Thursday, May 30, 2013

Friendship, Seasons & Prayer

This has been a crazy little season of life for me.  (I love that term by the way, sounds so - wise and all knowing.)

I woke up this morning at 4am - pregnancy insomnia, pregnancy bladder, pregnancy starvation.  I tossed and turned and tried not to wake my husband.  Eventually I gave up and came downstairs for some early, early morning brew, to catch up on a few emails and messages, do a little reading.

In a house full of people, it is a rare treat to sit in a room where a ticking clock is the only noise.  I know I'll be tired later but I'm savoring these quiet moments to think through life.

I feel like I've been melancholy lately, for a lot of different reasons.  As a pastor's wife, I struggle with finding a balance between finding the positive and the upbeat all the time and being real.  Will my weaknesses, my faults, my disappointments, my mistakes be acceptable?  Can I truly say what's on my mind and my heart without someone raising an eyebrow?  Shouldn't there be a 'How to be a Pastor's Wife' class?  Kidding.  Kind of.

I read a blog post the other day about seasons.

It was about owning our seasons - where we are at in life.  And it really hit home for me, because it reminded me that the people in my life I'm closest to are the ones who have been with me for the highs and the lows.  They've seen me at my worst, they know my shameful secrets.  They've seen me at my best, they know how good things have been when they've been really good.  They've walked with me through the sunshine and through the storm and they've loved me and accepted me through both.

A year or so ago, a friend and I led a women's life group.  As we prayed for the semester and contemplated how to help these women go from strangers in someone's living room to sisters in Christ we decided to shake things up a bit by assigning each woman a 'prayer partner'.  All too often in a life group scenario there are generic and random prayer requests thrown out.  I don't know about you, but leaving a home with 15 prayer requests swirling in my head can be overwhelming.

We wanted to not only share prayer requests as a group, but encourage one on one relationships within the group, where you could feel safe to truly open up.  A place where you could tell the woman sitting across from you how life was truly going.  I wish I could say this catapulted our group to crazy levels of closeness and godliness but I'm afraid it didn't exactly work that way.  It was new, different and at times an uncomfortable way for people to be.

But - I was blessed with an awesome prayer partner.  A woman who became and still is a very close friend to me.  A woman who I've been able to share my life with, and who has shared hers with me.  We have shared laughter and tears and triumphs and lows - we've had coffee, loved on each others children and spend much of our day sharing text messages and funny thoughts.

Sometimes you meet someone in life that you just click with - and I think this friend of mine is without a doubt, one of those people.  I believe we would have been friends even if we hadn't been paired up as prayer partners.  But I believe the level of our friendship would not have reached the point it is today if we hadn't been able to sit across from each other - open, vulnerable and truthful.  I am able to share the seasons of my life with her.

I think it's ok to feel melancholy.  To feel burdened, to feel saddened, to feel overwhelmed.  Without those times, as cliche as it might sound, the high points in life wouldn't taste so sweet.  To admit to another person that you need help, that you need prayer, that you need someone to lean on is a precious and painful revelation.  It's also exactly what God desires for us.

I have amazing friends who have seen me through fat days, thin days, dark hair, platinum hair, single life, married life, heartache, happiness, losses, successes, first dates, last dates, laughter and tears.  Each one has played an irreplaceable role in my life, and though some have only been friends for a season, they have all brought life lessons and growth my way.

Don't be afraid to share yourself with someone.  

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” 
― C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Well, we've made it halfway.  I'm officially at the halfway point of my pregnancy!  My first trimester seemed to crawl by, I think partly because we kept it quiet for so long.  And now, here I am - halfway to meeting the newest member of our family.

Also, in the interest of keeping it real - try not to judge the cluttered backdrop of my bathroom.  And yes, that's Beckett's little tush in the lower right hand corner.

We're still working on a name for this little guy - it feels like we are being total slackers not having one already, but I think that's only because we've known that he was a he for almost 2 months now.

I've been feeling really good - not needing to nap as much, preferring alone time to sleep time so I can catch up on reading or cleaning or DVR'd shows.  The last few weeks I've been ridiculously hungry, which just hit me for the first time in the pregnancy, so I'm sure my doctor will raise an eyebrow next time I step on the scale.  Ha.

I read this quote recently, and it made me smile.  I love the encouragement to shift how we think about pregnancy.

"If I had my life to live over, instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside of me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle."
                            ~Erma Bombeck

Littlest miracle, we can't wait to meet you!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Berries, Bread + Wine

So I'm in the process of reading Shauna Niequist's newest book, Bread & Wine.  I actually have all 3 of her books started right now, but this one in particular has grabbed me and I'm just devouring it.  The cover calls it, "a love letter to life around the table with recipes'.  I call it, "God speaking directly to me"

She talks about many different subjects in the book - but there is an overriding theme to the book (so far
- not finished yet!) about community and food.  How memories are made, relationships are strengthened, friendships developed, lives changed around a table or in someone's home.  It's really speaking to me personally - maybe you remember me writing about 'intentional friendships' back at the beginning of the year.  How I wanted to move outside of my comfort zone and really focus on my friendships.

Shauna has a beautiful habit of opening her home and her kitchen to, it seems, everyone.  She talks about in the first days of her marriage, cramming as many people as she could into their little townhouse for dinner party after dinner party after dinner party.  She encourages women to get over 2 big points of shame for most of us - our bodies, and our homes.

She writes, "But it isn't about perfection, and it isn't about performance.  You'll miss the richest moments in life - the sacred moments when we feel God's grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love - if you're too scared or too ashamed to open the door."  I LOVE this sentence.  You can count me among the people who try desperately to avoid people just stopping by.  I am always waiting for the next perfect moment to invite people over.  (Well, when we're in a bigger house and have more space.  When we have a bigger table for people to sit around.  When we get a bigger grill to cook on.  When my house is fully unpacked and decorated...)

It might never stop if I keep waiting for perfection.  And I love her sentiment, "What people aren't craving is perfection.  People aren't longing to be impressed; they're longing to feel like they're home.  If you create a space full of love and character and creativity and soul, they'll take off their shoes and curl up with gratitude and rest, no matter how small, no matter how undone, no matter how odd."

My inner conflict is the battle between my extroverted nature and the desire to host and entertain and my self consciousness about never measuring up.  Who am I trying to measure up to, I'm not exactly sure - but all I know is that I never feel like I'm 'there' yet.  Here we are, almost halfway through the year - a good 4 or 5 months since I wrote my intentional friendship post and I have yet to invite a single person for dinner.  We finally have a house big enough to fit people, and a table large enough to linger around - and it's time for me to move past shame and self consciousness and dumb self comparison.  Can't wait to finish the rest of this book!

And of course, I have to share with you the first recipe in the book and the first recipe from the book that I tried.  It's right up my alley using almond meal and maple syrup and it's really easy.  She calls it a blueberry crisp, I'd call it a crumble.  It's full of ripe berries with a crispy, crumbly topping and not overly sweet.  Since the dessert itself is so healthy, we topped it with a large dollop of homemade whipped cream.  Perfection.

Blueberry Crisp

-4 c. blueberries (I used a mixture of blueberries and strawberries) Frozen or fresh, but I prefer fresh

For the topping:
-1 c. old fashioned oats
-1/2 c. raw, unsalted pecans, chopped
-1/2 c. almond meal (you can make this easily by putting raw almonds into your food processor until they turn into fine, flour like consistency)
-1/4 c. maple syrup
-1/4 c. olive oil (I used melted coconut oil)
-1/2 tsp. salt

(I also added some cinnamon, because I love it!)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix topping ingredients.

Pour berries into an 8x8 baking dish, or pie plate.  Layer topping over berries.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or up to 10 minutes longer if fruit is frozen, until fruit is bubbling and topping is crisp and golden.

You could eat this for breakfast (omitting the whipped cream, of course).  It's absolutely delicious and we ate ours right out of the oven, nice and warm.  Hence the crappy iPhone pictures. 

So - buy the book, make the blueberry crisp and settle in with a hot cup of coffee.  You won't want to put it down!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Ten things I love lately:

  1. My new camera, the Canon Rebel T3i.  Not the fanciest one out there, but perfect for what I need it for.  Kid pics and blog pics.  
  2. Trader Joe's Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream.  I'm not usually a mint chocolate chip fan - but this pregnancy has me craving it.  And it has to be from Trader Joe's.
  3. Aveda shampoo & conditioner.  Anything Aveda really
  4. Pink Magnolia candle I got from Target.  Mmm.
  5. Grapefruit Pellegrino - in a mason jar with a ton of ice
  6. Numi Organic Tea in Moroccan Mint, perfect nightcap before bed
  7. Argo Tea in White Tea & Acai Squeeze
  8. Trader Joe's Kona Coffee shortbread cookie.  Hello, heaven in a box
  9. My new Vitamix.  It's a basic model, but I adore it.
  10. Bread & Wine by Shaua Niequist - I'm actually reading all 3 of her books right now.  Kind of simultaneously.  I couldn't figure out which one to start with so I started reading them all. 

What are your favorite things right now?
Tuesday, May 21, 2013


The pregnancy after a miscarriage is weird.  Your heart is still tender, broken and cautious.  Your head is full of the what if scenarios you've spent months reading about online.  You remember the stories of women you've met or read about - pregnancies lost at 9 weeks, 22 weeks, 39 weeks, 41 weeks - it's virtually impossible to take for granted a healthy baby.

I told myself if we were blessed to get pregnant again, I would enjoy every second.  I would relish in the life growing within me, and cherish every second of nausea, every headache, every night with an aching back or hips.  That I would live each day with pure and complete JOY to be able to have another experience with childbirth.

When I got the positive result on my pregnancy test - the one I had been praying desperately for - I immediately started shaking and crying.  I was terrified.

In many ways though, I have been able to enjoy so much of this pregnancy - it has been my easiest.
The women I've known in the past who love being pregnant because they feel great and aren't sick?  I've always envied those women.  But (knock on wood) this time around, I am one of them.  I have been blessed with my easiest pregnancy.  No sickness, no nausea, no headaches, no food aversions.  Just the need for my daily nap.

But it's been very hard for me to look forward.  To focus on October.  To think about holding my baby boy in my arms and staring into his sweet face.  I'm stuck in September of last year.  I'm stuck in the pain, in the fear, in the unknown.  And every milestone I hit with this little guy is a glaring reminder of what I lost with Lilia.  Not ever feeling her kick for the first time, not having the big happy moment when we learned she was a girl.  And it's been sad.

Most days are a roller coaster of emotions.  Gratitude, relief and excitement over a healthy, growing baby.  Sadness and heartbreak over the baby we lost.  Feeling like it's ok to celebrate a new life, feeling like it's not ok to move on from the last.  I finally allowed myself my first baby purchase (well, truthfully it was an exchange with a friend, but I haven't felt brave enough to buy anything in a store just yet)

I know I'm not alone in these feelings - I know I'm surrounded by many, many women who understand where I'm coming from.  Look around you - 1 in 4 women have been affected by loss.  1 in 4.  There are many of us who know the fear and excitement of looking forward, and the pain of looking back.

I remember quite frequently something my husband wrote in a blog awhile back - something I've quoted him as saying in previous writings about Lilia.  He said that as followers of Christ, 'we are called to be fearless because death does not get the last word.'

That's a bold statement.  And it's been a difficult one for me to put into practice.  I wish I could say that I've been fearless for the last 19 weeks.  I wish I could say I have put my full and complete trust in Christ.  And while I do feel that this pregnancy, this child is in His hands - I can't say I've been without fear, without doubt.  I have prayed harder for this baby than I have for anything else in my life.  That whole praying without ceasing thing we read about in the bible?  I get it now.  This baby has me on my knees, praying without ceasing.

So I have no choice but to look forward, to embrace the new life growing within me, to trust God and His plan for me.  To hope that this precious boy continues growing and is healthy and joins our family in October.  And until then, I take comfort in scripture and the knowledge that God is intimately aware of my broken heart and my fearful spirit.

       Be strong and take heart,
            all ye who hope in the Lord

                 - Psalm 31:24

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Every night since Beckett was born, it has been my job to nurse him and/or rock him to sleep.  He isn't nursing anymore, but we still have our little rocking routine before bed and before nap.  Although there have been times I have been annoyed with myself for putting into place a routine that requires so much time, I mostly just really savor and love this time with him.

He's (generally) quiet and snuggly and still.  Sometimes he requests songs to be sung to him, sometimes he just likes it quiet.  Lately he has been taking a little stuffed bunny to bed and will lay the bunny on my shoulder or chest and then lay his head down on top of it.  It is a sweet time of day where the world stops and there's nothing else for me to do but to sit in the darkness and smell the top of his head until he gets drowsy.  It is in these moments that I pray for him, for the boy and man he will become and to be the kind of mother God intends for me to be.

I remember when he took up about half of my torso.  Small and compact, legs curled under him like a little frog, all bendy and warm and little.

I noticed recently that his head now rests up on my shoulder, and his legs are long and dangle around my waist as we rock.  His feet hit the rocking chair, and I've been head butted more times than I can count.  And in the last few weeks, I've set him in bed far quicker than I normally do because I can tell he doesn't need me as much anymore.  He can settle in his crib and doze off alone on some days easier and quicker than when I rock him.

There are a lot of people who advise against a bedtime routine that requires rocking or nursing but even now, I wouldn't change it for the world.  All I need to do is to look at my oldest and remember how unbelievably fast childhood happens and how very little of the mundane, every day moments are easily remembered and I don't regret my time spent with Beckett before he sleeps.

It's been an absolute joy to watch him grow the past 2 years - to see his personality start to show.  The little baby who was 9 days late and as chill as a baby could be has turned into a little boy who runs the other way when you call his name, thinks discipline is funny, will always stop to give kisses when asked, who is known for his pessimistic and repeated "oh no's and uh oh's" and gets excited by airplanes, trucks, trains and all things Tar Heel.

He already loves to listen to baby brother's heartbeat, pats my belly and says, "baby" and I can't wait to see him grow into a big brother.

Parenthood is a blessing and a gift like no other.  The love I feel for my children is a breath taking, heart squeezing, almost painful kind of love.  The kind of love that feels bigger and greater than anything anyone could imagine.  Beckett has been a beautiful gift to our family and I am so grateful to be his mommy.

Happiest of Birthdays to my big 2 year old boy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

This Mother's Day was a little different for me - I think things are experienced differently once you go through losing a baby.

While I am acutely aware of how blessed I am to be carrying a healthy baby boy right now - today was a reminder that I SHOULD be holding my 3 month old daughter in my arms.

Petty life stuff doesn't seem to matter.

A crabby toddler is manageable.  The messy house is ignored.

There are things you just don't take for granted anymore, things you don't spend your energy griping about because you are aware not only of your own loss, but the losses of people around you. The women who reached out to me after losing Lilia are all top of mind today.  Some of their losses far, far worse than mine - some of them still unable to hold any children in their arms and praying to be blessed with that opportunity someday.

My prayers have been many today, and often - as each one of these women popped into my head for various reasons.

I am so grateful for my beautiful boys - for their health and well being.  For their ability to make enormous messes and ruin my furniture.  For Beckett's new found love of throwing toilet paper in the toilet, flushing it and clogging it.  For messy bedrooms, sticky fingers and temper tantrums.

Because even in the exhaustion of parenting, I know that it IS a blessing and one God has given to me. And not only am I blessed, but as we were reminded in church today, I have been charged with a huge responsibility to care for them, to raise them and to help them know God.

And knowing the face of loss as I do - the women, men and families behind it - I know that each day with my children is truly a gift.  I know I'll forget this again soon and get frustrated with the daily grind, but today I am grateful for the painful reminder that my children are precious.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers I know - those of you who hold your babies and those of you who can't. Those of you who long to and don't yet - those of you who have lost mothers and those of you who mother alone.  Much love to all of you.  I have thought about you all day long, and am grateful we serve a God who is intimately aware of you.

This is a beautiful video dedicated to all mothers. Please take a few minutes to watch, cry and pray for women who have lost their children too soon.

Friday, May 3, 2013


The rainbow is a symbol of Gods faithfulness and mercy. In the "rainbow around the throne," ( Revelation 4:3 ) is seen the symbol of hope and the bright emblem of mercy and love, all the more true as a symbol because it is reflected from the storm itself.
                                                                               -Smith's Bible Dictionary

It doesn't matter how old I get - when I see a rainbow, I still stop to stare.  The rainbow is beautiful and unique - precious and rare.

In the pregnancy and infant loss community, the term 'rainbow' is used to signify a pregnancy that happens after a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.  A rainbow baby is the miracle that comes after the sadness and grief over a loss.  It's a baby that brings forth new hope and love, that reminds you of God's great and unfailing mercy.

It is with enormous gratitude and thankful hearts that we announce we are expecting our precious rainbow baby sometime around October 15th - which is also Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day - a due date that seems unbelievably fitting.  A reminder of what we lost, but also a celebration of what we will gain.





Say hello!

And a special thanks to my awesome sister Heather and brother in law Rich with RaeElle Photography for braving a chilly evening to help me celebrate our boy with some great shots.

I have lots, lots, lots more to say about all of this - but will keep this post short.  I do want to say to the friends I've made new, and the friends I've known who have experienced loss and may still be dealing with the grief of loss - my prayers continue to be with you.  And I make this promise to each of you - you will not hear me complain on this blog about this pregnancy.  I know first hand how hard it is to hear when you are suffering and broken hearted about the baby you will never hold.

That doesn't mean my husband may not hear a few complaints, but I promise to keep this space a positive one, and a place of compassion for those of you who are still trying to understand and find peace in your journeys.

Lots and lots of love.