Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking ahead

Last day of the year, last post of 2010. I'm sitting here eating leftover pizza while the hubs is out watching 'Tron' in 3D with his friends, thankful he is with people who can truly appreciate the depths of such cinema!

Lots of contemplation today. Ready to say goodbye to this year, and the sorrow and confusion. Praying that 2011 will offer some answers, so reassurance and some new direction - where ever that leads.

I feel as if the past few months have carried me on a wave of waiting. Unable to find solid ground we floated day to day, month to month. Scared to make plans because of the unknown.

The new year brings opportunity to start over, to develop a new way of thinking. I start my 3rd quarter of school on Tuesday and look forward to the new learning ahead.
We have our Doctors visit on Monday and we hope this will offer some answers and perhaps will birth a plan in that arena of our lives.

My desire to be a good student and desire to be healthy are my desire to go deeper in my faith are the three goals I want to be working on. My success in each of these will depend on one thing, Discipline. This is not the first time I have blogged about how much of a struggle I have with being disciplined, but I do believe in Christ I can find what I am searching for and in my striving I can become more of the woman I am designed to be.

I feel that in someways I have become a shell of myself. It's like when your body experiences cold, the blood all rushes to keep the vital organs alive. In our losses my emotional energy has been channeled to keeping the vital organs of life going... getting out of bed, taking a shower, eating. There is little left for the the things I love, photography, menu planning, crafts, but especially friendships. Coffee dates or dinners with girl friends have become almost a distant memory. I can see that my life is less fun, and I feel the lack of joy but it has been hard to know what to do with that knowledge.

Starting a new year, I hope to be renewing myself. Reconnecting with myself and others, and increasing my capacity for joy and hope.

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Update, Road Trip, Snow, and Great Breakfast

Quick update first, we got the blood test results back and it wasn't a faulty home test, the pregnancy hormone level in my blood had risen from the first draw. Not significantly, and (they tell us) not enough to turn into a viable pregnancy at this point, it is very low but they are not sure what's going on. I have to go for an ultra sound and another blood draw on Monday morning so we are actually hoping for a totally negative result - or of course we would joyfully embrace a very, very high test result too if it meant a miracle baby was going to be making an appearance but that is not something we are realistically considering as an outcome at this point.
I have already felt like I have lost this particular pregnancy twice, once with low blood tests and then again when the physical miscarriage began almost a week after that. To hold onto hope at this point and lose it again would be just too much. However, we pray for miracles and believe in God who preforms them, so it is impossible to totally get the possibility out of your mind. I am just asking God to hold my hope and heart close to His until we have more information.

Even if this is just my body taking time to fully get rid of this pregnancy, there could be some leftover tissue found on the ultra sound and the doctor said it might be possible to use it diagnostically in finding a cause of the recurrent miscarriage so at the least there is hope that some good may come from this.

Take a look at this, a note written to us from Zara the best 5 year old in the world (I may be biased) when she heard about our miscarriage she wrote this. I love it even more because it is in her 'just learning to write' writing but it says, "I'm sorry you didn't have a baby I love you" I almost lost it every time I see it because it comes from this pure place of her wanting to enter in with us, kids are amazing.

Road Trip!! Jeremy and I took a short trip over to Spokane, WA to visit some of his good friends and we drove over in same drizzle but woke up yesterday morning to 6 inches of snow!!! It was beautiful and continued falling throughout the day. However, it meant that the 'check engine' light that flashed at us on the way over the mountain pass could not be ignored for the journey home, so he and his friend Josh did some catching up while they changed spark plugs in the car! Their efforts helped us get safely home.

Last night we connected with another of Jeremy's closest friends who works as a trainer for the Gonzaga basketball team, and watched their game against La Fayette. It was only my second time attending a college b.ball game and it was really fun. Afterward we went for dinner and drinks at one of Jeremy's favourite watering holes, The Elk. It was a brief trip but we did get to connect with friends and see and experience some of Spokane's finest; including the dumping of snow.

Look at my stud hubby brushing snow off the car so we could go out to yummy breakfast at Ferguson's cafe - If you live there you probably know about this place but if you come East for a visit check it out. I have to say, on another trip over to Spokane this year we were introduced to a couple of other GREAT breakfast places. People of Spokane never have to go hungry in the mornings!

We left that beautiful snow scene behind and are now back on the west side (no snow here), watching the Huskies vs Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl; with friends on our couch and pizza in our tummies we appreciate the simple pleasures of home. At this point Washington are winning 19 to 7 but who knows how it will end?!

I can't believe our Christmas vacation is almost over already. Jeremy is back at work Monday and I am back to school Tuesday. Better start switching gears so it is not too much of a shock to my system.

I am looking forward to celebrating the New Year tomorrow, and to having a new start. I am always empowered by January 1st and this year, I want to put 3 goals ahead of me with intention (thanks Katie). I just have a feeling 2011 is going to be a good year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I am cheating on Pumpkin...

...with Cranberry.

Seriously. My obsession with Pumpkin and squash has more recently given way to an obsession with cooking with cranberries. I think this began with the enormous bag of fresh cranberries that I picked up very inexpensively at Costco and couldn't bear to watch go to waste. Here is a list of some of the ways I used them.

Cranberry swirl cheesecake,
which was so moist and so very easy to make. We had this for Christmas day dessert, but I made it the day before and it lasted well. I love this recipe. I would pay more attention to how I did the swirl because I ended up with just a red top, but it tasted good nonetheless! The crust was also crunchy which is an important factor in my cheesecake judgment, I used chocolate Teddy Grahams which worked great.

Friends over for dinner was the perfect opportunity to try out this little creation, and it didn't wail to impress. Chocolate-Cranberry parfaits. I would say that these were not the largest portions, and I mention that more so you can make the best choice for serving them. I do not have glass dessert dishes but used stemless wine-glasses for these. However, I think they would have looked better in champagne flutes, even the plastic ones if you were serving these at a party. You need a little bit of time to make the cranberries ahead but they were well worth it. I didn't have the special sparkling sugar and used plain old granulated sugar but they looked very similar to the picture anyway. Scrummy.

On Christmas day morning I wanted to make something delicious that would also tide us over until Christmas dinner but was not too heavy. Earlier in the summer I ha made this recipe for Pain Perdu, and made it for brunch with friends and it was delicious. I thought I would tweek the sauce just a bit and use berries I already had. Fresh cranberries. and some frozen blueberries and raspberries picked fresh last summer. It turned out so well, and went from a taste of summer to a taste of Christmas in the simple switch. The stale french bread makes wonderful crispy french toast and not the soggy kind that I can't stand. This is a great make ahead breakfast/brunch because you can make the egg mixture the day before and the berry mixture and then the next morning just dip the bread and cook it, and heat the topping while they cook. The powdered sugar (icing sugar) sprinkled on top makes them look so fancy! I love to use my powdered sugar spoon that I think is the cutest invention ever, but is totally not necessary to make this meal look tasty!!

Finally I saw this recipe for Meringue-Topped Cranberry curd tart and have been needing an excuse to make it so an invitation for a holiday meal with Tim and Sarah was just the ticket. This looked like such an interesting combination. I love lemon meringue pie and the combination of tart and sweet so I thought this sounded like a festive variation. I was right. It was quite an involved recipe and I am not sure it is something I would pull out every year, but it was tasty and delivered a good balance of tart and sweet. Here are a few pictures I snapped along the way.

Here is the Pain Perdu sauce, and the Chocolate Ganache Tart - oh my goodness, this was a dangerous find for me. I used orange zest in the crust and it gives it a really wonderful balance to the rich ganache. I have dreamed about this tart for the past 6 nights, it's that good!

So if you have cranberries, I suggest you try out one of these delicious ways to use them up!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fruits and veggies and blood tests

Last night our darling friend Maggie stopped by armed with ingredients to make us all some beef stew - it was amazing, as is she. As Maggie was getting ready to leave, Jeremy noticed a big truck in the driveway and announced the arrival of our delivery from Full Circle Farm. Jeremy had singed me up as part of my Christmas present and we will get a box of local organic fruits and vegetables every 2 weeks delivered to our door. There are also options to get organic mile from a local dairy, pastured meats as well as local bread, eggs and cheese to name just a few things.

They also deliver local made chocolate, and in our first order Jeremy had included a bar of their Christmas Gingerbread flavour! He knows the way to my heart.

We just feasted on some turkey sandwiches made with some of the lettuce we got in our box! Delicious.

Sadly Jeremy came down with a nasty flu bug yesterday and is feeling pretty sorry for himself today. Have you seen the 'Man cold' clip on Youtube? It's like that in our house today. He just needs a little bell to ring! ha ha.

So he is laying next to the fire, I am snuggled in a chair about to crack open the book he gave me for Christmas and excited to just relax and let the time go by in this dreamy snuggly way.

On another note, we did have to get up early this morning to go to the Doctor and get some blood taken. On Christmas eve I took a home pregnancy test to make sure everything was out of my system but it came up with a faint second line still so now we are facing the prospect that we might need some intervention to get things out.
Geesh, feel like we can't catch a break with this whole pregnancy thing - but at least we have each other.

Boxing Day

Not going to lie, this Christmas was tough. I think I had underestimated what this day would mean. Somewhere in my mind, Christmas was the date. The date we would announce a pregnancy in some creative and festive way or the date we would be laughing and dreaming about how this year would be the last Christmas without a baby, and how different it will be next year. This day would be significant in the most joyful of ways, but that's not where life has brought us.

My heightened emotions made if difficult for Jeremy to know how to care for me. My hope for what this day would be had been dashed by life and yet my expectations were still high; impossible to meet. We survived, but not before I had a 'Dawson's Creek' -worthy meltdown. All was resolved and turkey was then consumed in huge quantities. All was well with the world again - at least on some level.

We skyped with my family which was special and it was so good to see their faces as they opened the gifts we had packaged up and sent all those weeks ago! Then we watched the Royale family Christmas special which was such a great reminder of home and Christmases past ("Mary's in the Dyson", ha ha ha)

Who knows what will happen in the year ahead? God does. And the lightness I feel after the grief of yesterday is refreshing. There is always something healing about a really good cry; it cleanses the soul or the spirit of something. I feel restored. Hopeful once again for what is ahead.

Praying your hope was renewed this Christmas season and that you are beginning the new year with a restored purpose and confidence in the goodness of our God.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve, Eve

Today is Jeremy's last day of work until the new year. I am so looking forward to some time together. This have been a busy week, all good busy; time with friends and family celebrating the Christmas season but it means we have had little time to process this season and plan our next move.

After talking with our doctor yesterday and discussing some more recent test results, there seems less chance of us conceiving a baby that will stick around without some help than we had originally thought. This has many implications on the direction we will take next. More invasive treatment options are so expensive and insurance doesn't cover it. We also have the option of pursuing adoption but that is also not cheap and certainly not a walk in the park. Some agencies have restrictions about the length of time you have to be married to be eligible to adopt which we are still a year away from. Do we adopt internationally, domestically, infants or older children? Or do we continue trying, and pray that God grants us a miracle? Ok, I'll stop with all the questions, but you get the point.

We have been busy with the celebrations of the season and not had much time to consider these options. Not avoiding the subject, just wanting to feel 'normal' and like there is more to life than this struggle. I can't believe that Christmas Eve is tomorrow. How did we get here already? Last Christmas seems like a lifetime ago. In some ways it was. Lat Christmas was filled with simple dreams for the year ahead, dreams of babies and a future that seemed so easy.

This year Christmas is filled with sadness of those little ones who are not here, and fear of what lays ahead. Carrying the weight of the decisions, and grieving the loss of joy in this process. What will our life and family look like?

We are reminded that this life is not our own and we are truly trying to come with open hearts and open hands into what God has in store. I hate this part. The waiting, the not knowing. It is testing me, testing us and we want to trust that God will hold us together and lead us into the next place of life. We are open to something different but we are not sure which different it will be.

How much more can my body take? How many more times can we try and lose? Why does it have to be so hard? My faith is stretched thin. Do I have what it takes to truly trust this to God or am I determined to take steps in my own strength? The letting go of our plan and trusting God's, seems to be a struggle for both Jeremy and I. We are both first-borns, we like to get our own way, we like to be in control. We hope and pray that in the midst of this painful situation God can bring redemption in that simple way, and we can emerge on the other side of this with a deeper trust in the God we serve.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ in the coming days and weeks we are praying our hope will be restored. Christ came to bring us life and life in it's fullness and we believe that there are good plans for us and for our family. Plans full of laughter and joy, full of love and hope and service. We just need to be reminded of that possibility when life gets gloomy and clouds our vision. So we will be taking time to remember this holiday season, and make sure to start 2011 with our eyes fixed on Jesus so we don't miss a thing. Who knows what Christmas Eve, eve will look like next year?!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The longest night

'Tis the season and all that. But what does that look like this year?
The worst of this miscarriage is behind us and now as the Christmas celebrations hit in full force how is this going to go? We wanted to be celebrating with a belly full of something more than turkey and mince pies.

Recurrent miscarriage for us has meant that each month we make the decision to try again to get pregnant. I wish we could just let this happen but now with certain medication prescribed to be taken at certain points in my cycle that's not possible - unless we said screw it and just forgot the meds all together. We'd have to be pretty certain that God was leading us there, but we're open to it!

We celebrate the birth of our Savior, our Jesus. We joyfully proclaim the life he promises us and at the same time we grieve the babies we will not hold. This is rough time for those who have lost a baby, the air everywhere is filled with songs being sung about babies being born.

Last night, on the longest night of the year, or church held a service recognising that this time of year is not always just a time of joy. It was such a beautiful space. The candles on the advent wreath lit in remembrance; for people we have lost, for the pain of loss, for the heavy burden of grief and lastly for the hope we have in Christ.

Readings and hymns which remind us that Christ enters into our suffering, that he carried and carries our burdens and that he is with us. Jeremy and I have such different personal experiences of faith and different ways we communicate with God that sometimes it can be hard for us to find common ground to grieve and worship in the midst of all this. This service granted us an opportunity to do just that.

I hadn't really considered it until last night, but with our miscarriages we have had no place to recognise our losses. No service or ceremony to say goodbye, no way to mark these painful events. That was what the service offered. A place to say our lives are changed. To say we had something so special and we lost it. To say we miss you, and we are heavy with the knowledge we will never get to hold you, and lastly a time to say goodbye. We won't forget you.

After the service, the tears, the goodbyes we came home and shared laughter over a glass of wine with some good friends and their little guy. It made the truth of joy in the midst of suffering come to life. The blessing of friendship and community made stronger in the midst of the pain of life.

Here is Jeremy last night with baby Thomas, we love this kid! Look how festive he is in his red overalls!

Isaiah 53:1-8 (The Message)

Isaiah 53
1 Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?

2-6The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,
on him, on him.

7-9He was beaten, he was tortured,
but he didn't say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
and like a sheep being sheared,
he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he'd never hurt a soul
or said one word that wasn't true.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Beginning of the end.

The twinges I had yesterday morning signalled the beginning of the end (physically) of this pregnancy. The severe cramping and the start of physical miscarriage began late Thursday afternoon and kept me up most of last night unable to get comfortable. I am taking pain medication but it wears off a few hours before I can take more, so I am trying to sleep in those moments when the pain is kept to a dull roar.

Miscarriage is not for the faint-hearted.

There is a sense of relief that this is ending naturally, an answer to prayer. As the days past, I was beginning to fear that the progesterone I had been taking would mean that we might need some medical intervention to physically end this pregnancy but thankfully it didn't come to that.

I didn't think I had tears left but with every wave of pain they fall down my face. Grieving the finality. Another baby we won't meet. Fear of what it means for the future. And the sting of tears also remind me that there is story in motion that I can rest in. Fearing not and trusting for the peace that passes understanding as we heal and make decisions for what lies ahead.

Thank you for your prayers and love, I can;t say enough how much it has meant to us and and how it has carried us.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

For the love of my kitchen

Yesterday was a tough one. Waiting for this to start so it can be over. Talking with a lovely friend who is also struggling with infertility and a message from another who is grieving the passing of her infant son...and wondering why? Where is the redemption in these stories? God, where is your plan?

It is so easy for me to call friends, to get out and forget about all the questions. And while I believe there is a time for that, today I needed to be alone with my thoughts to allow them to surface. So I took to my kitchen.

I have wanted to do some Christmas baking for some gifts and needing some distraction it seemed to be the perfect pairing. Jeremy and I are also looking for ways to get to build relationships with our neighbours, so I thought a little goodie bag of treats and a Christmas card would be a nice gesture and a reason to knock on the door.

Here is a snap of a couple of the things I made. Peppermint bark and chocolate dipped pretzels. I also whipped up a batch of sugar cookies and now have some frosting to get to today.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Waiting is the Hardest Part

A week ago today we found out we were pregnant. And now, even though we know it is over, we are in limbo waiting for the physical process of loss to begin. We have been keeping plans in place; dinner with friends, making gingerbread houses, other fun Christmas activities, but in the back of my mind or at the end of a call or email I am adding, "unless something starts and I can't be there." This waiting is hard on my soul. Every morning I wake up and for a second everything is normal, my stomach still has that strange early pregnancy full feeling, but then reality hits me. It's over, I am just waiting, helpless, for the physical process to actually start and then finally be over.

The medication I was on meant that everything stuck around longer than it should have, so the physical part of the miscarriage this time is even more daunting because I just don't know how it's going to go, or how awful the pain might be.

I went crazy finishing up school work Monday and Tuesday so that I would be able to just stay in bed if I needed to later in the week but now it's Wednesday and still nothing is happening. I have never wanted to start cramping more than I do right now. I hate walking around with this failed pregnancy, this lost baby inside me. I just want it gone. I want to start thinking about something else, to have this be less than all-consuming.

One thing this miscarriage has revealed is that sometimes my disappointment can feel heavier when I am caught up in the time frame of other peoples lives. Hearing a friend announce a pregnancy, or (heaven help-me) a second or third pregnancy makes me more anxious to have a baby. It is my comparison that makes our infertility weigh more heavily. When I stop and look at my life I am not sure why that comparison has so much power. I have so much. Please don't hear me downplay how much we want a family, or saying I am not ready, or this loss is not breaking my heart. But simply that I see how heightened it becomes when I compare my life to those of my friends. It is a dangerous road to go down.

Jeremy and I want to have a family and we would like to start it soon (like yesterday), but we are not just sitting around waiting. Our losses are changing us. Hopefully making us stronger, deepening intimacy and allowing us to learn more about one another. We need to take stock of what we have. Step off the tread mill of comparison and the rushing of life and recognise that our story is just different, unique, as every person and family's story is. We are so sad that the process of having a child has not been "normal" or easy but it is our story, and I don't want to wish it away. It will always be a part of us. We pray that one day we can share with our children the journey that we went on the be parents but we just don't know what the future is going to hold. Wherever life takes us, whatever the story God is writing - it's our story. And when I consider all we have, and the journey we have been on so far I know I can truly be excited about the future, even if those feelings are foggy and distant right now.

We have been overwhelmed by the messages of love and support from our friends, this would be a completely different experience to go through something like this alone. We are so very thankful to each one of you who has been praying for us, we have felt each and every one of them. We are so thankful to have people who just want to sit with us, eat dinner with us and not rush to make any of the sadness go away but freely talk with us about our experience. I don't want to run from this pain, I don't want to forget. I don't want to dwell but I am forever changed and each of these pregnancies is a part of me in the deepest of places. The hopes and dreams, the wishes and plans, the loss and the pain. Each time different, just like each child is. I am feeling a little "mama bear" about our miscarriage experiences. They are mine. I want to remember everything because they were gone too soon. I want to let them soften my heart and keep it open and vulnerable, not let my hear get hard with the feelings of bitterness, jealousy and injustice.

So I wait. For the cramps telling me it's finally over. For the sparkle, hope and joy of the Christmas season to shine bright again. For the tears to slow. And one day for a baby to hold.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The thrill of hope, needed desperately

I wasn't sure if we would blog about recent events or not, but as I have emailed back and forth with dear friends I see the way writing helps to organise my thoughts and get them out and stop them spinning endlessly in my head.

Last week we asked close friends to pray for us after discovering our latest pregnancy was heading towards our fourth miscarriage. We were heart broken. We had the medicine, our answer to prayer, our modern day miracle and yet it failed us and we still didn't get our baby. This impending miscarriage has brought with it floods of revelation. Much of which pointed to the huge pile of fear, hopelessness, abandonment and rejection that I had felt toward God since the first time this happened almost a year ago. These dirty emotions are sprawled in a big pile in a dark corner waiting to be fully embraced. If you ignore something like that it just goes away right? That is the British theology in me. No offense meant. But I do see how my lovely homeland shys away from the negative and the things we can't explain. We hold our heads high and tough it out, we claim God's goodness until the bad feelings are tucked deep enough to forget about.

We don't see the damage this can do, or at least the damage this did to me emotionally, and more so the damage it did to my relationship with God. My emotional dam burst and took a few casualties down in its powerful stream. Literally hundreds of counseling hours later I could at least begin to put words to my "undesirable" feelings. I could see out of the fog and I could be present with people in my life today. I could sit and truly be me in a place at a time. I embraced the good, the bad and the ugly and I sat with it. Aware of it all, and unashamed. It was hard work, and it will never be done. I am on a personal counseling hiatus right now but perhaps this is the perfect time to re-evaluate that?! hummmmm, that wasn't where that thought was going at all when I started typing.

Anyway, I feel like my anxiety disorder is a good illustration of a cumulative effect. As it builds to a peak at the start of a long-term episode I would keep my life in a routine to keep control but gradually I will stop doing one activity at a time, and before I know it I haven't been outside for a week. With my negative or big hard to understand emotions to do with our infertility it is the same way. As I neglected these issues one at a time, they built a wall in my heart. Higher and higher it has been building until today I stand on my tip-toes trying to peak over the edge to catch a glimpse of my true self. My heart and passions are caught under the massive pile of emotional junk.

I am a shadow of myself.

And some days it is too much effort to care.

Some days it is easier to sit in my shell, and let the world happen around me. Keeping it at arms length as much as possible because the truth of where my life is today and the pain it has faced is too much.

Wearing the hurt and the fear, the disappointment and the feeling of hopelessness feels like putting on someone else's clothes. They don't fit me, they are uncomfortable and they draw attention. In my shadow I can slip thorough life relatively unnoticed. I don't have to answer questions I don't have answers for. I don't have to admit how angry I am, or how powerless this makes me feel. I don't have to be the person this loss has made me. I can take back control, but I can only do this for so long, my arms are getting tired.

Today I sit. Mourning another child we won't get to hold, and fearful of the physical process that its about to happen. I recognise my true self, behind the wall of emotional junk. I know the day is coming when I have to deal with it, one piece, one lie of the enemy, one painful truth at a time. For today, my arms are burning but I am holding on a little longer to this shield of false protection. Isolated and confused.

The wall of tears is impenetrable this afternoon. Jeremy's kisses fall on wet cheeks unable to stop the flood.

Feeling so far from my Jesus, and aware it has been my feet that have wandered. My heart that is afraid, and my fear and pride which will prolong my return to his arms.

Pray for us please, we need hope.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Finishing strong

It is already December, December 5th to be exact. With every twinkle light I see I am reminded that we are flying towards the end of 2010. I finish my second quarter of college next week. Christmas shopping and preparations are well underway and suddenly the stress begins to rise.

The shopping becomes mundane and the crowds become a frustration. School assignments become a burden and my desire to learn is fading. My exercise routine is lacking and I realise I am not feeling so jolly.

I love Christmas and I am so blessed to be getting an education. I think a change of focus is in order. Finishing strong.

I want to finish school with the best grades I can and not just scrape by to get to the end as quick as possible. I want to remember the joy of showing others they are thought of with a special gift. I love the Christmas baking and treats, and I really love sharing them with others. I am excited to dress up for Christmas parties and still get a little thrill opening my advent calendar each morning!! I want to finish strong.

This time of hopeful expectation of all that's to come means so much more when we recognise all that we have and hold today. Happy Advent season, and happy finishing strong to you all x

Saturday, November 27, 2010

That time of year again

I cannot believe the year has gone by so fast. Turkey leftovers are in the fridge we went and cut down our tree yesterday and today it is covered in decorations and twinkle lights. Every time I have one of those moments where life feels like it is just flying by, I have to take a moment to take stock. What have I done in the last year? What difference have I made in the world? Am I a better person today than I was a year ago?

My friend Katie made a list of everything she wants do do before she turns 30 and has picked a few to work on in the coming months. While I missed the 'before I turn 30' boat (I had my own pretty successful pre-30 bucket list)I think it is time for a new goal setting strategy and she has motivated me to make my list and then pick a few to start with. I am excited, and hope that it can help me answer positively some of those pesky 'time flying' questions if the next time they arise.

Speaking of time passing by, I just had to get glasses. Genetically I was always going to be prone to less than perfect vision but I have made do until recently. Headaches from working at the computer for long periods of time for school has highlighted my need for some eye-help. And this was confirmed by my eye test. I actually have one eye which is struggling much more than the other but glasses are needed for both. So I now enter the ranks of spec wearer. I like my new glasses.

I'm off to make my list (which I can now see clearly with my new glasses!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Snow day P.S.

More snow fell this afternoon and late into tonight. It's 10.15pm and THIS is the final snow tally.

Jeremy just made some peppermint hot chocolate with chocolate covered marshmallows in (he knows the way to my heart) and I sipped it sitting cozy by the fireplace putting the finishing touches to the draft of my paper for school. All is well with the world. I am feeling incredibly blessed with my lot in life.

It is supposed to be FREEZING tomorrow and with all this snow the roads will be icy so I am not-so-secretly hoping Jeremy doesn't try to get into work but decides to take a snow day with most of the rest of Seattle. I'll need his hot chocolate making skills to get through the day!! Goodnight all.

Snow day!

This will be short and sweet because it is a way to put off working on the inevitable, my research paper that is due tomorrow.

We are only in November and after a few flurries yesterday that turned into wet, we woke you this morning to snow on the ground, and falling flakes. Buses are on snow routes and schedules. Some schools are having snow days and all is well with the world (except for that darn paper!)

The world looks beautiful under a blanket of white. Even the most mundane views have a magic about them when snow is falling.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I have some lovely sounding treats to whip up. I couldn't decide which dessert to make, so I am making both. A chocolate ganache tart and a cranberry blueberry pie, there are no calories on Thanksgiving right?

Here are a couple of snow pics. This 7.30am view from our bedroom window, turned much whiter by the second picture taken 10am.

The view from our front door of our front garden and driveway early this morning (first picture) on looks much different now too (same plant pot and rhodie in both pics). I LOVE snow!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

"big bag of weird in there"

Wow, so almost 400 hits later I guess 'submission' is a hot button topic. I am not going to dwell on it, it was simply what was on my mind when I started to blog on Monday morning, but I will follow up with a comment from my very wise friend Suzanne who said, "I think when we cling first and foremost to our desire to love and please God, we don't worry about who is going to submit to who. We just work to express our love to God and express our love to others." That's what I was trying to say but she did it better!

As I write today, I am looking out my window to a sunny autumn day and not the snow flurries we were promised. Now, I am never one to shun sunshine (especially in November) but I was kinda looking forward to some real winter weather.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I am left wondering where the time has gone?! Jeremy and I started dating (officially) in November, and the first time I met his family was just a few weeks later at Thanksgiving. It feels like a million years ago. So much has happened in those years. I thought my 20's were busy years, but I had no idea how non-stop my 30's would be!!

Our house projects continue, and a part of me wonders if this 'joint nesting' is a way for us to prepare for parenthood. I know you normally that doesn't kick in until you are pregnant, but I think all the talking and hoping, planning and emotions of the last few months have caused us to be a little ahead of the game! I will be so excited to post pictures of our new fireplace and lovely painted green walls in the next couple of weeks.

I am also excited to get the Christmas shopping under way. I mean, I have started here and there but I have some major purchasing and creating to do. I am really wanting to make a lot of our gifts this year, and while that is fun it takes extra time. It means I have to really be good student to make sure assignments get in on time and I have time left over to make Christmas special.

With the holidays coming up I thought it was also the perfect reason to start to eating our way through the fridge and freezer to make room for storing holiday goodies as well as just using up the odds and ends that get left behind from making something specific. Tonight we are having our friends over for dinner and instead of slaving away in the kitchen, I pulled out a butternut squash and spinach lasagna and a peach raspberry crisp. Delicious, homemade and just throw it in the oven! I found a great new blog which I am slowly working my way through and I am loving, it's called 100 days of real food, it is a great resource so if you are interested, you should check it out.

To submit or not to submit, that is the question

Last night we met with our newly wed group, and after some great catching up we began to discuss a chapter of a book called "The language of Love and Respect." It is a marriage book Jeremy and I started a little while ago and even though we are not too far in, we thought the books discussion of more traditional gender roles in marriage especially from a Christian perspective would spark some good conversation. We were not wrong.

It is amazing how six people can read the same words and hear totally different things. Some of the traditional views of womens and mens needs and roles within marriage were challenged in discussion, but what caused the most lively debate was the issue of submission.

When Jeremy and I wrote our marriage vows we didn't include anything about submitting. It was not because we were anti that point of view, but more that there were things we felt were more important to focus on like love and respect. With these things in place I feel confident in the structure of our marriage and the fact that our foundation is on Christ. Which feels like the perfect environment for submission to work.

Until last night, Jeremy and I had never had a specific conversation about how submission works in our marriage. As much as I consider myself a strong and outspoken women I would also say that if it came to it on an important decision in our family and after we had had conversations, sought counsel, and really sought the Lord together if we still didn't agree I would ultimately submit to Jeremy. My submission can come from a place of trust in his love for me and because I believe he would be submitting to the will of the Lord.

I consider us equals in our relationship. We both have roles to play but ultimately we are called to love and serve and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

The discussion in our group turned to the way 'submit' has become a dirty word, and how in the church especially it has been used as a license for men to abuse, "Do as I say because I am the man and you have to submit to me." Or has also been used as a reason for women to stay in bad situations, afraid to leave because they feel their role is just so submit - that is the 'good Christian' thing to do.
I am not saying that this is ok, abuse is never ok, but the abuse of submission was never God's intention. Trust humanity to take something beautiful and poop all over it. Marriage is a way for us to reflect to the world Christs love for the church, and clearly if you are being abusive or controlling to your spouse you are not loving them well and scripture should never be used to justify unloving behaviour.

I see the way Jeremy and I submit to one another and I hope it can begin to reclaim the word for good. I see the pain and damage that word has done in the lives of some of our friends and it is so sad.

As our conversation took this turn last night I feel so blessed to be sharing with these friends. God has brought us together to share life and learn about marriage in community. It is conversation like this that sharpen all of us. I hope it begins to challenge all of us to consider others experience and find healing and beauty in our own lives.

This seems to be a pretty explosive topic. After last night I recognise there is so much baggage around the word for some people. I pray that whatever your experience or bias to the word 'submission,' those of us in relationships can feel loved, cared for and respected in a way that feels safe and life-giving. In my marriage, this is what submission feels like for both of us, as we choose to put one another first.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pajama day!

So my funk continued yesterday despite my best efforts to shake out of it. Walking around Greenlake, fun coffee date, World Market trip to get coffee tables served as a good distraction but my heart was still heavy.

So today I am taking a different approach. I declare this Pajama day! It is 10.30am and I am tying this from my bed. I have eaten a yummy bowl of oatmeal and have already finished and ordered the Shutterfly book I made of our honeymoon (I got it with a great Groupon deal from a few months ago - yay, Groupon!) I have completed an extra credit assignment for school, thrown in a load of laundry and have chased my doctor's office to have them send my records to the fertility clinic which they have not yet done - Please say a prayer they send them ASAP so our new doctor will have them for our visit tomorrow. All that to say, despite of my apparent sloth I have been very productive.

It is cozy and warm here in my bedroom but I can hear the rain hammering against my window and the skylight. I have lots of things to check off my list today, I wonder how many I can accomplish before I have to get dressed? That sounds like a challenge to me.

This is an afterthought really but I am just starting to venture out in cooking with my crock pot. We got a fabulous 6.5qt slow cooker for our wedding and until this weekend, had only used it to make a catch of apple butter. This was amazing apple butter, don't get me wrong but I knew I was not using this fantastic machine to it's full potential. Last weekend, Jeremy and his dad had worked hard to install can lights in our TV room which is attached to our kitchen. I knew it would be a dusty day so I thought it wold be a prefect scenario to throw things in the CP in the morning, let it cook dust-free all day and then be able to serve a scrummy meal in the evening. I found a recipe online which sounded mouth-watering and put the wheels in motion for our CP dinner debut. It was a Guinness Beef stew. I tweaked the recipe a bit but I heard you couldn't really go wrong with a CP.

It really was as easy as everyone had said and served with a green salad and warm rosemary olive oil bread, made a very satisfying meal after a day of hard work. I think I will start a weekly tradition of using the CP as my sous chef. Please pass on any good recipes that you have.

P.S. Take that funk. I can add 'wrote a blog' to my list of things accomplished. HA.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A funk

I'm in a funk. Is it just the Monday blues? Perhaps daylight savings put me in it; having the darkness roll in just after 5 last night felt ominous. Maybe it is more to do with our visit with the fertility doctor this week, seriously, when did this become a part of my story, what did I do wrong?

I think it just hit me. This is something that is supposed to be so easy, so natural. Something just between Jeremy and I. And all of a sudden there's doctors and blood tests and hormone levels and questions and forms and suddenly this beautiful thing, making a baby, has become so much more of a burden and I hate that I feel this way. I watch couples all around adding to their families without any problems and I want to cry out, "it's not fair!" I see other couples struggling to have a baby, and anger seeps into the picture.

I have to make the decision each day that bitterness will not take a hold of my heart. I have to remember that God is good and just. That's a tough one. And some days are just harder than others.

We just wanted to have a baby. Instead we are learning lessons of faith, and hope and prayer. We are forced to confront our fears, recognise the gaps in our theology and the misconceptions we carry about the character of God. We are reminded that we are not in controls, that we cannot make this happen in our own power. And in certain moments, like today, this feels overwhelming.

I want to trust in God's plan and power, and most days I can find that faith, but today the funk makes it tough.

Praying that after Wednesday and our visit with the fertility doctor, when the unknown of that is over the funk will lift. Today I am going to let a few tears fall and pray that my, "it's not fair" 's will be met with grace and comfort from my Jesus.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Skinny jeans

So we are entering week 3 of my new fitness plan, and so far so good. I confess I have skipped a day here and there but it's been pretty consistent and now I have stepped out of my nanny position I can settle into a strong daily routine. I did avoid doing the work out yesterday, and even through it is only a DVD, Jillian made me pay for my sloth this morning! That is motivation to keep at it daily - fear!! ha ha

Today I woke up, made breakfast for Jeremy while he took a shower, worked out, took a shower myself, had a quiet time and then got ready for a study date with a friend who I haven't seen for a long time. I'm here at the cafe with her now, studying - can you tell? It felt amazing to be up and out so early with so much under my belt already.

This new life routine of life has got me thinkin'. I am so blessed to have the freedom to step in being a full time student and home maker. I had many internal conversations about being a failure, or a wuss. How could I possibly feel overwhelmed with life, I was only working 2 days a week, my class load is so flexible. So many of my friends have full time jobs, kids, manage households and study I have no excuse to feel the way I do. I pushed forward for a few weeks feeling like this before I verbalised it to Jeremy and to friends, who were all so reassuring.

I was helped to recognise that in the last year or two I have gone through some pretty crazy life changes. Going back to school was a huge leap and as well as the assignments, papers and tests I am still re-learning how to study. That is a lot of pressure. I went from single to married, which has its own stresses and joys but any change can be tough on the body and mind, and as changes go that's a big one. I also went from having one room to care for in my old house, to a big ol' house to take care of and keep clean - a bg potentially messy blessing! I have Martha Stewart aspirations which don't help my cause in feeling the pressure of keeping house but with or without those there is laundry to do and bathrooms to clean, and carpets to vacuum.

So I have decided to put down my playing piece in this game of comparison and stop trying to fit in someone elses skinny jeans. That is never going to make me feel good about myself, infact it only highlights my flaws. I can't fit into someone elses life. One day, as life moves forward, school is more natural, I get a hold on running our house the way I want to and other things fall into place I can look for another part time job but for now I accept where I am and what I have on my plate is enough.

I can squeeze into my own skinny jeans and feel really great about myself. I can get my morning routines down to include working out and a quiet time (21 days to make a habit) and then as that becomes less of something to even think about I can add to my pile. Starting at the bottom with the things that are most important. My faith journey, the health of my marriage, taking good care of our bodies by eating well and working out, doing well in school. These are all important, very important and I am so blessed to be in a place to start with these building blocks as a foundation. And add to them as I can. Becoming a better friend, serving my neighbours, being creative, working outside my home. These are things I get to experience in snippets as I stand on my solid foundation.

I am so thankful for God's provision through Jeremy's job to have the freedom to take these steps, as the world watched me step out in the skinny jeans of my life.
This blessed season lets me find a new purpose, form a new vision and be the person I was designed to be.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Honesty is the hardest policy

Today November 1, 2010 marks our 2 year anniversary of love! We had our first official date 2 years ago. We ate dinner and watched a James Bond movie and near the end Jeremy held my hand. Little did we know that 2 years later we would have already celebrated a year of marriage, bought a house and be more than just talking about babies. Crazy.

I am learning that we rarely know what God has planned before we are in the midst of it. As much as I would love God to give me knowledge of the future he has in store I am also feeling very safe to just trust him when I see all the wonderful things I have in my life. And also all the crappy stuff I have survived. It is not all moonlight and roses this road we walk as Christians. We trip, we fail, we fall apart, we have our hearts broken and we poor examples of Christ to the world. My desire is not to be an example of a "good Christian", but a reflection of Christ. To try and be a model Christian I may be forced into hiding my faults, not confessing my sins and not allowing forgiveness to come into my life. I want to be fully seen and known and in my failing to show the grace, mercy and love of Christ to others as I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start again.

I just started a bible study on Job and today as I read about how God saw him as a man of "complete integrity" it was very convicting. God sees all of me. The good, the bad and the ugly, but what of that do I present to others? Do I confess and seek forgiveness, am I a true reflection of what is going on in my heart? Not always.
God specifically put on my heart something to confess to Jeremy and I am still fighting him, wanting to find a good reason (or any reason) not to share. It's not even a big deal really but will involve a nice fat slab of humility that I am not sure I want to give. So I am stuck between feelings of conviction and those of fear. Almost tasting the freedom of being fully known, loved and forgiven my the man I love and seen as having integrity by the God I serve, and then shrinking behind my fear of embarrassment or rejection. It's a tough one even though it shouldn't be - as I said before it is not a big deal. Not even blog worthy really.

At least I will have something to talk about if conversation lulls tonight at dinner! Pray for me!

In other news, on Wednesday I met with my doctor to discuss the results of the huge quantity of blood and other tests I had done. Everything cam back normal. In many ways this is good news, we have no problems to fix but it also offers us no answers as to why our miscarriages are happening. So now we start another phase of this journey, the fertility clinic.

I made an appointment for next week when Jeremy and I will continue our journey towards parenthood under PNW fertility.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Feast of fall fare

My fall food obsession climaxed this weekend when we had some friends over for dinner (to watch the huskies) and play games. I am never one to shy away from a theme when I entertain, and this was no exception. I started with a bunch of staple food produce, pumpkins, various squash, pears and ended with a bunch of fall deliciousness.
This was our menu.

Roasted Pumpkin Salsa, with tortilla chips (The recipe online has an incomplete ingredient list, so I had to add in a red pepper, and some garlic, I used about 2 cloves.
Crispy butternut wontons with spicy tomato sauce

Pumpkin chili with pumpkin cornbread
velvety squash soup with rosemary bread and sourdough

Pumpkin cheesecake

Pear and ginger crisp

And to drink...Apple cider and pumpkin beer.

Topped off with Catchphrase, Telephone Pictionary and the Celebrity game. A good time was had by all! Happy fall!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The 'f' word

Well, the other 'f' word. Focus.

I think I have been beating myself up a little bit recently for not being disciplined. I want to get fit but can't be motivated to get off the couch. I want to start a food blog but get distracted. I want to thrive and do my best in school but procrastinate until I hand in assignments that just get me by. I want to be better at celebrating my friends, birthdays, anniversaries, significant events but let myself get busy and miss the moment and I want to move forward in my faith but am always falling into bed so sleepy my Bible and journal sit unopened on my nightstand. Yuck.

I think I have been missing the boat a little bit though. Yes, I am undisciplined but I believe that I am missing a vital piece of this puzzle. Focus. I get off course so easily when I don't see the changes I want happening immediately because I forget why I am doing it.

I bought a Jillian Michaels DVD this summer when I was wanting to get fit before we got pregnant. I did it once before we found out we were - and then after the miscarriage, and our subsequent pregnancy and miscarriage the DVD began to gather dust. This weekend I was feeling particularly 'blah' about my fitness level and my body and made a resolve to start my days with Jillian. It is a 30 day program and I can do anything for 30 days right?

After the first 5 minutes I was sweating, in pain, so winded I legitimately thought I might die. However, after it was done, and I had survived, and showered I felt wonderful!! Then (fatal mistake) I looked in the mirror. In my post work-out haze I had been convinced that my cottage cheese thighs would have turned into the tanned and toned ones I had been watching bending and stretching in front of me on the DVD. Of course, that was not the case and immediately I was discouraged. My heart sank and I wanted to give up. What was the point?

I didn't work out with the DVD next day. But the following morning after a run in with a particularly tight pair of jeans (that didn't used to be) my resolve was back. This time when I was working out something caught my eye; a baby picture we have of Jeremy that somehow ended up next to our TV.

In that moment, as I was doing jumping jacks and sweating my butt off (hopefully!) I realised that this is what my sweating was all about. Yes, I want to be active so I can fit in my jeans, and yes, I want to look good for my husband but ultimately I want to get in good shape because Jeremy and I want to have a baby. Not just pregnancy, but sleepless nights, running around after a toddler - everything about kids takes energy. Seeing that photo of Jeremy's smiley baby face reminded me where my focus needed to be. Just fitting into jeans isn't enough, but for our family I choose to get up and out of a cozy warm bed and work out.

That's what I feel like with the other things I listed at the beginning of this post. I am in school to learn so I can find a career that allows me to be making a difference in the world. I want to be an example for my family. Jeremy tells me all the time that he is proud of me for starting over in college. I want to be a good student because it will make me a better person, and ultimately the best version of myself for my family.

I have noticed that I recently I have added a lot to my plate. Increasing my class load with school amongst other things has made life stressful. I am stopping my part-time job it the next couple of weeks and this will free up time. I am praying that I can take a step back and find an hour or two to re-focus to help me reach my goals.

This is what will keep me on track with my working out - and now it's out there I have friends on blogland holding me accountable. Maybe I am biased, but I believe he is the cutest baby EVER!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fog is lifting

Feeling full of purpose today. Deciding that the 'end of summer woes' needed their butt kicked. So today I got up and worked out, that felt like a good start! Feeling like life is a little stagnant right now, like we are in a time of waiting and we are stuck. Waiting for next week for our test results, and waiting for new appointments, new tests and more results after that. Waiting to find out if we can have a baby of our own. Waiting for the next phase of our lives together to begin.

And while none of that goes away in our hearts, it has to go away in the way we wait. We can be passive, and simply sit back. Sit day in and day out and wait. Or we can chose to embrace fully the gifts of today. We truly have so much.

In our 'waiting' we have somehow started to move apart. In embracing the time we have just us, we get closer. Yesterday after church (and after the Seahawk game - more thoughts to come about this whole football widow thing) we went to lunch. It was a beautiful sunny fall day here in the Emerald City and I really wanted to make the most of what could be one of the last sunny days we have. What better way to enjoy some PNW beauty than by eating by the water, and when Jeremy suggested Agua Verda it all just made sense!

We got a table on the deck, in the bright, warm sunshine, overlooking the lake watching the boats and the kayaks, eating delicious food and sipping down a Margarita. This was really just a perfect moment, time to share about our lives, and make the effort to engage one another. Small steps make a hug difference in the way we communicate and the way we love each other.

Tonight I am having some ladies over to craft a little and make some cards. I love to make my own greeting cards but finding time can be my downfall. Actually, making time can be my downfall. I have been out of my stock pile cards for a while, so tonight I will replenish it while having fun times with fun ladies. Another kick in the pants for the fall blues! As the nights get darker, I feel so un-motivated to call people up and make plans, so I know myself well enough to try and get some things on the calendar before the night time dark zaps my creative energies!

Ok, fog has lifted, in my heart, head, body and literally...outside the sun is shining again. I now need to get my homework groove on so I have time later to set things up for tonight. It's going to be a good week, if the days all pan out like this one.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More pumpkins goodness

Tonight, I raided my cupboards and the fridge for supplies for dinner. I wasn't sure what i would end up with but after a few google searches with the ingredients I found I came across a recipe for Pumpkin chili. I wasn't sure how I felt about pumpkin in chili, but I was willing to give it a shot - especially since I had a fresh batch of homemade pumpkin puree just calling out to be used in something delicious!!

Here is the recipe. It was actually really good, the pumpkin gave it a really good texture more than anything else. So for any of you who open a big can of pumpkin and you can't use it all at once, you should try this out.

I served it with sour cream, and a little cilantro. Oh, and a big glass of wine.

Happy fall to you x

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All about the cycles

Today I started my period. This is a normal biological function happening to hundreds of thousands of women at this very moment. To some it comes as a relief, and to others, particularly those trying to conceive it is often an event to mourn. Today I am totally conflicted by feeling a sense of everything in that large range of emotion!

We had made the decision to take at least a month off from trying. Two miscarriages in two months was just a lot for my body and my spirit to handle. Our desire to be parents is balanced very much with our desire to stay sane as much as possible in the process! It didn’t make it an easy decision, even to wait one month can seem like forever, but we knew it was right. We found even more peace in our decision when my doctor told us that we needed to be un-pregnant to get accurate test results.

So today marks a strange day. On Friday I will have the last of this batch of blood work. On the 27th I have another Dr’s appointment to hear the results of all the tests (I guess it can take a while to get results back). We will know then if it necessary to continue on and have two more tests at a fertility clinic to rule out the last possible ‘testable’ reasons for our miscarriages.

I think it is partly the hormones of the day, but I have been prone to out bursts of tears this afternoon. Tears for how it ‘should’ be, and tears for what might not happen in our lives, and tears of fear about all the unknowns of the future.

A friend recommended a book to me that I have been devouring. It is breaking me and healing me all at the same time. It really struck me today that we have no idea what it will mean for us to walk down the journey of parenthood. All of the tears we have cried for these lost babies, are drawing us closer to God, or at least that is my hope. In our suffering we identify more with God and know our need for him more clearly than ever. In the book, Holding onto Hope, a story about finding God’s heart in the midst of our suffering, Nancy Guthrie talks about how we so often pray for healing and then add in a P.S. “if it’s your will.” She asks the question,”shouldn’t we switch that around? Shouldn’t we cry out to God with boldness and passion and persistence in a prayer that says, ‘God, would you please accomplish your will? Would you give me a willing heart to embrace your plan and you purpose? Would you mold me into a vessel that you can use to accomplish what you have in mind?’ And then, perhaps, you could add a tiny P.S. that says, ‘If that includes healing, we will be grateful.” (88)

I want to be praying that prayer. I want God’s will to be done in my life, and in our family. I know friends who have had lost children. I have seen them walk with dignity through something that I can never ever imagine having to do. I know people raising children with learning disabilities and with emotional difficulties and I am suddenly all the more aware that we have no idea what God’s plan is for our family. If we are asking for God to bless us with a child we must be praying for God’s will to be accomplished through us receiving this gift. We have no idea what God may be asking of us but whatever is to come we can trust it is God’s good and perfect will and we can receive the peace He promises us comes with that.

In all the fun we have been having this fall so far, the leaves turning colour are a reminder that this is just a season. Soon enough the pumpkins will be gone and (hopefully) the snow will be falling, and then soon after that, the bulbs will start to break through the cold hard earth to signal spring…and so on, and so on forever. This is a season too. We are enjoying the fall activities and food, time with friends and the reminder to be thankful, but we are also mourning the loss of our pregnancies, and we are grieving that this process is not the simple and joyful experience we thought it would be.

We continue to seek God’s face. We know that there are new seasons coming. We hope it will include a child, (or two or three of them); we know we will see our marriage continue to evolve and transform, yet, we do not know the fine detail of these events. We have no guarantees in life other than God’s faithfulness, and so we pray “Your will be done in our lives Lord.”

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Corn maze fun

With all the pumpkins and squash around our house, it was time to embrace this season a little more and head to the Farm at Swan's Crossing, for their WA state corn maze and some apple cider doughnuts!

We grabbed out good buddies, Anjie and Josh and headed out. (But not before we had filled our bellies with the velvety squash soup, and yes it was every bit as delicious as it claimed.) It had started to rain as we were driving, but we had all dressed for mud with our boots and decided to brave the elements! Once we arrived, there was a little drizzle but nothing a Seattle dweller would call rainy and the sun even come out when we were in the maze!

First stop apple cider doughnuts

and what goes well with apple cider doughnuts? That's right, hot apple cider - I was excited about this combination, can you tell? And yes, so was everyone else!

So off we headed on the hay wagons to thee corn maze, stopping to watch some duck racing on the way, and taking a detour through the petting zoo - cutest kittens ever! But I am still trying to persuade Jeremy on that one.

It was certainly muddy, but we had a grand adventure all the same!

So much fun being in the corn maze, and it was really pretty in there especially when the sun began to shine. We safely found our way out without too much trouble and even survived the crazy muddy and wet suspension bridge!

The day ended with pumpkin spite lattes and all was well with the world for a moment!

Hope you are all enjoying the bounty of the fall season too.

Friday, October 8, 2010

How could I forget these?!!?

As I looked over the list from yesterday I realised I had forgotten a couple of essentials...

Pumpkin muffins
- these are amazing for breakfast. They are not too sweet but the little bit of sweetness on top is just wonderful. Make a batch and put them in the freezer to defrost as needed!

Baked potato soup - This is heavenly. 1. because it tastes SO good and, 2.because it is so easy to make. That's all there is to say.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

We love autumn!

This blog is a little homage to the wonderful produce we get to enjoy this season. I was only introduced to cooking with pumpkins and squash when I moved to the US - Friends and family in the UK I hope these treats have reached Sainsbury's since I left, but they are so very worth seeking out - perhaps try the market if not.

These dishes and treats are what this season is all about.

Pumpkin red lentil curry - Just had this tonight for dinner. A fall staple in our house. Always delicious.

Butternut squash white bean soup - We had this on Tuesday with our small group and it was a big hit. It packs a spicy punch and hits the spot on a cool fall evening, especially when served with warm crusty bread.

Chocolate chip pumpkin bread - this is a fab treat, and who doesn't have bananas lying around going bad every now and then, just crying out to be mashed and made into banana bread? This one will not be on the low fat list but it is totally dreamy. A slice is a perfect treat.

Butternut Squash Lasagna - ok, so this in on the menu for the weekend, so I can't vouch for it (yet) but it looks yummy, and I 'll let you know!

I am also curious to make this squash soup, doesn't it make your mouth water?!
Velvety Squash Soup

Ok, enough of the fall yummy-ness. I am making myself hungry. Perhaps another slice of the chocolate banana bread is in order?

How many blood tests?!

Yesterday I had my appointment with my doctor, it went as I expected. She arranged blood work and other tests to rule out some reasons or causes of miscarriage. She did make a point to say that 60% of all miscarriages are never explained, and she said that there was still a possibility that we have just been unlucky with our pregnancies - even though something within me says that is not the case.

When the potential issues are hormone related you have to be tested on specific days of your cycle to measure the levels accurately and I truly believe that it was God's grace that day 21, which was the first date I needed to test on happened to be today (just one days after the appointment). We do not want to get pregnant while the test are being processed, partially to make sure they are accurate and partially because if there is something we can find to correct we don't want to lose another pregnancy while we figure it out.

So I went this morning to have 9 vials of blood taken to be sent off for testing - yes, 9! And I have to go back Friday and Sunday

In my heart I still have hope that there will be a simple fix. I am not sure what to think about all these tests, but if nothing else we are ruling things out.

Feeling a sense of humility in this process. As I continue to process the loss of baby Ewan (my friend Kirsten's baby - see 'Please pray' blog below) I am more and more aware of the fact that we are not in control in this life. There is a bigger plan going on. I am invited to be a part of it but it is not about me. I have to be OK with life looking different than I expected, and it is a stretch of our faith to see this baby business play out in the way it is.

I am hopeful in the midst of the heartache. And I am fearful in my humanity, even though I know the peace of Christ.

I guess we wait and see what the results tell us, and in the mean time we hope and pray.

In other news, my second quarter of school is in it's second week and I am really loving my classes. I am taking another English class and also Introduction to Psychology, which is really keeping me on my toes. This is double the workload I had last quarter and so I have been challenged to make good discussions about how I spend my time in order to get my assignments done, keep on top of maintaining order in our house, and working part-time. It's a busy life but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Please pray

Feeling heavy with grief today. We have been so blessed to be surrounded by so much prayer as we journey through the process of losing our pregnancies; the anticipation, the fear, the hope and the loss. We have never travelled this alone and we are so thankful again for your love.

Today I am reaching out to ask for your prayers for a friend of mine, we have never met in person but we have been traveling the road of life together for many months through this wonderful blogging world. She has supported us and prayed for us in our sadness, and as she awaited the arrival of her little boy Ewan, wondering what life would be for this little guy and his broken heart, I prayed for her.

Little Ewan entered the world on September 18th and was bright-eyed and beautiful. From the start he was a fighter, and he was loved fiercely. But his heart just couldn't not hold out and he caught an infection which was too much for his poor little body to handle. At about midnight last night Kirsten and James said goodbye to their precious baby.

I can only begin to imagine what waking up today was like for them, knowing he was not here in person for them to hold and love on. I can't understand the road they will walk now, or the grief they feel. I can pray for them to be comforted in someway by Jesus, and I am asking you to join with me in saying a prayer of comfort for them today.

Ton know more, and to see pics of this handsome little guy please read their blog at

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Invitation

This morning marked a first for our church community. It is the first Sunday that there are worship services at the two satellite campus as well as our original at Green lake. Jeremy and I have been praying throughout this summer asking God if we are to be a part of the new location meeting in North Seattle, or if we should stay put. I feel a strong pull to move, but Jeremy is more hesitant, so we continue to wait on the Lord. In the mean time, we decided to support this new venture by attending the first North campus service this morning.

I confess that it is unusual for us to be awake before 11am on Sundays and going to church at 5pm only enabled our sloth. The North Campus meets at 10.30am, so even leaving it to the last minute we needed the alarm to go off at about 9.30am to be out the door, clean, dressed and fed by 10.15am. This will be a change of pace for us if we commit to this new service, but getting home just after noon with the whole day ahead of us felt really good, so I think we could get used to it - it will just mean we are a little more protective of our Saturday morning sleeping in!!

It was so great to see our community come together to make this service happen, the fruit of something which has been in the works for a couple of years. When we showed up we were met with coffee (much appreciated not to mention necessary!) muffins and fruit, name tags, some familiar faces, and others which will become familiar in time, laughter, conversation, kids playing and a general buzz of anticipation, it felt right and good that we were there.

We found seats and began to worship. It was the first time we had been in church since our most recent miscarriage, and this time of worship was powerful and healing. As we sang out "How marvelous, how wonderful is my Saviors love for me." Tears streaming quietly down my face, Jeremy firmly holding my hand, I knew in my heart that the words I was singing were true, even though it has been hard to 'feel' it in recent events.

The message of the sermon was about listening for and accepting the invitations Jesus presents to join in with the story he is writing here on earth. This satellite campus feels like a piece of that message for us corporately but I see that we are in the midst of accepting one personally too.

We have no real control over our ability to have a baby. Yes, with medical intervention there is some busy work we could do to increase our chances but in reality the gift of life is just that, a gift, and we don't choose when or if it happens. I think this is one invitation God has put before us. Will we accept to walk this journey in humility with hearts open and willing to trust in God's plan, or will we try and cling to some sense of control?

I am sure our resolve will come in waves, but our true desire is to submit to God's plan. In all this I try to remember that God is worthy of all of my praise, my whole heart. In the midst of our fear about what's to come and the anxiety about the path we walk if we accept this invitation, God remains constant. He is faithful, he is good and as we walk in obedience we begin to transform and see the fruit of our own transformation.

What a special gift to cry on the shoulders of friends and church family today, to be met with such compassion. This in itself feels transforming as we tip-toe through our sadness and allow others to join us. It is uncomfortable when your true self is exposed; sorrow and disappointment can be hard pills to swallow especially when others are watching. As Christians it can sometime feel as though we are supposed to smile and use phrases like 'Let go and let God," that isn't where we're at right now. We want to journey this with authenticity; we have faith but we are hurting. We won't always feel God is close, but sometimes His presence will be heavy and tangible . We accept the invitation to walk this path and strive to be honest along the way. We truly thank you for walking with us.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beautiful blend of emotions

This afternoon my parents and my brother began their journey back to England. Their visit was a special time to share life and our time away in La Conner and then in Friday Harbor was a much needed respite and time to relax and reflect on recent events. We had the most amazing fall weather on San Juan Island and spent many hours discovering some fun places to eat, beautiful scenery, playing games and enjoying the luxury of our rental house.

After they headed to the airport, Jeremy and I headed to the hospital to visit some friends who had just had a baby. We became friends with Dave and Marie earlier this year, and have watched her belly grow over the months! In early conversations, we found out that their baby was due just a few days before our baby's due date would have been had our first pregnancy gone to term. It was a strange feeling to watch them prepare their house and their lives as they awaited the arrival of this little guy, as it reminded us that we no longer needed to prepare for our baby.

So little Thomas decided to show up a couple of weeks early and arrived last night! Our hospital visit ended up being a beautiful blending of emotions. This little guy is the cutest thing ever and as I held him, drinking in the wonderful grunts and noises he was making, marveling in his tiny perfect fingernails and long feet, I felt so blessed to even be a part of the moment. To share in this excitement and joy and to celebrate the gift that he is.

I also felt tears sting my eyes as I thought about the babies we had lost. The little people we will never get to hold and watch grow up. The sorrow and loss feels strong, but it was met and eased by the hope and wonder of the gift of life we do get to experience.

I don't think any situation before our miscarriages has made me more aware that I am not in control of my life. I feel blessed to have a relationship with Christ, that allows me to trust that the person who is in control is someone who knows and loves me more deeply than I will ever understand. Jeremy and I have no idea of the life that lies ahead of us. Good or bad, easy or hard we are in this together, me, Jeremy and Jesus!

Our miscarriages give us a gift. They allow us to more fully enter into life with those around us. We can share pain and joy and see that in a mysterious and holy way they co-exist in our world.

As we shared the joy of our friends today, we sat with our own pain. What a crazy life moment, but I saw that in it I was content and my spirit was still. I hope I can hold onto that feeling in the midst of sadness and be mindful of it in joy.


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