Two Years

It's not easy to write from the most painful places within yourself. But when you feel deeply about something--enough to want to put pen to paper--you write anyway. You write through the pain, and through the difficulty of it all.

Our precious glory baby would be two.

For two years we've missed having her in our lives. Missed rocking her to sleep, missed kissing her little nose, missed knowing her sweet spirit.

Many days I don't think of her. It may sound strange, but that's the way of grief as it weaves into one's life. Her memory is always there, just beneath the surface. But the thought of her is readily brought forth with any trigger. Her due date on the calendar. Every Thanksgiving-time... the season we lost her. Each time my six year old tells a stranger she has four siblings; three here with her and one "up heaven".

I cannot live my life without commemorating hers. Such a brief time in my womb, such an impact on my soul.

I can remember laying in bed a few nights before I lost her. I was cradling my womb and singing her a lullaby.  Her only lullaby. I knew in my spirit something was wrong. I somehow knew I'd never hold her my arms, never rock her as I sang this same sweet song. But oh, how I treasured that moment. Knowing that no matter what the future held, she was there inside of me--alive and well.

Two weeks before our loss, Peyton had a dream. "I saw Jesus, Mommy." I asked her what he looked like. "He was lovely, Mommy. And he was holding a little lamb. Our little lamb." I closed my eyes and prayed, No God, please. Please, don't take my baby. But the same dream that brought me fear also brought me peace. He would hold her. The baby I could never hold.

Two years without my glory baby. Two years that she has danced with Jesus and been sung lullabies by the angels. Two years that she's been waiting for me to come home where she can hold me and wipe my tears and heal my heart.

Someday soon, my baby.



Here in Minnesota, spring has been teasing us--playing a little game of catch and release. We've had a couple of balmy, sunny days that have awakened our senses to the freshness of spring air and promised us the hope of an end to winter. But then we've fallen into bed after hours full of mud puddle parades and happy laughter, only to wake again to a white blanket covering our mud pies and lawn chairs. It's a dance the seasons do every year, but for some reason that doesn't make it easier to wait out.

Yesterday was one of the sunny days. I got my kids up from their naps and we marched our selves out the door. I set up a chair, grabbed a book and relaxed while my kids joyfully played around me. It's funny, something about the end of winter puts life right back in your veins. Don't get me wrong, there is magic in the winter season. I love the first snowfall, or even a nice big blizzard: you know the kind where you huddle up in doors under a warm wool blanket with a cup of cocoa and your loved ones. But something about the winter grows long up here. Something about having to hide out within four walls that makes you feel trapped and overwhelmed.

That's why yesterday when the sun was shining, I felt so renewed. That's what the word spring means, by the way. Renewal. As I sat in that chair and looked up at the sky I was awestruck by the beauty I saw. There was a moment where the sun disappeared behind the most billowy clouds. And as the sun was hidden from view, I saw those gilded clouds speeding past. They were teasing me with the strands of the great light they were hiding. Then when at last the sun re-emerged, it burst forward almost animately. I felt it's warmth rush over me. If I was a photographer, I definitely would have captured that moment with my lens. In fact, I wish I was, because it was a beautiful sight. But, since I am a writer I do my best to capture it with my words.

There was something in that moment that reminded me of the process we go through every year with this inevitable transition from winter to spring. It's impactful, as evidenced by the hundreds of statuses on Facebook, the tweets and the blog posts about the seasons change. There are winters in our lives. I realize that's not an original idea-- I know that it's been said and I'm not attempting to present it as a unique impression. But our lives have winters, don't they? Seasons where we feel cold. We feel hidden. We feel trapped. We feel buried under the proverbial snow of circumstance. In those seasons, the clouds around us almost entirely hide the sun. We look up and all we see is darkness and we feel is cold and the absence of clarity, warmth and light. But if we looked closer, perhaps we could see the rushing of those clouds. Perhaps we would notice the gilded outlines that promise there is hope just past their edges. And though winter can be long, and the cold can cut deeply, that moment when the sun reappears... it's a moment that bowls you right over. It releases you in a blinding instant and as it's warmth covers you and its hope engulfs you, there is no doubt that cloud is gone.

Spring is teasing us. And maybe it'll arrive for good very soon, or maybe it won't. But the moments when the sun breaks out from the clouds have to be enough to give us hope. To keep us going. And to remind us, that behind every cloud, the sun is shining; that for every winter, there is a spring.


He Sustains Me

“I lay down and slept. 
I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.” 
-Psalm 3:5

I have loved this verse since I was a little girl. The words of the verse brought me so much comfort and peace in the night when I would get fearful. This verse speaks volumes to me about the grace of God: the protection and safety of His hand. But the verse says more than just peace and comfort—it speaks to the POWER of God. We only wake up because of the sustaining power of God. If God didn’t want me to wake up tomorrow morning, I wouldn’t. He is that powerful. When I trust and believe in this same God who possesses the power of life and death, what do I have to fear? My entire life is in His hands. I can’t change that fact. I might as well rest in it.

This past month has been a difficult one for our family. I am 27 weeks pregnant with our daughter, Mia Brielle. At the end of February we found out that Mia has a marker for several chromosomal disorders. We were tested for a variety of abnormalities including Down Syndrome, Trisomy 13 & 18, Cystic Fibrosis and various viral exposures. When the doctor looked at me and listed the possibilities for our daughter, something inside me screamed. Could this be reality? Could we be starting a journey into a life changing diagnosis? Could my child have a life altering disease? I excused myself to the bathroom, and breathed deeply, fighting tears. A million images crossed my mind. Children I’d met with Down Syndrome. Stories I’d heard of precious babies being lost only hours or days after birth to Trisomy 13 or 18. I wracked my brain to think of what Cystic Fibrosis even was. I clutched my womb and I wept. I wept for the possibilities for my daughter. Over the next few weeks, I had so much blood drawn that my right arm was visibly covered in needle marks. We endured test after test, a re-test, and weeks of waiting by the phone. Mia tested negative for viral exposure, for Down Syndrome and for both Trisomy disorders. We thanked the Lord as we passed each mark. Then we got a phone call informing us that I am a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis. It felt like a jump in the wrong direction. I wept and I worried over this news. I researched Cystic Fibrosis. I felt powerless at the words I was reading on the screen. 

Then one day I decided to stop. To stop worrying. To stop researching. To stop questioning. I decided to feel peace. I remember sitting alone in my living room one evening. The house was dark and there was just me and Mia. She was rolling around in my belly, kicking and thumping against my body. I was listening to worship music and the most amazing song came on: 

Christ the Rock
by Kim Walker-Smith

On Christ the solid rock I stand.
No double minded shifting sands.

On Christ the rock I plant my feet
A firm foundation for me.

On Christ the rock I place my heart
And trust in who You say You are

No circumstance that blows my way
Will ever move this solid place

On Christ the solid rock I stand
Leaving behind the fear of man

With Christ the truth I will agree
Forsaking lies that come for me

On Christ the rock I lay my dreams
Come with your fire consuming me

With Christ the rock I make my plans
Partner with your purposes

You are Holy.

And it hit me then. There in the darkness, the final bars of that song still streaming over my speakers. In that moment I realized with such blessed release that Christ would take care of my Mia. No matter what her portion in this life—no matter what her story will be—God is her rock. He sustains her. 

I remembered that verse from my childhood. The one that I used to whisper into the dark night in my room from where I rested my head on my blue daisy pillow case. “I lay down to sleep… I wake up again because the Lord sustains me.” 

The same God who sustains me, is sustaining my little girl.

One of my best friends said to me, when she found out about the tests we were undergoing for Mia… she said, “Claire, Mia didn’t come into existence because you and Bryan made love. Mia came into existence because God wanted her to be. He just happened to use you and Bryan to make her.” 

Mia’s name means, “MINE”. But that’s just it, isn’t it? She’s NOT mine. She’s HIS. Beautifully and perfectly created and crafted by His own hand. With His own love. She is HIS. And He holds her in His hands. HE SUSTAINS HER.

Today we had another appointment with a specialist for Mia. We are waiting on more test results that will tell us whether or not my husband is a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis also. The marker that was there before is still there, though not as drastic. She is growing, she is healthy. There are still unknowns about her health… unknowns that may not become known even until months after her birth. We can only trust. We can only believe that when we close our eyes to sleep, we will once again wake up. We can only rest our souls, our minds, and our bodies in the hands of Him who has the power to sustain us.

I can’t sustain my daughter. Though she lives inside of me, I don’t control her formation. All I can do is trust the one that is forming her. 


Making Today a Memory.

I stumbled on my old collection of home videos earlier this week. As I relived days gone by through the shaky lens of my phone camera, memories came flooding back. Funny how, even though my eldest is only four and a half, there are already days of parenting that are so far behind me I'll never go back to them. As I laughed at my oldest daughter at 20 months, making funny faces into the camera... and as I was impressed by my second daughter reciting flashcards at 15 months, I longed to go back. But I can't. That's life after all. You live each moment, and then it's gone. Just like that.

I'm a busy mom. I have piles of laundry and dishes, lists of appointments and reminders. There are toys to pick up, toilets to clean and hours worth of to do's. But what if today I let the piles grow? What if, for today, I left toys on the floor? What if we made peanut butter and jelly for dinner, ripped up the to do list and turned up our noses at the mess? What if instead we had a dance party in the living room--dressed in our twirliest dresses? What if instead we rolled around in the fresh snow until our noses turn red and we race inside for hot chocolate? What if instead of cleaning up my sons legos I build the biggest tower ever with him? What if instead of looking back on moments gone, I lived in moments now?

What if I made today with my kids, the best memory of them all?

“Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; 
and do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. 
Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will 
be worth remembering”


Writing--It's what I LIKE to do.

"I use Grammarly's online plagiarism because, in an age where everyone expresses themselves through written word, I can't afford to be wrong or unoriginal."

Every time I move I, of course, meet new people. And while every new person is different, there are some things about meeting new people that are basically the same wherever you go. The main thing that I find to be the same about almost every new person I meet, is the questions that they ask: 

"Where are you from?"
"Why did you move here?"
"What do you do?" 

It's that last question. "What do you do?" I always have to think about how I’m going to answer this one. Of course, the quick answer is that I’m a stay at home mom to three (soon to be four) children. But recently I’ve been getting the question, “Yes, but what do you like to do?” And truthfully, while there are many things that I enjoy doing, I think the one thing that I really like to do that stands out to me is writing. 

I have loved writing since I was a little girl. I used to write poems, songs and stories when I was growing up. I loved using my imagination to create beautiful expressions through words. As I grew, I learned to love writing essays, book reports, journal entries and more poetry.

I was homeschooled in a family of writers. Every single person in my family is a talented, inspired writer. Therefore, for every thing I wrote, I had four editors ready to listen, encourage, and also make their corrections. As I reached high school, it became evident that while my writing talent was budding, my grammar skills were lacking. I struggled with basic rules of grammar and often made grammatical errors as a result. The beauty of being homeschooled, though is that I was able to take a couple of weeks to focus on strengthening my grammar. My sister, who is excellent at English, took me to “grammar bootcamp”. I can remember sitting in her room for hours at a time with flashcards of different grammar rules. She quizzed me, tested me and drilled me until my grammar was [almost] as good as hers.

Image Credit: linguistics.ohio.edu

As I’ve grown, I believe that my grammar has suffered again. The truth is that in this age of blogging and online articles, much of what we now read has not gone through any sort of rigorous editing process. Without reading edited material, and without having proper grammar “in our faces” so to speak, we are losing the basic rules of grammar to someone’s quickly typed and posted work. 

Also, writing is an art form. You wouldn’t steal someone’s art to call it your own, would you? You wouldn’t use someone’s photography on your blog and pass it off as your own image. You wouldn’t hang someone’s painting on your wall and tell all your friends that it’s your original work. You wouldn’t play someone a pre-recorded song and tell people that you sang it. But would you share a quote as your Facebook status without crediting the author? Would you copy and paste a paragraph from an informational site to your own blog post?

I was very excited to receive an email about a partnership from the company Grammarly. Grammarly is a website dedicated to finding mistakes and detecting plagiarism in your writing. Grammarly is your own family of editors, right at your finger tips. Grammarly is an avenue to have authentic, grammatically correct writing in an age of articles without editors. Grammarly is a way to ensure that everything you are saying is entirely original, so you can ensure that you are not stealing anyone else's work.

We all communicate on a daily basis through our own written words. Learning good grammar is essential to making yourself heard, understood, and credible. My advice for improving your grammar would be to switch off the screen for a little bit and crack open a good, old fashioned book. You know, the kind that's been proofread and edited and revised. Go over your basic grammar rules from middle school. Remember them, practice them, and use them. And use Grammarly the next time you post something online.

*This is a promotional post for the company Grammarly. I was reimbursed for my inclusion of Grammarly in my post. 
All opinions and endorsements for Grammarly are my honest assessment and original work.


I'm Changing My One Word.

This feels a little "illegal", I won't lie to you. But as I've been praying this past week of 2014, I've been feeling something impressed on my heart over and over. And it's not discipline.

As I've been worshiping and praying and just being with the Lord, I feel like He has been showing me something that He wants to work on with me throughout this coming year. Yes, I could definitely stand to gain some discipline in my life--and changing my one word doesn't mean that I won't strive for more discipline this year. BUT. There is something pressing on my heart that I believe is more the heart of what God wants me to FOCUS on this year. And that thing is "humility".

This is vulnerability, right here. But often, doesn't the most substantial and ultimately wonderful changes in our lives come from moments of vulnerability? I suppose this could be my first step towards growing in humility this year. By setting down the more surface level one word I had chosen and choosing to embrace the difficult one.

I struggle with humility in my relationships. I really struggle with the ability to apologize. To humble myself and admit that I was the one that was wrong. I have 2 people in my life that are teaching me humility in relationships on a daily basis: my husband and my daughter. Bryan and Peyton are two people in my life that are very good at humbling themselves and admitting when they've been wrong. They apologize and it's very important to both of them to find resolution for arguments and to move forward with a clean slate. It's been humbling for me because I am more one who wants to pretend it never happened rather than to face the facts head on that perhaps I made some mistakes in the conflict. It's my own pride. My own lack of humility.

I feel an urgency to grow in humility particularly as a parent. The ability to humble myself to my own children and let them know when I've been wrong, I believe can be a great source of freedom and oneness in a parent/child relationship. That humility brings oneness and that oneness brings closeness.

I know that by seeking to grow this year in humility in my relationships, that it will benefit my marriage, my parenting, my family, and really anyone in relationship with me. Of course, it won't be an easy pill to swallow. I'm sure it's going to be a difficult year of struggling with my own pride and in having to lay myself down in areas that are really uncomfortable. BUT I am looking forward to reaping the rewards of humility in my life and my relationships.

"But God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." 
-Proverbs 3:34


One Word - 2014

Can you believe another year is already over?

I know it's been a while since I've posted, and I do have quite a few things to write about, so you can expect a few posts coming in the next few weeks as we kick off the new year. But there was one thing I needed to come on here and write about before the end of 2013.

I am looking ahead to 2014 and all that God will do in my life this coming year. It's time again for my One Word.

My one word for 2013 was "LEAN".  I was beginning the new year in the wake of a miscarriage, and everything in my life felt overwhelming. I felt that I needed the Lord in ways I never before imagined. I longed for His presence; I longed for His truth.

The song that got me through that time was by Laura Hackett, "You brought me to the wilderness when I will learn to sing. You let me know my barrenness so I will learn to lean."

I really did learn to lean on God in a whole new way in 2013. My husband and I stepped out and said yes to God on something that we had so many questions about. I went through trials and testings that I wasn't necessarily prepared for, but through it all, I learned to lean wholly on the Lord. His affirmation and His peace were my lifelines through difficulties. I leaned on Him. And He gave grace, love, teaching and truth.

This year I'm in a much different place. Time has strengthened me and a lot of healing has happened. We are settled in a new home, a new place with a new ministry. I feel as though this year I am walking into uncharted territory in my parenting. We will be welcoming another child this year (more on that later, I promise!) and we will be walking full fledge into homeschooling 2 children. I am learning to grow in my position as a wife and a homemaker and, as I find myself spinning many plates, I am learning to balance and to juggle.

All of that said: my one word for 2014 is "DISCIPLINE"

This year I want to become a better manager of my home. I want to gain discipline in all areas so that I can create space and time to pursue the things I enjoy, and the things that will bring my family joy. I want to slow down. I don't want to rush around, I want to slow down. And in order to do that, I need to grow in discipline. To make time for the important things, and to lose time for the unimportant. I want to gain the discipline to say no to the things that are unproductive and to say yes to the things that further my missions and my goals as a homemaker. 

So there you have it. Perhaps a little undramatic, but it truly is something I want to build into my life this year.

Thank you to all my faithful readers who stick with me even through the waxes and wanes of my posting. Hopefully through a more disciplined timeline, I will be writing on here much more often :) Look forward to a few posts with some new from me as the year begins! 

Happy New Year everyone!