Standard

This was a good weekend.  The kind where you breathe.

Going into the weekend I felt desperate to carve out a chunk of time to process all that’s been going on.   I swear, March left me on the verge of crazy.  Then April, when we got the news.  Entering into May- I knew it was not a convenient time for anyone if I had a personal breakdown as spring is always a very busy time at work.  So now, many weeks after the fact, I knew I needed to take some time -more than just a weekend or an evening after work – to process, and I guess, to grieve.

It’s strange, we’ve been processing so many different things for 3 ½ years…caught between grief and hope.  I find myself in this very odd unknown place.  There is closure for sure, something never had before.  There is still grief and sadness, but it’s so different from even two months ago- when there was still the possibility of having more kids.  This weekend I found myself acutely aware of making THIS LIFE the best it can be.  To a certain degree I guess I always had that perspective.  Maybe it’s experiencing pregnancy loss that made me that way-always wanting to be in the moment with Jonah.  Feeling freedom to let the laundry pile get bigger and bigger while I’m out front picking dandelions with him.  Then again, it might just be my nature.  One of the special things that God put there while He was creating me.  Either way, that’s what we’ve been doing this long weekend-letting it be good, very good.

It’s been filled with luxurious experiences that are dear to my heart.  Good food, conversations that matter, comfortable people, books, baking, painting, playing…

It seemed that the weekend was full of time – that it was made for Jonah and I (Joel was in the wilderness, backpacking with friends) to just be, and do the things we like hour after hour.  We had lunch with a friend of mine from college who I hadn’t seen in way too long.  I used up the last of the blueberries we picked last summer by making my favorite scones.  We read books on the hammock.  I worked on this dresser I’m painting, and it is turning out BETTER than I expected.  I gardened off and on throughout the whole weekend.  We went to the park many times with many friends.  And then, after Jonah was in bed, I watched maybe the best and the stupidest movies in the history of chickflicks – Roman Holiday (best) and Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion (worst, but come on, you know you love it!)

On Sunday I took a cooking class with a dear friend in a cool grocery store in Minneapolis that sells locally produced goods.  The chef made risotto, which coincidentally is a recent addition to my Bucket List, and I am convinced I will be making it in the very near future. It was…satisfying on a soul level.

The point is not to talk about all the awesomeness that I had this weekend, only to say that it has taken me by surprise.  I guess I thought there would be the standard “I’m only functioning because I have to” response that has been under the surface for the last 3 years.  But no, what I found instead is rich and has depth.  It’s like freedom.  And though there IS grief and awareness, I am wondering if a part of me is settling in to this reality, and I am seeing that it just might be okay.

In regards to our circumstances, I want to be left standing, saying “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  (2 Timothy 4:7)

By the way, here’s the recipe for the scones!    My suggestion is to eat them outside, with a good book and a cup of coffee…

scones

Advertisements

I am her.

Standard

I watch her walk through each day as I have for many years now.  She is part of the Walking Wounded- a club no one wants to be a part of.  Most of its members seem to arrive on accident.  She sees the good she has, every day she sees it.  And it makes her so very happy.  Yet no matter how happy she is at any given moment, she is still always a little bit sad.  There have been times that she has to will one foot in front of the other…just one more step, just one more step, just one more step.  I have this deep respect for her, her bravery, her willingness to be honest, her fierce and beautiful faith in her God – a faith that is not bound by her circumstances.  From afar I watch her live out this life she has been given and I like her.

Then, as if from nowhere it hits me- I am her.  I forget it, you guys.   Sometimes I can be moving forward, free…and then I remember what’s happening to us.  I remember what we hoped to have, and the injustice that is our reality.  There is nothing here that is fair, and yet there is beauty all around.

Aren’t we all characters?  Don’t we each have stories?  Some living the lives we thought we’d be living and others with lives so very different.  Even the happiest of stories has seasons, seasons of stability, seasons of change, times of apprehension for each new thing we experience.

You all have been so kind to me as I share my story with you.  We’re just these normal people trying to get through, and we have been encouraged by you more than you could know.

Are you sharing your story with someone?  I really think you should.  Actually, I think it’s the way God designed us- to do life in community.  I know that there are unsafe people out there.  Don’t share your story with them.  You don’t have to share yourself with every person you meet.  You don’t have to create a blog to tell your story to the world.  But you should tell it to someone.  And don’t deliver it in a pretty package no matter how tempting that can be.  Believe me, people can take some grit.  They can take the mess.  In fact, I propose that it honors them, and makes them want to be honest with you.  One of my favorite parts of our mess has been when those dear to me have shared a bit more of their real selves with me.  It is a gift that I treasure.

This blog entry is for all of us who are living out lives different than we expected.  If you fall into that category tonight, know this:  I am aware of you. 

Time to meet Betty.

Standard

Joel had his last appointment with the specialist around 4 weeks ago, the one where we found out that it’s all permanent.  About 2 weeks ago we started getting medical bills for all the tests that have been run on both of us.  They come pretty much every day.  Let me tell you this:  It’s very expensive to find out you cannot have any more children.  Of course, now that we know what happened as a result of surgery so long ago, we know that most of the tests that were run were  not needed…no infections, no low sperm count…just a permanent and unexpected blockage.  The good news is that we have excellent insurance, and our HSA ensures that we don’t have to pay anything out of pocket.  Still, a little jab comes with each bill.

And yet, there is a calm here that hasn’t been here before…you see, we spent so many years not knowing the future, yet thinking about it every single day.  Hoping…and yet scared to hope.  Now we know.  For the first time since the beginning I have been able to take ACTION.  It feels a strange kind of good.

The Caroline Project has provided this really cool way for us to be intentional about looking beyond ourselves.  Don’t get me wrong, over the past 3 ½ years we have felt comfortable making room for the messiness that comes with living out a difficult season.  I am not suggesting that people should just “get over it” or simply “think of others”.  But what I’m saying is that we are ready…I can see that we’ve actually been waiting for this for a while…  The Caroline Project, though in its infancy, is something we get to do almost every day.  $6.50 for sandbox sand on Sunday.  $5 for McDonalds on Thursday.    At the end of the month, it becomes something that matters.  That’s all we want…that our journey would matter.

On a much less serious, but still quite enjoyable note, I would love to introduce you to Betty.

 Betty

I’ve wanted to have chickens for quite some time.  But I did not want to get them until after I knew we were done having kids.  I don’t really know a thing about chickens!  I didn’t want to have a newborn and have to learn a whole new world of…chickendom.  A couple of days after we found out that there would be no newborn, my friend Kristi noted on Facebook that she was looking for someone to foster some of her chickens.  She’s this really, really hip lady, who lives in a lovely home, has a lovely family, and has like a zillion chickens.   I saw that come across the Facebook feed and I didn’t even hesitate.  The following weekend, when my husband was in Ohio visiting his family, I was at Kristi’s picking out our chickens.  I picked Betty for 2 reasons.  First, her name is Betty. How adorable is that?!?!  Second, because of her…well, her wide girth…(she’s kinda got this big butt thing going that I just really appreciate)!  Betty has 3 chicks, who Jonah named Buddy, Penguin, and Sherman.  These little guys are growing like crazy.  They’re now in that awkward teenager phase.  We’ve all been there, Sherman…we’ve all been there.

 Sherman

So- Joel goes out of town, and I get 4 chickens.  I think that will provide some insight into who we are!  Actually, though, the chickens have been another way we’ve taken action.  And that is good.

That Rain Smell

Standard

I work in two different buildings.  Most days, around noon, I shut down my computer, pack up all my things and walk to a different building, only to unpack my things and turn on another computer.  Often, if it’s raining or too cold,  I can convince the maintenance guys to give me a ride to the other side of campus if I promise to bring them in some sort of baked good (just kidding, they’d do it even if I DIDN’T bribe them just because they’re so nice!).  Yesterday I walked.  It was rainy on and off all morning, but not raining  when I was walking.  The air was fresh with that smell that comes with a spring rain.  I know you know that smell.  It smells like life…it smells like new growth.  If smells had a color, this smell would be green.

A couple of years ago I read a really great book by Ann Voskamp titled One Thousand Gifts.  The subtitle is fabulous:  “A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.”  Seriously, can you imagine?  (I’m sure on a different day I’ll talk about the concept of living fully…oh how I hope I am living fully…)  How does Anne Voskamp teach you to live fully?  By seeing the Lord in all you do throughout your day.  In the little things, like the smell of bread baking in the oven, or the way the light reflects off the bubbles your dish soap makes.  You start noticing, appreciating.  And then you keep track.  You write it down in a gratitude journal of sorts – or maybe you don’t write it down, but you still notice.  Finally, you thank God for whatever that thing is, no matter how small.

I read this book a few years ago, right after the miscarriages – such Spirit anointed timing.  I certainly wouldn’t have come up with that on my own.  It was just because some of my girlfriends were reading the book and I joined them.  It was good, you guys.  Such a great thing to do during a dark time.  Imagine, keeping a gratitude journal after you just lost baby after baby… In lieu of recent events, I think I’m going to start up a list again: That smell of rain from yesterday?  That’s on my list for sure.  Along with the paint marks on my arm from my most recent furniture endeavor, the rich conversation that was had over lunch today, and the way the trees are waving in the wind outside my window right now.

If you’re in a dark part of your journey, even if you’re not, I suggest reading this book, keeping a gratitude journal of your own and following Ann’s blog.

My Mom.

Standard

It’s my mom’s birthday.  Because she has a birthday ON Mother’s Day, permit me to tell you a story about her.  This particular story will tell you all you need to know about who she is.

My mom is creative on so many levels.  She cooks. She paints. She sews.  A couple of months ago she made me some pillows to go on my living room furniture.  Aren’t they beautiful?

 pillows

There were so many of them that she transported them from her house to mine in a huge garbage bag.  One by one she kept pulling them out and presenting them to me.  Jonah was enthralled.  He kept watching me receive gift after gift from that garbage bag.  Finally, when there were no more left he proclaimed “I want one”.  “Nuts”, I thought, now I’m going to have to share my lovely pillows with this boy who is a walking ball of mess.  Oh no.  Not with MY mom.  Without missing a beat she says, “Okay.”  She reaches into the bottom of the bag and pulls out…

gordon

…this:  A whale pillow she made JUST. FOR. HIM.  Jonah was totally surprised.  So was I!  But I shouldn’t have been.  This is what she does.  She creates.  She gives.  She’s the best!  Thanks mom, for everything.  Happy birthday and Happy Mother’s Day.  Oh, and that whale pillow?  Jonah named it Gordon.  (Now THAT is a cool kid!)

US.

Standard

Mother’s Day.  It’s happening tomorrow.  For this mom, just like many other women, the juxtapose on Mother’s Day is almost too much to take…one kid here, 3 kids in Heaven…on top of that, this year we have this crazy infertility thing to process.  It’s a strange road to walk.  So I didn’t want to start this blog on Mother’s Day.  Not on a day where my heart is tender.  Instead, I want the first post to be today.  Just a regular Saturday night.  And I want to introduce us.

family hug

This is us.  A mom and a dad, with a kid peeking out.  Ugh, he is a straight up miracle.  He’s this cool kid who loves digging in the dirt just like his mom.  Okay, his dad loves it too.  His mom digs to plant things, and his dad digs because it is scientific.  Jonah just does it because it’s fun.

We cling to each other, just like in this photo.  It was taken at a bluegrass festival a couple of years ago.  But it might as well have been taken today, because we look the same.  Standing.  Clinging.  There’s something so beautiful about a family standing in pain.  Clinging to each other.  I have a feeling that’s how it was meant to be.  And I’m so glad that is how it is.  But it’s not because of us.  We look this way because of Jesus.