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When Loss Meets Hope by Kayla Carpenter

It’s January 2018, I am 2 months postpartum, and my dear Titus 2 friend invites me to a mom’s night out. I decided to bring my widow 74-year-old grandma along and needless to say, I was taken back when this soft-spoken lady stood up and mentioned SEX to homeschooling moms…to CHRISTIAN homeschooling moms! Wasn’t there an unwritten rule about bringing up such taboo topics to a crowd like this?!

Needless to say, at the end of the night, after winning the grand prize, I was slightly speeding to hurry home to my honey. The message was just the pep needed for me to get my ‘groove’ back after carrying a 9lb baby boy! Well, that night and many more led to being pregnant again for the 3rd time in three years with a two-year-old and a four-month-old. I remember looking at that little stick, gazing up at Chris and saying, “we should probably pray”…that could sum up my entire pregnancy, but I’ll let you in on some extra details.

I knew all along we were having a girl, but you’re supposed to confirm your mother’s intuition, so that’s what we did. We were told at the anatomy scan it looked as if our baby had a cleft lip and would need to go to another doctor with better imaging. We were bummed about the possible cleft lip but went into the appointment still excited to get another view of our baby. Because it was just a cleft lip, Chris went to work, and my mom went with me.

I remember the nurse going over the ultrasound images with the doctor and speaking medical terms. However, when he turned to me and said Trisomy 18, I immediately dropped my head in my hands and began sobbing. My world had just came to a screeching halt. In all his medical mumbo jumbo, I heard his option. “Termination of pregnancy?” He asked so casually. I responded, “No, sir.” He proceeded out of the office. I looked at my mom and said, “This is for God’s glory.” Little did I know, it was for me to experience the glory of God.

For five months, I carried Leah knowing she had limited life expectancy. Not knowing if she would die in utero, during birth or months after, I determined to treasure every moment with God’s gift. I sang, patted my belly, and made silly jokes to her. I began to pray intently. Oh, the prayers and tears I shed for sweet Leah.

We were forced to pick an induction date due to high blood pressure. It was incredibly daunting to select a time knowing it could very well be the date of death. Days leading up to our induction, I journaled a prayer asking God for an easy labor. I wanted to avoid the epidural for concerns with Leah’s heart defect.

Fast forward to December 8th 6 pm; I’m on all fours, the midwife is in position, I turn to Chris again and say, “I wanna pray.” All I could scream was, “MAKE ME STRONGER LORD, MAKE ME STRONGER!” -That moment was so profound to me afterwards. Labor was not easy, but God made me stronger. He is still building strength and endurance in me.

I believe we have a generation of women who are deceived. Eighty percent of babies given non-compatible with life diagnosis’ are terminated. Women think it will be easy to do, but no-no my dear. When you come to the reality of what you have done, you will have to carry that heavy burden of “what-if” for a lifetime.

Though the days were/are very long and emotional; God has been so gracious to Chris and me. We were able to bring Leah home. She slept in the same cradle as my other two babies. Her siblings were able to meet her, and we admired her beauty.

December 26th 5:30 am I woke up and saw Chris holding Leah whispering, “We’re gonna make it to the morning.” She did! But shortly after 6 am, I sat by my husband, laid my hands over Leah’s chest, and told the Lord what He already knew, “She’s Your’s Lord.” She took her final breaths. She left her earthly father’s arms and entered the presence of our perfect Heavenly Father.

I don’t understand Gods plan, and that’s okay. We don’t have to understand. We are just asked to obey. This loss has been a challenging season, BUT God is good. The fruit of my womb extended beyond the 19 days we had Leah.

Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” Psalm 127:3 (KJV) We have a treasure waiting for us in heaven. I would have never been satisfied with more time with Leah because God has placed a desire for eternity in our hearts . . . Eternity with Him. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He hath put eternity in their hearts except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NKJV)

Leah allowed me to live out my faith. No longer was I just reading about faith, journaling, taking notes about it, and writing pretty little scripture cards while sipping on my coffee; I was in full-blown combat!!! I was grateful for all that I had stored up for those years because I needed every last promise to survive emotionally. The enemy did not waste an attempt to cause me to question God or try to get me to flounder in, “why?” Instead, God’s word came alive like never before. I began clinging desperately to those promises I had memorized. I experienced God’s grace in more ways then I could list. “For He bruises, BUT He binds up. He wounds BUT His hands make whole.” Job 5:18 (NKJV)

Don’t misunderstand, there were many nights while Leah was alive and nights after that the anxiety felt so heavy, all I could do was stand outside and feel the winter air to breathe. I remember looking at the moon and audibly saying, “God is still in control.” In the midst of my chaos, I needed a reminder that there is some consistency in my life. The consistency was Christ!

Friends, trials are going to come your way. Some controlled and some uncontrollable. Regardless the Lord uses ALL things to sanctify us and show His glory. It is Him alone who redeems! “But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob and He that formed thee, O Israel, fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by name; thou art mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire thou shall not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Isaiah 43:1-2 (KJV)

As I am coming out of this fire, I want to be a voice shouting God’s truth. ONLY God is able to allow you to REJOICE from your sorrow because it is Him who replenishes every sorrowful soul. -Jeremiah 31

I’m so grateful for our sweet precious Leah Marie Carpenter, it’s difficult to truly express in words what a legacy Leah left in our lives, and how faithful God is. Being able to love Leah with her abnormalities helped me see even more clearly how perfect God loves us with the abnormalities of our heart. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 (KJV)

Until we can kiss your sweet toes in heaven, I’ll hold you in my heart sweet girl. You were heaven’s child all along.

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