Why I Didn’t Cut My Hair For A Year (How God Brought A Baby Into Our Family)

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My wife and I dated each other for less than a year and then were married. We spent the first four years of our marriage investing our time and energy into serving others and getting to know each other before starting a family. 

After year four of marriage we were in a small, cold doctor’s office room being told by a fertility professional that I was 100% infertile and would never be able to help conceive a child for my wife. 

The next morning we started the paperwork to adopt an infant domestically. We entered into a journey to share love with a baby even though we were grieving the reality of the death of a dream of wanting to be pregnant.   

Last year, my wife prematurely gave birth to triplets at 22 weeks pregnant. Each baby died (you can read about it here). 

After a month of grieving, resting and allowing our church to love on us, we started the paperwork to adopt an infant domestically. We entered into another journey to share love with a baby even though we were grieving the reality of the death of a dream of parenting triplets. 

On September 1st, 2020, I decided not to cut my hair until the Lord answered our prayer to adopt a baby. On September 1st, 2021, He answered that prayer in an amazing way. 

We’ll get to that answer. 

Over the past year there has still been grieving. There’s been an empty nursery with the door shut in our home. My wife pursued professional counseling for six months. There’s been tears in worship services. With every Friends episode where Phoebe Buffay was pregnant with her brother’s triplets (if you don’t know, don’t worry), the TV channel was changed. 

As deep as the sorrowing reminders were, we were faithful to God in all of it. We weren’t sinless over the past year, but when it came to this specific pain of trusting His plan for our family, we were faithful. 

Over the past year we’ve been truly excited for each birth announcement shared with us. We’ve also empathized with those who miscarried and shared their pain with us. Even in the mountain of confusion on why God would permit my wife to be pregnant with three babies, knowing all three would die, we still held onto the promises of Scripture that He is good, He is loving, He works all things out for the good of those who love Him – and – even if in His divine plan He would not add another child to our home, we had Jesus and Jesus was more than enough for us. 

In Luke 9:62, Jesus says, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God.”. My wife and I decided to focus on what was ahead for our family instead of being stuck in the past of what happened. And while the lamenting of what happened will continue to be with us, the hope of an answered prayer helped keep us from being lesser versions of ourselves for our children, our friends, our church and our community. 

I made a Nazarite vow (Numbers 6:5) with God on September 1st, 2020. I was not going to cut my hair until the Lord brought a baby into our family. This was not an ultimatum to the Lord, my God is not a genie. This was a reminder for me to pray to the Lord, because, my God is faithful. 

And the hair did not look pretty. 

Being a pastor at a church with 3 worship services, I got asked weekly what was going on with my hair, when was I going to cut my hair, did I own a mirror, did my wife approve of what was going on with my hair – and all of it were reminders to pray for a baby. 

Of the triplets that died and are now with the Lord, the third of three babies that was born lived for 17 hours. We thoroughly enjoyed the time we had with him. We named our son Samuel Dominic. Samuel, meaning, “God heard” and Dominic meaning “of the Lord”. Hang onto that name.

In mid-August this year, my wife and I spent 10 days in Kenya serving the impoverished and encouraging missionaries. Part of our time there was visiting schools of children who were given the gift of education, nutrition, medical care and spiritual training through an amazing mission our church supports. 

On one of the days were were touring a school, the school was actually on a break. All of the students were gone. But, for some reason, there was one 5th grade class that was meeting in-person to catch up on their studies. At this school, of the 27 classes, only one was on campus. On campus on this particular day we were visiting, there was one head teacher (the principal), one teacher, one class. 

When we walked into the classroom we were greeted by the students with big smiles. They welcomed us. They cheered for us. They sang for us. And they recited a memory verse for us, Proverbs 19:21, which says: 

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”

My wife and I introduced ourselves and answered all the questions this class had. Then we asked them to introduce themselves and we learned that the school’s principal’s name was Samuel. 

Then we learned that the only teacher on campus that day’s name was Dominic.

Samuel. Dominic. 

And my wife and I cried in the classroom.

We cried due to a mixture of emotions. On one side we were looking back at a reminder of the pain that we went through. On the other side, it was a stark, obvious reminder that our God was working. Meeting Samuel and Dominic at a school where only one class was meeting encouraged us. It was as if God was whispering, “I’m still making all things good for you”. 

We were able to share our story of pain with the classroom as a testimony to the memory verse they recited for us that they might have big dreams and plans, but no matter how it all unfolds, Jesus must be held onto tightly because it is truly God’s purpose that will prevail. 

We landed back in the States on a Wednesday at 2:00pm. At 8:00pm the same day we received a call from our adoption agency that a birthmom in Texas had chosen us to adopt her baby. 

The day we got this news was September 1st, 2021. Exactly a year after I had decided not to cut my hair. 

6 hours after being back home, we were told that a birthmom had chosen us to adopt her baby and that she was scheduled to have a C-section the following Wednesday and that we were to be present for the birth. 

Wow! Our God is so amazing. It gets crazier. 

The next morning after finding out we were going to be parents again, I’m mowing our backyard due to be gone for 10 days, and I get a phone call again from our adoption agency letting us know the birthmom went into labor and gave birth to a child earlier that morning and that we were to get to Texas ASAP. 

Without even being able to think, we threw clothes into bags, grabbed our two daughters and boarded a plane to Texas. Our daughters were going to miss their first day of school but they were not going to miss out on this adventure. 

After connecting flights, a rental car and some more driving, we arrived at a small town hospital in central Texas. We were given our own hospital room as the sweet nurses of the hospital rolled a newborn baby girl into our presence. Instantly we became a family of five. 

Two days later the birthmom courageously signed the baby girl over to our guardianship to raise her in our loving home and we were able to name her. 

As with all of the previous five children we’ve been honored to name, we have prayerfully given Scriptural meaning and truth to our kids names. Not only do we see that the names of people in the Bible have meaning, it’s also a daily reminder to us of those Scriptural truths to us and our children. 

We have named this beautiful baby girl Raphaela Jean. 

Raphaela means: “God heals”. While Jesus alone brings the only true healing in the brokenness we experience, Raphaela’s presence immediately brought elation, gratitude and joy. God has already worked through her to help heal us. 

Jean means: “God is gracious”. He is so gracious. We don’t deserve another child. We don’t deserve a story of adventure like this to share with others. We don’t deserve another testimonial example of how faithful God is and yet we have these things because He is gracious.

Raphaela Jean. God heals and is gracious.

And that’s what we would want you to know in whatever pain and confusion you are grieving. God does heal and He is gracious. He will heal the brokenness you carry and even when it seems the pain is taking so long to bear, it’s also healing to focus on the areas of our lives where He has been gracious to us. He has given us so much. 

6 hours after being back in America God brought healing and grace to us. 6 hours on a cross, Jesus brought healing and grace to the world.

My family and I are utterly grateful for the support of our community of faith, our church, the past year. They have uplifted us in prayer and encouragement and we can’t wait to share this miracle of God with them. 

Thanks for reading. You are so loved by God. 

Z

Helping a Loved One Grieve Through Their Miscarriage

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A miscarriage can be defined as the ending of a pregnancy, spontaneously, within 20 weeks after conception.  

Miscarriage is a topic hardly ever discussed. 

The March of Dimes Foundation reports that 10-15% of pregnancies conclude in a miscarriage. If the woman carrying is over 35 years old, the rate of a miscarriage is 25%. 

Chances are, there are women you know well, women you work with, women you live by, who have miscarried and have kept that emotional weight internally because they just don’t know how to talk about it.

Experiencing a miscarriage is an event that brings a deep level of confusion and sadness. With bewilderment and grief, most people keep the loss a secret. It’s taboo to discuss with even the closest people we know. 

My wife had never been pregnant before in our 13+ years of marriage and it’s been her dream, our dream, for her to conceive and experience a full-term pregnancy. 

Unable to become naturally pregnant or try in vitro fertilization, we were thankful for scientific advances that enabled us to pursue embryonic adoption, having frozen embryos placed in the uterus. 

Fittingly so, my wife and I received medical affirmation that she was with child for the first time while we were on vacation at Disney World, the most magical place on earth.   

10 weeks after conception, she miscarried. 

To add salt to the wound, the miscarriage occurred on August 22nd, which is referred to by parents as “Rainbow Day”. Rainbow day is a national day to reflect on the babies born after there has been a miscarriage, a still birth or the death of a child. It’s a day of hope for parents to look back on and see that the miscarriage wasn’t the ending, but that life came afterwards later on. 

This miscarriage was a first for her, a first for me. The shock and the loss for words and the ongoing demands of life that propelled us to move on without being able to move on was all fresh and awkward. 

As a husband who was in pain, but not close to the pain my wife’s body, mind and heart was going through, I offer this wisdom and these practical ways to help anyone you love who is going through the same ordeal, to heal. 

Don’t analyze or counsel right away.

After my wife and I were married for five years, we found out we were infertile. Immediately after that news from the doctor, I began the paperwork toward infant-adoption as a way to start our family. 

I did not allow my wife to grieve the dream she had most of her life to become naturally pregnant. Yes, the option of adoption was a good one, but to shift over quickly to it without giving space to process the purging of her dream was not wise. 

There is something innate in us that wants to solve our loved ones problems. We think fixing is helping. But offering solutions too quickly after painful news does not allow the person to express their emotions, work through their grief in time, and even feel validated for their anguish. 

When a wife comes to a husband with her pain or guilt or fear over anything, the husband is just supposed to listen. Just listen, and not solve. The wife just wants to be heard, and husbands, or any friend with the woman, can work on that. 

Pamper her so she has space to grieve. 

When a miscarriage occurs, life does not stop to wait until the woman is ready to move on. Life moves on. Work, chores, a family’s schedule, worship, errands – they do not wait for anyone. 

A couple weeks after the miscarriage, I called a fancy hotel suite, booked a room, packed a bag for my wife and when she got home from work, sent her off to her hotel for an evening to herself. 

She relaxed in a jacuzzi in her room, ordered room service for dinner, with extra desserts and watched shows she never gets to watch due to the demands of our family.

And she cried and cried.
The time to herself allowed her to release tears. 

The next morning I scheduled a massage for her to help with how tense she had been. 

Pampering her did not heal everything in her heart, but it did give her space to stop, pause and grieve. 

Encourage her to share the miscarriage with a female friend. 

Writer Kendra Hurley for The New York Times reports that 40% of women who experience a miscarriage say that afterwards, for months, they felt very alone. 

There is a false sense of guilt that can rise up in a woman when she miscarries. All of us want to figure out why things happen the way they do, but miscarriages are so confusing and mostly unexplainable, and with the physical and emotional toll that comes with it, it can bring unnecessary, harmful shame. 

It is so difficult to have friendships that break through below the surface. Very few people have friendships they’re not related to where they can go to someone and share devastation. 

The way a friendship deepens is when one friend decides bravely to share their brokenness and the receiving friend listens, grieves with them, hugs them and checks in on them. 

Gently, just a couple times, I encouraged my wife to reach out to a friend she trusted to share the miscarriage news. She did, soon after, reach out to a close friend.

Talking about it made it real, which made it something to heal from, which deepened the friendship she already had. I am very thankful to that friend of ours who took time to simply being a friend. 

Schedule a photographer for family photos.

One of the damaging things pain can elicit is tunnel vision. Through devastating news we become so fixated on the trial that it’s all we look at, think about, dwell on. We become obsessed with it and it begins to own us.

While miscarriage pain should be acknowledged, it will only lead to more isolation and depressive moods if it’s only acknowledged. 

Meaning, there is so much to be thankful for. 

My wife and I have been infertile our entire relationship. But, through God’s hand of providence, and through the sacrificial generosity of two birth-mothers, we have two daughters we adopted from birth. We have an amazing family. Only the Lord could have knitted us all together in the way and timing He has. 

To remind my wife of that, we scheduled family photos outside on a beautiful day. We got our beautiful girls dressed up in multiple outfits and had our picture taken by a professional photographer over the course of a couple hours. 

Having those pictures printed and looked at, it brought smiles to our faces how adorably amazing our lives are. The miscarriage was a signifiant event, but it was not the only thing going on in our lives. 

If there are no children in the family where miscarriage occurs, family photos as a couple, or with a pet can also be therapeutic. 

If not a photos option, there are other creative ways to redirect the thoughts of someone who has lost a pregnancy to thoughts of gratitude. 

Pray for God to strengthen her increasingly.

A miscarriage is an event that never fully heals. It leaves a permanent scar. The high level of excitement that comes with news of being pregnant combined with the devastation of news that the pregnancy is no more is something that is unforgettable. 

But, she can be strengthened. By God. 

As Christians, people who love Jesus, my wife and I firmly believe that God works all things out  for our good. When we love God, we aren’t handed an easy life, but through suffering and heartache God promises good to come out of it. 

Our response is to wait and trust Him. 

When our daughters are afraid at night from something, or they’re in pain, my wife and I will sing this song to them while holding them closely: 

When I am afraid, I will trust in You,
I will trust in You,
I will trust in You.
When I am afraid I will trust in You,
And all my fears will wash away.  

Weeks after the miscarriage, I wrote in magic marker on our master bathroom mirror Psalm 56:3-4, which says, 

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. I praise God for what He has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?” (Psalm 56:3-4)

The healing power of God’s Spirit can begin to patch together the heart that’s been broken by a miscarriage and, simultaneously, infuse hope for dreams to remain alive and good to come out of what is broken. Pray for her. 

Thank for reading. You are loved (and, if there is love and trust in your relationships, reach out to a loved one to see if they’ve ever experienced a miscarriage and if they’d like to talk about it). 

Z