Friday, December 31, 2010


Tonight I went to a friend's baby shower. Over the past year I have generally avoided baby showers because it was just too hard. But this one I knew I needed to go to. This friend journeyed longer than I have on the long road of "trying to get pregnant", had the same surgery as me for endometriosis and wondered, like me, if she would ever get pregnant. And then miraculously- a baby!

She was one of the friends I'd commiserate with about this process and we'd pray for each other to have babies and just listen and encourage one another. When she found out she was pregnant she was so sensitive to me and wrote me an email saying she wanted to tell me the news first so that I didn't hear it through the grapevine somehow, and that she knew this meant we would now be on different paths, and if it was too hard for me to talk with her about her baby she would understand. That email spoke so much love to me and I couldn't hold back my true excitement for her after we had prayed and hoped for this day to come for her for so long. I found out I was pregnant only a few months later and we rejoiced together about the crazy miracles we were both experiencing, and the uniqueness of the pregnancy experience after you've waited so long and tried so hard. Obviously we lost our baby, but thankfully she has had a healthy pregnancy and expects a little girl in February.

But back to the baby shower- I was feeling apprehensive about going since these last couple weeks have been so rough and I just didn't know how it would be to have a whole evening focused on baby stuff.  But I truly wanted to put my feelings aside and rejoice with my friend. So I talked with two dear friends who were also going to the shower and they agreed to hang with me and said if I needed to leave early or talk about something else they were fine with that. Seriously great friends!

Well the evening turned out so wonderful and I was really blessed in many ways and am so glad I went! It turned out to be a little reunion of the group of girls (well, almost all of them) who used to be my main girlfriends a few years ago. It had been years since we'd all hung out like that since life has taken us all in many directions, and especially since the gal who is pregnant and a couple others have been living overseas the past few years. We keep up with each other through Facebook and reading each others ministry newsletters and occasional phone calls, but of course nothing beats face to face conversation and getting to hear each others voices and see the smiles you miss so much. And best of all- laughing LOTS :)

I was thankful for sweet friends who are sensitive to our loss and asked me about it. I was thankful for friends who are at all different stages of life and motherhood and womanhood than me- who have had different journeys to parenthood and loss- and who each have their own story to tell. I was thankful that even though there have been many miles and big oceans between us, the sounds of their laughter and the twinkle of their eyes is still so familiar and comforting. I was thankful for the sisterhood that we have- married, single, mothers with children, mothers with children in heaven- still bonded and linked by a friendship that has lasted. And I was thankful for the unique personalities of each woman and what each one offers- the laughter and silliness, the tenderness and concern, the stories and sharing.

How blessed am I to know all of you and to have you all around me tonight?!?! I am rich with friends!

We bonded years back because of our common passion to follow God's call to the nations and to our neighbors, praying together constantly, being the church together, growing in trusting God in some very interesting situations, seeking God together about our futures, sharing lots of meals and doing some sorta crazy stuff in our neighborhood ;) Now look at all we've gone through and the women we've become and how we've supported each other through life's twists and turns!

And now for a little trip down memory lane with some old pictures. I know you're all gonna love me for this ;)

So all this reminds me that I miss you so and we all live too far apart! I don't have this sisterhood around me physically anymore. I have a couple of you here in town with me, but literally all the rest of my dear friends live out of the country and one is out of state. I miss just the fun and noise and laughter and conversation of a big group of girls all hanging out together. Things have been so sad and down around here lately that I certainly needed some life and laughter around me. So I will treasure tonight and take it as a real gift.

You are amazing women who are all following God's call on your lives, blessing others with the beauty and uniqueness God has put in you, and I am so very thankful to have you as my friends.

Thanks for loving me tonight and for making me laugh till my face hurt :)


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Our Christmas

Christmas turned out to be very, very hard. And I had not expected that for some reason.

For most of the month I was truly enjoying the season and Ryan and I were soaking up the cozy evenings at home with the glowing Christmas tree and the peppermint cocoa, going through an Advent guide each week and playing Christmas music non-stop. Then the cycle from Hades came and lingered just long enough and acted just strange enough to give me a bigger than usual glimmer of hope of being pregnant.  My silence since the last post tells the outcome of that part of the story.

I took a pregnancy test on December 23rd and it was negative. And I cried. I thought I had braced myself and that it wouldn't be a huge deal. But that whole week of wondering "maybe?" had been drawn out so long that it was more than I could take when I saw the negative. (My cycle ended up being 37 days long! Come on body- work with me here! Gee whiz!!)

On that same day we had a family gathering with my dad's side of the family. I felt a bit in a haze after having taken the pregnancy test that morning and crying on the phone with Ryan and trying to compose myself and stifle the weeping as my parents were about to come pick me up for the get-together. A dear cousin who lives out of state was there. God knit our hearts together in a very special way when I was young and she was an important part in me coming to Jesus. She has also experienced miscarriage and has written me some sweet encouragements in this time. We hardly had any time to really talk at the get together, but she gave me a gift before she left. She handed me a bag and told me it was "a gift in faith"- for our future children. I could have fallen apart all over again right there in the parking lot. She didn't know what had gone on that morning, but the irony of the gift and the negative pregnancy test was intense. When I got home I peered in to the gift bag to see one package wrapped in blue and another in pink. I couldn't bring myself to open them and decided to keep them wrapped up. I put that bag in the top of our closet where my collection of other baby things stays.

There were a few other things that happened around those couple days- an encouraging note from one of my supporters who experienced repeated miscarriages over the last 2 years and now has a precious new baby- and some other things that were difficult to swallow.

All of that to say, by the time Christmas Eve night came and Ryan and I were all cozy in bed, the flood waters broke through and I dissolved in to weeping. It wasn't until that night that I realized how sad I was, not just over not becoming pregnant this month, but about the fact that our baby that had been in me was not with us for this Christmas. I guess I was expecting that the saddest part was going to be not getting pregnant again. But then that deep longing and just so sadly missing our baby overwhelmed me. I would have been 5 months pregnant and we would have already found out if they were a boy or a girl. "It wasn't supposed to be this way" was all I could think. Christmas isn't happy when your baby is dead.

I remember November or December of last year being at the doctors office and we were anticipating possibly getting pregnant in December and the doctor said "Maybe you'll have a Christmas baby!" But there was no Christmas baby last year and there's no Christmas baby this year.

Christmas day I felt like I was in a fog again. I don't know if my family noticed. I think on the outside I looked normal, but on the inside all I could think was "It wasn't supposed to be this way". And I don't mean that in a "shake my fist at God" sort of way, but more in a way that it's another step in me mourning this loss. This was another milestone that we had to come to and that we had to pass without our baby, and the injustice of it and the wrongness of our baby dying was so tangible. I think mourning is about coming to terms with the reality of your loss, what that means in your day to day life, how it affects the important days of your family, and how you're going to go forward with that loss as part of your life. I needed to mourn our baby not being with us on this Christmas and knowing they will never be with us on any Christmas.

So that has made me think "Then that's exactly why Jesus came!"Jesus came to bring rightness and justice back to this sin-twisted world. Death exists because of sin. Evil, cancer, babies dying, war, broken relationships all exist because of the effects of the fall. And Jesus is the one who came to redeem us from that curse and give us a promise of healed life with him in his Kingdom. We get a taste of that now as we experience our present salvation and bits of his Kingdom already here, but it's still mixed in with the sin-broken life. What our entire being cries out for (even when we don't realize it's what we're longing for) is the ultimate redemption of all that sin has crushed in our lives and the full reception of Jesus as our own.....forever!

So even though this Christmas sucked and I spent Christmas Eve crying in my bed- I celebrate my Redeemer who came as a baby on that day because He is the only hope for no more tears, no more death, and a life lived with Him forever. I celebrate that fact all the more because of the heart-crushing devastation I have experienced this year. More than ever do I cling to him as my only hope and I long, oh! how I long for the day when I will simply be with him friend, my love, my savior, my comfort, my Lord- Jesus.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Counting days...analyzing the charts...wondering "what the heck??". Ok either something really weird is going on with my cycle or maybe......?? So today I was that girl at Walmart standing awkwardly in the express lane with only one item in my hand- a small pink box. "Is this all for you today?" "Um...yes". Then once I got home I was over-analyzing the feelings in my tummy, that twinge, is it cramps?, maybe I'm just hungry???

There's been more reason than usual to have my hopes up this month. I won't go in to the details, but I don't usually get my hopes up too much as it's pretty obvious each time that my period is on it's way. This time I'm really left wondering.

All I could muster all day was this two word prayer "Please God!", over and over and over. And alternately trying to prepare myself for the let down.

I hate this time of the month- especially the timing of this one. Best Christmas present ever? Or not...

Anyway, my enjoyment of Christmas does not hinge on that and I guess I've gone through enough disappointments that they don't floor me anymore. It can be a "no" and I'll be fine and love this Christmas anyway.

Side note- LOVED the rain tonight! Great chill time with my hubby with our sliding door open and the Christmas lights on. Yummy rain smell + comforting glow of the tree + relaxing with my love = a wonderful evening. Who knows what tomorrow brings...


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Comfort food

Last night our house was filled with the delicious smell of wonderful lentil soup cooking on the stove. This is one of my top 5 comfort foods for sure. It reminds me of Iraq, is super-simple to whip up, and is healthy and very filling. Plus, I was having a bit of a down day so it was good that it just so happened to already be on the menu for that night. Yummy, warm, creamy goodness!

Some friends on Facebook asked for the recipe, and since I just make it from memory it forced me to sit down and write out my version of this fantastic soup. So here's the recipe and I highly recommend adding this to your winter menu. My husband even said last night, in between mmmm's, "This is your best homemade soup!"

Iraqi Red-Lentil Soup

Serves 2-4
Cooking time- 50 minutes

1 cup red lentils (they are actually orange colored though- see photo)
6 cups liquid (I use a combo of water, beef and chicken broth- so use what you like, but if you use only water then you need to add bouillon for flavor)
¼ of a medium onion, chopped or 1 tsp dried, chopped onion
1 Tb olive oil (if using fresh chopped onion)
½  tsp cumin
¼ tsp curry powder (I use a bit less than a ¼, so adjust to your own tastes)
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup vermicelli or angel hair pasta broken in to  ½ inch pieces

1. Rinse the lentils and pick out any pebbles or bad lentils.
2. If you are using fresh chopped onion, chop it and saute it in the bottom of your stock pot with the olive oil on med-high heat.
3. Once the onion is softened, add in the 6 cups liquid and the lentils and bring to a boil.
4. Boil on med-high heat for 30-40 minutes or until lentils begin to break down (check often toward the end of the time as they may begin sticking to the bottom of the pot, adjust the heat and cooking time if needed and add more liquid if it’s getting too thick and dry. You’ll get the hang of it after cooking it the first time.)
5. Turn down the heat and add the cumin, curry powder, salt and pepper (and onion, if using dried onion). Stir thoroughly and let simmer another 5 minutes.
7. Place half the lentil soup in a blender (or use an immersion blender) to puree some of the soup to make it smoother, then return it to the pot. (Or if you don’t have a blender, use a potato masher in the pot to break them down a bit more.)
8. If the soup is too thick, add more liquid. (It should be thickened like pea-soup, NOT watery, and not too thick like a chowder would be).
9. Add the broken up pasta and let simmer another 5 minutes

Mine usually looks more like this photo
This soup is common to many Middle Eastern cultures and is served a variety of ways. This is my favorite version and it’s so easy. It’s not an exact sort of recipe, as you can tell, so you’ll have to watch the pot carefully the first time you make it to see how it acts and adjust accordingly.
The most popular additions are lemon juice, with wedges served along with the soup, and fried onions and chopped parsley sprinkled on top as a garnish. Some add rice, instead of the pasta, and others add more spices, carrots or potatoes. Make it how you like and enjoy!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas ups and downs

It's been awhile since my last post. Just didn't have much to share, or nothing new to say I guess. Now we're getting pretty close to Christmas, thing are busy as they always seem to get around this time of year, and I thought I'd pull some thoughts together on here.
We're a fresh-Christmas-tree family, so we headed over to Home Depot the first week of December and got us this nice little tree. Last year our tree was a bit large for our apartment, or for the ceiling I guess. We had to cut several inches off the top and yet the star was still scrunched up against the ceiling, a bit crooked if I remember too. It's a fun memory. This year the tree is the perfect height and fits nicely next to the fire place. What I like about this tree are these funny random little branches that stick out here and there (like a real tree is supposed to have) that must have been hiding when the chain saw shaped this tree into it's Christmas tree shape. Once we got it home and gave it a day to relax and let loose a bit, they came popping out. And so they were the perfect place to put these adorable little clip-on birds (photo forthcoming) who look like they were just flitting by and decided to land on these nice little branch-perches :)

My favorite thing to do at Christmas is simply sit on the couch with my hubby, turn on the Christmas lights, turn off all the other lights, play some Christmas tunes and snuggle and enjoy the magical, twinkly glow. Ever since I was little that's been my favorite thing (ok, minus the snuggling with my husband part, since that only came into the picture 2 years ago). It's the ultimate relax, unwind, soak up the moment, enjoy what's happening type of experience for me. So, we've been trying to do lots of that, with some of my hubby's hot chocolate with peppermint schnapp's and various sugary treats added in. Mmmm!

Last weekend we went to see Handel's Messiah. This is our tradition in the making, as this is our second year to attend. We hope to go each year if possible. It's held at various locations each year and this year we got tickets for the performance at St. Mary's Basilica in downtown Phoenix. I classically mis-read the directions for downtown and had Ryan driving us in the complete opposite direction for awhile, thus we got there just in the nick of time and had to sit in the very back. I was very frustrated at myself because this meant we couldn't see any of the orchestra, save for the occasional violin bow poking up in to the air. Ryan had to tell me multiple times to stop complaining about this situation and just enjoy it. And I did. Since we couldn't see the orchestra (we could however see the choir just fine so that was nice) what really made the experience great was the church. This place was amazing!!! It's the oldest Catholic church in Phoenix, at 100 years old. The domed ceilings and soaring Roman columns were awe-inspiring (statues of Jesus and various saints: sorta creepy, but oh well). Take a look:

It didn't feel like something you'd encounter in Phoenix so it felt like we were somewhere else for awhile. It was the perfect setting for music such as Messiah. I always cry at the chorus to "For unto us a child is born":  "Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace!!!" It has such a powerful build up and then it just explodes in praise to Jesus! To top off the night perfectly, just as we walked out the doors of the church the bells rang out nine o'clock. A church with real bells that really chime on each hour! Imagine that in Phoenix!!

As you may suspect by now, if you've been reading the last few blog entries, you'll know that I think about our baby all the time. Still. So, even during the warmth and festivities and Advent reflections of Christmas, the sadness and grief and loss are with me. I got several books from the library recently about dealing with pregnancy loss and it helped to read about the grieving process and what can be "typical" experiences in that. They say that the bulk of the grieving takes place in the first year. And they describe the process as being more like a spiral at times that can take you forward, but then spin you right back to where you started, but then take you forward again, and so on. It's just not a methodical, calculated, one foot in front of the other each day type of process. And that's been my experience. It's always interesting to read something that so clearly captures exactly what you've been experiencing, thinking, feeling. Parts of some books have done that, but especially blogs of other baby-loss moms and other accounts of pregnancy and infant loss. It helps us all know that we're not going crazy because we're all experiencing so much of the same feelings and thoughts. But it's too sad that there are so many women out there who share this experience. Too, too many.

But my point in bringing this up is that as I've gotten reconnected with friends at church and gotten a few messages from some dear ladies I am asked the question "How are you doing?" It's always very sensitive and with emphasis like "how are you really doing" and comes from women who genuinely want to care for me in this area. I feel loved by that question and so appreciate their reaching out with those words. But I'm realizing that I just have the same answer to that question over and over, even close to three months later. I usually say that it has it's ups and downs. Our lives are carrying on, but it's steadily here, part of everything I do.

I don't know when I'll have a different answer to that question. It's hard and it's sad and my heart hurts so badly and it's constantly on my mind. It's not "getting better" or starting to fade away. Part of me still isn't ready for it to fade and I don't think actually that it will ever feel better. So as long as these friends are willing to ask that question, I'll keep giving them my honest answer, even if it's the same answer for a long time.

Sundays are especially hard for me. I guess it's the pregnant ladies in the group, the parents kissing on their little ones, announcements of new pregnancies etc. This past Sunday Chris preached about Mary and Elizabeth's pregnancies and I was surprised that there was a little twinge in my heart. I guess any time the word pregnant pops up, even if it's part of a Bible story, my heart aches a bit. Standing right in front of us were two fathers holding their littles, who were sweetly resting their heads on their daddy's shoulders. Ryan asked me last night how I had felt during church, knowing these different things were going on. When I asked him the same question he said that was hard for him to see those dads. It made him think of our baby.

And that's the part of the spiral that takes me right back to the sad place. The gaping loss. The constant reminder of what was and what is not any longer. We want our baby back.

So, to pull together the different pieces of this post- we're really enjoying the Christmas season, taking time to soak it up and celebrate the depth of the Advent together- and through it all our baby is on our minds. Almost three months and it's all still very present with us.