Can we talk about God real quick?

People often turn their backs on faith in times of despair. It’s natural. We tend to ask “If God is real, and says he loves us, why did he do this to me?” I have asked that question more times than I can count, and I will probably ask it again in the future. No one is immune to doubt. We all feel it at some point, and it’s part of being a Christian. God gives us free will, you can choose to believe just as much as you can choose not to. God is not a puppeteer. 

When we learned that our daughter’s chance of survival was incredibly slim when I was almost seven months pregnant, I felt so abandoned by God. How could he do this to me? How could he do this to my baby? She’s so innocent, she did nothing wrong! I cried out to God asking why he was punishing her. I was enraged. 

Then my husband, Brian asked me to pray with him. Excuse me? You want me to pray to the very God who is going to let my child die? I wanted to refuse but I saw the hope in Brian’s eyes and couldn’t say no. So we prayed. 

And my heart softened. 

Then Brian asked if we could meet with the chaplain at the Children’s Hospital. I dragged my feet, and made plenty of excuses. When we found out the chaplain wasn’t available right away, I told Brian it was probably best if we just went back to our hotel. But he pushed, he wanted to wait for her. Once again, that hope in his eyes was enough to shut me up. So we met with the chaplain. We talked about God, we talked about faith, and we prayed.

And my heart remembered the promises of the God I once loved. 

The bible says God is near the broken hearted. He grieves with us and feels our pain. He doesn’t want us to suffer, but that is the cost of living in an imperfect world that has been torn apart by sin. He has not abandoned us, and our faith will be redeemed.

At the biggest and most heartbreaking moment of our lives, we chose to have faith. We chose to trust in the Lord’s plan for our lives. So Brian and I began to pray, hard. We forced ourselves to sit in silence and wait for God to show us the way. We even stopped praying for him to save our daughter because we didn’t know if that was his will. We prayed that God would lead us down the path that we were meant to explore. If he was going to save her, we asked him to bring us through it. If God was going to send us into the valley and call our daughter home, we asked Him to be our guiding light. We continuously prayed for His will, and the Lord provided. 

I’m sure a few of you are wondering how I can say our prayers were answered when our daughter did not survive. That is because we didn’t pray for our own will. Every single ounce of my being wishes that my baby was still here. I will miss her for every moment of the rest of my life. Losing her ripped a massive hole in me, and I’m not sure that hole can ever be fully repaired. We wanted to be able to keep her and watch her grow. But the reality is that having her here is not the life God intended for her. She was just passing through this world, blessing our lives for a little while before making her grand entrance into heaven. God showed us that, and we have felt His healing presence throughout our grief. We asked Him to guide us, and He has. 

There is a song called “Blessings” by Laura Story and in it she sings:

What if your blessings come through rain drops

What if Your healing comes through tears

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

This song resonates with me because it relates to our experience in multiple ways. Our daughter’s health problems were incredibly serious and complex. Even in the womb, the safest place for her, her little body was fighting. One doctor told us that if she did survive, we needed to be prepared to see her suffer. That was incredibly heartbreaking to hear but she was being honest and I’m thankful for that. God calling our daughter home prevented her from ever feeling pain. In her short but meaningful life, she knew only love. That is God’s mercy working in her life. He did save her, just not in the way we truly wanted Him to.

So I ask of you, if you find yourself at a crossroad in life, choose faith. God will not let you down, no matter how dire the situation may seem. Even the world’s biggest tragedies can bring hope. 

You can read our daughter, Aria’s full story here.

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We’re going back to Philadelphia.

  
After some deliberation, Brian and I have decided to return to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Last month, we received an invitation to attend a memorial at the hospital to honor the infants and children they have lost. This is a time to remember her and give thanks to the medical teams who cared for Aria during our time at CHOP. 

When I first received the invitation, my initial response was that we are absolutely not going. We’re on a path to healing, and going back to the place where our daughter’s life ended did not seem like a very good idea. Once Brian got home from work, I showed him the invitation and was shocked by his strong desire to attend the service. 

I just didn’t get it. How could he possibly want to go back? As much as I love CHOP and our team of doctors, those walls are painted with the greatest pain I’ve ever experienced. I couldn’t see past the heartbreak and trauma we experienced in those halls. 

“But that is where she lived.”

Hearing Brian explain it that way completely changed my perspective. The entire span of Aria’s life outside the womb occurred in the operating room, the Special Delivery Unit hallway, and in my hospital room. That hospital is not painted in pain, it’s hallowed ground. For a brief moment, her life filled those places. 

So we’re going back in a few weeks, and I truly believe this is a good thing. We don’t get many big, public opportunities to share Aria’s life, and I’m looking forward to that. I also can’t tell you how badly I want to wrap my arms around all of the people who cared for us. I didn’t have the emotional stability to truly explain my gratitude a little over two months ago, but I do now. I can honestly say my heart and spirit would not have survived this without them. 

The silent sound of music.

It’s almost bedtime in the Rose house. Just as I was getting up to remove the multitude of throw pillows from the bed, I noticed my husband was listening to “Fly by Night” by Rush in his office. I stopped for a moment and listened, amused by his random choice in music. 

If Aria were here, I bet the sound of Brian’s music wouldn’t feel so silent.”

The thought raced through my mind like a runaway train. I had been so prepared for a house filled with baby cries and screeches. From the moment I learned I was pregnant, I happily dreamed of a home filled with the sounds of a brand new human. But from the moment we returned home, without our daughter in tow, the silence in this house has been deafening. I’ve tried to play music to drown it out, or keep the tv on in the background, but most of the time the silence continues to hang over me. 

I would do anything to hear my sweet girl cry. When she was born, her lungs were far too damaged to manage even a tiny whimper. I wanted so badly to hear her roar as she entered the world. It’s one of the many items on my endless list of things I wish had been different for Aria. 

I know eventually, the awkwardness of this silence will fade. I’m quite looking forward to that day. But as we often say in regards to figuring out this new life as bereaved parents, one little Aria step at a time.