infertility · motherhood

Zinnias, August 1st, & a Folded Paper of Dreams

I scribbled out my dreams for the future. I wrote of children who would garden with me and complain about it, but I wouldn’t mind, because I would be just so happy they were there with me. A folded piece of paper stuck in a between the pages. Who knew if it would happen? Who knew if it could.

But it did.

2022 zinnia with Shasta’s red wagon in the background and the spent flowers inside already dumped out in the pathway. I better go pick those up soon!šŸ˜‚

Of course, I couldn’t believe my eyes. But it was true. The next nine months passed as they do, and on the fourth day past my due date, I was finally in labor. It was August 1st, and he was coming.

I walked out to the garden and cut some zinnias before we made our way to the hospital. It felt like an important thing to do. It was celebratory in its own way. Even though I had been in labor all day and had contractions all through the previous night, I had more laboring ahead. We came home for the night with instructions to come back the following morning. I didn’t pick any more zinnias, and by the next morning I was much too along to easily do much of anything else besides labor! We were going to have a baby! We were about to meet our son.

It was a birth I won’t soon forget. And full of laughter. I will always remember his birth has one of laughter! A beautiful foreshadowing of our life with him. We brought our Shasta home to sunflowers and zinnias.

I remember looking at him and thinking, “I can’t believe he’s real.” And I remember the moment I realized we’d have our Shasta-boy past the newborn stage. We had our son for keeps. I remember feeling that certain sadness all mothers feel when realizing your child won’t stay this little baby forever, but I also remember realizing how exciting it would be to have conversations with him as a young man.

And so time moves as it does and I find myself in the garden on August 1st again.

Shasta has outgrown his yellow boots and walks around in his blue ones. The sunflowers are towering giants. The zinnias are begging for attention. The garden needs some tending. I cut the zinnias and stop his young hand from picking the one not yet bloomed! Such earnest “help!” I place the cut zinnias in water and hand him his own to stick in the water too. Soon after I begin trimming out spent flowers. I reach across the flower bed to give my son the old and done flowers to put in our weed bucket which will soon be stored in his red wagon along with a piece of bark he found. He says “tank u!” multiple times as flower stems and old things cross from me to him.

We are gardening together.

It must make God smile to see it. . .

Two years later the woman who scribbled dreams on a piece of paper has a jar of zinnias, a bucket of spent flowers, a son to garden alongside, and a baby daughter nearby. Over the years, time has felt both cruel and beautiful. But with God it has always gone to good places. Somehow in His miraculous, healing, redemptive, and purposeful work, He made the barren woman sing before children and then made her a joyful mother of them.

Shasta, Heidi, and I fumble through the garden gate in the unlikely cool of an August morning. We’re a fun group, but not a very graceful one! Two’s a party, three’s a crowd as they say.

Naturally, I disagree.

Shasta runs around in his blue toddler boots or crocs depending. Heidi experiences the garden for her first spring and summer. In many ways, I toddle too as I experience so many firsts as a mother. Nonetheless, I water and watch us all grow.

The story unfolds vibrantly, and I have found it is the zinnias who tell the time.

Two whole years.

Then and now.

All to good places. The zinnias tick away this lovely mayhem of life. And we grab hold. With gusto. With flowers on the kitchen table.

I think I have a new tradition every first of August.

infertility · Poetry

How Thoroughly God Gives Life!

In 2020, while a child grew in me, I returned to the thing I had loved to do as a child. Writing poetry. And I wrote the years down. Infertility. My silent screaming. God’s history of love to me. My grief. The garden. The starkness of the bathroom floor. The healing. The escape from the grave. Hope Gives a Eulogy. How thoroughly God gives life! His miracles are many. His presence is everything.

artwork by the talented Emaline Westbrook!

It’s been one year since I published Hope Gives a Eulogy. What a gift to learn I could love God with all of me, fully trust Him and live in hope from Him without ever trying to make infertility the good thing. I could hate the pain without bitterness, grieve the loss extensively, and still completely love and be loved by God. I could experience His kindness without contorting His kindness into the brokeness of infertility. Anything good I experienced during infertility is because God changed it. He made the childless story different. He gave the barren woman LIFE. He didn’t let infertility stay the story.

And that was all before my my children.

And as I wrote my son in Hope Gives a Eulogy,

You were never missing,

But so many things were–

Joy and peace and healing,

Dreaming, breathing, being.

A real hopeful kind of living.

So I learned how to play

Hide and seek.

Sometimes, buried treasure

Is a box of lost and found.

And the garden is half-priced

Daisies in a grocery cart.

Maybe the eulogy is a prelude

For new life.

See what I mean?

I’ve got much more to tell you,

And I’m so glad you’ve come along!

I can’t wait to show you all the best

Hiding spots.

(There’s a lot.)

This is a story I’ll be telling forever. To my children, and should God give them, my children’s children. “ComeĀ andĀ hear,Ā allĀ youĀ whoĀ fearĀ God,andĀ IĀ willĀ tellĀ whatĀ heĀ hasĀ doneĀ forĀ myĀ soul.” Psalm 66:16

Truly God has kept my soul among the living! (Psalm 66:8)

It has been a profound journey of hope and healing. God turned my life into spring and then He gave me two children and expanded that springtime in huge ways. I know this story of God’s love and glory is far from over. I’m glad to have part of it written down. To have shared it with you. And here we are one year later.

To celebrate one year of Hope Gives a Eulogy out in the world, you can purchase this personal collection of 96 poems for half off the original price! This is the best deal to date and the offer goes through Mother’s Day should you find yourself or know a friend who is in a spring-less season this Mother’s Day. May these poems meet you wherever you are. Let me wait with you for however long it takes spring to burst in your soul again. And then some.šŸ’•

Perhaps the eulogy is, indeed, a prelude for new life.

-S.V.F.

infertility

When a Lot *Doesn’t* Happen in a Year

Haven’t we all said it? Or hoped it? Or desperately wished it to be so? “Well, a lot can happen in a year!”

But what if it doesn’t? Or doesn’t feel like it does? How do we watch friends and family go by without us? Survive another night feeling left behind or afraid of being left behind?

What happens when 2023 comes and it isn’t “our year” and we just look at a trail of days that seemingly led us nowhere. Here we go into more days that are just days where nothing happens, but people cheer from the sidelines with rings on fingers and babies on hips shouting, “A lot can change in a year! It did for me!”

But I want you to know you don’t have to afraid or intimidated by this phrase. It’s true that 2023 may come without fireworks or fanfare or what you hoped for.

So let me tell you about 2017.

I don’t remember much of it, really. It was early stages infertility. It was heartbreaking in more ways than one. I had a lot of hard things to say and admit. I don’t remember much life that happened that year. I remember it like death and loss and wounds just pouring out.

But then 2018 came.

And it continued being hard and escalated in April. Then April became a turning point and Mother’s Day in May found us rolling out of Grocery Outlet with a cart full of flowers. Ever so gently, I woke up to life. I sensed I missed so much in 2017, but I didn’t really feel regret for it. I just felt the gift of waking up to the fullness of life around me. I was thankful I wasn’t missing it. I don’t know if I could have felt 2017 any differently if I tried. I’m so human, and I was in the very vulnerable stages of finding life cut out so differently and myself scraped against those ridges. I had very real, distressing emotions and questions I needed to bring to God.

It was a time where the phrase, “A lot can happen in a year!” didn’t quite fit. . .and yet 2017 was woven into the fabric of a story where a lot did happen. A lot of good. A lot of healing. A lot of growth and joy, happiness and light-heartedness, miracles and spring and life!

It could be that a lot won’t happen or change this year, and you don’t have to be afraid of this or frustrated by this phrase which can be oblivious and short-sighted. So what if it is! And so what if people have the the “first comes loves then comes marriage then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” That’s not a bad thing and should be celebrated.

But you are not as lost as you think. Your year won’t be wasted. You may not remember much of it, but with God, it will be woven into the fabric of a story where a lot does happen. A lot of good. A lot of healing. A lot growth and joy, happiness and light-heartedness, miracles and spring and life! If you’re not celebrating at the start of 2023 (or this year for that matter!), I get it. I’ve been there. Will be there again.

Keep turning to God. “Those who look to him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed.” (Psalm 34:5). The year itself may feel like nothing. You may forget it. You may feel disappointed by the whole of it. But it won’t be lost. It won’t be wasted. It won’t be the hopelessness you may feel it is right now. There’s no rush and the pressure isn’t on you or me to make things good and okay. God will do the impossible. He will wrap our years into His arms and from His hand we will receive good. And in His presence we will be comforted and emboldened to live. We will be safe to grieve and to rejoice.

A lot may *not* happen or change this year.

So what if it doesn’t?

God isn’t bound by the days on a calendar. His stories last long and rich and eternal.

Breathe.

Pressure is off.


It Wasn’t All Flowers, poem

Why I Wrote Hope Gives a Eulogy

Your Body Is Strong (To the Women Facing Infertility)

Tomorrow in our Garden Lullaby series I’m sharing thoughts + the best photo from 2018. It correlates with this post and my “waking up to life.” Don’t miss it!

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Garden Lullaby · infertility

Why I’m Still Writing about Infertility

“This is no thaw. This is spring. What are we to do? Your winter has been destroyed, I tell you! This is Aslan’s doing.”

I have never read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, but this year, I put them all on my reading list. I read one or two chapters a day. When I read this quote in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by the White Witch’s dwarf, of all characters(!), I loved it. It’s a beautiful, triumphant quote all on its own, but it felt so profound to the story I have lived and will surely live again.

Soon we will return to our Garden Lullaby series where I go back in time and share how God used the garden to help me see His love and the life He wanted for me though my womb was empty and my pain was deep. And somewhere along the way I could say in my soul, though not all was right in my world, “This is no thaw. This is spring!” God had healing for me inside and out. I still grieved. I still struggled. But I could breathe. And laugh. I woke up to life. And began to live. I may be taking this C.S. Lewis quote out of context, but it certainly applies!

Not all was well, but I was becoming well. Winter was being destroyed. Month after month. Year after year. When “NO!” screamed in my ears and the bathroom floor felt like home. It didn’t feel like winter was being destroyed, but God was doing it until suddenly there it was,

This is no thaw. This is spring!”

You may wonder why I am still writing about infertility when I have a son, a daughter due in a few months, and have already written about the healing in a whole book of 97 poems. So here’s at least one reason.

The miracles of God don’t get old. They don’t go away. I’m still living it!

“Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man.” -Psalm 66:5

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for my soul.” -Psalm 66:16

Reminders of the spring miracle God did within me keep showing up. And will forever. In my two children, in my garden, in books I read, in poetry I’m inspired to write, in my history with God that touches my present and my future. God’s works are wonderful and they are profound.

I’m not done seeing.

And I’ll keep on sharing all I’ve seen God do.

In those years, I never thought to myself those exact words, “This is no thaw. This is spring!,” but I certainly lived it. Winter couldn’t last forever. Not even when infertility did. Spring filled my soul when nothing filled my womb. And spring greeted my children when they came around and that same spring was beautifully multiplied by their presence.

Miracles everywhere.

What light I have known and life I have lived before, during, after.

This is no thaw!