Eggs in a Basket: About Secondary Infertility {a guest post for Kindred Mom}

“For the next four years I hovered in a confusing place of wondering whether I was even capable of conceiving another child. If it was medically impossible, I didn’t want to know. When you start marking years off the calendar, you begin to assume the worst.

Learning about secondary infertility from an article online was the catalyst for me to let go of my dreams. It was a self-diagnosis, but it was enough. We enrolled Evelyn in preschool; I went back to work. We dipped our toes into adoption research. Life just… moved on.” 

Today I have the honor of sharing a bit of my family’s story as a guest on the Kindred Mom blog. Please click here to read the rest!

 

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Letting change change me

I wrote the essay below for the May 20, 2017 issue of The Drafting Desk, a monthly collaboration with my friend Lindsey. Click here to learn more!


It’s hot enough here in Central Florida that my kids have already been in their grandparents’ pool twice (though the water is still too cold for Mom).

In an effort to get a jump start on things this year, I went ahead and signed up my 3-year-old for refresher swim lessons. At 4pm every weekday for the last three weeks, I’ve sat next to the pool and observed as the skills came back to her—kicking, paddling, holding her breath, rolling onto her back to float—like riding a bike. She loves the water, and I love watching her and chatting with her swim instructor for those 10 minutes every afternoon.

But then, just like that, she was dubbed swim-ready and we were finished. On the last day, we said goodbye to the instructor and I choked back tears.

Tears. Over the end of swim lessons.

What is wrong with me?

We’re standing at the edge of a season when so many things wrap up—end-of-the-school-year concerts, dance recitals, class parties, thank-you notes, teacher gifts, goodbyes to friends and other parents and teachers I’ve come to adore. I dread all of it. It reminds me that my children are growing, moving up, moving on (and often that means I have to move on with them). At 8 and 3, at least they’re not moving out—but I know it’s only a matter of time before that happens, too.

Oh gosh. Hold on while I look for the Kleenex.

It would appear I don’t cope well with change—but then, I already knew that.

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Continue reading “Letting change change me”

Remembering hope when everything feels wrong

He called me out to the backyard. Chin in hand, sitting at the kitchen counter, hunched over my phone, I sighed and looked up. “What?”

“Just come.”

Usually I’m the one dragging my family out back to appreciate particularly good sunsets with me. But this time he led me out and faced me away from the sunset, where the light was hitting a band of white clouds over my neighbors’ roofs in such a way that the giant puffs—sure sign of a Florida thunderstorm developing in the distance—were glowing. I held my breath as they in slow motion grew larger and drew closer, turning from white to peach to pink against the deep blue sky. Some portion of the moon hung in the sky above us. I stood motionless and stared, inhaling and exhaling slowly.

I looked at Dan. He asked if I was okay. What is okay, really? I’d been fluctuating between ends of the spectrum—deep gratitude and joy swinging to sorrow and confusion, and back again. It was a wisely cautious question on his part. I shrugged, knowing tears were close to the surface. He stayed close for a couple of minutes, then turned to go back inside where the kids were playing, leaving me to my thoughts.

The wind was warm after a record high day for April, the air refreshing on my skin—that perfectly sweet and smooth kind of breeze that you want to relish a little longer. Warm. Comforting.

A 3-year-old boy from church left earth for heaven less than two weeks ago. He is safe, whole, and well there. He is good now, better than good, but I keep crying. I think of him when my own preschooler drives me crazy. When she whispers love in my ear with hot little breaths. When she squeezes her arms around my neck so tight and plants wet kisses all over my face. When she practices a song in her class, where he is missed: “He’s got the whole world in his hands…”

When I lock eyes with her, she says, “I love you too, Mommy,” even though I haven’t said anything.

The breeze feels like life, beautiful and soft. And at the same time I am weeping for the pain it brings as it moves over my skin. I feel alive, and it hurts, and so I stand in my backyard and stare at the sky and let the tears come.

Continue reading “Remembering hope when everything feels wrong”

One little word

“Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”

—Eugene Peterson, The Message (Romans 12:1-2)

Early in 2016 but far enough into the year that I considered myself late to the New Year’s resolution game, I wrote about choosing my first-ever word of the year. Or, more accurately, how God pressed the word upon me until I said, “Okay, okay!”

I don’t like committing to much, because a commitment is a commitment. If I break it, I’ve failed—and failure is embarrassing. Keeping a commitment to a single word that I was supposed to weave throughout my entire year seemed like a terrible idea, setting myself up for humiliation. Especially a word like brave.

We were over at our friends’ house the other day, and the kids got into the dress-up clothes. As they paraded out to the living room as a flower fairy, a princess, and a bear-T. Rex-dragon-king for admiration from us four adults, we oohed and aahed and wowed, and then our friend said to his daughter and mine, “You look so brave!”

Not pretty, or beautiful, or fancy—brave. Not a compliment based on their appearance as adorable little girls (though they are), a compliment given intentionally based on what he wanted them to believe about themselves. They can be brave. They are brave, whether they know it yet or not.

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I don’t know that I’ve ever had someone say to me, “You look so brave!”

Before this year, I don’t think I ever believed that I was or could be.
Continue reading “One little word”

On being the light of the world, at Publix

It’s time to change the way I look at grocery shopping—and every other mundane task that brings me into contact with other humans, for that matter. Every day is full of opportunities to be Jesus to someone who needs him.

There are two Publixes in my town, and MY Publix, being slightly out of the way and in a quieter area, has been a delightful spot since we moved here six years ago. It’s bright and clean, and the employees are the friendliest I’ve ever encountered. The best part? If I hit it at the right time of day, it’s practically empty (so, good for me, not for Publix). You know the introverts of the world prefer grocery shopping alone and making eye contact with no one. And if I can make the trip without my kids in tow? *Insert praise hands emoji*

Well. Months back, a new apartment complex opened next door to my sweet, quiet, peaceful Publix, and as new residents began moving in, this terrible thing happened. All these people started shopping at my grocery store. They were suddenly crowding my aisles and forcing me to wait in a line at the deli counter (so, good for Publix, not for me). I could no longer find a parking spot in my usual row. A lover of consistency and routine, I didn’t adapt well to any of this. So many people everywhere! And some of them so grumpy, right there in my happy place! Where did they even come from?

My initial reaction was to change my approach to grocery shopping. I would no longer take my time strolling up and down each aisle, enjoying my solitude and the ’80s tunes playing overhead. No, I would be a defensive player. (That might be the one and only sports analogy you’ll ever see here, by the way.) Keep my head down, stick to the list, push my cart swiftly and with authority, make small talk with no one, beat the other shoppers to the short line, swipe my card, and get the heck out of there. I survive! I win!

But God. (Isn’t it always “but God”?)

It started with a man, cart full of groceries, two little girls up front and another walking beside, on a day when the checkout lines were particularly long. I had beaten him to the shortest line with my own full cart. I looked up and we made eye contact, and something in my heart said, “Move.” So I took a couple of steps back and beckoned him over from his place in the line next to me.

He took me up on the offer with a grateful smile, and I stepped behind him and waved at the little girls in the cart.

It was a tiny interaction that didn’t cost me much—maybe five extra minutes of standing. It wasn’t a huge moment in the history of grocery shopping and checkout line acts of kindness. But God stirred something in me right there between the tabloids and the candy.

I can be a gospel-sharer anywhere and everywhere I find myself. As a follower of Christ that’s not a task to do, or something I turn off and on as needed—it’s who I am.

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It’s time to change the way I look at grocery shopping—and every other mundane task that brings me into contact with other humans, for that matter. Every day is full of opportunities to be Jesus to someone who needs him. I just haven’t been paying attention—or worse, dismissing some opportunities with “but not right now…”

It’s not that hard or scary, either. I can do this stuff:

• Make eye contact with employees and other customers. Engage.

• Smile at people—even when they butt you in line or grab the last of the BOGO Oreos off the shelf.

• Let others go first.

• Be a helper.

• Share a positive word. Look for the opportunities to strike up a conversation with someone—which teriyaki marinade you prefer, why Oreo Thins are better than original, whatever. (That’s right, I said it.)

• Befriend the cashiers and baggers. Learn their names. Talk with them about your obsession with Hamilton. (Yeah, I did that.)

• Beat them to the punch by telling them you hope THEY have a great day first.

• Leave with a smile, not in a huff.

• Teach your kids to do all of the above.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others…” —Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:14-16

Lord, help me not to look past the people right in front of me every day—at Publix, at the post office, sitting in car line after school—stashing my lamp under a basket just because I’m in a hurry to get errands done. 

Where do your daily outings take you? What else would you add to the list above? Are there opportunities to be a light in places you hadn’t considered before?

The interaction might seem insignificant in the moment, but believe me, it’s not—not to the person on the receiving end. (It will change you, too, by the way.) And there’s no one like our God to take those little moments and turn them into something beautiful and kingdom-building.

 

Faithfulness {a post for Shama Women}

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Scripture card: She Reads Truth

I’m honored to be part of a team of bloggers writing on behalf of Shama Women, which operates training centers in South Asia where women learn sewing, cosmetology, literacy, and theology. Their stories are evidence of God at work in a country where there is open hostility toward Christians and the lives of women are marginalized. “Shama” means candle—these women are shining light into a dark place.


Maria is 20 years old. She is one of 10 siblings, with five brothers and four sisters. Years ago, when she was still very much a child in the eyes of the world, her mother passed away, followed by her father just a year later. In her culture, when there is no father or grandfather, the eldest brother in a family becomes the caretaker for any of his unmarried sisters. With both of her parents gone and no family patriarch left, this became Maria’s story.

Though her eldest brother took her in and provided a roof over her head, Maria was still expected to earn her keep, so she began cleaning homes. Her wages were low, there was little promise of ever getting a raise, and she felt uneasy and unsafe. Her brother was the recipient of nearly all of her meager earnings.

As young women in her country do, Maria had been collecting for herself a dowry to be given to her future husband. She didn’t have much to offer, the most valuable and treasured piece a tea set given to her by her mother.

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Photo: Shama Women

Just a tea set. It doesn’t sound like anything of importance. As I sit here and type, the shelves above my desk hold a variety of tea pots and cups and saucers, sets I’ve collected from here and there: white china with colorful flowers from my wedding, a brightly colored set given by my sister as a Christmas gift, several delicately painted, flowered pieces handed down from the women in my husband’s family, a tiny set meant for children’s play. They’re all special to me, but none carry anything close to the value and cultural significance of Maria’s. No, Maria’s tea set was much more than an heirloom. It was all she had to her name.

[… please click to read full post]

For the mothers

The mothers, the ones who lost their children this week—at a concert venue, at a nightclub, during a family vacation—I’m sure they sang songs of love over their babies, too.

My minivan didn’t come with any techy stuff, because at the time we purchased it, we were simply grateful to be buying a second car. Bare bones was fine with us—no media jacks, no DVD player, no automatic doors. Wheels, a solid engine, and a/c was all we needed, thank you Mr. Salesman.

Unfortunately, that means when it comes to music, our options are the radio or whatever CDs we have that still play without skipping. So yesterday morning, I did like I always do when I get tired of the local stations and fished one of the two CDs I keep in the car (JJ Heller and Ellie Holcomb, my favorites) out from under a pile of board books and shoes and stale pretzels on the floor. I blew the crumbs off and slid it into the player.

It had been—it has been—a long, long week.

I just needed to quiet some of the voices. No more news alerts popping up on my phone today, please Jesus. No more horrifying headlines to scroll through. No more “We interrupt this program for the following breaking news.” No more live conferences. It’s just been too much. Too much.

The CD player whirred (I sighed with relief, it’s working today), and JJ’s clear, soothing voice surrounded me and my girls on our drive. The title track, “I Dream of You,” is a mother singing love and sweet dreams over her child as she drifts off to sleep. I play it for my girls often, and I play it when I hold little ones in the church nursery. It always has a quieting, calming effect—on them and on me:

When you fall asleep
What will you dream
Castles and kings

The story’s been read
And you rest your head
Warm in your bed

My love, may you dream
Of beautiful things
’Til the dawn of the day bright and new

Wherever you go
I want you to know
When I dream
I dream of you

Fly over the sea
Float on the breeze
Careless and free

When your journey ends
Wake up and then
Dream it again

My Love, may you dream
Of beautiful things
’Til the dawn of the day bright and new

Wherever you go
I want you to know
When I dream…

I dream of gentle wind blowing in
Time seems to slow
Away we go 

Moonlight fills up your room
Darling, you are my dream come true

(by JJ Heller and David Heller)

The evidence of that morning’s round of crying had barely vanished from my face—I am a splotchy crier—and there I was, driving through suburbia in my minivan, kids in the backseat, just a routine morning, tears rolling down my face.

Because of the mothers.

I sing songs over my children, I do it all the time. I sing in the car and while I change diapers. I pray for them as they drift off to sleep, that they won’t be afraid and that their dreams will be happy. Those mothers, the ones who lost their children this week—at a concert venue, at a nightclub, during a family vacation—I’m sure they sang songs of love over their babies, too.

I cry for the mothers.

I ache for them. They are living through the unimaginable. Your babies are your babies, no matter their age.

And yet, I know that there is hope and the promise of peace. That those lullabies we sing to comfort our babies aren’t only for their little hearts. They’re for the mothers’ hearts, too.

Listen.

Our Father is singing over us, over all of this fallen world. He knows His children by name, and He weeps with us. He knows we might be afraid to close our eyes at night, that we don’t want to see what our dreams are bound to drag to the surface from the depths of our minds. He knows that the darkness feels scary and lonely and that right now, the daylight doesn’t feel much better.

He is singing a sweet lullaby of peace, the kind of peace that is beyond what we can comprehend. The only kind of peace that can bind up a broken heart.

A song for the mothers.


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