December 31, 2011

I Danced in the Valley

I used to think of valleys as being so barren and dry. I can recall driving through Death Valley once and feeling this unquenchable need to get out of there- everything about it was unwelcoming and undesirable. This is where you came to die, I thought.

We went there to “find the sun” after a series of gloomy days in California and find it we did. There was no escaping that sun- everywhere we went there it was. Every bend in the road we took and every corner we rounded it followed us.

Actually, it swallowed us alive.

This was the year of the valley for me. I spent this past year walking in the valley of the shadow of death. grief. loss. despair. brokenness. sorrow. and longing.

And I would not have it any other way. Really.

This is where I found the SON. HE was with me here. HE caused me to lie down in green pastures and led me beside still waters in the valley.

In the valley I was not rushed in my grief. I walked this journey at my own pace and was ushered into deep soul rest with my SAVIOR. I was washed over by waters of PEACE and COMFORT. I danced in the valley because HE made my feet light.

I have been restored in the valley. This is where my story and my sorrow were redeemed. This is where I dwelled with my LORD and HE was an all-consuming presence. an ever-present COMFORTER. a gentle HEALER. and a faithful COUNSELOR.

And now I have come to think of valleys much differently. I see them as places with lush vegetation and rich with soil perfect for growing. There are streams to rest by and hills to lie on. Valleys offer sweet rest for the soul and shelter for a broken body and heart.

I used to be so afraid of the valleys but that has all changed. Instead, I am grateful for the valleys of life. 2010 and 2011 were not good years in the worldly sense but when I see them through the lens of GOD’s promises and HIS word, I can see the bounty of beautiful things HE has done through and for me.

As I journeyed in my valley, I was given the great gift of HOPE. Not hope for a baby. or health. or any other thing. But hope in CHRIST. HE is my hope. And that is not something I can lose nor can it be taken away from me. It’s there in HIS word. It’s my HOPE to cling to and rest in.

I can’t begin to tell how good it feels to rest in HIS hope. in the promise of HIM. in the splendor of HIS GOODNESS and GLORY.

We wait in expectant anticipation of how HE will fulfill our desire to be parents to a child we can hold in our arms. HE will satisfy our desire- we just don’t know how. And we know that if it’s not HIS will that we have a child of our own or through some other means, HE will put a new desire in our hearts.

HIS word never returns void. HIS promises never expire. HIS peace is perfect. HIS hope is real and eternal.

This is the GOD I serve. This is the LORD I follow. This is the FATHER who loves me. This is the ONE who met me in my valley and ushered me into HIS presence and made my feet light.

HE gave me beauty for ashes. HE put a new song in my heart. And HE blessed me with good things along the way.

And so while I welcome the new year, I will always look upon this past year as the year that I learned to dance in the valley.

I danced for HIM. And because of HIM.

"Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow."
Jeremiah 31:13

September 8, 2011

This is for the one I love.

Today my heart is filled to over-flowing because of you. You didn’t do anything special this morning before you ran out the door trying to catch your express bus. We said a quick good-bye and I won’t see you until tonight after your class.

But you are always with me. You are always on my mind.

I picked up your t-shirt that you left in the bathroom on the floor and thought about you smiling in it. I love it when you smile....especially when it’s at me.

I decided to do some clean up in the kitchen and washed the pot you used to make soup yesterday and I felt warm thinking about you eating something nourishing that I made for you. I love taking care of you by providing wholesome things for you to eat. And I love that you will eat anything I make for you (except for that one dish!)- you just go with the flow when I am on my weird kicks.

I went into the den to catch the news and saw that your desk was clean and I know you did that for me so that I will work at it because you don’t want me to be a “hunchie” when I am 80. I love that you do that for me and take care of me in such practical and tangible ways. (By the way, I am writing this from our dining room table- I rarely, if ever, sit at the desk!).

This morning, I am remembering when our place was just a place but after nearly seven years it’s become a home. Our home.

It’s filled with countless memories. Dancing in the kitchen with only the music in our heads to move us. Reading to you while you iron your shirts for the week in the living room. Talking about our days in the den- you with your glass of wine and me with my sparkling water. Sharing the sink in the bathroom when we are both in a rush and me mumbling that we need a second bathroom and you saying that you always want to be close to me so we can only have one!

Of course, there are the sad memories of losing our babies here. I remember how you always kept watch over me, rearranging your complicated work schedule so you could be home with me. Have I told you just how much that meant to me?

It was around this time of year 15 years ago that we met on campus and my life has never been the same. And for that I am so very grateful because this love- your love, our love- well, this love has been so healing. And so freeing. And it’s been fun!

You're not perfect and neither am I, but we are perfect for each other. There are not enough "thank you's" I can offer up to GOD for giving you to me.

You, my love, are the sweetest thing I know. I love all of you.

June 23, 2011

Like Water

Two weeks ago I held a gift. It was perfect. and small. and mine. I coupled our fifth baby in my hands after it had passed through my body. I held my baby. It came- once again- too soon. I held this tiny, lifeless life and knew its beginning and end. There is a simple and tragic beauty of being the mother to a child there and then gone. With me and then with GOD.

Oh heavens, I will never get used to this sight. Each time takes my breath away and swells my heart and puts a lump in my throat.

There is this profound feeling that my dream to be a mom to a living child is slipping through my hands. Like water, I cannot hold on to it. I can’t clench it tight enough. It seems that the harder I try to hold on to it the more it slips out of my grasp.

But I have been given an amazing gift- the gift of time to step away from any obligations and just focus on being in this process of grief and healing.

I spend much of my time in quiet solitude. I walk the streets of this city- sometimes I just walk to walk, but sometimes I walk to soothe. I sit with my counselor and together we explore this mountain of pain. I read. I try to write but so often my words and thoughts feel like soup- formless. I enjoy the company of my husband. I bake and I clean, allowing my tears to come as I stir and sweep.

This time and these things are helping me. Like water flows from a faucet, my tears have flowed freely and abundantly without restrain....let the healing continue.

I know that to most of you the experience of this kind of pain and loss is unknown, yet some of you have reached out to me over these last few weeks and I thank you for your words of comfort and the reminder that you are thinking of me and praying for us.

Thank you for honoring the life of my babies by acknowledging their passing- what you may think is so small and insignificant is quite the opposite. Like water in a barren land, your words are a welcomed gift. “Thank you” seems so inadequate to express my appreciation to you, but it comes wrapped up in all my heart-felt sincerity.

June 3, 2011

Something For the Mendicants

"The Thorn" by Martha Snell Nicholson

I stood a mendicant* of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.

I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, "But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.

This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me."
He said, "My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee."

I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.

I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

*A "mendicant" is a beggar

May 20, 2011

Tell Me Something True

There is something going on with me, but I can’t share about it now....I am still in the midst of it and feeling quite foggy in my head. And in my heart.

But I need your help.

I need you to tell me something that is true.

I don’t want to hear spiritual fluff; new age crap; psycho-babble; feel-good sentiments; or anything of the like.

I want to hear something true about what it is to suffer in this world when you know GOD.

I want to hear something true about what it is to feel forgotten when you know GOD.

I want to hear something true about what it is to hope and long and wait only to feel hopeless and wrong and weary when you know GOD.

Leave a comment on this post; send me an e-mail; send me a text; leave a message on Facebook.

Please tell me something true about those things.

May 7, 2011

And Again I Lament

Today would have been my due date had we not lost our third baby- we call him Liam. My heart is heavy with sadness but my soul is at rest.

Soul rest. Thank You, Lord, for this kind of rest.

Psalm 42 : The Lament
by Nicholas Wolterstorff “Lament for a Son”

My tears have been my food day and night, says the songwriter.
I remember, he says, how it was when joy was still my lot,
how I used to go with the multitude
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.

Now it’s different. I am downcast, disturbed.
Yet I find that faith is not dead. So I say to myself,
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise Him,
my Savior and my God.

But then my grief returns and again I lament, to God my Rock:
Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by my enemy?

Again faith replies:
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise Him,
my Savior and my God.

Back and forth, lament and faith, faith and lament, each fastened to the other.
A bruised faith, a longing faith, a faith emptied of nearness:

As the deer pants for the streams of water,
so my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

Yet in the distance of endurance I join the song:
By day the Lord directs His love,
at night His song is with me-
a prayer to the God of my life.

April 15, 2011

The Heart of a Mother

I have found myself sitting across the table from women who have stories of deep pain, profound grief, and uncertain outcomes.

I have a friend who recently shared with me that she had an abortion a while back. Her story is messy and complicated (most are) but her pain is pretty straight-forward. She is grieving a decision she made at a really scary time in her life. She was so afraid to tell me about her story because she wondered how I would feel about her. I told her it made me love her even more.

I grieve with her because she has the heart of a mother who does not have her baby with her and wishes she had made a different choice.

I have a new friend who struggled with infertility for years. She took all the drugs, did all the tests, and saw all the doctors. But despite all that, she could not have a baby. Then she lost her husband. And just like that, her dreams of a family were gone. Sure, she may remarry one day and have a family by other means, but from where she is standing now, that seems far and not likely.

I grieve with her because she has the heart of a mother who wonders if she will ever have a child of her own.

I have two friends who lost their sons at full-term. Oh, they grieved something fierce and wild. Today, one of these friends has a second son and the other friend is nearing the half-way point in her pregnancy. And they are happy and we rejoice with them. But still, they will always have an empty spot at the table and they grieve the loss of their babies- there is no replacing those dear sons of theirs.

And I grieve with them because they have the heart of a mother who’s life has known deep sorrow and great joy all at once.

I met with a young girl who found herself unexpectedly pregnant. Her story plays out a bit like Romeo and Juliet only there is a baby involved. The family that does know about her baby wants her to have an abortion- they tell her that if she just gets rid of “it” that her life will be better and easier. But she knows the truth and she is going to keep this baby. She is choosing life. It won’t be easy- some of the best things in life worth fighting for never are- and she is scared. She wonders how anything good could from having a baby outside of marriage with the disapproval of her family, but I tell her that GOD has this. This baby is not a curse or punishment, but rather a gift from HIM that HE has entrusted to her.

I will walk with her because she has the heart of a mother who is choosing to give life despite what lies before her. And I want to be there- I want to see how GOD ushers life into this girl’s heart and womb.

As for me, I have the heart of a mother and I am thankful to have three babies to call my own. They are with JESUS and HE gets to hold them before I do. I was there when HE ushered them into my life and I was there when HE took them into HIS glory. As a mother, I will always be grateful for that.


Mother’s Day is just around the corner and I want to encourage you to do something small for someone you know that has lost a child in any way; that has a heart of a mother but no children to call her own; or is pregnant in less than ideal circumstances and needs to be encouraged.

Send her a note- something she can touch and feel and read when she is having a hard day. Giver her a flower. Take her out for tea and listen to her heart. Please do something to acknowledge her pain and feelings of loss or fear on what can be a very sad day.

March 3, 2011

A Petition for Prayer Requests

So many times in my journey through grieving the loss of my babies I have been encouraged and carried by the prayers of others- often by people who know me but sometimes by people who do not. I cannot tell you just how much it meant to me hear that people who only knew my story through this blog or from hearing it from someone else would lift up a prayer for me.

And now I would love to do the same for others. I would count it a privilege to be able to pray for women who are grieving the loss of their babies be it through miscarriage or stillborn or for women struggling with infertility. And I would love to pray for them by name.

So if you are a woman or know a woman who needs and wants prayer for this area in their life, please contact me at and tell me how I can pray for you or your friend. Every request that is sent will be prayed for.

By doing this I am not saying that I have special powers or privileges or that my prayers carry any special weight with GOD. I just know what it's like to be in a place of complete sadness and hurt and how often I was not able to pray for myself- there were just no words I could utter and that is when I most needed someone to pray on my behalf.

February 16, 2011

This Is How I Remember You

When air smells like spring, I remember announcing you.

When I reach for a baby, oh I remember how much I love you.

When birds take flight, I remember losing you.

When a storm moves in and thunder booms, I remember mourning you.

Tiny and perfect.

Here and then gone.

This is how I remember you.

January 16, 2011

Where I've Been

I’ve Been Angry
There are seven stages to grief, anger being the third.

I can honestly say that anger was not something that I felt after my first two miscarriages.  

Shock?  Yes.  Denial?  Yes.  Pain and guilt?  Yes and yes.  Depression?  Yes.  Loneliness?  You bet.  
But anger?  No.

I would ask myself “Am I mad at God?” and would come back with a resounding “No.”  And for that I was glad.  I was glad not to be mad.  I didn’t want a wedge between He and I; I knew anger could only keep me from going to Him and I needed Him close.

But I became really angry about three months ago, not long after my third miscarriage.  Yes, I think it was just about that time that I felt a change in my demeanor and I felt like I was constantly on the brink of displaying a fit of rage.  

No one could say anything right.  Or do anything right.  If they tried to say or do something I was mad.  And if they did not say or do something I was mad.  

I wore my anger like clothes- every day and layers of it.  

I felt ugly.  I thought ugly things.  I said ugly words.  I did ugly deeds.  I was ugly.  Through and through.  

There was deep-seeded anger spewing out of me and it was meant for the only One I could blame for all of the pain I was feeling.  God.  

After almost a year of bottling it in, I allowed myself to be angry at God.  The grief gave way and the anger took over- quickly and with fierce darkness.

And I did what any woman does when she is angry- I withheld my time and affection from the Lover of my soul.  After all, He had repeatedly withheld from me.  The tears that once used to draw me to Him became hot and burned with fury.

It’s an uneasy thing, to be so mad at the very One you need so much.  On the one hand you want nothing to do with Him, but on the other hand you don’t want to be apart from Him.  I felt like He had me in a proverbial head-lock on this invisible wrestling mat that I had set-up in our living room in the last months.  

We wrestled.  Me and God.  And in the wrestling I have learned some things specific to this season of life.

Here’s what I have learned as I journeyed, albeit grudgingly at times, through this season of anger:

  • Life is not about me getting to have a baby and as hard of a pill that is to swallow, it’s true and there’s no getting around that.  I am promised nothing apart from Christ.  And I don’t say this in a deprived, “woe is me” matter.  He is enough and if I mean what I say I believe, then I will praise Him and serve Him all the day long (sometimes with tears in my eyes) and know that there is still purpose and meaning in life even with empty arms.  And really, my arms are not empty- they are full with many good things from above.  I can see that now.
  • I have no right to judge who is pregnant or who has a baby.  I don’t know why some women get to be pregnant and have babies and some do not.  It’s not my job to figure that out.  
  • I can’t insert my own pain and longing into someone else’s life and expect them to not talk about just how hard it can be to be a parent because I lost three babies.  I can’t put that on them.  It’s not fair.  And it’s not right.  
  • No one can match my grief and it’s not fair to expect them to.  So many times in these last several months I have wanted someone to sit and cry with me.  I have wanted someone to be as sad as I am about these babies that are gone.  For someone to look me in the eyes and say “I know this pain” and to know that they really do.  And while no one sat and wept with me, some did take some of the pain I feel.  That came in small ways and sometimes it’s the small things that mean so much.
And now I am on the other side of this storm of anger and I am feeling the aftermath of it.
My heart still feels fragile.  My spirit still a little shaky.  But my resolve to keep my eyes on Jesus is stronger.  Life is so bittersweet and it only feels bitter when I am not walking and talking with the One who makes the sweet really sweet.

None of us are exempt from being disappointed. From wanting more than what we already do.  From hoping and longing.  From watching and waiting.  And none of us knows what lies ahead or what’s around the bend.  

But I have found that if you know God- if you know Him in a real and personal way- you can be certain that He is orchestrating the people and events in your life to make something beautiful.  
I believe this.  I truly do.  

And someday when I meet my Maker- and see my babies- all the pain; all the tears; and all the sorrow, well, those will be no more.  

There will be shalom.  Only shalom.

“We all have experienced our shalom being shattered be it by death, divorce, the loss of a job or significant relationship, or you name it.  We live in a fallen and broken world where it’s not a matter of if your shalom is shattered, but when.”  To Be Told, by Dan Allendar

I’ve Been Right
As the final task of trying to figure out what, if anything, is causing me to keep miscarrying, I was scheduled to have a test; the HSG test is a specialized kind of x-ray not uncommon to women struggling with infertility or secondary infertility like me.

I sat in the procedure room in my hospital gown and socks waiting for the doctor, eye-level with a metal table and taking in the sights of the monitors, steely instruments, and people on the other side of the glass window staring at me.  

And then my face began to burn and I was blinded by my tears.  I felt like an animal waiting for the slaughter.

I could not get out any words and only could motion to the technician on the other side of the glass window to come out and talk to me.  “I can’t do this” was all that I could eventually get out in between deep breaths.  She and the doctor both took turns explaining and re-explaining the procedure to me, but the longer I was there the more I knew I had to leave. 

So I walked out.  

I can’t tell you how many times I wish I could have walked out of a room with a doctor this last year.  I didn’t want to hear anymore sad news or see anymore death on a screen.  

But I never did.  I always stayed put.  I had to.  But this time was different.  Walking out was the right thing to do and the right time to do it.

I thought about you, dear Readers, that have walked a similar path and wondered if you would have done the same.  This deep-seeded desire we have to become mothers has likely taken all of us past the line of things we never thought we would do.  Is there nothing we will not do to try to have a baby?
I guess for me there are some things I will not do.  Simply cannot do.  And I learned that about myself. 

I’ve Been Grateful
I had a test done and when the doctor called with the results he said this:

“You have a lot of life in you.”

Life?  In me?  

Yes.  Life.  In me.

After that call I walked to the gym and no sooner had my face come in contact with the cold air my lip began to quiver and my eyes watered over.  And I felt gratitude wash over me.  “Thank You, Father.  Thank You for life that is in me that is yet to be created.”

Every test- every scary test- has come back normal.  Every call back ends with hopeful news.  There is nothing found.  There is nothing wrong.  Nothing that earthly eyes can see anyway.

And I am thankful for that.  It moves me to tears how even in this process of feeling helpless and hopeless there has been a mighty Helper and Restorer going before me; walking along side of me; carrying me through this.  

I am in the hands of great physicians but I know THE Great Physician and while He has not promised me a child of my own, He is promising to stay with me and really, I can’t ask for anything more.