Thursday, December 20

What We've Been Up To

Well, first off, we had Thanksgiving with friends, Old and new.

We loved seeing our St. Louis friends again
And There were festivities with plenty of laughter, games, good food, babies and pups. (Although the children seem to be missing from these photos. They were most definitely there!)

And The RAs all dressed up for "The Hobbit" and the midnight showing!

And some were pretty darn accurate.
Anyone guess what Jess went as? Here's your hint: David is Frodo : )

Appropriate Snacks

And I couldn't get one without weird faces...I wonder if any of them thought they'd be on my blog...?!

Today we had our good friends and little Margaret over...I loved her captivated looks at the tree....

And then she proved once again to be the best natured child I've been around...

....As these photos were taken 2 hours past her bedtime...

....And she was still giggling

And one to leave you with...that crazy blur is me

Saturday, December 8


Advent  (definition)
1.a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season.
2.the coming of Christ into the world.

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. - Wikipedia

When I refuse to hide my honest questions, the things I’m really thinking, the places where I am most afraid and really need His help…He meets me there. And it not only doesn’t scare Him off like it does some people, it seems to please Him. That I am willing to go deep with Him. To wrestle. To endure and embrace uncertainty, recognizing it is such a powerful door He walks through. The longer I walk with Him, the more this is how I have to relate to Him.
Deanna Davis

Deanna Davis' last few (ok...I really mean ALL of her) posts have been a most profound experience for me. She is struggling through something very different than my struggle, but as she thinks and wrestles out loud, I think to myself, "Is the woman watching me? does she have ESP? How could she possibly write something that is exactly what I am thinking and experiencing?

Today she tackles the issue of "Ew. Messy blog. Messy life. Messy relationship with Jesus" and the inability sometimes for people to understand a Jesus who makes and meets us in a messy life.

Really, what I'm telling you is to read her blog. And espeically this post.

But I also thought this: She makes this point, "Not hiding the mess invites Jesus to speak into the mess. And sometimes heal it so beautifully, so personally…it defies description."

And I thought to myself, "Jesus I am waiting. Waiting for you to heal this mess, this disaster area that is my spiritual life. Come, Lord Jesus. Come Quickly. Heal me and clean it up."

And isn't that the heart of the  advent? Not only calling out to the Lord to come to us physically, but also spiritually and emotionally.

Especially when your spiritual life feels chaotic and questioning and weak.

Come, especially then, Lord Jesus. 

Tuesday, December 4


It's hard, sometimes, to write a post when I'm happy. If things are going ok, well, then, all the better. And If they're going well, or I'm feeling good, then I probably have the energy to clean the bathroom. Or exercise. Or do Yoga. Or finish some of the shopping that needs to be done. Or call one of the 10 friends that I haven't talked to in a month.

But I've been realizing how unbalanced my blog has been during that past few months. Yes, it's been honest. Brutally honest at times.

A comment on the following picture by my mother reminded me of something. Mom said it was so good to see me smile. I realized that so much of what she hears, and what my friends hear -  what you read - is the darkness, the sadness and the confusion that is often all mixed up in me.

But this is what I usually look like on Thursday Nights: 

(Too bad Emily looks like she's just about had enough of this night. She wasn't - and played some darn good hands!)

Ok, we don't play poker EVERY Thursday night - although that would be a Great tradition! But the RAs come over for their weekly meeting, Adam gets through the necessary business of managing the building, and then we usually have some form of fun. And Adam and I get to love a bunch of 20 year olds.

Sunday, December 2


Every 3 or 4 weeks (in this sad case, it was six before we saw each other), my very good friend Laura and I go out for coffee, catch up, support each other, laugh a little sardonically, and usually I cry a little. I'm a weepy one. (She's good with the tissues).

Today we talked about darkness. The darkness that visits every Christian who truly knows the pain of discipleship. The Darkness that visited our Lord. She shared a part of a fantastic book that I totally want to read. (After I finish with Henry Nouwen, CS Lewis and a history book on the royal cousins that started WWI. So many books! So little time!) The book - written by a homosexual Christian - touches on the feelings of loneliness and exclusion each person feels as they follow the Lord's call on their life.

We talked about the groaning that comes from discipleship. About the comfort that happens when you know someone knows the grief you're going through. And the ambivalence, the outsider-ness, the feeling of exclusion when you interact with others who do not know what the darkness of deep, soul-rending grief is like. And the thought occurred to me:

 I'm now looking at our Christmas tree. It's 4:30 in the afternoon, and daylight is flooding our apartment. The lights are glinting on the tree. But the sunshine - the streaming sunshine - it overwhelms the tree.

Now, I love the tree all the time. It represents Christmas, it represents the hope of a promise fulfilled. The ornaments sparkle. And the lights, they are there. And it's nice.

But the lights change when it's dark.

When it's dark, I sit. I ponder. I am calm.

Its my favorite time, and I've been excited for sunset, as of late. I take my cup of tea or cider and am still in the quietness of the dark.

Those little Christmas tree lights, they shine. They illuminate, even though the shadows, too, are deeper and darker.

To feel the joy of the light, we must be in darkness.  And the comfort in the darkness, the pain, the grief of life is that the lights may be small and unassuming.

But they are more beautiful in the dark than in the daylight.

On those living in the land of deep darkness
   a light has dawned. 

Isaiah 9:2

Saturday, December 1

Lamenting in the Barren Land

A year ago Thursday I had surgery for endometriosis. Oh, what the year has brought.

Not that I really believed that I would be pregnant by this time - after a while, when 15, 16, 17 months of "not pregnants" show up, you enter a strange place. A place where you can't even imagine what it would be like to see "pregnant" appear on that little stick. Grief also comes each month.

I guess you enter the place of the Barren Land. You look around and see nothing able to grow. It is unfathomable that anything can grow in the barren land. It hasn't for years. Years. Actually, in this land, it's apparent nothing has grown in centuries.

Hope is there in the Barren Land. But it's not the peaceful expectation that things will eventually go the way you desire. This is a Terrible, Desperate Hope: "Please God, please overcome the fallenness of my body. Please do the thing you have refused to do. I'm begging. I have nothing to give you. I can't do it, so you have to. Please. Please do it."

CS Lews in his book, "A Grief Observed," describes the feeling: "But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence."

I am comforted by Christ: "Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46). What a dark comfort it is. Yes, Jesus. I know that cry. You know that cry. We are in this together. Abandoned by God.

Or so it seems.

And if I stop here, two thoughts rise up: "Wait a minute, Hannah. What happens after Christ's cry? Aren't you stopping in the middle of the story?" Or "Wow. You are seriously depressed, girl. That is dark. stuff. Is that really what you think?"

Well, both of those reactions are good - because they are both true! Yes, there is more to the story - how horrid would it be if God's forsaking of his Son was the end of the story? Ugh.

And also, Yes, it is dark stuff. To know what it means to experience God's silence- it is not fun. But it happens (from our perception). It happened to Christ.

Psalm 44 and Psalm 88 and Matthew 27 are all in the Bible for a reason. They stop in the middle of the story to offer us the knowledge that, sometimes, we pause in the middle of the story.

And I pause here - not because this is where I will stay. I will keep walking through the Barren Land.

And maybe there is someone out there who needs to know that they are not alone in this long, terrible Trek. And that they are exactly in the middle of the Barren Land, with seemingly nothing else on the horizon.

And that Jesus has been here.


Thursday, November 29

Waiting and Watching

Charles Spurgeon has been hitting them out of the park during the last week or so. Here is today's:

November 29

Know How to Wait

He that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16)

He shall make haste to keep the Lord's commandments; but he shall not make haste in any impatient or improper sense.

He shall not haste to run away, for he shall not be overcome with the fear which causes panic. When others are flying hither and thither as if their wits had failed them, the believer shall be quiet, calm, and deliberate, and so shall be able to act wisely in the hour of trial.

He shall not haste in his expectations, craving his good things at once and on the spot, but he will wait God's time. Some are in a desperate hurry to have the bird in the hand, for they regard the Lord's promise as a bird in the bush, not likely to be theirs. Believers know how to wait..

He shall not haste by plunging into wrong or questionable action. Unbelief must be doing something, and thus it works its own undoing; but faith makes no more haste than good speed, and thus it is not forced to go back sorrowfully by the way which it followed heedlessly.

How is it with me? Am I believing, and am I therefore keeping to the believer's pace, which is walking with God? Peace, fluttering spirit! Oh, rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him! Heart, see that thou do this at once!

 I have so many thoughts, but no time to write. But soon.

Tuesday, November 20

The Wonder of *Not* Being Blown Off the Earth

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14) 
Sin will reign if it can: it cannot be satisfied with any place below the throne of the heart. We sometimes fear that it will conquer us, and then we cry unto the Lord, "Let not any iniquity have dominion over me. This is His comforting answer: "Sin shall not have dominion over you. " It may assail you and even wound you, but it shall never establish sovereignty over you.
Charles Spurgeon

Sometimes God chooses to speak to us through pain. He either causes or allows things in our lives that are leading us to something. To Him. To more of Him. To wholeness. To relational restoration. To character development. He leads us into the dark so we can learn to follow His voice, to grow our faith, to strengthen us from the inside out. Pain can focus our attention in a way nothing else can.
Deanna Davis

During the past year, I have not thought much about Sin. I've pondered often brokenness, healing, pain, growth. But there are seasons of my life in which I just cannot identify sin in my life.

I'm speaking really about the big sins - the ones that are hard to see, that keep me from God. Those sins. Sometimes, people, it's hard to see the big sins.

Maybe because they aren't there.

Or maybe they are buried so deep that God has to get the big guns out to eradicate them. Maybe he sends a season of pain - of infertility - to root out the sins that are so big, so deep that I can't see them.

I've been a bit circumspect about the interactions I've had with God during the past 4 months. Yes, I've shared with many that I've had arguments with, angry outbursts at, and tried to manipulate God. But to very few have I shared the choice words that I chose for him.

The words that Satan gave me.

I have stood with The Accuser and accused. You are not good. Don't even lie to me and tell me this will be good for me. This is NOT good. and YOU are not good.

My friends, they were even more choice than that. Straight from this sailor girl's mouth.

And yet I was not blown off the earth. (So much grace!)

God surfaced my Sin - my sin to stand with The Accuser and Accuse wrongly. To readily repeat a lie after the Father of Lies. And to believe those lies. And to despair.

And instead of immediately blowing me off of the earth, The Lord paused to help me identify the Sin that sits on the throne of my heart:  That when things do not turn out the way I want, I immediately betray God. It's my first and last inclination. It is who I am, on my own. When the pressure is on, betrayal and unbelief and accusation come out.

Oh! But for the Grace of Jesus becaming my sin (2 Cor 5:21). Just as I am a betrayer, an accuser, Jesus became my betrayal and put it to death.

And that he promises that Sin will not have me. That it may wound me, that it will assail me.

But never have sovereignty over me.

Praise the Lord.

Saturday, November 10

Thankful for Infertility. (....?)

All around the web, it's easy to see people writing "I'm thankful for" posts - especially now that November is firmly upon us. Thankful for big things and thankful for little things. I have been thinking "How can I be thankful for infertility?"

The answer is, I'm not.

I'm not, you guys. I'm not thankful for it.

Not yet.

I'm still at the place where I look at God with angry disbelief that I am infertile. That biological children - babies with my husband's eyes and my smile -  are incredibly, deeply, terribly unlikely. Each time it hits me, it's... It's just unbelievable.

But I am thankful for other things that have been illuminated because of my circumstances.

I think the only way I am able to be thankful is to think about the love that I have been shown by others.

That the Miracle in all of this is that I am being carried.

 Yes, carried by Jesus, certainly. But the miracle that I have experienced is in the people that surround me - all kinds. Family and Friends. Those with and without kids. They encourage me. They call on their own life's grief - past or present - and they offer hope. Hope that God has not abandoned me. Hope that I am not alone. Hope that life is and will be good.  

I am thankful for the men that have rallied around my husband - and over and over their message to him is "Reassure your wife." I'm thankful that he does. That he takes nearly every day to say, "I would marry you all over again, knowing what we know now." Because, my friends, there is no worse fear than the fear that the man you love the most wouldn't have chosen you...if he knew the pain this would bring.

I am thankful that there a number of people that write in books and on blogs about the painful roads the Lord guides us along. Henry Nouwen, Charles Spurgeon, Deanna Davis.

I am thankful that God has a handle on me. That his grasp is so firmly planted that I do not have to be grasping onto him. Because I have come to the end of my own ability to hold onto him. I've been flailing about. But he has me.

I'm thankful for a moment three weeks ago. When the still, small voice broke through my railing against him. My ferocious questioning of him. How could you do this? And then the quiet words: "My plan is better than yours. You would choose this too, if you knew the end."

That was it. No other illumination.

But it was there. And He has given me the faith to hold onto that word. Because I have absolutely no faith of my own to summon up to believe such a thing.

And so he gave me the hope. And he gave me the faith.

And for that, I am thankful.

Saturday, November 3

last weekend - with pictures

 Well, first off, I took these photos of sunsets ages ago, but they need to be posted...welcome to the view from our window:

Then, Anna Katherine and I decided to make super chocolatey cupcakes with dark chocolate butter cream frosting from America's Test Kitchen for Jess' Birthday (Adam's Assistant RD):

Mmmm! So warm and fantastic! (of course- prior to frosting). They had a wonderful ganache in the center.  

A couple of blurry-ish photos of Jonathan monitoring my double-broiling the chocolate for the frosting (I especially love the crazy patterns of my sweater and apron together).  We loved having Jonathan visit and also had the Vangie and John Wykoff and children over for dinner:
Which allowed for Adam to get some quality time in reading to the tiny humans

 The next day, we collected the necessary items for me to finally finish the magnetic chalkboard I've been meaning to complete (for the last - ahem - 3 months)

And that's what we did last weekend!

Saturday, October 20

A Forging by Pain

 forge 1  (fôrj, frj)
1. A furnace or hearth where metals are heated or wrought; a smithy.
v. forged, forg·ing, forg·es
1.To form (metal, for example) by heating in a forge and beating or hammering into shape.
2. To give form or shape to, especially by means of careful effort: forge a treaty; forge a close relationship.
intr.v. forged, forg·ing, forg·es
3. To advance gradually but steadily: forged ahead

I have been meaning to write this for some time now.  I've been ruminating on this thought - reflected in the title - since the beginning of September. A few weeks before I wrote the title for this post, I received some news threw me into a Giant Wrestling Match with God. On par with Jacob's wrestling match. Only that I demanded that the Lord bless me and he didn't. At least, he didn't bless me the way I wanted.

(It would be easy to try to come up with some quick redemptive "insight" into how he did bless me at that point, but I think that his blessing will be revealed in the future, with clearer vision looking back. And it's not lost on me that Jacob's blessing came also with a limp.)

What did result from that news was that the terrible pain I was in - the wrenching pain and confusion -  seemed to intensify everything. Everything. Everything about what I thought about my circumstances, the future, If God was Good, my anger with "his plan," my insight into what I wanted. What I demanded.

 In the midst of all of this, I pondered - a lot - the idea of sanctification by fire,  by crucible.

In the past, I thought that the idea of burning dross from silver (me) sounded quite painful, thank you. In my mind, though, it was always the image of silver being refined "until you can see his face in the reflection." Right? yes? It almost sounds pretty.

These current circumstances, they didn't feel like silver becoming pretty. Certainly it felt like burning, but burning with pounding. Hammering. With Careful Effort. Hard. Black.

I was being - am being - forged.

Yep. Like this.

This is what sanctification feels like.

Isn't it beautiful? I think so. I think the photo is beautiful, and I think wrought iron is beautiful when it is completed.

But as the iron, as that thing so strong and beautiful in the end, when it is demanded that it change and form to another, it is weak. Helpless. Lying there, Burning.

I can't help but read the last definition above: To advance gradually but steadily. It is wonderful that the word has so many robust and appropriate applications. I am advancing in my faith, gradually, steadily. He is not disappointed with my slow progress.  Psalm 72:13; Psalm 138:6

And this morning, while reading my devotions, I came across this hymn:

Beneath thine hammer, Lord, I lie
with contrite spirit prone
Oh, mould me till to self I die
and live to thee alone

With frequent disappointments sore
and many a bitter pain
Thou laborest at my being's core
till I be formed again

Smite, Lord! thine hammer's needful wound
my baffled hopes confess
Thine anvil is the sense profound
of mine own nothingness

Smite, till from all its idols free
and filled with love divine
My heart shall know no good but thee
and have no will but thine

 Frederic Henry Hedge

Saturday, October 13

And then I quietly quit Facebook

A few months ago, I noticed something happening. I would wake up, get a cup of coffee, log into facebook, and stare at all the things going on in people's lives. Good things. Shiny lives. Every now and again a prayer request of some kind as an indication that something was amiss, but by and large just posts of how well things were going in other's lives.

So I started posting a lot of Spurgeon, Scottie Smith, other pastors that were slowly ministering to my heart.  Hoping it would stem the tide of Shiny, and get to Real.

But it remained that I would log off of FB and get ready for the day feeling outcast, covetous and angry with God.

I tried managing my Newsfeed so that only certain people would pop up, but Facebook is tenacious that way. Take people out that are semi-close friends of yours, and the really random people start showing up. Oh, and they have lots of perfect lives, too.

So I quietly quit Facebook.

I didn't make a splash, didn't announce it ("I'm fasting from FB, message me" kind of a thing.) Just...stopped logging in.

Knowing that I had made a habit of checking FB,  I revamped my Google Reader, which I truly can manage with interesting articles and those blogs that are so very encouraging to me. Many of them - frankly - have to do with grief, and how God redeems lives, and gives joy in spite of the shadows and valleys. People share more of their lives  - the good and the hard - when they have multiple paragraphs to do so.

I'm happier. Well, more content. I pay more attention to the voice of the Lord. I read my devotions in the morning, instead of FB.

I do check a few FB pages about once a week - those of friends I actually talk to regularly, just to be sure that I'm keeping up. Some of the college students we work with, my husband's page.  I have notifications set up if people message me.

I just stopped looking at the Feed. Feeding me shiny, happy lies of unbroken lives.

Saturday, October 6

A Poem I love

We cried,
“How long, O Lord, how long
   will we be made to wait, and swallow jagged shards
      of that unchristened chalice
         of whose warm wine we never took a taste
            and all we drank was emptiness unplanned?”

And he replied,
“Until you learn the song
   that only sorrow sings, of how my soul regards
      your ev’ry wound, and malice
         has no place in my design, but all is paced
            to come with double blessings in my hand.”
                                                               John Piper

Wednesday, October 3

How good is this?

A few days ago, I had lunch with a dear friend that, now that I live in Chattnooga, I don't get to see very often. We talked a lot, cried a little, and grieved the pain the Lord has seen fit to send us. It was an amazing time of encouragement, seeing the emotion in her face and knowing that we could so thoroughly relate to one another. 

This poem strikes me the same way. Poetic and accurate, it reflects to me my experience, but it encourages me that someone else knows what I am feeling.

It also reminds me that all grief is the similar, though each person grieves different losses.

Monday, September 24

Here I raise my Ebenezar

I began putting this post together in January/February, and I can tell from what I originally wrote, I was in a brighter place back then. The difficulty and sadness that I've been experiencing lately makes no less potent the following emails, blog posts and notes from my friends.

Lately on this journey,  I've been made very aware of the support and friendship that I have been given - a gift from the Lord.  I walk through the valley of the shadow, but my friends have their arms about me.

"I pray for you a lot on Sundays, when I glance over to the back few rows on the east side of the sanctuary. I imagine you and Adam there, and I am reminded to lift up your body and your spirit before our gracious God. Jesus was fully capable of changing the hearts and minds of everyone around her [the woman who bled for 12 years] so that she wouldn't be seen as an outsider, but instead He healed her body. What I'm saying is, as much as we may pray for God to transform attitudes and desires, I'm also still praying -- with deep conviction and fervency -- for Him to honor the promises that are bound up in the Incarnation and to have mercy on your body, too."

"Oh Hannah...(deep sigh). I don't really have enough words, but I do have tears.  I'm sorry to hear this news.  I do pray that your surgery results will be more positive than negative, that God would provide a miracle.  He can.  I know this. Love you and miss you terribly."

"But I'm glad that you still have a place for me. Despite the miles and years and experiences that may separate us, I am still that friend who stayed up all night with you talking about everything, and I am only a phone call away."

"Thank you for sharing your heart - being able to walk with you on this in any sort of meaningful way, much less a way that has been helpful, encouraging, or made you laugh, feels like such a privilege. Being an instrument of grace always awes me, mostly because I'm very VERY aware of how much I swear!"

I didn't have the chance yet to respond to your post about helping someone through infertility, but I so appreciated what you had to say. When you wrote earlier you mentioned that people are uncomfortable around suffering -- what to do with the normally upbeat girl who bursts into tears when you say 'hello'? Obviously there's no better teacher than experience for how to walk with people through suffering, but there's a lot to be said for telling people flat out: no, it's not helpful to offer advice about taking your temperatures every month or your cousin who just adopted. Yes, a wordless hug is adequate and welcome. 

(from a blog about our journey of friendship) But my love for her wouldn’t let me be someone who faded into the background, so I had to do something. In the end, I decided to write her a letter. A handwritten one, because she's worth it. In it, I said that I didn’t know what to say to her...other than how deeply sad I was for her. I didn’t know how to react...other than to pray. Basically, I didn’t know what to do...other than be available. In short, all I had to give was myself." 

Hannah, I wanted to tell you that C and I prayed for you last night with tears. love you so much,

Oh, Hannah. Oh, Hannah. I'm so very sorry. What difficult news and statistics to hear. I'm torn between being optimistic and saying "F*** the numbers," and being realistic and mourning with you. Maybe I'll do both. We serve a great God who is so difficult to understand, because rather than protect you from this, He has somehow prepared you for it. And He will take your hand and walk you through it. And on the other side, somehow, there will be children. I'm just confident of that. You will know His abundance, and it will look differently than you expected, imagined, and hoped for. You will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

I'd already planned to email you about a time to get together next week, but after reading your blog just now, I feel even more intent on seeing you. My heart aches for you, Hannah, that you have to go through such a difficult time! I wish there were something I could do to ease the emotional, psychological, spiritual, & physical ache of this journey of infertility. I'm praying for you, and petitioning God on your behalf, and I know that's probably one of the best ways to help.

 It was hard and very painful for a long time - sometimes it still is. This area right here was the hardest for me and it took the longest to come back out into the light. I had to lay my heart open before the Lord over and over and over. It was actually a moment of real awakening when I realized for the first time that I was truly unable to be what I was supposed to be for others - happy and joyful for them. I came to the very end of myself and had to cry out to God for the strength to give myself over to Him and to let His righteousness fill me. That was the only way. Little by little He has done just that. 

Praying as always for success! I remember how it feels pointless to pray after a while: "Lord, you already know this. You've heard it from me a million times already." Mom sent me this quote from Charles Spurgeon the other day, "Prayer pulls the rope blow and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly. Others give but an occasional pluck at the rope. But he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously with all his might." I am trying to be that person of prayer for you. Besides the pregnancy you so long for I am also praying that you will be like the righteous man in psalm 112 who "is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm trusting in the Lord."

So here I raise my ebenezer. Samuel raised his ebenezer when the Lord gave complete victory over their enemies. May he do the same for me - giving me complete victory. But if not, my friends are each a rock to me, supporting me, as does the Rock of Ages. 

Friday, September 21

A Silent Grief

I read this article a while back, and it is just as good today as it was a few months ago. The title is a little ironic, because I seem to be anything but silent on this matter, but I know my readers love me and wish to be on this journey with me.

A Silent Grief - Pastoral Reflections on Infertility

Tuesday, September 18

Manipulating God

I feel myself trying to manipulate God: If I just push myself into submission, push myself into acceptance of my infertility situation, then I will get the balm I want. If I finally realize how deeply I need the cross, how sinful I am and acknowledge my sins, Jesus will give me my desires.

This is a hard place. How does one truly want Kingdom work when you do not care about Kingdom work? How does one love Christ for his sacrifice, when you feel that you've sacrificed a lot, too? Indeed, even feel as though you've sacrificed enough?

 I ponder Corrie Ten Boom's story about forgiving the guard at Ravensbruck. ( If she prays for the love to forgive, why should I not pray for the ability to love Christ more than myself? To pursue God more than my own desires? Yes, I want a good gift from the Lord, but I want it for my own personal kingdom. I do not doubt this is the spiritual weed the Lord is pulling from the garden of my heart.

 I cannot do it on my own. He must give me his saving grace. He must change my heart.

Monday, September 17

James 1

English Standard Version 
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

The Message 
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

New International Version
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Saturday, September 15

A little tiny voice

Three months into infertility treatments, there are few things so difficult to bear as hope.

This tiny little voice, pointing out the strange feelings your reproductive system creates three days before your period. Because so many hallmarks of a period are also hallmarks of implantation and early conception. That people do get pregnant from fertility treatments. Otherwise, well, they wouldn't be offered as a treatment. That God can do anything he pleases. And Maybe - just maybe - this time he will be pleased to give us a baby.

So, this tiny voice brings hopeful dreams: what would it be like to look at my husband with tears of happiness, instead of sadness, numbness and disappointment? To tell people who have prayed for so long with us that we're finally pregnant? To have hope fulfilled? To, for a momentary second, feel the relief of success?

Then remembering the crushing pain of the last month: "not pregnant" in indisputable digital display. On our fourth anniversary. When we were so hopeful, so positive this month would be the best shot. The knowledge that the ultrasound this time showed I ovulated on the side that is most damaged from endometriosis. Knowing that side is unlikely to move an egg properly, fertilized or not. Thinking about the fever from illness that came for two days after the last fertility treatment.

With all that proof, wouldn't you think I would rest in the knowledge that I'm not pregnant?

But there it is. The tiny little voice of hope.

Monday, September 10

Is a Lie I've been Told

So, when I first heard this song, I told Adam I thought it sounded like a Christian song (it's not). But the way he holds each note until the next is familiar and - well - a little typical of Christian songs.

I listened to the words, and the song, well, it endeared itself to me. Not just the imagery of feeling alone, not listened to, and depressed, but also the hope in the lyrics, "Never fear, No never fear," "to believe I walk alone is a lie that I've been told," and "This too shall pass."

It seems like a Psalm - both crying out and the remembering that it will pass. Remembering we do not walk alone - God and others inevitably walk with us.  We walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We don't stop (even when it feels we've been camped out there for a long time), and another hill is just around the bend. The mountaintop comes, even if it doesn't look like the mountains we've climbed before.

Anyway. Here it is:

(Updated for the google people out there: It's by Fort Atlantic, and below is a link to a youtube posting of the son with a photo montage of HIMYM. My music loving husband would say, "buy the song!" And I say: welcome! Hope you stick around :) ) 

All my days are spent
All my cards are dealt
Oh the desolation grows
Every inch revealed
As my heart is pierced
Oh my soul is now exposed

In the ocean deep
In the canyons steep
Walls of granite here I stand
All my desperate calls
Echo off the walls
Back and forth
Then back again

To believe I walk alone
Is a lie that I’ve been told

So let your heart hold fast
For this soon shall pass
Like the high tide takes the sand

At the bitter end
Salt and liquid blend
From the corner of my eye
All the miles wrecked
Every broken step
Always searching always blind

Never fear, No Never fear

So let your heart hold fast
For this soon shall pass
There’s another hill ahead

Sunday, September 9

Gifts III

More in my little series, "Gifts from Friends"  - A quote from Michael Card, by way of my very good, very faithful friend:  

"Our failure to lament also cuts us off from each other. If you and I are to know one another in a deep way, we must not only share our hurts, anger, and disappointments with each other (which we often do), we must also lament them together before the God who hears and is moved by our tears. Only then does our sharing become truly redemptive in character. The degree to which I am willing to enter into the suffering of another person reveals the level of my commitment and love for them. If I am not interested in your hurts, I am not really interested in you. Neither am I willing to suffer to know you nor be known by you. Jesus' example makes these truths come alive in our hearts. He is the One who suffered to know us, who then suffered for us on the cross. In all this, He revealed the hesed of His Father." 

~A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God in the Lost Language of Lament

(I love that hesed means "loving-kindness." That in Jesus' deep suffering and grief, the loving-kindness of the Father is revealed. Maybe in mine, too. ) 

Thursday, September 6

Gifts From Friends II

During the last 3 weeks, my friends have been amazing. So amazing, I'm going to share their wisdom with you.

"And neither of [those difficult events] take God by surprise, and He'll love you hard enough to see you through, even if you're mad at Him in the midst of it. Happiness isn't a zero sum game, or a pie that you have to fight for the biggest piece, but it sure can feel that way sometimes, as though the happiness of others just makes your pain more pronounced. And I don't know what to say to help that, but I wish I did. I wish I could salve your heart in a way that satisfied and left you feeling calm or at least content. I'm glad we serve a God that can."

Tuesday, September 4

Gifts from Friends

Sometimes, gifts from friends aren't physical items. Sometimes they are poems:

It must be, God, Thou hast a strength to give
To him that fain would do what Thou dost say;
Else how shall any soul repentant live,
Old griefs and new fears hurrying on dismay?
Let pain be what Thou wilt, kind and degree,
Only in pain calm Thou my heart with Thee.

But Thou art making me, I thank Thee, Sire.
What Thou hast done and doest Thou knowest well.
And I will help Thee: gently in Thy fire
I will lie burning; on Thy potter's wheel
I will whirl patient, though my brain should reel.
Thy grace shall be enough the grief to quell,
And growing strength perfect through weakness dire.

~George McDonald

Monday, September 3

For everyone wondering

For those who would like to really know what it's like for an infertile couple, this series is pretty darn accurate - and pokes fun at the places that really are ridiculous!  Perhaps the reason I laughed so hard is because these situations are so universal to those with unexplained infertility.

Saturday, July 14

How's the Weather? and What We're Reading

After some crazy heat in GA and TN, the last few days have been cloudy, rainy and delightfully grey. Especially on the  mountain, it has been - at times - downright cool.

Adam was gone to Pennsylvania for two weeks and finished the intensive class part of the Masters of Education he is pursuing. He is currently required to read "The Narcissistic Epidemic"for his class, "College Kids in America." We've been reading it out loud to each other.  It is interesting, terribly depressing, scary - and funny. I'd love to recommend it to a number of friends, but currently - as I do not have kids and it doesn't look particularly good for us in that regard - I think I might get responses such as a) protesting, b) denial that they give their kids everything and c) being cut off from my friends!

If I could encourage my Parent Friends, please don't ever tell your child that they are special. They are not special. Unless they are 3 and producing Mozart-quality symphonies, they are not special. They are loved by you. They are special to you. The entitled, "special" message that kids have received over the last 15-25 years has now resulted in a marked increase in selfish, compassionless narcissistic tendencies in adulthood.

Ok, sermon over.  The problem with that last paragraph is that I know the 4 friends that have kids and also read this blog have no difficulty telling their kids "No." So the friends who need to read this book won't. 

Subject two: I have delved into photography again, getting ready for a 2013 visit to:

Now, Rick Steves was one of my favorite shows to watch on Saturday mornings in St. Louis, when we could get PBS. Here on the mountain the TV signal isn't as good, so we don't get PBS. (We do however get 5 channels of Evangelical sermons. Accept Jesus into your heart, y'all.)

As we get closer and closer to the end of our fertility struggle - when we finish with the current (so-far unsuccessful) treatments - we also get closer to visiting our friends and the culture and history of Germany.  Of course, I'd rather have our own children, but focussing on something that can be planned and executed has kept my spirits up in the face of disappointment. 

And finally, Here are some of the fantastic views out our back window: 

Tuesday, July 10


A friend of Adam's asked me the other day if I had been taking a lot of photos of sunsets lately. He works at the college and knows how beautiful the summer sunsets can be. 

"No," I answered. "The sunsets are most beautiful when there are clouds present."

"And it's been so clear lately."


I was just looking at the photo I have as my masthead on this blog and realized what I like the most about it is the contrast of dark and light. I love that the sun is streaming through the clouds.

I think God must love it when his grace and love for us and work in our lives streams through our grief and pain. Just like clouds.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

"God Moves in a Mysterious Way"
William Cowper

Tuesday, May 22

The kind of day it's been

Every night I take 10 mg of Zyrtec (Because Tennessee? The allergy CAPITAL of the world) and 10 mg of Singulair (Which is amazing because my asthma is no! more!) and candy that masquerades as Calcium Chews.  I always eat the calcium last, because it's like a little good night treat to myself. Its like a "good job! you made it through another day. And you're doing so well fighting osteoporosis!

Some days are so tiring, you just eat the candy-masquerading-as-calcium-chews first. Because you're just so tired.

But good tired. I-worked-hard-and-accomplished-a-lot-today tired.

Saturday, May 12


It is the day before Mothers day.

I am grieving.

I wonder how many of my friends, those that I know have suffered miscarriages or are infertile, are not yet grieving the loss.  I wonder what it will be like tomorrow for them. To remember the dream, or the little person, that was never realized.

I wonder about the church service. Will leaders remember the barren?

I look at my scars: the four, tiny, 1 inch incisions my good doctor made to eradicate my disease. They are healed, slightly red, starting to become white and fade. They are hidden. But they are there.

How many hidden scars are there in the women of the church? Tiny, fading, no longer bleeding, no longer scabbed over, but always there?

I remember God's faithfulness, his nearness. The way he has given me faith to endure and faith to learn over a year and a half of painful sunday services. The way he -without fail - brings the image of embracing the cross to my mind as I weep in church. He is faithful to remind me that he is ever present, and that he knows my every tear.

I remember my friends, my oh-so-faithful friends, who are always willing to be there. Always supporting. Always caring. Always praying.

I think about my own mother - and I celebrate her courage, her faithfulness, her transparency, her love. I will celebrate her tomorrow, both privately and publicly.

Today I am grieving.

Thursday, May 3

Eat to Live and Jillian Michaels

I nearly always have to start conversation about nutrition/health/working out with the disclaimer: I absolutely realize that I'm in the healthy range of weight.

ok. now that we have that down.

I also have realized that - HOLY COW- my metabolism is not what it used to be. I was never a healthy eater, nor did I think about systematic exercising when I was in my 20s. I worked out, but lets be honest: it was about vanity and maybe, just maybe, seeing that cute college guy working out in the gym.

Sometime after college, I thought that Taco Bell was legitimate (cheap, right? and TASTY!), and I put on about 15 pounds right out of college. Which is ironic, because I don't think I really gained any weight in college.

In my late 20s, I dropped a few pounds getting ready for my high school's 10th reunion and my sisters wedding, all happening within a few months of each other. Now, THAT was motivation.

Now? I have no motivation. Except to be, you know, healthy.

So I picked up this book called "Eat to Live" on a recommendation. The author is a physician, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and makes the argument that our bodies will do best, and fight cancer and heart disease best, if we make nutrients a priority and calories...well, not.  His little slogan is "Health = Nutrients/Calories."

Yeah, if you did that math right, you're thinking the right thing: Vegetarianism??

And he's not quite a vegetarian, because he admits there are a few positive things about meat, and that people need meat. Because he's a bit fanatical about nutrients and a bit overzealously anti-free-radicals and other things that  make me...well, confused about how cancer is created, but whatever. The gist of the book: Eat your dark leafy greens. a lot. Like, 90% of your food ought to be veggies, 10% carbs and meat.

Ok, so that's the first part. Second part:

I am the tiniest bit obsessed with Jillian Michaels.

From the Biggest Loser? Yeah, she cracks. me. up. She's about as boot camp as Dr. Furhman, but she's anti-soy, and he isn't...and .....yeah, you don't care.

But this absolutely made me laugh - late at night - and I love her back and forth with people: "How much red wine?"

Ok, so that's what I've been reading and watching lately. Have I been converted to eating 90% of my calories from veggies?? Well, yes, in theory. But in practice?

Two words: Chicken Chimichanga.

Sunday, April 1

Stop Apologizing

Yeah, I'm just going to stop constantly apologizing for letting this place sit with no updates.  Instead, here's a random sampling of what I've been doing and thinking about.

  • Yep, so hotflashes, they come and go. Sometimes I notice that it's a hotflash, sometimes I'm just "Wow, I'm really warm all of a sudden. Take this jacket off."  I have to be honest, I thought hotflashes would announce themselves a little more. Some kind of "here I come...get ready...AHHHHHHHH! HOTFLASH." Instead, I tend to do what I've seen my aunt and mom and other ladies do.  "Whoo-whee! I am WARM. What the heck?"
  • The end of the Lupron will come in April, so I have about a few weeks left. I've really, really enjoyed not having to deal with the everlasting question of "am I pregnant or not?" There's a part of me that just wishes we would know for sure that we won't ever get pregnant, because a) I could respond to everyone that says, "oh, you never know," with "Well, yes, I do. And so does my Fertility Specialist." And b) not deal with the roller-coaster of hope and then hopes dashed.

  • I'm definitely getting the "are you guys going to adopt?" question more frequently.  Please, friends, don't ask anyone who is struggling with infertility this question. It really really doesn't help anyone. If they are, they are, and they'll tell you all about it. If not, it just makes them  - ok, me - defensive.  The poor person who asked got a bit of a treatise on how adopting doesn't quell grief.

  • Went home for the funeral for my granddad (see previous post). Going home was good, but for the first time, I returned to where I am now without the deep sense of ambivalence that I have always experienced. Ever since I can remember, flying away from Billings made me sad and I usually cried as I would leave. This time, I didn't feel joy at leaving, but I was just ready to get back to my life. I think "Leaving and Cleaving" is a more of a process and not an event than I initially believed. But my family is a big part of my life and I love them. It makes sense that I wouldn't be able to just drop them and -  BOOM - cleave to Adam like they never existed.

  • Adam and his co-workers chose the Resident assistants for next year. So, part of the reason I headed home without him was that he was putting in 18 hour days, interviewing 19-year-olds to be head of their hall next year...and THEN doing his normal job tasks in the evening hours. The RAs are a big part of our lives. We see them daily, and are usually having them over for dinners or hanging out. So, picking a new team was a big deal for him.

  • A while ago, I bought a little gadget called a Fitbit, a pedometer that tracks every move I make. I finally got it working properly  - my fault, really. The Fitbit online support was fantastic and fixed my problem immediately.  Apparently, I "walk" so briskly, the little bit thinks I'm running. RUNNING!  It is currently challenging me to burn more than 1049 calories a day by moving (that includes walking to the car, or to the laundry, etc) per day. So far I've surpassed those numbers, usually putting in an average of 7.2 miles a day...about 50 miles a week. (Most everyone walks about 2 miles in a day, just going from place to place.) Tryin to keep this up - Of course, the other side of that coin is to stop filling my face constantly. I've never been much of a sweet tooth, preferring popcorn and chips to sweets. Well no more! Chocolate Cake, you are now my #1 frenemy! 
That's it from the Mountain. More to come...hopefully sooner than later! 

Wednesday, February 29

Hot and flash

Yeah, so the hotflashes have begun in earnest now. For the first month it was pretty brilliant. I had no side effects, except that one time when I caught the stomach bug and blamed it on Lupron. But it was definitely the stomach bug.

But now, I have a little experience every morning, right around 8 am. It's hilarious, the typical things I do - grab something to fan myself. Who knew that it's the ONLY THING you think of when you're having a hotflash. Fan thyself.

Also, my brain can be mush regularly. I just can't find the right word. I call it Lupron Brain.

Otherwise, no fatigue, no depression no weight gain.  I'm pretty lucky.

Saturday, February 25

A Quiet Life

My grandpa died on February 11th.

I was standing in front of my closet tonight, putting socks away, picking out my clothes for tomorrow and realized my grandpa was gone. It's not a new thought, and one that I've thought about a lot over the last few days, but the sadness rolled over me.  I didn't cry, as I have before, but I simply realized how much I will miss him and how sad I am that he is not here.

The tears come when I think about how much he means to me.

My mom became pregnant with me in 1977, and her boyfriend (my biological father) didn't really care what she did - abort, put up for adoption, keep. She left him and returned home, intent on going to a woman's home to finish out her pregnancy and put me up for adoption. She eventually told her parents.

Mom hadn't told me this part of the story, but she shared it last week as we were planning his funeral.  When my grandma broached the subject, Grandpa was silent for a long time. In my mind, I imagine my mom and grandma talking and figuring things out, and Grandpa sitting there quietly.  He finally said, "I don't want a grandchild of mine out there and not with our family." My mom kept me.

At this point, I usually segue into the story of my parents and how they met, how my father adopted me and what a gift he is to me.

But here, I will tell you this: When my mom told me my grandpa had passed away, I thought, "He was the first man in my life, and one of the most consistent."

Grandpa wasn't a particularly kind man to his children. That's just a fact. He was gruff and irritable with them as they grew up. But he loved his grandkids and he became more and more of a softie as time went by, until he was such a sweet and kind man that the hospice workers wept when he passed away.

This is the grandpa I always remember. I was always very special to my grandpa, and though he would never hurt his other grandkids, I think he had a special love for the bright, bubbly little toddler that almost was given up for adoption.

Because I loved him so much, his Catholicism was concerning. Did he love Jesus? Did he trust Mary more than Jesus? I never really had the courage to ask him straight out.

 As he began to decline, he would always grasp hands with my mom and pray with her, and my aunt always read him scripture when she visited weekly.

My aunt Gloria read to him Philippians 2 on Wednesday. He was lucid and responded to it with a hearty "Amen!"

On Thursday, he slipped into a coma and Friday morning around 3 am he passed away. I am confident that he believed in Jesus and that his faith was simple. He wasn't a theologian, but he did treasure communion and he missed going to church when he was in hospice.

My Grandpa served in WWII and was given a military burial, which undid me. Try keeping it together as the officer tells your grandma,
 "This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service," and "These spent casings represent Duty, Honor and Country."

His Grandsons bearing him to his final resting place

He was honorable, he served his country, he loved his family well.

I will love him - always.

With octaves of a mystic depth and height