Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Until Then I Thought It Was Just Me, Just A Fluke

Nearly four years ago, I remember this time of year.  It was nearly Christmas.  My maternity clothes were starting to feel small.  I kept telling myself not to get disappointed if Grasshopper didn't arrive until the end of January or even later.  After all, his mother was a few weeks late.  And then it was such a shock to feel my water break that morning, the first week in January.

I've told the story a million times.  In print.  In person.  On film.

But what I know now that I didn't know then is that it isn't just me.  It isn't just a fluke.  Back then, I figured that my complications during and after the birth were just a rare fluke, kind of like I'm a rare redhead.  Redheads are like 4% of the population or something like that.  So I figured it was just a deal  like that.  Even after I understood why the complications happened, I still figured it was just a fluke that I ended up with incompetent medical care.  Surely that doesn't happen often.

And then I got this email.  It was from a woman who had had a traumatic birth and had found my story online.  We wrote back and forth, and I eventually went to meet her and a few other women she had gathered together.  I heard story after story of medical care being the cause of complications.  Of doctors and nurses and midwives who were abusive or dismissive.

We formed a group.  And as that group grew in number and in reach, we heard more stories.  Dozens.  Hundreds.  From all over the world.  As a result, the vision and scope of our group expanded.  Now we were not only supporting one another, we were supporting other women.  Soon enough we were advocating for other women and becoming activists.

I never really planned on any of that.

But it happened, and I found purpose and healing in the midst of it all.  Even now, as I deal with the effects of an exhausted pelvic floor due to a long respiratory illness, the work I do provides a sense of peace instead of the bitterness that could arise.

I've come to understand that a lot of what happens to us becomes traumatic because of two things.  Our rights as women are often disregarded, sometimes even by other women.  And medical practitioners would find their mistakes and misjudgments more easily forgiven if they could manage to be respectful and kind to the women they serve.

When a woman's right to informed consent is taken away by a medical provider, she experiences a trauma.  And when a woman is further disrespected through the unkind words or tones of those medical providers, the trauma goes even deeper.

I have shared the truth of this until I'm blue in the face.  Sometimes people have that "Eureka!" moment, and they get what I'm sharing.  But sometimes people are still clueless or unbending.

Today I was told by a complete stranger online that what happened to me was essentially my fault.  She compared what happened to me to someone being burned at McDonald's, explaining that I couldn't be angry because I must not have educated myself enough.

Ironically, she's a labor and delivery nurse.  I wanted to scream at her.  It was obvious that she did not carefully read ALL of my words.  It was surprising that some friend of a friend would feel it necessary to make such an uninformed comment.  I was pretty ticked.  Especially when she did the whole "I'm sorry you feel that way."  Ah, medical providers must take a class on how to make poor apologies.  It seems so many of them are gifted in that way.

But after the feeling of boiling over passed, I thought again about what she said.  And it made me shake my head even more.  She really doesn't get it.  They really don't get it.

Comparing what happens in hospital birthing situations to being burned at McDonald's is quite ridiculous when you think about it.  Even a toddler knows food can be hot, and that you need to test it out somehow or blow on it.  That's common sense that is learned early on.

Knowing all the ins and outs of various specialized medical procedures is not like dealing with hot coffee.  It doesn't matter how much reading I did before I was in labor, there was no way I could have known the risks of the procedures done to me.  And when I was in labor, it wasn't like I could google it or go to the library to read up on it.  Neither could my husband.  We asked for explanations.  We trusted them to give it.  They failed to be completely forthright and honest.  They bullied and hurried and trampled my right to informed consent.  It doesn't matter how intelligent I am.  I couldn't stop them.

I'm not quite sure how to best educate medical practitioners who already believe they are experts in their field and don't exactly display a learner posture.  I'm not quite sure how to help those of them who believe they are little gods discover that they are, in fact, completely mortal and fallible.  I don't know how to help an honestly good-hearted medical care provider understand that not all of her colleagues are honest or good-hearted, that they could, in fact, be somewhat malicious.

Sometimes I want to just throw in the towel.  Stop fighting.  Stop telling my story.  Stop working to support women and bring about change.  I mean, there are bigger, more important battles in this world to fight, right?

But then I think about me.  What if someone like me comes along again?  What will she do?  Will she feel all alone and without resources?  Will she know that she has rights?  Will she know what things to ask, what to look for?  Will her marriage make it through such a trauma?  Will her mothering unfold with joy?  Just because there are more drastic travesties in this world doesn't mean that this is not a cause worth fighting for.

And so I keep on speaking, tired as I am.  One day, maybe doctors and nurses and midwives will finally be up on all the evidence based research that contradicts their protocols.  One day, maybe hospitals and medical providers will abide by the laws and protocols that govern them.  One day, human rights in childbirth may actually be a reality for women everywhere.  And one day, maybe medical practitioners will remember that one of the best tools for professional development is to always have a learner posture somewhere in their psyche.  Maybe one day they will learn that some of their best teachers are not keynote speakers at their professional conferences, but the very people they serve. And maybe some of them will learn to really listen, whether it's words spoken aloud or in print.

It's a dream anyway.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

All Quiet On The Western Front

I just wanted to pop in here and say, "No, I'm not giving up this blog, but yes, it might be a while before I find myself coming over here to write something."

I'm in  a season where I just don't have the right words.  Sometimes I don't have any words, right or wrong.  That is not like me at all.  I've never been a "stuffer", one of those people who keeps everything locked inside and you never really know what they are thinking or feeling until it spills over.  I'm always spilling over, and I rarely keep anything inside.  I wouldn't have made a good Mary, the one who kept everything the angel said close to her heart and spent eons pondering it privately.  I would have called up my best friend moments after the angel left and I had remembered my name.  But I think I may have started "stuffing" sometime in the past year, and now I find that I've got a bit of writer's block with a hefty dose of speaker's block thrown in for good measure.

I'm also taking the next four weeks to be intentional about doing some more healing from my birth trauma.  I'm participating in a pilot program designed to help mothers like me heal from their trauma.  It's designed for moms of babes in arms, and I'm a few years beyond that.  But the author/designer was willing to take me on, and I was interested in seeing how it might help even now.  And I find that the timing is rather appropriate.  This summer has revealed further areas inside of me that need healing from that part of my life.  So I'm looking forward to devoting my time this next month to something that could end up being very beneficial, not just for my own heart, but also for the women I try to serve.

So I'll be around, but I'll be quiet over here unless I get that familiar compelling feeling that I MUST write.  But that feeling hasn't happened in a while.  And I think I'll be pretty occupied with this pilot program.  See you in awhile.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Just Processing a Bit of Conflict

For a girl who grew up going to little private schools and a conservative church, it's not hard to see how it was possible to grow up thinking that there was only one proper way of thinking, only one correct way of believing, only one opinion that was true.  And it's not hard to see that the thoroughness of that education in those little classrooms succeeded in blinding my eyes and ears to dissenting opinions.  I still cringe when I recall my earth science teacher in high school and how I refused to give him a hearing or have an actual dialogue with him.  It was my way or the highway.  If he didn't take my way, then he was simply lost and ill informed.

Yes, I had a rocky beginning into life as a participant in this diverse world of ours.  I had little to no training on how to coexist with others who were as different from me as oil is from water.  I had no understanding of how to converse with others who have no intention of heading over to my side of belief. The only thing I did have was a very good ability to keep an "us versus them" mentality.  It served me so well in high school that I graduated with only a handful of friends.  (I say that with sarcasm.  It only served to bring about loneliness and stunted growth.)

And now I find myself thrust into a crash course in learning to walk with people who disagree, rather vehemently in fact, with my opinions.  It would be possible to ignore them or reply to their comments in a snarky way, but enough evidence and experience exists to prove to me that those ways aren't likely to contribute to dialogue or strengthen community.  And so I get to learn to do the hard thing.

The hard thing of giving someone a hearing, someone who is angry or judgmental or completely opposite of me.  The hard thing of showing them respect, giving them a genuine listening ear, and seeking to understand before I seek to judge.  It's not easy.  Especially when well meaning friends tell me to step back and stop trying to enter into the fray.

But despite its difficulty, I'm convinced of its importance.  Perhaps it won't change anyone's opinion, and perhaps it won't result in this world being more open to dialogue or more open to changing the issue we're seeking to change (birth trauma in this particular instance).  But what it does do is change me.  It is growing me, stretching me, making me think, making me seek to understand another before seeking to expound on my beautiful opinion, and it's making me learn what peaceful dialogue between two dissenting groups looks like.  I hope at the end of this I learn just what it looks like to live in a mysterious harmony with someone who sees things completely differently than me.  I hope I learn what it looks like to respect another person's humanity even though I abhor their opinion, what it means to value them and honor them as people even though we remain opposed in philosophy.

This seems to be a rather glorious, though arduous at times, adventure in growing.  I think I'll take it.  ;)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Birth Trauma ~ Advocacy for Dads

*This post uses graphic terms. This post also names names and conveys strong opinions. I do it without apology.*

 Perhaps the biggest emotional hurdle I've had to deal with in terms of healing from my birth trauma has been the role that my husband played. He was supposed to be my protector, my advocate, my shield. He was supposed to fight for me. He tried his best, he really did. But he and I both were naive and had no idea what kind of protection would really be required. We had no idea that the medical staff who were ostensibly there to care for us and keep both our baby and me healthy would be the ones to cause us to go through the biggest hell we've been through thus far. We did not know that we needed protection from the "experts". My husband did not know that he should not have trusted them, that he should have asked more questions, fought harder, done something. We just didn't know.

 But we do know now. I guess that's the scary part. Knowing. Now that we know, the reality of how hard it will be to protect me and advocate for me in such a broken system should we be able to have another child is frightening. I know all too well that the medical profession says one thing and then does another. They have learned to be quick to apologize and show sympathy, but they still have not learned to bring about drastic change. They still commit birth rape too often. And yes, I said birth rape.

 It is honestly enough for me to consider giving birth at home with only those I would trust. But the list of those I'd trust is miniscule, and it only takes one look at that area of my body with a mirror to remind me that giving birth vaginally is no longer a viable option for me.

 Just last night I looked again because I was dealing with some pain, and once again I was reminded just how severely I tore and how little truth I was told about the extent of my injuries. From my urethra to my rectum, and all up inside of my labia and vagina, my body bears the scars that tell of brutal tearing from incompetently wielded forceps. The fact that those incompetently wielded forceps were used against my expressly stated will and against my right to informed consent makes those scars all the more painful.  And the pain I was feeling last night? Well, that just happened to be from yet another cyst that forms because I must wear pads nearly every hour of the day, thus dealing with fragile skin. Even using a Poise pad, designed for incontinence, only helps so much.

 I have accomplished so much in terms of my healing journey. I have three years of physiotherapy under my belt, and will go back for more when I can afford it. I have many counseling sessions, many birth trauma support group meetings attended, many blog posts written. But despite all that hard work, my life will never be what it was before midwife Heather Munro and obstetrician Duna Goswami chose to commit birth rape. I learn to deal with a new "normal" each day, one that includes baby wipes every time I use the toilet and wondering just how I'll accomplish a primitive camping trip without a flush toilet available for my morning issues with bowel incontinence.

 And so it is with bittersweet emotions that I tell you about a movie that just happens to be coming to Vancouver this Saturday, June 16th. It begins at 12 noon at the Vancity Theatre. Tickets may be purchased online by going here: Other Side of the Glass Tickets.

 This movie is for dads, for all those dads who wanted to protect their wives and their children but didn't know how. This movie is for all those dads who felt powerless. This movie is for all those husbands who dealt with not only feeling powerless, but also endured the loss of trust and intimacy in their marriages. This film is an important project. It is yet one more way our voices can be heard, so that one day, positive change will happen. I dream of it happening soon.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Coincidences? Providence? Gifts, Most Definitely.

Sometimes I have a fleeting thought that it is foolish for me to chalk up a beautiful serendipitous happening to Providence.  As if God would really care about little requests like an unbroken toy train bridge without crayon marks or a bear sighting when there are starving children and other atrocities taking up His time and attention.  There's also that voice in my head that tells me it's stupid to think that He would do little things like that precisely because starving children and atrocities exist, and clearly, He hasn't solved those problems.

This, I think, is where faith comes in.  It's really up to me making a choice to believe or not to believe.  For me, despite all the unanswered questions about why God lets children starve, why wars still happen, why women are widowed and children are orphaned, and why people still die of terrible diseases, I choose to believe that a God who is bigger than I can comprehend with thoughts I cannot understand does indeed reach down to bring a perfect toy train bridge to a boy and a bear sighting to a couple of girls.  Maybe some day I'll understand the whys and why nots of what He does.  But for today, I'm just grateful.

Last week I planned to spend what was to me a large amount of money on some used toy train tracks and train accessories.  I knew the money should really be saved for groceries, but the deal seemed too amazing to pass up, and the provision seemed timely.  My little guy is starting to really enjoy trains, and a little one we watch a few times a month LOVES trains.  It seemed like the perfect idea.

But then I picked it up and discovered that the picture I'd studied online so carefully was incredibly misleading.  The trains, tracks, and buildings were dirty and colored on.  The main pieces I cared about like the bridge and a few special tracks were broken.  I was frustrated with myself for being such a people pleaser that I did not take time to look over the pieces and refuse the purchase in the first place, and worried that my request to bring back the set and get a refund would not be met with willingness.  Thankfully, the seller agreed to take them back and refund my money.

I drove home and just chatted to God about life.  "God, if we really are your children, that makes us sons and daughters of a King.  That means we're princes and princesses.  And princes and princesses don't have to accept what even a thrift store wouldn't accept, do they?  Do we really have to be content with what is essentially broken garbage?  Do you have something better in mind?  Please?"

I was disappointed too, knowing that my little boy was at home waiting to get a "surprise that you can't eat".  I knew he would be sad that I had let him down, and I mentally chastised myself for getting so excited that I had told him even that little bit of information.  A Tim Horton's donut seemed a lame consolation prize, but it was all I could do.

He was so excited that he popped up from his pillow when I got home and asked to see the surprise.  I had to tell him that the surprise was too broken and too dirty for me to bring home, that I was sorry, and that I was going to work very hard to find just the right surprise to give him.  Then I told him he had a donut waiting for him in the morning and kissed his smooth cheek goodnight, and went to go call my friend who was scheduled to arrive the next day for a visit.

I called her and she mentioned how excited she was to get together.  I told her that I was sorry, but my home was not in perfect order because of the day's events, including the train fiasco that took an extra couple of hours out of the day.  She said she was just coming to see me, and suddenly the boxes in my bedroom and the unmopped kitchen floor seemed inconsequential to this perfectionist.  She asked about the trains, if they were wooden.  I said that they were, and then we signed off with "I love you" and a promise to see each other on the morrow.

When I picked her up, it seemed strange that along with her small suitcase she also had two large boxes tied with string, but I didn't question anything.  When we arrived back at my home, she told me that the boxes were for my son from her children.

Trains.  Tracks.  A few buildings.  Two PERFECT bridges.  More accessories than a kiddo could dream of, and in better shape than a mama could imagine.  More than double, maybe even triple, what I'd tried to buy.  For free.  To keep.  A gift of love from three kids who no longer played with them.

It was like being hugged by God.

God doesn't always operate this way in my life, but for this moment, I was swallowing tears of gratitude and wonder at His providence and the way my friend was being Jesus-in-skin to not only my child, but to me.

The next morning we took off, just the two of us, for a park in the mountains where my husband had booked a retreat for us.  She and I caught up on 37 years of living, 11 years of life since we'd last seen each other, and all the growing and learning we'd done in between conversations.  We snowshoed, swam, ate, laughed, cried, talked, napped, had lightbulb moments, laughed and cried some more, and just enjoyed the fact that somehow a friendship that began when we were 9 enabled two grown women to let their hair down and feel completely at ease with each other despite the lack of consistent contact.

And on our way home when the largest animal we'd seen was a Columbian Ground Squirrel, we saw it.  A black bear, maybe a yearling, by the side of the road.  He was placidly eating, occasionally looking at the curious onlookers pulled over to the shoulder to watch him.  We were so close my friend could have reached out to touch him and pet his head.  He seemed so peaceful that it was tempting to get out and get closer.  But with one eye on the rearview mirror to make sure we didn't get hit, the other eye on the bear to make sure he didn't decide to get too personal with my friend, and one foot ready to hit the gas, I soaked up the experience of seeing a bear.

And inside I remembered my crazy prayer on the way up.  "Please, God, could we see a bear?  I mean, I don't want to see him on a hike, and I don't want to be in danger.  And I don't want to have to use the knife, the bear horn, the whistle, or anything else I've got with me.  And I don't want to get attacked or anything.  But could we see one in some kind of safe environment?"

He apparently said yes.  He even let me see it in my very favorite type of comfort zone - the mobility provided by my car.

Coincidences?  Maybe.  Providence?  Maybe.  Gifts to a redhead longing for sweet favors and some respite from the hard things in life?  Most definitely, yes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Flowers Every Day

This is just a quick post to say that it is wonderful to be in springtime.  It is wonderful to have a three year old boy who knows his mama likes flowers.  And so whether it is the blossoms off the tree in the front yard or copious amounts of dandelions, my kitchen window sill is lined with a never ending supply of fresh flowers stuck in assorted tiny containers.

I think I've fallen head over heels for that little boy all over again.  As a mama I fail him every day.  I never play with him enough, and I'm rarely energetic enough to keep up with him.  But he still brings me flowers.  And he still tells me he loves me.  I'm a blessed mama indeed.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Eastertide & Me

For some reason, Easter is always a difficult time for me. A deep sadness takes over.

It's a time when I remember my childhood and the Easter traditions we had quite poignantly, and I miss my Grandma the most. Even now, pictures of her delighting in the huge stuffed yellow duck with a polka dotted ribbon that I bought for her when she was in the hospital come to mind. I can still here here saying, "Ducky Wucky" and smiling while she traced the stuffed animals form with her hands.

It's a time when I miss being a kid the most, when the reality hits that the special dinner is entirely up to me and not grandmas and aunts and mom. And that special dinner will only be eaten by my tiny little family of Henry David, me, and our Grasshopper.

It's a time when I miss my varied church heritage and history the most. Here there are no sunrise services, no liturgy, no rich hymns, no choirs, no Lenten season lead-up to the day of Resurrection, no rhythm of liturgical seasons in the church, no special Good Friday services, no nothing. My mom isn't in the next room blasting Sandy Patti's music, both to my chagrin and delight. As I looked back on my old blog's archives (closed to public view for the past nearly four years), it's clear that Easter is ALWAYS difficult. And church is ALWAYS the reason. And sitting here now, I have to admit that this stubborn redhead still has not come to accept that this place is different. I'm still inwardly demanding that it change. But it won't. In this instance, unless I change (and I'm not willing or even sure how to go about doing that), I will always feel like a fish out of life-giving water.

And so, in my quest to find something - anything - to encourage my heart, I went looking for an article I wrote in 2008 for a study center located where I used to live and teach, and where my brother still lives and teaches. I read it and realized that even then it was possible to find something good, something beautiful, something true in the midst of the sadness. Four years later, it feels like the bitterness and disappointment have overgrown anything positive. It made me realize that it's an area that needs attention. I don't want to lose the ability to see beauty in the midst of deep sadness.

So as a reminder, here is what I wrote four years ago at the request of my brother. I'm so glad he asked me, for who knew that it would be so important to my own soul's health four years later?


I feel so unprepared.

It’s early this year.

As the months float by, I am increasingly separated from familiar liturgy and traditions held dear by friends and family in the Midwest. No one plays “The Easter Song” about hearing the bells ringing and singing about Jesus being alive. And my mom isn’t here to play Sandy Patti’s “Was It A Morning Like This?” on her ancient tape player, as we get ready for church. Out here, near the west coast of Canada, I feel so far from the rhythm of Christian seasons. Or do I? While my church home here is very different from the churches I called home in years past, the creation around me bids me to enter God’s own cathedral. And His creating does have a rhythm, and if I listen closely, it does sound out a call to remember the Resurrection.

After months of gray sky and rain, the sunshine is beginning to routinely pierce the smoky veil that covers our land. The mountains show forth brilliant greens, capped by lacy snow lines, giving way to sparkling white peaks. Down below, the tundra and trumpeter swans visit on their way back home. I love to watch them in their enduring strength and graceful beauty. The bald eagle flies with its young offspring, daring it to soar and swoop. The ducks spy out their nesting places, and one knows babies will soon appear.

Meanwhile, the crocuses and snowdrops are sprouting and blooming. The blueberry farmers are diligently readying their fields, while hundreds of crows and gulls flock to moist fields for dinner. The robins are back, and they sing out their songs while perched on the blackberry vines. Even the peanuts planted last year by the squirrels in our yard are trying to spring out of hiding in hopes that I’ll let them find life and rootedness in my garden.

What has seemed so dead and lifeless is showing itself alive. Could that be my reminder to think on Easter? Could it be God’s subtle call to ponder His most beautiful gift to us in the form of Christ crucified, dead, buried, and alive once and for all? Somehow, I think I can hear bells ringing after all.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Brilliant Parenting Gone Awry

Awhile back, Grasshopper asked how babies get into the mama's tummy to grow there before they are born. I did my very best to explain and give my three year old an age appropriate answer. In fact, I was so proud of myself at the end. (Note to self: Pride is never a good idea.) Now that I think about it, it's a little embarrassing to publicly admit. But it's funny enough to me that it really ought to be recorded for posterity.

"Well, Grasshopper, God gave the daddy some seeds and He gave the mama some eggs. The daddy gives the mama the seed, and if it finds the egg it will grow into a baby."

He seemed pretty content with that answer, and since we'd done a bit of gardening last summer, I knew he was aware of how seeds grow into plants. So I figured this was a pretty good answer. Until last week.

"Mama, I really need a friend who isn't my Mama or Dadda to play with."

"I know, Buddy."

"Mama, I need a brother and a sister too."

"I know, Buddy. I want you to have them too. But you'll have to ask Jesus for that. He's the only One who can help us have a brother or sister for you to play with."

"Mama! That's not what you do! You don't have to ask Jesus! Daddy has to give you the seeds!"

Um, so, yeah, I guess he told me. And when I was telling my cousin this story, she told me how she tells her kids something simple about how God puts the baby in the mama's tummy until they are older and can go into the whole biological explanation. For some reason, I never thought of that. I have a way of making life too complicated, and this experience was really no different. At least it has provided a lot of laughter every time I remember it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why Garnet Earrings

Yesterday, I had an important meeting. I was privileged to meet with three nurses who oversee various maternity departments across the region where I live. My purpose was to show them a brochure that I dream of every woman leaving a hospital maternity ward carrying in her hands upon being discharged. Because too many of us are sent home without the support and information we need to deal with things like wound care, hemorrhoids, incontinence, pain with sexual intimacy, emotional difficulties, relationship difficulties, and all the other issues women face after having given birth. Too many physicians think that all these things are just a natural part of being a woman, and too many of them don't know about the healing resources out there to help a woman get her body and her life back. And too many women are embarrassed to even mention these things.

But I am not afraid or embarrassed. And I will continue to speak these words and share my story and my message so that someday all women are free and empowered to speak their minds and hearts on the issues surrounding birth, especially ones that included trauma or injury.

So of course I wore my garnet earrings.

And this is important to share? Why yes, it is.

I will never forget the women at the surgeon's office where I went to first discuss what to do about the fistula that resulted from some portion of my very traumatic labor and delivery. They cooed over my son and rightly pronounced that he was adorable, but then they said something I will always remember. "So you are the cause of all this trouble!"

No. Vehemently, I declare he will NEVER be considered to be the reason for the trauma I have endured. He is ONLY a gift and a delight. He is NOT a source of my grief or pain. The malpractice and mismanagement is the source of my grief and pain. But my son is a source of joy and strength, a reason to get up every morning, and the reason I walked with continual courage through the hell of birth trauma.

And so, when I was choosing a pair of earrings to wear, I considered what pair would be most fitting, a sort of talisman of courage you could say. At first I picked up my great-grandmother's earrings, thinking that I could use a bit of her spunk. But then I saw the garnets and knew that they were most appropriate. I had purchased my son's birthstones for myself awhile ago. Yes, those seemed like fitting reminders of the reason I do what I do.

Every woman should be able and free to celebrate her child's birthday with complete joy, and she should not have to see it as a reminder of pain. She should not have to experience it as a trigger for her grief. She should not have to see that date on the calendar and experience flashbacks of what happened to her body and heart. She should only have to see it as a beautiful day to celebrate the life of her child.

One of the women I met with mentioned just that, how women actually dread their child's birthday because of how it triggers their grief and trauma all over again. She teared up as she spoke of hearing that it happens for some women.

I am blessed in the fact that I was able to make a decision early on that I would never look at my son as a part of my trauma. And I'm lucky that I can miraculously compartmentalize the harm done to me by an unscrupulous and incompetent midwife and a completely incompetent Ob/Gyn from the gift of my son. In my mind and heart, they are as far apart as evil and goodness. Please don't think me bitter at what happened. I have worked through this trauma for three years now, and have forgiven in layers time and time again. But I am not afraid to continue to speak out the truth and call a spade a spade with courage and bluntness. What was done to me was wrong on so many levels. And yes, restitution should be a part of the package. But that is not my focus. My focus is first on my enjoying the gift of my family - my husband and my son. And my second focus is on working with women and with the medical system to protect, resource, and bring positive change so that healing happens much sooner than it did for me.

I wear those earrings as a reminder that I have a son who needs a strong and courageous mama, one who will stand up and work for positive change and for what is right. And I have a voice that I will continue to seek to use to help other mamas, so that they too can see their child's birthstones and only feel joy.

***If you are reading this and are experiencing any of the symptoms or issues I mentioned related to your own experience with childbirth, you may contact me by clicking on my profile and going to the "email" link. I love to provide a listening ear and offer compassion and practical help to women going through these things. I also recommend the groups Solace for Mothers and Vancouver Birth Trauma for caring and competent support among peers who have been in your shoes. You can also find Vancouver Birth Trauma on Facebook where you can comment or send a confidential message and receive a prompt reply.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

KONY 2012

Our world is broken. It will always be so until that someday when all things are made right again. But in the meantime, we are called and commanded to do something about the brokenness.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress...." James 1:27a

When I read that, all the crap about "religion" being a dirty word evaporated and the beauty of it became apparent. Because really, what good is my faith if it cannot DO something?! What good is it? And what better thing than to look after the needs of children in distress?!

There are many things about which I am passionate: helping women heal from birth trauma, helping young women find a place of belonging, helping my child grow and learn and thrive, helping my husband by cheering him on in his calling to build up people through outdoor education, helping the orphans and poverty stricken of this world have enough food and shelter and education, helping children in a war torn country have access to education and the truth that sets them free, helping teach beautiful truth to people who want to learn, and this:


Invest the time to watch this video. Share it on Facebook. Blog about it. Write your congressman or MLA/MP. Thank Obama for sending 100 advisors and encourage him to keep them there. Write Stephen Harper and let him know you care about this. If you pray, do the work of praying.

Whatever you do, just be sure you DO something. Don't just let your heart be touched. Faith is only good if it's active. It's worthless if it's not. I don't believe this is optional. In fact, I believe it's commanded. "Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." James 1:22

What are you waiting for? Let's go DO.

Friday, March 2, 2012

James & My Propensity to Chat

I'm currently in chapter 3 of James. You know, the part where he gets blunt talking about how our tongues are incorrigible. For a long time I've known that I have too many words just itching to spill out, either in conversation or in writing. And for a while now, I've wondered if I shouldn't just hush up the whole blogging thing because for as many words as I seem to have, I don't have a proportionate amount of wisdom.

So that's where I'm at. I'm wishing there were a way to feel connected to the outside world while at the same time remaining quiet as mouse online. I'm wrestling with that. If you only knew how many times I think, "Geez, I should delete that post. I can't believe I said that." Or the more common thought sounds like this, "Gee, I wonder if there is a really big hole where I can crawl in and hide for awhile, like maybe the next 50 years." But then my otter like side of part of my personality comes to the forefront and says, "Who are you kidding? You want to play! You want to chat! You want to connect!"

I'm not sure what side will win out - the side that says I should quietly close this blog and speak less or the side that wants to stay somewhat connected to those residing outside the four walls of my home. Maybe both sides will come up with an agreement that leads to connection and quietness. Guess only time will tell. But let's hope that whatever happens, wisdom and understanding become a part of the deal. Because Heaven knows I need them. =)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Putting a Stake in the Ground

I'm glad Jesus said it's important to come like little children to Him, because I've discovered recently that my complex reasoning powers have evaporated and I'm left feeling like a small child with the simplest of understanding.

It almost feels like I'm back at the beginning, back at that place when I was six and believed what I heard in Sunday school or from my parents without any doubting. Only this time, I've been through the doubt, the ugly arguments, and all the rest. So I'm really not the six year old, untried and never questioning. But I have her simplicity. At least for today.

So many conversations have taken place in the past little while and I see ones dear to my heart embracing beliefs and theologies that I cannot accept as true. At first, it shook me, and I felt like a tippy canoe on a wind tossed ocean in the Broken Islands, destined to capsize and drown. All these people around me, so much more learned than I, with so much greater ability to express themselves and form cogent arguments, drawing from history and things beyond my grasp. And there I am, just listening, wondering if I'm simply not smart enough to draw the same conclusions that they have determined to be true. And if I ought to draw those conclusions even if I cannot understand the linear way to arrive at them. And I wonder if my gut feeling is just a foolish child's reaction to cover her eyes and ears with her hands and not even consider what is being presented.

But then, I make my choice. Haltingly, carefully. Knowing that it will be tested. Knowing that it will cost something. And I decide.

I am content with being a child even though I know it will be mocked and thought stupid and narrow. I hammer my stake in the ground, tongue off to the side to help me concentrate and little arms swinging hammer too big and too heavy. But I do it anyway.

My stake is this:

I believe that the Bible is true, all of it. And I believe that it is relevant for today and meant to be lived out. I don't understand all of it, and I don't even like all of it, but I'm trusting that God will explain those parts someday. Just like a child trusts her dad to explain electricity.

I believe that Jesus is who He said He is, and that His main purpose was salvation from sin so we could be reconnected to our Heavenly Father who made us. I believe that His atonement on the cross was a very big deal and the center of the Gospel message. I believe that He gave us directions on how to live, how to love, and how to get ready for the Home He is making for us.

I believe that Heaven and Hell are real places, and not just states of being. I don't know all there is to know about them, but like a little child, I believe that they exist.

I believe that my job is to believe and to live out faith in an active way, loving and caring and serving and being Jesus' hands and feet without favoritism, keeping away from letting my life be polluted with all that is less than the best.

I believe that my finite brain can't begin to comprehend the mysteries of all of this, but I believe that God is exactly who He says He is and that His infinite brain will explain it to me someday.

And then I put down my hammer and go back to living life, knowing I don't have all the answers and can't begin to grasp so much of the knowledge that is around me. But like a little child, I'm trusting that that is okay. Simple? Most definitely. Simplistic? Maybe. If it needs to change at any point, my simple answer is that God will work that out in my heart and mind. Meanwhile, a little stake stands in a bit of ground, waiting to find out what happens next.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mama Bird & Baby Bird

No, this post won't be about my little boy, though most days he does indeed wake up and tell me that he is not a kid but a baby bird. Days like that he won't respond to his real name or allow me to refer to myself as just plain Mama. No, this post is about something else.

***I have to put in a clarification here. Lately, as I've gotten more involved with the birth trauma group and have begun finding what appears to be almost a calling to help women, I've started wondering how to balance all the parts of Inkling on this blog. In that work, I've met some incredible women who believe and live completely differently than me. And sometimes that has tempted me to edit myself here. Because, let's face it, a lot of people who don't follow the faith I profess look at Christians as weird, backward, narrow, or hopelessly judgmental. And I don't want anyone to think that about me, nor do I want to be that way. But there isn't any way around it: I'm a Christian no matter how hard I've tried to shake that label or the beliefs that follow the term. And the truth is that I'm figuring out all over again what exactly being a Christian means and looks like. The only thing I know for sure is that it does not include looking like those cruel people who protest at funerals of military folks. But it does include compassion and love and thoughtfulness and generosity, and all of those things are character qualities of the women I've met. So though we are different, we are also very much the same.***

Moving on to the whole idea of a mama bird and her offspring.....

There was a blog post over a year ago where a woman wrote about the dilemma of mothering small children and finding time to feed herself spiritually. I remember writing her and saying that I wished there were some way someone could come alongside young moms and feed them, and how the Bible talks about how God gently leads those that have young. Neither one of us ever followed that idea any further.

Until today.

It dawned on me today as I was driving home from a Bible study at a church in the next town that I'm getting that exact thing right now. You see, we're doing Beth Moore's study on James. That means we're watching a video of her speaking each week as she explains the Greek and Hebrew, the Jewish traditions, and the original intent with each passage and topic we cover. And we get a book with homework for each day that allows us to dig in deeper.

It suddenly occurred to me that she is basically functioning as this sweet and diligent Mama Bird, finding the bits of meat and tearing them off, even chewing them a bit before giving them to us, the Baby Birds.

It's like this, I sit in front of a video of her and she explains how the word "greetings" in the first verse of James literally means "joy to you". And later on, she talks about how the term "to look intently" literally means to bend over and look closely. She explains that the seemingly simple term "glorious Lord Jesus Christ" is referring to the idea of the Shekinah glory and just how important that is. And there are a zillion more things she dissects for us and carefully spells them out so we can really grasp what each verse is saying. These are all things one could do if they had an amazing seminary library at their disposal and time to pour over texts, do Greek word studies, and read up on Jewish customs and history.

So this is how God gently leads those that have young.

The interesting thing is that I'm carving out time to do my homework when my son naps, and he knows he HAS to have a rest time even if he doesn't sleep so that mama can do her Bible study. And I'm attempting her suggestion to commit the book to memory while working out on our elliptical after the dishes are done and the male portion of this household is asleep. That is so much more than I ever did with any other study back in the day when I actually did have a seminary library at my fingertips and time (not to mention syllabi and course requirements) to get me digging deep into homework. Maybe it's the desperation and the feeling of starvation of the past long while that has made me like a frantic Baby Bird, eagerly waiting with open beak, ready to eat up anything placed in my mouth. Fortunately, Beth Moore is a wise and good Mama Bird, so the food she offers is good and filling. It's like the more food she offers, the more eager I am to eat.

It reminds me of the Oregon Juncos we watched some months back when the adults came with their babies after there had been a mishap with one of their nests. We put out food and watched the adult birds feed the babies. But as each day passed, the babies began learning how to eat bigger bites and open their mouths wider, and then they learned how to find and pick up food for themselves. But even after they were big enough to do that, the adult birds were still diligently feeding the babies, just at a more relaxed pace.

I wish I could say that this study is going to "change my life", but I can tell you that the only way it will is if I actually make a habit of doing the things I'm hearing. I look back at too many of my Bible study books and see my notes and wonder why they fall flat and seem lifeless. It's because I didn't actually do too much beyond just listening and letting it touch me. So check back with me in a year or so to see if I'm actually "doing" what I've been hearing.

But in the meantime, know that there is one tired mama who has been so very grateful to assume the role of hungry baby bird. Yes, it is true. He does lead those gently that have young.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When Community Works

It's been a year, more than a year actually, of yearning for a community that works, a community that feels like home. In the past little while, some neat things have happened that have given me a glimpse of the good parts of community.

A card came in the mail awhile ago from a friend in the States. In it was some cash with the specific instructions to use it for a date night. I figured we would use it to order take-out one night when we could put our little guy to bed early, and then just curl up on the couch and watch a movie or chat without the resident three year old asking questions. But then the phone rang last week. It was the girl who used to come to our house on a regular basis to be my mother's helper. She had just been to youth group and they had told the kids that they were cancelling youth for Valentine's Day and encouraging them to go out and find someone to serve, specifically in the form of babysitting so a couple could get a date night free of charge. She was offering that to us. Talk about perfect timing. We had our first real date since October when my parents took Grasshopper for an evening so we could get out for a few hours while we were visiting the States.

Sunday morning I dragged myself out of bed and got ready for church, even though I was longing to snuggle in my warm bed because I'd been up far too late reading a good book. It was a good thing I went. Some friends of ours from our old home group were visiting from their new home a few hours away. I hadn't seen them since late summer, and it was good to catch up. We made plans to have them over for dinner this week while they were still in town. Some real community happened with them when they were in our group, but I can't write about it publicly. Still, memories of that shared community are meaningful to me.

On our way home from church, my husband put a white envelope made of taped typing paper in my lap and said that it had been given to him by a friend of ours with the words, "Someone told me to give you this." I opened it and tears gathered in my eyes as I saw that it was a gift of money. As work is very scarce at the moment and has been for quite awhile and we've had a few cancellations for my husband's outdoor adventure education business, it hasn't been the easiest. This gift of money meant we could head to the grocery store and pick up milk and a few other things, and it meant we could take care of another obligation looming in the immediate horizon. Community at work, and we don't even know who gave it.

It is moments like these that remind me to keep on persevering through the mess of building relationships and building community. It reminds me not to give up, not to think that I'm the only one giving sacrificially, not to believe the lie that says we're too broken to have community. And it reminds me to keep on being the positive participant in community without growing weary and giving up.

James says a lot about how real faith is active. It's times like these that I know there are some people of real faith out there. And I'm grateful to be on the receiving end of their kindness.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Community Living

Lately I've been thinking a lot about what makes a community work well. This week there have been more than a few reminders of how it looks when community doesn't work in a healthy way. The post I'm about to plunge into writing is a hard one, because all too often I'm guilty of exactly what this post is about. So just know that as I write, I'm listening too.

Up until recently, I reserved the worst of my anger about this for the church culture, for that was pretty much my only experience with messy and dysfunctional community. And then I joined a couple local kids items swap/sell groups for moms on Facebook. Boy, has that been an education.

As it turns out, what ugly things often happen in the Christian community, happen elsewhere too. Duh. You'd think I would know this by now. So I've been thinking about why this is so, why groups we form turn ugly, whether it's a church thing or a mom's swap group.

When people are involved, brokenness will follow. That's just the way it is. Our struggle then, is to work to put things back together until that Perfect Person comes to make everything right with the world again and make all things unbroken.

The core behavior at heart is unkindness. It comes about in many forms, from snide remarks to cliques to downright cruel actions. I think, perhaps, the core cause might just be pride. We would rather be right and have our own way than to ever give a bit of undeserved grace or cut some slack on another fallible human being.

That is just sickening for so many reasons.

The first reason obviously is that we hurt another human being created in the image of God when we act with unkindness and lack of care or concern. Our focus is so inward-bound that we forget the person we are hurting has a heart, has tears, has loved ones who could be hurt as well by our selfish behavior. We look at that person as expendable, merely a commodity to be traded for a better one. We do this in friendships. We moms do it all too often with each other. And sadly, I know all too well that the Christian community does this all too often. What happened to "they shall know you by your love"? Instead, it's become, "they shall know you by your infightings, splitting, excluding, and unkindness".

The second reason that my heart feels sick about the way we tear down each other with our words and actions is that there is a whole broken world out there that needs our touch, and it's foolishness to get caught up in petty unkindness and having to be right. Is it really the most important thing if the item you bought from a swap doesn't meet your standards and you have to go out of your way to rectify the situation? Is it so necessary to tear down the poor mom who did that? Meanwhile, there are children being starved, abused, trafficked, left homeless or orphaned. And that's just the beginning of all the broken things going on outside our little homes. Part of changing our hearts and behavior includes enlarging our focus so we can see more of the big picture.

I don't know if any of this makes sense or not. I find it difficult to articulate very well. But what I do know is that it is so much more wonderful and satisfying to learn how to be nice to each other. (Cue Boz music here.) Seriously, if preschoolers can get the idea of "be nice to each other, be nice and you'll see how nice being nice can be...", surely we grown-ups can put a little more thought into our words and actions before we type that post on Facebook or alter the course of someone's life in a moment.

There are moments when we will have to make hard choices that will cause pain to another, but surely we can learn how to do it in a loving, healthy, caring manner. Can't we?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Creativity and Repurposing: A Purse for Mama & a Stick Horse for Grasshopper

Since deciding we'd make our Christmas gifts this year, I've had so much fun getting back into being creative on a regular basis. Add in a little under-employment with very little money and you've got the makings for wanting to pretend that I'm living in a chapter out of the Little House books. It's actually quite fun.

I had this sweater from Land's End, a three quarter sleeved, navy blue, cable knit, cotton sweater that I no longer wore. I had tried to consign it, but they didn't want it. I donate a lot of clothing, but decided to hang on to this item. I'm glad I did. One rainy day I was in the mood to make a purse for myself. Originally, I was going to use a wool one that I could felt, but I've donated so many wool sweaters that the only ones I had left are ones I'm quite attached to and still wear. Then this navy sweater came into view and I formulated a plan to use it even though I'd have to change my original design, as you cannot really felt cotton.

I decided to use a scrap piece of yellow cotton broadcloth I had to line it. Because I would be using a sweater that would easily unravel once cut, I decided to completely sew it to the yellow lining and then begin forming the bag. I wish I'd taken pictures of the process, but will try to summarize quickly.

The torso of the sweater became the body of the purse, with the hemline forming the bottom of the purse. The arms were used to make a shoulder strap. If I did this project again, I'd use cording to make the shoulder strap and thread the cording through the sheath I made out of the arms. That way the strap wouldn't be so stretchy. I used ribbon to make the drawstring, although I imagine I'll need to replace it with something stronger eventually. It turned out to be a really cute, functional purse. And I love that it only cost me my time.

I've been wanting to make a stick horse for Grasshopper for quite awhile. At Christmas, I ran out of time, plus I'd made him so many other things. But a chance find of a bag of stuffing at a thrift store for $1 and a rainy Sunday afternoon turned out to be the perfect motivation to get me started.

First, I gathered my materials from around the house. Twine and leather cording leftover from a church project, the stuffing/quilt batting from the thrift store, scraps from my cable knit sweater purse project, old buttons, ribbon and thread from my sewing box, sand paper, a scrap of dowel rod leftover from a closet building project, yarn leftover from a scarf I'd made Grasshopper last week, and a wool sock all completed my supply list. (I had purchased a package of wool work socks for my husband when we were first married but bought the wrong size. Since I waited too long to return them, they were just hanging out in my cedar chest for something. Today turned out to be at least a partial answer to what I will do with them.) After that, I just gathered my sewing tools and cleared off the kitchen table so I could get to work.

First I had to sand the bottom of the stick and a bit on the side where some splintering had occurred.

Then I stuffed the toe of the sock with as much stuffing as it would hold up to the heel. I wrapped quilt batting around the first six inches of the dowel rod and stuffed it carefully into the sock up to the heel. Then I packed bits of stuffing all around that until everything was firm and filled out. I took twine and tied it tightly around the bottom of the sock to secure it to the dowel rod, wrapping it around a few times and tying a few knots. After that was secure, I took a long length of leather cord and wrapped it once and tied a good knot, leaving a four inch length to help me with my end knot. Then I wrapped the long cord around and around until the length was nearly used up and finished with a secure knot, trimming the ends.

Two wooden buttons made eyes. At this point, my son named the horse Pete and then went to take a nap so Mama could finish "helping Pete the horse be born".

The leftover scraps from the arms of my sweater were perfectly shaped for making ears. I sewed them together and turned them inside out. I did not trim the edges after sewing, because I knew the added bulk would help the ears be more stable and give it good shape.

Then I sewed the bottom edges closed using my machine.

After that, it was time to hand sew them to the horse. I placed them on a slight curve so they'd stand up well.

It was at this point that I wondered if Pete would turn out looking more like a donkey, but I knew the hair would help a lot. Always have faith in the hair.

Here is a picture of the completed forelock. It took a bit of trial and error to figure out how I wanted to attach the hair. I had read one blogger's idea, but her entire horse was sewn by machine, and that method was not going to work for me. So I came up with a workable solution that reminded me a bit of a hair weave.

To help illustrate my solution, my husband took a quick video of me attempting to explain what I was doing.

Grasshopper was certain his horse needed a bridle and not just reins, so I devised something out of grosgrain ribbon and two buttons. I made two loops - one for the horse's mouth area and one for just behind his ears. I slid those on him and then threaded the rein length of ribbon through both sides of each loop, pinning them carefully and being sure to leave a good length. Because the loop by the mouth easily could come off, I was able to machine sew the two pieces together. But the loop just behind his ears would not have been easy to come off, so I hand sewed it and then covered up my work with a cute button on either side.

The finished product. I was so excited with how it turned out. It took a few hours from start to finish. It is utterly adorable.

Pete and I went into Grasshopper's room to wake him up from his nap. He was so excited to finally see Pete "finished being born", and immediately took him out to the living room to hold him and introduce him to the world. (And yes, he's sitting on a crib mattress in the middle of our living room. We have to drag it out from storage almost daily so he can use it as a trampoline. My child may not have been much a crib sleeper, but at least we have gotten lots of use out of the mattress.)

All in all, I'm thrilled with how both projects turned out. They were both fun to design and make. The satisfaction gained from using items found in our little abode is also very nice. January has been a month of creating memories without spending money, and I have to say that it has been so very fun.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

You Know What I Really Love?

In the girlie movie, "Letters to Juliet", the grandmother says something about life being about the "messy bits". I don't own the movie, so I can't check the exact quote, but that has come to my mind more than once these past several weeks as we are indeed in the messy bits in so many ways.

Today, in the midst of the messy bits I have to say that I found gratitude creeping in. It came in so many little forms - from an encouraging word given by a beautiful stranger who hopefully will become someone I get to know a bit, to the perfect amount of stuffing found at a thrift store for $1 to be able to complete the sock monkey and stick horse I want to make, to the guy at our mechanic who gave my son a miniature VW bus to keep when we stopped in because Grasshopper just had to meet "Tim & Neil", to the lady at the Habitat ReStore who gave me five dollars off a doorknob and deadbolt set we need for our storage unit in the barn. All of those things were little, seemingly insignificant. But all of them amounted to sweet bits of grace scattered throughout this day in a season of messy bits.

And yes, I know there is still that lurking elephant to deal with. Ironically, my son's current favorite book is about an elephant who never forgets, and in that forgetting he cannot forgive. This little elephant has to learn to forget what is not important enough to remember. It's among one of the most profound children's books I've read. So, like little Congo the elephant, I'm learning some important lessons. I'm not there yet and I won't be for awhile, but that's okay.

In the meantime, I'm finding a strange excitement in tackling a crazy project the likes of which I've not tried since I was a little kid in school. In about five months, I hope to come back and report success in memorizing a little book in the Bible. And hopefully, I'll be able to report that I exercised my brain, my heart, my whole body, and my whole soul at the same time. I just typed up the first chapter I'm going to be memorizing, and I'm about ready to get on the elliptical to get going with it.

What is so funny about that whole project is the difference 30 years makes. When I was a child, memorizing was for a grade or a competition. For whatever reason, it never really reached to my heart. Recently, I've discovered that the few things I do remember from my childhood memorizing days have been the only thing able to quiet the accusing voices in my heart that would like to spend all their time telling me how worthless I am. It's so effective, it is like magic. No kidding. It is a really weird experience, if I'm being honest. I mean, I've spent loads of money paying someone to help me ignore those voices and I've tried numerous methods of ignoring, all to no avail. Even as recently as last week as I was reading a girlie book (something by Lori Wick) to escape, the accusations creeped into my brain and hollered so loudly that I realized after a whole page that I'd read all the words but hadn't actually taken them in at all because I'd been so busy listening to the internal dialogue going on. But all it takes is 25 little words strung into one living sentence to conquer those despicable voices.

And yes, I mean living. Now I get what it can mean when it says that the word of God is living and active. I know some of you who read here on occasion don't believe in Jesus or the Bible anymore, and you might think that I'm a little whacked to be saying this. I would have probably agreed with you if it hadn't actually happened and shocked the heck out of me.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I love how our Creator doesn't abandon us even in the messiest of the messy bits. And I love how we get to see markers on the journey here and there to remind us of the gifts we get even in the ugly times. Today was a day like that. And I'm glad.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How Real Can I Be?

Talk about a daunting question. I'm real here for sure, but I also hold back a lot. It's one thing to write something in a journal that you'll stick under your mattress, but it's an entirely different thing to write in a place where people you actually know in real life do come on occasion to read.

I don't even know quite where to begin or how to give an adequate prelude into this profound post I want to link here from a favorite blogger I've followed for a few years.

To sum it up quickly, I guess you could say I'm chronically dealing with anger, unforgiveness, and trying to understand where others are coming from. Usually, it's only from one area of life at a time, whether work or friendships or family or whatever. But this year, oh my goodness, there is not one area of life that gets to be easy. Every aspect has been impacted, and because that includes all my usual support systems, I'm even angrier than normal. This past year has been the motherlode of anger complete with more F-bombs than my husband cares to handle. (I finally told him that when I fall so far to resort to using such ugly language that it's really a plea for help to get me unstuck from the overwhelming fury I feel.)

I don't really have a clue how to deal with the stuff I know needs to be dealt with. It's basically as big as an elephant under our living room rug, and it's a confusing and jumbled mess of so many stories and so many people. It's not pretty at all.

But thankfully, there is Someone who promised to complete the work that He began, and I just have to say that He better complete this. Because it's getting to be such a huge mess. (I say that tongue-in-cheek, in case it didn't come through clearly.) Of course, I know He will complete His work. He promised and He always keeps His promises one way or another. And He promised that His work will be good and will be complete with a future and a hope for me. And so I stubbornly stand on those promises, looking at the mess of a covered, ugly, stinky elephant in my living room, knowing that somehow, some way it will get cleaned up and purified eventually. If I only had a clue as to His plan and schedule, it would be nice.

And so without further ado, I'll share the post that brought me to tears this afternoon. It reminded me that the only way to get some of this anger to dissolve is to face it head on. I think you'll be blessed by what Adrienne has to say.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Seeing It Through

I saw a beautiful picture of trust tonight. Two young girls dancing on a stage to a poignantly beautiful song about loss and living through it. Those two girls were in wheelchairs one year ago today. While surgeries and recoveries still lie ahead in the future for one of them, tonight they danced.

Tonight we remembered. We remembered a great loss. We remembered great heartache. We remembered God's faithfulness even despite the unanswered questions of why He let it happen in the first place. We simply remembered. And waves of grief and laughter tossed over each other like waves playing near the ocean shore. The grief won in my case and I found myself hastily constructing unclimbable walls, for that is the season I'm in. But it won't always win.

There are many moments when I went to chuck it all and just start completely over. I want to pretend that I get a total do-over in this move to make Canada my new home. New friends. New church. New name. New life. The old stuff - what I had before last December 28th - hurts too much. And so it is incredibly and achingly tempting to toss it all away.

And yet how much might be lost?

If I stay and gut it out, if I keep on simply trying to breathe and keep walking through this confusing season, waiting on God to move or make things clear or do just something, might I also find myself one day dancing on a stage, leaping triumphantly?

And that, my friends, is the question.

I am going to find out the answer. And I'm determined it will be a good one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Starting Again

Sometime this year my 20th reunion will be held. I've not gone back since graduating, and it's only been in the past couple of years that I've even begun reconnecting with a very few classmates. Those years were very hard. It was a combination of being shy, being thrust into public schools for the first time ever from very rigid and conservative Christian schools, and not knowing anyone in this close-knit town. Add to that the fact that I didn't know how to make friends and was dealing with all the effects of what had pretty much been pounded into my compliant, sponge-like brain by a few select teachers and chapel speakers, and I was set up to fail in the social department. Combine that with a few kids who thought it would be fun to physically torment the short, scrawny redhead and a messed up church situation, and you definitely have a recipe for a disastrous high school experience.

So it's no wonder that I'd want to avoid the kids who once lit my hair on fire, beat me up in gym class, tripped me and laughed like hyenas while my books scattered, and collected $37.52 on the school bus for a boy who was dared to kiss me. But here's the crazy thing.

I'm contemplating, with excitement actually, the possibility of going back.

Crazy, I know.

But I'm looking at it like this. It's been 20 years. In 20 years, I've discovered that some of my Christian school teachers were well-intentioned but pretty much dead wrong. Public high schools have a lot to offer that the Christian schools of my growing up years simply couldn't afford. Other kids back then felt just as backward and awkward as I did, albeit for different reasons. My focus was much too self-absorbed and I missed a lot. We've all grown up, lived life, gained and lost, celebrated and mourned, and become just a bit more aware of the humanity around us. Some of us have even found a deep faith, making our lives markedly different from what they looked like in high school. Others of us have discovered that margaritas can be good things. And yes, there are some of us who probably will still be prone to posturing for attention, acting out our pride or insecurities, and who still don't know when to quit drinking.

But for the most part, we aren't the same kids who left those tiger striped halls. So I'm looking at it like meeting a bunch of people all over again for the first time. No longer am I that short, little girl who locked herself in a bathroom stall until she could safely get to the principal's office to ask for help. I'm now someone who has defended the helpless, helped the bullies find redemption and new purpose, and has discovered oodles of gifts in this 5'1" frame. And one of those gifts just happens to be the enjoyment of spending time with people.

So I hope to be able to go. In the meantime, it's been interesting to walk back to that shy redhead and tell her that there were definitely better days ahead.