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Rachel

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How Christmas Brings Hope in Miscarriage

Maya Angelou says there's no greater agony than an untold story. I've lived in silence for weeks now, swallowing down a story too private for blogs and Facebook. Because this private situation consumes me at the moment, I cannot speak well about much else. I've become mute. Perhaps if I share my story, I'll feel free to move past it.

Today, I am 11 weeks pregnant. Sort of. It is not a viable pregnancy, but my body hasn't figured that out. And so for weeks, I've managed nausea, soreness, fatigue -- the regular gamut of first trimester symptoms -- all without the exciting promise of a child, which would make these ailments worthwhile. Every night, terrible images of half-formed babies fill my dreams, and every morning I wish for any symptom of miscarriage... not because I didn't want this child. I desperately did. But I'm ready to move forward. Yet, instead of cramping and bleeding, I get more nausea, fatigue, and a uterus that is growing still steadily enough to make my clothes fit poorly.

Don't get me wrong. I am positive that God will turn this all around for good (Romans 8:28). I know He's allowing this hardship out of love, even if I don't yet see the benefits of this frustrating phase. I also know there are women in far worse situations than this. Women who deliver stillborn babies in the ninth month. Women who wait a decade for pregnancy. Women who will never know the joy I feel as the mother of two sweet girls.

Still, I'm exhausted and sad.  Yet I feel guilty for grieving... like I should be tougher than this. I wish I knew anyone personally who had gone through this same thing. What I would give for a quicker miscarriage.

My greatest comfort is that it is the Advent season. I serve a God so mighty, He will wipe out every trace of sickness and brokenness and damage in this world. Yet, rather than doing this through lightning bolts from Heaven, He was personal. God came down as a weak human embryo, and because of that, the death of my little embryo will be redeemed. This pain I feel now will have purpose.

Every night, I curl up in bed with one hand on my thickening waist and sigh sad. An empty pregnancy hurts like empty hope. And I remember that, other than Christ, whatever we hope for in this life is as empty as my womb now is. Hope in anything but Jesus leads to pain, disappointment, wasted time, shattered dreams.

But while the Earth may crumble around us, there was a Baby who did come. Emmanuel, God with us. And while He came small and humbly, He is unshakeable, eternal, reliable, our hope, and our God.

"Jesus is my hope

and I know He stills the wind

so take my very life away

as long as I get Him"

-Mandi Mapes

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To Women Who Aren't Moms: A Mother's Day Thank You

Mother's Day approaches and we plan honor for the women who parent. It's a sweet holiday and it's deserved.  A show of thanks for all who have labored and pushed, waited long on adoptions, wiped noses, removed sandwich crusts, snapped their heads at sassing children, worried, hoped, disciplined, kissed, prayed, loved, dreamed.

But what about the women who aren't mothers? Don't they deserve tribute? I think so.

So here's to you, women who are not mothers...

To our peers who don't have kids: You laugh and shrug when our children snatch your smart phone.  You hug them and feign impressed when they "show you" their spastic leaping skills.  You forgive us when our kids are rude and sullen.  Thank you for never making us feel like rotten parents.

You're still our friends, despite the fact that we're in different life stages.  You continue to call us, even though we repeatedly interrupt your serious conversation by yelling at our children to "be quiet" and "stop that".  You trust that we care, even when our minds are scattered and we aren't the best friends anymore.  You listen patiently as we obsess over breastfeeding, school choices, and play-dates.  Thank you for loving us enough to stay close. Without you, we'd forget that toy recalls aren't the top news headlines, we'd never heard of our favorite band, we might forgo adult nights out, and we'd never be inspired to get out of yoga pants and into the clothes almost as stylish as yours.  Thank you for keeping us relevant.

To the women in our parents' generation (who aren't parents at all): You hang coloring books on our front door handle and have the very best treats ready every Halloween.  You hug our children in church lobbies, and their little chests puff with assurance that there's love in this world.  You daily teach the lesson that "family" extends past its formal definition, and that occasionally, you can find undeserved favor from the sweetest of people.  Your calm demeanor soothes me every time we talk.  Perhaps you've never had kids under your roof, but that doesn't mean you haven't profoundly impacted the next generation.  I'm watching you, I'm learning from you, and I'm praying to become a little more like you.  Thank you for the legacy you leave.

To the women who are hoping to become mothers: My heart is tender to you most of all.  You, who babysit friend's children when crisis strikes and they have nowhere to turn.  You, who follow months of negative pregnancy tests with a trip to buy baby shower presents... and you show up at the shower, smiling, congratulating.  You, whose adoption process stretches on and on... who wait for a child while others forget because your belly isn't visibly swelling in anticipation.  You, who ache to hold your own child, yet embrace others' children with purity.  Thank you for never letting your sorrow close you off to relationships around you.

Yes, mothers are to be celebrated. But not any more so than all of you. You contribute to our lives in beautiful ways. You, too, leave a legacy. You, too, impact the world.

Thank you.

This post is part of our week-long series "Moments of Motherhood." Thank you, sweet Rachel, for these thoughtful words.

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Snail Mail

We've recently received some pretty sweet mail from friends and family.
Hand-made cards.
Sticker-covered brown packages.
Scribbled notes on gorgeous stationery, often sealed with washi tape.
Who doesn't love a good piece of real, hold-it-in-your-hands-with-not-option-to-click-forward-or-delete snail mail?
It's a lost art.

So I've been doing my research. (You know, on Pinterest, where all scientific research is done.) I thought if I shared some of my findings, we'd all be inspired to be more thoughtful, and send a handwritten note or package today!

And here's the challenge:

I'm going to start sending some fun mail and taking pictures.  Will YOU ALSO send some fun and/or pretty mail, and send me the pictures to post on my blog?  We'll all inspire each other!

Heart Handmade UK
This is gorgeous.  Brown craft paper looks fantastic with simple gel-pen doodles and an artistic collage of pretty stamps.
I've noticed many people purposely buy lower-value stamps so they can paste more of them along the envelope like a mini-gallery.

 

(Note to self: Must buy pretty stamps!)
Moosmaid
I want this bird stamp! What a stunning package.
Papelidades
I love this blog. It's filled with package ideas... but it's not in English. :)
Pictures are worth a thousand words, right?
Ishtar Olivera
More stamping.
Can you tell I love brown craft paper?
Omiyage Blogs
But I'm also a fan of color.
Those little houses are made of washi tape!

One more fun idea for you... how about mailing items that ARE NOT in an envelope or box? There's a blog called Giver's Log that shows you all kinds of uncoventional items that can be popped into the mail.  Click here, or browse below:

Now go send some mail!
:)

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First Mother

My Girls. I think they'll drive around in big hatslike this when they're 80, too!

When Caroline laughs deeply, I sometimes hear faint echoes of my grandmother’s laugh. Someday, we will pull out old VHS tapes and introduce Caroline to the sweet woman whose melodic joy lives on through her great-granddaughter.

And then there is Amelia.

Amelia, whose nose crinkles when she smiles silly. Whose sing-song voice can reach operatic octaves. Whose eyelashes reach her eyebrows, and whose pinky toenails grow folded so she points to them and laughs. Sometime, somewhere on this spinning globe lived others with crumpled noses and toenails, with stunning voices and eyelashes. People who passed bits of their own flesh and traits to a womb, to the pair of cells that would rapidly divide and grow and become Amelia.

Somewhere in Africa, there is a first mother whose existence cocooned and nurtured the beginnings of this baby I call mine.

I am occasionally jealous of Amelia’s first mother. Her right to claim Amelia is etched deeply into the strands of her DNA. What I would give for even the stray cells left on my toothbrush to testify that Amelia is mine.

Instead, I have papers made by man and notarized in court. I have a mother’s heart beating love. I have fifteen months of memories, the hope of a future, and the sound of my girl calling, “Mama!”

I can tell you that Amelia hates eggs and loves books. I can predict her exact mood based on the hour of the day. I can make her laugh and tell you she’ll count to thirteen, skipping six every time.

But never, never can I explain from whom she inherited hair that grows quickly and strong. I can’t explain who before her was as affectionate and cuddly as she is. Why she is so delicate, so feminine, so tall.

Every now and then, I buy into the subtle lie that my claim to her is forged. I grieve for the history I cannot explain to my child. Will she cry the day she understands adoption’s beauty is watered with tears and grown from ashes? Will she ache for a woman named Grace who birthed her, then carefully left her in a place known for its Christian love?

My jealousy for Amelia’s first mother is waning. Love replaces rivalry. Gratitude brings me to tears. How can a perfect stranger knit together a part of your soul? She tore materials from her own body and built up our family – surely leaving a gaping hole in her own heart. Can she imagine all she has given her daughter?  Given us?

The deeper I dive into the adoption world, the more I fear drowning. I feel the brokenness that created our joy. The pain that led to our blessing. No, I no longer envy Amelia’s first mother. My cells don’t hold my baby's DNA, but my mismatched hand holds hers.  My eyes cry gratitude.  Grace's eyes, perhaps, simply cry.

 

(First posted here 4/16/2012)

 

 

 

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31 Days of Living Out Loud {comparison. can it lead to joy?}

Thanks, Christen, for so graciously hosting me at your beautiful site. I'm loving your Living Out Loud series... now let's live out loud with JOY!

via
Comparison is the thief of joy only when we're making the wrong comparisons.

 

You can always find someone smarter, luckier, happier, prettier, more successful than you.  You can always find people with less problems, with lives sailing smoothly.  We find these people and lose our joy.

 

But there is a kind of comparison that is the start of joy... especially when all you know is crumbling around you.

 

When monstrous troubles bare their menacing fangs at us, we become engrossed by fear and the stench of that evil hot breath on our faces.  Problems bewitch us and the bad evidences become our only reality.

 

Until...

 

Until we gaze at the size of our great God.

 

Compare a predicament to God, and it suddenly seems very small.

 

God...

 

 

 

who is full of power and might inconceivable, yet...

 

yet...

 

was willing, because of love, to be born as a feeble infant whose murder thirty years later would provide hope to us, the hurting.

 

Is some obstacle swallowing you today? Some heart ache?
Is the weight more than you can bear?

 

Open your Bible.
Open your prayer journal.
Turn on worship music, sit on your knees, and open your heart.

 

Take your eyes off the problem, and look instead to the Solution.
Gaze at the One so great that your problems pale in comparison.

 

It's the only way comparison will ever bring you joy. 
Day 2 – Why?

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