Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Only Way Out is Up!

Well, here we are, my thoughts, my coffee cup, and a screaming kitten locked in the basement because he won't stop biting my head.

Man, it's been a crappy month.

I've always wanted, and tried, to use my blog as a voice of encouragement, humor, and creativity - an outlet for the expression of my relationship with God, my friends and family, with only the occasional venture into lecturing and pontificating.  And yet...this month has been sucking all that humor and creativity out of me!

August started out just fine, with an appointment to check on the baby's health and a lot of excitement about Ross's new job - which is going very well, by the way!  Then, on the 16th, everything fell apart.  It was that day that we learned our baby had gone to heaven almost 3 weeks before.  The next day I endured severe pain and headed to the ER as my body finally decided to release what was left of the pregnancy. The next day, I spent 7 hours at the hospital, having a routine (but incredibly depressing) D and C performed to help prevent infection and to help ready my body for a future pregnancy. 

The only glimmer of joy that week for us was when we held our first Youth Night of Prayer (YNoP) at church, and we had over a dozen young people come, pray, worship, love on each other, and learn more about God.  The response was overwhelming, and many of the kids immediately asked when we could get together again.  I was so honored and touched that God would allow us, in the midst of terrible pain, to be an encouragement to young people who wanted nothing more than to learn about him.

After that weekend, we returned to work.  I was fortunate in that most of my co-workers were very supportive and caring.  Shannon, usually the "goofy" one, took the time to pick out a beautiful sympathy card with scripture and a tender message of encouragement for Ross and me.  A few women I work with came forward and said that they'd experienced the same thing, and they shared how they felt and what helped them get through the grief.  The women at church did the same thing.  In a way, I felt like a part of a silent sisterhood - an "underground" circle of women who have dealt alternately with guilt, fear, shame, anger, relief, and jealousy - and who have also experienced healing.  For that reason, I do want to start a blog that shares messages of sorrow and hope with women who are dealing with the loss of a child.  There is so much strength in words!

And as we rounded the bend on that week, things fell apart yet again.  My stepmum, Deana, has been going through a battery of tests lately to determine the cause of abdominal pain and some other issues.  They've finally determined that she may have had a mini-stoke and, this week, she'll be undergoing a day of testing to discover if there are blockages or problems in her brain or arteries.  The same day I learned that, my father told me that he would be headed to the doctor, too, as they think that a small mole on his face has become cancerous.

Seriously?  Are you kidding me?  Should we all just rent a wing at St. Clair Hospital?

As Ross and I were thinking about all this, another ray of hope sprang into our lives.  my little sister, Jules, asked me to be the matron of honor in her June 2 wedding next year.  Of course I would do it, I told her.  The bonus is that I have all of nine months to slim down and help her plan her dream wedding (a western theme, of course, but I am hoping there will be no lariats involved in any way...).

Then, our fridge died.  Completely without warning.  I now have three dirty old coolers and a mini-fridge humming in the middle of my kitchen, full of soggy boxes, half-thawed meats, lumpy ice cream and questionable vegetables.  And the new fridge won't be delivered until Saturday.  


That same day, I locked my keys in the car while shopping and had to wait two hours for help.  "Help" was supposed to be AAA but they got backed up, so Ross left work early to come and rescue me.  Then, last night, I smashed my toe with a chair.  Accidentally, of course.  The good news was, we had plenty of bagged ice to help ease the pain.  But this month...geez!  Then there was the earthquake (Ross felt it; I did not), the threats of Hurricane Irene smashing into the mainland, and Ross's fear that he also may need surgery (we checked with the doctor; he is fine).

All of these things individually aren't really so bad (except, I'm afraid, for the health issues and the natural disasters).  Some of them are even laughable.  But when almost-funny things happen on top of really traumatic things, they become not-funny.  They become an additional brick in the weary load.

The words of Jesus, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30), come to mind.  I realized this week that this verse has absolutely nothing to do with work itself, or with troubles, or with anyone else lightening your own load in any way.  It's about you and Jesus, and that's it.  It's about you surrendering your worries and anxieties to Him!  It's not about life getting easier, or troubles diminishing.  It's about you focusing so intently on the Lord that your issues seem less significant in the light of His love for you and others.  It's about obeying God's commands and enjoying a life without the troubles that our own sin and selfish nature make for us.  That's not to say that when we focus on God, all our bills get paid, our cars get fixed, our children get along and our laundry gets done.  It is to say that, when we put him first and truly try to follow after him, listen to his word and serve him and others, we have less time to wallow in our own problems and give in to our fears.

This month has been a torrent of emotions for us.  We've been sad, angry, afraid, hopeful...but mostly, just exhausted.  The sheer mental strain of the past few weeks has knocked my sleeping patterns completely out of whack, and I am waking up confused and disoriented (although I am tossing less in my sleep).  Ross and I are still struggling to find exactly what our role is at church.  We're still trying to be good kids, good leaders, good employees, good for each other.  We're trying to trust God when much of the world still sees that trust and faith as weakness and foolishness.  We're learning to love each other more deeply, appreciate each other more, depend on technology less.  We're walking through this one step at a time, as we must, and we're well aware of the fact that God has ordered and guided our steps, and nothing this month has caught him by surprise.

Still wishing he'd sometimes let us in on a little sneak preview of the rough stuff...but we walk by faith, not by sight.  Sometimes, you just have to take that walk with tiny little baby steps, carefully, slowly.  As long as you're still walking forward, the light of Christ's love will illuminate the path ahead - even if it's only one step at a time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


As I sit in front of the computer on my day off, coffee cup in hand, listening to the sound of the kitten upstairs, destroying my personal belongings, I'm contemplating what has happened in my life over the past couple of weeks.

And it's all been for the best.

Don't get me's been incredibly difficult and painful.  We are still sad.  People say many things to a grieving woman; although it's all well-meant, it's not all terribly soothing.  I don't entirely buy into the idea that God "spared me" from having a special needs or sickly child.  This is a quote I often hear when people attempt to comfort a woman who has miscarried.  "Maybe God was saving you and the baby from trouble and pain."  Distilled to its implied meaning, it says that God "loved me more" than the parents of children who do have special needs, which is ridiculous, arrogant, and untrue.  I know it isn't what people mean when they say such a thing, but that's what it comes down to.  Therefore, I do not believe it.

What I do need to believe is not that the child would have had physical or mental disabilities, but that, based on the way it (I think it was a she; we named her Olivia Rae) was forming, that life outside the womb could not have been possible at all - not that it would have been possible with some degree of difficulty or special care.  Thinking this does bring me some peace...although I still have so many questions.  Please don't think that my faith allows me to blindly, cheerfully accept everything that life sends my way.  I think that people who see me responding to life in a fairly well-adjusted way assume that I am either 1.) in denial or 2.) faking it.  

Not so.

Believe me, I have plenty of questions for God.  My heart is breaking.  I can't understand why things happened the way they did.  I had just accepted the idea of being pregnant.  I had already bought a few pieces of maternity clothing.  We were looking at cribs and paint for the baby's room.  I was beginning to fantasize about how I would look at Christmas time, seven months pregnant, struggling to appear glowing and radiant in photographs.  And, suddenly, none of those things mattered or even applied to me anymore.  What a crushing blow!  But, in a deeper place in my heart than all my doubt and disappointment,  lives my faith.  What happened to me has not changed God's character or his love for me - or his sorrow when I weep.  I told a co-worker yesterday, a young woman of whom I am very fond, that the sorrow in my life doesn't cancel out the joy.  When I feel sorrow, I will weep.  When I feel joy - even fleeting happiness in a silly situation or with a good friend - I will laugh.   Why should grief smother joy?  They can exist in the same heart.  When depression settles in and pushes joy aside entirely, that is when we should be concerned.  I know that the depth of my grief, even though I truly believe I lost a child, and not just a pregnancy, can't quite compare to the mother who felt the baby's kicks or held the baby in her arms before her loss, but it's still profound.

It's also strangely comforting.

For many people, death and tragedy is a heart-stopping and depressing reminder that we are not promised tomorrow.  Some people wise up and begin to treasure their loved ones a little more and their belongings a little less.  Some people continue to chase pleasure and wealth because, for them, death is a confirmation that there is nothing beyond this life, and we should enjoy things while we can.

For me, death is a promise that those of us who have called on the name of Jesus will be reunited in glory.  Although we sorrow and mourn now, our loved ones have seen Christ face-to-face and have embraced his beautiful, nail-scarred hands and wrists.

And they have the fullness of joy.

Last week, God gave me a little glimpse of that joy when we gathered the youth group together for our first-ever YNoP (Youth Night of Prayer).  Although we had literally experienced the miscarriage only days before, Ross and I both felt very strongly that we were to continue with the event rather than postpone it (we had scheduled it all the way back in June).  Carry on we did, and it was amazing.  Guest speakers from the church came to talk to the teenagers about praying for Jerusalem and about who the Holy Spirit really is.  We had times of prayer for the church, for our friends, our families, and, possibly most importantly, ourselves (if you think that is prideful or conceited, read this).  At the end of the evening, as the sun was coming up, we began to pray for each other.  It was incredibly powerful, with thirteen and fourteen-year-old kids exhorting and encouraging each other with scripture, words of knowledge, and prophecy.  Some of these children had never before had the boldness to speak out in love for a fellow Christian.  I really believe their lives were changed that night.  They came to me afterward and asked when the next YNoP would be.  A dozen kids genuinely on fire for God?  Most churches should even be so lucky!  Although Ross and I were bone-tired by the end of the event, we were satisfied.  Our presence there was a firm stand that even grief cannot oppress God's plans and purpose.  It wasn't our will that carried us there; it was his.

And I am at peace.  God is taking care of my child right now.  I will do my best to take care of his.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lift Up Your Face: A Call to Action

Even now, as I still mourn and grieve, I feel like God is putting a weapon in my hands.  I feel that miscarriage is one of the last great taboo topics out there, the same was homosexuality was, the same way cancer was.   In every pregnancy book you read, you find a thin chapter near the back called "Dealing with Loss" or "Problems During Pregnancy", and it's the one part of the book that no pregnant woman ever willingly reads. Would you blame them?  The running statistic is that miscarriages occur in 20% - 25% of all pregnancies, which is absolutely mind blowing.  That means that, out of every four of your female friends, one has lost a baby (and she has probably never told you). Plus, nothing can be done to prevent them.  Not extra folic acid or pre-conception workouts, not eschewing coffee or eating Romaine lettuce and soy milk all day.  Nothing.

But there is one thing we can change: the healing process.

When I posted yesterday's difficult message, I was literally inundated with calls, texts, private messages, and responses full of love, encouragement, compassion...and empathy.  It turns out that a large percentage of my friends had actually endured at least one miscarriage.  But, of course, since most women don't talk about their families by saying "I have two sons, a daughter, two miscarriages and a Golden retriever", it's a topic that is rarely discussed. 

I find that giving voice to a situation helps to disarm it.  The same way that women who have been raped, or children who have been abused, or people who have been robbed, begin to find healing when they find the courage to give words to their experience, a woman who feels she has "failed" at becoming a mother might be able to better deal with the loss if she shares it.

So, that being said, I am asking my friends to be brave and bold, and help other women heal.  Ladies, will you give your experience a voice?  I would like to create a new blog, solely for the purpose of telling your stories of miscarriage, mourning, and healing.  Everyone deals with grief differently, but sometimes, your journey may encourage another woman on hers. If this is something you want to do, I would ask that you would e-mail me at and tell me your story.  If you wish to remain anonymous, indicate that.  Tell me whatever you feel comfortable sharing.  I am asking you to pray and consider doing this because I already know that my sharing has helped other women, and their response has helped me.

Will you consider blessing your sisters with the gift of compassion?  Please think about it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Facedown on the Temple Floor

[David] answered, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.’  But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”
                                                                                                       -2 Samuel 12:22 

It feels so awkward, so vulnerable to be dealing with this in such a public way - less than twenty-four hours after we joyfully announced our pregnancy in an equally public way...but writing has been God's gift for me to heal, and so, after a difficult and dramatic morning, I sit again in front of the keys and the screen.

Late last night, I got into an argument with Ross and got to bed quite late.  I found it extremely difficult to fall asleep, and almost as soon as I did, I was awakened by terrible stomach cramps.  I hurried to the bathroom, thinking I was reacting to something I had eaten.  Forty-five minutes later, I returned to bed, feeling better.  I had only gotten a few hours of sleep when my alarm went off, and I jumped in he shower, had my (one, precious, 8 ounce) cup of coffee, and prepared for work.  When I went to the bathroom, I saw blood and I immediately began to cry.  I screamed for Ross, who came to me at once.  Though all the pregnancy books I had read told me that a little spotting, a bit of pink or brownish blood was harmless, even normal, I panicked.  I called off work, I called the doctor.  Forty minutes later, a nurse called back and immediately scheduled an ultrasound for me, since I hadn't had one yet.  Ross called off work and we drove to the imaging center.  We were worried, but excited.  We weren't scheduled to hear the heartbeat for another week, so, providing that all was well, this was a special surprise!

The technician was polite as she explained what she was going to do.  Suddenly, there on the screen in front of us, was a little kidney bean.  I even murmured, "There's our little bean."  the technician didn't respond right away.  After a moment, she quietly said, "That is an eight-week embryo."  I thought, how strange!  The doctors got it wrong.  I must have conceived later than they thought!  Then the technician went on, gently, calmly.  "You're twelve weeks...we should definitely be hearing a heartbeat by now."

She didn't need to say any more.  As I began to sob, "My baby's dead," I heard Ross weeping next to me, grasping for my hand.  The technician whispered, "I am so sorry," and I choked out, "Did the baby just...stop growing?"  She nodded.

I couldn't stop crying, so ashamed.  I felt gutted there on the table, my legs in stirrups, my inadequacy somehow exposed, my obvious failure dissected for all to see.  As suddenly as I had learned I was pregnant, six weeks later, I suddenly...wasn't.

"There was nothing you did wrong," the technician soothed, then excused herself from the room to allow Ross and I to share our grief.

He held me tight, sobbing himself, and I kept apologizing to him.  All the books I had read told me that the mother had absolutely nothing to do with a miscarriage and there is no way to prevent one, but I still felt responsible.  Somehow, my body failed to do its job properly - the job it was created to do! - and now the only image of that child I will ever see is a dead black bean on the screen in front of me.

We talked right away to the gynecologist, who was less than comforting, but who again reminded me, briskly, that 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage and I had done nothing wrong.  Then she immediately went on to explain that, due to the age of the pregnancy, my body would not be likely to complete the miscarriage on its own, and I would need a procedure called a D & C.  The whole thing sounded to me exactly like what an abortion would be like, and so I began to cry again.  What were the chances that my baby was just...developing slowly?  In my heart I knew that the baby had already gone home to be with Jesus, but I had a tiny fantasy left.  Hadn't I just read a news article about a woman who was told she'd miscarried, but then discovered she was still carrying a healthy baby?  Couldn't that happen to me, too?  No.  The image of that little bean was enough to tell me so.  No movement, no little arms, no little legs.  No life.

Ross texted my father, saying that we were coming to visit him, and that things weren't good.  My dad knew, as we slowly walked up  the stairs, that he wasn't going to be a grandfather just yet.  He simply held us for a while, and the three of us cried.  No longer having to worry about caffeine consumption, I asked for a cup of coffee, and my Dad immediately gave me one.  We talked, and cried.  And cried.  We talked about loss, and grief, and God's plan, and the baby.  I told my dad, with quiet wonder as I realized it to be true, that I was in no way mad at God.  Not for a second of today's terrible events did I reject God or accuse him of anything.  Although I fail daily as a Christian, he gave me the strength to truly realize that he is not the source of my grief.  He gave me a brief glimpse of Tia, already in heaven and completely whole and healed, holding my baby - also whole.  He reminded me that my baby joined a million others in heaven - the unborn babies of my friends, my leaders, my co-workers.  

I know that people say - and it's medically true - that miscarriages are most often the result of a genetic defect or real problem with the growing fetus.  Although that is true, it doesn't make me feel much better.  After all, wasn't I the one who panicked to God about the chance of having a special needs baby, and fretted over not being able to love the baby enough?  Did God spare me the trouble?  I can only believe that, honestly and truly, the baby was so damaged that he or she would not have lived at all.

Those who know me understand that this isn't just a loss of pregnancy.  It's the loss of a child.  Since Ross and I believe that life begins with conception, we view this the same way that we would if the child were stillborn, or if we'd lost a toddler in a car accident.  But God spared me some of the grief that may have come in those situations.  Since I had never seen an image of the baby, or known its sex, or bought any clothes, or named it, I didn't have quite the same connection as I would have if I'd have held it in my arms.  It doesn't make me any less a mother, and it doesn't make me grieve any less...but my grief is a little more vague.

More questions spring up.  Was it Ross's sperm?  Was it my egg?  Both?  Is this a fertility issue or just a fluke?  Will I ever be able to carry a baby to term?  If I do, will it be healthy?  Will I?  How will my body recover?  When can - and should - we try again?  What if we never recover from the grief?  How will I break it to my friends and co-workers - who I just told yesterday - that they must suddenly save their congratulations for another time?  How do I regain my joy?  How do I tell my future children, if any, that they have a big brother or sister waiting in heaven for them?  How can I handle seeing my friends' beautiful infants and toddlers, while I continue to mourn my little lost kidney bean?  How do I breathe?  How do I breathe?

Of course nothing can answer those questions, not even medical science.  Not really.  And worry has never made an expectant mother - or anyone, for that matter - healthier or improved quality of life.  I must grieve now, for the time allotted to me - no more, no less.  I know that many grieve with me, and that their grief is real.  They wanted to hold my beautiful baby as much as Ross and I did.  I feel that I have let them down, even though I know that I could not have done a single thing to change the course of the pregnancy.

And God revealed something else to us as we quietly drove away from the imaging center.  This Friday, the day that my procedure is scheduled, is our Youth Night of Prayer at church.  The first ever.  And we had an obligation to these young people even before we knew about the baby.  We will be there to exhort them in prayer, intercession, praise, worship and prophecy.  Even if I never have biological children of my own (though I believe I will), I have been called to pour into these incredible young people and encourage them in the Lord.  That is any mother's legacy, whether or not the children were born of her womb or another's.  That is, too, a father's legacy, and Ross feels the same way I do.  No matter what the enemy has meant for evil, this week, we will knock down the gates of hell on Friday night.  The Bible says that the enemy owes seven times what he has stolen.  Although I am not claiming to want seven children someday, I will reclaim seven times the joy he stole so that I may laugh again, seven times the tears he reaped so that I may soon weep tears of gladness, and seven times the peace he plucked from my heart so that I may again be at rest in God's hand. 

Maybe it's not appropriate to display all these emotions and problems on the internet for everyone to see.  Maybe it's best to wrap everything up among friends and family, and sit quietly in prayer circles and ask God for his peace and perfect will and sob into homemade handkerchiefs.  But I know in my heart that he gave me words for weapons, words for healing and words for recovery.  And there is a woman out there who, this morning, was dealt the same horrific blow I was.  I don't know who she is, but this is for her.

You will recover, beloved.  Do not pull away from He who reaches out to you, for He is the only one who can heal your heart.  He holds your heart in His nail-scarred hands, and it is He who holds your baby until you meet again.  God is not punishing you.  God does not punish by dealing death.  God wants to draw you into him, in spite of this loss.  Turn your face to him and he will give you peace and life everlasting - as he has already given your child.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Bombshell in Booties

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes that hugely awkward moment, alone in a bathroom when a little, urine-soaked stick tells you, with no compassion whatsoever, that your life is about to change in ways you never imagined.

Ross and I had the "we want kids" talk the very first week we dated.  When we were married, I kept him up late at night bemoaning the fact that we would have to raise our children in a society that actively tries to steal innocence away from the innocent.  We talked about how we would react if, God forbid, anything should ever happen to one of our children.  We talked about our own childhoods - the things we felt our parents got right, and the things that we're still learning to leave behind.  We talked about praying for God's perfect timing...because the more we hung out with our friends Matt and Jaime and their gorgeous twin girls, the more I wanted a baby, and the more Ross wanted conditions to be perfect so we could have said baby.  I needed to lose some weight and get my blood pressure under control.  Ross wanted a better-paying job that was closer to home.  We talked, and talked, and talked, and waited, and waited, and waited, until the time was right.  

And, apparently, in June of 2011, the time was right, whether we wanted it to be or not.

Trust me - it was a shock.  A huge shock.  A jaw-dropping, panic-inducing, earth-changing, wardrobe-destroying shock.  Emotions rushed and buzzed at me like a hive of disturbed honeybees.  I was happy, angry, disappointed, afraid, surprised, bitter, jealous, thrilled, hopeful, resentful, relieved,, yeah, shocked.

I'd had this cute idea to mail my step-mum, Deana, a message with eBay letterhead (she is a certified eBay teacher and eBay store owner) thanking her and stating that her order for one grandchild would be delivered in approximately nine months.  Adorable and clever, right?  Instead, in a panic and desperate for prayer and support, I sent a picture message of the positive test to my dad, step-mum and sis, Jules.  They, of course, were thrilled and I was buoyed by a little bit of hope.  

Until I had to work a few hours later.  I was pale, still in shock.  I was in no physical pain, but the ladies I work with called me up to the teller line, and immediately asked if I was pregnant.  I mustered up the talent and skills I had gained from 4 1/2 years of theatrical training and laughed it off, citing instead a very poor night's sleep. 

My main concern that morning was my blood pressure.  It's quite abnormal for a 29-year-old woman to have dangerously high blood pressure, but up until about 3 months ago, mine was regularly about 140/100 or higher.  The doctors had rules out my thyroid, my weight (although they said I could lose some) and my diet, as well as my heart itself, but no one has been able to put a finger on what exactly is wrong.  They stopped trying to look.  The medication I was taking (which wasn't working consistently...but, then, also wasn't being taken consistently, either...) was not safe for pregnant women, so they switched me to another, which (thank you, Jesus!) works incredibly well.  Still, this is a high-risk pregnancy.  I am claiming what my pastor spoke over Ross and me in encouragement yesterday: that the baby will be healthy, that I will have no unnecessary discomfort, and that the baby will not be a hindrance to our ministry.  Amen!

So this is why I have been silent for so many weeks.   It's been almost the only thing on my mind, and since, like many women, I wasn't comfortable "going public" until my first trimester ended, I haven't had much to say.  Since I write to be read, as assess my own thoughts, I felt trapped.  I couldn't talk about what I wanted to, so I clammed up.  But now everything is out in the open, and I am free to chatter all I please.   

But I hope I don't become a crazy pregnant lady and talk NONSTOP about what the baby is doing, what the baby might be doing, what the baby should be doing, what I'm doing, how great I feel, how bad I feel, how the kitten is reacting to the news... know, all that unimportant stuff.

The good news is this: our first two doctors' appointments went well.  As far as they can tell, things look good.  I have been mercifully blessed with a complete and utter LACK of morning sickness, and other than general fatigue and some bloating, I feel pretty good.  A little dizziness, a little soreness and back pain, but I almost feel guilty at how easy my first trimester has been.  In fact, it's been such a breeze that I don't even feel pregnant.  The other good news is that, the same week I found I couldn't button my pants, one of my best girls (Jaime) sent my husband home from a visit with two humongous bags of maternity clothes and some books to read.

Plus...a few weeks after we found out, Ross was hand-picked for a new, higher-paying, closer-to-home position at work.  He loves what he is doing.

I am insanely blessed.

And so is this baby.

I'm almost scared of how much love will be poured out over this little one.  The young kids at church are fascinated.  Our parents are thrilled.  The church is elated.  My co-workers are pleased.  And, not to mention, Ross and I are finally getting excited ourselves.

God's timing is perfect...whether we're ready or not!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Warning: Shameless Self-Promotion!

Modesty, piety and humility are virtues...but, sometimes in the cyber-world, you've got to toot your own horn just a bit.



Shifting into Neutral

There is so much excitement and energy swirling about in my life right now.  Thor the kitten, the newest addition to our household, is a crazy bundle of fluffy, needy, lovable grey lightning (he is purring in my lap as I type this, gazing at me with golden-eyed adoration).  Berean Fellowship is  in the process of launching a new campus of the church, one more focused on worship, expression and relationships.  I'm in the middle of starting a new blog, one dedicated entirely to...(drumroll, please) sandwiches!  Ross and I are working with the youth at church and getting the chance to really challenge and encourage them.  We're working with my dad's BFF and a loyal friend to the family, Lee, on finishing the renovations on the bathroom and starting up on the bedroom.  Ross just started a new job and he is feeling fantastic about the changes, opportunities, and pay raise (thank you, Jesus!).  Not to mention, there are some other big changes coming down the pike.

So why do I feel like I'm stalling?

It's strange.  It's like there is so much going on that I can't process all of it.  I want to devote myself entirely to one thing but I can't.  Like most people, I've worn many hats throughout my life, most at the same time: student, daughter, churchgoer, volunteer, writer, sister, girlfriend/fiancee/wife, leader, employee, friend.  I've never had any success with truly committing to anything.  I've always felt like I'm entertaining in all three rings of the circus, never shining or excelling in any of them.

I read a book required by my leadership training courses at Dollar Bank called "Juggling Elephants".  Of all the resources the bank has provided, I think that opened my eyes the most.  It talked about dividing your life into "arenas" and focusing on the tasks you have when you are in each of them.  For example, in my life, in the work ring, I'm supposed to focus on productivity, improving work relationships, and, of course, customers.  In the wife ring, I try to put Ross first, take care of the home, and enjoy my relationship with my husband.  In the church ring, I devote time, money, and talent to lifting up the Kingdom of God.
Though this book did help me understand my many obligations and how to attempt to sort through them, it didn't seem to acknowledge the fact that I don't simply stop being one thing when I enter another ring.  I never stop being a Christian when I am at work, or with my husband.  I won't stop being a wife when I am a mother.  I won't stop being a mother when I am at church.  I know that the book simplified things in a way to help readers focus on one role at a time, but I really wonder if that is practical, rational living. 

Instead, I think I need to ask God help me to find a way to marry together all my obligations.  I know that there will never be a time in my life where something, or someone, isn't pulling on my heart, asking for time, money, talent, or, in Thor's case, salmon-flavored cat treats and a good scratch between the ears.  But I am praying that God will lead me to make peaceable decisions in my life that are not related to title, status, or any expectations but His own.  I could map everything out in an elaborate plan for my life, determining exactly how much time to devote to work, my husband, the church, my family, and myself.  But God would rearrange it anyway.  He is in the business of doing such things.  I'll save Him the effort.

Lord, help me place You first, because that is where You belong, and it keeps me healthy in a spiritual sense.  Help me love my husband and family next, and then serve the church and reach out to others.  That's the real plan, the real priorities, and my only real obligations in life.  Let me find peace in the tasks and roles you give me, and let me not focus on the difficult details - just the joy.

You can't fit that in a Venn diagram anyway.