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.

infertility

Your Body Is Strong (To the Women Facing Infertility)

I’m amazed at what my body is capable of doing!

I realized how strong my body was after giving birth!

Wow, I can’t believe I did that!

Just a few of the phrases you may hear on podcasts, Youtube channels, Instagram stories or read on Facebook posts, blogs, Pinterest boards. It’s endless. And to the woman who hasn’t given birth with a body that feels like it’s against her, incapable, unable, weak, forgotten. . .well, those adjectives are endless, too.

I heard someone talking about her birth experience, but instead of relating to her exclamations of a capable, strong body, able to do the hard work of giving birth, I kept thinking how the women walking through infertility would hear those words. And not in a self-pity way, but those words are bound to scrape against wounds that may just reopen and loose the grief always just below the surface.

Because,

Is she incapable?

Does she have the body that can’t do amazing and hard things?

Is her body the broken thing? The forgotten vessel? The hollow sound of what could be, but isn’t. . .

So here’s the blog post where I talk about how capable and strong the bodies are of the women stumbling through infertility.

Your body is so strong and so capable.

For smiling when your friend tells you she’s pregnant.

For getting out of bed after another year of nothing.

For crying and meeting the grief of childlessness head-on.

For getting off the bathroom floor (again).

For smiling when your friend tells you she’s pregnant for the second time.

For walking through the baby asile by faith or pushing your legs right past, because it’s not a healthy place for you to be.

For letting your voice speak though it cracks as you ask the doctor questions you never wanted to ask, consent to tests or medication you never wanted in your story.

For letting your body curl up tigther than you knew it ever could, because there is pain to face as you say yes to healing. Say yes to God. Say yes to life.

For waking up to Christmas morning and Mother’s Day and Easter and Father’s Day and taking deep breaths, letting the day be what it is–hard, or numb, or empty, or just nothing at all.

For holding his hand evermore.

For arms that hold her baby. And her baby. And her baby. And hers too.

For hands that throw out the negative pregnancy test. And you’ve lost count, but you face the trash can and let go of one line all over again.

For the womb holding unmet expectations, pulling you ever toward hope and life. Baby or no baby.

For the strength of a body and heart that carries on through every season and setback, every pregnancy that isn’t yours, every baby shower, holiday, announcement, negative test, and sleepless night.

For the long labor of endurance which (with Jesus) always ends in life whether or not you ever house a second heartbeat.

For doing one of the hardest, most painful things on earth–not carrying a baby within you though you long for it.

For a body that says yes to life as your feet touch the floor every morning, and you call the doctor for results, and you hear no again, and you congratulate another friend on getting pregnant.

You’re choosing life with your body every day. And I celebrate the life you are and all the ways you have chosen it for yourself and your family, your present and your future.

You are strong,

too.

infertility · Life at the Blue House · lifestyle

Happy 6 Years as Told by the Wedding Arbor

We celebrate 6 whole years of marriage today. And what a gift to say it, to have experienced it, to have lived these years with each other. We kept our wedding decor simple relying on the desert to speak for itself.

I’m not sure everyone agreed with me on not adding any flowers or billowing drapes on our rustic arbor, but Ben and I wanted the arbor to remain as it was. Our wedding arbor was made from Athel tree branches and put together by my Dad, brother, and husband-to-be. I love how it turned out.

It still stands to this day in my family’s backyard right where we stood in May 2015, saying our vows, and laughing at the wind blowing our ribbons everywhere.

Almost every time, we trekked back home for a wedding, graduation, or Christmas, I’d drag Ben out to get a picuture under our wedding arbor.  As long as it’s still standing, that’s probably in our travel itinerary when home.

To celebrate 6 whole years married to my best friend, I’m sharing those pictures and little snippets of life from our  life together.

This was May 2016. 

We are a year into our marriage, still growing together, learning how to really share ourselves and be vulnerable, living a quiet life, and establishing where we wanted to be as a family. It was a simple year in many ways and one we desperately needed. It’s also one we look back on fondly. Except for the terrible septic problems we faced in that cute little trailer we painted and redid together. Ha!!

This was May 2017.

We were now two years into marriage, and 2017 marked one of our hardest years to date.

I remember sitting in the passenger seat in our truck and finally admitting to Ben,

This has been a hard year.

And it was.

I was coming to terms with infertility, still desperately wanting a baby, in the extraordinary pain of silence, not knowing much at all, and facing the painful reality head-on. On top of all that were other life circumstances and friendships that were strained.

This was the December right before 2018 when things slowly and surely began to change for the better.

Healing was happening in my soul. I was learning how to grieve with God. Infertility was still terrible and isolating, but it wasn’t as daunting. Our marriage was coming out of the fog, and we were learning how to live with grief.

We were uncovering how good it was to have this time together. We were laughing more. I was growing a garden. Baby goats would come the following spring. We were settling into our life as it was. We made up Birthday Observation Day, hosted our first Thanksgiving (which has since become one of our favorite things ever). I was writing about infertility via email and discovering how similar so many women were feeling even without infertility being the cause.

I have no picture under the wedding arbor for 2019, although we did travel down for an August wedding.

I was definitely not pregnant which was no suprise by now. I felt sad, but I was also feeling more settled into our life. But I still had that deep ache of longing.

In November of 2019, we had all but closed the door on children except for the possibility of fostering/adopting older kids when we were older ourselves. In the meantime, we decided to open our home more and just really love and serve the people around us. It was the first time in years I was excited about our future. I felt like I could dream again.

Then a week and a half later, I took a pregnancy test, expecting nothing, but ended up laughing.

Because there was Shasta. In two little lines.

Our old future and our old dreams turned into a yes. I’ve written it the best way I know how through poetry in my book, Hope Gives a Eulogy.

But I’m careful when I tell this story, because I hadn’t arrived or met some “contentment/spiritual quoata” that unlocked pregnancy. Yikes, no!

My prayers were up and down. I’d still feel the hollow gut feeling late at night as I thought of her getting pregnant before me. Literally fearing the grief, pain, and struggle that would undoubtedly come sooner than later. I still wanted to have a child with Ben. I knew sadness was still a part of my reality. I still felt it. And I KNOW if I hadn’t gotten pregnant when I did, I’d fall deep into sorrow again. (Maybe still will? I’m not promissed a second baby!)

I’m not sure how everything works together in God’s sovereignty, but I trust Him. And I’ve felt His love and kindness in pregnancy + motherhood and in infertility. I’ve also been immeasurably blessed in all of these seasons. Like I cannot explain the deep gifts I received from God as I grieved in those long years of infertility. Cannot explain it.

His precense is everything.

But once pregnant, I didn’t face the constant grief cycle, and eventually had the mental energy to be creative and write poetry again. It is not lost on me that while a child grew in me, I returned to my childhood love for writing poetry. I think God does the most beautiful things. We finished 2019 with a baby growing in me and you can read that story in Hope Gives a Eulogy

So, this was Christmas 2020.

Our son has brought with him such a golden era. His life ushered a light-heartedness in mine I had not truly felt in years. Joy, yes. Hope, yes. Love for life, yes. But real and true light-heartedness that fills you up only to spill out because you can’t help it? No. The grieiving process every month is exhasuting, depleting, and doesn’t allow lightheartedness easily.

But there he was with a passel of lightheartedness. Can’t you tell?! 🙂

So, in our 6th year of marriage, I wrote poetry about infertility and our love story. We finally held our son in our arms and embraced parenthood together. We’ve had hard conversations and we’ve woken up smiling listening to the chatter of our boy. We’ve laughed and made our son laugh. We have loved and grown in love.

When I sit in the passenger seat now, I’ll turn to Ben and say, 

This has been a golden year.

And it has been.

So, we rejoice and give thanks.

Here is 6 years. 

Here is gold.

Poetry

And That Was That

You don’t have to make a painful thing good.

This poem was inspired by my struggling through the question,

Why is it so easy for some women to get pregnant and others not? How can a woman have two babies before another woman even has one? Or why do some women experience so much pregnancy loss while others never experience deep pain?

And since I believe in God, I KNOW He heals and redeems the stories that haunt us, that come as a result of this broken world. . . I mean, I wrote a whole book of poetry about the beauty God miraculously did in my sotry!

But I still struggle with all the “tiny seeds” that never get to be.