seven-minute Lectio Divina: Matt. 20:29-34

     I remember doing Lectio Divina with this passage while sitting on a dock, looking out at Bogue Sound off the Carolina coast. I was on a Sabbath retreat with lots of silence. The skies were gray, and I hugged my knees, trying to get warm.
     When I heard Jesus’s question in the passage above, I felt it in my bones—and I also felt a distinct answer: “Give me a child.” It was as though Jesus was speaking to me, and from some mysterious place within, I answered.
     But this was Oct. 2017. Jordan and I had only been married three months. I didn’t know if I wanted children at all, and I certainly wasn’t interested in them so soon into newlywed life. I forgot about Jesus’s question, and my answer, until more than a year had passed: Jan. 2019, when the child I wanted didn’t live long enough to grow its little cells and split into more cells and finally, fully form.
     Then what I wanted most of all was Jesus himself, and he came and sat with me in my suffering.
     Whichever word/phrase stands out to you from the story in Matthew, I pray it brings healing where you need healing and breaks your heart where needed, too.

books I read (or reread) in 2019

  1. Somebody to Love: The Life, Death, and Legacy of Freddie Mercury – Matt Richards and Mark Langthorne – Jan. – grew repetitious and put me to sleep on any car ride in which we listened to the audiobook 😕 – but gave me new appreciation of the Queen canon and a new tip for songwriting (melody first, then structure, THEN lyrics)
  2. Hardcover A Child Is Born : The Completely New Edition BookA Child is Born – Lennart Nilsson & Lars Hamberger – Jan. – incredible picture book showing the miracle of being human, from conception to birth – wonderful memory of contentedly reading this by myself in KBay Caffe (Homer, AK) the day after I found out I was pregnant
  3. Image result for miscarriage: women sharing from the heartMiscarriage: Women Sharing from the Heart – Marie Allen & Shelly Marks – Feb. – a book that became my security blanket during a time of devastation – first started reading it the morning of Fri. 1/25, and we had our ultrasound later that day that confirmed my womb was empty
  4. Devotion – Dani Shapiro – Feb. – a woman searches for God amidst Buddhism, Judaism, and her own worries
  5. The Wonder – Emma Donoghue – Feb. definitely a page turner, mostly dialogue, long chapters and hardly any section breaks
  6. A Spark of Light – Jodi Picoult – Feb. – predicted the two big reveals at the end; this book, along with a Jen Hatmaker interview of Jodi Picoult & an abortion-related episode of The Cut, made me have compassion on women who get abortions
  7. The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood – Belle Boggs – Mar. – riveting collection of essays about the pressure to procreate, the struggle of IVF, and the miracle of children
  8. [censored for the sake of my brother and any other family who read this blog] – Mar.
  9. Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer – Mar. – another completely convicting resource and another attempt to be vegetarian
  10. The Little Book of Biblical Justice: A Fresh Approach to the Bible’s Teachings on Justice – Chris Marshall – Mar.
  11. What Babies Say Before They Can Talk: The Nine Signals Infants Use to Express Their Feelings – Paul C. Holinger – Mar.
  12. Image result for this boy's lifeThis Boy’s Life – Tobias Wolff – Apr. – laugh-out-loud funny, and heartbreaking – made me want to read more of him
  13. Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation – Martin Laird – Apr. – very deep and thoughtful book on how we actually aren’t separate from God, nor are we our chaotic thoughts – we are a vast silence that is within the silent vastness of God
  14. Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives – Annie Murphy Paul – May – not sure I buy all the science in the book…but still an okay read
  15. Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home – Natalie Goldberg – May – memoir of her journey through cancer and her recognition of her mortality
  16. Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others – Barbara Brown Taylor – May – read in two days during trip to D.C.; inspired me to want to repeat her class experiences in a small group with my church
  17. Normal People – Sally Rooney – May
  18. Image result for song in a weary throatSong in a Weary Throat: Memoir of an American Pilgrimage – Pauli Murray – May – 572-page autobiography of the first African-American woman to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal church…couldn’t put it down, such an epic life story
  19. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed – Lori Gottlieb – June – borrowed from my counselor-friend; very fun and funny, with helpful tidbits like “numbness isn’t the absence of feeling; it’s being overwhelmed with feeling” and “the past is a vast encyclopedia of calamities you can still fix” (a joke, heard on a podcast)
  20. No Bad Kids: Toddler Discipline Without Shame – Janet Lansbury – June – after binging on her “Unruffled” podcasts
  21. Jesus, CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership – Laurie Beth Jones – June – had started last year, I think, and finally finished…good used as a daily devotional to inspire you for working with a team (staff, lay people, etc.)
  22. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi – July – second time reading it, after often being tempted to!
  23. Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child’s Natural Abilities—from the Very Start – Magda Gerber – July – finished on the morning we went to our anatomy ultrasound – gets me excited to try this style of parenting from infancy onward
  24. Achtung Baby: An American Mom on the German Art of Raising Self-Reliant Children – Sara Zaske – July – makes me concerned about lack of playtime/recess during school, excess homework in early grades, and more — maybe we should homeschool!
  25. The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence – Judith Lothian and Charlotte DeVries – July – makes me excited for those first few hours bonding with baby, and encourages me to give birth naturally
  26. Red Letter Revolution: What if Jesus Really Meant What He Said? – Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo – July
  27. Image result for great with child letters to a young motherGreat with Child: Letters to a Young Mother – Beth Ann Fennelly – July – ahhhhhhhh, such a sweet, sweet, beautiful, poetic, charming, transporting, instantly re-readable and liftable book
  28. The Better Pastor: A Fable About Embracing the Role of Leading a Parish – Patrick Lencioni – Aug.
  29. The Library Book – Susan Orlean – Aug. – almost gave up on it but saw it through to the end; enjoyed histories of quirky people who led libraries in California
  30. Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting – Janet Lansbury – Sep. – another good one from the author whose podcasts I still binge-listen-to!
  31. Image result for Three WomenThree Women – Lisa Taddeo – Sep. – the first book in ages that made me want to read it while eating, riding in the car, upon first waking, just before falling asleep, during football games, and (yes) during church — not that I indulged each of those desires (and it happens to be a book about desire), but I wanted to
  32. Image result for creating with godCreating with God: The Holy Confusing Blessedness of Pregnancy – Sarah Jobe – Oct. – wonderful reflections on God + Scripture + pregnancy! Great to read in third trimester!
  33. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation – Parker Palmer – Oct.
  34. Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth – Oct. (most of it anyway)
  35. Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother – Beth Ann Fennelly – Oct. – AGAIN! heehee
  36. Dear Parent: Caring for Infants with Respect – Magda Gerber – Nov. – so soothing, so resetting, so SIMPLE
  37. It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) – Nora McInerny – Dec. – bought used in Pitts. and read in wee hours of morning with newborn (or, more accurately: while constipated and sitting on toilet after taking so much ibuprofen to help with recovery from birth) — grateful for something that could keep my attention!
  38. Unsheltered – Barbara Kingsolver – Dec. – I adored this book and read it during meals. However, the ending seemed somewhat anticlimactic…or abrupt. I longed for more. Perhaps in a weird way that’s a good sign, though — desiring to read more.
  39. Babies Are Not Pizzas: They’re Born, Not Delivered! – Rebecca Dekker – Dec. – makes me so glad I had the birthing experience I did, and makes me grieve for so many women who are robbed of that…but I will say the author seemed like an unreliable narrator from time to time, like someone who writes a memoir too soon after a difficult event and has a desperate need to get you on her side
  40. Baby Knows Best: Raising a Confident and Resourceful Child, the RIE Way – Deborah Carlisle Solomon – Dec.
  41. The Dutch House – Ann Patchett – Dec. – enjoyed devouring this book during car ride to Ohio and Penns. just after Christmas – Patchett almost never disappoints
BOOKS I STARTED BUT NEVER FINISHED:
141 pages of Motherhood after Miscarriage – Dr. Kathleen Diamond
253 pages of Daily Rituals: Women at Work – Mason Currey
302 pages of Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush – Jon Meacham
126 pages of City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert
I forget how many pages of The Power – Naomi Alderman

the pink tax

As the mother of a baby girl, I feel my ears prick up in newly painful ways whenever I read about gender disparity. I’m currently reading Boys & Sex, by Peggy Orenstein, having appreciated her previous Girls & Sex. Also reading Fair Play, by Eve Rodsky. I forget which of these books clued me in to the “pink tax,” but, I’d just read about it before going to Amazon to look for bottle-cleaning brushes.

Lo and behold….

pink brushes

blue brushes

 

Click here for pictures of products in stores–blue and pink, side by side–with the mismatched price tags as proof.

100-word story

This is a great genre — it forces you to be succinct, to be economical with your words. The deal is, you get exactly 100 words — no more, no fewer — to tell your story. Some of these are fiction, some non. Mine is non:

Carriage

Grateful they published this piece, especially as this week we come up on the one-year anniversary of the miscarriage.

the bracelet

When it came time to leave for the birthing center, after a night of fighting delirium and contracting muscles and vomiting bile into the hotel trash can, I had enough presence of mind to pick up my miscarriage memorial bracelet and put it on. I could barely walk, but this I remembered to do.

When we arrived at the birthing center, I was 9 cm dilated, though I didn’t learn the amount until later — I asked not to know. My only other memory of the bracelet is when I was on all fours on the bed, my wrists locked and propped on pillows. Mostly my eyes were closed, but as the sun began coming through the blinds, I saw the bracelet there. Soon after, the midwife told me to flip around, and be fast about it.

I had heard that I wouldn’t think about the miscarriage as much, once the baby came, and I’m afraid that’s true. The bracelet sits in my drawer now. It’s been thirteen days since the birth, and any tears are reserved for this child, not for the one that came before.

I hope this is not a betrayal.

IMG_8845
bringing the bracelet to a pregnancy/infant loss memorial park, the day before what would have been his due date, 9.8.19

All Saints Sunday

Lit a candle for Little Story, our miscarried baby, today during communion. Granted, I was leading worship, so yes, I lit his candle, but meanwhile I was explaining to the congregation how they could take these wooden incense sticks, light the end, then touch the tip to a tealight in memory of their loved one, after which I would be available at the altar to pray with them. I guess that’s part of being a pastor — you’re sort of worshiping, but sort of just helping others worship.

Today brought tears. Some of the tears were from worrying about how to survive the newborn stage in just a few weeks’ time. Some were from remembering Little Story. And some were probably just fatigue. But I have a good husband who is not afraid of my tears and doesn’t try to transform them into happiness. So as All Saints Sunday draws to a close, I feel spent but content.

“I’ll never ‘get over’ my miscarriage. I’ve stopped wanting to. I’ll carry it, instead. I’ll carry it and carry it and never put it down.”

– Beth Ann Fennelly, Great with Child, p. 98

There’s a bed in my bathroom.

But, that’s because I put it there.

Or, more accurately, my husband put it there.

A huge mattress stuffed into the bathroom, taking up all the floor space, so that walking to the toilet requires three steps across the squishy foamy square.

This is my new plan for dealing with 5x/night potty breaks: Sleep in the bathroom. The walk from the usual bed to the bathroom was just too long.

The move happened just in time, because I’ve been battling a head cold/sinus infection for the past week. Now the bathroom bed is surrounded by Sudafed tablets, glasses of water, a box of tissues, a trash can, an eye mask, a pair of earplugs, a book light, a pregnancy book, a tube of chapstick, a pillow for my heavy legs, and the night guard that would keep me from grinding my teeth, except I can’t sleep with my mouth closed anyway, because I can’t breathe out of my nose, which is perfect, because third-trimester pregnancy doesn’t give you enough dry-mouth as it is.

But I can’t complain! I can, but not on a deeper level. Because I still get to feel those baby rolls and reflex kicks…I still get to see the surface of my stomach move with this growing child…I still get to talk to Little Swan and be as one. I’m not yet ready for pregnancy to end.

currently listening:

birth-center-waterbirth

The Birth Hour podcast. It is a judgment-free zone. I marvel at how every single woman’s birth story is different. They’re different from other women and they’re different from child 1 to child 2, 3, and more.

Of course I have daydreams of how my own birth story would go. I picture being in the peaceful room of a birthing center, no IVs stuck in my arms or monitors strapped to my belly. I picture the baby being brought immediately to my chest (okay, if the cord is tugging, then maybe just my abdomen). Of course I hope for euphoria. Counting on those natural hormones….

oops…I did it again

Being pregnant so quickly after a miscarriage does not remove the pain of said miscarriage. I cried on Mother’s Day, in D.C. on our babymoon. We had scheduled the trip when we were expecting our first. We decided to keep the train tickets even after the loss, and here we were, expecting again. It could have been worse — I could have not been pregnant — but still I cried in the church around the corner while the choir sang “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.”

I was supposed to be 23 weeks along, in the peach glow of the second trimester, ballooning with joy and turning heads. Instead I was 11 weeks along, falling into bed every afternoon while it rained outside our rented basement flat. Walking through museums exhausted me, and all our dinner dates — Thai larb, Indian paneer, thick foot-long doughy pizzas — weren’t enough to encourage my appetite. We finally rented city scooters, and as we bumped along the sidewalks, I wondered if I would lose this baby too.

Will the remembrance of miscarriage always make tears coat my eyes? I imagine so. I’ve been keeping track of when and why I cry about the miscarriage — each instance since January. The most recent was August 5. I ought to average them out.

I am excited with each baby kick from “Little Swan,” as we’re calling this one, and I’ve recorded the rapid-hoof heartbeat from the doctor’s Doppler. But when the heartbeat sounded through the exam room, I couldn’t help my first thought, of the baby before: I never got to hear his heart.