Thursday, May 03, 2012

Do you let God use your pain? Wildflowers from Winter Giveaway

My friend Katie Ganshert is celebrating the release of her novel Wildflowers from Winter. The premise is that God can take our pain and turn it into beauty -- sometimes unexpected.

And I'm thrilled to add that her publisher will send a copy of her debut novel to one of the commenters, so be sure to let me know how God has touched your pain.

Anyway, I can so relate to God taking our winters and causing beautiful wildflowers to grow. Five years ago I experienced our first miscarriage, an event that is tied to our anniversary since the D&C was the day before our anniversary. The first year after the miscarriage the grief pulled my under. The second year I still felt it. By this year, a part of me spent the week wondering what that child would have been like. What he or she would have added to our family. But I also praised God for our three and a half year-old. I can't imagine our family without her. At all.

Part of me rejoices in the idea that healing has come. I didn't spend two days under the waves of grief. Praise God! God has answered my prayers to bring good and beauty from our miscarriages, and He has. There have been seasons of struggle, questioning, and pain, but through it all God was there.

Each of us has a different area where we've experienced pain...if you haven't yet, it's probably coming. The challenge is how we handle it. Not everyone has my strong personality with all its insistence on understanding the whys. Yet we all have places that we need God to make beautiful. Places that, if we let Him, can become our areas of ministry.

If I'd never miscarried, I would still stumble awkwardly when confronted with someone who has miscarried. Instead, I now come alongside these women, hugging and crying with them. Giving them booties to help remember their baby. Sending journals I wish I'd received.

Do you have places of pain you've allowed God to transform? Has He turned those into places of ministry for you?

Julia Reffner shared her story of Wildflowers from Winter this way:


Sometimes the news comes in the middle of the night phone call. The doorbell rings and you find an officer there. Other times it’s the deadening silence in the darkness. You hear your own breath whooshing through your ears.

I sat in the dusky quiet of three AM awakened out of a light sleep on the cold hardwood of my brother’s bedroom. The stack of blankets couldn’t keep out the chill trailing up my spine, only my husband’s hands trailing on my hips provided warmth.

Only a few minutes later my mother stood in the doorway of my childhood home and I knew, as I had awakened the last breath had left my father’s body. I went in to his room to say goodbye to the jaundiced face, the sunken hollow cheekbones that no longer resembled the father I knew, the best friend of my childhood.

As my breath burst into the paper bag blowing it in and out I watched out the picture window waiting for the ambulance to come silently to herald this dark April morning. As C.S. Lewis notes in A Grief Observed, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”

Almost every cliché is true about grieving and faith. You do gain a better understanding of God as your Father. If you reach for Him, your faith will grow by leaps and bounds during your time of grief. God does wipe away every tear. But there was one gift I don’t remember being told about: the gift of tears.

No one told me that grief was the training ground for God to build my love muscles towards others. That as I interceded hard tears would fall again and again. Suddenly, my pain was not my own.

Eternity was a heartbeat away and the greatest pain in my life now is knowing I may not share it with people I love. What amazes me is the deep hurt for those I barely know.

It has been ten years this April since my father’s death to liver cancer. I was in my early 20s when he died, a time of searching and becoming. God has brought new joy out of the dark anniversary days, both of my children were born within days of the anniversary of my Dad’s death.

Several months ago I dreamed about my father. He sat at the driver’s seat of the Buick with the plush green seats, his lean six foot five frame bent in an awkward L-shape. I buckled my children into their carseats. “You need to make sure everyone is coming,” Dad called out to me with wrinkled brow and a concerned tone.

Ten years after my father’s death I feel a renewed passion in my life to make sure everyone is coming, to heaven. Like wildflower petals blowing in the wind, our life passes in a whoosh of breath. 1 Corinthians 9:16 says, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.”



24 comments:

Marianne said...

Thank You for the valley i walked through today,
The darker the Valley the more i learned to pray
i found You where the lilies, blooming by the way
and i thank You for the valley i walked through today.

Katie Ganshert said...

I held it together until this...

"Giving them booties to help remember their baby."

God really has turned your pain into a ministry. What a blessing you are to these women, Cara. Thanks for sharing this story.

And yours too Julia! Sorry you lost your father.

Cara Putman said...

Thanks, Katie. I clung to God's promise He could turn this into good...and He still is.

Renee said...

Thanks for sharing your testimonies, Cara and Julia. One of my most painful times in recent years was the six months that I sat with, cared for, cried with my best friend as she died of cancer. What was unexpectedly beautiful to me was watching her "inner man" grow stronger even as her body wasted away. (II Cor. 4)

Gloria Gaither said, "To touch eternity so intimately--to hand off the hand I’m holding into the very hand of God--changes me. The glitter of glory lands on my face, too."

Blessings, ladies!

Glenda Parker Fiction Writer said...

Last May I lost my thirty-five year old daughter. She had been BiPolar and had suffer a great deal. I can't tell you how many times she tried to take her own life. She had just got her act together and ended up dying of a reaction to a drug. (Ironically that had been how she had tried to kill herself.)She had just gotten married and was so happy. God gave me so much grace through it all and six weeks later I took a mission trip with three hundred teens. I was able to minister to them in a new way. God is so good even in our times of pain. Thank you for a chance to win this book. I would love it. God bless you.

Glenda Parker

Julia M. Reffner said...

Oh, Cara, your story is so beautiful Thank you for sharing it. I know there are many women who struggle through miscarriages and your story will bless them in knowing they aren't alone.

(Thanks so much for allowing me to post here, too).

Judy said...

Shortly after we had celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary my husband at the time left me for another woman. Stunned and in a deep grief I couldn't understand why. I cried out to God to make the pain go away. Eventually I remarried and carried that grief with me for 2 years into my new marriage before I let go of it. Little did I know that more grief was in my future. Seven and half years into my second marriage my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I prayed for healing. The healing did not come and he died four months after he was diagnosed. When I finally listened to the words, "Be still and know that I am God" it all became clear. God didn't allow these trials in my life to hurt me; he allowed them to strengthen my faith in Him and to put my complete trust in Him. We may not know what our future may bring but we do know that He is already there!

Blessings!
Judy

Lane Hill House said...

My son died of a heart attack last June 3. My firstborn, my only son. His three sisters miss him so much. So thankful that we were with him for three close filling days Memorial Day Weekend that God alone planned for us five months earlier to be together those days. God is good. All the time.
lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

Add me for the book drawing! Would love to have one without the ARC on the bottom!! Yeah for Wildflowers from Winter, a wonderful story for all to read.

delpgang said...

If you facebook, we'd love to have you share your story at Stillbirthday (a page offering support to moms who've miscarried or had a stillbirth). If you're not on FB, you can go directly to www.stillbirthday.com and post your story there. Thanks!!

Cara Putman said...

Your stories are touching my heart. God is good even in the darkest moments. Sometimes it's harder to find Him, but I know He is there.

cherylmckay said...

Cara, thanks for sharing your story. I so relate to the idea that when we go through a particular type of pain, you know how to respond to others going through the same.

Heidi Faith said...

Both of these testimonies, and the ones shared in the comments, are so very lovely and so very powerful. Our God is so GOOD! He is so much bigger than our valleys. I too am a loss mom, and through my experience have put together "stillbirthday.com", a website that provides pregnancy and infant loss support. If I win, I will use the book as a giveaway at stillbirthday, to further spread the important message that God can turn beauty from ashes. <3

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Cara and Julia, thanks for sharing today. I have no idea what to say to those who've suffered miscarriages, but my heart aches for them. And sitting with a loved one in those last hours is such a life-changing experience. May God bless you today!

Melissa Finnegan said...

Cara, thanks for sharing your story, it's so powerful.

God is so good and so faithful. I can't share my whole Gensis 5020 story her, but what the enemy wanted to use to harm me (sexual, verbal abuse, emotional and physical affair) God is turning around so He can be glorified. So others can see there is hope, our past does not define us. Praise God!

Cara Putman said...

Cheryl, I love your story -- it can give hope to so many who are single. Melissa, I know God can turn our pain to ministry if we'll just let Him. I want to make satan angry that he ever messed with me, ya know? Heather, I am so glad you've never experienced the pain of miscarriage. Pray it remains that way! And Heidi, God is so good. All the time!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Cara,

Thanks so much for guiding me here. I won't lie, I've been bawling most of the morning. Still healing after my back to back losses (Painful to write the word miscarriage). It's been over six years and I find God is finding ways to use this pain to help me minister and love on other women, to be more real and vulnerable with them. But it hurts, man, it hurts.

Again thank you for reaching out!
~ Wendy

Cara Putman said...

Wendy, it still hurts. a lot. I think it's a pain that is largely unseen, but so real. Praying for you!

Melissa Tagg said...

Amen to this:

"Yet we all have places that we need God to make beautiful. Places that, if we let Him, can become our areas of ministry."

Your story was touching, Cara...I've been so blessed by reading all these Wildflowers from Winter stories.

Meadow Rue Merrill said...

After we lost our seven-year-old daughter, a friend said, "Don't you as a parent want to protect your kids from grief?" I told her, no, I didn't.My answer surprised us both. But even more than protecting my children, I wanted them to take that feeling and go out and make a difference in the world to people who were hurting just like we were hurting.

Cara Putman said...

So agree, Meadow. It's important to learn how to grieve. We talk about the babies in heaven because it's a part of our DNA as a family now.

Thanks, Melissa. The stories have all been touching!

Lindsay Harrel said...

Beautiful, beautiful. Both of you.

I love how, through our trials, God gives us the ability/emphathy to reach out to others who are hurting.

Julie Sunne said...

I'm reaching through the screen to put my arms around you, Cara. You'll see that babe again someday, and what a reunion that will be! We'll be dancing in heaven with all our children that went Home sooner than we wanted. Thank you for your willingness to share your pain to encourage others.

Cara Putman said...

Thanks, Julie, for your sweet thoughts! and the cyber-hug!

Cara Putman said...

Wouldn't you know the first person random.org selected was me (#23) then Wendy Paine Miller (#16). So Renee (#4) we'll be delighted to send you a copy...please contact me :-)

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