Saturday, June 30, 2012

Art + Healing

UntitledToday, I wanted to paint.  This has been rare.

Since Eve died, making art has felt . . . strange.

At the beginning, I did it to see what it would feel like.  To see if it would help.  And, I suppose, it did, because it gave me something to focus on besides the pain, and something to offer the world out of my pain.

After that, I painted because I didn't know what else to do.  Because it was one of the few things I could do with my hands tied by grief.

And after that, because I felt like I should, because I said I was an artist and, death having so muddled my sense of self, I clung to that.  I painted, out of obligation. 

In all that time, over the past seven months, I have painted, and it has been good.  But it has not always been enjoyable.

I painted because I painted Before, and was desperate to see if some of who I was Before could survive After.

I still don't know the answer to that.  But I do know that, today, I wanted to paint.

So I did.

And it felt so very different.

In Before, painting felt like worship, like a living love song.  Even when the painting was difficult or frustrating, it was also flowing.  It felt like a gift.

Now, it remains a gift, I think.  But a different sort of gift.

Today, with music draping itself gently around me, I dipped brush to palette and painted with a deep, deep sense of urgency.  Like something was driving me. 

I started to paint because the art was whispering my name, but kept painted because I had to.  I was pressing something into the paper, something heavy and hard and gritty and thick.

My grief.  Her absence.  The gaping wound.

And perhaps something else.  Something that has no name. 

Today, I needed to paint, desperately.  For the first time.

And today, it felt healing.  Again, for the first time.  Even though it hurt at the same time, there was something under the hurt, something knitting and stitching and mending.

UntitledThis is what I have been seeking with my pencils and paintbrushes these past seven months.  I have been waiting for the art-making to be more than a processing of my limping thoughts, but a salve against my beaten-raw heart.

I have longed to be soothed.

I miss the days when art was a living love song, before I knew that babies could die -- that my baby could die.  Even though I am excruciatingly happy to be pregnant with our rainbow son, it is still excruciating, this life -- the joy, the pain, the art.  All of it.  The hurt, it bleeds into everything.

I don't know how to end this post.  There are not enough words.  Just that urgency, pulling me back to the art that has lain drying while I fumble to pin down this strange feeling in a language so inadequate.

I want to scream, to cry and tear my hair, rend my clothes.  But the tears are not coming, and the scream refuses to do more than kindle and kindle in my chest, a burning.  So I will go and paint, missing her with every brushstroke, every breath.

This is the best that I can do.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

The Winner, a Slightly Awkward Video, + a Discount

It's time to reveal the winner of the giveaway!  I thought it would be fun to reveal the winner via video (eep!) so that is what I did.

Be gentle with me, folks -- I've never done a speaking video before.  But although I felt fairly stupid talking to a camera, it was also kind of fun.  So maybe videos will become more of a regular thing. 

Until then, here is my one and only chatty video and the giveaway winner.  Enjoy!

Thank you so much for participating, everyone! For those of you who didn't win, please feel free to enjoy this coupon code this weekend until it expires on Monday, July 2 -- enter it at the checkout to receive 20% off a purchase from my Etsy art shop (excluding gift certificates):


Thank you so much, again, and happy weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

{30 Days of Relationship} I Have No Answers


Remember this post?  The one in which I declared that I was needing something different in my approach to Jesus, that I was changing this up?  All guts and glory and pulling myself up by my spiritual bootstraps.

Well.  It hasn't been going so well.

Here's what I think a major problem with the whole I'm-bucking-my-faith-system!!! thing is: that I think of it as "my approach TO Jesus."  Shouldn't it be my approach OF Jesus?  The first phrasing makes it feel like He's a problem to be solved; the second, like He's an actual person.

Another problem: I'm the one shouldering the issue in its entirety.  I'm not saying, "Hey, God?  I need some help."  It's more like, "Hey, God?  Here's what we're doing.  Try to keep up."

Um.  Oops?

That said, I think that something really does need to change.  But whereas in my first 30 Days of Relationship post I shared that I was the one making all the changes, now I'm thinking more that God's got to be in charge of that.

I don't like that as much.  Because it seems like it will entail a lot of waiting.  And I'm tired of waiting.

Tired of waiting for opportunities, for my "career," such as it is, to start.  And really, I guess I'm still waiting for my life to start, and I'm tired of that, too.

I'm tired of waiting to be a mama, to hold my child alive and squirming.  I ache, terribly, for this.  I don't know how I'm supposed to make it through another 15 weeks of pregnancy, especially when I know that there are no guarantees.

I'm tired of waiting to feel healed of past wounds that continue to dribble out their poison in the present.  To feel not-broken.

So to have to wait on God?  I just don't want to.

My reaction to the reality that whatever changes need to be made are up to Him?  Avoidance, of course.  I basically hid from Him all week, burying myself neck deep in planning and writing and other busy-ness that really are just the face of fear.

I've been hiding because I don't want to wait -- and because I don't want to feel disappointed by God.  (Come to think of it, isn't there a book on this very thing?  Yes, apparently, there is.)

Truthfully, I feel like a petulant child even writing this -- much less living it -- stamping my foot and wailing, "I don't wanna!" over and over.  But if that's where I'm truly at, I don't want to lie to myself (and to you) and scoff that I'm totally and perfectly fine, thanks.

But what to do?

Honestly, I don't know.  I suppose that I will wait, as much as I don't want to.  And press into His Word, as I can.

But maybe . . . I won't read the Bible in the morning.  I've been noticing, since Eve died, that when I let myself let go of my own plans, I tend to gravitate toward the Bible in the evening.  So maybe I will let that happen as it will, and not beat myself up for not being a Bible + breakfast gal while I need to.

I really thought that the next post in this 30 Days of Relationship series would be more encouraging, more full of look-what-I've-done-and-how-you-can-do-it-too words.  Instead, yet again, all I have to offer is my mess.

But maybe -- that is encouraging?  Somehow?  I'm not sure that I see how that's possible, only that I do appreciate reading a good oops-guess-I-got-it-wrong-this-time post because such an admission seems to give me permission to be not-perfect.  So maybe . . . maybe you will walk away from this post with the reassurance that it's okay to be not-perfect, too?

Because really, if my plan had gone as I wanted, wouldn't this post be all about how awesome I am, about how glorious and majestic and fantastic I am?  And that would be a lie.  Because whatever awesomeness I have isn't mine -- it's His.  So maybe, as much as the disappointment of this past week smarts, maybe this is the best way . . .

I have no answers.  But I think that's okay.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In the Storm


As I write, a storm rages outside.  Tumultuous clouds, scathing wind, thunder and falling branches, power lost, sideways rain -- I love it.  I love a good storm.

But personal storms?  Storms in which clouds blacken my heart instead of the sky?  I'm not such a fan of those.

I feel like I am at the beginning of a very stormy season.  Although maybe it began when Eve died, or when I became pregnant again just a few months after her stillbirth?  I'm not sure.  The beginning of this pregnancy was very tumultuous after all, fraught with fear and a perpetual sense of falling.

But then things got better.  Baby and I arrived safely in trimester two, and I began to be able to feel the sun warm against my skin once again.

Now I'm nearly at the end of the second trimester, and I am afraid.  We are quickly approaching the gestation that Eve died at (31 weeks), and that fact makes me tremble.  I thought that perhaps the fear and anxiety would ratchet back up as we reached 28 weeks, but I'm realizing that it has already begun to balloon.

I just returned from a last-minute trip to see my O.B., convinced that something was wrong because Baby has been moving less.  She reassured me that everything was well, that I should not be monitoring movement patterns until 26 weeks, that right now I'm just to feel for any movement, not a set amount each day.  She said this kindly, knowingly.  Her first baby was stillborn, too.

But I don't feel reassured.  I have become convinced that this baby, just like our first, will not survive his stay in my body.  I don't trust this body, and don't trust the process of pregnancy.  This baby, he could die so easily, so silently -- and because I know this from experience, the truth of that is all the more terrifying.

Many women whose babies die before or shortly after birth report "aching arms" -- where the arms and chest physically hurt, a manifestation of grief and the longing to hold the child who can never be held again.  I have not experienced the aching arms -- until now.

Now, I ache.  I ache to hold this baby who is living within me, whom I am so afraid will die within me.  I ache to enter labor with the hope of meeting my living baby for the first time face-to-face, not with the despair and fear that come as you are forced to birth your dead child.  I ache for pregnancy to end with messy diapers and sleeplessness born of baby cries and swollen breasts and hope for the future.

I ache.  Terribly.  Could this be love? 

I am trying to trust.  But oh, it hurts, my friends.  It hurts.

 * * *

Don't forget to enter my gratitude giveaway!  The winner will be announced Friday, June 29.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Gratitude Giveaway for You, Sweet Friend

As some of you may know, I began blogging in 2007.  Blogging has been an amazing gift to me from the very first post.  This blog has given me a safe place to process and heal from my seventeen year battle with disordered eating, and now from the stillbirth of our first daughter.  It has been a place to share my artwork and my craziness, to receive support and to give it, and (this is the very best part) to come to know of all of you.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am that you come here and read my words -- and care.  That you leave your own words in return, each comment a precious note of love and understanding, regardless of the path you are walking.  And as a result of this blog and various interactions on Facebook, Twitter, and the like, I have made many very dear friends as a result of both my battle with disordered eating and the loss of our sweet Eve.  Heaps of beauty coming from the ashes!

So I want to say thank you.  Even though there is nothing that I can say or do to fully express the depths of my gratitude.  Still, maybe this little giveaway will be a start?

A very sweet and generous blog reader wants to bless both me and all of you.  She has donated one copy of the book Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg to one lucky reader!  This lovely donor wishes to remain anonymous, but she is a babyloss mama and encourages you to check out the Preeclampsia Foundation.

But that's not all!  In addition, the winner of the giveaway will also receive a $10 credit toward any one purchase in my Etsy shop and one free copy of my recently released eBook, Life After Eating Disorder: How to Have One.

So let me sum up.  One entrant will win:
  • one copy of Grieving the Child I Never Knew by Kathe Wunnenberg
  • one copy of Life After Eating Disorder: How to Have One by me :)
  • $10 (USD) toward any one purchase in my Etsy shop, excluding gift certificates
Want to enter?  Simply leave a comment on this post telling me what sorts of things you would like to see more of on this blog in the future.  Entries will remain open for one week, and the winner announced Friday, June 29.

Thank you so much for your sweet presence in my life, friend.  I am more grateful for your care than I can say. 

33 Caffeine-Free Ways to Recharge the Tired Heart

Remember that last post, where I complained?  You know, about feeling exhausted?


I've been thinking.

What if that wasn't physical or bodily exhaustion?  After checking in with my doctor and assessing my sleep, eats, and exercise, nothing physical seems to be a cause.

So, what if the exhaustion is the result of something else?

Something emotional, perhaps, or even spiritual?  Or something deeper, something that has no name?

I think that that is quite likely.

Because after I complained wrote about how tired I felt, I felt better.  And then the next day, still feeling tired but not quite on such an extreme level, I visited a friend then went home and wrote my next article for Still Standing Magazine -- and felt really, really good.  Like, ridiculously good.

I haven't been spending very much time with my friends.  Not because I don't love them -- I do, and am so grateful for them -- but because I seemed to be needing some more me-space.  And I'm not sure that that need has been fully met . . . but I wonder if the meeting of it should be tempered a bit with some face-to-face time with the people in my life who make my heart sing, even in the midst of grief?

And then there's the creativity side of things.  After I wrote that article -- and the writing of it brought me to grieving, grateful tears -- and felt so dang awesome, I began to wonder.  Am I not creating enough?  The bulk of my recent art endeavors have been either for online classes that I am taking or attempts at new kinds of things.  While learning and trying new things is not bad, much of that art time seemed to be spent in my head, and perhaps I need to spend a bit more time creating the stuff that comes out of my heart and sharing the things that are profoundly important to me?

From there, I began to wonder further.  Are there other things that nourish and energize me, things that I'm forgetting, missing out on?

Yes, I realized.  Mostly definitely.  So I decided to make a list.

This is what sings to me.  Maybe some of them sing to your tired heart, too?

Summer light
climbing mountains with Cody -- it's on the list!

33 Ways to Re-Energize (Without Having to Drink a Gallon of Coffee)
  • creating from the heart
  • hanging out with trusted loved ones
  • laughing with the Best Husband Ever
  • petting my dogs for more than a few strokes, really sitting down to give them love
  • writing 
  • writing in my journal, for no one's eyes but my own
  • having music I enjoy playing throughout the background of my day
  • crying
  • reading inspiring, call-to-action stuff 
  • just the act of reading, period
  • sitting on our back deck when it's dripping with shade in the mid-afternoon
  • going outside when it's windy, feeling the breeze on my skin
  • going outside, period 
  • napping (I am so resistant to naps! I think this is left over from my eating disorder days)
  • drinking more water
  • making hummus for the first time in years, then eating some (I just did this, and it was SO good)
  • going on photo walks
  • not obsessively checking and rechecking my email, Facebook, etc. throughout the day
  • lit candles
  • trying out new simple and healthy recipes 
  • climbing mountains with the pups (when I'm not pregnant, that is)
  • hugging
  • letting going of self-judgement and guilt when I have a rest day
  • snuggling with the Best Husband Ever  
  • giving, especially when the gift is a surprise and/or not an exchange
  • walking barefoot in lush green grass
  • not watching movies/shows that have content that leaves me feeling icky
  • loom knitting
  • drinking even more water
  • showering (I hate taking showers/baths, so put it off to the last stressful minute)
  • doing exercise that is enjoyable as well as good for my body
  • wading
  • dipping into the Source of Life  
Your turn -- how do you re-energize your heart, mind, and soul when they are utterly exhausted?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Some Exhausted Meandering + New Art

Remember how I said that I've been feeling stretched?  It's changed -- now I'm feeling straight up worn out.  I've been utterly exhausted every. single. day. for the past week and a half.  I'm tired of being so tired.

At first I thought it was due to the excitement and stress of our mid-pregnancy ultrasound and the little gender revealing party I threw (I am not a natural hostess -- my introvert self likes going to parties, not throwing them).  So I allowed myself a few days of grace afterward to recuperate.

Only I didn't recuperate.

Now, a week after my grace period, I'm wondering what else has been leaving me feeling so depleted.

Of course, there's being pregnant.  Today is the seven month mark -- seven marks since my sweet girl died and was born.  That's bound to add a profound level of stress and, as a result, exhaustion.  This I understand.  What I don't understand is why the exhaustion is suddenly so much deeper, so long lasting.

There's my activity level to consider -- but really these days I'm not doing much more than walking.  I do my prenatal workout DVD once or twice a week if I'm lucky, and the rest of the time I walk, for no more than an hour and usually far less.  Yesterday I managed 20 minutes on the treadmill.  So I don't think it's that.

My food intake?  Normal, with a healthy level of indulgence (leftover penis cake?  yes, please).

My sleep?  I'm getting at least eight hours each night, and often more.

My growing belly?  I guess this could be a factor . . . Baby is measuring about a week ahead, but I don't know why that should affect much.  I'm only 23 weeks along, and while my belly is feeling quite large these days, it doesn't seem like I should be so devastatingly tired as a result.  Besides, I love feeling those baby kicks. 

Creative projects?  I haven't been doing as much art as my blogging might lead you to believe.  Basically, what I've shared is all that I've been doing, and I haven't worked on said art projects since last Thursday.  The same with my writing.

Other stress?  In therapy I've been working on some intense and deep-seated hurt from my growing up years, and I'll admit that it is definitely a heavy burden.  But a burden heavy enough to crush?  I am not so sure . . .

So what is up, body?  I'm getting frustrated enough that I'll be asking my doctor about it at our next appointment. 

I wasn't sure where this blog post was going when I started it, and now, at the end, I'm still not.  I suppose this is more of a ranty post than anything, and I don't know how to conclude.  So I'll leave you with some fun stuff, like . . .

 . . . new art available for sale . . .

Be Gentle


. . . the release of my first-ever eBook, Life After Eating Disorder . . .


. . . and my most precious work-in-progress . . .

22 weeks

Sharing this belly photo makes me so . . . happy.  (I type that word gingerly, as if to name it is to kill it.)  This photo, it puts the exhaustion in perspective.  Because all these discomforts, they're so worth it, aren't they, even the most severe ones?  And my current exhaustion, although profound, is bearable and certainly not severe.

As I write these words, I feel sweet baby kicks from within, and my memory is refreshed -- I would do anything for this boy.  I would have done anything for his sister.  I am so in love with our little family, as broken as it is.  I am their mama, and I will do what I must do.  I do it gladly. 

Thanks for reading this long and meandering post, friends.  Can you forgive me for its scattered nature?  For something more coherent, check out my June article for Still Standing Magazine, which went live yesterday.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Piece of the Wrong Puzzle: On Fitting In & Faith

I never seemed to fit.   

From the kids at school to church to society's expectations to my own family, I never seemed to fit in.  I never felt right.  Everything about me seemed wrong -- too-frizzy hair, bad skin, big teeth, pudgy but yet somehow still gangly, and socially awkward to the extreme.  I felt like a puzzle piece trying to squash myself into the wrong puzzle.  

No one, I felt, could ever like me, much less love me.  I would chastise myself for even hoping for such a thing.  It was, I knew, impossible.

When I got curious about God and began to read the Bible, I found that Jesus seemed to have a thing for people like me -- for the people who didn't seem to fit, people who maybe were a lot like me.  

I began to wonder.  

A decade later, God has healed me of a lot of my sense of being-wrong, of not-being-loveable.  I have run up the unconditional love of my God, my husband and his family, and my church family too often to remain unchanged.  Over the past year especially, I have felt like I have finally found the right puzzle.  

Then Eve died, and everything changed.

Where did I fit into this world?  Where does someone like me, a mother of a dead child, go?  What kind of a puzzle is there for her . . . ?  
Today I am writing over at Still Standing Magazine!  

Sunday, June 17, 2012



Isn't grief supposed to be healing?  Shouldn't every tear shed, every day endured be a step closer to the broken being put back together?

It doesn't feel like that.  Instead, each day seems to shred my seams a little more.  I am unraveling.

I'm sure that some of that is to do with pregnancy.  Hormones and fear -- the mind-bending companions of a rainbow pregnancy.

A friend asked me this past week if the pregnancy has been getting easier.

I think I laughed.

It's true that I feel much better now than I did in the early weeks of this pregnancy.  That was a dark, soul-crushing time that I am not eager to relive anytime soon.  Now, at least, I have baby kicks and a baby belly.  Then, all I had was the fear.

But the days seem to be turning dark again.  31 weeks -- the gestation that Eve died at -- is fast approaching, and I am daily refilled with dread.

I don't know how I will survive that time, just two months away now.  I don't know how I will endure the times when this sweet boy growing inside me is not kicking, knowing what not-kicking can mean.

I don't want to go there.  But I know that I have to, if I want to hold a living baby in my arms.

Still, I am terrified.

And sad.  So sad.  The tears come without warning, without reason.  Although don't I have reason enough?  My daughter is dead, and who knows if my son will join her before my life is run?

But when the tears come now, I am not thinking about anything particularly sad.  They just come, racing down my cheeks at the strangest times, and I am reminded -- my life is not what it once was.

Yesterday, I cried when I spilled bean salad all over our kitchen floor.  I cried when I got the time wrong for an online artsy chat and missed it.  I cried when I went for a walk.  I cried while I sat in our church folding bulletins.  I cried as I bought cereal at the grocery store, and as I drove home.  I cried in my husband's arms.  I cried when I went to bed. 

It is a strange thing, to be crying for your dead child while your living one is kicking away within you.

Life is fragile, and achingly precious.  I have learned this the hard way, and perhaps that is why I cry.

I miss my daughter.  I am so excited to meet our son.  I am grateful for both of our children, and I would not wish their lives away to skip this pain.

But this pregnancy, it is hard.  I am unraveling.  The only thing I am left to do is to pray that God is letting this happen so He can weave me into something better than I was. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

{30 Days of Relationship} Confessing + Beginning


Often I fear that I am failing.  That failing, it seems to pervade every corner of my life sometimes, but especially my faith.  I feel like I am not a very good Christian, that I am failing to properly love God, to let Him use my circumstances (read: Eve's death) for my good and His glory, that I am wasting her loss.

It is overwhelming.

And then I wonder -- maybe that's not up to me.  Not all of it anyway.

Maybe I'm going about it all the wrong way -- going to God for what I can get from Him, to see what He will give me in exchange for my daughter's life.  As if faith and living and dying were a barter system.

I felt particularly convicted of this while reading Nancy Guthrie's latest book (I recommend all of her writing on grief and loss), Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow.  Nancy writes:
"I found myself dry and disillusioned, so busy for Him but often so far away from Him.  There were times I didn't know how to get the conversation going again, and I wasn't sure if He'd be willing to listen to me or if I even knew how to recognize His voice. 
That's when, with a sense of desperation, I made a commitment to listening to Him by reading and studying His Word day by day.  Jesus, the Word of life, broke through my religious activity and accumulated Bible knowledge and began to convict and change me.  I fell in love with  hearing His voice through His Word and developed an insatiable appetite for it."
Dry?  Yes.  Unsure of of God is there to listen?  Oh, yes.   I identify so much with the faith desert that Nancy describes . . . and her words made me wonder if, with an altering of my motivations, I, too, could fall in love with hearing God's voice.

Usually when I wake up in the morning, full of intentions to set God first and spend time in prayer and in His Word, I feel . . . bored?  anxious?  afraid?  I'm not even sure what the right word it for is.  I have expectations of what that time with God should be like, and there is also an underlying belief that God will let me down.  That I will come away from that time worse off than I was going in.   

But what are these expectations?  What am I hoping to get from thirty minutes of prayer and Bible reading?

I often expect, I think, something huge.  God responding to me loud and clear, on a grandiose level.  But maybe that's the wrong way to go into it?
"Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper."
Maybe I am looking for a magnificent storm instead of listening for a gentle whisper?  
"Some say the healing miracles of Jesus are evidence that we can call upon and count on the almighty and all-loving Jesus to touch our bodies and heal our diseases here and now -- that God always wants to heal our bodies.  And I think Jesus might say, 'You've missed the point!  You're so concerned about getting what you want from Me, you've missed Me.'"
~ Nancy Guthrie, The One Year Book of Hope
Am I missing the point -- and, in doing so, missing out on Jesus?

I think the answer is maybe.  Probably.  Yes.

So, like Nancy Guthrie, I want to make a commitment.  A commitment to show up to God everyday for thirty days, first thing in the morning, for prayer and Bible-reading.  

Of course, that doesn't sound any different from what I'm already doing -- except that this time, I want to focus on God leading.  I want to show up and see what He has for me, not present Him with my agenda of what He needs to do for me.  To try to get to know God on His terms.  To show up for the relationship with my Savior more than anything else.

Basically, I want to hang out with Jesus.

Is this possible?  I don't know.  I really hope so, though.  Because I need a change.  Something in my approach to Life is lifeless, stale.

I'm excited -- and nervous -- to see what happens.  I think this will be an interesting experiment.


Do you ever feel like something in your walk with God is just not working?  What do you do about it, if anything?

Friday, June 15, 2012


I feel like I've got quite a few art projects going on right now.  I don't know if I actually have a lot, it just feels like a lot.  I'm good with either one!  In addition to last week's projects (which are just about done and will be listed for sale this coming week), here are some new things on my art table . . .

This girl is part of my Life Book 2012 classwork.  I'm really enjoying the lessons from Tam Laporte in particular -- her shading techniques are really stretching me as an artist (which is sometimes frustrating and not so comfortable).  Here's a peek:


And then I decided to try to practice Tam's drawing and shading techniques without the support of a video, and this girl is the result.  I'm not sure why she looks so evil (at least, why she looks so evil to me):


What are you working on?  

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p.s.  Wondering why art is suddenly appearing on this blog when I have a whole other blog dedicated to it?  I've decided to consolidate my two blogs into one.  The Epiphany Art Studio blog will soon be an informational page, and this will be my sole blog.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mom of Boy

20 weeks

I have officially joined the club -- the MOB club.  The Mom of Boys club, that is.  Or, in my case, Boy.

I'm not sure what to do with that.  Because being pregnant with a son feels unexpectedly, radically different from carrying a daughter.

When I found out in my first pregnancy that we were expecting a girl, I felt so relieved.  A girl!  I was a girl!  I know girls!  The tangled curls, the opportunity to buy dress upon adorable dress, the anticipation of female teen insecurity and possible snark -- I know all that.  I felt ready for that.

But a boy?  What do I know of boys?

I know a bit of what the Best Husband Ever was like as a boy, the single son in a family of six children.  I have heard the stories -- playing all day in the mud, drawing tiny stick figure armies again and again, stringing wire in a tangled web across an entire room.

Will our son be like that?  I don't mind that.  A bit strange, a bit unfathomable, perhaps, but endearing.

I have larger concerns.

What does a boy need to become a man?  And what does he need from his mama to become a man?

What can I do -- a woman who has spent her career and her life largely working with girls, with other women -- what can I do to help him to grow into the man God has created him to be?  To be a Christ-like leader?  To become a kinsman-redeemer husband and father? 

What do I know of boys becoming men?

Not much, I think.  I have a great deal to learn.

But there are a few things that I know without doubt . . .

That I love the boys God has given me -- my husband first, and now our son.

That I am looking forward to the challenge of being a mama to a boy.

That I am okay with mess and mud and whatever healthy chaos our son brings into our lives.

That I am looking forward to seeing my husband be a father to his son, to see this special relationship blossom.

That I will learn how to be a mama to this boy, and that God and love will cover my lack.

That I am so in love with this little boy taking in shape within me.  That I cannot wait to meet him face to face. 

Little Jacob-boy, I am excited for you to turn our lives and hearts upside down with your particular brand of mess and madness and little boy-ness.  You are pure gift.

20 weeks

Tell me I'm not alone, other mamas of boys, in these worried wonderings?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grateful Beyond Words

Ultrasound @ 21 weeks 5 days
baby face
Ultrasound @ 21 weeks 5 days
baby feet
Ultrasound @ 21 weeks 5 days
baby penis
penis cake
Yesterday we had our mid-pregnancy ultrasound.  Rainbow baby is a boy, and even more importantly is healthy and happy.  Even more wonderful, the ultrasound tech and doctor were very compassionate and not only remembered Eve, but spent much of our appointment reassuring me as to the unlikelihood of having another stillbirth.  I am grateful beyond words.

On Mondays Tuesdays, I catch you up on the beautiful gifts — both large and small, hard and comfortable — that God has been giving me.  Start your own One Thousand Gifts adventure by clicking on the banner below.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012



Last night I finished this new piece, titled "Shine."  I like it so much because it took me out of my comfort zone.  The body shape, the dress, the Marie Antoinette hair -- I have never made any of these things in this way before.  Plus I incorporated oil pastels for the first time, and put some of my recent handwriting practice to use.  

I am so pleased just for those reasons.  The finished product seems secondary.  Am I the only artist who's ever felt like that?


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Journey of Grief is Meant to be Traveled


A few weeks ago, I thought to myself, "My blog is really depressing.  All I write about is grief."

And while I don't know if "depressing" is the right word to describe this blog, it is true that I mostly write about sadness and loss, with some posts on our rainbow baby mixed in.

I decided it was time to switch things up.  After all, there is more to [my] life than grief.  Right?

If you've been following this blog for awhile (and I do mean awhile), you might remember that I used to write mostly about food -- first focusing on my battle against disordered eating, and then eating disorder recovery and healthy eating.  I used to take and post a rather ridiculous amount of food photos.  Sometimes it was a grind, but often it was a fun challenge.

I found myself missing that, so I decided to bring the food back.  I cooked up some oats for breakfast, topped it off with scrumptious goodies, and took lots of photos before devouring said oats, intending to share my photos and a recipe here on the blog later.


There, I thought to myself.  I'm backI'm not a grief blogger at all. 

Then the six month anniversary of Eve's stillbirth hit, sending pain cutting through me in all new ways.  And I realized -- my life really is all about grief right now, and to deny it would be both unhealthy and unhelpful. 

Now, somebody is not going to like that, so let me define what I mean when I say that.

Do I mean that I spend every second of everyday crying, that I can't get out of bed, or that there is nothing good to be found in my life?  No, not at all (although I think that the first two responses can be normal behaviors in the early stages of grief).

What I mean is this:

That when my daughter died, the person that I was died, and am I struggling to figure out who I am now, and who I am becoming.

That although I do not think about Eve every single second, my entire existence is permeated by the knowledge that she is dead, that she died inside me.

That while I am so grateful to be pregnant with Eve's younger sibling, this new baby is living and growing within the same womb that his sister died, and I am often paralyzed by how very little control I have over whether he will make it out of me alive.

That when someone asks me, "How's your day going?" I have no idea how to answer.  Because even though the day itself may be going just fine, I am still living with the reality that one of the most important people in my life died within my own body, and I still don't know what to make of that.

That my first and last thoughts in the day are of my daughter -- meaning that I wake and sleep with my mind and heart filled with images of her dead body, because that's all that I get to know of her in this life.

That the emotion can hit at any time, without logic or sense, and that it can feel just as raw and painful as the day I had to birth my daughter's dead body -- or worse.  

That my life has been invaded by panic and anxiety, and it is at times utterly crippling.

That I replay the moment when I decided to say good-bye to my daughter's body over and over in my mind, and wonder what kind of a mother could ever willingly let her daughter be taken away to be undressed and dissected and examined and then burned to ash -- even if it was not Eve herself, but only her shell.  

That nothing feels worth doing in the face of the enormity of loss, that everything has been reduced to triviality.

That I think of the future, and often can see nothing but a gamut of loss after painful loss, because the loss of my daughter was traumatic and has robbed me of my innocence forever.   

That I live with the knowledge that life can change in vast, immeasurable ways in the space of a moment, and it terrifies me.

That I know that God is for me, but that I tremble at what new devastation He might allow into my life for my good and His glory.  

In light of that, what meaning is there in a pile of oats?  Why waste words on the inanity of chewing and swallowing when my soul has been gutted?


My life is all about grief right now -- and I don't think that's a bad thing.  To lie to myself and to others, to say that I am fine when I'm not, to rush myself through this [terrifying and painful] growing season would not only be unhealthy, but a waste.  God is using my grief for good -- to heal me, to change me, to make me better, and (hopefully) to help others, especially those walking a similar path.

So I will let my life be all about grief for this season, however long that turns out to be, and leave the oats alone.  I can't go back to who I was, to the naive blogger who photographed all her food -- nor do I want to.

This grief, it is the journey that God has set me on, and I am determined to travel it to its end.

Linking up with...

p.s.  For those of you who are curious about how I made my oatmeal . . . I cooked 1/3 cup oatmeal/oat bran (about half and half of each) over medium heat for 5-7 minutes with 1 sliced-up banana and 2/3 cup vanilla almond milk, then added blueberries, chocolate chips, and a dollop of peanut butter when it was done.

Monday, June 4, 2012



On Mondays, I catch you up on the beautiful gifts — both large and small, hard and comfortable — that God has been giving me.  Start your own One Thousand Gifts adventure by clicking on the banner below.

... making pizza for dinner
... working together with the Best Husband Ever to clean our house
... remembering that I am chosen (and so are you)
... Tuck's Pads
... recognizing uncomfortable times as opportunities for growth
... a great conversation with my dad-in-law about having a heart for God
... sun, for the first time in weeks
... the way the Best Husband Ever smiles at me, eyes dancing, making me feel so blessed
... feeling, for the first time, Baby #2's hand or foot moving against my fingers when I pressed them into my belly


Sunday, June 3, 2012


Looking out from the top of Mt. Jumbo
"Long before [God] laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son." 
~ Ephesians 1:3-6 MSG

"But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted."
~ 1 Peter 2:9-10 MSG

We are called chosen. 

God wants us.  Deeply.  

He does not begrudgingly accept us with a sigh.  He does not roll His eyes and put up with us.  He doesn't love us out of obligation.  He doesn't tally up wrongs.


Instead, He desires us.  He plans out blessing for us.  He loves with abandon and without obligation.

We are called chosen, friends.

Rest in that.

Friday, June 1, 2012



It feels like just yesterday that I was writing about how it felt impossible that I would survive the month of May.  Yet here it is, June.  I am amazed.  

Has May been hard?  Yes.  Oh, yes.

But there have been good things, too.  Care to remember with me?

... hearing Baby #2's heartbeat several times and seeing him via ultrasound at 18 weeks

... the opening of Still Standing Magazine

... enjoying my first Mother's Day as a mama

... a major return of emotion, much to my relief

... writing to my daughter six months after her death and birth

... my first post for Still Standing going live

... weeks of rainy weather keeping the dry brownness of summer at bay

... reaching 20 weeks in this rainbow pregnancy

... surviving another month, when it seems like that should not be possible

What good things has May brought you, even if they are mixed in with not-so-good things?