When Good Friday Came for Me

Could there be a better day to break the radio silence on my blog? Probably. But the urge and the time rarely come at the same time these days.

I woke up this morning mentally planning out my morning to make sure I left room to sit, be still, think, pray and reflect. It’s kind of programmed into me to take notice of days like today and to aspire for some sort of revelation, or something? As the morning drew closer to Lydie’s nap time, I started to ask, Why do I want to/feel the need to reflect today? I don’t slow down to ask these questions as often as I used to anymore. I find myself slipping back into the programmed sort of thinking; the striving. I let this question just sit for awhile and allowed my mind to wander. And then sure enough I began to wander. The to-do lists started to pick back up, etc. etc. and then my eyes were drawn and locked on the picture I have of Brooklyn on my bathroom counter. It felt like that picture was speaking to my Spirit in a language that only the two of them really knew. I just stood there for a while letting it all happen in my heart.

I walked away with the memory of one of the first excruciating days after Brooklyn’s death. I was laying in bed, in our small, humid bedroom at our old rent house feeling like I was going to drowned from the pain of not having Brooklyn here any more. I sobbed. I wailed. I pounded the sheets with my fists. I squirmed uncomfortably from the weight of the pain. Somehow the physical movement felt like a tiny bit of release from the deep, deep sadness. Words never quite do any of this justice.  In my despair all that kept entering my mind was Jesus on the cross. I don’t know exactly know how Mary and his disciples felt that day, but how could it have been anything short of devastating? I can’t even imagine the anguish Mary experienced watching her son be beaten to a pulp and then nailed onto a scratchy tree. I’m not sure the word trauma would quite cover what that woman experienced that day. As for the disciples, all their dreams and hopes were dashed. They had risked everything for this man. They had counted on him. They believed him. They must have felt foolish. They must have felt betrayed. They probably sobbed, wailed, cowered and maybe even pounded or squirmed their way through that horrendous evening and into the lonely hours of the early morning.

That day in my bedroom, blinds and curtains drawn, Good Friday came for me. It reached into the messy, tangle of sheets and tear stained pillows. All of a sudden, Christ’s willingness to go to the cross became so very personal. Without His sacrifice, I would never have the hope of some day, in some way, being reunited with Brooklyn. It was no longer theory or a story I had been told time and time again; it was my life line.

That day comfort came in the cross and a seed of gratitude was planted deep in my heart; woven into my very being. So I reflect today not to receive some new insight or revelation, but remember why Good Friday truly is good and give thanks.

Sleepless near Circle C

It’s amazing how little sleep can make your feel absolutely crazy and like a shell of a human being. I don’t really like the  analogy of feeling like a zombie because that’s the stuff of nightmares, and nightmares eventually end. When you’re in the middle of it all, taking care of a baby doesn’t seem to have an end. It’s a round the clock gig. And for someone who’s life was basically one big break for awhile, it’s taken quite a bit of adjusting. And, when I say adjusting, I mean more like grinding up and spitting out.

Lydia woke up at some point in mid-October and thought that the newborn schedule of nursing every 2.5 hours sounded really great again. She decided that sleeping for 5-7 hour stretches at night without being close to Mom was for the birds. And, me, being the dope that I am rationalized this away as a growth spurt….that lasted a week, and then 2, and then 3 and then 6.

At night all I wanted was to sleep and it felt like foolishness to let her scream for an unknown amount of time when I knew exactly what she wanted. And, just like that I was stuck in the trap. It took me hitting rock bottom, not once but twice, in order to surrender and figure out how to get ourselves out of this dysfunctional and unsustainable cycle.

The first time I broke was right before what would have been Brooklyn’s 2nd birthday. Lydie decided to wake up almost every hour for an entire night. The lack of sleep my body was experiencing led me to not even be able to sleep when she would finally fall asleep for an hour or so at a time. I was miserable. My amazingly kind parents came over to help me get some sleep. And I think this is when the questions of, “Do you see me God? Do you hear me?” began to grow from whispers to shouts. We watched the date of Brooklyn’s 2nd birthday come and go and were physically unable to do anything to remember or honor her – other than simply remember. It was so painful to let that day pass by. My cries for rest and rescuing seemed to be met with only silence.

Or, so I thought.

Two weeks later, the night before Thanksgiving, Bug thought that waking up every hour thing sounded like fun again. The morning of Thanksgiving I was a sobbing, yelling lunatic. And the questioning started to sound more like accusations. I had resigned to bathe in my own self-pity. Embarrassing, faithless words came out of my mouth. Things like, “Haven’t we been through enough? Was our experience with babies doomed to always be difficult? Why couldn’t we just have an ‘easy’ baby?” I was having such a hard time enjoying Lydie. I was so focused on her sleep issues that I was missing out on the gift that she is, in a big way. And it felt like grief. I wanted nothing more than to enjoy my baby and my experience as a Mom. After all, it’s been a long road here. Add a layer of guilt to my grief and my discouragement felt debilitating.

The evenings were the absolute worst. At most times in life evenings bring rest, or at least the hope of rest and sleep soon, but for me it felt like I was about to step into the battle field when all I wanted was to find the refresh button.

One evening while my Mom was here to help, I laid in bed crying. I had no words, my tears had to be enough to carry my cries and prayers for help. I wanted a play-by-play or at least some assurance that this sleeplessness would not last forever. I was caught in these questions. When will this let up? Do I have to take charge? Can I really trust His governance? His guidance? It was somewhere in that exhausted drifting off place that other questions came up from my spirit to meet the others swirling around in my heart. Is there any difference in how I would live if I knew? Or, can actively believing the truth that He sees, He knows, and He has a Way manifest themselves in the very same way that knowing in some concrete fashion would? A little peace, a little hope to carry me to sleep.

That night-nap was not the end of my crying, or wrestling with releasing my idealistic view of what I wanted parenting to look like with Lydia, but it was the beginning of hearing again. And, maybe even more importantly it was the beginning of turning the focus back to what He has for me in all of this instead of being so fixated on what I wasn’t experiencing. I remember the first hours and days of Lydia’s life I wanted nothing more than for her to be as comfortable as possible. I kept hearing the reassuring words of, “Suffer with”. What an important and valuable role of a parent. To learn how to just be in the uncomfortable with another being even in light of your crazy desire to rescue and make it all better. It’s that intense kind of love that held Him to the cross. And it’s that intense kind of love that creates the strongest bonds between two hearts. After two weeks of newly sleep-filled nights as a result of doing some sleep training with the little Bug, my attention has been drawn this Advent season to the bond that He has created with me through His willingness to come and “suffer with” His people…with me. After giving birth not so long ago, the concept that the God of the universe came to us through the messy womb of a humble woman, in a smelly, undignified stall of animals is mind-boggling. He subjected himself to everything that we ourselves are subject to in this broken world, in our broken spirits, in our broken bodies. He knows what it’s like to be poor, to be a refugee, to face persecution, hunger, to be beaten and stabbed. He knows what it’s like to be dead.

Who is this king that He would come to us, to suffer with us, for us? Oh to meet This Wonder soon.

O wisdom, Lord and ruler, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Rising Sun, King of the Nations, Emmanuel, Come Lord Jesus.

Finding Our Place

Adam and I have been enjoying the “fresh start” that seems to accompany the season of fall in our culture. It’s the time to jump back into routines and rhythms and all those things that some of us thrive in, and some of us drowned in. And for the rest of us, there’s pumpkin spice lattes and scarves!

After many months of a combination of having church at home, attempting to go to the church services of the church that for the most part loved us really well during Brooklyn’s life and after, and some lazy sleep-in Sundays, we decided it was time for a change. Life just looks so radically different for us, inside and out. Going back to places or communities where we were settled before just didn’t feel right. Sometimes it felt difficult, sometimes it felt awkward but most of the time it just felt like that once perfect pair of jeans that just don’t fit right anymore. You let ’em hang around in your drawers for a while. Then think maybe a trendy pair of cut-offs is the answer? And then eventually they become condemned to the “to paint in” pile.

Ok, that was a tad harsh. Needless to say, it was time for a change.

He had been planting lots of seeds throughout the past few years in both mine and Adam’s hearts that made this new community we’ve been led to feel like a place for us to bloom. But of course, with newness comes lots of introductions. Our lives are at a great place for new introductions, and meeting people is a lot easier with baby in-tow! As relationships develop though, stories are told. And ours is not always easy to tell; or hear for that matter. But I’ve experienced some newness even with that. For one thing, sharing about Brooklyn and her life isn’t always accompanied by tears. Sometimes there’s even room for smiles and laughter. It feels good to talk about her life that way. There is a sneaky voice though, that likes to whisper things like, “You didn’t cry when you shared about her today, do you even care that she’s not here anymore?”. Or when certain things come about in my every day life that should be “triggers”, the voice shames me for hardly batting an eye.

A couple of Sundays ago the service was on Jesus as The Healer. One of the passages we looked at was in Mark 5 where Jesus heals Jairus’ daughter and the hemorrhaging woman. This one was a tough one for Adam and I. It hurts to be reminded of a story where a father asks Jesus for healing for his daughter. It hurts to remember that Brooklyn wasn’t healed in a miraculous way on this earth. It brings up a lot of “whys” for us. For me in particular it brings up a lot of, “can He really be trusted?” kind of thoughts. Of course by the end of the sermon we had both been crying at multiple inappropriate times, so when the offer to be prayed for came up, we thought if there’s anyone who needs prayer here this morning it most certainly seemed like it would be us! During prayer the words that were given to us were remember and release.

The more I’ve let those words kind of….simmer, the more I’ve been seeing how important they are in this present season we find ourselves. Making the time to remember Brooklyn and yet release our grief, almost as a deliberate, simultaneous act. A new way that feels like opening ourselves up for continued healing.

This past weekend we were doing some organizing and tidying up around the house and the little pile I had gathered with some of Brooklyn’s things has been staring me down. I felt anxious having it just sitting in the corner there every time I walked in the room. So, I pulled down the pretty boxes I had bought to put some of her special things in and as I started filling them up I was getting so irritated because it didn’t all fit. Some objects were too big, some too small, some things would have been better stored in a book, etc. And I got all worked up over this because for months now I’ve just wanted all her stuff to just be in one designated place, carefully and affectionately stowed away so I could visit it any time I wanted and then put it all away again. But, what struck me in all of this is, I just can’t do that. There will always be little pieces of Brooklyn and her life with us scattered throughout our home. Just as she will always scattered around and woven into our hearts. And when I stop to think about it, would I really want it any other way?

My brother and sister-in-law came to visit us soon after Lydia had been born and while they were here they organized some of our family photos and wall art, and hung them up as a photo gallery on the wall in our living room. Prior to this we had a large canvas of one of our favorite pictures of Brooklyn above the fireplace. Well, now that canvas is on our wall surrounded by other pictures and art that represent pieces from our life story. It dawned on me the other day, how symbolic this small act of redecoration was. The mantle in our home is an obvious focal point and we didn’t really have anything on the walls anywhere else in our house yet. Brooklyn was kind of it. And for a season that was OK, but now we’ve come to a new season. A season that doesn’t put her away, or on the opposite spectrum…showcase her and hold onto the grief to prove our love to ourselves and others, it’s a season of all of us….finding our place. Picking up and embracing all pieces past, present and future, and cherishing each one.

CTW Syndrome

I have this self-diagnosed syndrome. I will name it CTW (Chasing The Wind). CTW is basically trying to create the optimal situation at all times, or at least most times, in an effort to feel joy, satisfaction, peace, etc. I suffer from this the most on the weekends. Largely because Adam is home from work and the weekends are for cleaning the house up, accomplishing major gratifying house projects, going on some sort of epic outside adventure, and maybe a little pinterest project at the end of the day. That all sounds do-able, right? So, when the cleaning up consists of moving the dirty dishes from the counter to the sink, the gratifying house project is changing the batteries in the downstairs smoke detector, the outside adventure is walking to get the mail, and the pinterest project is pinning more projects, the day can end up feeling somewhat disappointing compared to my grand hopes.

I call it Chasing The Wind Syndrome because, the few times that my grand expectations have actually materialized, it never feels as satisfying as I imagine it will. I find myself chasing the wind, often. And the problem with this is I end up missing the moment I am actually in. All of the energy I could be giving towards being thankful for the moment I find myself in, or even acknowledging it, I give over to mentally arranging the to-do list like a game of Tetris. Always looking for the most efficient, productive and satisfying way, but leaving little room for actual enjoyment.

CTW isn’t just limited to the weekends though, it also likes to visit me on holidays, and birthdays. About a week ago, as the calendar flipped closer to the 15th, I started to feel the rising tension that generally accompanies my birthday, and can be associated with an early onset of CTW. I had never noticed it in previous years, but this year it made me stop and think about what I was feeling, and why?

My mind started racing with all the possibilities of how I could spend my birthday. Lunch with friends? Dinner with friends? Which friends? Pedicure? Massage? Leave Lydie? Take Lydie? But, then I started to reflect on the moments over the past few months where I have felt the most satisfied; the most joyful. Most of those moments I was either celebrating or loving someone else, or just being with Lydie and Adam. This of course sent me into a different kind of tizzy, because I thought, “If I don’t plan, hint, or nudge around about what I want…nothing will happen and I won’t feel celebrated! And I’ll be stuck in my cycle of quiet disappointment again…” OR… I could just be still, wait, and trust that what I need to feel joy, satisfied, and celebrated will come TO me! And whatever comes will be just what I need and just enough, whether it’s a fan fare (which I wouldn’t really want anyway), or a quiet day at home with Lydie.

What’s truly amazing about loosening my grip and being open to what the day brings, is I feel more thankful for the little things. I woke up this morning to a peaceful, sleeping baby at my bedside. When I consider where I was this time last year, that in itself is such an amazing gift – a longing fulfilled! Since little bug wasn’t up yet and needing “the milk truck”, as I’m so affectionately called at home (What woman wouldn’t love being referred to as a truck?), I laid in bed and felt my heartbeat, and watched my chest rise and fall as my lungs filled up with air. I thought about how I sleep well when I get to sleep. I don’t have chronic migraines or back aches. I have friends and family who love me and support me.

Unwrapping each thought with thankfulness.

Adam made me Eggs Brooklyn, one of my favorite breakfasts we made a lot when she was home with us. It’s the most delicious way to remember her. Lydie slept in some more so we finished our coffee in the backyard. And, tonight we’re planning to take a walk over to one of the local restaurants around us for dinner and dessert. This was such an added bonus when we bought our house a little over a year ago. He knew it would bring us so much joy to be able to walk to pretty much anything we would really need (or want), and still be tucked away in a quiet suburb with a backyard of beautiful trees. Getting to enjoy all these aspects of our location, makes me feel so loved.

And why does it all matter? My health, my family, my home…because it’s been given to me. In my final lap of my 20’s this is what I want my life’s focus to be.

No searching, maneuvering, adjusting, scheduling, plotting, chasing or labeling necessary.

If it’s been given, it is a gift.

In Focus

It is amazing how little time I have to write. It seems like I have plenty of time to think. Although the thinking is often interrupted abruptly and never brought to a conclusion.

We have had so many wonderful friends who have provided food for us over the past almost two months. I have been asked countless times after the initial doting over Lydia, “And, how are YOU doing?”. Dads often look somewhat sympathetic, Moms often look knowingly, and others are just being polite. I stumble through some sort of response that ranges from, “Oh, you know tired but, …. good” to an enthusiastic “Great!”. All based on the amount of uninterrupted sleep I have had the night before, or how content Lydie has been. Though, my response never quite feels satisfying to me.

So I’ve been asking myself, “How ARE you doing?”

Some how life doesn’t feel THAT different, yet at the same time completely turned upside down. On the outside my life looks pretty similar. I’m still home a lot. It is not uncommon for me to be in my pajamas until noon. I stare out the window and think or imagine a lot. I still make a couple trips to Target or HEB each week. I sleep, sometimes. I still hate deciding what to eat for any given meal. I still use ungodly amounts of dry shampoo.

The things that make it feel like I’m standing on my hands are my reasons for being home all the time, the reason I can’t remember if I put a fresh pair of underwear on that day, and what is consuming my thoughts from dawn to dusk. And of course my Target trips are much more hurried. No more leisured perusing of the clearance items for me. Dollar section? What dollar section? I have a list people and a baby that could wake up at any moment!

The reason for the pajama wearing, window-staring before Lydia was born was bred out of an inability to deal with society without my grief still seeping out all of the time, which over time slowly turned into exercising a habit of quietness, stillness and rest. But now, Lydia is my reason for this pace of life. The lifestyle may look similar but the focus has changed. Which has impacted all that was in focus before. And this has taken some major adjusting.

I remember the first time we went to the cabin with Lydia I felt a little uncomfortable the whole time. Which I just attributed to just pure exhaustion at first, but as the day went on I started to realize there was something bothering me. Brooklyn was the first grandchild to ever go to the cabin. I have always felt a bit of connection to her there because it was one of the few places we went with her. Well, that day we brought Lydia there kind of felt a little like forgetting. It felt a little like leaving Brooklyn behind. The new grandchild is in town. And that’s when I first started to consider if my relationship with Brooklyn has changed now that Lydia is here.

I know that people have second babies all the time and any Mom would probably tell you something along the lines of, “My love for my first child didn’t diminish with the birth of my second…my one heart just got bigger.” Well, I think that’s probably true. And those Moms get to chase after their firstborn, hug them, kiss them, tell them they love them and express the love that was there from the beginning. I, however, am left to question. I am left to consider. Has my love for Brooklyn changed with the receiving of another? And, of course the answer is no. But it can feel that way when lately my moments of joy far exceed my moments of despair. When a moment of looking down at my two arms and feeling like they should be holding two babies is distracted by the adorableness of the one I am holding. And this isn’t the only relationship that has been impacted by the newness of my relationship with Lydie-bug. My relationship with Adam has been impacted in new ways, and even my relationship with the Lord has felt different.

I was talking about this with Him the other day. I was telling Him how He was going to need to show me how I could experience Him, feel His presence with me and hear from Him even as my attention is so “taken up” by Lydia and caring for her needs. I told Him none of it would ever feel satisfying if I wasn’t able to experience Him in this new role of caring for her outside of my womb. I started to list off all the things that feel different. And all of a sudden I felt Him respond with something like, “Wait a second. Who am I again? Who do you think you’re talking to?” And He reminded me that yeah, I may have changed, Adam may have changed, what I do with my day or how I experience it may have changed but He has not. He is constant. He’s the same comforter He was in the early days of my grief, He’s the same friend and companion when I was pregnant with Lydia.

My relationship with Him is set in stone. It’s forever. It never changes. Even though I may be experiencing it differently. It’s eternal. As I let this rest in my heart for a bit. I realized that maybe it’s the same with Brooklyn too? My relationship with her is set forever. I will always be her Mommy. She will always be my daughter. No matter how many other children I have. No matter how much more time I get to experience other children here on this Earth. She is always a part of me being a Mommy. After all, she made me one. And now that I get to do Mommy things again with Lydia, I can remember that if Brooklyn were still here, I’d be doing all those Mommy things for her too. Maybe as my Mommy heart grows, as my time with Lydia grows, and hopefully as our family grows, my love for Brooklyn will only grow along with it.

-Brooklyn & Lydia’s Mommy

And here are some pictures because pictures are fun.

Our first Sunday at church together.

Our first Sunday at church together.

Lydia loves to tell Dad all about her day when he gets home from work!

Lydia loves to tell Dad all about her day when he gets home from work!

Her first ride on the swing at the cabin. (Please don't report me - I realize I am not "wearing" her correctly. But don't worry head and neck were supported)

Her first ride on the swing at the cabin. (Please don’t report me – I realize I am not “wearing” her correctly. But don’t worry head and neck were supported)

We've been getting some good smiles out of little miss lately!

We’ve been getting some good smiles out of little miss lately!

Joy Restored: She’s Here!


We are overjoyed to announce that Lydia Irene is here! She was born on Wednesday, June 18th at 3:17pm 6lb 13oz & 19.5 inches.

God was gracious and gave me strength to have the natural VBAC experience that I had been asking for. It was difficult and painful, but also incredibly satisfying and even enjoyable! Adam and my friend/doula Amy were such great supporters in helping me have the best birth possible.

(If you’re in the market for a doula, take a peak at http://www.atxdoulas.com/)

I had mentioned to Adam a few weeks ago that one of my goals for myself was to be able to smile in labor at least a couple of times, especially once it got intense. And that happened! There was even some laughter and joking going on too! But, once my water broke at 8cm, the smiles were replaced with Xena the warrior princess grunts, groans and low-toned screams. Thankfully this part only lasted a couple of hours until Lydie was born.

It has been such a different experience having a HEALTHY baby. The first couple of hours after she was born I felt so uncomfortable that she wasn’t hooked up to various machines monitoring her vitals. How would I know if she was breathing!?! Oh right, just look – like everyone else does. On our way home from the hospital Adam and I both marveled at how wonderful it was to not feel overwhelming anxiety about whether our newborn would suddenly turn blue or stop breathing! (I still sat in the back seat with her, but I let myself look out the window a few times!). We have had many of these little thankful moments like this over the past two weeks. He has given us abundant peace, and exponentially increased our joy.

The other day I was praying and telling Him how much joy I was feeling getting to be Lydia’s Mom and care for her as her little body is adjusting to being an out-of-the-womb baby. I felt so loved by Him. And He sent my mind back to when Brooklyn was just days old and we were in the thick of the heartache and disappointment upon learning of her diagnosis, and I hear Him say to me, “That was love too.” It was all a part of what He’s produced in our lives through our story. His love is not always just what gets us through the tragedies, sometimes the tragedies are  the avenue in which we can actually experience His love.

“He changes rivers into deserts, and springs of water into dry, thirsty land. He turns the fruitful land into salty wastelands….
But He also turns deserts into pools of water, the dry land into springs of water.”

Psalm 107

So as I am thankful to be singing the second half of the verses in this psalm right now, my heart has been stretched to see even the memories of our past pain as a display of His faithful love for us.

We are loving our days (and nights) with our Lydie-bug. Here are some pictures of our two weeks with her thus far.



She is screaming her little lungs out. It sounded like music to this Mama though.

Shortly after birth: She is screaming her little lungs out. It sounded like music to this Mama though.


First family photo

First family photo

Hangin out at the hospital.

Hanging out at the hospital. She loves to have her hands by her face just like she did in each and everyone of our ultrasound pictures!


Going home!

Going home!


1 week old but 2 baby chins!

1 week old but 2 baby chins!


Happy girl!

Happy girl!


We cant get enough of her. But after looking at the pic again, we really should make more time to shower...

We cant get enough of her. But after looking at the pic again, we really should make more time to shower…


Milk drunk. I am so thankful she is a good nurser!

Milk drunk. I am so thankful she is a good nurser!


Smallest hat we could find! She's so tiny still!

Smallest hat we could find! She’s so tiny still!


Maggie has been slowing up to her new little sister

Maggie has been slowing warming up to her new little sister


-Brooklyn & Lydia’s Mommy

Sign Posts

This is the week in my pregnancy that I had Brooklyn. I was 38 weeks and 3 days along. Induced for high amniotic fluid levels. It is a little ironic now (if I were a superstitious type of person) that I posted this picture a few weeks ago with the inscription, “Lydie, are you trying to tell me something about June 11th?”. At the time, I had no idea that I would be 38&3 on that day.


I have been feeling so. many. different. emotions. lately. The pendulum swings without rhyme or reason. I probably have about 2 or 3 blog posts I’ve written over the past couple of weeks drafted in my email account, none of which I will post, because they read a bit like my emotional experience of life. All over the map.I’ve been asking Him though for some sort of clarity in the midst of the elevated hormones, the memories of late into my pregnancy with Brooklyn, the emotions the empty and awaiting baby things scattered throughout the house bring.

It’s strange how the emptiness of anticipation and the emptiness left by loss can look so similar. I’m sure there’s some amazing parallel to the emptiness and the promise of the tomb in all of that, but I’m a seminary degree away from any ability to extract that.

So, clarity I’m not exactly sure I’ve received? But somehow He gave me the grace to let my mind and heart be still enough to hear from Him in these days and weeks of anticipation, ambiguity and constant reading into everything my body is doing.

Every ache, every unfamiliar twinge, whether she’s super active that day or not, I am plugging into this nonexistent formula in order to deduce whether labor is about to strike. I have even gone so far as to start analyzing Maggie’s behavior to try and tell me something about whether “the hour” is near. It’s pretty nut-so and dishearteningly normal for so many of us.

Last night in one of my luke-warm (or, as I have labeled them in my head…Lydia-warm) baths, my thoughts were brought to this place of church-camp, retreat- like surrender. Images of every evening worship service I had attended, mostly the alter-call part, or the part you were asked to give something up or make some sort of commitment, came flashing through my head. And then those thoughts were high-jacked. They were no longer filled of dimly lit chapels or hotel banquet halls. I was in broad day-light with the sun hitting my face and shoulders. I think I was sitting on a blanket and there was definitely the sound of trees swaying in the wind. Even though the setting was completely different, I still had this feeling like I was supposed to give something up. I sat up in the serene image in my mind and started to check my pockets like I had encountered a needy person on the street and wondered if I had some quick cash to give away my guilt. Then behind me I saw a stack of signs. Kind of like the stop and go signs the orange-vested adults wave around in the middle of the street during your local elementary school’s dismissal time. And, you might have guessed already what these represented to me in my heart…no expository study skills needed here…these were all the “signs” I am looking for to tell me where my body is in this process of Lydia-making and eventual Lydia-expelling. He didn’t ask me to give them up necessarily, like I thought He would, but He showed me how much I am missing out on when I’m focusing on these signs so closely. I think that’s why He brought me to this serene, peaceful, blissful spot in my mind.

The coming days and maybe weeks of waiting can be marked by something more than educated (or not so educated) guesses, anxiety and attempts at feeling mentally prepared. Maybe the preparation for the big event has more to do with me learning to allow myself to enjoy, savor and give thanks without stopping for these last moments in my pregnancy than it does about checking things off a to-do list, or reading through all may VBAC labor & delivery pinterest pins. What healing might He bring to me through the warm sun and the cool breeze of relaxing and reclining in His care? What assurance can the act of just being in His presence and feeling known bring? There is no room for anxiety or fear in the picture He’s given me. And if the uncertainty and the fear of another loss or another tragedy find me in this place He has prepared for me to come to in my mind, I can see Him leading me to my feet and walking with me through trees ripe with fruit. Any of which I can take and eat, and be satisfied along the way, no sign posts necessary.

And I wonder if this is what is meant by, perfect love casts out all fear.

-Brooklyn & Lydia’s Mommy


I noticed the other day how lightly I walked in and out of the grocery store. And, at almost 8 months pregnant I certainly don’t mean weight-wise. I remembered feeling the heaviness of my grief when I was in public a year ago. A stranger would walk by with her two children and I would feel like I wanted to jump out of my skin! I was still wrestling with whether I could really live life carrying this pain I was feeling in missing Brooklyn, in being a Mom without her baby. My heart seemed to protest anytime I was somewhere that most people seemed in one piece, because I felt full of nothing but pieces. 

This evening was one of those ugly cry, go through an entire box of tissues, hair damp on each sides of my face from lying on the floor sobbing kind of evenings. I don’t know if it’s Mother’s Day being around the corner, or being at a party last night where the question, “Is this your first?”, inevitably came up with each person we met, or Lydia’s baby showers coming up, or just…the nature of grief, but the hole felt so big tonight. 
I remembered her. And, I don’t just mean in my memory….it felt like every part of me was hit with a wave of remembering. It began to feel uncomfortable to be in this skin, in this body, living without her. The very molecules I’m made from seemed to shout, “Something is not right! Someone is missing! Where is she?” 
In this moment, the bed, the couch, even a rigged dining room chair doesn’t seem suitable to hold me. Only the floor will do. The gravity of grief is a strong force.
Where is He? My heart kept searching. Woven in between my hearts’ grasps for Him, I hear things like, “He’s not real. See He’s not answering you.”…..”She’s not really in Heaven, that’s just something people say because they can’t handle the idea of an innocent baby dying.” The accuser is so loud. Maybe crying louder will drown him out? My heart’s eyes see feet walk up. Beautiful feet, that’s all I can see. “I hear you! I see you! And, your sobbing is like a beautiful song to me.” That’s what my heart heard. I don’t have any verses to back that up. I don’t know why He would say that to me? But that’s what I heard. Hearing makes all the difference. It may not stop the tears or quiet the whimpers right away, but it plants them in a place where maybe one day they will grow something beautiful. 
Maybe the force of gravity even knows there’s more going on with our tears than we could ever see this side of eternity? 

What’s In a Name?

I never thought I’d be the type who could name their baby without meeting them first. When we had Brooklyn, we didn’t find out her gender pre-delivery, but we knew that if she was a girl it would be Brooklyn, and if it was a boy it would be Shepherd. Even after she was born though, I had a hard time committing. I wanted the chance to hold her and see if it…fit. But, I didn’t really get that opportunity in the time frame I would have liked and had to trust that her name was just supposed to be Brooklyn. 

With this new little one, it’s felt very different. First of all, we’ve known this would be a baby girl since early in my second trimester from the genetic testing we had done. Second of all, we just haven’t felt over the name Brooklyn. We decided early on in our marriage that if we ever had a girl we wanted to name her Brooklyn. When she was here it felt like we said her name 100’s of times a day and then all of a sudden it came to a halt. For a little while it was hard for Adam and I to even speak her name to each other much. Other people still seem to be shy about speaking her name aloud. I assume because they are afraid of how we will respond, but when the few who are courageous enough to bring her up, speak her name aloud – it means the world to me. We used to see her name on congratulatory cards and encouraging notes, but now we mostly just see it on the slow trickle of medical bills. Lately, I’ve found myself doodling her name on scraps of paper just to get the chance to write it and to see it written. I feel very connected, very attached to her name. 
But, how are we supposed to know little sister’s name? It didn’t feel right to just pick a name from a list this time. From the very beginning of this pregnancy I felt sure in my Spirit that this baby had a name. We didn’t know what it was yet, but He knew. I started to pray for Him to show us and for patience to follow Him on this treasure hunt He would have us go on. I was content with the nickname, Squirmy, for awhile but as you become more visibly pregnant, and you know the gender, the next question is usually always, “Do you have a name picked out yet?”. The more I got that question, the more the discontentment seeped in in not having one and the more I questioned whether He really was going to give us a name?
A couple of weeks ago, I was catching up on some emails and I felt a nudge to look into the name Lydia a bit. I had looked up the meaning of this name before, but mostly every time it said, “noble”, which didn’t really land with me at all. But, this time I came across a website that had a couple of different meanings listed. The first meaning was “travail”. Yes, awful, I know. Why would you want to name your baby a name that meant such a horrible thing? Well, I thought I was pretty sure I knew what the correct meaning of that word was, but I decided to look it up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and see what they had to say. It certainly does mean “strife, labor, agony, heartache, hardship” etc., but when I glanced down at the examples of how to use the word in a sentence, this is what I read…
“No greater travail than that of parents who have suffered the death of a child.” 
Of all the examples they could have used…
So I decided to go back to the website and read through some of the other meanings. The second meaning listed was “beauty or light”. I thought it strange to have two meanings that were so polar opposite of one another. One descriptive of  life’s deepest pains and the other of life’s greatest joys. And I thought, this name…is our story. This name, and its’ disparate meanings, tell of the new language of my heart. One in which my joys and pains are distinguishable, yet always intertwined; one always affecting and impacting the other. And the more I step back, the more beautiful the collision of the these colors become.
Lydia: A hardship that has brought forth great beauty and light. 
And of course, He didn’t stop there. He gave me a few other things to really let my heart embrace this name. 
The name originated from the Lydian people who lived on the western coast of Asia Minor. They were known for being a successful people who first made use of the coin and for their outstanding musical talent. For those of you who don’t know, Adam works for a small wealth management firm. He works with successful people every day and has committed his career to helping others manage their wealth so they can live out of their passions. He is especially passionate about helping people get creative with the gifts the Lord has given them so they can give back in ways they never would have thought possible – even long after they’re gone. I can’t say the motives of the Lydian people were the same…but nevertheless….”coin” is a way we see God work within our hearts and the hearts of others on a daily basis. As for the music part, this has always been a connecting point for Adam and I. When others are watching movies or TV shows, you can find us live-streaming a concert or perusing youtube clips of new bands we like. More little treasures. 
Lydia was also a pretty cool chick in the Bible. She was actually a descendant of these Lydian yahoos and was known for being a successful businesswoman in her time from selling purple dyes (I’m guessing this might be where the noble meaning comes from since purple has historically been associated with nobility). But for me, purple is the color that most reminds me of Brooklyn and just seemed like another way He was whispering, ” I know you, I love you…” 
In addition to all of this, Lydia became a Christian through Paul and was known for starting one of the first house churches in Philippi. She used what she had and gave back to the Lord. I love that. As a household we are continually training our eyes to see ways to do this and asking for our hearts to be changed in the process. It’s just important to us, even though we know there’s a lot of shaping left to be done.
And the cherry on top….is that the Biblical meaning of the name Lydia is: a standing pool of water. Which I had to chuckle at since I have taken so many baths with Lydie this pregnancy. I feel connected to her in some strange way soaking in the warm, sudsy water. 
I am thankful that trusting Him never puts us to shame. I’m thankful He has given us a name that our hearts really feel connected to. It feels so good to call her by name. It feels like I know her more, and I didn’t want to wait until she was “here” to share her with you, because she’s here now – just tucked away inside me. We are less than 2 months away from our due date and I feel a mixture of sadness for this special pregnancy and bonding time are coming to a close, and readiness for her to be in my arms! When little Lydie moves around inside of me and pokes me with her little precious parts, I wish I could just reach inside my tummy and scoop her up. But for now I’ll keep looking for the treasure to be found in the waiting. 

Whispers Of Joy

A friend of mine asked me a question recently. She said, “In this season that you are in right now, what does ‘the joy of The Lord is my strength’ mean to you?” I have been thinking about it for the past couple of days now, but mostly just thinking about thinking about it. And as a result have had one of those 90’s Passion worship songs running through my head non stop. It made me wonder why I never stopped to ask the Lord what that really meant back then? I just put it on like a coat, hoping it would actually become a part of me. 
This morning I actually sat down and let my mind wander through the words. I certainly don’t think I had any grandiose revelation from the Lord about it, but I do feel like it has been a timely thing to think through considering a new type of peace, and connectedness I’ve felt to the Lord over the past month and a half, which has resulted in a lot of….joy. Whispers of a new kind of joy I haven’t really known before. 
He’s recently been showing me how much I get in the way of my “oneness” with Him. Things like when I feel guilty about eating something, watching something, reading something, avoiding something – I shut him out of it. I don’t let Him into it with me. Until I do something I feel rather Ok with, or even proud of. Then I let him back in, but it doesn’t feel the same. Because I just slammed a door in His face and acted like we could just pick up right where we left off without addressing why I slammed the door in His face. 
I’ve started to experience this “oneness” with Him, even bringing Him into my sin – especially into my sin. Sometimes I end up choosing Him, and a lot of times I choose me still, but at least the conversation is open. Practicing this has brought me a lot of…peace. No running, no hiding, no striving. 
But I started to realize that it wasn’t just me and my choices that could get in the way of my peace. My responses to circumstances and people would take away my peace too. Adam and I were at the airport last Wednesday. We were waiting in the security line and one of the TSA employees pulled me aside and asked me whether or not I would like to “opt out” of going through the new sci fi x-ray machine they have you stand in like a criminal. She notified me that it is safe for the baby, but some Moms choose to get a voluntary pat down instead. “No, that’s cool I’m fine with risking the health and wellness of my baby…..Of course I’m going to choose the voluntary pat down!” So they pulled me and another pregnant women aside and radioed for a female, certified, frisker to cone make sure we weren’t hiding any bombs in our baby bumps. About 5 minutes went by, another TSA employee showed me a sign stating the safety of their devices. 10 minutes went by, 15 minutes, 17 minutes and I ended up having to threaten a fainting spell (which did indeed happen the very last time I was at the airport) for them to finally call me over. It was obnoxious. It was unnecessary. Some might say it was manipulative. And, of course we huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow any of the circumstances away.
When we reached our seats on the airplane, I felt unsettled. I felt tense. I felt bothered. A stark contrast to what I had been experiencing in my recent days in Hermitville. I didn’t like it. I thought through the events of the past 25 minutes or so, and the ways any of it could have played out differently. Ultimately, the only thing I could control was my response – how I let this circumstance affect me. Up until this point I probably would have scolded myself inside and thought, “If only you were more self-controlled…That’s totally not what Jesus would have done….You call yourself a christian?….You’re never really going to change….” Instead of all of that non-sense I heard something different, “Don’t let anything steal your peace.” You mean this doesn’t have to be about me measuring up to a certain standard? You mean this can actually be a matter of just choosing what I want to experience?
No matter how justified I may have been in getting worked up, was it worth relinquishing the peace Christ paid for me to have?
I began to see how I have control over that peace, the peace that brings me joy throughout my day. That peace and joy is always there. It’s always available to me in plenty, but so often I give it away. I give it away in my impatience at the old man arguing over 30 cents in the grocery store check out line. I give it away when that car cuts me off on the highway. I give it away when that friend says that hurtful thing. The lie is that I have to give up the peace, the joy, because of the injustice done. It’s the belief that justice will not be upheld without my reaction, my petition – whether experienced inwardly or outwardly. And in all of this He says, “Get out of my chair!” (Thanks Tim Keller – life changing sentence for me, really!)
In this story, joy becomes the victor. How can I respond, choose, react so that joy and peace win out over this circumstance, this comment, this trial? When we’ve tasted, seen, experienced His goodness, is there anything stronger to help us defeat sin and discouragement than the seeking and maintaining of the joy through oneness with Him? It has power to shatter any means of measuring up. It snaps the measuring stick in half and drops it in the dumpster when we’ve learned to commune with Him in a way that has nothing to do with a standard or a time slot, but in a way that we feel the very fibers of the rug that Mary sat upon at Jesus’ feet. 
The joy of the Lord most certainly is my strength.