Sunday, October 02, 2022

Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope

I encountered Jesus as a young child in a church pew in the balcony of an old country church. Through a lifetime of trial, I knew he was there. I did not always know or understand what he wanted of me, but I knew I was wanted. We could go through all of the pain and abuse of my life and unpack each tiny detail, but that is not what this is really about. I love what Frederick Buechner said, “Pain is not the biggest thing that has ever happened to you.” That is true. I have beheld far greater glory. As I clung to his word through all of this, I knew he was there.


My story about trying begins long before I began trying to have children. I tell you this because almost half of the population has been abused in some way. The attack on my uterus began when I was four-years-old. I spent most of my life believing that I was broken and I was crippled by shame. I carried that shame into every relationship I had. As I encountered people in the church, I never felt safe enough to ask for prayer or help. I could hear in their words shame heaped upon shame, even when they were trying to seem compassionate. I simply could not bear even one more ounce of shame.


Through all of this, I had a relationship with Jesus. I knew and understood that he cared for me. I could hear the Sunday School answers to all of the questions I had raging in my heart. The problem was that I did not see one single person working this out practically. I did not trust people with what I was carrying in my heart. I had seen a terrible counselor and tried to share, but it honestly left me feeling worse. So there I was, feeling damaged.


The first person I really confided all of my past hurt to was my future husband. I was sure he would think less of me because of all of this. Fortunately, we went on to get married and he gave a safe place for my heart to heal. He gave me support in every way that he could so that I could sit with Jesus and heal. For the first few months of our marriage I was on birth control. Then I became personally convicted about telling God when to give me a baby. I thought I would become pregnant right away. Years went by. I began to believe I was failing the man that had taken my shattered heart in.


After several years of trying to get pregnant, I finally had a positive test. At my three-month check up, there was no heartbeat. They did a blood test just to make sure and called to tell me that I had lost the baby. That tore me to the core. I could not handle the shame of my failure at motherhood. The hardest part of losing a child was all the other people that knew. The ache of sharing pain like that was beyond anything I can explain. I did not want those people in this with me. People say horrendous things in situations like this. People will try to make your pain about them. It makes something awful that much worse.


To process through all of this, my husband and I painted our kitchen a Tuscan yellow. Jesus spoke something to me in there. Listen with grace. People are trying to communicate pain or hope that they have no words for.  As I have quit being incensed about what people say to me, I have heard much more of the heart of others. I quit demanding that their story be like mine or their words be perfectly spoken and I heard them. 


Miscarriage would go on to bring pain to my life five more times. I have lost a baby in a tragic accident, lost twins that I had to labor to deliver, lost a baby on a road trip to see my husband’s family in North Carolina. Waking up to gushing blood at a family reunion is one of the worst things I can remember. I did not want to ruin my husband’s time with his family and so I just tucked it away in my heart until I could grieve. I have these memories of being in labor and delivery and going home empty-handed. I have held a dead fetus that I miscarried early as it came out during a shower. I have been told that regular cancer screenings were needed to be sure that what hurt my children would not hurt me. There are things you cannot shake from your memory.


There are things I am grateful for through it all. I am not Catholic, but I am grateful for Catholic hospitals that believe in the sanctity of life. In the one hospital that I had a D&C for the twins, they bury your babies instead of putting them in a jar or the medical waste bin. There is also a memorial garden there where you can sit and pray. So often when you miscarry, you feel as though you made the whole thing up because you never held a baby. Someone offering you a place to grieve makes you feel like you do not need to pretend it did not happen or hide under shame. I am grateful for those who champion life.


During all of this trying, we also tried to adopt four times. We had one woman have her child taken by CPS, one had an abortion, one had a miscarriage, and the last kept her baby. It’s a completely different grief trying to adopt and failing, but it is grief nonetheless. We had made room in our hearts and our home to bring someone new into our family come what may.  


Out of my nine pregnancies, six were miscarriages. My husband and I did end up having three girls. There has been some pretty significant damage done to my liver, but I am thankful. I am also humbled to share my journey with others. There are many beautiful women who are crippled in shame from trying and seemingly failing.


The thing I have come to learn is that we must tell our stories no matter how they turn out. One person’s story of trying is not more valuable that someone else’s. We simply need to learn to listen with grace, keep unwise comments to ourselves, and learn from each other. We are good together and must not let anger isolate us any further. God designed us as women to nurture those around us. Often, it doesn’t look like we think it will.


I look back at my stubborn approach to how God would give me my motherhood and I realize how I tried to usurp his lordship in my life. I have been arrogant in how I dealt with what people have said. The “how dare they speak to me like that” approach to life doesn’t honor anyone. It refuses to listen or care for the burdens of others. I learned how to kindly share with people what to say and let them mature in Christ. I learned to accept care how it was given.


Humility and trust in God will make you a spectacular steward of your pain. Decades of agony in the hands of Christ gave me a gift. I learned to care more about others than myself. That gift helped me lift the laser eye I had on my deficiency and shame and pour out the love of God on anyone God entrusts us with.


Thank you for listening with ears of grace to my story. I pray that you can have hope no matter what mile marker you are on in your journey. In reading scripture, I could see how one person’s story was really a gift to someone else. The gospel went out. So does what we carry in our hearts. “Choose wisely,” I would tell myself. What is the legacy you want to leave to the people around you? We could have had it all on our timeline and according to our agenda, but we wouldn’t be the people we are. We wouldn’t have been humbled to offer mercy and we wouldn’t know that God is truly there even in the darkest moments.


God promises that he is there with the broken hearted. I can tell you from experience that his presence gets more palpable the darker it gets. Sometimes, I want to sit among the broken just so I can feel that nearness again. Honestly, the gift of having the nearness of God far overshadows the pain of it all. Lean in to Christ. Weep through the Psalms. Read every ounce of God’s word, every story and you will see that their greatest hurt was a launch pad of redemption when they took it to Christ. Grieve when you need to, but hold fast to hope. There is more to our story than this moment. There is more beauty and glory to behold. Take heart. You are seen and loved by a beautiful God.


If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.


Psalm 139:9-10

This story is Chapter 3 in a book of collected stories. Buy a copy of Trying

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Read My Story

My story involves 6 miscarried babies (with a set of twins I went into early labor with to bury), 4 failed adoptions, 3 sibling deaths, abuse, infertility, and loads of trauma. Jesus took it all and made the things that should bring death usher in healing. My dear friend Emily took my story and placed it in the pages of her book. If you are struggling today, you’re not alone. Raising children is hard. Not having children to raise is hard. Losing children is hard. I want you to know that you are not alone. No matter how much the enemy of our souls wants us to feel isolated, God has given us community. The beautiful thing about suffering in the hand of Christ is that it makes us vulnerable in the places we have built walls. We can all take a collective, soulful breath and know we reside in a kingdom community that awaits our honest pain. You can read my story and others in Trying. 
Now available on Amazon:

Saturday, August 08, 2020

We Carry Kevan by Kevan Chandler

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I might just love Kevan now. I did not have a single clue what this was about besides these guys carrying a man in a backpack across Europe. Upon opening the book, I saw that the forward was written by one of my favorite authors, Andrew Peterson. He had carried Kevan around the Warren and become a mentor to him. The more I read, the more I loved this adventure and these men. The sacrifice it must have taken to carry someone for 3 weeks through huge crowds and up steep cliffs. It’s beautiful. I found out that Kevan loves Jesus and had been studying the servant’s heart in John during this journey. What a powerful picture of that idea literally carrying someone is. There are amazing details about places he traveled in the book. One of my favorites was when he traveled to the Peter Pan statue and told the stories of how green parakeets escaped from a pet store 30 years ago. Those birds turned into a flock of hundreds and have chosen to take up residence at the Peter Pan statue. J.M. Barrie gave large sums of money to the local children’s hospital there and in 1927 he signed over the rights to Peter Pan to them. There are plaques there thanking him for the gift of Peter Pan not only because of the huge amount of funding, but because of the gift the character is to a sick child’s imagination. It had been a gift to Kevan’s. He also went down Baker St. (Sherlock Holmes), danced through Paris, and climbed the steep steps of Skellig Michael in Ireland (a bit of Star Wars was filmed there). It was an amazing adventure. Kevan has gone on to start a non-profit, team up with Stephen Curtis Chapman at Show Hope, and walk on the Great Wall of China. In September, he’s getting married. **There is also a documentary on Prime. It’s a bit like a home movie of their journey. It doesn’t explain where they are or what they are doing exactly. You’ll need to read the book for that. I loved it. (These are some of my girls that carry me. I’m waiting for a piggy back ride) #672 #wecarrykevan Thanks for the book recomendation, Angie. #book #bookstagram #peterpan #thebookisalwaysbetter #jmbarrie

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Monday, August 03, 2020

The Story Garden: Playhouse Remodel

One of my mom goals has been to create spaces that spark the imagination for my children. I used to only read theology books, but I came across a quote years ago that opened up my thinking. I can't tell it to you verbatim or who said it. The gist of it is that imagination is what helps us conceive of heaven and all of the wonders of God. Without it, we make God dull and formulaic. Peter Pan shows us how rare adults with wonder are. My hope is that my kids hold tightly to imagination and carry it with them into adulthood. 

We started a story garden this year. It is full of fruit, vegetables, butterfly bushes, hummingbird feeders, and spots to sit a read or draw or dream. There is a swing in every tree. My prayer is that they read widely, develop great empathy, and love the God who created so much wild beauty that we will never be able to comprehend.

We had this old playhouse that no one used in the back of the yard so I decided to use it as a passthrough to our trampoline that is in the ground. It started coming together in my mind as a whole little beach area. I named it after my aunt who was a spunky, fun lady. There's also a little homage to my 80's roots in the address.
Donna's Cottage 
A1A Beach Front Avenue

How To: 

I placed pavers and sand in the desired location and placed a painted piece of plywood down for the base. I painted a doormat on with the house paint.

We hand painted the house with Rustoleum
I spray painted the insides of the house with Rustoleum 2X.
The door has to be primed because it is a different ptype of plastic than the rest of the house. I used Rustoleum Primer and Rustoleum 2X in Seaside.

Door Knob: Hobby Lobby


Instead of a flag I made a fairy wand out of a dowel rod and ribbons that they can take out and play with. Items from Hobby Lobby.

I added a palm tree from my mom, flowers from Lowe's, and shells from our vacations. 

My girls could hardly wait for the paint to dry. 

Thanks for following along on our adventure to restore a 100 year old mansion and feed the homeless at The Boho Table. 
Perhaps I painted the tiny house to spur my soul on to painting this whole house.

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The Crushing Depths is a murder mystery set in the deep blue sea. It was a compelling story about a Coast Guard Investigation into a death on an oil rig. Many sub plots developed and more crimes needed to be solved. A helicopter crash into the ocean at night started this book off and kept me from sleeping. There was a lot of drama from the oil company and protestors. It was high energy. I enjoyed the story.

I am not much of a romance reader, but I just overlooked all of the hand brushing and buff bod talk and stuck to the story. The Christian references seemed a bit awkward, but I went with that too. All in all it was an entertaining read.

View all my reviews on GoodReads

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Stand All the Way Up by Sophie Hudson

Stand All the Way Up: Stories of Staying In It When You Want to Burn It All DownStand All the Way Up: Stories of Staying In It When You Want to Burn It All Down by Sophie Hudson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sophie has a calm, direct way of speaking that is nurturing to me. She tells stories that are lessons, but you would never know it. I read her book shortly after my brother died and the portion on her grief and losing her mama got me. Her humor always lifts my soul. The comical lens she shares her common stories through help me see the humor in my own life. Read it. I wanted to applaud her humility and grief over racism in Alabama and frustration with church. I feel like she wrote a book to us today over a year ago. Kudos, Southern Diva. You make us all proud.

View all my reviews

Monday, July 06, 2020

Prayer of Agur by Jay Payleitner

I read a book. I realize I have shocked you all. This particular book landed in my lap at an opportune time and seemed to fall right in line with every other book God has been using to talk me through grief lately. It fell right in line with the last 5 books I have read over the past month. This is not a shout out type of book review. This is how I saw the Lord speaking to me through another man's words during a time of pain.

I do not want to sound like a broken record, but I have lost 18 people in my family is the last 17 years. My remaining brother passed away recently just weeks after my husband's brother passed away suddenly. Grief from all of the compound loss made me feel like I had been run over by a truck. Compound that with all of the things that have gone viral in our nation of late and I was needy to hear from God. The first three lines of Proverbs 30 made me need to catch my breath.

I am weary, God,

I kept repeating it in my head before I moved on to the next portion. We moved into the only prayer in the book of Proverbs. That astounded me. Proverbs 30 is  also the only mention of God having a Son in the book. I sat there and thanked God (and Jay) in my head for showing me Christ in this book. When You are shown Christ anywhere, it can help you see him everywhere. I wanted to see him everywhere desperately. Even though I have written out the book of Proverbs, I have been truly beginning to see the beauty of the book after. The true Wise Man of Proverbs is a healer when we look to him. I am thankful to see him illuminated so clearly here. I see you, Jesus. You're beautiful.

We follow the rest of the Proverb seeing God's attributes on display. There is something centering about meditating on God. We will never wrap our minds around him, but what a joy it is to try.

I appreciated Agur's prayer to balance on God's provision and seek no extreme in poverty or riches. It's something we could desperately use in our current cultural climate.

Agur's prayer for neither riches not poverty is still resonating in my head each day. He asked for only what he needed each day. He didn't want too much so that he thought he had no need of God or too little that he might steal and dishonor God's name. I wondered if I could truly do the same.

Thank you for writing this book, Jay. It has spoken deeply to and challenged me.

My dear friend Robert has Jay on his podcast today. You can find that here:

This is book 665 in my journey to read 700 books by the end of the year (in a total of 12 years).

Thanks for following along with our mission to the homeless and the restoration of our mission mansion at The Boho Table.

This book was generously provided by Jay Payleitner and Multnomah for review.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Reading, Restoration, and Grief

There are stages of grief. I think I may be in them all simultaneously. Denbigh pointed out that we have lost 18 people in our family in 17 years of marriage. That seems unfathomable and could account for why I feel like I have been run over by a truck. It's been a hard road. Sometimes grief is a deep loss of a person. Sometimes it is the aftershocks of the mess a person caused with what they left behind. Sometimes we grieve the relationship that was never fully realized in life because of alcohol or drugs or mental illness. Sometimes we mourn the life we could have had without abuse. It's been a mixed bag of the torturous and the beautiful for me personally. I found myself 20 feet in the air asking God a simple question after my third brother passed away recently. What are we going to do with it all? Where are we going from right here?

Over a decade ago, I was reading Ron Hall's book The Same Kind of Different as Me. Ron had a gallery close to my grandparents in Ft. Worth. When my stepmom read his book, she was blown away by his transformation. During the reading of that book, I knew that my brother was going to die from that same thing that Ron's wife died from in the book. It's a fascinating read about a Ron's wife having a dream about a homeless man and their taking him in. God has used that story to help me have direction for my healing grief.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that Ron had a new book out. Walking Our Way Home. It was about the 10 years of his and Denver's, the homeless man, friendship since his wife's death. I downloaded it on Chirp so that I could listen to it while I was scraping and painting. Then my brother Bart died. I am honestly still in shock. I am sad for my family and wondering how I am the last child left of both of my parents. Grief. I was surprised to hear that the book I was listening to was equally about navigating grief after his wife died. It helped me tremendously.

I started reading Sophie Hudson's new book Stand All the Way Up. I just love her. Her down to earth writing and depth of heart always make me feel at home. The thing that surprised me was the chapter on grief at losing her mama. I knew that this was for me right then. The rest of the book is funny and prophetic and wise. It was exactly what I needed right in that moment. As a side note, she even tackled racism and the church in a powerful way.

David Kessler, protege of Elizabeth Kubler Ross who wrote Five Stages of Grief, wrote a new book from some of their research entitled Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. This book is rich with hope and I cannot recommend it enough. We all go through the stages of grief in different areas of our life. This book helps us see what we can do with our pain. We can transform pain daily into more life. It's a choice we have to see our worst moments as seeds for some of our best. We can pray for post traumatic growth. We can get the help we need.

Reading through Dream Big by Bob Goff was a continuation of Finding Meaning for me. Bob has written a book about getting past all of our internal and external hurdles. It has helped me to continue forward motion through the long reaching effects of abuse as a child. It's giving me new words for myself. I have found meaning in loving the homeless and starting a non-profit for them, but the continual unraveling of God's work in me to give more is unending. I am thankful for the boost.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever finish this house, but I am always thankful for the picture that it offers me. Healing comes and washes over us. I have heard it said that angels talk to a man that is walking. I think Jesus talks to a girl that is restoring.

Other posts that might help you in grief:
Grief is a Gift
Trying: Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope

Miscarriage | Infertility | Hope

I encountered Jesus as a young child in a church pew in the balcony of an old country church. Through a lifetime of trial, I knew he was the...