Friday, January 28

you take the 'mallow...

so, God is so God to do something like this.

I think... no, i KNOW that He's radically changing my perspective about Heaven and my life here on Earth. and guys, i cannot even tell you how crazy this is for me. I was the girl, who though i was a believer and loved Jesus and was thankful that He saved me from an eternal death, was f-r-e-a-k-e-d out by the idea of Heaven, and an ETERNITY spent there.

freaked out. i even confessed this to my pastor and his wife while they were visiting us after gwenny's death, and i was extremely consoled that my pastor's wife also thinks its crazy to be somewhere for FOREVER (now i'm mentally picturing the Sandlot's kid saying, "forrr evvvv er....")

but seriously - i used to pray that God wouldn't allow me to die until i was a grandma. there was too much i wanted to do here on earth, i didn't want death and heaven and eternal glory to get in the way.

what a load of crap, you know? what a lie of satan to tell me that this Earth is the end all, and to dull the senses to things that are purely selfish and about getting the most of out of life that is humanly possible.

so i've been reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn, and i finished Safely Home, also by Randy Alcorn (a must read) and have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 15 and Isaiah 61. I love that the Word of God is transformational. and that reading and allowing the Truth -- that i am a sojourner here -- to affect me is altering my perspective on the few short years i have left.

"so why not?" has been the question in my mind as i contemplate new ministry opportunities, or the daily ministry that i find myself in with my community here at camp. why not get over myself, and invest all, give all, hope for all, pray for all?

and this definitely doesn't negate grief. but it softens it. it reminds me that Gwendolyn is real, and really waiting for me. It reminds me that I'll spend an eternity knowing, loving, laughing, playing, and worshipping with her.

so, today is starting out hopeful. we're going to Austin for the weekend for some work things, so i'll get to enjoy a run (hopefully) around Zilker park, and drink my favorite zebra mocha from Austin Java, and breathe in the goodness of Anthropologie (things that i love but are way too expensive.)

Thursday, January 27

death and taxes

i was going to have a productive day today... i was.

blair and i had a good morning together. we both had tea and quiet times. i was going to file our tax return, work on our personal budget, clean, go for a run, spend a few hours on retail, make something for dinner.

and so i started with our tax refund, since that usually doesn't take that long. and did you know that you can claim a deceased dependent? you can. i suppose i'd rather have our government acknowledge Gwen, as opposed to glossing over her life as if it didn't happen, but still. i'm not supposed to have to wonder how to do this. or how to get her SSN, since she wasn't issued one. and how to file for her since i don't have her SSN or birth certificate. so after calling H&R Block and crying, i decided i'll let them do all the work and hopefully they can figure it all out, using just her death certificate.

as a side note, i could've gotten her birth certificate, but when i called about it the young woman on the other line quietly informed me that it would have a giant red "DECEASED" stamp on it. so i declined. seriously though, is that necessary!? as if i didn't know. ridiculous policy.

okay. breathe. the day can be redeemed.

mmm, maybe.

Tuesday, January 25

warning: i'm in a weird mood.

i'm the worst citizen in America. i didn't even realize there was a State of the Union address tonight. i treat my civil liberties nonchalantly, as if it were no big thing to have the freedom that i have. ugh. sometimes my ignorance and selfishness really irritates me.

my sweet friend danielle came to visit me for a few days. blair has been gone on a recruiting trip since sunday, so she came down to keep me company and help me with my back room. we packed up some of gwendolyn's things.

and yeah, i don't want to talk about that right now.

so, moving on...

(i've sat here for 5 minutes, thinking what topic i should "move on" to... and realizing there's not one, really. geez.)

M (danielle) and i went to Fredericksburg today. and for all of you christians in this middle of nowhere vicinity, you should know that there's a christian bookstore in Fredericksburg. smallish, but good selection of books and authors.

hmmm.... i feel that i have nothing important or impactful or helpful or informative to say.  (i did just learn that spell check doesn't recognize impactful as a word. is it not a word?)

so i'm going to bed now.


Thursday, January 20

in the presence

this has kind of been an interesting week.

hard conversations, another melt down, a great time with the walkabout students, a true "farm experience" (more on that later.)

the last two days my thoughts have revolved around one idea - that God prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. I keep waking up each day, hoping that i won't be overwhelmed with despair. that something will happen in that day that makes it worth it to keep waking up. (i know, that sounds super depressing. but i've decided that maybe i am super depressed, but it's not as bad as we make depression out to be.) and i've realized that sadness will not go away. it will be a consistent undercurrent to my daily life. i don't have to acknowledge it every day. and if i don't acknowledge it, it doesn't mean i love Gwen any less. or that she's not consistently on my mind or that i don't miss her. and what others think about me is not what matters. ( i get worried that they think i'm over it. or that i'm too upset. but that's not the point.)

so i've meditated on God preparing a table before me - providing for me, loving me, ministering to my needs - in the presence of my enemies - Self Pity, Doubt, Pride, Despair. So i may be in the presence of those things, but that doesn't mean that they have conquered me.

on the livelier side things, blair and i killed a chicken this week. it was terrible. we raise chickens for eggs, but we had a meat hen that we wanted to butcher, since she was getting picked on by the other hens anyway. and thankfully scott, our neighbor, came by and held the chicken down so i didn't have to anymore. but i'm now seriously contemplating removing chicken from my diet for awhile, since i can vividly picture it doing backflips without a head. seriously traumatizing...

also, last night i did an identity piece with the walkabout girls - college age girls who are here for a gap year program. it was so beautiful to see that the Lord is truly in the business of redeeming what has been broken, stolen, or spent. He is passionate about those girls (and me, and you) and is INTENT on us knowing His truth in our inmost being. and He will not stop until He has won over every part of us, even those things that are shameful and hidden, and has renounced the lies in which we view ourselves. I loved seeing Him at work last night. and selfishly, i think i really needed the reminder that God is here, at work, and has not forgotten to be merciful.

This quote has been drifting around in my brain this week:

"There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: "Mine!" -Abraham Kuyper

I believe He cries that over me now, that even in my sadness and the current thread of my daily living, he declares with confidence and power, "MINE!"

Friday, January 14


my daily routine has dramatically changed in the last 12 weeks.

while i was pregnant, i would wake up multiple times in the night to use the restroom. i would usually wake by 5:30 or 6am, and stay awake while gwendolyn announced (with many kicks and pushes) that she too, was up and ready for the day. I would make breakfast for blair and myself, 75% of the time. I'd have a quiet time with a cup of tea before i got on the computer. i'd clean the house, organize her bedroom, finish projects before the upcoming birth. i usually needed a nap by 10am. i'd hang out with anne and boone, or walk down to camp to see the WA students. i made lunch and dinner with relish, enjoying easing in to my role as a stay at home mom.

now... well, now things are pretty different.

i wake up when blair kisses me goodbye for work, around 8am. i get up and put the tea kettle on, and after i finish the tea i put on a pot of coffee. i maybe have breakfast one morning out of the week. i check emails and facebook. i have a quiet time and journal when i feel that i can be in the Lord's presence with all of me.  then i sit and read - a novel, a grief book, blogs. i try to do something productive in the afternoon - laundry. dishes. going for a run. rummaging in the fridge for something edible for dinner. blair and i usually watch a movie or play a game or read our books at night. he goes to bed early now, and i stay awake. and the day repeats.

this morning i was reminded of two things:
suffering is universal. and it is possible to shine Light into the darkness, and the darkness will not prevail.

I found a blog about Katie, a 21 year old american woman who counted the cost and now lives in Uganda, and has 13 adopted girls. She is inspirational in her devotion and willingness to be used up.

I recently started reading the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn, which is really a feat for me since i've always been nervous about eternity. Knowing that we won't be married in Heaven, i often tell Blair how sad that makes me since i love being married to him. (He doesn't seem to have the same emotion in return. :) ) but we now joke that since our marriage is temporary, we should make the most of it.

and reading Katie's blog, and looking at my Gwendolyn's picture this morning, i felt the urge to "make the most of it" - my life here on Earth... "Why not?" was the question echoing in my head concerning a new opportunity God has given me.

The more I read of Heaven and fully embrace the goodness awaiting us - the goodness my daughter is already experiencing - the less hold i have on these things here. and my spirit is uplifted.

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep... For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 16-18 (italics mine)

And so right now, sitting on my couch listening to pandora, i am encouraged at heart and rejoice (yeah, i actually rejoice!) that this is coming! how exciting. how wonderful to have hope. how wonderful that my daughter gets to rise first, and we will always be with the Lord. how short our time is until this becomes reality.

but here's the tricky part of life - in just a moment i am going to get off my couch, put on my running shoes and jog. then come home and make lunch. clean the house. work for a few hours. spend time with scott and anne. and carry on with the day to day business of life. and when the dailyness of life comes back, i am hit again with what i don't have right now - a baby, a home full of laughter, an unbroken heart. and it's with the dailyness of life that i despair, and miss my gwenny. and what my life was supposed to be.

so. somehow i need to keep Heaven before me, allow for mourning (which is right to do), be motivated by the brevity of life, and still make an impact for eternity in the day to day. hmm. daunting. possible?

"May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! May he grant you your heart's desire and fulfill all your plans! May we shout for joy over your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners! Now i know that the LORD saves his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with the saving might of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright. O LORD, save the king! May he answer us when we call." Psalm 20

Tuesday, January 11

on bad days...

i am full of verbal vomit.
when some unsuspecting stranger asks me how i'm doing, a strangled, senseless response comes out and all of a sudden, i'm crying.
when people talk, i have the endless thought, "pay attention! pay attention! pay attention!" occurring in my brain... and five minutes later i ask myself, "what did they talk about?"
i cry when people look at me sympathetically.
i cry when they don't.
i cry at animated little girls in tutus and rain boots.
i worry that i'm going crazy.
or that i'm depressed.
i want to sleep forever.
my psychology classes are coming to haunt me with dumb diagnoses.
i'm more comfortable in front of this computer screen than my friend's faces, and that worries me.
i worry about blair being stuck with a mental wife.
i worry about blair and his grief.
grief seems to be getting worse.

mandi reminded me that there's no roadmap to grief - it is messy. no clean way of doing this.

today was a bad day.

Friday, January 7

a better country

when i was a child i used to pretend quite a bit... one of my more eccentric pretends was to imagine life without one of the senses (touch, hearing, talking, sight, taste). the worst one for me was always blindness... i would close my eyes and stumble through my house, cursing when i'd stub my toes and  thinking of how brave blind people must be to attempt to encounter a world that would always hold a surprise for them.

today i've felt a surge in compassion for the campers that we serve each summer. we often do a group development activity that involves blindfolding campers, teaching them to rely on their friends and to learn to trust. some are able to trust immediately, seeing this as a game and laughing about how they stumble about. others are frozen, and nothing can coax them out of their current position and inspire them to move.

i've felt "off" this past week. while on our trip, i was in survival mode, just trying to make it through each day until i got home. now i'm home, and i've felt emotionally stunted, blinded once again. i've felt disconnected from God, and irritated about it. He did take my child; the least He could do would be to stick with me through it all. and what am i to think about the promised Holy Spirit? isn't his role to comfort and counsel? so what the heck, God.

On December 28, the Lord whispered to me through Isaiah:
"And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know; in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do; and I do not forsake them." (Isaiah 42:16)

So where was this Guide? Did He leave me? Is He ignoring me? Am I too stubborn to get up and move?  Where is the promised light before me?

I got my answer in another treasure hunt... combine John 1 with chapter 1 from Randy Alcorn's book on Heaven, plus Isaiah 42:16, and this is my conclusion:

I've been sitting in the dark, cupping my hands over my ears, trying to hold on to grief, hold on to Gwen, and block out anything that could further hurt me, be it friends or family or God. It's still dark. I am blinded by it, and blind to the glory of Heaven that is TRUE, and awaits those who put their trust in Christ. But Jesus has been standing by my side, patiently waiting, calling me to reach up and grasp His hand, and trust that He will lead me. He didn't say when He would turn the darkness before me into light. But He is the Light. He didn't say when He would bring me from this valley. But He promised to lead me through it. and His promises are sure.

"The blind must take by faith that there are stars in the sky. If they depend on their ability to see, they will conclude that there are no stars." (Heaven, pg. 13)

"We will one day be delivered from the blindness that separates us from the real world [Heaven]." (Heaven, pg. 13)

"In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:4-5

"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one." Hebrews 11:13-16

If i see my Gwendolyn has having attained a home in that real country, and my short time here as preparation for such a place, will it make living without her, for now, endurable?

hmm. more to consider...

Thursday, January 6


so, i've felt this pull to move forward... maybe because it's a new year, or maybe because of being gone for three weeks threw me for a loop, or maybe because it's been 11.5 weeks since gwenny was born and it seems like other people are moving forward...

but i refuse. i'm just not okay, and i'm okay with being not okay. i think there will be a point when i know it's time to change my facebook photo, or box up her clothes, and take the crib and changing table down. but it's not that point today. and i don't envision it happening tomorrow either. or any time soon for that matter.

personally, i'm sure this is all in my head and i'm fabricating external pressure, and being a bit paranoid. but i need the stark reality of my gwendolyn to hit me again, because this slow slip, this medicated emotion, just sucks.

Tuesday, January 4

aidah faith

i just uploaded photos of our trip to facebook, and i was reviewing the album of Aidah, my week old niece. i stopped short when i saw this photo:

this is exactly what i want. these are my nieces of course, and i love them to smithereens. but this is what i want, for me and for blair. i want children. and hopefully one day, i'll have children here on earth, and their big sister gwendolyn will be peeking over our Father's shoulder, looking at her brother or sister. 

Monday, January 3


we're home.

after 18 days of travel, 3 family christmases, one wedding, my niece's birth, 5 different beds with varying shades of comfort... we are finally home. and i really love my home. it's a good one, with ginormously comfortable couches, a wide selection of teas, soft lighting, hundreds of books, and a delicious bath. and of course, our giant bed with a memory foam topper.

blair and i arrived around 5pm, and started the business of unpacking our adventure... laundry to do, christmas gifts to be sorted, groceries to put away, mail to read. now i have taken a bath, the tea kettle is warming, and i am settling in to digest our trip. expect that these snippets will have no particular order or flow:

we spent the first week in denton, with my family. christmas eve was rough... i definitely was the woman walking down the street, looking at christmas lights with wine glass in hand, yelling at the Lord and crying my eyes out. ( i did enjoy the rest of the night, and the time in denton as a whole.)

i think that i'm learning the hardness of God. He is completely Other;  we prefer to think only of His soft or easy attributes, and regard anything that is difficult or harsh from Him as a punishment for wrong doing. I don't think that paradigm is biblical. For reasons I cannot comprehend, it seems that God allows and even arranges sorrow in our lives, regardless of our standing, effort, or obedience.

During our trip, we went to sheboygan, wisconsin for a wedding. Blair's "brother" Jeremy was getting married, and blair was a groomsman. Jeremy's sister Mandi, one of my best friends since i was 11 years old, has an seven month old daughter. His sister-in-law and my friend, Ashlee, has a 7 and a half week old daughter. Over the weekend the three of us were alone, spending the night in one room. And of course, it is unfair that i'm with them, they who have their daughters and I who am without mine. We all cried about it, and i appreciate their love for me and gwendolyn.

and then, the difficult Love of the Lord steps in. He, who gave me a choice - see this as half empty, as you without your gwendolyn, bereft, surrounded by women whom i have blessed with living children. or see this as my kindness to you- i have allowed you to be with those who love you, who grieve with you, who have daughters in the same year as yours, which you can choose to love and hold when your arms ache to be filled by gwenny.

and so i chose to enjoy my nieces, and hold them and cry and be thankful for the severe mercy of the Lord, that comforts and heals where it has wounded. thank you ashlee, mandi, debi and danielle, for sharing your daughters with me, and allowing me a few moments of motherhood with your precious girls.

during the wedding reception, jeremy and his bride put a twist on the traditional "ring the bell for a kiss" - they required that the guests would come to their table, perform a kiss, and then they would match or master it. very very cute idea, and sparked some hilarious performances. as i watched, i saw so many stages of life represented in kisses - married couples, innocent children, families, grandparents... and i wondered, "can your love withstand the death of a child? of a parent? of hopes and dreams, of your best laid plans? can it endure seasons of doubt, sorrow, wounds, busyness, joys, hectic schedules, the everydayness of life?" my prayer for those two is that they will know the deep, abiding faithfulness of our God, and relish in His character and His will, and prove to the world the glory of our God through a marriage well lived.

off to enjoy my magnificent bed, next to my wonderful husband, who walks through this season with me.

I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you.
Isaiah 46:4