Friday, June 28, 2013

Don't Lose Your Google Reader or Google Friend Connect Subscription on July 1

google reader beta logo
{photo via creative commons}
Hi, friends.  This post is pure bloggy housekeeping.  But it's important, if you're interested in keeping up with my words and adventures here.  Because as of July 1 (that's Monday . . . wow it snuck up on me!), Google is shutting down Google Reader and Google Friend Connect.

I'm very sad that this long-rumored changes are finally coming into being.  I use Google Reader to follow along with all of my favorite blogs, and think it's unparalleled.  I have switched all my subscriptions over to Bloglovin, but I will miss the ease and build of Google Reader. 

And as for Google Friend Connect, I'll miss that, too, when it follows Google Reader.  If you don't know, Google Friend Connect is that widget over in the right sidebar that says "Join This Site" with all the followers' photos beneath.  I really enjoy how this simple widget gives a face (or really, faces) to the audience you write to -- and, in our case, the beautiful community of you amazing readers I have come to truly love.  I will miss this feature (I'm not sure if this will also be on July 1, but it's slated to happen soon). 

So what's a blog reader to do?  Well, there are a number of subscription alternatives to Google's.  As you've probably already guessed, I favor Bloglovin.  A great bonus of Bloglovin is that they've made importing all your current Google Reader subscriptions crazy simple -- learn how to do so here (if that tutorial doesn't click with you, here's another equally easy method).

And if you're interested in following my blog with Bloglovin, click here or on the button below.  There is also a button in the right sidebar.

If you'd rather not subscribe, but do want to keep updated, here are some more options:

It would truly fill me with joy if you wanted to continue reading this ongoing story that I am {and we are} living.  It's been wonderful traveling with you through the beauty, pain, and blessings of this life.  I love you all so very much.  Thank you for the way you've shown me your own hearts as I show you mine.
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p.s.  Could you please be praying?  The Best Husband Ever and I are in the midst of making an excruciatingly difficult decision, and there are no good options.  I'm not sure what to ask for . . . perhaps wisdom, and then grace and peace in whatever not-good option we go with?  Thank you and thank you and thank you.

* * *


I am in love with the amazing students who have signed up for Made. Even though the course does not start until September, they are already bravely engaging in some full on creative play. This is sacred, folks. Absolutely sacred.

Interested?  More info + registration is here.
Catch up with us on Instagram and Twitter with #madecourse!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

When a Former Anorexic/Bulimic Loves Her Body

This morning I stood in our bedroom pulled on a camisole-topped two piece bathing suit.  I looked in the mirror and -- there they were.

Those thighs.

This picture here, it doesn't do them justice.  And by "justice" I mean that it does not show you the dimpled cellulite that jiggles overly much when I move, nor the stretch marks that came from binge eating and not from babies.  It doesn't show you the warty lump that protrudes where my right thigh meets my bottom, and it doesn't show you the the hairs that refused to be shaved.

I don't know why I just wrote that.  Why I felt the need to point out every last flaw about those thighs.

And that's what I thought about, there in my bedroom as I faced myself in the mirror and my son played on the floor nearby. 

Why is it those thighs?  Why not my thighs

My thighs, that watched two babies emerge from my womb.  My thighs, that have carried me and carried me for these more than three decades.  My thighs, that I've not treated or loved so well, and certainly haven't stretched nearly often enough. 

I will love my thighs, I told my bathing suit clad self this morning.  My own two thighs, strong and precious and solid.  I will be proud.

But I didn't believe that I could.

I went to the pool and drew and deep breath and told myself not to be ashamed of the body that housed my precious soul for all this time, not to be afraid to love it before the world.  I drew off my coverup and stood in my bathing suit, my thighs wide and white.  And --

Oh my friends.

It was totally fine.

I stood there in that bathing suit and it was fine.  I took my son up in my arms and strode toward the water, into the water, and it was fine.  I waded him around and buoyed him up on my shoulder and my knees and it was fine.  I emerged from the water, changed him and myself and -- it was totally fine.

I have never felt so free with my body.  Never felt so accepting of it.  Not ever.  Not even when I had starved myself down to a size nothing did I feel like my body was thin/beautiful/sexy/wanted/valuable/anything-at-all enough. 

And now -- I can stand proud on my thighs that don't meet our woman-crushing culture's ideal.  I can stand proud on thighs that our society says render me valueless, less-than. 

You and I, we know that value has nothing to do with size or shape or color or cup size or any of those transitory things.  It is easy to believe this for each other.

But for ourselves?  And me, for myself?  It's so much harder, somehow, to give the same grace.

And today . . . today, I did. 

It is a miracle, God-breathed and Spirit given.

This tastes of freedom, of shackles loosening and feet stepping from darkness into pools of light.  These feet, powered by my very own thighs.

This feels too beautiful for words.

* * *


I am in love with the amazing students who have signed up for Made. Even though the course does not start until September, they are already bravely engaging in some full on creative play. This is sacred, folks. Absolutely sacred.

Interested? More info + registration is here.
Catch up with us on Instagram and Twitter with #madecourse!
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When I am an Anti-Abortion & Pro-Choice Jesus-Loving Feminist {Thoughts on SB5}

Coat hanger
[photo by ian usher via creative commons]

Tonight it seems that Senate Bill 5, a piece of legislation restricting abortion and women's health services, was [illegally] passed in Texas.

I hate abortion.

I think abortion is violent and tragic, and that it robs children of their lives and wounds the mothers who choose it.  I wish abortion did not happen, and did not have reason to happen.


I do not believe that restricting women's access to safe abortions is the answer.

We've been here before.  Making access to safe abortion illegal or difficult won't stop abortion from happening.  If we restrict access to abortion, babies' lives will not be saved, and women's lives will be lost.  Hearts will be lost.

There has to be a better way.

There is a better way. 

It begins with the heart, I believe.  With the hearts of women and men.  One cannot do this without the other.

It begins with reforming the way our society values women.

It begins with renovating the language we use to speak about and with women.  

It begins with challenging rape culture.

It begins with recognizing feminism as being for more than women alone, and about more than women's issues alone.

It begins with openness and vulnerability and love.

It begins with standing in the pain and offering mercy and help when it would be to let your gaze slide away.

It begins with saying, "I see you."

I do not believe that any good change can begin with, "No, we do not trust you to make choices about your own body and your own family."

We cannot save lives by constricting them.

That's not what Jesus did, and that's not what we should do.

Not ever.

I am going to bed now, and when I wake I hope it's to news that the illegal and manipulative passing of Senate Bill 5 has been rescinded and that eyes are looking and hands are reaching and mouths are crying out for a better way than this.  Because there is one.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Wrestling Rusted Doubt {A Poem}

tiny white flower on deck

I recently completed Elora Nicole's online writing course, Story 101 (if you sign up, tell her I sent you!).  It has been an amazing experience, and I have not come away unchanged.  This is a pantoum that I wrote during our last video chat, and I wanted to share it with you because it is a picture of my tender + fluttering soul feels now, at this very moment.  It has been far too long since my heart spilled poetry.

wrestling rusted doubt
knowing is my idol
speak, your servant aches to listen
reach down your holy calloused palm

knowing is my idol
keep this body red and breathing
reach down your holy calloused palm
can we weep together?

keep this body red and breathing
speak, your servant aches to listen
can we weep together?
wrestling rusted doubt

* * *


I am in love with the amazing students who have signed up for Made. Even though the course does not start until September, they are already bravely engaging in some full on creative play. This is sacred, folks. Absolutely sacred.

Interested? More info + registration is here.
Catch up with us on Instagram and Twitter with #madecourse!

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Freedom is Waiting {The Words That I am Scared to Share}

A week or so ago, fellow writer and inspirational friend Elora published a piece of my writing on her blog.  And . . . I didn't share it with you.  These words that I'd written, they terrified me.  They terrify me.  That's why I gave them to someone else to publish.  

But I don't want to hide these words away, because as hard as it is to share this seldom written about part of my story, there is an important message there.  There is ministry there, and healing.  And so . . . I give you this, the article that I wanted to share with you but was too scared to share with you and, now, am sharing with you.

I didn't always know what boundaries were.

Not the relational kind, anyway.  Up until a few years ago, if I ever used the phrase "personal space," it was only to be ironic.

Probably because I didn't know what personal space was.  Probably because, in the house I grew up in, there were no boundaries.

* * *


I am in love with the amazing students who have signed up for Made. Even though the course does not start until September, they are already bravely engaging in some full on creative play. This is sacred, folks. Absolutely sacred.

Interested? More info + registration is here.
Catch up with us on Instagram and Twitter with #madecourse!

Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Family Planning After Babyloss

Before I became a mother, I used to image that my husband and I would have three kids, all quite close in age.  I didn’t think to worry overly much about it, though.  How hard could it be to create the family we wanted?

Then our first child, our sweet daughter, died and was born.

And suddenly, the idea of family planning felt incredibly ludicrous.

Because how can you plan for the future when you’re still picking up the pieces of what was supposed to be, and the edges of all that shattered slice deep into your tender palms?
Today I am writing over at Still Standing Magazine!

* * *


Are you interested in exploring the intersection of art and faith?  Then the Made online course might be for you!  Come adventure into the creative heart of God with us this fall.  There are just a few early bird registration prizes left!

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Friday, June 14, 2013

Self-Care, Failure, & Keeping My Eyes Open

in progress

I can't believe that it's already been a week since, well, last week.  I've gone into something like hibernation when possible, just chilling out in our living room arm chair when my son naps, trying to recover some energy.

I have to be honest -- between my husband's loss of faith (and it's not like he's an angry atheist either) and my friend's stillbirth and all of the emotions and stirred up grief that have come up, not to mention it just being a very busy week . . . I haven't been doing so great.  (But your kindness has been sustaining -- thank you for the sweet notes of encouragement you left me!)

Okay, you probably guessed that, considering my last few posts.  And it shouldn't surprise me.  These past few days have been a true challenge, and I did not my self-care levels enough.  As a result . . . hello, depression.  Hello, extreme doubt and faith questioning.  Hello, eating almost a full box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch over the course of a single day (oops).

And yet, here I am surprised.  Surprised that I'm floundering more than a little in these extra murky waters.

But there's something that surprises me more.

I shared with my therapist about this week's self-care failures.  About how, at the moment, I'm not acting like the woman I'm created to me.

Her advice?  Let it go.

And so I have.  I am.

I am?!

This is the thing that surprises -- shocks me, even -- more than the fact that I am floundering.  I am blown away by the fact that I am able to let these flounderings go.  I am able to release them into the hands of God, even with all my doubt.

Because in the not-too-distant past?  When I stumbled like this, I couldn't let it go.  I couldn't just pick myself back up and keep walking.

Instead, I would stay down.  I would press my own face deeper into the muck.  I would self-flagellate, unable to forgive myself.  And, of course, all those behaviors I was trying to shame myself out of engaging in would increase.

If it wasn't all so painful and confusing, I'd say these struggles were worth it because they have so startlingly highlighted how much I have grown.  How much I am growing.

Because when you're growing?  It usually doesn't feel like it.  Those steps forward are agonizingly small, and the landscape never seems to change.

But then something like this happens, and you realize that you've traveled miles along this road and the flat, dull scenery of before has broken into rolling hills kissing cerulean sky and the sun is suddenly shining into your skin and you know, you know that everything is different.

And so I feel refreshed, my friends, even though I am still huddled in that armchair, in the knowledge that everything is different.  That my internal landscape has changed remarkably.  That I will not be left unfinished.

I know that I do not need to wallow here, either.  So while I am waiting for God to pull me forward, I am doing what I can here and now.  I am watching art video inspiration.  I am continuing to paint, even if it's just a little.  I am writing here, telling the truth.  I am moving my body.  I am giving my son as many daily kisses and snuggles as humanly possible.  I am resting.  I am feeling, even the hard things.  I am noticing what God has already done.  I am keeping my eyes open.

In other words, self-care.  Without the guilt trip.

Let's do this.

* * *


Are you interested in exploring the intersection of art and faith?  Then the Made online course might be for you!  Come adventure into the creative heart of God with us this fall.  There are just a few early bird registration prizes left!

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Let's Just Be Honest Here


It's hard to believe all that has happened in the past seven days.  Let me just say -- this week has been full on.  One of those weeks that is a hinge between "before" and "after," and nothing, nothing feels the same.

I never imagined that over half of Made's early bird spots would be sold out by now.  I never imagined that the registered students would already be forming a community of love in our Facebook group.  And (since we're being honest here) I never believed that anyone would want some heart-child-creation of mine like the Made students have wanted this course.  Thank you for that, those of you whose own hearts leapt and said yes!

I never imagined that on Tuesday a friend would message me to say that her baby had died before he was born, died inside of her, and that I would fly to be with her and stand in the pain and meet her sweet son and hold her as she cried when she did the things that no mother should ever have to.

I never imagined the way this would make my own grief over Eve feel so raw and new.  I have cried more in the past few days than I have in the past few months.  And really, it was needed.  My grief had scabbed over while there was still hurt that needed draining, and this has reopened me not only to pain but to healing as well.  This is hard, and good.

I never imagined that witnessing my friend's loss and grief would stir up the courage to lean into this thing that's been on my heart for over a year but that I've been too afraid to embrace.  Seven days ago I would not have believed you if you'd told me that my heart would be saying "yes" to this strange calling this week. 

And (hang on, we're switching gears here) I never imagined how hard it would be to try to hang on to my faith when my husband lost his.  It makes me feel weak and my faith feel paltry that his decision for atheism would rock me so profoundly.  That his choice would feel so much like death in my heart.  I turn to God's word for comfort, and find it cold and hard.  I am trying to enter in, but it feels like banging my head against a wall. 

I never imagined that all this things would converge with my anxiety and as a result that I would find myself unable to go to bed for four nights in a row (and counting . . .).  That this would stir up my eating disordered tendencies that still lie nested in the recesses of my brain.  That I would feel so profoundly old.

I don't know how to wrap all this up in a neat bow.  Probably because that's impossible, although that fact doesn't stop me from wanting to try.  I believe that Jesus is bigger than my self-doubt, than my God-doubt, than my pain and fear and shatteredness.  But some days -- days like this one, that falls at the end of an uninmaginably beautiful and terrible and terrifying week -- it's hard to see that belief as anything more than flimsy smokescreen of desperate self-delusion. 

But telling you these things feels like praying.  And if God is the God I believe he is, than this is enough.  This is prayer, and worship, and enough and enough and enough.  Even though my heart is too tired to hold onto that hope.

* * *


Are you interested in exploring the intersection of art and faith?  Then the Made online course might be for you!  Come adventure into the creative heart of God with us this fall.  It's not too late to get your early bird registration prizes!

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

When We are Standing on Sacred Ground


Today I stood on holy, sacred ground.

It was beautiful, and terrible.

I should have taken off my shoes.

I'm not sure what to say about it, about meeting my friend's dead child and watching her hold him and pat him and kiss his tiny, sweet forehead.  About listening to her make the decisions for her son that no parent ever wants to make.  About crying with her as she handed his fragile body over to the nurse.

Except that it was beautiful.

And terrible.

Sacred ground.

And of course it brings me back to when I was the one being watched, I was the one making the decisions and cradling her child for the first and only time.  When it was me sobbing as I stood over my sweet Eve's body, knowing it was time to say goodbye, to let the nurse wheel her away in her bassinet, and not being able to for some time.

No mother should have to give her child's body away to be burned to ash.

That is the terrible part.

The beautiful part is how peaceful it can be when a mother is holding her dead child close, exploring his delicate skin with trembling fingers, falling into devastating love with this tiny person who was, who is but is not here.

I am so grateful for that peace.  I felt it when it was me and Eve, and it was wonderful to see my friend experience the same with her son.

And it was terrible.  Because that calm in the storm of grief is so short-lived, and all too soon the bereaved mother is shoved back out into the world where everything feels so harsh and her heart is so raw that if feels as if she's walking around with no skin on and everything, everything hurts.

But I needn't have worried about the words.   They flowed easily, at the right times, and much of the time we sat in silence in the place of birth meeting death.

Sacred ground.

I should have taken off my shoes and pressed my face against the cool tiled ground and cried out mercy, because there was so much of it, and yet not enough to stop the hurt from throbbing so. 

But I am grateful to have stood witness, and am honored to have been invited into such a holy intimacy.  It seems to me as if today was one of those days delineating "before" and "after."  A pivot point on which your world turns and nothing ever looks quite the same.

Meeting Eve was one such point.  Watching my friend meet her dead son feels like another. 

As hard and horrible as the whole thing is, something clicked true in my soul about it, too.  Something that has to do with calling.  Maybe with calling to this.  I don't know.  I am afraid.  I don't know.

I think I'll lay myself down and cry for that mercy now. 

* * *
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

When You Don't Know What To Say


I don't know what to say about this.

In the last three days, two sweet friends have lost their babies.

The first, an adoptive mama, was anxiously, excitedly waiting for the call from her son's birth mother that she and her husband could go and meet their child.  Instead, when the call came, it was with news that the baby would be staying with his birth mother.

The second mother is in the hospital as I write this, laboring to bring her dead child's body into this world. 

I don't know what to say about this.

What do you say to the mother whose home is filled with toys and infant chairs and a just-put-together swing, things ready and waiting for the child who will never use them?

What do you say to the mother who is carrying her dead child inside her own body, who is terrified at was has happened and is happening and will happen to her and in her? 

What do you say when you know as exactly as anyone can the ache that these women are filled with, the howls and anguished moans that fight to tear loose from their throats, guttural and raw and real?

I don't know what to say.

But then I remember . . . I don't need to know.  I don't need to say a damn thing.

Because sometimes?  There are no words.

Instead, there is the drawing near.  There is the witness, to stand close and give eyes to the life that was and is gone now, the grief that spreads wide instead.  There is the beating of your chest and tearing at your hair and the adding of your own howls to those of your friends.

There is the entering in.  Into the pain, into the questions and fear and doubt and rage and sorrow.

I know how meaningful these gifts are, because I hold the ones I was given since Eve died and was born as more precious than wealth upon wealth upon wealth.

And yet, it seems like nothing.  I hold it in my hands, the witness I am about to bear, and it feels weak and paltry and not-enough.

And of course it's not enough, because "enough" would mean the empty arms of grieving mothers filled with the little ones they hoped and wept and prayed for.

I can't give them that.  I can't give these mothers back their babies.

But I can give them my eyes, my ears, my presence.  And God will turn that into something.  Into Something. 

And so tomorrow I will go and meet that precious baby who died and witness my mama friend's tears, and tonight I pray for God's presence to loom obvious and holy in the sacred space of the hospital room where no mother should be expected to birth her dead child, and yet so many -- too many -- do.

Will you pray for these grieving mamas and their families and support-givers, too?  This is sacred, horrible, beautiful work, friends.  Let us lean in and not be afraid.  Please,  Lord, make me not afraid. 

* * *

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Made eCourse: Exploring God-Centered Creativity


I am so excited.  So, so excited.

And kind of queasy, too.

Because you know that SUPER DUPER SECRET SPECIAL PROJECT that I've left little breadcrumbs of info about these last few weeks.

It's here.

It's here.

It's this:

Registration is open right now.

That's the part that makes me want to simultaneously cheer and puke -- that this is happening.  That it's real.


As you might know if you've been reading my blog for a while, I came into my creativity a bit late in life (but there's no thing as "too late"!).  I only discovered the healing joy of mixed media art a few years ago, and since then I've been devouring all the online art courses that I possibly can. 

But, for the most part, one thing seemed to be missing from these art courses, as wonderful and inspiring and well-taught as they were.


Or, more accurately, my faith.

Spirituality seems to be discussed quite a bit in the art circles I've wandered in and out of.  And I feel that creativity is sacred work, and so it should intersect with spirituality.

But out of all the many art classes, there were hardly any geared specifically toward Christianity (the two Christian artists I know who teach online are the lovely Jan Avellana and Paulette Insall, and are definitely worth a visit!).  And while that's not a bad thing, and I don't expect every single course to be made for those of us who hold the name of Jesus close . . . I felt the lack.

I wanted a course that explored the intersection of art and faith.  That asked deep questions about how we, as creative beings, can allow whatever our particular brand of creativity is to lead us closer to God.  About how to let our faith inform what we make.  

I wanted Made.  

That's what it's named, this eCourse -- Made.  Because it's for people who are makers (artists and writers and journalers and photographers and more) who were in turn made by the Maker. 

And now it's here.  It's here!

Somehow I've cobbled enough time together between loving this sweet baby boy to gather twelve amazing women (myself included) who will teach four months of inspiring workshops and lead us in an exploration of God-centered creativity.  

It's going to be awesome, my friends.  It already is. 

So if you are a Christian creative of any leaning (and by "creative" I mean whatever you define that as -- maybe you're a painter or a storyteller or fiber artist or chef or photographer or poet or architect) who is interested in joining a courageous community of like-minded folks who are investigating the intriguing intersection of art and faith . . . then Made is for you.

And to say "thank you, thank you, thank you" to those students who register early,we are giving away some sweet prizes to the first 40 people who register for Made.  

Whoa.  I cannot believe this is happening.  A dream turned reality.  I am so excited, and nervous, and excited again!  I don't think that I will sleep much tonight.

Want to know more?  All the details you need are up on the Made website.  Or, if you just want to jump in right now, you can secure your spot in Made by clicking the button below:

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