It's been a little over nine hours since Esther Jubilee went to be with Jesus. I've officially lived longer now without her here than with her.
My heart breaks as a mom who is missing a fresh baby.
My body hurts from the hours of labor and delivery, and hurts more still because there isn't much to show for it now.
But my soul is searching for simple truths and basic answers I've known all along, in elementary explanations, to explain to two little girls who don't understand. And somewhere in the explaining, it's probably for me just as much as it is for them.
McKenna is a leader and a natural born nurturer. She keeps telling me she wishes Esther could have lived with us longer. She tells us she wanted to bring her new baby home. She cries because she misses a little girl she only knew for a few minutes, but loved through prayer for weeks on end.
Teaghan is unsure of how to feel at times. She doesn't know what she's feeling or how to process. But she sees McKenna so freely sharing her heart, and it must bear witness with her own, because she quickly follows suit and comes up with her own questions to grapple this hard and heart-shattering reality.
Tonight I had to muster up the strength to tell them a simple truth, that I myself needed to hear. And maybe like me, you're sitting somewhere, facing circumstances that seem impossible, and ever so grim, and need the same simplicity.
As we tucked the girls into their beds for the night at home, without our new baby here, McKenna began to cry. I attempted to pray for her, and found myself joining in with her tears.
As a bereaved parent, one of the most therapeutic remedies is loving another child. I don't care if it's your own, or someone else's. But it's part of the Kingdom. The minute you show love and compassion for the sake of a child, your breaking heart begins to mend. Not in a way that remedies any pain or loss, but in a way that says, "I can keep going."
I walked away after quivering out a few measly words of comfort. Thinking I had done my best for the first night of many, and excused myself from anything further.
Immediately the Holy Spirit reminded me of His gentleness, as He showed me there in the living room His nature once more. And I remembered a great way of explaining His comforting character to these small, frail girls.
I walked back into their room, and sat McKenna up in bed. And with tears in my eyes, I told her that she needed to listen very closely.....
"McKenna, when Jesus died on the cross, and rose up again from the grave, and went back up to heaven in the clouds, He sent us a new friend. A friend that stays with us always. It's His Holy Spirit. The bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is the great comforter."
The tears started to flow, as a pushed through, knowing all-too-well the feelings I was about to describe to her.
"When you feel sad, or you feel lonely, or you feel upset or alone or scared or miss your sister, you can ask the Holy Spirit to be your great comforter."
As parents we tend to leave our kids with big huge word pictures like this. But that wouldn't have done much for Mckenna's breaking spirit.
"McKenna, see your big huge comforter here on your bed? See how you can wipe your tears on it? See how it's soft and warm and fluffy, and it makes you feel safe and cuddly and holds you in your bed nice and tight? The Holy Spirit will come when you ask Him, and He will wrap you up like this great big comforter. He will cover you with softness and gentleness. He will help dry your sad tears. He will keep you safe, and held tight in His big fluffy, cuddly arms when you feel sad and afraid and alone."
The words came out faster, like healing salve that could penetrate the wounds of a tired and lonely momma's heart....
"Sometimes mommy even gets sad and lonely. Sometimes my heart hurts and I miss your sister too. Sometimes I am afraid and scared and hurting too. And I ask God to send His Holy Spirit to wrap me up like a great comforter, and hold me tight. And He does. The bible says "Do not be afraid, for I am with you." And He is with you right now."
I don't know if you're facing loss, or death, or rejection, or pain, or fear, or trauma, or shame.
What I can tell you is that through the course of my 27 years, I've had a crash course in all of the above.
And each and every time, God has revealed Himself in a new way to me- just for me.
He's revealing His Holy Spirit as the Great Comforter on an entirely new level today and in the days to come.
But I can tell you, that the same comforter that held me on the ultrasound table that fateful day in January, holds me now.
The same comforter than held me as I heard the rejecting and scornful words of the MFM specialist weeks after, holds me now.
The same comforter to give me peace as a new OB told me a C-Section was imminent, and my baby was breech, holds me now.
The same comforter that walked me through hospital doors to a place unknown and terrifying, where fear and anxiety seemed to rule, holds me now.
The same comforter that gave me strength to push through the most painful delivery of my life, with four nurses pushing on my stomach and bruising my insides, while Esther presented herself face first, strengthens me now.
And the same gentle, quiet, soft, warm, peaceful comforter that wrapped me tight as I watched my last baby girl be wrapped up, and rolled out of the hospital room, and away from us always, holds me now.
Friend, if you're reading this, take comfort. The God of ALL comfort can hold you now. His arms are always long enough to reach. His grasp always tight enough to save. His gentleness always soft enough to redeem the most broken places.
Take comfort. Do not be afraid. He is with you. And He's with me.
And Esther Jubilee has seen this same comfort in all of its magnificent ways all at once, while you and I must experience them one at a time, because our mortal bodies cannot handle such immense comfort all at once.
Shout with joy, you heavens,
and rock with glee, you earth!
Break out in song, you mountains!
The LORD is comforting His people
and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.