A Tender Reminiscence

I had all the intentions of writing some thoughtful, well versed piece tonight in commemoration of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

But 1 tea party, 2 children and 1 sick husband tucked in bed, 2 grant proposals, and a million work emails answered-later my brain is fried. All that’s left are just some wandering thoughts.

October 9th came and went with little recognition.

I bought an ivy.

I named her Gretchen.

She sits on my desk hutch at work, basking in the natural and florescent lights. She’s spoiled.

I thought about taking the day off but then decided I would work the first half and then maybe take off early. But then I ended up staying all day. It was probably better that I did that.

Dylan and I went out to eat at Olive Garden with the girls and enjoyed some family time together. It’s so rare lately that we’re all in one place together without one of us rushing out the door and blowing kisses in passing. Such is this time of life.

And it hits me that she (I’ve decided that she would’ve been) would be around four months now, give or take a couple weeks.

And that’s hard.

But not as hard as it was last year.

Or last month.

But still hard nonetheless.

And so I press on, acknowledging the truth and finding solace in the Psalms. In my husband and my daughters. In Moses, the ever constant, neurotic pug companion of mine. In my friends and family. In books and music. In the experiences of the everyday constants. The routine. The surprises and unknowns.

I’m not sure if it ever gets easier, I can’t imagine experiencing this type of ferocious emotion again. I pray I don’t. But I think that, in hindsight and with the strength of being a year out, I’ll be okay and life has and will continue in this new normal. A normal that changes and gains meaning each day because of and not because of October 9th.

What a darkly funny date to be emblazoned in my memory alongside mine and my husband’s anniversary, our children’s birth dates, our family’s birth dates, my airplane day, all these dates that I’ve committed to memory for one reason or another.

But Gretchen’s charming. And healthy. And she purifies my dry office air.

She’s got long, graceful limbs and her leaves arch in the most delicate way. She makes my desk seem inviting, and soothing.

A tender reminiscence.

Re: To women, young ladies, and girls

I should start off by saying that this blog is for me, my family, my friends, but mostly for me. It’s a running record of thoughts, of growth, and of copious amounts of adorable pictures of my girls. It’s a place where I can unleash the thoughts burbling around in my head, help me stay on track, give an illusion of organization amidst the chaos of our life. This blog is not meant to attract a group or person or persons or anyone for that matter. It’s meant for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like readers…it gives me an imaginary pat-on-the-back, ego-boost feeling that there are other people like me out there. It’s nice to build a small blogging community of people that you can share ideas with, learn from and teach, and all that stuff. It’s nice. But at the end of the day that doesn’t really matter.

And I guess I’m telling you all this because I got a WordPress notification the other day that someone had commented on one of my posts. Not a regular reader, just somebody who stumbled across a post from earlier this year, I’ve posted it as follows:

jack on February 11, 2013 at 12:39 am said:

Maybe women should care how a man feels about it.

It’s fine to have an all-female echo chamber about how sexual sin is not all that serious, but it is.

I’d rather die single (and I am sure I will) than marry a formerly promiscuous woman. Too many risks. It has nothing to do with forgiveness. It is just that I am not interested. I don’t need to marry that badly, I suppose.

And I don’t want to have to imagine my wife with a dozen previous lovers.

Not interested.

If you’re lost, he was commenting on a post that I entitled “To Women, Young Ladies, and Girls.” You can read it here. I suggest you do, it is good stuff. But to sum it up if you don’t want to take the time, it’s basically a gathering of pieces that question why a woman’s worth and even more importantly, her faith is measured so heavily, if not solely, on her virginity. So much emphasis and focus put on a woman’s abstinence from sexual activity, consensual or not (the “or not” part being another discussion in itself entirely and certainly not any less of one that needs to be explored) and not on the fact that she has been cleansed in Christ’s redeeming power and love. I posted it because I have two daughters, I am a woman, a wife, an ex-girlfriend, I have female friends, colleagues, nieces, cousins, aunts, sisters-in-law, sisters-in-Christ, and even more succinctly, because I am simply a member of humanity. This issue needs to be discussed. Needs to be challenged and brought into the twenty-first century.

And normally, I wouldn’t respond to a comment like that. Normally I would just delete “Jack’s” comment and be on with my day. But for whatever reason, I think it needs an answer. A rebuttal, if not to simply keep the conversation at the forefront so it doesn’t remain shoved in the back behind gay rights or abortion.

I’m not looking for a fight. I never am when I post such material. I’m looking for thoughts, well thought out, well versed and supported in a manner that would fly in a high school debate setting. I’m looking to grow. Myself. Personally. I want to grow and become a better player in humanity, in our world, to beautify all the ugly that we so often just shrug at with a “what can I do?” attitude. I’m tired of that. I’m no activist. Not really a leader, more of a jaded idealist who fully believes that if we all tried to make just one thing a little better real change could come about in a monumental fashion. Me? I’ll start by responding to this one comment.

Jack, 

 I don’t know how you stumbled across my little piece of the blogosphere. I can’t imagine what tags or categories you were browsing to wind up here. Were you looking for a cookie recipe? I have a lot.

I found your comment interesting in which you exemplified the reason behind my posting such an article. Not only did you only focus on you, as a man (I presume), but as a man who sees and values a woman’s worth as if they’re “marriageable.” No comment on a woman’s faith or spirituality, no comment on whether or not God has forgiven her and made her anew in His likeness, but a rather simple statement, a simple judgment that speaks volumes. A woman who has had a sexual experience (of any kind I’m assuming) would never be worthy of a man such as yourself.

Maybe that’s too sweeping. Maybe that statement is unfair. Let’s go back to your comment and break it down.

 Maybe women should care how a man feels about it.

I don’t think that any of the authors argued that women shouldn’t care about how men in their life feel about their sexual experiences but rather that women are judged by society in all avenues—beauty, weight, wealth, etc., and that we, as people, men and women with or without sexual experiences, should focus on how God sees us. That we should trust and believe that our worth is deeply and firmly rooted in his unending love for us and that through accepting his grace we are cleansed of the old, a life paid so many years ago to give sinners (men AND women) the ability “to taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8, NIV). Without that ultimate sacrifice of death on a cross, murderers, liars, adulterers, thieves, the lazy, the greedy, Pharisees, men and women old and young, would not be able to join in relationship with God. We all would be without grace. Without life.

Granted, it’s quite obvious I’m coming from a Christian background which is why those articles ring so true in relevance for me. If you are not, you’ll simply have to bear with me. Hopefully some of what I say will make sense even if you do not prescribe to the same faith system as me.

Simply put, men and women shouldn’t give a shit about what other people think. Rather they should focus their energy, their worth, and their soul on God’s truths. That “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27) and that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

 It’s fine to have an all-female echo chamber about how sexual sin is not all that serious, but it is.

No one ever said that sexual sin is not serious. Sexual sin is indeed a sin. The Apostle Paul summed it up for us when he said, “When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 21-24). After accepting Christ’s grace and love, we choose a new life, we choose to try and strive for a godly life and godly virtues. But remember we “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and not one of us will achieve a life of sinlessness. That’s not even a word it’s so unreal. (Read: unachievable, unattainable, impossible)

No one is encouraging young women and men to go and have sexual relationships as they please, but women are reacting to the double standard that is so firmly cemented across cultures that a woman’s value and worth is based solely on her virginity. A virginity that is trumped as the ultimate way for a woman to prove her faith. A virginity that doesn’t take into account the atrocities that are committed in the name of God, Satan, and man everyday. A woman’s virginity is what makes them godly, proves they love God. That kind of thinking, theology, practice within the church and amongst believers is deeply flawed, rooted in sexist, repressive beliefs that limit the amazing wonder and power of a God of everything. Put simply again, That.IS.wrong. Messed up. Dare I say, unbiblical?

I’d rather die single (and I am sure I will) than marry a formerly promiscuous woman. Too many risks. It has nothing to do with forgiveness. It is just that I am not interested. I don’t need to marry that badly, I suppose. 

Your comment suggests that all women who would identify with what these bloggers write have chosen to be sexually promiscuous. What about the women and girls who have been made to feel they are worthless and abused from trusted family members or friends? What about women and girls that have been violated by others they’ve never met? What about women who aren’t sexually promiscuous but stand in solidarity that this sweeping belief in the Christian circle focuses not on a woman’s worth as a person but as a commodity, a symbol, and forgets the soul of that person—forgets the sanctity of their life?

Too many risks, nothing to do with forgiveness, you’re just not interested…why are you making so many excuses for yourself? It’s your life, your choice how you live it. It’s how you live your life that tells the story of who you are. Are you willing to put yourself out there and take chances, accept grace and the possible condemnation of a world full of imperfect people, in order to reach a few more with the incredible, healing power of a no-strings-attached, forever-loving relationship with Christ? (It seems as though you are more content to judge them back into their closet of shame and unwilling to let him realize themselves fully as the women that God created them to be. Thank God for all of us sinners that you are not St. Peter’s boss. Because I think women who are brave enough to share these paths, the journeys that have brought them from wherever they started to the life that they currently live in Christ should be lauded. Not for their former sins, the sins that were cleansed and forgotten in grace by God, sins that apparently you are not man enough to overcome, but for their bravery to show their weaknesses. To ask for accountability and to edify the church community by strengthening it through wisdom and maturation, who grows by being stagnant and unchallenged?

Besides, no one is asking you to marry them.

They wouldn’t want to marry, nor should they, someone who didn’t believe that marriage is a union in which forgiveness and grace needs to reign in order to bloom. I don’t know everything about marriage but I’m fairly certain that without those two components there would be no love. So instead of staring down women’s perceived sexual impurity, perhaps you should take a peek at the haughtiness in your own heart lest you find yourself judged (Matthew 7:4, Luke 6:42, Psalm 101:5, Proverbs 18:12, Proverbs 21:4).

And I don’t want to have to imagine my wife with a dozen previous lovers.

Not interested.

I don’t want to imagine my husband with a dozen previous lovers either. I’m sure no woman or man would. There’s a reason that sexual relationships were created to exist within the safe confines of marriage, I’m not refuting that and neither are the women who wrote the aggrieved article. What they are refuting is that the church is telling women and girls that their worth, their spirituality is based on “their ability to remain pure,” which inadvertently discounts sexual violence and other such instances that occur within our broken, sinful world.

Sex is awesome. Sex is beautiful. If sex wasn’t so good, it wouldn’t be such an issue, but since it is, I think it’s important that men and women are able to have respectful dialogue concerning it and how our culture of sexualization has overtaken the mainstream and also how we treat our fellow brothers and sisters within the church concerning it as we perpetuate it (purposeful or not).

Do yourself a favor (and women) and listen to Apostle Paul since you seem to be above the fray when it comes to all of us sex crazed women, “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do” (1 Corinthians 7:7-8).

Sincerely,

Katie

Freaking proud wife, mother, sister, daughter, cousin, sister-in-law, friend, feminist, Christian, jaded ideologist, teacher, mentor, baker, artist, reader, sinner redeemed in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-being grace of God, and unashamed sexual being 

Happy birthday Nellie So!

Mommy and Nellie’s first picture.

Happy 2nd birthday to my beautiful Nellie So! Mommy and Daddy love you so, so, SO much!

You continue to inspire and delight us in ways that we never imagined. I remember two years ago, wondering if I could love another person as much as I love your Daddy and sister. But I did and I still do now, it’s amazing how God created our hearts to expand exponentially. It’s a gift that I hope you grow to understand and cherish as a mother someday (wait, that would make me a grandmother–I’ll slow it down now).

I remember that day so well, it was such a calm feeling, knowing that everything was under control and in mere hours you would be in my arms. It’s such a bittersweet memory, knowing that I can never revisit that time again, but that I have millions of more moments ahead with you.

Ada and Nellie meet for the first time.

You’ve developed such a little personality this year and it continues to keep us (and your sister) on our toes. I love that you’re such a little monster (in the fondest way of course) and your little growl. Your imagination is astounding and I am so happy that you are able to play right along with your sister now in your own imaginary world.

Daddy and Nellie

You’ve also got Daddy wrapped around your little finger. The way that you shriek with glee when he comes in the door warms my heart and I hope that you always consider yourself “Daddy’s little girl.” In fact, I don’t even mind that you ask for Daddy when I pick you up at daycare and bring you home. I’m just happy that you have such an upstanding man to look up to and learn what kind of person you deserve if one day you choose to get married. You Daddy loves you so much sweet one.

You are such a trooper, demanding and diligent as you are, you go with the flow consistently and are generally enthralled with new experiences. As we near our Mayo Clinic visit, I cling to the promise that Christ gave us when He called us to

“Cast all [our] anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

and know that no matter what happens, you will always be loved. You are a loved little one my dear, and you will be blanketed with prayers during our visit. Whether or not you understand what’s going on medically with you, all we want you to know is that you are loved from the top of your outrageous behaving hair to your cute, little blue butt.

I love your gusto for life and learning. Already you are singing your ABCs and counting along with your sister. It’s such a blessing for us to see you grow and I look forward to another, and another, and another after that.

Happy 2nd birthday my beautiful baby!

Going home

Lessons for a wanderer, part I

Last weekend was my first Sunday back at church.

I struggled. (To say the least) Struggled and struggled and struggled all week through whether or not I was going to attend. I opted out the weekend before and stayed at home with my family to heal together and paint the entire upstairs–which is in itself another story. The weekend prior to that we simply stayed at home. (I admit it, we are not nearly an admirable family of church-goers as of late.)

I struggled because it had been a long time since our last participation. I struggled because I didn’t want to be away from my children. I struggled because I didn’t want to see all those large, teetering and glowing pregnant women. I struggled because I didn’t want to sit alone (Dylan was working). I struggled with the thought that people would just look at me and wonder why I was gone/what was wrong with me/insert-your-paranoid-grief-filled-idea-here. I struggled because I didn’t want to sit behind/next to/anywhere near a sweet, soft, little baby.

Ada asked me that morning, “Mommy, are we going to church today? I miss my friends. And I need to bring my money to Jesus.” How’s a mother supposed to say “no” to that? Such an innocent question but so pointed to my hurting heart.

We went. I dropped the kids off. I whisked inside the sanctuary and sat down as far away from other people as possible, in a benign spot that did not feature any children or over-comforting women. I was late of course and worship was commencing around me.

I lost it. I was done. I started tearing up and willing myself to stop being ridiculous, to mask them, to push all my thoughts down. I fought with myself to stay there instead of running out of the sanctuary, away from the reminder of loss, from the power of God that felt so overwhelming. But I lost of course. I cried, I stayed, I listened to Pastor Paul’s message on The Compassionate Heart of Jesus, Compassion for the Wanderers. And I was touched and it was the first time in the last two weeks that I begun to feel like I could move through this. Maybe not yet past, but at least through.

Paul threw out the following challenge to the congregation: Have you received Christ as your personal Savior? Or have you wandered from Jesus’ love? Return to Him.

Uh…what? Were you inside my head this morning? Were you watching from some creepy telepathic angle that in my struggles, in my struggling to deal with our loss, I had begun to pull away from everything lovely and grieve alone, allowing myself to wallow?

I do want to take a moment to point out that grieving is a process that is different for everyone. My struggle is that when I grieve (and I try not to, but who doesn’t?), I begin to grieve selfishly. As in, my pain and my hurt dictates more decisions and words than it should ever be given reign. I guess that’s common with grief or so I’ve been told, but that’s not what I want for me or for my family. And Sunday I was given a check, reminded that I am not defined by loss, by emptiness.

I am defined by a Love that wants to comfort me, that wants to heal my wounds, but I have to let Him. I have to let him remind me in the pain and in the bittersweet moments who I am and who I’m meant to be. We just have to recognize that we’ve wandered away from the surest healer, I have to remember, and simply return.

Psalm 30:5

It’s been a while since I last blogged. 
There have been many changes in our life since then. Ada’s in full-day preschool, Nellie’s talking up a storm and due for another Mayo visit in December, Dylan’s got 3 semesters left of school, and the interior of our house got a much needed paint face lift.
Those aren’t the only changes. I’m going to apologize in advance for the ambiguity of this blog, not that I’m apologizing for non full-disclosure, but rather that it will be confusing for some. I’m just not quite ready to “talk,” is all. 
If you’re reading and you have a spare moment however, please feel free to send up a prayer or two for us, Dylan and I, as we work through this most recent change in our life. We are blessed with family and friends who have fed our souls in the past week. But surely it never hurts to have more intercession for peace. 
The nature of this blog has always been to keep in touch with our near and dear far away. And it is seasons such these that remind me why blogging is so cathartic. 

Psalm 30:5

New Living Translation (NLT)
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime!

Weeping may last through the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

One Down, One More to Go.

So today marks Dylan’s last finals…not necessarily for forever but for a good, long while. We are excited for this chapter in our lives to begin coming to a close (Katie still hasn’t finished–it’s not a race you know) but are anxious for what the future holds. Where will we be in a year seems to be the ever looming question. Yet, we know that God’s created a perfect plan and we’ll do our best to follow along.

“Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there…The LORD had said to Abram,

“Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.”
Genesis 11:31, 12:1-4

This passage has been comforting and inspiring as we look for jobs, build our family and seek God’s will in our lives. In chapter 11, verse 31, Abram’s initial goal was to make it to Caanan, but instead they settled in Haran. He built his life there with his wife and family. They were settled and comfortable, they were happy. And yet when God called Abram to leave for his original destination, the place where God intended for him, he didn’t question. He just went. Abram knew that even though he had become settled with his family, that it was just a transitory period; one in which he would eventually have to leave. It definitely wasn’t easy but Abram trusted God and that He would not only take care of him and his family, but that life could not be lived to its potential if it weren’t Father-lead and God blessed.

It is our goal to be like Abram in this regard. We love our family and our friends (we hope that’s obvious) and we are comfortable where we are. But when the time comes that God chooses to open the door for the next chapter in our lives, we pray that we’re ready and that we will choose to be blessed by following.