The Joy of the Lord


The joy of the LordWe were getting ready for a dinner party but ended up in the emergency room. I was six weeks pregnant and an ultrasound confirmed my fears. There was no heartbeat.

This was the first loop of the roller coaster.

Two days later, I followed up with my doctor. There was another silent and still ultrasound. There were tears. There were a lot of labs drawn. There was a brief glimmer of hope in the doctor wanting to wait before making a final treatment plan.

More loops in the roller coaster.

And this is where we were on the day my husband and I were to head out of town on a very rare getaway to see Rend Collective in concert.

I packed my overnight bag in a daze. We had been so looking forward to this trip. They are one of our very favorite bands and we’d already bought the tickets. Even though we were emotionally exhausted, we decided to make the best of it.

The entire four hour drive was spent waiting on pins and needles for the nurse to call with my lab results. I called her twice with no success.

Finally, as we were pulling into the parking lot, the phone rang. The labs were inconclusive.

I walked into the concert not knowing if my baby was alive.

Hindsight is a precious gift. At the time, I could not wrap my mind or heart around what was happening and the timing of it all.

But now I know the lesson God wanted to teach me that night. And His timing provided the best way to learn.

The concert was not a show. Not at all. It was a night of worship. And, if I’m honest, I was not in the best emotional place for that.

But God is on His throne and the Holy Spirit is not deterred by emotions. The Lord ministered to my heart and I could not help but worship the Creator.

My Creator. My baby’s Creator. I knew I had to trust God in His plans. No matter what the outcome might be.

There was peace. Such peace. And there was joy. Which seems so improbable. But the joy of the Lord is not situational.

God was merciful to us and the following week showed a strong heartbeat and a growing babe. We named her Abigail (“the Father’s joy”) and we’ll be celebrating her first birthday in just ten days.

God’s divine timing had us in the right place at the right moment to truly learn about the joy of the Lord. In spite of our emotions, we worshipped with abandon and chose to glorify Him no matter what. We got a chance to deeply experience the peace that passes all understanding.

Tomorrow night, we are getting a chance to worship with Rend Collective again and I am so looking forward to it. Our life has been less dramatic lately but still tough.

The icky things of daily life pile up one after another and it’s hard to shovel through when you’re not sleeping.

I’ve just been so worn.

I’ve found that sometimes a strong faith comes easier in the dramatic valleys of life than it does during the long hot trudges through life’s deserts.

Thankfully, the joy of the Lord is not based on my spiritual geography.Tweet: Thankfully, the joy of the Lord is not based on my spiritual geography. http://ctt.ec/LGX28+

I’m looking forward to celebrating Him tomorrow night.

On the Need for Community


on the need for community

Over Spring Break, I got a chance to sit out on the back porch of my parents’ house. They live in the quiet countryside of north Florida, surrounded by pine forest.

All throughout the day, the only noise is ours. Someone puttering in the kitchen. Someone else calling the dogs back in. Laughter and playing and the occasional argument between the kids.

But at nighttime, the woods come alive with a loud symphony of sound. Sitting on the back porch, with the frogs and crickets and birds all shouting their songs, God reminded me of something.

Each individual creature is tiny and fragile. On its own, it could be overlooked and not noticed. It could be forgotten, easily stepped on or quickly dismissed as insignificant.

But together? When they come together to raise their voices? It’s a choir that can be heard for miles. It will not be ignored.

The same can be true for us.

Individually, we feel fragile. But together, we are strong.

We are made for community.

I recently had the privilege of witnessing this firsthand.

Jennie Allen, a popular Christian speaker and author, was alone in a hotel room, trying to finish a book and realized her own need for community. With no real expectations, she tossed out a link for a Facebook group.

As of this writing, in the week since its birth, “Our Village” currently has 4,983 members.

Almost 5,000 people. Mostly women. Who immediately felt the need in their own hearts to connect and jumped in.

In the last week, I have seen hundreds and hundreds of posts. They mostly sound a bit like the one I wrote in my head and never posted:

Hey everyone. I wasn’t going to introduce myself because there are just so many people to know but I thought I might as well go for it. I’m so-and-so from somewhere. I’m a wife/mother/friend/sister/daughter/teacher. I’m glad to be a part of this group because _________.

And where that ________ is? Insert any one of five thousand incredible, unique, God-given stories. A story that might not have been told because there are so many stories that have already been shared.

And we tend to feel like our voice and our story isn’t as needed or as exciting or as important as the others.

But we are made for community.

We need to hear each others’ stories. And we need our stories to be heard. God made us that way.

For every reluctant introduction, the need to be known finally outweighed the fear of being overlooked. The need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves was stronger than the fear of rejection.

Strangers.

But strangers who are now a part of something bigger than themselves.

I have seen women jump to congratulate and cheer on successes. I have seen women humble themselves and bravely tell their truths once held hidden. I have seen women shower grace upon grace.

Strangers no more.

Sisters.

In community.

And again I’m reminded of the frogs, the crickets, and the birds. Each one a tiny creature. One small part of a much larger whole.

But together, we are strong. 

We are made for community.

But What About Saturday? Finding Hope in the Wait

Mom Confession:
Easter week has completely caught me by surprise this year. My excuses reasons: (1) We are on Round Two of strep throat in the last month. That would be six cases of strep in the last four weeks. That’s 120 doses of antibiotics. (2) We are on Jake’s eleventy billionth shift in a row. (3) Each kid has had a different school project. (4) Full moon. (5) No sleep. (6) First Easter away from family and our regular traditions. (7) General loss of mind.

So in a last ditch effort to reclaim some of the holiness of Holy Week, I spent some time talking with the kids about the days ahead.

We covered it all. Maundy Thursday, when Jesus and his disciples shared the Last Supper and Jesus was arrested. Good Friday and all of the events of that sad day when Jesus died on the cross. Then Resurrection Sunday when Jesus conquered death and rose from the grave.

“But, Mom? What about Saturday? What happened that day?”

My daughter’s question took me by surprise. I guess I had never really thought much about Saturday. We tend to skip over Saturday. “Jesus died on the cross and on the third day was raised from the dead.” Growing up in Sunday School and Bible School and Youth Group, it became rote. Just as 1+1=2, it was too often more like “Jesusdiedonthecrossandonthethirddaywasraisedfromthedead. Time for pizza!”

But Grace’s question got me thinking about what the followers of Jesus must have been feeling on that Saturday.

They had sold out completely for Jesus. He was Messiah. This was the real deal. Jesus was The One sent to save the Jews in what they most likely anticipated to be a dramatic and triumphant fashion.

They had literally up and walked away from their lives as they knew it to live on the fringes of polite society. But it was worth it because everything was on track for them to have a front row seat to history. And as they came into Jerusalem, they must have been riding high as the people celebrated Jesus. I can only imagine the adrenaline and jubilation.

How quickly it all changed.

In a matter of days, their hero who was here to deliver Israel, the one who held all their hopes, was arrested, mocked, tortured, and killed.

And on that Friday, the sun set on all of their expectations.

On Saturday, the sun rose. Life went on even though the story they thought God was writing was dead.

Can you imagine how long Saturday felt?

They had watched hope die on a cross. Their faith, so strong just days before, now broken and bloodied and lying lifeless in a borrowed tomb.

I take Saturday for granted. I say it all in one breath, “Jesus died and rose on the third day.” As if it were just the blink of an eye.

But even in the most important work in the history of ever, there is waiting.

There’s a day in between. A long, dark Saturday when all seems lost. When it feels like we’re completely on our own. When it all seems to be unravelling. When all we can do is look around a world of confused faces and wonder, “What now?”

Thank God he doesn’t leave us there in that place of loss and confusion. When we’re floundering somewhere in the middle pages of our story, he is not surprised at the twists and turns in our lives. He knows every page.

The Author knows how our story ends. He knows the stone gets rolled away. Darkness is defeated. Love wins.  Tweet: The Author knows how our story ends. He knows the stone gets rolled away. Darkness is defeated. Love wins. http://bit.ly/1pAIkfl

In the craziness of this world today, it often feels like we’re living in the tension of a lifetime of perpetual Saturdays. When our expectations of how our story is supposed to go have been shattered, we’re looking around a room and wondering, “What now?” We’re feeling abandoned.

Oh, friends. Hold on.

It is a cold and dark Saturday right now. But Sunday is coming!


What About Saturday blog

 

 

He Knows My Name

abby mouse blogThis little cutie is almost six months old now. She has been having lots of “conversations” with us, including tons of hilarious inflections and facial expressions to emphasize her points. So of course, I take that as my cue to start teaching her to say mama.

(Jake has also taken it as a cue to start teaching her to say dada. Which she will probably say first because she loves him more it’s easier.) 😉

There’s something about hearing your child call, “Mama,” that just grabs your attention. You could be in the middle of a playground full of kids and hear 37 different children shout for mama but instantly know which one was meant for you.

I started thinking about this after a morning at the Chick-fil-A playground. Each mom knew when it was her own kid shouting for mama. It reminded me of a video MOPS produced for MOMcon 2014. The beautiful video told the story of Mary Magdalene at the tomb and it took my breath away. (You can watch it down there at the bottom of this post and I highly recommend you do.)

Jn 2014-16 blog

She thought He was the gardener until He said one simple word.

Mary.

He said her name. And suddenly she recognized her Savior.

Y’all. It just blows my mind.

He knows my name.

Our hearts are designed to recognize His voice calling us. Just like a mama can instantly pick out her child’s voice calling to her from a crowded and rowdy playground, our hearts respond when He calls our names.

Whenever I’m feeling invisible and unappreciated at home (Does no one else see the empty toilet paper holder? I mean really.) or whenever I’m feeling like I have no real purpose outside of my house and I’m battling insignificance, I try to remind myself of this: He knows my name.

Ashley.

The next time you’re up to your elbows in dishes and up to your knees in laundry and you feel like your only contributions to this world are carpooling your kids to soccer practice and changing diapers,  I hope you can just pause for a second. Turn your face toward the sun. Close your eyes. Store this up in your heart and treasure it.

He knows your name.

More Than I Can Handle


more than i can handleSo I know this isn’t any kind of newsflash for you, but life is hard.

When we’re growing up, we imagine how our lives might be.  I was one of those realistic kids.  I’d seen my mom, in particular, overcome some tremendous hardships in her life.  I knew that life would have its ups and downs.

I knew that chances were high that we might struggle with jobs or finances or kids or our health.

I guess even with all my realism, I didn’t really expect to struggle with all of them.  At the same time. We are very blessed in many ways.  I know that and I’m very grateful for each and every one. But so many times, even with all our blessings, it can all seem completely overwhelming.

“Oh honey. Bless your heart. Remember God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

We’ve all heard that, right?

Well guess what?

It’s crap.

God gives us more than we can handle all the time.

One day a few years ago, when both of our cars were falling apart and the bank account was in the red and my RA was flaring and we seemed to run out of everything at once and autism had me out behind the woodshed again and Jake was gone 24/7 for school, I found myself sobbing on the floor in the kitchen.

Overwhelmed.

Broken.

It was more than I could handle.

And I sat on the kitchen floor and I cried out to God for help. For mercy. For comfort. For peace.

And that’s when I (eventually) realized that, of course, this is more than I can handle. I was never meant to handle it alone. It was time for me to humble myself and admit that I couldn’t do this on my own.

I hope you’re not thinking that this story ends here with my admission suddenly causing things to magically fall into place and bring about a sudden reward for having learned my lesson. Maybe it happens that way in the movies. Not in real life.

I begged God for some kind of encouragement or special word that would show me that He heard my desperate appeal.

It didn’t happen that way. Instead? Different Bible verses popped into my head. Scripture that talked about God’s promises of peace, hope and His plan for our lives. But still…Instead of me suddenly feeling all better with the warm fuzzies, it was more like if I repeated them enough, they would eventually take root.

I realized this was one of those times when my faith is shown by choosing to believe it. Even when I don’t necessarily feel it. And I was reminded that one of the reasons I need to study the Word is so those promises and reassurances are somewhere in my stressed-out brain when I find myself overwhelmed and broken.

I love this song by BarlowGirl that says, “I cry out with no reply and I can’t feel you by my side so I’ll hold tight to what I know…You’re here and I’m never alone.”

Faith isn’t always about feelings. It’s about choosing to believe even when (especially when?) those feelings aren’t there.

I don’t have it all figured out. One thing I’ve learned for sure is that we’re never done learning.

“I don’t know how you do it.”

That’s another one that I’ve heard quite a bit. And the truth is that I don’t do it. I couldn’t possibly. Not by myself.

I hope this post hasn’t come across as preachy because that’s not how it’s meant and I’m definitely in no position to preach. I just hope it might possibly be a small encouragement to someone else who might find herself sobbing on the kitchen floor.

If that’s you today, take a few minutes to listen to this song and breathe. Because no matter how strong we are, we’ll never be strong enough to do this whole life thing on our own.  And we don’t have to be.

 

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Biggest Lie Women Believe


biggest lie
A few months ago, I was folding laundry scrolling through my Facebook feed when a post caught my attention. If:Gathering posed a question to women. What’s the biggest lie you have believed? They asked the community to then speak truth over those lies.

What is the biggest lie I have believed?

Easy. I was answering the question before I even finished reading it.

I’m not enough.

I was curious to see what others were posting, so I clicked to see more comments.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 99.9% of the responses were some version of The Not Enough Lie.

I’m not good enough. Pretty enough. Skinny enough. Strong enough. Smart enough.

I’m not enough of a mom. Enough of a wife. Enough of a cook. Enough of a Christian.

I’m just not enough for my husband. My kids. My family. My God.

Y’all. What is happening here?

What is it about THIS particular lie that has such a hold over so many of us? Why is it so easy to believe? Why are we so struggling with this?

Well, let’s consider the source.

The father of lies, the enemy of our souls, is the one who keeps whispering this untruth in our ears. So. Many. Ears. It obviously must be incredibly important to him for a vast majority of women to struggle with this idea that we’re not enough. Because he is working so, so hard to make sure we all believe that we are, in some way or many ways, falling short of the bar.

Why? Why is this point so important to his plan?

Let’s imagine for a minute. What might look different in your life if you had the confidence of knowing (knowing knowing) you were enough?

If I was secure in the idea of being a good enough cook, I would bring more meals to people. If I was confident that my house was clean enough, I would have people over more often. If I knew I was enough of a mom, I would stop second-guessing my parenting and be more consistent. If I was sure I was enough of a wife, I would stop monitoring conversations with my husband, looking for criticisms that aren’t necessarily there. If I thought I was a good enough friend, I would reach out to be a friend to more people.

All of these results would be GOOD things. How much more often I would be showing love and grace and Jesus to the world around me!

So, of course, the enemy would want to shut that down immediately. And with the smallest of whispers in my ear, I begin to slip down the slippery slope of doubt.

Trying to regain my footing, I start looking around. My house sure isn’t as clean as hers. I don’t cook as many organic meals as she does. She is so much more patient with her kids.

Comparison just makes me slip even farther and faster into The Not Enough Lie.

We will never measure up because the bar doesn’t exist. We invented it ourselves.

TIME OUT.

If we were sitting across the table from one another right now, talking over coffee, and I heard you speak these doubts out loud? I would reach over and grab your hands. I would look you straight in the eye. I would remind you who you are.

You are exactly who you were created to be.

You were designed, from the beginning of time, to be the exact wife/mom/sister/friend your people need you to be.

You are more than enough. You are incredibly, vitally important to this crazy world.

Give your thoughts. Share your ideas. Tell your stories. We need them.

Friends. Let’s promise each other to speak truth over The Not Enough Lie.

When you hear it lurking just beyond a friend’s words in a conversation, call it out and send it off. Speak truth for your friend.

When it creeps up behind you and you feel yourself starting to slip down that slope, call it out and send it off. If you need help doing that, ask for it. Connect with a friend. You would be happy to do it for her and she is happy to do it for you.

Let’s pledge to be gentle with each other and with ourselves. Let’s take down that imaginary standard of awesomeness we chase so hard. Let’s go out into our places with the confidence that we are enough. Because we are, y’all.

We are enough.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The Glorious Table

bloggerbutton_500x765Girls’ Nights Out are way too rare. Am I right or am I right, ladies?

It can be so hard to find the time, especially when you’re in the middle of nursing babies or potty training toddlers or overseeing homework time. It’s ironic to me that the very thing that could so encourage us in this season of life is the very thing that is hardest to fit into our schedules.

I’m talking about community.

When I think of the perfect night out with friends, I immediately imagine sitting around a table. Breaking bread or sipping coffee. Either way, I imagine conversations and laughter, maybe a few tears. Walls come down and relationships are built.

Community.

It’s a safe place where you can share your stories, let down your guard, connect with other people who get you. All too often, though, it’s just so hard to schedule time away from home.

That’s why I am so excited about The Glorious Table.

The Glorious Table is a brand new community blog that is launching TODAY! This beautiful site has been created to provide a cozy place for women of all ages, all walks of life, all seasons, to come together and have a place at the table. To laugh together, cry together, stand together in good times and hard times.

To build community.

And it’s open 24 hours a day, no reservations required.

Whether you’re up in the middle of the night with a new baby or waiting for your teenager to make curfew, studying for finals in your dorm room or waiting in airport lounges, there is a place for everyone.

I hope you’ll join us at the Table here: http://theglorioustable.com!

You can also join the conversation on Facebook (The Glorious Table), Twitter (@Glorious_Table), Pinterest and Instagram.

On Mountains and Faith

mountains blogEver since I was a little girl, I have been drawn to the mountains.

Maybe it’s because of the happy memories of camping trips with the whole family, cousins and all. We’d set up tents and immediately start hunting fireflies. Then we’d move on to building dams in the creek for all the fish we’d catch with our bare hands. (None.) There was the annual fierce competition of putt putt golf followed by a Dreamsicle bar and a Mello Yello. There would be campfire stories and roasted marshmallows. We’d spend entire afternoons swimming at the bottom of freezing waterfalls with whoops and squeals echoing off the hills. Then, pruned and shivering, we’d soak in every last drop of warmth from the sunbaked rocks.

Or maybe it could have something to do with our trips with the youth group that encouraged me to find alone time with God alongside creeks and waterfalls to pray and to listen. That silence you find on a hillside is amplified when you were just in a room with hundreds of middle schoolers singing Higher, Higher at the tops of their lungs. I’d walk out of the stone auditorium and find my favorite spot and just breathe in the silence. The only sounds were the wind in the trees and the birds singing and the creek bubbling over the rocks. It always seemed easier to hear God from the top of a mountain.

And now I can see those blue ridges on the horizon from the Walmart parking lot. And from the windows of Chickfila. And when I take the kids to school. It puts a song in my soul. (Mostly Nickel Creek and Wailin’ Jennys.)

We’ve lived here for a month now and I still annoy the kids to no end. Every time we round a curve or top a hill and the mountains are there. Claps, giggles, and squeals just bubble up and out and the kids groan and I tell them to just get used to it.

This last week, it’s been cloudy, misty, and a bit rainy. The kids were more than a little relieved on our last trip to town when we rounded the curve and topped the hill and couldn’t see more than a mile or so down the road. The mountains were swallowed up by the haze. My sweet children took that moment to point out, rather gleefully, that my mountains were gone. “Ha Ha, Mom! No cheering for you today! The mountains are gone!”

And as so many times before, the mountains made me think of God.

Just because the mountains were covered with a blanket of clouds and mist didn’t mean they weren’t there. Sometime soon, the sun will come out and the fog will fall away and the mountains will be there, standing tall and strong and completely unchanged.

There have been times in my life when it felt like God was far away, covered in fog, and I couldn’t see Him or what He was doing. But just because we can’t see doesn’t mean He isn’t there, standing tall and strong and completely unchanged.

I shared this insight with my kids and I felt so proud to be able to grab onto a teachable moment about faith. Surely they would stand at the gate and sing my praises. Or give me a gold star or something.

Feeling so warm and tender in this Hallmark moment, I asked them if they had any questions.

“Yes, Mom. I have a question. What’s for lunch?”

Planting seeds, people. We’re planting seeds. I just know it.

Every Act of Love



Rope HeartI don’t remember how old I was. I don’t remember if it was spring or autumn. I don’t even remember where we were going that day. But I’ll never forget Mrs. Jones.

I was a little girl riding shotgun with my grandmother. We were driving through our small town where everybody knows everybody when Mamaw spotted Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Jones was probably in her 70s, thin as a rail, still working hard. She was about a block into her long walk home from the grocery store, carrying a big brown bag on each hip. Mamaw explained to me that Mrs. Jones didn’t have a car and this was the exhausting way she had to go about getting groceries. My grandmother immediately pulled over and, in that sweet Southern way that leaves no room for argument, asked Mrs. Jones to let us drive her home.

Several years later, I looked around a large room and felt my eyes well up with tears. We were visiting family for Thanksgiving and, along with my aunt and uncle, my parents had brought us kids to help serve a meal at the soup kitchen. I was holding a baby so her mother could eat a rare hot meal. There were so many hungry people. There were not enough seats. At 11 years old, I remember a hopeless feeling because I thought there wasn’t enough that I could do to really help.

In much the same desperate way that I wanted to buy Mrs. Jones a car, I wanted to buy every person at the soup kitchen a home filled with food and clothes and love. I dreamed of being super wealthy and surprising people by anonymously meeting their biggest material needs. I became discouraged and even dreaded outreach projects because I wanted so badly to fix it. Fix it all. And it was so frustrating when I couldn’t.

Eventually, I accepted the fact that I couldn’t fix it all. I couldn’t buy new cars or new houses for all the deserving folks I wanted to surprise. But I could serve a meal, sweep a floor, hold a baby.

There are so many ways to show love to our neighbors.

It doesn’t always require a major gift or a trip to the other side of the world. (Of course, that would be amazing and I’m sure we would all jump at the chance! But I don’t want to wait for those opportunities to spread acts of love.) I feel so blessed to be surrounded by loving and compassionate people who are always giving me great examples of how to spread the love of Jesus by blessing others. Here are just a few ideas that don’t require a passport:

  • Operation Christmas Child ~ This has been a great way to involve the kids and allow them the opportunity to do acts of love. Even from a very young age, we’ve tried to explain to our kids that not all children are able to have Christmas gifts. We’ve taken them with us to collect supplies and goodies to pack a shoebox to send to a child for Christmas. We pray for the child represented by each box that he or she will be blessed and feel loved.
  • Swap ~ We recently held a swap with my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. The members of our group showed lots of love by donating so many things. Nice things. Things that they could have posted on Craigslist and made money for their family. I know I can probably speak for the majority when I say it was an incredible blessing. I was able to bring things that we no longer needed and I left with several items that we desperately needed (but would have trouble affording) for our new baby coming this spring.
  • Share Box in the Car ~ My mom kept a box in the van that contained bottles of water, snacks, and toiletries. Whenever we were out running errands and we saw someone who could use any of those things, we’d stop and hand them out. Just today, a Facebook friend suggested adding gloves, coats, and blankets to our cars for sharing with those in need. It’s a great idea for an act of love as the Florida temps drop below freezing.

There’s a song by Jason Gray that I just love. I need to listen to it every morning when I wake up as my daily reminder. With every single act of love (big or small), we are showing the love of Jesus to our neighbors and teaching our children how to do the same. Fostering a compassionate heart in our children can be as simple as just letting your kids see your own acts of love.

“With every act of love, we bring the kingdom come.”
~ With Every Act of Love, Jason Gray

Roller Coaster

Step right up, folks, and I’ll tell you the tale of the biggest (emotional) roller coaster I’ve ever experienced. There are extreme highs and sudden drops, with lots of loops and twists thrown in for fun. You must be this high to ride.

It all started about a month ago with two (highly unexpected) itty bitty pink lines. How unexpected? Well, the last of our baby stuff was hauled away over a year ago. Once we picked our jaws up off the floor, we were thrilled, of course.

I’m somewhat of an oversharer (not exactly a shock, I know) so keeping a secret this big was going to be super hard for me. So I began to journal little blurbs to have an outlet. Here’s a little bit of what I wrote after a week of expecting:
“So many nerves this time around! We’ve had some time to get used to this new idea. I’m excited. Attached. And that makes me so nervous. I’ve had two healthy pregnancies. Statistically speaking, am I due for my share of heartache? It seems that for every happy ending you hear about, there are nine horror stories. It’s not fair for me to be exempt. Praise God for grace. Just have to walk one day at a time, trusting in Him no matter what.”

Then this was written a few days later:
“Dear Baby, Your life is so precious. We thought we were done but God had a different plan. He meant for you to be. Your tiny heart is starting to beat. It beats for the glory of the Lord. Your very existence is such a gift.”

Four days later, as we were getting ready for a dinner party, I began to miscarry. Once my mind registered what was happening, my heart sank to my toes and I began to sob. I knew there couldn’t be any hope. We were advised to go to the ER to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. This is what I wrote that long, horrible night:
“The ceiling tiles needed cleaning. There was a cobweb dangling over me like a crib mobile. The tech apologized for the warmth of the room but I felt like I was frozen through. A tear slipped silently down my cheek and into my ear as they discussed KFC’s latest chicken creation. The ultrasound wand was heavy on my abdomen as if it carried the weight of my fear. It pressed hard against the still, quiet place where you were. Instead of the relief that comes with the sudden rhythmic whirring, there was only the silence. The sound of our hearts breaking.”

Once the official report came from the radiologist, a big tough doctor brought us into this little room where he told us that I had miscarried. They could see the beginnings of a pregnancy but there was no heartbeat. He looked terrified that I would burst into tears on him. I felt like I was already cried out. For now. I was to follow up with my OB in a couple of days to make sure everything was progressing as it should.

This was from my follow-up:
“Sitting in the OB’s waiting room in the furthest corner I can find. The isolation doesn’t protect me from happy, rounded bellies and cheerful ultrasound photos. I wait. Try not to let the tears fall. Try to sink into the floor and disappear. Please call my name. Let me get this over with. Put it behind me. Move on. Can I? I’m still so queasy. Unfair… Dry mouth. Hands shaking. Trying to chug water from bathroom sink. Hands still shaking. Feeling sick… Waiting in the room for the doctor to talk to me. There’s a large painting of a raccoon staring at me… Still waiting. Raccoon is still watching to see if I’ll cry. The ultrasound is next… Nothing has changed. There’s still no heartbeat but I’m leaving with more questions than answers. The OB isn’t ready to call it a lost cause. I have to wait for the phone call tomorrow to tell me what my HCG numbers are doing. I’m afraid to hope. My chalkboard at home is a huge drawing of the word HOPE. I don’t believe in coincidence.”

That night, I had a long drive from my parents house back to my home. It was a rare solo drive and I had the song, Oceans, on repeat. After I sobbed it out, I cried out to the Lord to breathe life into our baby and to help our teeny tiny one grow. I spent the entire drive in prayer. I kept remembering what I had written the week before. “Your heart beats for the glory of the Lord.” I had to come to a hard place of realization that God would be glorified even if baby’s heart never beat. My heart would be broken, but I would still praise my God. A peace came over me that I cannot explain. This child was God’s idea. His gift to us. As hard as it was to let go, I had to mentally release this baby back to God. This little life was in His hands all along.

The next day, the only words I could get onto paper were these:
“Waiting for The Call. For this child I have prayed. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

A nurse called at the very end of that Friday. My numbers had not doubled as they had hoped. But they had increased. If they had decreased, then we would have known it was a loss and we’d be waiting for the next step. But they had gone up. The nurse warned me not to get my hopes up but to come in for another ultrasound on Tuesday.

From Tuesday:
“It’s time for the ultrasound. What will we see? Lori’s kind voice is extra sweet today. She remembers the limbo we were left with the last time I was here. The bed raises until I can almost touch the ceiling. I grip Jake’s hand tighter and try to control my breathing. The screen turns on. Lori gasps and almost giggles, “We have a heartbeat!!!” We turn to the screen. There is a beautiful, glorious flickering. The tears once again stream down my face and into my ear. She allows me the moment I need to totally lose it. We have a heartbeat. Baby’s heart is beating steady and strong. We are speechless. Basking in the grace and mercy of our mighty God who is writing one heck of a story for this little one. Glory be to our God.”

We’re having a baby.