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A Satisfied Soldier

My house is quiet. It’s early and my scruffy seven-year-old and sleeping beauty nine-year-old haven’t stirred yet. We live in a three-bedroom house, just big enough for our family. My mind imagines all the little puffy feet that I will never hear pitter-pattering on my floors, all the mouths I will never wipe and the sticky hugs I will never receive.


At Christmas we hang four stockings above the fireplace, it’s just big enough for four. It would buckle under the weight of all the stockings I know belong above the hearth.


My eyes rest on the family picture of the four of us holding each other’s hands. I can almost see the six tiny missing pairs of hands holding onto ours. In every family picture we just look so small, it always feels like someone is missing.




When we moved to Oklahoma back in 2020 I was facing the grief of realizing we needed to stop trying to have another baby, for my own health. After the healthy birth of my son in 2016 we had gone on to experience three miscarriages in twelve months. One of those pregnancies being twins. The physical and emotional trauma of losing four babies in twelve months was overwhelming.


But I still moved to Oklahoma with my stroller, pack and play and maternity clothes. Hope can be a stubborn thing.


This last week we hosted a yard sale where I finally dug out the baby items and maternity clothes and stuck price tags on each item. Selling my hope for something different – acceptance.


Others may look at my family with my two miracle children and see an All-American crew. A mom and dad with a daughter and a son. What they don’t see is that our family is huge, much bigger than this three-bedroom house we occupy. It’s been about six years since I recovered from my last miscarriage, and it still feels like I’m missing something when we load up the car or lay out plates for dinner.


Losing Hope, Mercy, Glory, Faith, Joy and Wonder has taught me as much about motherhood as raising Daphne and Levi has.


Motherhood never really looks the way you assume it will. Even if you have never experienced the longing or loss of a child, motherhood is always a shocking dip in the ice-cold bath of reality.


I accept that my family doesn’t look like how I hoped it would. But that acceptance didn’t kill my hope. It made room for worship. My hope is still alive and well because one day I will be singing the hymn of heaven with the children I never held in the full presence of God.


When I sing to the Lord here on earth, I imagine all of our voices mingled together in one beautiful ensemble. The Wagner family of ten worshipping the Lord together, some of us in heaven and some of us here on earth. Heaven is so much closer than it feels.


The longing and grief are with me for the rest of my life, but they feel like old friends now. We glance at each other and have a whole conversation with our misty eyes. We hear the phantom pitter-pattering of feet, we notice the missing stockings on the mantel, we close our eyes and imagine what a family picture with all ten of us would look like now - and then we lock arms and together tell our story. Hope and grief at the same table.


We must grieve, yes. But we do not grieve without hope. Hope might feel like anger, longing, confusion or pain - but it is still hope. The anchor for our souls is not hope in children or families, its hope in God Almighty.


A God that will never leave us even when we are angry at Him.

A God that will never forsake us even when it feels like He is withholding.

The giver of every good and perfect gift, even if it doesn’t seem like a gift.


This hope is a confidence not that God will give me everything I want or even protect me from everything that hurts, but a confidence that God will satisfy me both in plenty and in want. I am a satisfied soldier in the army of mothers who can grieve and praise at the same time, knowing that they don’t cancel one another out. Until heaven I will tell this story of hope. On the outside it might look like disappointment but trust me when I tell you, it is a hope that has never disappointed me.


“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

Psalm 34:18



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May 11

This is powerful!


May 11

Beautiful, Rachel! Simply elegant! You have grown so very much! Love you and looking forward to all the big things you do! Go publish!

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