Three Days Later

It's odd the things that break us.

I'm a person who, when really big things are happening, somehow I just deal. Stress ebbs and flows but I don't feel like I can't carry on. No real breakdowns through autism diagnoses, job losses, family deaths, super tough pregnancies and postpartum depression, an infant who screamed constantly and I only got 45 minutes of sleep at a time 5-8 times a day for four months, my own struggles with autoimmune illness and chronic fatigue, our entire life falling apart when our church was revealed to be destructive and corrupt...and that was just the last 6 years, though mainly the last 3. But none of those things felt like I was seriously just going to break down.

Then there have been the last four months. I could describe it again but blah. Just read this if you don't know what I am talking about. October is ending tomorrow and we still aren't home. It's ok, you can cry. It's been hard, there have been cranky days, but no breakdowns.

But then there was this past Tuesday.

Understand me, I am about to say something that will make many hate me. It's all right, I would hate me, too.

I never get stomach sick. Other than morning sickness or a weird thing where I will throw up the next morning if I don't get enough sleep, I don't throw up. I have never had food poisoning in my life, and I am one who will leave my leftovers from the Mexican restaurant in the car for 10 hours in 50 degree weather, put 'em in the fridge that night, and then reheat and eat them the next day. [True story, just did that last Friday.] I have thrown up from the flu three times in my life, and two have been in the last 6 years since I was nannying and then had my own kids. Before that it had been 17 years.

But some miracle, my kids seem to have my iron stomach. Roger threw up for the first time in his life in July, when a crazy super bug wiped out just about every person in our church, four months into his fifth year of life. Juliet has never thrown up and she just turned 3. Jason never throws up, either. In 8+ years of marriage I don't think he has ever thrown up. We're all fairly prone to colds, but not stomach bugs.

So, Tuesday. I was so excited because it was my first real day with both kids in school for 8 hours and no errands or chores to do or appointments. I planned to go back to the hotel, get in bed, read my iPhone, and sleep from like 11-3.


We were sitting in the car waiting for the bus at 7:45AM when I heard a god-awful sound in the backseat and turned to see poor Rog projectile vomit all over. And then again and again and again as I scrambled to get out and get back to him.

It was all over my poor Podge, his $350 car seat, and the seat and floor of Felix. Plus a little bit splattered onto Juliet's car seat and leg. I don't need to detail the next 15 minutes, but just know there was a lot of panicking from Roger (and remember that autism greatly limits his ability to understand and he definitely couldn't tell me his tummy hurt ahead of time), anguished tears from both kids, and oh, yay, we accidentally put the emergency car pack of diaper wipes in a bag that was at the hotel so I had to sneak across floors I am not supposed to walk on in our condo to go grab a giant Costco sized pack of wipes. And yah, this is the minimal detail version.

Suffice it to say, Roger came back to the hotel with me and threw up a bunch more. This time it mostly went into a bucket, but Tuesday was a lot of me trying to comfort a very confused little boy throwing up for only the second time in his life while cleaning up puke and then diarrhea out of couches and carpets with minimal cleaning supplies at the hotel. And you might think, "Hey, hotel perk! Make them clean up!" but they say they can't touch bodily fluids. Yippee.

I had some serious bouts of self pity, but mostly tended to my poor boy. And still, no breakdown.

I never got a chance to get a coffee that morning because I was trying to get back to the hotel ASAP since I had no containers in the car for puking. By afternoon I had the nastiest headache and I can tell when it's going to turn into a migraine and it was right on those fuzzy edges.

I decided to risk never sleeping again and grab a late-afternoon Starbucks after picking Juliet up. And for the first time that day, I felt a little reprieve.  I was grabbing a mocha to savor on the drive back to the hotel and knew we could rest all evening.

Grandes get me through many a day. Some days require a venti.
Especially when I've earned enough stars for a free one.

It's hard to explain, but the way the Rose Hill Starbucks drive-thru is set up requires a bit of awareness because only one extra car can fit behind where you place your order, or you block a lane of traffic and people get REALLY impatient. I am always cognizant to wait until there is space for me to not be hanging out and blocking that lane.

So, there I sit, and as I am waiting a gal pulls up next to me. I think she's pulling through, but is waiting because a truck is pulling out and it's not clear if he'll need into the same lane she's in. But the next thing I know she just shoots me a dirty look and guns it into the drive through, only there is no space so she's totally blocking that lane of traffic I was leaving open for others.

I can't even explain it, but I just LOST IT. I sat stunned for a second, like, "Did that even just happen?" and all I could do was stare at her black 2004 Jetta with the Seahawks Super Bowl Champions license plate surrounder thingy and think about how I wanted to get out of Felix and SHRED MY KEYS ALL ACROSS HER STUPID OLD UGLY CAR. I was going to wait but I was so overwhelmed and just done that I gunned the gas and left. I might have rolled my window stretched my arm out as far as it would go to display a choice finger to her.

Before I knew it I was SOBBING. Like, wrecked, heaving, how-am-I-not-crashing-this-car-right-now anguish.

One second I was saying, "Seriously, Lord? After EVERYTHING WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH I have to clean up puke all day on my first opportunity to actually rest and not have people needing me and climbing all over me and crying at me in months and months and now I can't even get a coffee to get rid of this headache when I AM PREGNANT AND I CAN'T TAKE ANY MEDICINE AND TYLENOL DOES NOTHING all because some stupid selfish bitchy girl couldn't wait her turn like the other 10 people in line? I never put you on blast for all the shittyness of this summer, kept leaning into you, but now I can't even have a coffee?" and that sounds angry but really it was 10 parts frustration and 90 parts anguish.

And then I got really mad. I was like, "Ain't no damn way I am crying over this." So I fantasized about crushing her car--with a giant rock, a bat, a golf club, a wrecking ball--for the 20 minute drive home.

I am really, really holy, you guys. Super Christian, here.

In all seriousness, I really have clung to the Lord this summer even when I didn't even know how I was still hanging on. Not because I am strong, but because he is faithful to remind me how truly good and trustworthy he is. Tuesday it was just all gone.

I have vulnerably asked God why he kept cranking the heat up higher and higher, didn't completely lose it when the 90th person said, "Oh man, even a few nights in a hotel would be so hard," like that was supposed to help me feel better in week 4 or 10 or 15. I didn't even fall apart or give up on God when I pretty much felt abandoned by him and his people due to the massive silence from the people I thought would be most eager to sacrificially love and serve our family.

But on Tuesday there was nothing. I was ANGRY with the Lord. There was a lot going on in my heart and I know better to pretend that I can hide it from him.

Now, if you read this and think I am endorsing this kind of behavior, or acting like this is "celebratory failurism" then honestly, go away. People like you drive me nuts.

The hardest part of a day like Tuesday is I didn't see it coming. All day I felt stressed and overwhelmed but at no point was I willfully choosing to say I didn't need the Lord. Never was I lazily neglecting to fight the temptation to give into feeling sorry for myself, not even as I cried trying to clean puke out of our car that we're supposed to trade-in in December with stupid baby wipes because at the time I had nothing else.

So, no, I didn't give up and give in, like that's a totes cool thing to do because #weak. Rather, I felt that I was consistently turning to the Lord in my weakness and my desire to not just be a bitter and whining hag. And then the next thing I knew, I was a hot angry mess with not a zilch of desire to hear a damn thing from him.

Straight up, I don't know how we survived the last 4 months. I really don't. There have been bright spots (like Juliet's turning three and a healthy Bébé Trois and finding out the gender, which I'll share next week!, or the fact that after many, many hours on the phone and emailing and fighting we got our insurance coverage for our hotel back) but overall it's just something where I don't know how I survived. I just did. There was no magic verse that made it all better, no sweet prayer that gave me the best perspective. It was a lot of daily grinding to say, "Lord, you don't feel good right now but you are and that's true no matter how I feel, so though you slay me, I will trust you. And I trust you to change my feelings, too."

But Tuesday? I had my break down. I wasn't proud of it, didn't want it, didn't invite it, didn't fail to fight it. It just happened. And you know what? The Lord was faithful. Nothing has magically been better. Wednesday was meh, but then yesterday had a whole heck of a lot of Juliet diarrhea to clean up and both kids were home sick (thus another no-day-to-myself-to-rest day) and even now I am writing from a very uncomfortable seat in a Panera because my kids had an event this morning that I attended and it just didn't make sense to sit in traffic for an hour going back to the hotel just to turn around again and pick them up.

I mean, my tush hurts, but it always hurts. It's not the worst. It just isn't home.

Truth be told, I'm not immune to the pressure to be some spiritual guru. Some lady who refers to sin in the past tense, like I used to have issues but I'm so holy now. Who talks a lot about fighting temptations and spiritual disciplines and dedicated times of Bible study and all that stuff. And, I'ma tell you straight up, I'm not telling you I don't read my Bible or pray or that I do think it's cool to be all lazy and treat my faith like some convenient thing. Knowing Jesus requires death to self and sacrifice. I just find that putting more effort into feeling spiritual never results in increased love of Jesus or other people.

You know what does? Being real. Admitting that eventually something can break me and I actually will in my heart feel and think things I thought I wasn't capable of, because I have grown so much and know better. But then I remember that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I remember that even Jesus got overwhelmed and tried to get away to the mountains to get a little peace and quiet and likely to feel like he could breathe for just a hot second, be real with his Father without the noise of the world and everyone who needed something from him.

But he didn't come back down to the hordes of people opining about how to be nice and spiritual and then maybe God would heal their infirmities and make them super resistant to temptation; rather, he died to himself and loved and served. He healed and he preached. He walked on water and calmed storms and fed people literally and with his words.

I got home Tuesday in a cranky mood and guess what? I still had two needy toddlers, one quite sick, who needed their mama. I didn't snap at them harshly and tell them to seek Jesus about how to not be inconvenient mongrels. But I have been thinking about Matthew 11:25, and wondering if we really believe it. Sure, we throw around verses 27-30 about how to find rest in Jesus, because his burden is easy and yoke light and all that, but do you notice how it's preceded by verse 25?

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. [Matthew 11:25-26 ESV]

My kids? Little children. And, truly, while they are sinners they are about as innocent as can be. They don't know how to be mean spirited or hurtful; the idea never even occurs to them. They simply go through life existing, engaging when they can bear it. But they don't plan out ways to soften me up to get what they want from me, nor do they have any concept of performing in any way in order to get me to do something for them. So when they need something, they simply come to me as they are, in the same state in which they were when trying to do something on their own and then realizing they needed me be that state happy or mad or frustrated or desolate, and they say, "Mama help?"

Simple. Easy. No pontificating about how to establish the disciplines necessary to come to me. No evaluating their sanctification nor graphing out how they used to come to me before vs how they come to me now.

They just come to me, as they are in the moment.

"I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children."

I love that. So, if you, too, read or saw or heard or were told something this week that said you should be so wise and spiritual by now? And you remembered your equivalent of my Tuesday, and thought, "Lord, am I just a great un-holy disappointment to you?"

Friend, read the Bible. For real. Not some special structured time so you can feel all spiritual, but actually reading the words and asking God to help you believe he really does speak living words through it. Every time I wonder if I am supposed to be more like those shame- or pride-inducing articles about holiness and temptation, it's the actual scriptures that take me back to the Rock of Truth upon which I stand, the character and personhood of my Lord, my Savior, and my God, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday I completely lost it and fell apart. Three days later? Still in love with Jesus. Still his beloved baby girl. I'm still here, and so is he.


October 15: PAIL Day

As I wrote about Monday, today is a painful day for many women and men. For some, perhaps it is bittersweet as they snuggle their rainbow baby.  Others might have a child yet suffer miscarriage after miscarriage, devastated as the age gap between their youngest or only child and the next sibling grows and grows.

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day (PAIL). Many also include those who are infertile and unable to conceive. I dare propose that not a single person exists who doesn't know someone who has lost a baby; some stats say one in four women will suffer a miscarriage in her lifetime while other stats say that it is actually one in four pregnancies. The latter seems closer to home to me since, for one, at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the women I know have had at least one miscarriage. Secondly, any time I am pregnant and join an online group of pregnant women starting at 4-5 weeks (I track things and so we've always known early) it seems that anywhere from 20-30% of the women lose their babies by 14 weeks and then usually at least one or more later. It's heartbreaking and always soul crushing for me, that while I have not suffered a loss, every time I feel a squirm or kick I think of the women yearning to join in my joy who have lost their little one.

I also know the fear, the expectation of loss. Both my mother and her mother lost babies in pregnancy, my grandma losing one at five months. I am four months now and by the grace of God alone have minimal fear, but know I am not guaranteed to kiss a wailing baby in five months nor thereon. But many believe there is a genetic link between maternal pregnancy loss and the likelihood of loss for a woman who is pregnant, and in my soul I have always assumed I would lose a baby at some point. I pray it is not so, yet know I have no control.

Pregnancy is terrifying, in that way, because all you can do is pray and try to make peace with a certain amount of utter helplessness. Even one not prone to anxiety like myself has to admit the thoughts of possible loss exist. Every time the doctor gets the doppler ready at regular checkups, or when the tech looks for the heartbeat during an ultrasound, I find myself holding my breath and not even realizing it. I can only imagine how this must be for women who have experienced the earth-shattering moment in which there is no longer a heartbeat.

I wrote extensively Monday about the subject of PAIL, so if you haven't read it I do encourage you to read that post. But today I wanted to share this; a friend who suffered a devastating loss of her own, but who now is within a week of me in March 2016 with her own rainbow baby, shared this and the comments made me cry. Many women, including her own mother, simply commented with the age(s) their child(ren) would be. The ages ranged from infants to children in their 30s, like myself, and it was heart wrenching.

My hope in focusing on these things this week is but one thing: that those who suffer might find comfort in the Lord and that us who have not suffered in this way would listen and care.

Finally, I remind you of this dear family who lost their precious Gabriel, a beloved son who would be celebrating his first birthday later this month if life went the way they had planned. Instead, they now face thousands and thousands of dollars in medical bills every month resulting from his early birth and loss, rubbing salt in their open wounds. If you feel led to bless them with any amount of financial help, it would mean so much to me and to them! They have not asked me to do this any way, neither now nor my first post referencing them. I simply hope to be a part of gospel salve and grace balm applied to open wounds.

To give, please go to this link:

Wight Family Medical Bills

Today, pray for those you know who have suffered pregnancy or infant loss, be they openly broken or even if they seem fine. No matter how we each respond to death, it is still death and reveals our need of the source of life.


To Those Whose Children Are Asleep

I mean not to write to those reading this in precious moments when their children nap, or are sleeping for the night (or next few hours of night, as your case may be). Rather, this is for those whose children are asleep as regards the biblical terminology to refer to those who are no longer with us, those our hope declares are with the Lord.

October is Infant Loss and Awareness Month. Some call it Pregnancy and Infant Loss and Awareness Month. Either way, it is a month in which the intent is to spread awareness of the many, many walking wounded women and men among us who have lost pregnancies and infants; many include those who have never been able to conceive though not for lack of many, many months of trying and tremendous efforts to do so. If you would like to have an ugly cry, read this article to the Invisible Moms among us. Thursday, October 15th, is the particular day in which these lost children are remembered. My hope in posting this a few days early is that it might engender tenderness and grace in us toward those who are hurting.

In honor of the countless sisters and brothers who have lost their beloved children; to those who have known intimately the pain of struggling to conceive, I write this today in hopes that you will know you are not alone. I don't doubt many of you have heard some deeply painful words, the most painful likely from "well intended" Christians who are just trying to help you trust God, but whose efforts twisted the knife deeper into your soul and further frayed the shreds of your hope.

I once sat in a Bible study about idolatry, putting anything before God and above God. The leader asked where we were convicted by the study about idolatry in our own hearts. Somehow the conversation turned to "concern for a friend" who has been infertile for a few years. And the concern was that this person is angry and bitter, and struggles to be happy for friends who have babies. How could the Sharer "speak the truth in love" [that phrase needs its whoooooole own post. someday.] to this friend about how she needs to trust God's plan and timing for children? Because, according the Sharer, "I'm just so concerned that she wants a baby more than she wants God and it's ruining her life and she's miserable to be around. And this isn't about me! It's really that I want to help her not be that way and have God's peace." [That's a bit of a sum, but that was the message]

I will tell you straight up--all I could think about was the devastation I felt the times I thought I was pregnant, when we weren't even trying but man alive I wanted a baby so much that I would weep at church week after week. And then that test would be negative, or my period would start, and I would be crushed. Once I was so sure I was pregnant that, on day 26 of my cycle, with a test stating that "99.2% of pregnant women get a positive test with this brand by this point" showed me a big fat negative, I lay on my bed crying for six hours. SIX HOURS. I had never done that in my life. Not when someone I loved died, not when my parents showed up in my fifth grade classroom to say, "We're moving hours away today, so say good-bye to all of your friends" and I had literally about two minutes to say good-bye and then we were just gone. But I was so sure that baby was on his way, and when he wasn't? It was a death to me and I grieved that death as such.

Turns out Roger was very much alive in my womb, and I just don't show up on pregnancy tests until the day of my missed period. Which I learned with BT. But that is a story yet forthcoming.

Point being, I sat in that room thinking, "I thought this was about OUR idolatry, not how to fix others. And also, that poor, sweet woman. So broken. And these are her friends? So worried about how to tell her she needs to trust God?" And truth be told, I was a bit pissed. Because the Sharer (who, truly, is someone I like, but we all do shitty things sometimes, which is why Jesus died for us) was nursing her third child, as were the other few women who chimed in. As I was trying to figure out a way to say that what this infertile friend needs is compassion for her suffering, without my words coming across self-righteous or angry (because anger is bad, doncha know, so I couldn't be mad and actually be communing with God!), by the grace of God another woman who fought infertility before being able to have her two sons spoke up. She shared how studies have found that infertility carries the emotional and psychological impact of being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Literally, to the infertile woman every month she doesn't get pregnant is like another death to her.

And for the woman who suffers miscarriages? She is experiencing the death of her beloved, wanted baby every. single. time. The baby she wanted is dead and she will never get to know them. Other children may come but this child's life story is finished. Pretty sad that these cards are the best thing I have ever read in regards to pregnancy loss, yet they have not a single Christ-leaning sentiment.

Wouldn't you think the most compassionate people in this regard would be Christians? We who crusade against Planned Parenthood and label ourselves abolitionists in our pursuit of ending this modern day genocide known as elective abortion? But no. Many heads in that room did the "tsk-tsk" nod--with a sad face of course because infertility is such a bummer--because this woman just didn't trust God enough to be at peace with his will for her to not have children, at least not yet. Praise God that my friend spoke up, because the tone of the room changed. A few people who have also suffered had the courage to speak up about how if anyone tried to tell them they had idolatry in the midst of their infertility or miscarriage they wouldn't have been able to hear, or possibly even wouldn't have cared.

They spoke the truth many of us refuse to remember, that pretty much every Christian woman who is suffering from infertility already feels ashamed for not trusting God and for not having his "perfect peace"she "should" have. She questions if that lack of faith, lack of belief, is why he is withholding a baby from her. Or if he's punishing her because she had sex before marriage. Or perhaps, even, she had an abortion at one point in her life and God is bound by the damage she did to her own body and won't fill her womb. She doesn't deserve his blessing. She blew that chance.

Friends, I am crying in the middle of Starbucks. This is not the character of our God.

An actual teardrop as I write in a crowded coffee shop.

Yes. He allows things that make no sense. He doesn't stop us or others from doing just awful, awful things to ourselves and to one another. And yes, he does allow consequences of our actions. But he's not some jerk, always out to withhold from us. And while he is bold and fierce, he is also the actual personification of Love. Not with hard words to whip us into hard bodied faith-shape, but tender mercy and compassion. The Lord does want us to have joy, but it's not some thing we just render from ourselves, no gold nugget that we can mine out of our own faith. Not even if we read our Bible lots and pray without ceasing can we muster up the belief that all things are good and have the perfect perspective and wisdom that alone is God's.

I have written before about this song that wrecks me. It's called You are On Our Side by Bethany Dillon.

Truth be told, sometimes the Lord is the trumpet, going out before the host of his armies and declaring himself to the world. I would never deny he can opt to display himself, his glory, in that way. But so often I find Jesus to be so very less concerned with trumpets and declarations, quite reticent to require "bold words" be spoken "in love" to the "idolatrous" friend, and so much more his presence to be the way this song makes me feel. We're sitting by a fireplace, and cozied up with a mocha and blanket as rain pitter patters on leaves outside afire with gold, and he's asking me how I really feel, what's actually going on in my life and heart.

And when I spill my guts unfiltered, saying how angry I am with God, why I want to believe he's good but everything in me is crying out, "Not fair!" and, "Lord! How much more? How long? WHERE ARE YOU?"

The look he gives isn't wrath. It isn't disappointment. He doesn't take me to some verse about how I am supposed to trust the Lord, nor even show me the rewards God has for those who obey in faith. His eyes fill with tears, because his heart breaks for me, for how desperately weak I am. He is compassionate and tender, because he himself knows that you can cry out to God when you feel forsaken and nothing makes sense. Even if you know God is defined by his good will and purpose toward mankind.  Jesus knew why he came, knew why he had to die, even called the man who betrayed him to his death "friend" upon his seizure that he knew would result in his crucifixion. He knew he was cursed. Yet he still cried out asking God why he was forsaking him.

So to my brokenhearted friends, those who grieve their lost children be you one who has other flesh-of-your-flesh little humans to hug or no, I pray these words are grace and peace over your soul. You are so beloved to the Lord. Yes, he has allowed this, even chose this for you. He is sovereign and if it were outside his will for you it would not be so. Yet your father loves you. Fiercely. And this isn't supposed to be easy and you aren't supposed to be okay. You can grieve and whether it's been three days or thirty years, the pain isn't supposed to just magically disappear like death gets easy simply because a clock ticked some since it happened. It isn't even supposed to be better for you because your beloved baby dances in the presence of Jesus. It is supposed to hurt to be away from them.

Courtesy Vicki Zoller & Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Their resources for ministering to the bereaved are amazing;
read it whether you think you need it or not. 1 in 4 pregnancies means you will.
And while we can't pretend to understand why God allows things that are just so profoundly unfair, so wrong and upside down from what it seems like the world is supposed to be, I pray you would be safe with him. That his character is revealed more as the tender listener and disperser of mercies and not the bullhorn shouting about how you need to shape up "for him" so he can finally do some good stuff through you. By some miracle, I pray these words are balm to your soul. We worship a God who, in tremendous suffering and excruciating pain on the cross, looked down and saw his mother--certainly in anguish as her baby, him sent to her from God to save the world, hung from a tree and his blood spilling to the rocks below--told her that his beloved friend John was now her son.

Today, beloved, grieve. Not as those who have no hope, but grieve those beloved children of yours who are asleep. And if you have yet to know him, I pray you might meet the Jesus who frees you to grieve as one who does have hope in him.

And if you find yourself, like me, among those who have not known infertility or child loss, I pray these words inspire you to reach out to the friend(s) who immediately jumped to mind. Just let them know you love them and they are on your heart. That you still grieve that precious child you never got to know, and while you envy their presence with Jesus, you wish they were here to hug and hold and so you cannot imagine what grief might still grip your friend's heart. Maybe send them a little token for some self care, whatever seems right. But don't be afraid to reach out and let someone you love know they are not alone.

Lastly, if you read this and would like to offer insight, correction, or even feel inspired to share your own story here on my blog, please do not hesitate to reach out. You can message me on my Facebook page, DM me on Instagram, or send a good ol' fashioned email. Your choice. I would be honored to hear from you.

[There is a shorter follow-up to this post; click "Newer Posts" or here to read it.]