sugar sugar, ah, honey honey…

So here we are at the end of day 3 of my life without refined sugar.  Well, my life MOSTLY without refined sugar.

First of all, holy addiction, Batman!  It is tough not having unlimited access to sweets.  Well, not that I had unlimited access to sweets.  But you know, I knew a guy who could get me some, if you know what I mean.  And by “some” I mean sweets.  And by “guy” I mean vending machine or those pesky candy bar fundraisers.  You know, the “honor” fundraisers where some aunt or mom or grandpa sets out the candy bars in the break room with a sign saying “raising money for guns for babies” and you see that and think, “huh, ok, sure, I’ll buy a candy bar” and then there is envelope and you put money it and you take a candy bar.

I always feel guilty when I only have a $5 bill and I have to make change out of the envelope.  “No, seriously, I put a $5 bill in and now I am getting four singles… see, one, two, three, four.  Seriously.”

Anyway.  We had one of those “fundraisers” in our second floor break room.  Let’s just say, there are a lot of babies with guns out there.

So back to the issue at hand, I have been thinking about sugar a lot more than I realized that I did.  Maybe it’s because I can’t have it?  And I realize that it is good to let this sugar biz go for a while.  I’m exploring new things – rice and veggies.  Lots of bananas and berries and apples.  Yum!

This is definitely going to take some time to get used to, but I think it is a worthwhile endeavor.

Have you ever noticed how many songs there are about candy?

“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard…”

That’s about candy too, right?

Right??

uhoh…

brave

I am not a brave person.

Ask Frank.

When I am walking up the stairs and he chases after me, I sit down on the stairs and curl up.

True story.  It’s like my knees stop working.

Fight or flight?

Is laying down and dying an option?

And this transcends into other areas of my life.

The amount of effort it takes for me to do things often seems monumental.

And sometimes, I wonder why things fail and I realize that my fear stopped me from taking a critical step.

I know that I am smart.  Maybe not genius IQ, but I know enough to be dangerously effective.

But fear of disappointing people stops me in my tracks.

My dear friend and fellow blogger, Heidi, found out that she is expecting.  This baby is so wanted!

But she has been hurt a lot – four years + of infertility and two miscarriages are stunningly difficult things to endure.

She vocalizes something I’ve worried about since we realized that this fertility biz was not looking awesome for us: that once we get pregnant, what if there is more pain?

And I wonder, do I have what it takes to make it through the first 9 weeks of pregnancy without wondering if every ache and pain is a sign of another loss?

Can I be brave?

And not just in pregnancy – but in all areas of life: work, family, friends, missions, finances, etc?

I think I can.  I am pretty sure I can.

And I have a God that says I can.

I think about the disciple Peter a lot.  The oldest of the disciples.  The one who Jesus regularly used as an example.

One day, the disciples were in a boat in the midst of a raging storm, and Jesus walks on water to them and quiets the storm.

Wanting to be just like his teacher – and believing bravely that he CAN be just like his teacher – Peter follows Jesus out onto the water.

And Peter walks on water.

Pastor Rob Bell points out that it is when Peter hesitates – when he lets fear creep in – when he stops believing in himself – that he starts to sink.

Pastor Bell points out that Jesus BELIEVED in Peter.

But Peter did not believe in Peter.

And I wonder, is God walking along side me telling me, “You CAN do this!”

And I am not failing at things because God didn’t answer a prayer or give me enough or teach me enough or instruct me enough: I have to own up to the fact that I might be failing because I don’t believe that I can do it.

God has already provided me with everything I could ever need.

Supplying the bravery is up to me.

the stories our lives tell

Donald Miller spoke at church Sunday. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, since unlike most of the world and my husband, I had not read Blue Like Jazz.

The thing is, and perhaps I hadn’t admitted this to even myself, I hadn’t expected to hear from God on Sunday. From the loss we experienced this week, I was still feeling a little alone and a lot sad. I didn’t think that God would speak to me. That he could speak to me.

The first thing that Donald Miller said was that basically God has a general purpose for us – that we would know Him and share His love – and that God helps us figure out our giftings and talents, but that if we are choosing between a becoming a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher, that is pretty much our own decision.  It takes a lot of the “rightness” and “wrongness” out of the way that I sometimes look at those decisions. I am free to be me and to figure out who I am.  That was pretty cool (although, kind of a “duh” moment too).

Donald Miller spoke about stories and how our lives tell a story. That all stories are essentially about a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

He said that what we want tells our story.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34)

If we want material things, that is what our life story is about.  Some people choose to make their stories about pursuing the next best car, the next best fashion, etc.

His sermon made me take a step back from our loss this week and think about it in the context of a larger story. And it made me wonder about the story that Frank and I are telling: what is that bigger thing that we are constantly moving towards and wanting?

Where is our story going?

All along, one of the greatest things for Frank and I is that we’ve just wanted eachother. Time together. Every week is the saga of making, finding and fighting for time together. The greatest feeling for both of us is falling asleep together.  That is why, when Frank is gone, I just don’t sleep as well.  I have to talk myself into going to sleep.

For us, having children was not just the next logical step in our marriage, but over the progression of our fertility treatments and related successes and disappointments, we realized that having children was truly an extension of our love for eachother.

I remember when we were dating Frank texted me after an early morning flight and said, “looking at the sky, I realize that my love for you is even bigger than that.”

To be able to say that almost 8 years later that our love is bigger than it was when we first fell in love sounds almost ridiculous – how could that be? I can’t even believe that it is possible, and yet it is.

And it is the biggest desire of both of our hearts that this story that we started together would continue. That future generations would be blessed by this big love that we have for one another.

That is what helps us move forward.

There have been little signs and big signs in the past week that life goes on.  Just this weekend, the sun came out and the world warmed – spring is just around the corner.  I’m not totally convinced we won’t have one last blast of snow, but the worst of the winter is behind us.

It will get warm again.  The sun will shine.  Frank and I will go on long walks.  I am going to start running again.  (seriously – once I get the green light from the doc… more on this later)

The point is, even though it felt like life stopped for a while, it continued on for the rest of the world.  That’s what happens.

On the day I had my D&C, I woke up from a nap and made a few work related phone calls.  Nothing major.  The people I talked with had no idea what had just happened that day.  I took care of what I needed to and then I snuggled up against my husband.   It’s ok that those people don’t know what was going on with the girl on the other end of the phone, but as I was having the conversations, I thought, “how many times have I spoken with someone whose heart was breaking while we were speaking – and yet, I had no idea.”

And there is strange comfort in knowing that life continues on, even when my heart is broken.  Life continuing is God’s way of reminding me of a few things: first, that I will be ok and second, to be tender with all of His creation because I don’t know what kind of day or week or month someone else has had.

But most importantly: our story is not over yet.

life goes on

We’re going through one of those situations where life just stops for a while.

We were bumping along, a sunny, beautiful day (metaphorically of course- c’mon, it’s still bloody winter in IL), and then something horribly unexpected diverted us from our normal trajectory.

And unfortunately all that comes to mind are cliched sayings.

I wish something profound or amazing came to mind.

But now: just cliches.

This too shall pass.

Everything happens for a reason.

And maybe these cliches come to mind because they are true, or because they are comforting, or because they are both.

I was talking to my dad this morning and he was explaining to me a little bit about how he is grieving.  He said, “Emily, you remember that scene in Back to the Future* where the family members start to disappear from the picture because things weren’t changed in the past?”  “Yeah?” “That’s what it felt like to find out that you lost this baby.  Like someone who was supposed to be in our family suddenly was not. They were just erased from the picture.”

One week ago, our sweet baby stopped growing, but I had no idea.  I was still dreaming of what she would look like and what a hot summer pregnancy would be like and what it would be like to be in the delivery room with Frank holding our baby for the first time.

And now, just one week later, that whole reality has been altered.  In September none of that will happen.

It was all just so quickly erased and replaced with a new reality.

And we will be ok.  Slowly but surely, everything is coming back into focus and we are realizing that for this baby, this was the plan all along.

But man, I wish I had something profound to say about it.

*My dad raised us on sci-fi and time travel.  The first chapter book he read to me was The Time Machine by HG Wells.  It’s not surprising at all that Back to the Future came up as part of his analogy. 🙂

abundance.

Frank and I have been amazed by the response from our family, friends, coworkers and even total strangers to our loss.  In a time where we are experiencing such a loss and great sadness, our cup still runs over.

We’ve had countless people tell us they are praying for us.  People have opened up and shared their own experiences so that we would know that we are not alone and that we would be comforted.  Family and friends have offered to bring over dinner and just come and sit with us.

While we haven’t been able to take everyone up on all of their kind offers, mostly because sitting together and just watching bad TV (turns out FK may secretly like the show Greek, but you didn’t hear that here…) seems to be the most comforting thing we can do.  We have found that leaning on each other is just about the best thing that we can do right now.  But I am sure that we will come out of our little cocoon sooner or later.  I mean, we will eventually run out of milk…

So – thanks to everyone who has called, emailed and texted.  It means so much to us right now – more than you may ever know.

soundtracks

I married a music-phile.

Ask Frank about nearly any song from most genres (he’s a little shaky on the country music scene…) and he can likely give you the name of the album and the year it was released and when it hit its peak.

It’s pretty much amazing.

He plays a game at bars with friends where they all put a dollar in the center of the table and when the next song plays, the first person to correctly name the artist and song, slaps their hands on the pile of singles and wins it.

I would never play this game with him because I know better.

When Frank is home, music is playing in all of the rooms of the house.

He loves Dispatch and OAR and U2 and Smashing Pumpkins and Owl City.

He loves music that he can listen to sitting on a patio at a bar or restaurant, leaning back in his chair and enjoying a beer.

Because of Frank, music has become the soundtrack of our lives.

When we started dating in 2002, John Mayer songs bring me back to that post-college summer that we enjoyed together.

It was the summer that Frank worked 12-14 hour days and sent me sweet texts between shifts flying traffic observation.

It was the summer that we went for walks, saw Mike & Joe at several venues, and I burned a few dinners trying to impress him.

And there are songs that bring me back to the summer of our engagement in 2003 – a summer that alternately went by so quickly and so slowly.  If you look back at the summer of 2003, most of my posts were just marking time until our wedding.  I couldn’t wait to be married to Frank!   I think of OAR’s “Crazy Game of Poker” and Zwan’s “Honestly” when I think of that summer.

This past summer was a challenge for us, but was so sweet at the same time.

Frank was flying, I was at a job by the end of the summer that I loved, and we were both working on our running.  We would sit in the screened-in porch, eating dinner and watching the sun set over the field behind our house.  It was so blissful for us.

Frank introduced me to a song over the summer that makes me think of peaceful summer nights and God’s abundant grace.  I’ve been thinking about this song a lot lately – partly because I miss the summer and mostly because I have been reminded so much of all of the ways that God has blessed us – both big and small.

The song is by Dispatch and it’s called “The General.”

there was a decorated general with
a heart of gold, that likened him to
all the stories he told
of past battles, won and lost, and
legends of old a seasoned veteran in
his own time

on the battlefield, he gained
respectful fame with many medals
of bravery and stripes to his name
he grew a beard as soon as he could
to cover the scars on his face
and always urged his men on

but on the eve of a great battle
with the infantry in dream
the old general tossed in his sleep
And wrestled with its meaning
he awoke from the night
to tell what he had seen
and walked slowly out of his tent

all the men held tall with their
chests in the air, with the courage in
their blood and a fire in their stare
it was a gray morning and they all
wondered how they would fare
till the old general told them to go home

[CHORUS:]
He said:
I have seen the others
and I have discovered
that this fight is not worth fighting
I have seen their mothers
and I will no other
to follow me where I’m going

So,take a shower, shine your shoes
you got no time to lose
you are young men you must be living

Take a shower, shine your shoes
you got no time to lose
you are young men you must be living
go now you are forgiven

update much?

So, Emily, how is this “Bold Blogging”going?

It’s not going?

You haven’t blogged in days and days and days?

Wow.

That’s the fastest New Year’s resolution you’ve ever dropped – including New Year’s diets and vows to make Frank more home-cooked meals.

~Real conversation with myself.

Ok, so a lot has been going on.

First of all, the new season of Greek starts on the 26th and the folks at Hulu.com are currently airing all three seasons for FREE – until the 26th.  As someone who is fully addicted to this show, I’ve GOT to get to the end of the freebies STAT.  This is big.

Second of all, Frank was home a ton and so I dedicated my time to snuggling and hanging out with him.  I gotta take the Frank time when I can get it!

Third, well, things got a big crazy this past week.  Just with real life.  I am looking forward to Sunday so that I can watch a movie and hang out.  That’ll be nice.

***

I spent a lot of time in the past few weeks trying to put my thoughts together on one particular topic: Intolerant tolerant people.  There are several people who claim intellectual tolerance but take the attack on Christians frequently.  Makes me wonder about how tolerant they really are.

But of course, I cannot think of people who are intolerant tolerant people without noting that there are Christians who do not love others the way that God called us to love others.

So the thing remains: how often do I reflect on myself?  How often do I recognize my own unloving behavior?

More on this to come.

long time between posts

I know that I’ve had a long time between posts recently.

Part of it is because I’ve been busy.

But most of it has been because I’ve had a lot on my mind.

And not just about ice cream, although I think about it often.

So I promise a big update (as in lengthy – not as in important) coming soon.

It will be chocked full of pictures.  Amazing moments (ahem – I’ll snap a few of FK making me dinner…mm!).

But until then, please pray for my friends Aaron & J.  J is very sick and could use all the prayers in the world.

2009 review

This year was dominated by a few themes:

Old Made New Again

This theme happened in several ways.  We moved back to Illinois in 2008, not sure what it would really be like.  What has happened is that many of our friendships that were old have become new again.  There are so many examples of this regeneration, but specifically I think of one of my longest friendships with Miss Allison Claire.  When we were little, we played together nearly every day.  There was a rule established that we couldn’t call or go over to each other’s homes before 9 a.m. – and this was established to save our mothers from losing their minds!  As we got older, we went separate ways and our friendship was basically on life support because we rarely saw each other.  Since we’ve moved back, Allison and I see each other nearly every week!  She is truly a joy to spend time with and one of the most positive people I know.  I experienced similar rebirths with other friends – and it is awesome!  I feel surrounded by wonderful women that I love.  It is awesome!

But this theme didn’t just end with friendships, it also carried on to one of the most important relationships in my life – my marriage.  Frank and I celebrated our 6th year of marriage.  At a time when many marriages start feeling stale, our marriage is still fresh and interesting.  One of the pastors at church said the other week, “Presumed familiarity breeds unfamiliarity” – so true!  Even though Frank and I know each other so well, we keep learning new things about each other – and with each other.  Sure, it hasn’t all been rosy this year, but that’s ok.

Being Humbled

This year has also been the year of being humbled.  Yeah, I’ve had to swallow my pride on a few fronts.  Medically speaking, I’ve been exposed in just about every way possible.  Blood draws, invasive ultra-sounds and interesting procedures involving catheters.  That’s pretty humbling.

It’s also been humbling because we’ve come face to face with some of our biggest fears and had to ask for help along the way.  We’ve had to acknowledge that many of the things we experienced were outside of our control – like Frank’s work schedule and our infertility issues.  While we’ve known logically for quite some time that God is bigger than us, these situations have caused us to come face-to-face with our own limitations and humanity.  Or something like that.  The point is, we continue to be reminded that while there are a great many things we can do, we are ultimately not the ones in control.  We are small while God is great.

Ha ha ha

We’ve also been blessed with lots of joy in the midst of crazy times.  Tonight as I finished writing this, Frank was sitting next to me and every time I took a sip of the Diet Pomegranate 7-Up, Frank made slurping sounds trying to get me to spit out my drink.  The result was that he made himself laugh so much he couldn’t even drink.  Special times, for sure.  And if we can laugh in the midst of all the stuff we’re going through, that is truly a blessing.

With almost 24 hours left in 2009, it is impossible not to recognize the amazing blessings we’ve had this year: jobs, shelter, family, and friends.  I’m excited to move forward into 2010 and to see all of the new things God has in store for us.  I wish you all a very safe and happy new year!

See you on the flip side…