Revive Our Hearts Radio

It Is Well

Leslie Basham: Nine months into her pregnancy, Sarah Vroegop woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t feel her baby move. She and her husband, Mark, found themselves in the doctor’s office the next day.

Mark Vroegop: In the monitor, I could see her heart, and could see that it was not moving. I could see everything else . . . I felt, “I can’t even believe that this happened.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, May 7.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Our guests on Revive Our Hearts this week are reminding us that, “Hard is hard, but hard is not necessarily bad.” I want to welcome back to the program Pastor Mark Vroegop, who pastors College Park Church in Indianapolis, and his wife, Sarah.

They are dear friends of Revive Our Hearts and our parent ministry, Life Action Ministries. In fact, Mark serves on our board. They’ve been real encouragers of Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement. I’m so thankful they’re here with us in the studio this week, to talk about a hard journey they’ve been on as a family and how God has been in the process of redeeming that.

Mark and Sarah, thank you so much for being willing to share out of your lives with what—I know—is really speaking to our listeners.

Sarah Vroegop:  Thank you. We’re happy to be here.

Mark: We’re grateful to be here.

Nancy: “Hard is hard,” and talking about hard is hard, we left off at a really hard place yesterday. Just to re-cap, the Lord blessed you with, first, the birth of twin boys, and a few years later, the birth of another son. Then you started going through some difficult seasons with a couple of miscarriages. Then there was a pregnancy that seemed to be going well . . . then you came to the very last weeks of that pregnancy.

Just re-cap for us, Sarah, as you came to the end of that pregnancy. It was a Sunday night, about time to deliver, and then you have this difficult night of realizing the baby wasn’t moving. Pick up for us what happened from there.

Sarah: Sure. It was a Sunday night, and we had both fallen asleep. I remember waking up about midnight, and something did not seem right. The baby just didn’t feel right; the baby felt heavy inside of me, and I was struggling significantly emotionally.

I got up out of bed, and basically for the entire night, I tried to get the baby to move. I just started wrestling with feeling like something was very wrong. Since this was my third pregnancy, I knew I felt very different than I had ever felt before.

Nancy: The baby had been moving a lot prior to that time.

Sarah: Absolutely, yes.

Nancy: And now the baby wasn’t moving at all.

Sarah: The baby had been showing very normal activity, and then I’d had a couple episodes where the baby was moving way too much—frantic inside of me. I had gone to the hospital to get things checked out and then had been released, and I thought everything was okay.

So, here I was in the middle of the night on this Sunday night, just pleading with the Lord to make this baby move. I almost felt like the Lord was preparing me. I was alone, my family was all asleep, it was dark, and I was walking around the house, trying to get the baby to move.

Finally, five o’clock came around, and I decided I needed to get Mark up and let him know that I’d been up all night, so I woke him up.

Mark: At this point, there’s this incredible fear running through her soul and through mine, feeling like God had been preparing us for something. In my soul I cried, “Lord, please not this.” I’d never had that sense of just getting on my knees before the Lord and pleading, “Lord, not this trial, not this issue, not my wife, not this baby . . . no, no, no, no, no.”

Then we made the trip to the doctor’s office, and he gets out the little heartbeat monitor.

Sarah: Always, with all my pregnancies, every time I would go to get that heart-rate checked, they would always put that thing right on me, and I could always hear that heartbeat immediately. He put it on there, and it was completely silent. For me, that was all I needed for confirmation. I knew. I kind of had known and had been processing that all day.

When he put the monitor on there, and there was no heartbeat, the silence was awful.

Mark: He kept looking and looking and looking. You’re praying, “Lord, let there just be this little, ‘ku-sha, ku-sha, ku-sha,'" and there’s nothing. That was really hard.

Sarah: Yes . . . that’s when I fell apart; I became frantic. Mark was holding me. This was the first time my doctor had been through anything quite like this. He said, “Okay, let’s not panic. I need to go get my nurses ready for an ultrasound.” So he left.

They got me settled down and took me into the ultrasound room. It was at that point that the doctor prepped me for an ultrasound. I couldn’t look at the monitor; Mark did. Our doctor said the thing that all doctors hate to say—“I’m sorry, but your baby is deceased.” Those were the words that hit Mark really, really hard.

Mark: In the monitor I could see her heart and could see that it was not moving. I could see everything else. I felt, I can’t even believe that this happened. So then I was thinking, Okay, what’s next? What do I do to get my family through this? Then I found out that we need to make an appointment and get to the hospital because Sarah needed to bear this child.

And I said to the doctor, “You mean, she has to go through labor?”

And he said, “Yeah.”

I just thought, You’re kidding me. My wife has to go through labor for a baby who’s not even alive? It was just unthinkable that that would be the case.

Sarah: Our doctor is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, a godly man who has a relationship with the Lord. He was broken, very sad. As I had said, he had never experienced this before. He just looked at us, and he said, “I’m so sorry.” The Lord had already started pouring out incredible amounts of grace on me.

I felt terrible because my husband was just falling apart, and I’m already receiving this unbelievable amount of grace. I looked at my doctor and I said, “It’s okay . . . we believe in a sovereign God, and we’ll make it through this. He’s chosen this for us.” It was at that point that the very fast ball starts rolling of, “What’s next?”

Mark: God’s grace on Sarah at that moment was so incredible, because—literally—as we’re walking out of the doctor’s office (I don’t know if Sarah remembers this or not), we had gotten to the door. Some well-meaning lady saw her coming out and saw the look on her face. She came up to Sarah and grabbed her shoulders said, “Honey, it’s okay. You can make it. Everything’s going to be okay. You’re going to deliver that baby soon.”

Of course, she didn’t know. Inside my brain I’m thinking, You obviously have no idea! Sarah just looked at her and smiled and said, “Thank you.” If the lady would have known what was going on, she would have just felt terrible. God was giving Sarah so much mercy.

As we were driving home, the song came,

When peace like a river attendeth my way;
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
"It is well; it is well with my soul."

At that point, there’s just silence in the car. All these cars are going past us the other way, and we’re just thinking, All these people have normal, pain-free lives, and here we are. Our whole world was rocked.

And then we thought, Okay, so now we have to tell our children. How do we bear this pain with them? It was overwhelming. The waves of grief were so huge—but the waves of mercy were also huge. It was this constant barrage of both, simultaneously.

Nancy: So you headed home before going back to the hospital.

Sarah: Yes, we made that trip home. As a mom, not only am I grieving, having just lost my baby, but I have to go home and tell my three kids their sibling has passed away, and we would need to go to the hospital.

Nancy: How old were your children then?

Sarah: The twins were eight and Jeremiah was five.

Nancy: So they were old enough to be really excited about having another baby.

Sarah: Yes, they were anticipating . . . We kind of thought it would be another boy at that point (I wasn’t even sure I was capable of having a girl), so we did a lot of praying on the way home. Before we even walked into the house, the Lord just gave us the words and the grace to deal with this, but also to help our kids through this.

We gathered them around, and at that point my mom was still there and a friend had come over. She knew I was going to be delivering, and she was going to clean my house for me, so she was there. We walked in, and my mom saw us. She recognized the look on our faces and said, “What happened?”

I fell into my mom’s arms and said, “Mom, the baby has died.” My mom kind of collapsed. I held her up, and I said, “Mom, we’ve got to help the kids through this.” My mom did what she does. She went upstairs and just started praying.

We gathered our kids in the living room, and I don’t know where our friend Jo was at the time. She was somewhere in the house, probably praying. We gathered the boys and sat them down. I think you, Mark, told them.

Mark: Yes. As a pastor, I have told a lot of people that their relatives have died, but this was . . . this was . . . their little eyes were looking at me. I said, “Boys, I don’t know how to tell you this, but the baby in mommy’s tummy has died. Jesus has chosen this for our family.”

At that point, they just cried and they jumped into Mom’s lap. I think they thought the baby was gone. Then we had to explain that we have go to the hospital and Mommy has to deliver this baby, and there were lots of questions. And then we went upstairs—I’ll never forget this—Sarah had bags packed because at any moment the baby could come.

So she pulls out this bag that had been all prepared for the baby’s arrival and asked, “What do I do with this?” She’s pulling out little onesies. I didn’t know what you do with this stuff. Oh my goodness, it was so hard and so painful. Then there’s the web of people. Right now, it’s just a small group that begins to know, and then we call other family members and church staff and start to let people know what’s happened.

We went to the hospital delivery room. Sarah moves into the delivery room, and it’s a very challenging scenario. You’re about to deliver a dead baby in the midst of a unit that delivers live babies. There’s a particular card that the hospital puts on the door that indicates a stillbirth. I knew that card and that room, because I’d been in that room before with other families.

When Sarah went into that room, God gave her a lot of grace . . . she went right in. But when I went over the threshold of that room, my legs literally gave out. There were two of our pastors who were there with me. I’ll never forget, they literally carried me across the threshold into this delivery room. It was a beautiful picture of the body of Christ just coming around me, which was the first of millions of examples of how the body of Christ loved us in the darkest moments of our life.

God is pouring out all this grace on Sarah. She has the presence of mind that she prepared little gift bags for each of our kids. She took those with her, because she knew that her kids would be there. She wanted to be sure that they were blessed and had some positive thing in the midst of all this, so she’s still thinking about and loving on our living kids while still carrying a child that’s not alive. It was an amazing level of grace that God was giving her.

Sarah: The Lord was pouring out a lot of grace on me. I remember my mind swirling with things, getting us to the hospital. My mom said, “I’ll just stay home with the kids.” But I just couldn’t bear the thought of being without my children. This “mother hen” thing came over me, and I just needed all of my kids with me.

I said, “No, I need them—we need to stick together.” That’s also probably when a lot of fear began happening—fear that I was going to lose more children if I didn’t keep an eye on my three boys. “No one’s going to watch them like me.” I desperately wanted them at the hospital with me. I didn’t want them to have to go through this alone.

I knew the boys were fearful about something happening to me. They weren’t old enough to fully understand that I was okay, that baby was just not well. That’s why we decided to take them to the hospital with us.

Nancy: Mark, as you said, you’ve been there with other families, before and since. Now that you’ve been through this experience yourself—and we’re going to continue the rest of this story on the next program—what’s one thing you say to parents at a time like this, that you realize now is core, foundational, really true?

Mark: There are three things that come to mind. The first is the power of personal presence. More than even saying anything, just the fact that you’re there. Secondly is simply communicating and entering into their grief and saying, “I am so sorry.” I think those two things, in and of themselves, are incredibly meaningful.

The truth that God is good in the midst of difficulty is something I would share as well, but I’m really cautious about my timing. I think it’s really important to enter into their grief and not feel like we need to explain it and that we need to provide all of the right-thinking pieces.

There certainly is a need for that, but I think the entering into the grief, the walking into the valley of the shadow of death with somebody is really, really important. So, how I’ve changed personally is, I say a lot less; I cry a lot more. I just say, “I’m really, really sorry, and I’m here.” I point people to Jesus by virtue of presence and identification with their sorrow.

Nancy: And by being there and identifying with their sorrow, that’s a means of God drawing close to that person. Isn’t that communicating the heart of God, who is there with them in the valley of the shadow of death and who grieves our losses and carries those burdens with us.

Mark: I’ve said before to our people, and I believe it’s so true, that the time to prepare for suffering is before suffering. That’s when all these truths of God’s goodness and His purposes, and all these things—that storehouse of having all of that there—it’s a really important part of our spiritual formation.

Hard things are going to come. So, I’m really grateful in our life that God had graciously started preparing us. Because by the time we got to that point—we were grieving, we were hurting—but we were ready for this season of our life, as we look back on it now. It was hard, but we knew it wasn’t bad. But it was still really, really hard.

Nancy: Well, there’s more “hard” to come in this story, and it’s hard to listen to, probably, especially for families who have been through this kind of experience. But I hope you will join us, because in the midst of the darkness, God is giving His light and His grace. He’s bringing beauty out of ashes and gold out of that which seems to be so, so difficult.

So, please, do join us again as we continue this conversation with Mark and Sarah Vroegop, the next time on Revive Our Hearts.

Leslie: If you missed any of that moving conversation between the Vroegops and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com, or order the CD. The series is called "When a Heartbeat Goes Silent." You can order the series on CD at ReviveOurHearts.com.

While you’re at the website, you can also order a copy of a music CD that will bring you comfort during life’s most trying situations. Nancy’s back to tell you about it.

Nancy: The story we’re hearing this week from Mark and Sarah Vroegop is heart-wrenching. Often I find myself in a position of not being sure how to minister to a friend or to an acquaintance who’s going through a really difficult season. You want to encourage them, you want to pray for them and with them and to let them know you’re carrying them on your heart.

In recent years, I have found a resource that has been a really meaningful gift to people going through a really hard time. It’s actually a lullaby CD called Hidden in My Heart. We’ve talked about it on Revive Our Hearts before and offered it to our listeners. So many listeners have told us that this is a really special CD. It’s basically Scripture set to music.

This CD has ministered so deeply to my own heart in some of the valleys that I’ve walked through in recent years. It’s also been a great way to minister to others who are experiencing some sort of affliction. That’s why I’m so glad to let you know that this CD, Hidden in My Heart, now has a second volume, and it’s just as good as the first one.

Here’s a short sample from Hidden in My Heart, volume 2:

Music from Hidden in My Heart:

Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed for I am here,
I am your God . . . I am here.

Nancy: I think you can see why this is something that can calm and encourage your own heart, as well as perhaps being a meaningful gift you could share with someone else. We’d like to send you a copy of Hidden in My Heart, volume 2. So when you send a gift of any amount to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we’ll be glad to send you that CD.

I want you to know that your gift matters a lot, especially at this time of year. That’s because, at the end of May, our team wraps up another accounting year, and that’s when evaluate our financial situation. We make plans for the year ahead, based on how the Lord has provided.

In order to end this fiscal year in a healthy position, we’re asking the Lord to provide at least $350,000 in donations during the month of May. We’ve been given some great opportunities to get Revive Our Hearts on the air in some new cities, so that we can share more biblical truth with more women.

The other opportunity we want to pursue has to do with connecting better with women via social media, and by delivering content to mobile devices. Now, $350,000 in a month would be a huge month for us, but meeting this goal, or even surpassing it, will have a big effect on whether we can move forward in some of these areas.

Would you ask the Lord how He would like you to be involved in helping us to meet this goal? Would you pray that the Lord would provide in His time and in His way? If you’ve never given to Revive Our Hearts before, would you consider making a special gift to help meet this need, this month?

When you contact us, be sure to ask for the CD, Hidden in My Heart. I really believe this CD will minister to you in a sweet way, as it has to me and to so many of my friends. Ask for the CD when you call us at 1-800-569-5959, or visit us online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: Thank you, Nancy. Tomorrow, we’ll again hear from Sarah and Mark Vroegop. Mark says, when you go through pain, you might experience conflicting emotions.

Mark: I think God in His Word gives us the grace to live in this dual world between, “God, I know you’re in control . . . but this really stinks. I know You have loving ends . . . but I don’t want this in my life.”

Leslie: Hear more of this story on the next Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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