infertility · The Celebrating Soul

When Autumn Is Just a Moldy Pumpkin

Upon choosing a title for the email I send every Monday, I picked “It’s Okay If It Stinks.” So sophisticated, I know. While I’ve been basking in the autumn season and all the fall things, the photo below popped up on my memories last week, and regardless of it popping up, I think about it often enough.


This squashed pumpkin was Fall 2017 in every way. I don’t really have any other photos to mark that time, and honestly, this one says it all.

FALL 2017 STUNK.

This pumpkin was a result of my trying to host a fun little fall carving pumpkin get-together. You know, making the most of things and whatnot. It was fine and all, but I stabbed my thumb with a knife on accident and said thumb got really infected. . .turned green! Apart from that, our truck was a mess and blew a tire on the freeway on the way to church!!! We were officially a year+ into no baby. I was soaking my thumb in garlic, oil, and whatnot and it was one of the worst falls ever! I don’t have anything good to say about it. Okay, I don’t! It was hard. Bottom line. End of story.

But it didn’t stay hard.

Or I should say. . .it didn’t stay hard without hope & healing.

The next fall (2018) I was rolling out of Grocery Outlet with a cart full of pumpkins to throw a harvest party. And it was a big deal to be in a place mentally and spiritually to throw a party. Just that spring we had rolled out of Grocery Outlet with a cart full of flowers,  officially beginning our Porch Garden.

Fall 2019 would arrive and I’d be even more settled into life despite infertility. I’d be hosting a girl’s fall party with my friend, eating too many sweets, breaking out like a Junior Higher, thinking maybe I’d had too many sweets! BUT ACTUALLY IT WAS MY BABY BOY and the hormones were just raging! (I probably also had too many sweets, heheeeee, no regrets, but the breakout was totally baby-related!)

But Fall 2017 was just a moldy pumpkin.

It was nothing good. It was the season that marks where I used to be before healing, help, freedom, and LIFE. I love to look back now because I see what God has done, but I don’t kid myself into twisiting that season in and of itself into something beautiful. It wasn’t. What is beautiful? That God didn’t let me stay there. He didn’t let me stay consumed by my envy, jealousy, or anger. Didn’t let me stay stuck in grief. God answered my deep questioning of His goodness with Himself and I was satisfied! God heard me, saw me, helped me! WAS WITH ME. That is the beautiful thing. But not Fall 2017. Nothing beautiful about then.

So if you’re in a fall season that’s a squashed, moldy pumpkin,  you don’t have to try and make it anything different. It is hard. It is painful. It does stink. So bring all of that rawness to God. And whether or not you see the hoped-for change of season this side of heaven, you will know satisfaction in God, comfort in His Presence, amazement that even when pain stays the story it doesn’t stay the story.

I can’t tell you what you’ll get to look back on in a few years. I can’t say whether or not Fall 2022 is your beginning mark. But I can say with certainty life in God is not disappointing even when life itself is disappointing. God transforms, heals, teaches, grows, helps, sees, hears, IS WITH US. His Presence is everything, and we are made radiant as we seek Him with our life however life this side of heaven turns out, or doesn’t.

Rooting for you, trusting God with you, let’s live.

-S.V.F.

Poetry · The Celebrating Soul

September Two Years Ago & The Goodness of God

On September 10,2019, I began a new prayer journal.

I’ve been keeping prayer journals consistently since I was about 16 years old. I have a box for my old prayer journals and year calenders. If there were to be a fire that burned our house down which is a very real possibility every year in norther California, that box is one of the only things I really care about taking with me.

I love going back through my prayer journals and seeing how God was present with me in all my emotions and fears, how He has answered requests, the things He has taught me, etc. Those journals hold so much proof that my faith in Christ is not in vain.

I realized last night that I only had 3 pages left in my current prayer journal and I would be finishing it September 2021, a little over two years since I began. Admittedly since getting pregnant (and also early postpartum and other times!!), I’ve had long stretches where I haven’t written down a prayer at all. But I love that we began in September and will end in September two years later.

So, I began this prayer journal while still walking through infertility. At this point, I was much on the healing end, but still grieving deeply. I was opening my eyes to life and asking God to open my eyes to the life He was giving while also bringing to Him my deep sorrow and struggle with the passage of time. Words I used were loneliness, starkness, disappointment, exhaustion, persistent heartache. So while I was healing in deep and immense ways, I wasn’t “past it.”

On November 19,2019, I saw two lines on a pregnancy test for the first time and then it rained that night and how I loved that. There’s not a lot of white space left on that journal entry. Fast forward quite a bit to July 2021 and I found out I’m pregnant again.

So, what I love most about this prayer journal is that it began with infertilty and holds not one but two pregnancies within its pages. I didn’t expect that, but those are the kinds of things God can do.

Sometimes, I like to go back and read past prayers. So last night, on September 23,2021 I flipped the pages and found September 23,2019. I was in a totally different season of life two years ago, but I was still learning and experiencing God’s good gifts. I was working through the goodness of God and wrote, “While I know that You (God) don’t like to see me in pain. . .it is good that You (God) have not given me children.” That’s a complex thought. But in that season of quiet and grief, I healed and became sure of God’s goodness. I began to know God more deeply. I noticed the “obscure” gifts from God’s hand. I got more excited about heaven. I found freedom and hope in God to live the life I had.

Two years later, I’m praying for two children and still experiencing God’s goodness. I’m still learning to trust God, really trust Him. His goodness has stretched far and wide through every season of the journey and it is I who is learning to live fully in whatever those good gifts are and trust Him with the present and the future. This prayer jouranl is lined pages with the reality of God meeting me wherever I was, however I was.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

In a roundabout way that bring us to the poetry series for this October!

I wrote a story in 20 poems that reflects my journey beginning in the dust and ash of infertility into healing, saying yes to my life, being given beautiful, unexpected gifts along the way, and then learning not to be afraid of those good gifts from God. I will carry the history of infertility and grief inside me forever. It is a part of my frame, but it is not my story. But these days, I’m learning to take long, slow walks in the garden I’ve been given without the fear of death and the dying of all good things.

I am beginning to understand good gifts from God will always be good gifts form Him even if the pain and brokeness of this world touches those good things. Once received, always received. I can trust God in the bad times and in the good times.

While I wrote these poems from a place of personal experience, they do not mention specific things like infertility or my subsequent pregnancies. It is a story I hope you can step into with your own personal experiences. And I think you will. I really do.

So, next Tuesday, September 28th, I’ll reveal the title, the first poem, and where you’ll be able to access the rest! It will be completely free, and available in a couple different formats. I’m excited!

I think we share this story. Maybe in different ways, but at the heart of it, this is us.

The Celebrating Soul

The Complexity of “Still”

Even with all the ugly stuff that’s happened in my garden this summer (hello squirrels and bunnies), I still got a bouquet like this.

I still have a wild grape vine climbing high to make a beautiful trellis. I still have sunflowers daring to bloom in the midst of destruction. I still pick ripe tomatoes from my bare, eaten-up tomato plant. I still have rose bushes that bloom and some that tenaciously keep growing to get established despite repeated setbacks. Still. What a complicated word.

“I’m still here. . .”

“I’m still walking through this. . .”

“I’m still afraid. . .”

But also!

“I’m still growing here.”

“I’m still healing in the midst of this.”

“I’m still braver than I was yesterday.”

This 2020 slapped-together garden born from quarantine is all sorts of messy, but it holds the complicated concept of Still. Which is all of us. Go ahead and take Monday by the horns.

Because you can.

The Celebrating Soul

Telling My Son’s Birth Story

On August 2nd, I gave birth to our son, Shasta. The entire experience was so beautiful and filled with healing. My body–with a decade of pain, grief, and struggling–was invited into something wonderful and breathtaking. This body–the one I’ve wrestled with and grieved for–became a vessel for giving birth to a living, breathing soul. Giving birth is far less about my strength and stamina as a woman, and more about receiving the otherworldly, stunning gift of childbirth. I can’t believe it’s part of my story.

But there it was.

And here I am.

While I write this our little boy is intermittently making all sorts of sounds from the bedroom. He’s so much fun. Giving birth was profound and beautiful and healing, but I think most of this post will be peppered with humor. And I love that too. This photo was taken August 1st while I was in early labor. It would take many more hours for my son to make his grand appearance. And yes, bathroom selfies are the least classy of all millennial photographic skills, but here we are. 🙂

So, let’s rewind.

To be frank, I didn’t think I’d go into labor on my own. It seems as though so many years of chronic pain has oft given me the underlying feeling of “failure” and a sense of just not trusting my body to “work.” Of course, I don’t consciously live under that assumption (I’ve gained a lot of freedom + confidence over the years!), but when push comes to shove and the hormones rage ( 🙂 ), and your body is actually preparing itself for childbirth, some of those underlying things you STILL need to work through explode to the surface and you MIGHT just end up crying profusely in the car on the way to the grocery store. It could happen. It’s a strong possibility. 🙂 HA! Continue reading “Telling My Son’s Birth Story”