No more tears

It was my first solo shopping trip since Oliver died. I stood in the middle of the aisle at Target with my eyes shut tight furiously wiping away the tears that would not stop. I just wanted to go shopping. I just wanted to feel normal for a few minutes, but every aisle had some sort of trigger.

Baby boy clothes, nautical theme bedding and room decor, picture frames with stock photos of smiling families...it was too much. I remember wondering if I would ever feel “normal” again. If I would ever be able to get through a day without puffy eyes and a sore throat from endless crying. 

Revelation 21:4 says  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I don’t know about you, but as an enneagram 4 who is rather prone to melancholy, I cannot fathom no more tears. But oh, am I ready. Ready to feel only Joy, worship, and reverence. To see Jesus face to face and to wrap my arms around my perfect baby boy.

But in the waiting, Praise be to God who cares about each and every tear we cry, even when there are so many it feels like they will never stop. 

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Caitlin MaxeyComment
Lean In

I went through a really difficult two year period on the heels of losing my son. I was longing for deep relationships but often chose to suffer alone rather than make people uncomfortable with my grief.  

I could see the look on someone’s face shift as they asked me how I was doing. I watched as people avoided eye contact with me so they wouldn’t have to even ask.

I sat quietly and watched as others embraced, thinking I was too far gone to experience the joy of friendship again.

Then there was also the very real reality that I, on occasion, merely assumed that I made people uncomfortable.

Either way, I stopped showing up. I quit interacting and responding. I shut myself off from the community that God had placed around me for such a time as this.

Now, I am not saying that someone who is grieving has to or even wants to talk about their pain all the time, nor am I saying that no one in their life wants to hear about it. 

What I am saying is that grief is lonely and hard to navigate. Sometimes it is necessary to let someone talk about their pain for the 100th time.

However, it seems that many times, we cannot allow ourselves to be uncomfortable for even a few moments in order to lead someone else to a place of peace and find understanding in the process. 

We were designed for community at our best and most authentic selves, but our natural inclination is bent toward self-preservation, which will always lead to loneliness.

I heard a statistic this weekend that the effect of loneliness on our body is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes  a dayIf that is not evidence that we were not built to walk through this life alone, I don’t know what is. 

On the other side of that coin is the reality that sometimes we end up being the one who is needed.  

I also heard a quote this week that said “we are trained in CPR, but we are not trained in grief.” Without training regarding saving a body, we would be paralyzed by fear.

It is understandable that the same is true for the emotional health. Our immediate response to the issues that make us uncomfortable is to shut them out. Again, out of self preservation.

Here’s the truth, though:

1.  Leaning in does not mean it will happen to you. I think sometimes without even realizing it we shut down any emotional response to someone’s pain out of fear  that somehow that will mean we are next. 

2. Turning a blind eye doesn’t make the issue go away. It just makes it one person more lonely for those who are suffering. 7 billion people thinking “I’m only one person, there’s nothing I can do about it” leads to a whole world of no one doing anything. 

So, practically speaking, what do we do? The death of a baby is scary. Human trafficking is scary. Abortion is scary. Childhood cancer is scary.

We show up and lean in. We stand strong and firm with someone who may not be able to stand on their own. We listen to the hard story for the 10th time, or bring a meal when we recognize it has been a difficult week.

We volunteer with organizations that are more knowledgeable regarding what needs to be done every day, and offer help where it is needed.

When we choose to see and keep listening, we are telling a broken-hearted person that their pain and healing matters more than our fears.

We were designed for community by the God who created us in His image and who   knows we need it as much as we crave it. 

Don’t take it lightly that someone has chosen you to be part of theirs.  

 

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Caitlin Maxey Comments
Giving grace instead of outrage

I tend to keep my opinions on hot button issues off of social media and I really tried this time. But my heart is broken. Especially with what my whole presence on this platform is built around, I cannot keep silent.


I have lost two babies. One I desperately wanted and prayed for every single day as I feared for his health. The other I had no idea about until the day I miscarried. Both losses were unbearable. I was thrown into deep seasons of mourning after both losses, albeit in very different ways.


For me, the choice to end a pregnancy is one that would never even cross my mind. HOWEVER: I know the world is not black and white. I know that there are situations that call for impossible decisions. I will not vilify the choices of another, but I cannot stay silent either.


Make no mistake—there is NO medical reason for the extension to the law in New York that has allowed for late term abortions up to the day before birth. None. The pregnancy could be induced or an emergency C-section could be performed.


However, there is also something we need to understand about the medical world. The term “abortion” is used to describe when a baby is miscarried, as well.

 

For the rest of my days, my medical records will state that I had a “spontaneous abortion” even though my very loved, very wanted son was born at home four months early due to preterm labor caused by an infection no one caught.

 

My point is, we need to be educated. The language of the medical field is so stark and cold that even a baby who was wanted can be “labeled” by abortion. But we cannot lean solely on the cold terms of the medical field.

 

We need to be talking about miscarriages and pregnancy loss because there is a lack of understanding that leads women to believe that their life or health is above that of her baby.

 

There is a lack of understanding how your body prepares for that baby and how there is an emotional bond formed before we are ever aware of it.


We need to stop using terms like “miscarriage” and “spontaneous abortion” that make the life of an unborn baby seem like a medical mishap instead of a devastating death.

 

A law being passed to allow for something is not a time to stay silent, but it’s not an excuse to be hateful either. We will not convince a scared human not to end a pregnancy by spewing hate or calling them a murderer.


We will stop it by educating her on other options, by speaking up about our own experiences, and by changing the language of loss. God did not “need another angel,” nature did not “take it’s course,” her body did not “get rid of a problem.”


1 in 4 women experience miscarriage and pregnancy loss so let’s use that statistic for good. Let’s talk about the hard things, the pain we didn’t expect, the heartbreak of not knowing if a living baby will ever happen for us, and the turmoil of missing someone the world doesn’t yet recognize.


We can choose to see the passing of this law as a dark day for humanity and throw our hands up in defeat, or we can hit the ground running after educating with grace and love, and fighting for the hearts of those who think they have no other choice.

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Caitlin Maxey Comments
Choose Joy

I made a sign years ago that says “Choose Joy”. I was in a particularly difficult season of not wanting to be where we were but knowing that we had felt called to moving here. 

That one move- the move we prayed about extensively and had always known we would make, felt lonely, painful, and just plain wrong. So, I made a sign to hang prominently in my home to remind myself that JOY is not circumstantial. 

“Choose Joy” became a mantra. A  lifeline, if you will. In repeating it to myself , I was reminding myself of two scriptures: Romans 15:13 and James 1:2-3. 

  • Romans 15:13- “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”
  •  James 1: 2-3- “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” 

I had no idea when I made that sign just how much I would come to need it. I thought I needed it then. And I did! I really did. But that is the power of the scriptures at work through the Holy Spirit. 

I had no idea what was coming. But He did. And in His kindness, He planted scriptures in my life that I watered for years before I would desperately need them. 

How do you find Joy in the midst of grief?  I don’t think you do. I think it is the Holy Spirit at work in you through His word and the presence of those around you who have the aroma and the presence of the Lord and HIS Joy and Peace. 

So here’s my encouragement for today: another lesson that the Lord has been so generously teaching me- we need the joy of others when it is hard to find within ourselves.

 Joy is not circumstantial, but sometimes the enemy uses our circumstances to try to blind us to the joy that is already ours. We need other believers to lean in with all their joyfulness because joy is contagious. 

So, if you are in the midst of grief, lean into the friends the Lord has given you or if you don’t have those friends yet,  PRAY for them. He  will  be faithful to answer that prayer. And if you are that friend, do not be afraid of your joy .

It might feel unkind or selfish to seem “happy” when your friend is hurting, but she needs your joy. It will rub off on her. The aroma of Joy is the aroma of Christ, and she needs that now, more than ever. 

 

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Caitlin MaxeyComment
Launch Day!

It’s here! You may not have even realized it was coming, but we have been quietly working behind the scenes to find a new logo that would capture our heart and mission. What we got was better than I ever could have dreamed!

Kelsea, from KindlybyKelsea, took my heart and vision and totally transformed it into something tangible. I am amazed!! Just flat amazed!

So, let me tell you about it!

We used a script font to feel more personal- like you are receiving a handwritten note from Grace & Ollie (which, a handwritten note is actually included in every box! Perfection!)

The butterfly at the end is made of palm branches. We chose a butterfly because, while it is widely recognized as a symbol of pregnancy and infant loss, in Christianity, the butterfly is a symbol of resurrection and rebirth. Which for us at G&O is a tangible reminder that Jesus conquered death. We have hope that all pain will end and that every tear will one day be wiped away.

The butterfly is also widely recognized as a symbol of endurance, change, hope, and life. We love this reminder that we will not be in our pain forever.

There is life beyond grief, and when the days stretch on, it is a hopeful reminder that we will come out on the other side; not untouched, but wholly and beautifully changed.

We chose the palm branches because in Isaiah, the Lord says that we are “engraved on the palm of his hand”, which is a reminder that even in the midst of grief, we are never forgotten. We are physically written into God’s story.

  The palm tree, specifically, is a very coarse, strong, and durable plant which grows at extremely varied rates (some grow quickly, while others take years). This a reminder to us that grief is also incredibly personal.

The journey of one does not look exactly the same as the journey of another. There is something so beautiful in knowing that growth happens differently, but that it does happen.

G&O has changed quite a bit in the two years since the Lord placed this ministry on my heart, but at it’s core we will always exist to bring beauty into the darkness. I sincerely hope you will continue to follow along. 

Love,

Caitlin

 

Caitlin MaxeyComment