Monday, December 28, 2009

Better days ahead

Without getting into too much detail, suffice to say that I'm fairly confident that I'm finally on the downhill side of what has felt like history's longest miscarriage. I'm so, so thankful. I was curled up on the floor wrapped in a quilt after church yesterday, crying my eyes out because it's been exhausting to have it draw out this long, to keep being reminded of what's happening and what we've lost. I've been so afraid that the time is coming near when I'll have to draw a deadline for myself and agree to medical intervention...which I did NOT want. So it appears that God answered "yes" to my prayer that it would progress naturally. I know that if He said "no," then it would be for a purpose and He would carry me through that, too. But I might have had a temper tantrum along the way and it would have been uglier than necessary.

Christmas was wonderful. We went to my aunt and uncle's house north of here and saw most of the family. Only once did I come close to crying, when one of my aunts hugged me really tightly. I couldn't help but keep asking myself during different parts of the day, "Is THIS when we would have told everyone? What would that have BEEN like? How COOL would that have been?" On Saturday Matt and I were drinking tea and hot chocolate at JP's, and I remembered that I would have been ten weeks that day. Just about out of the proverbial first-trimester woods. Anticipating starting to show soon. Why is there no end to the tears I can produce?

But it was not meant to be, and now I look forward to seeing what IS meant to be.

We had a fabulous day checking out the sales downtown on Saturday, ate lunch at a fancy restaurant (we had a coupon, don't be too impressed) went to a movie, and played games at home. We bought ski equipment for Matt and tried it out around the neighborhood under a delightful snowfall yesterday. I have Matt and Molly and a great family and amazing friends. My Glory Baby is in heaven celebrating Christmas with the King of kings. We miss that little one that we had already grown to love. But we're so excited to see what will come next.

So thank you for your prayers and support. This experience showed us that God can mobilize an army and uplift us with the prayers of other people. What a grand thing to see and experience! Please pray that in the months ahead we might have another joy...and one that will be healthy and strong (and, um, THERE) and that we'll be able to hold and love.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Sorry I had to keep my last entry so heavy-hearted, but I worked this weekend and haven't had a chance to update it. I'm on my way out the door pretty soon but wanted to give a quick update.

My hormone levels continue to rise, but the increases are slowing down, so at some point they need to start dropping and I'm hoping that's real soon!! One thing that encourages me about that is that my body clearly is strong and healthy and doing whatever it can to support a pregnancy (although there is nothing to support). I find comfort in this! I'm so thankful that I am so fearfully and wonderfully made that my body is trying to do what it was made to do...even if it's a little, um, slow on the uptake.

I worked this weekend, but felt great - physically and emotionally. Of course I remain sad that my little one is no longer with me, but God's peace is so abundant.

Today I continue to feel great. I went skiing and scrambled to do some last-minute Christmas things.

I really want to point out that if I say that I'm doing well, I'm doing well. I was telling a friend last week that I'm a lousy actress: I'm not all that great at hiding what I'm feeling! If I'm sad, I'm fully sad and am unable to hide my tears. But if I'm feeling well and at peace and happy, it's not a facade. My smile is not fake, my laughter is genuine, my mood is exactly how I feel. There are times when I feel like I have to spend more energy trying to "convince" others that what I'm feeling is genuine and acceptable - whether it's a good or a bad day. My good days are not days in which I'm in denial. I can't deny what's going on at all. I can't deny my disappointment. But I love life too much to not continue enjoying it.

Anyway, I'm off to a birthday party, so I need to scoot - thank you soooo much for all the prayers and encouragement. I know my roller coaster will continue, so I continue to covet your prayers and encouragement!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

One of those days...

There are days that are much better than others...yesterday was one of those days. Things are easily in perspective, my spirits are up, speaking Truth to myself comes easily.

Then there are the other days. My mind intellectually still knows and reflects on Truth and an appropriate perspective. But I'm gray. My mind is a blank, gray slate. Things take twice as long to get done. I'm forcing myself to live and enjoy my day.

Today is one of those days.

I cry. I fight with my husband. I make no sense. My body still thinks it's pregnant and I yell at it (that does a lot of good). My thoughts are a scramble and it takes everything in my power to take them captive under Christ's authority.

I'm grieving and feeling every shred of it. I should be nine weeks tomorrow and raving like a pregnant, hormonal lunatic. Not raving like a miscarrying, hormonal lunatic.

Am I just being dramatic? Should I just get over it? It was, after all, nothing. Like, I'm grieving the loss of...nothing, save for what I THOUGHT was there.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A balm to my soul

I drove sweet Carinna to school this morning (Matt usually hogs her....but I guess that's because her school IS on the way to work for him). A balm to my soul.

Kristin and I went out for coffee last night, and were in absolute hysterics over the live music that was playing at the coffee shop. The place where we went attracts a crowd of an...older vintage, if you will. "The Silvertones" were providing the entertainment, suspenders, Santa hats, and accordians to even winked at me when I walked in. A crowd of seniors flanked the Silvertones, clapping gaily in rhythm. One lady in festive red sweatpants was knitting a celebratory blue scarf. We were amused. Greatly.

Another balm to my soul.

Carinna's mom called me this morning after I dropped Carinna off at school. Sandra and God are like bark on a tree. Her relationship with Him is so profound that I can't find words to describe it. The things that she has been through have given her no choice but to rely completely and wholly on Him (shouldn't we all??). Anyway, Sandra is in seminary and was writing a final paper, and God was bugging her so much about this particular verse (she calls it "holy harassment") that she had no choice but to call me and pray it over me. When Sandra prays, things happen. Like, immediately. It's amazing. If faith like a mustard seed can move mountains, Sandra's faith in God can scootch the entire universe. This tiny, gentle woman takes the Word of God and wields it with unabashed authority when she prays.

God harassed her until she gave me this verse:

I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called...(Ephesians 4:1)

God has called me to this place. I have a duty to uphold. If I crumple, and allow bitterness and anger and anxiety and fear to take root in my heart, bad news. That's not to say I can't FEEL those things, but I may not allow them to take up residence. God has given me an opportunity. I didn't ask for it. I thought my opportunity was to bear a child, and I liked THAT opportunity. But it's what He gave me, and given that He created the universe and knows my heart better than I do, I guess He has the authority to give me what He sees fit. So I have a choice - turn inward and get nasty, or ask Him what it means to walk in a manner worthy of this deal to which I have been called.

...with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

God laid on Sandra's heart to tell me that I am very adept at loving people, but I am not loving in circumstances. Huh. I need to seek Him on what He means by that. I have a suspicion I get it (I tend to unravel, and listen to the untrue things I tell myself instead of replacing them with Truth), but I'll have to press into it a little harder.

God is the God of life...and death. He conquered death. Death has NO VICTORY over those who put their trust in Him. He created this baby for the express purpose of taking him or her home in order to glorify Himself. This baby had a purpose...even if the child didn't develop into one we could see, God is using it for His glory.

So if me (and Matt, I'm not trying to leave him out here) going through this trial is a means by which ONE person catches a better glimpse of Christ and who He is and His magnificence, then I'm so, so grateful. I DON'T like it. Yesterday was a REALLY tough day, alone with my thoughts and my grief. I'm heartbroken and scared and frustrated. I wish I were still counting off each day and getting ready to spring some exciting news on my family at Christmas. But that simply was not to be, and I have no control over it.

His grace is sufficient, and it's all I need. Another balm to my soul.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A request...

Please, please, please pray that my body will take care of things naturally and I will NOT need a D&C. I'm in a weird time frame with Christmas approaching. I just canNOT handle the thought of a D&C right now. Thanks.

Getting going today

I'm having a hard time getting going today. And BTW, I'm not trying to be dramatic about this very common event. I just need to journal, and I type a lot faster than I write, so if you're bored by my ups and downs, I don't blame you and I don't expect people to read this with rapt fascination.

I'm struggling with feelings of dismay, anger, bitterness, and overall pessimism (I prefer to think of it as "realism" ;) ). I know the Truth behind it all, that God IS in control, things DO happen for a reason, and these are feelings that I have to sort through and process with that as my backdrop.

I feel duped. Like this pregnancy was some kind of cosmic joke. I remember in college when there were rooms full of girls with bridal magazines, planning away every detail of their wedding, down to the colors and flowers and shoes and hair clips and makeup...only they weren't even dating anyone. They were full-on planning something that didn't even exist.

Well, here I was with a fist full of positive pregnancy tests last month. Unless I'm really bad at math, my dates were spot-on. I know WAY too much about embryonic development and prayed over every cell that was forming every day (because I've taken care of the result of the problems that happen in those precious first weeks). The formation of the yolk sac and the gestational sac. Cells start to lie down the spinal column and the primitive brain. More cells start forming a four-chamber heart and teeny lungs. Like slowly putting on a jacket, they start to wrap up the sides and "zip up" in the front, containing the gut. And on and on and on. Every day, thousands of new brain cells are forming. I prayed diligently over each. Little. Cell.

You hem me in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

And then I find out that all I was praying for, thinking about, hoping about, worrying about...didn't even exist!!!

:( :( :(

Or did it? I fully believe life begins at conception. So SOMETHING was conceived; it just was too messy to become anything that we could see.

I guess I just feel kind of messy right now. I KNOW that all things work together for good. I KNOW He hears my cries and comforts the afflicted. I KNOW He uses all things for His glory. I GET that.

But I don't get what to do with my heart...or myself, for that matter. I get that this pregnancy is over and wasn't meant to be on this side of heaven. I get all that. I'm not throwing myself on the floor or even wondering "why me?" Because, why not me?? I can hardly expect only good things to happen and then pitch a fit when bad things happen. That's hardly in keeping with reality.

I just feel like something was a part of me....and now it's not...and when it left, a few of my brain cells went along with it. And I don't know what to do. I feel useless. And gypped. I took good care of myself to ensure a healthy for a growing baby. Started to plan and prepare...cautiously, but planning and preparing nonetheless.

For an empty sac.


I've learning life isn't an if/then statement. We tend to head in that direction.

If you eat this/exercise this much/yadda yadda, then you'll never get heart disease/cancer/you name it.

Yeah no, that doesn't always work that way.

If you take ___mg of hemma-hemma (insert whatever weird ingredient you want), then you'll never get hemma-hemma (insert whatever weird disease you think you'll never get from taking the first hemma-hemma).

Again, we don't have THAT much control.

So I'm not trying to say that I'm flummoxed because I took good care of myself, and then had it go awry. It just happens, and quite often it's nothing that could have been prevented. But's hard not to ask, why the heck did I even bother??

Because we're supposed to be good stewards of what we have, that's why. Not for a specific result, not to reap a reward (though we may), but because that's what you're supposed to do.

Anyway, I'm frustrated, feel discouraged, and wish things were different. But they're not, and I'll never have another December 16, 2009, so I better make the best of it.

Today is one day closer to a better day, right??

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Something about grief

So many people have remarked about that beautiful poem on my last post, that I have to clarify that those are beautiful song lyrics to the song "Glory Baby" by the band Watermark. It's from their album "All Things New," which is one of my favorite CD's. Watermark is a married couple, and they wrote the song after they had a miscarriage. I have always loved, loved, loved that song, and to be completely honest, something in my heart has long known that at some point I would identify with and treasure that song. I highly recommend downloading it and listening to it.

I just have to say something about grief or going through a hard time. It does no good to hold it in and let it rot your bones. Everyone has lost SOMETHING, whether it's something as silly as a pet gerbil or crushing as losing a spouse or a parent or a child. But we ALL know what that bitter cup of loss tastes like.

I've just chosen to talk about what's going on with us. In Sunday School this past weekend while we were taking prayer requests, I just blurted out that I'm having a miscarriage. Did I wonder if maybe that was just *too* personal, *too* graphic, *too* icky to talk about in Sunday School? You bet. Do I regret saying something? No way. The support was overwhelming. To be able to sit in church and cry openly was freeing. To receive hugs and cry with people who have experienced their own losses was comforting. To just be open about it was liberating.

I didn't think I'd want anyone at work to know. Didn't think I could handle all the questions and puppy-dog eyes. But they really did deserve to know why my face was so blank for two days and why I was grumpy. Once again, SO much support. God is SO kind. He let me work with one of my favorite people in the WORLD (Martine!!!), who is like the big sister I never had and my Mom-away-from-my-Mom, who cried and prayed with me the second I told her what was going on. The word spread quickly and people were encouraging and loving and shared their own experiences with me. One nurse - one that I hadn't told and didn't know that she knew - even gave me a "Willow Tree" angel and a card...I wrote "Glory Baby - 12/14/09" on it and now have a tangible memory of what would have been. It felt SO GOOD to be real. Why the heck WOULDN'T I be real? Because it's embarrassing? Because people might talk about me? So what? It's life. So live it.

If I hadn't told people, I would have stuffed my feelings and suffered quietly, lashed out at other people, and been a miserable wreck. I would never have had the opportunity to see how AMAZINGLY God works through other people and demonstrates His kindness. And THEY would have not had the opportunity to BE that kindness for me. It just does no good to build up our walls and pretend.

So we're going to be okay. Very disappointed to be sure, but it's just not in our control. If I depended on my circumstances to be the rudder of my ship, I'd have run aground a LONG time ago. The joy of the LORD is my strength - not the joy of my marriage, the joy of my friendships, the joy of my pregnancy or children, or anything...those will ALWAYS let me down. I might be let down by what God allows to happen, but HE never lets me down. He gives and He takes away, but He stays the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Goodbye, my sweet Glory Baby...

Lyrics by Watermark

Glory baby, you slipped away as fast as we could say
You were growing...what happened dear?
You disappeared on us,
Heaven will hold you before we do
Heaven will keep you safe until we're home with you...
Until we're home with you

But we'll miss you every day
Miss you in every way
But we know there is a day
When we will hold you
We will hold you
You'll kiss our tears away
When we're home to stay
Can't wait for the day when we will see you
We will see you
But baby let sweet Jesus hold you
'till mom and dad can hold you
You'll just have heaven before we do
You'll just have heaven before we do

Sweet little babies
It's hard to understand it 'cause we're hurting
We are hurting
But there is healing
And we know we're stronger people through the growing
And in knowing -
That all things work together for our good
And God works His purposes just like He said He would
Just like He said He would...

I can't imagine Heaven's lullabies
And what they must sound like
But I will rest in knowing Heaven is your home...
And it's all you'll ever know...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Glory Baby

We were keeping this under wraps for the most part, but I have to come clean: we're expecting.

Or so we think.

I had my first OB appointment yesterday. I'm quite certain of my dates, and accordingly, should be about 7 1/2 weeks along. Because I know and work with my OB, she shimmied me in for an ultrasound for a "peek." (Normally, I would not have needed one because I have a regular cycle and my dates aren't questionable, but to have an ultrasound at that point is quite common.)

There was nothing to see.

An empty gestational sac. Which was quite small.


My OB believes that my dates are "off." I believe they're not, but it IS possible that I'm a week-ish off. Because the sac was so little, she would not call it a blighted ovum or a miscarriage.

I had a hormone level drawn, and it was an appropriate level for someone who only had a sac well as an appropriate level for someone who is 1-2 weeks behind where I think I am.

She gives me a 50/50 chance that I may very well be pregnant. Another level will be drawn tomorrow to see if it's increasing appropriately. BUT, in the case of a blighted ovum, that would still reflect an appropriately increasing level, even though there's nothing there.

A blighted ovum is a fertilized egg that implants and starts to form a gestational sac and a placenta, but no baby grows inside. This is usually the result of a chromosomal abnormality that is bad enough that there's really no point in growing a baby at all. About 50% of miscarriages are the result of a blighted ovum. Unfortunately, it's a sticky wicket because the placenta is there, and the placenta is what produces the hormones, so your bloodwork can make it appear that all is well. The gestational sac can even grow, even with nothing inside of it.

BUT - I know people who were told they had a blighted ovum and a few weeks later there was a thriving, healthy little bambino in there.

Maybe God has our baby tucked so tightly in His hem that we just couldn't see it.

Either way, we wait. Either way, His glory will be displayed, whether He knits this child together, or He walks with us through a valley. Either way, it's a win-win situation for this baby: either he or she gets a ticket straight to heaven from the closest place on earth TO heaven...or he or she gets to grow and thrive and live. And I want what's best for him or her.

Either way, I get a child to hold in my arms in July...or a glory baby to hold in my arms in heaven.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Decking the Halls

When I was growing up, decorating for Christmas was an Olympic event. My mom has SO many Christmas decorations, and she has a stack of pictures to help her remember where each thing goes...even the "centerpiece" on the toilet!!!!! Our black lab even had a Christmas collar with holly berries on it. It was very fun, very festive, and an all-day event.

Our house is kind of small, so it clutters very easily. Christmas decorating doesn't take all that long in my little 1940 Cape Cod, but it sure is fun. I just have a few little areas that I jazz up, and I like to enjoy the details. And I REALLY love glitter!!

Here are some fun closeups of my faves from the tree (LOVE my snowflake garland I got several years ago at Crate & Barrel!)...

I have to interrupt my reverie here to let you know that as I write this, it's snow-globe snowing outside!! I'm like a little kid when it starts snowing like that!!

Last year we bought a hutch at a cottage-antique store, which we use as a book shelf and game storage. I found this decorative berry thingy in Shipshewana for 50% off, and I bought the star lights several years ago at Target.

I kind of invented this centerpiece in the kitchen...Matt says it looks like a scary octopus, but I don't care. It's glittery.

My grandpa made the little wooden mailbox for me when I was a really little girl. I love pulling it out each year and thinking of him. It's so simple, but so special to me.

And finally, the best part of Christmas decorating...

Need I say more??

Soak in the Christmas season...not the presents, not the decorations, not the commercials, not being merry and happy and trivial...but soak in Him.

Merry Christmas...

Friday, November 27, 2009


Is it really almost December? Because I just sat down and wrote my list of goals and resolutions for 2009.

I don't like to admit that even though I think they're kind of dumb, I do make New Year's resolutions. Even the most un-resolute person has to admit that when a new year rolls around, they secretly hope for SOMETHING to be different. I always do.

On New Year's Day this year I actually wrote a little list in my adventure book. My theme this year was about being here's how it turned out:

1. Lose 10lbs (duh - so it's a New Year's Resolution list! Let's call a spade a spade.)

Over the past several years I've seen my a manner that does not please me. This brings on a host of emotional and spiritual issues that would be not only a new post but probably an entirely new BLOG. Suffice to say I need to get a grip, my body is NOT 19 years old anymore, and I'm in pretty good shape. But that one pound here, two pounds there that you gain each year really does sneak up on you. And then five or six years later you're like, WHAAAATTT?!?!?! Oh well. Well, I did NOT lose ten pounds. But I didn't gain any either, so that's gotta count for something. AND I became more intentional about exercising - I always have been decent about that, but each year it slips a little more on the priorities. But I still kept up with running some, walking, hiking, yoga, etc. Sometimes I'm able to get up super-early and do my workout before work, which makes me feel quite hear-me-roar.

We've been more intentional about being healthier in other areas, too. I don't buy many packaged or processed foods anymore. Sometimes there's the occasional splurge, but not too much. We've been eating primarily whole foods, we rocked the farmer's market twice a week this summer, and have transitioned to a primarily vegan (and gluten-free, for Matt's sake) diet. That's not to say that we WON'T eat meat/dairy/etc at all, but for the most part we choose not to, for health reasons. So I've learned some amazing recipes, experimented with new ingredients, and broadened my culinary horizons, and it's been a BLAST, and we feel so much better as a result.

I dirted all of my cleaning products (except for tub foam - Borax really does NOT do the trick on soap scum, sorry to say) and use only vinegar and peroxide. I make my own laundry soap and line-dry most of the time (there are just some weeks when it's not practical). We tossed our scratched-up Teflon cookware and bought stainless steel. Just random small changes that end up making things healthier and easier in the long run. So after I put it in that perspective, is it really all that big of a deal that I didn't lose my ten pounds, when in the grander scheme of things I've stepped up my exercise, changed our eating habits, and cut down on the amount of chemicals we use? Probably not. :)

2. Be intentional about spending time with friends.

It's easy to be surrounded by friends and not see them all at the same time. This year I wanted to be more intentional about spending time with the ones who are my besties - especially the ones who have been my besties for quite a while. Sometimes I did great at this, and others I did not. But God taught me a lot about my friendships this year. My friends are such an evidence of His grace to me. Whether they're the ones I see at least once a week at church, or every few months, or every few years...the grace lies in the fact that we can pick up where we left off. Our lives change dramatically whether we realize it or not, and it's hard for things to remain the same as they've always been. I've felt guilty for making new friends and not seeing the old ones as much as I'd like to...yet God's relieved me of that guilt as well. It's good to build into my community, to be invested in where I am, to become a part of others' lives. They too become old friends. My old friends' lives have changed as well - they're pursuing dreams, building into their communities, investing in the lives of others as well. We always pick up where we left off.

3. Have adventures!!

When I start spinning my wish lists, Matt tells me to make it happen. My biggie wish this year was to go back to Sonlight in Colorado. Matt told me to make it happen. So I did. To commit to a full week at a camp in the middle of nowhere in another state to which we need to fly was quite an undertaking...but we made it happen and it was awesome-awesome-awesome. I used up a load of vacation time and it cost quite a bit of money when it was all said and done (plane tix, car rental, etc), but it was beyond worth it.

We spent time with family in the Napa Valley, hiked in Tahoe, covered a good chunk of San Francisco in a day, sat around campfires in southern Colorado, and I crossed one of my bucket-list items off by going to a conference in Phoenix. I spent a weekend in Chicago pushing Renee around in a wheelchair and cracking up about it. Matt learned how to cross-country ski up in Manistee this past January, and liked it so much that we bought new skis for both of us. We made evening trips to the beach every chance we could get this summer. I walked out to the end of the pier each week and marveled that I could just drive for a few minutes whenever I wanted to and find myself standing on the edge of a vast expanse of blue water.

Oh - and I would definitely put "being a clinical instructor" in the adventure category, because it adventure.

4. Become involved in the community.

I did start volunteering at the Holland Rescue Mission. Part of my intentionality was to ask the Powers that Be at work if I could try to get all Wednesday off on my schedule, so I can set aside that time to be involved in community activities. Praise God, it worked out! I helped out with lunch on Wednesdays at the women's mission - food prep, serving, cleanup and washing dishes. VERY fun - but then I joined a Wednesday Bible study at church that coincided with my time at the mission, so I haven't been there in a few months. As soon as the study is over, I'll head back.

My friends and I also formed an accountabilty group...we were frustrated that most of the women's Bible studies are during the day when we work. So my friend Mary and I were like, 'well why don't we form our own?' So we formed a small group of five of us, and we primarily try to focus on accountability with each other, and it's been awesome.

So I think my little list of goals actually did form a good framework by which I was able to figure out what I wanted the year to look like, and "make it happen." God's provoking my heart in new ways for this upcoming year, and I can't wait to share that with you in upcoming posts!!! But this one has been long enough, so I won't get into Vision 2010 right now.

I love to hear from other people - or read other people's how did 2009 turn out for you? Did you make a list? Do you plan for your year and make it happen, or do you kick back and enjoy the ride? I'd love to see how other people approach the new year - let me know!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

Nearly 144 million children across the world are orphans.

Every two seconds, another orphan dies from malnutrition.

Around the globe, 15,200,000 children have been orphaned by the AIDS crisis. If all these children held hands, they would stretch across the United States. By 2011, this virtual chain will reach around the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the greatest proportion of children living as orphans. In 2003, there were 43,400,000 children with no living parent.

By 2010, the total number of orphans, from all causes, in sub-Saharan Africa will increase to 50,000,000.

Think it only happens to "them?" Well, look at us...

About 40,000 infants are placed in foster care each year. 126,000 children are currently available for adoption.

More than 20,000 children each year never leave the system. They remain in foster care until they "age out."
Thirty percent (THIRTY PERCENT!) of the homeless in America and roughly 25% of those in prison were once in foster care.

Children have on average three different foster care placements; it is not uncommon to hear of children who have had 20 or 30 different homes.

TELL me this is okay. TELL me that our biggest problem right now is a tumbling American economy. TELL me this isn't really a problem. TELL me it doesn't break your heart too.

There are kids in our own neighborhoods who need someone to invest in them. There is a foster system packed to the gills with kids who know nothing better than a life that has laughed in their face and walked away. There are countries full of kids who may never know a mom's hug, a dad's encouragement, or a home to call their own. Some of them only need proper nutrition and medical care in order to thrive. There are kids who need to know that there is a God who loves them and has never forsaken them, even in the worst of circumstances.

Oh, that I could open my doors and take them ALL in!! Oh that I could detest the banality of half the things that I do and talk about, and start setting my mind on things that are above (Colossians 3:2)! Oh that my heart would break and bleed a thousand times over until I can't HELP but lay down my life for another!

I pray and eagerly anticipate the day that I will step into a land that is not my home and open my arms to the child that God has selected to be OURS, to train up in His ways and encourage and love and prepare.

Yes, we would love a child with HIV or AIDS. Even if it broke our hearts heart a million times over to do so. If that is what would bring the most glory to God, then so be it.

Because it's not about us.

Oh Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;

You will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear

to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,

so that man who is of the earth will strike terror no more.

Psalm 10:17-18

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Birfday, Carinna!!!

It is my honor to introduce you a dear young friend of ours - Carinna. Matt and I got to know her mom and sister when we lived in the apartment when we first moved to Holland (already two and a half years ago!). We just developed one of those neighbor relationships where you have the revolving door to both of your homes, and no one cares what time it is or what the reason is that you're there.

Carinna is an amazing kid - she's super-smart (she's read books that I've never school OR as an adult), and she knows words that I can't spell. She's thoughtful. She has a great sense of humor. She's fun to talk to. She's an amazing writer and a deep thinker. She has this fun relationship with Matt that surpasses my understanding - they're just on the same page and can talk forever about the funniest nonsense. If we ever are blessed with a daughter, if she's even a fraction of the kid that Carinna is, I will be a very, VERY proud and awestruck mom.

But the coolest - coolest - thing about Carinna is her love for the Lord. She pursues Him with reckless abandon. She has a profound understanding of and relationship with Him. She truly is a light in the darkness, an encouragement in a discouraging culture, and rock-solid in what she believes in world that wants to pull everyone along with its own current. She truly is the "salt" that we're all called to be.

We love you Carinna, and are so honored to have you (and your family) to call "friend!"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More randomosity...

I have so many little thoughts bouncing around in my head...undoubtedly the result of many, many days spent inside. I've cleaned my house so thoroughly I'm practically chasing the dog now with a vacuum cleaner and microcloth! Anyway, rather than try to remember all of these so I can write several posts, I'll just summarize them all at once.

On getting what I want...

I started last Tuesday with a fever and that cement-slowly-being-poured-into-my-neck feeling. It was kind of downhill from there. My fever resolved three days later, and ushered in a persistent cough and an AWOL voice. So over the weekend I was silenced (I'm sure Matt enjoyed the reprieve), and went from that to honking, to squeaking, to croaking, and now I prefer to think of it as...."sultry."

But I don't like it. I don't think I've ever had an illness linger like this before, and frankly, I'm quite over it. My back hurts from sitting on the couch, I'm tired of the radio, I miss my friends, I can't talk to my mom on the phone as much as I want to, I'm just a big baby.

Yet when I ask Matt to pray for my voice to come back, he asks God to help me be content no matter what my circumstance is. Oh. That's probably a more appropriate request. Kind of takes the wind out of my complaining sails.

More on getting what I want...

I heard a series of messages recently on dealing with unanswered prayer. I know God answers our prayers all the time; it's just a matter of if we dig the answer or not. That could be a whole separate topic, but that's not my point. The point of one particular message was, perhaps instead of praying for what I want all the time, maybe it would behoove me to ask in what way will God be glorified the most?

Not gonna lie: we'd love to have a child in the next year. We haven't exactly been working very long on this, um, undertaking, but my cocky mind I thought the first try would be easy cheese. Not so much. Second? Uh, no. Okay...rats.

I'm not saying I have a fertility specialist on speed dial - hardly! It's been a couple of months, that would be laughable! But what if two months turns into four? And then six or eight? A year or two? Would I then have a fertility specialist on speed dial? I don't know. I'd prefer not to. My mind tends to take the commuter lane straight to the worst case scenario, something I'm working at trying to curtail.

So I'm trying to exercise the discipline of praying, Lord, how would You most be glorified in this area of our life? Would you be most glorified by gifting us with a child biologically? Would you be most glorified by gifting us with a child through adoption? Or would you be most glorified by having us go through a period of having to wait for either one? It's not so much about me having what I want when I think I should have it. I'd LOVE for it to work out that way. But God's not a celestial vending machine. He's more concerned with shaping my heart into one that brings Him the most glory.

On adoption...

You know how when a bride is coming down the aisle at a wedding, everyone is craning their necks to see her dress, her face, her flowers, HER? Not me, man. I'm looking at the groom. The look on that groom's face is always just priceless. Similarly, I love going to deliveries, because I love to watch the dad (provided there IS one, but that's a different post altogether). Seeing a baby be delivered is just awesome.

But you know what's more awesome? Adoptions. That is hands-down one of my favorite parts of my job. (Not the paperwork, especially for the moms who hid their pregnancy and called the adoption agency the hour prior to delivery, but I still like the result.) Imagine waiting and praying for a child, your heart's been broken a million times over after finding out you couldn't conceive, or whatever, and then you go through all this red tape, hoping, hoping, hoping that someone would pick you. And then, one day, you're writing down your grocery list, living your ordinary life...and the phone rings. You're a parent!! That's just amazing to me!!! These people show up, and they love this child as soon as they set eyes on it. It's all they've ever dreamed about. Amazing.

I can't wait to adopt someday. Domestically, internationally, intergalactically, I don't care. It's a scary thought, though. How on earth will we pay for such a thing? There are so many weird variables. It's not as easy as one would think. It's a long and arduous process for most. You have to flesh out some huge old of a child would we be willing to take? What about special needs? What if the mom received no prenatal care and we have no clue if she did drugs? There are so many kids who need homes. If you go on an agency website and read the stories of kids who are awaiting homes I guarantee you won't make it through the first paragraph without a bucket full of tears.

Adoption is God's idea. Truly, I think more Christians need to consider the thought of growing their families through adoption. After all, weren't we first adopted into God's family through the saving work of Christ's death on the cross?

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction...

James 1:27

On mediocrity...

One of the pastors who came to our church last month posed this question:

Are we vaccinated with a mild case of Christianity so as to protect us from the real disease?

Think about it. We go to church. We might even be in a Bible study. We pray least when we remember to or when it's necessary. We have a little "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" plaque hanging on the wall. Just Christian enough to let people know, yep, you've got your Jesus. Now keep Him to yourself. Don't get too weird. Don't pray out loud. Turn down the praise music. Don't be too Jesus-y. You don't want to be one of "them."

So you've got enough Jesus to slip you through the pearly gates, but you don't want so much of Him that you appear fully infested, right? Because that wouldn't be cool. It wouldn't make you politically correct, "tolerant," or popular. Don't go too overboard with that religion of yours. You don't want to stick out too much...

Think about it. Are you sold-out, signing your name on the dotted line, ready to stake your life on Him? Because you can't just have a little Jesus. You gotta take him all, blood, wounds, the whole package. He's not an accessory or a paltry shot in your arm to ensure that you're "okay." He intends to fill up, overtake, overhaul, and clean up your heart and ooze out of your pores. Overwhelm your system. Shut you down and bring you back to life. Real life!

I for one have been acting like I've only gotten a little Christ vaccine. I need to step it up, too.

Think about it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


It's 4:24pm and I have one day under my belt of being a big baby being sick. I don't like to be sick. Of course, on my busiest of days, I long to have *nothing* to do but drown myself in a great book. But tell me that's what I HAVE to do...suddenly I want to jump off the pier and swim to Wisconsin, learn how to snowboard down a sand dune, anything but doing nothing and waiting for my immune system to do what it does best.

Don't know what form of the flu I have...


I interrupt this musing to clunk up on my soapbox. When I say "the flu," I mean seasonal inFLUenza. As in, fever, body aches, headache, general grossness. "The flu" is NOT typically characterized by throwing up and poop soup. Sometimes symptoms of a more projectile nature are thrown in the mix, but typically throwing up and poop soup in and of themselves are evidences of a gastrointestinal upset, NOT the flu virus. It just drives me barking nuts when people equate this with influenza, because they are totally different. Sorry to be kind of fussy about it. It kind of falls under the category of people thinking that newborn babies whose hands are clenched in a fist are "gonna be greedy." No, that's a neurologically appropriate thing for a baby to do, not an evidence of a character flaw. Seriously.

Wow. No idea where THAT soap box came from!! Sorry 'bout that.

Anyway, it's been a while since I last posted, and I have a few random thoughts in my head. Sorry if they're boring!

#1. Do you ever wonder what Heaven will actually be like?

Cuz I do. Like, will there be amazing musicians everywhere? Symphonies, praise bands, hymns, voices? You know how when you're at church and the next song comes up on the screen and you're like, "YES!! I LOVE this song!"? Will it be like that ALL THE TIME??

And what if we get to pick where we live? I mean, Jesus said that He's preparing a place for us, and His Father's house has many rooms. Do we get to dream about what that'll look like? If you could pick out your house in heaven, what would it look like? A log cabin surrounded by trees next to a shimmering lake? A grand Victorian with hidden staircases and a huge front porch with rocking chairs? A simple cottage by the beach?

Here's my "heaven house..."

Can you imagine eating breakfast and reading every day in that cupola thing up on top?? This house is spitting distance from the beach, right next to the channel, and would be only more perfect if it were right ON the beach.

And when we're in heaven, you know what I think would be SO COOL? Imagine if we could all pile in this huge heavenly amphitheater (with unlimited amounts of movie-theater popcorn, of course), and there would be this eNORmous screen, and then this eNORmous voice would say, "Okay, THIS is how it all REALLY happened..." and we'd get to watch how Creation unfolded from the very beginning. How exactly He made the sun and moon and stars and all the animals and us, how history unfolded, how the landscape changed, every storm, every disaster, every detail. All the weird things we STILL don't know exist at the very bottom of the ocean. I mean, would that not be THE coolest thing?? We wouldn't even need those head-pinching 3D glasses, because it would all be SO THERE.

#2. I think I scared the bejeebers out of some Hope freshmen yesterday.

So I'm at work yesterday tending to a very edible little 35-week small-for-gestational age baby. One of the nurses I work with comes and tells me that some Hope student just called and asked if she could come to the unit for a tour and to interview an OB nurse. Well, the OB nurses were quite swamped out on the floor, so she asked if I could do it (and I'm sure she knows that my veins DO course with blue and orange Flying Dutchman blood). Well, around 6:15 these two kids show up who look like they're easily about 15 years old. Turns out one of them needs to write a paper for her Freshman English class about something she's interested in, and she wanted to interview an OB-GYN, but it was a little more feasible to tour the unit and interview an OB nurse. I'm not technically an OB nurse per se, but I guess I would have to do.

The other 15-year-old/college freshman was there for moral support, as the interviewer was way too afraid to come to the hospital alone.

So Freshman has her little half-sheet of paper with some questions that she had typed up. I was about rolling at her questions, they were just so cute. Like, "What's the difference between a normal delivery and a c-section?" (Me: " one, the baby comes out of _______. In the other, they cut a hole in mom and pull it out of THERE." *crickets* Seriously? You didn't know this??) Her other questions involved things such as 'Why do people get induced?' and 'What are the reasons people get a c-section?' and stuff like that. Then she asked one of the million-dollar questions: "What are the risks of having a normal (ie, vaginal) delivery?"

This is where the buck kind of stops. Childbirth is amazing. Absolutely amazing. I LOVE going to deliveries. LOVE them! But there's a reason that for EVERY delivery I attend, no matter how easy that pregnancy was and no matter how beautifully labor progressed, I have to have a full regalia of resuscitation equipment at the ready (yes, it's there, tucked away in a homey cupboard). Because you NEVER KNOW. I've been to "those" deliveries. Everything was cool, and suddenly it wasn't. It happens. Not very often, but it happens. And people don't like that. Why would they? People don't like to know that working with "BAY-beez" isn't always, well, a walk in the park. Childbirth is a miracle for a reason. It's hard work. There are a LOT of variables. Do you REALLY want to know, sweet freshman?

But she did, and so while she and Moral Support fiddled with their expensive phones to figure out how to record me, I jotted down a quick list of the first things that came to mind.

Shoulder dystocia.
Failure to progress.
Placental abruption.
Meconium aspiration.

To name a few. Exceptions rather than the norm, but risks nonetheless.

Freshman and Moral Support had eyes the size of saucers. I'm quite convinced that they will never, EVER bear children. And they thought they were going to talk to someone who fluffs pillows and gives backrubs for 12 hours!!

Then she asked an even better question: "What is the most memorable delivery you've ever been to?"

Ummmmm....should I tell her about the c-section for 26-week triplets that only I showed up to, until the very last second, when Baby A was pulled out, only then did the doors burst open and the rest of the NICU team showed up?

Or....the mom whose epidural paralyzed her diaphragm and she stopped breathing and they almost sectioned the baby IN the L&D room?

Or.....never mind.

"Do you want a good story or a not-so-good story?," I ask.

Freshman: "How about one of each!"

So I told her a really sweet story, and then I told her a not-very-sweet story.

Freshman and Moral Support are speechless. I'm pretty sure I saw Freshman mentally changing her major to art history. You could hear a pin drop. She says, "Well, I think that's all the questions I had! Thanks!" and after taking a quick look at my edible 35-weeker, scrams.

Oh my word, that was probably the best form of birth control those girls are going to have for a LONG TIME. They didn't even realize that some people deliver babies WITHOUT pain medicine. Moral Support about fell off her chair.

So that's my story about the end of my shift yesterday. I mean, OB is totally cool. 99% of deliveries are amazing and go beautifully. But if you're gonna probe about the other 1%, you gotta be prepared for the answers.

#3. I'm missing out on burrito night with my friends.

Bezoar (that's my best friend, Kristin, in case you didn't know who "Bezoar" is!) makes a mean burrito. Weeks ago, she invited us accountability girls over for a burrito night, pajamas and fuzzy slippers required. So that's tonight, and I'm missing it, and it's NO FAIR!

I guess that's about it. Hope you enjoyed my randomosities!! I have some new recipes I need to post soon, so stay tuned!

Friday, October 2, 2009


So I'm annoyed. And I don't like to write the things that annoy me on this blog because, once again, there are enough rant-forums in the world, we don't really need one more. But I like to share things on this blog that are going on in our life. And I really prayerfully filter through a lot of things because not everything absolutely has to be said. I have a feeling, however, that on some level everyone can relate to these things - whether you've been through it yourself, you will go through it someday, or you know someone going through it, or you can even try to imagine going through it.

And I have to say this as a disclaimer right off the bat: It is the honest-to-goodness truth that I am not referring to any of my dear family members (Matt's or mine) or any of my friends. So if you're a friend or family member reading this, please don't introspectively say, "Oh NO!! Am I who she's referring to?" because you're totally not. What I DO want you to do is punch the air and go "YEAH!!! Whatever SHE said! So THERE!" I really am just ranting here and if I needed to "rant" to any of my nearest and dearest, I certainly wouldn't do it on a blog!! :) here I go......I'm talking about pregnancy here. No, I'm not pregnant. (Sorry!! That would be a really FUN thing to talk about!) I'm simply not. Yes, we've been married three years. Yes, "it's time." Yes, we'd love to have a family and have no doubt that someday, rather through biological or adoptive means or both, God will give us one. Yes, we're hoping that it's sooner rather than later. But that journey has only begun for us, and will undoubtedly take some time - whether months or years. We make plans, the Lord directs our steps.

I am stunned - flummoxed, I say - at the lack of tact that I have seen people exhibit in this area of my life. I am horrified at how brazenly people have approached me and others around me to ask if and when I'll be pregnant. A few weeks ago I was at work...a good friend of mine had recently found out she was pregnant and told me and few others who are close to her, but was not planning to fully announce it to everyone for at least a couple more weeks. Well, when you work with all women, and a handful of us are of childbearing age, "the eyes" are going to start watching and "the ears" are going to start listening. I don't know if someone accidentally leaked about my friend, but the rumor mill was in full churn about "someone on day shift being pregnant." And in came the swarm. One morning, within the first three hours of my shift, about three people came up and asked me if I was pregnant, or is it my friend. And I'm like, oh my word. For one thing, if it were me, maybe I'm not ready to share that. And if it's my friend, that's HERS to share, not mine.

Later that day, I walked out to the desk to check the schedule. A gaggle of people were sitting at the desk yakking about how I might be pregnant. Again, oh my word. What if I HAD been trying for quite some time and it hadn't happened yet? Or what if I just miscarried last week? What if I found out two days ago that we can't have children biologically? Walking in on something like that would be crushing.

Some people, in this frenzy (I need to point out that there are about six or seven people at work right now who are pregnant, so it really has been a frenzy), have actually verbalized that they were considering calling one of us at home to ask if we were pregnant. Seriously? I've actually been at work a number of times and while they think they're kidding and being humorous, I've had people remark, "You know, maybe you shouldn't eat wouldn't be good for the baby" and things like that. Seriously? What kind of daggers does that send into the heart of someone who has been struggling in this area?

AND THEN - *THEN* - I work with a nurse who went through a twelve-year struggle with infertility. She is the most dear, precious person. Her transparency is mind-blowing when it comes to her faith and her struggles. She and her husband have two daughters now - one via traditional adoption, and the other they adopted as an embryo that was implanted in her (so cool!). I can't even pretend to comprehend the struggle that they faced together as they continually laid this desire for a family at the Lord's feet. But people have been coming up to HER and asking HER if I am pregnant and/or planning on starting a family. WHAT? She approached me yesterday to tell her that she's gotten this question from a number of people, and she just wanted to let me know that she told them that that was an inappropriate question to ask her or me or anyone else, and the best thing that they could do was pray that these things will happen in God's timing.

Oh my word. This is just so strange to me. Since when? Seriously? Since when? Since when are such intimate and delicate and fragile decisions something that others are privy to ask about? What if this is an area of struggle for us right now, and each time you ask I need to choke back a sob for the baby I just lost? What if my heart has been shattered with the unexpected news that this may never be for me and my husband? Or what if I am delighted with knowing that a life is blossoming in me, but for right now it's a delicious secret for me and my husband to treasure? When did we become a people who so revel in voyeurism that we've lost sight of exactly how inappropriate it is when it comes to day-to-day life?

Please don't get me wrong: I am very open about these things with my friends and family. Even people I don't know very closely who respectfully and tactfully ask, "Do you guys hope to have a family soon?" are refreshing. I tell them yes, and please pray for us as we hope to have that chapter in our life open soon.

It just comes down to tact. I guess that's what my beef really is. Please have some tact. I really do enjoy my coworkers. There's a handful of them who I consider falling into my "good friend" category, whether they're my age or they're my "mom-away-from-mom" figures. But it's so apparent to me - and maybe they don't mean this, but it's how it comes across - that the rest would rather have something else to gossip about, rather than caring about what's really going on in someone's life. And that's so not cool. I mean, no one in either of our families even sort of behaves this way. Heck, here I am, an only child, my parents' only opportunity to ever have grandkids, and even THEY don't trample on my feelings and heart and privacy in this manner!

I guess I would hope that a pile of people working on an OB unit would, of all people, demonstrate a little more graciousness in this area. Here we see and work alongside people all the time who have struggled to have a baby. We've all held the second- or third-trimester demise in our hands and wept with the devastated parents. We've seen the fun and happy side of OB, and the very tragic side of it as well. Can we develop a better sense of sensitivity, then???

Okay, I'm wrapping this up. I really hope that the burden of infertility is not a cross that Matt and I are meant to bear, but if it is, my prayer is that we will continue to thank and glorify God. For who are we to gladly receive blessing that comes from His hand, yet not also receive the difficulties that we are handed? He is the Lord of the universe whether or not I get what I want in this life.

So yes, we'd love a child someday. We've only begun to start venturing down that road and would love your prayers and encouragement. I know most people are well-intentioned and don't mean to hurt, but we so badly need to remember that so many people are hurting. Remember that when you want to tease someone about dating or getting married or having a baby. Remember that when you're about to make a knock on people with mental illness. Remember that before you make a flippant remark. I'm talking to myself here, too, so I'm learning just as much about adjustments I need to make in my thinking and behavior.

Thanks for reading my rant. I tried not to make it over rant-y. And when/if I have good news to share...I'll share it at just the right time. :DBold

Friday, September 25, 2009


If summer is a party...

Fall is the best friend that sticks around and helps you clean up...

...and sticks around to drink coffee and talk about what's REALLY going on.

Don't you just love fall??

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Three years...

I came down into the kitchen this morning, and Matt was sitting there reading his Bible in his bedtime regalia (fleece, flannel pants, double socks, and hat - yes, all of this, even in the summer). He looked at me for a second, and then his face brightened with realization and he said, "Hey, happy anniversary!" We marveled that it doesn't feel like three years - it actually feels a lot longer than that. Partly because our first year involved SO many things that most people manage to fit into ten or twenty years (multiple moves to multiple states, job loss and changes, etc). But Matt summed it up nicely, "I guess it just feels timeless."

Our first year of marriage was pretty tough. We went through a lot together and were stretched way more than we imagined we would be. Living states away from our support systems was no joke. Heck, we really barely knew each other, come to think of it, when we got married. We only dated for four months before becoming engaged, and were engaged for seven months, three of which we spent apart while I was at camp in southern Colorado and Matt was settling into the condo in Denver. Marriage was a huge adjustment, to say the least, for both of us.

Our marriage looks so different from what I think both of us imagined it would be. TV shows and movies and our culture in general gives us the impression that our partner is the one who is supposed to meet all of our needs, make us happy, and love us for who we are. While all of these things are true to a degree, we found that having these expectations of each other pretty quickly led to disaster. No one person can meet all of our needs - only Christ can. Our happiness can't be found only in another person - the joy of the Lord is our strength. And if marriage is supposed to model Christ's relationship with His bride - the church - then yes, we are loved for who we are, but the one (and the One) who loves us loves us too much to let us stay exactly as we are. That last one was a toughie. Being with this other person 24/7 served as a huge mirror that showed me just how selfish, prideful, childish, and set in my ways I really was. And so down the challenging, rewarding, amazing, redeeming, grace-filled road of marriage we sped.

God is so kind for giving me Matt for a husband, who I have learned is my primary source of grace on this earth. Matt, thank you for loving me sacrificially, for the way you take our relationship so seriously, the ways in which you seek to grow and connect with me. Thank you for being always on your guard for the things that could encroach on our relationship. Thank you for making me laugh, spending time with me, being my greatest source of encouragement, and always having my back. In so many ways we ARE still "newlyweds," but in so many ways, you're right...our marriage IS timeless. I can't wait to see what the NEXT three years will bring!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Cake Wrecks

Oh my word. The last time I laughed this hard was probably the last time I worked with my friend Martine in the Special Care Nursery and she told me about the time she thought she was being attacked by a coyote and it turned out to be a jackrabbit. When I work with her, I usually end up with sore, tear-streaked cheeks, my eyeliner and mascara completely *destroyed*, needing to change my pants.

This site is about ugly, horrible cakes. It's just good, clean fun. And it made me laugh ALMOST as hard as Martine does.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My friend Erin's blog (which is linked on the right hand side of this blog, under Erin Southwell) has been nominated for best blog of 2009!!! If you've never looked at her blog before, grab a cup of tea, curl up in your favorite spot, and let it take you away. Her eye for beauty, her way of describing it, AND her heart for the Lord are so encouraging and refreshing. Anyway, I'm helping her out by providing the link where you too can vote for her blog as the best of the best. You do have to sign up to be a member of "Divine Caroline," but it only takes a minute. If Erin receives the $250 prize, she plans to donate it to a hospital in Africa where friends serve as missionaries.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

And He will give you the desires of your heart...

I have this spiral-bound notebook. It's red, and has a haphazard drawing of a daisy on it with glittery petals. In the lower corner it reads, "My notes." I scribbled the "notes" out and replaced it with "plans."

Five or so years ago, I was in the middle of a....funk. I was working nights and had come to a circadian impasse: I couldn't sleep day OR night. I was taking ambien AND Benadryl to no avail, and was barely scraping by on a handful of hours of sleep at best each day. My job at the time was stressful and I was dealing with a number of mentally and emotionally draining cases. I was in a relationship that was on a slow train to nowhere, which left me in a chronic state of anticipation met with frustration. I was so. Frustrated. With life. I cried out to God on a regular basis: Help me sleep. Help me get by at work. Show me what to do with this guy.

There is so little in this life over which we really have a ton of control. I really think God was teaching me that at the time, and was systematically prying my fingers off of the things to which I was clinging so tightly. He does that sometimes. It sucks.

I had bought this one book, called "Table for One: The Savvy Girl's Guide to Being Single." That book was - apart from the Bible - like a life manual for me! It was written by a 30-something single gal who was REAL...her descriptions of her feelings hit so close to home that they made me cry. But at the end of the book, it made me want to sing from the rooftops about the blessed season God had me in. Above all, the part that resonated with me the most was that God has put SO many desires in our hearts. At the time, the one desire I thought I had was to be married. But she made me stop and think, wait a second...maybe I can't do much about the married part right NOW, but there are probably some things that I CAN do right now that I've always wanted to....

So I bought the notebook. I ripped out pages from my National Geographic Adventure magazines of places I wanted to go and things I wanted to do someday. I taped in newspaper clippings of fun things to do in the area - like kiteboarding lessons in Traverse City and hangliding up near my parents' house. I made lists of things I wanted to do someday - reasonable and far-fetched. I sat on my couch - flanked by throw pillows that were stained with mascara from me crying so much - and started to map out a life that was entirely possible to have if I was willing to take a few chances. I was figuring out that God never intended for me to sit and mark time. Wait on HIM - yes. Watch life go by, enveloping myself in frustration because I wasn't getting what I thought I needed to have - not so much.

So I decided to be a camp nurse. That way I could be a nurse AND be outside and reset my body clock, right? I broke up with the guy. I dumped my earthlies into storage. And with a "Home is where the car is" clipping taped to the dashboard in my car, off I tooted for parts unknown. A life unknown. It was awesome and horrifying all at once. But that day I started to chip away at a list I had made on April 6, 2005: "Things I want to do in the next five years." Twenty-one things - ridiculous and reasonable - that I could make a way to do in five years. Buy a digital camera. Get a passport. Learn how to kayak. Live near the water in California. Learn how to change a flat. Those were some of the ones I've managed to check off. Others (ski in British Columbia, kayak by the Baja peninsula, camp in Banff National Park) are still up for grabs. Maybe I'll have to extend the deadline on my little list...

My point is, that notebook was one of the best investments I may have ever made (besides a marriage license signed by a certain sweet man and the purchase of a certain yellow dog). I still visit that notebook and update it, sign and date the pages of places where I have finally been. I remind myself that now that I finally DO have that desire of my heart fulfilled - marriage - I still have other desires that bubble around in me. Places to go. Things to try. When I'm bored or discouraged or need inspiration, I pull the book out. I still rip out magazine pages and tape them in. I make new lists. I dream and plan, and if things work out right, I do.

If you're finding yourself in a funk like I had (and I still have funks - please don't think that now I'm sittin' pretty and my every whim is fulfilled!), please be encouraged. Maybe life doesn't look exactly like you anticipated, but there's a purpose and a sweetness in every season, even if it's a difficult one. God draws us to Him in so many ways. And He's fashioned us all with passions and desires and dreams - more than we even realize. You may not have that much control over your current situation, but you CAN control how you respond to it...either drink up every last drop of despair and hold your cup out for more - OR - push yourself away from the table and sit at a new one. It's not easy, but it's worth it.

No matter how old you are or what season of life you're in, start makin' your list. Ask God to reveal to you what He has in store for a willing heart. Man makes his plans, and the Lord directs his steps (some verse in Proverbs - Psalms? - can't remember which one, but you get the point). It doesn't have to be grandiose or as drastic as dumping your stuff in storage and heading for the mountains - it can be as simple as tackling that book you've always wanted to read, volunteering locally, taking a community ed class, or checking out a new park or trail. Tap into that heart God gave you, and see where He takes you!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lizzy, my sweet sister whom I really don't know (friend of friends), wrote this humbling and provoking post on her blog. I encourage you to spend time not just reading it, but let your heart marinate in it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The tale of the missing ring

FINALLY, I'm able to sit down and spin my tale about my wedding band that went AWOL in Colorado.

So Sonlight runs two different programs: the weekly residence camps, and a High Adventure program, which runs weekly backpacking trips concurrently with the residents camps. The backpacking program is for high school and up, but there is an outdoor wilderness program for Junior High kids called Wilderness Week for Boys, and there's a Wilderness Week for Girls. During those weeks, the kids don't do a full-on backpack trip. Typically a handful of available staff (or just Winston) will pack in most of the supplies a few days ahead of time and set up a campsite in the Wilderness. Then, the kids will pack in their own stuff as well as their food, and use that as their camp for the week. Each day that they're there involves day hikes, team-building activities, devotionals and quiet time, and of course the work that is inherent when you're tenting-it in the woods.

So on Thursday Winston planned on heading into the Weminuche Wilderness to pack in supplies for Wilderness Week for Girls. I asked if Matt and I could come along and help him out - I LOVED packing in supplies for Wilderness Weeks when I worked at Sonlight!!! It's never a terribly long hike, but it's just neat to get a little snatch of the untouched outdoors. And I'm an idiot when it comes to setting up an actual campsite, so I like to learn.

So that is exactly what we did. On Thursdays the kids go to Durango to go white-water rafting ("white water" being a very loose term by the end of the summer). I went rafting once and am over it. Anyway, Winston packed up the stuff and we toot-tooted our way up the gravel road several miles to the trailhead that leads to Four Mile Falls.

I've been on this trail many times before. It's not complicated by any stretch of the imagination, and it's beautiful. Our plan was to head about a mile in, then cut off the trail, cross a stream, and set up the camp in a meadow that could not be seen from the main trail.

Benji, Winston and Mary's dog (who loves Winston and tolerates everyone else), on the way up to the trailhead. Never, EVER try to sit in his seat in the car. I made that mistake.

On the way down the trail...

So we set up camp in this sweet little meadow, right? Pitched tents, hung up a dining fly, dug a poop pit (actually, the picture above is the scene you are graced with as you straddle the poop pit...did I choose well or what?). Below is the pitched tents. Just so you can see the meadow it was in. It's good for a visual as the story progresses.

Finally, Winston asked if I would help him dig the fire pit and line it with rocks. This was the moment of the grave mistake: I said sure, and then proceed to REMOVE MY WEDDING RINGS and put them in my pocket, so they wouldn't get caked with dirt. My shorts pockets were pretty deep, and as I put the rings in (they aren't soldered together), I thought, 'Make SURE you put those back on right away...' and proceeded to help put together the fire pit.

After we built the fire pit, I committed another grave mistake: forgetting to put my rings right back on. I shoved my camera in my pocket - the same pocket as the rings - and walked around the site taking some pictures.

Having completed our task, and thankful that the rain had not yet come, we hiked back out, taking a shortcut back across the stream and through another field. We sat back down once we got to the main trail to change out of our Chacos and back into our shoes.
It was then, when I stood up to put my pack back on, that I realized I hadn't put my rings back on. Gripped with momentary panic, I reached in my pocket and pulled out my engagement ring. *whew!* BUT - my wedding band was NOT in there. I was like, OH. NO. A million thoughts were going through my head, thinking I should say something and head back to the site to look for it. But no, I couldn't do that and hold us all up, because Winston was on a tight schedule and had to drive the bus to another trailhead to pick up the backpackers. Okay. Hm. Well, how many people do I know who lost their wedding ring or the diamond on it at some point? Many. Well, I guess I'm joining their ranks. At least it's resting in a beautiful place. But WAIT!! That's my WEDDING BAND!!! There's only one ring that my sweet husband slipped on my hand at our wedding, and I want it BACK!! He might buy me another one someday, but it's not THAT one!! Then I started to feel like crying. So I 'fessed up to Matt as we resumed our walk. Of course, he wanted to let Winston know and head back right away to look for it. I'm like, there is NO way we're going to find it. It's okay. Sometimes you lose things. Just the way it is. At least - dang, at LEAST - I had the engagement ring, with the diamond on it. My engagement ring has a princess-cut solitaire with channel-set diamonds on either side, and the wedding band matches it with the channel-set diamonds.

So we headed back to Sonlight. I felt awful. Matt felt that we really needed to go back and at least TRY to find it. I'm like, riiiiiggghhht. I mean, you saw the pictures of where we were!! Thick grass, stream crossing, about the proverbial needle in a haystack. Now it's a wedding band in the wilderness. You've GOT to be kidding me.

But, heading back in WAS the right thing to do to look for it. So we ate lunch at Sonlight, and hopped back in the car to drive up to the trailhead.

So we get to the trailhead, and of course, the afternoon storm was heading it. All week long we had been having UGLY storms. Terrible thunder and lightning, torrential rain, and even hail. Along with the storms came some dang cold air that lingered for a bit after the storm ended. Mountain storms are FABULOUS...when witnessed from inside. Not when they're swirling around the mountains, and you're heading IN to the wilderness, when everyone else is booking it OUT. What a spooky feeling that is, to hear those rumbles of thunder, and you're heading into where there is, well, nobody. But we thought, hey, we'll boogie in, hopefully the rain will hold off while we look, and if it gets terrible, at LEAST there are tents set up and we can stay fairly warm and dry while we wait the storm out.

And so we boogied in. We BOOKED. Fortunately, the way in is mostly downhill, so the booking at 9,000 feet was easy. We cross the first stream. Rumble. Up and over the first meadow. Rumble - rumble. Hang a sharp right after the clump of trees. Rumbling's getting louder and more insistent. Cross the next stream, scoot around the trees and bushes, and there's the site!

We crawled. We looked. We replayed where we had been. Oh my WORD - HOW do you find a little ring in the middle of THICK GRASS, when it could be ANYWHERE? Is it by the log? Under one of the stones by the firepit? This is a JOKE! I'm in the middle of East Moses Nowhere, looking for my have GOT to be kidding me.

Well, then the rain came. I don't want us to get too wet and cold, so I call off the search until the rain lets up. We perched under the dining fly. Dear Matt keeps telling me he only wants to find the ring because he knows how badly I'll feel if we don't. He's not mad at me at all. Yes, we are just as married whether I have it or not. At least my pretty engagement ring is still on my finger! I say we should just head back when the rain lets up. We could look all day in this meadow. Here's a pack of cards in my backpack...Cool! It's Phase 10 (one of our fave games). Let's just play until the rain lets up and head back.

BTW - this whole experience was a huge test for me as far as my struggle with anxiety is concerned. It pops up every once in a while, I haven't had a panic attack in a few years. But sitting there in the middle of nowhere, away from cell connectivity, with a storm approaching...kind of creepy. It took a LOT for me to keep my cool and not lose it. That was VERY scary for me. I had to keep reminding myself that God made the beauty around us AND He created the storm too. I could praise Him and his majesty whether the sun was shining or that storm was raging, because He's in charge of it all. What a great metaphor for life!!

Anyway, the rain let up a bit. Matt said, "Why don't we just walk up the middle of the meadow, slowly, step by step, and look for a few more minutes. Then we can leave." We did just that. Bent over, moving like an old couple doing Tai Chi in slow motion (Tai Chi in slow motion would be REEEEALLLLY slow), we inspected every blade of grass, stick, and wildflower. I'm like, riiiighhht. But I played along. The rain was starting up again. I reached out and grabbed Matt's hand. This next part, I'm not joking. I grabbed Matt's hand, and there was actually a quick flash of lightning, and suddenly Matt says, "Wait...what is THIS?" picks at the ground, and holds up.........MY RIIIIINNNNNGGGG!!!!!!!!

We whooped, we hollered, we jumped.

Not unlike the parable of the lost sheep, huh? Or the lost coin? Interesting, no?

Well then the rain really started and the thunder was louder, and there was lightning...and it was getting cold. So we hopped in one of the tents, pulled out Phase Ten, and played a few more hands. Not without a few victory pics, first.

My hero!

And that was that. The rain let up, we emerged, hiked back up the trail, and happily made our way back to camp.

And THAT is the tale of the missing ring. It's that much more special to me that it perched alone in a mountain-flanked meadow before coming back to me. :)

The end.