had delivered not one, but three stillborn children.  In addition to her regular phone call, she sent little notes and handmade cards regularly for a very long time.  I’m not sure if anyone else has had parents and in-laws who prayed and grieved alongside their children as much as Ryan and I.  I read the Bible…I begged God to give me his thoughts and understanding. Not least of all, He gave me a song…I played it over and over again for comfort.  I still find myself singing or humming it from time to time.
God in his goodness tucked me in under his wing, and like a shelter, He protected my mind from the cloud of darkness that no doubt Satan wanted to spread like a blanket over me.   You may wonder what all of this has to do with abortion…why, on a week in our country where people everywhere are proclaiming  the right to life for unborn children, I have chosen to tell a story about a pregnancy expected, a child wanted, in what was the perfect and safest of circumstances.   And for that to make sense, I need to take you back to the day of our delivery.

Twelve hours or so after we delivered, I was discharged and sent home.  There was something else I was feeling in my heart that I didn’t share with you before.  As they were taking me by wheelchair down the hospital halls, I kept staring at the keepsake box they gave me and thinking, “I can’t believe I’m leaving with a box instead of a baby.”  I felt so much anger. Not anger at God for letting this happen, as some might expect, but anger at every woman or man who had participated in an abortion.  You have to know, this includes dear friends and relatives that I care about. I hated them…I hated them for giving away the chance for something I would have given anything to have. Only hours before, I had been caressing and kissing a frame that was woven together by God himself.  A frame that some people say doesn’t contain life yet.  I have a lot of friends, relatives, and former students on Facebook.  The chance that I’m not speaking about one of you is slim to none. And don’t be confused by my words…I’m not talking about “righteous anger” here, I’m talking about pure, unfiltered hate. 

Do you know what the Bible has to say about hate?  

1 John 2:11 But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blind.
1 John 4:20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

And if you want to talk about something cutting into your heart, how about this one:

1 John 3:15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

So I ask you who have been a part of an abortion, a question I asked myself…Kimberly Drew who was walking around in darkness, the liar who didn’t love God, the murderer without eternal life…is God’s grace sufficient enough for us?  
Continued in Part III

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Is His Grace Sufficient Enough for Me? Part I of III

I have a reoccurring nightmare. It’s so horrific, that I can’t even bare to go into detail with my own husband about the things my mind sees.  I wake up with a ring of sweat around my hairline, and my heart and breathing rates are elevated to the point of panic.  To say it takes me a while to get back to sleep is quite an understatement. The other night it robbed me of sleep and left me feeling completely emotionally spent before the day had even begun. I lay looking up at the layer of dust gathering on my ceiling fan and just prayed in my spirit, "God, what on earth am I supposed to do with this?"  When I can't make sense of something, or need to work it out in my mind, I have to write.  I was reading from the book "God's pursuit of Man" by A.W. Tozer a few weeks ago and he said it beautifully. "The only book that should ever be written is one that flows up from the heart, forced out by the inward pressure. When such a work has gestated within a man it is almost certain that it will be written….Whether or not the book ever reaches a wide public, still it has to be written if for no other reason than to relieve the unbearable burden on my heart.” 

 So, here it is…my thoughts on infant loss, what it taught me about abortion, and God’s grace.  I hope you will hang on and read through to Part III, but I will understand if you can’t.  It’s not a conversation that’s easy to walk into.  It’s just that, the pressure in my heart is unbearable.  If you can handle the deep waters with me, you’ll find a tranquil pool waiting at the end.  I hope I’ll see you there friend. 

In October of 2009, Ryan and I were 22 weeks pregnant with our third baby.  Just two weeks earlier, we marveled at his frame in the ultrasound room, and when the technician said, “it’s a boy!” Jayden blurted out, “look mommy, it’s baby Jack!”  How a three and a half year old managed to name our baby I still don’t know, but “baby Jack” stuck.  After Abbey’s horrific delivery resulting in her disabilities, our pregnancy with Jayden was one filled with concern.  When Jayden arrived safe and sound (and screaming his head off), my worries quieted.  By the time number three came around, I was lighthearted and thrilled to deliver.

I had no idea that Abbey’s birth, and the grief that followed through the years as the severity of her disabilities became clear, was preparation for a deeper loss. The nightmares I had after her birth were nothing compared to the ones that would soon come. I knew something was wrong, I knew what was wrong…but I went in for my regular OB check up convinced that once I heard Jack’s heartbeat all my fears would subside, and I could finish rearranging Jayden’s room to make way for the baby.   However, the confirmation that our dearly loved son was gone was so shocking, that I still shudder when I allow myself to go back to that moment.  

We were given a day to prepare for delivery.  I packed a small bag, my family came in from IN, and funeral arrangements were already being discussed before I ever even saw Jack’s face. His face…he had such a sweet face. I labored intensely for around fourteen hours, and with little effort at the end, he slipped from the intimacy of my body into the world he’d never know.  The doctor delicately and tenderly examined him and showed us the problem with his umbilical cord.  The only cries to be heard came from Ryan and I. I collapsed back onto the pillow and Ryan threw his body over mine.  We sobbed, and sobbed, and sobbed together.

When the nurse brought him to me swaddled in the familiar hospital receiver and handed him over, I had no idea what ounces would feel like.  They felt like nothing. If you’ve held a baby, you know the initial weight that bears down on your arms.  His physical weight was insignificant, but the sight of his sweet face surely was.  His head was covered in peach fuzz, and his eyebrows were the same toe-head blond that his big brother had.  He had tiny, tiny, everything.  But, he was so big and full in my heart.  So great was our love and sense of loss for this little baby boy who was meant to be even though he would never live outside my womb.

We named him Jackson Grant Drew, and he’s buried  with his Great Great Grandfather. I still see children who were born when he should have been and tear up.  He would have been turning three soon.  I’d like to share more with you about our process of grief and making sense of it all in Parts II and III.  For now, I’ll leave you with the only picture we have of him.  It’s a treasured possession and window to my soul.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I want less from 2013

We've had a whirlwind month in the Drew house.  Besides exchanging gifts, we've also swapped all kinds of hideous germs and various illnesses.  Including, a week in and out of the doctor's office with my blood pressure being totally out of whack.  I have to see a cardiologist this Friday....UGH! Hopefully we can get it figured out and under control.  In the meantime, I figured I'd work through some of my thoughts on this topic of the new year. 

For some reason, January 1st never really enthralled me like it seemed to other people.  I have one memory of a New Year's Eve party at a bowling alley with our youth group when I was in high school...the rest are all a blur. This year was the first time in years that Ryan and I even stayed up to watch the ball drop!   I think we're either totally LAME or getting older.  Honestly, I  just want to be home in my pajamas.

These days, I'm happy just to have the kids in bed and everyone safe and warm.  I look around at the world and I feel this reverberating throb of frustration at how trivial most of American life really is. Just watching the various TV programs on New Year's Eve confirmed it.  I don't know about you, but I'm sick and tired of the get more, have more, do more, be more than everybody else competition that our culture seems to be obsessed with.

So, even though I'm not a huge fan of's mine.  I hope to get less, have less, do less, and be less this year. I don't want to waste another minute in the pursuit of more.  My Jesus was all about emptying himself a drink offering. I want to get less.  I don't HAVE to have an i-phone, or knee high boots, or any of those other silly things I waste time wanting. All that "wanting" effort could be better used being satisfied.  There is nothing more relaxing than the feeling of satisfaction, and with Christ in my life..there is no need to feel anything BUT satisfied.  

I want to have in, go through my house and just purge.  We don't have a lot of material possessions anyway, but if I'm totally honest, there's more than we need. I think about a woman I met in Honduras who had one chair in her home as the only piece of furniture, but brought me in and sat me down in it.  She broke bread and prayed with me...I don't even speak Spanish but it was one of the most influential and moving moments of my life.

I could write a whole post on doing less!   My family is a full time (with overtime) job. My husband is in ministry, we have a child with disabilities, and a toddler.  If you have any one of those things going on in your life right now you can relate to this....if you have all three then call me, I think we could be best friends! haha I want to say, "yes" to everything that the Lord asks me to do and, "no" to literally everything else. Which means I need to spend less time running around like a crazy person, and more time praying throughout my day and seeking God's leading for what's next.

And last... I don't need to be someone great in anyone's eyes, because God only sees Christ in me. I wonder how much American time is wasted thinking about what other people think about us? Well, I hope to contribute a significantly smaller percentage of  that time in 2013.

I would like to leave you (as I understand it) with the original, unabridged version of the serenity prayer.

The original, attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, is:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.