Tuesday, July 31, 2012

In Which I Try Not to be Afraid of Myself


"And if all I can think about is people yawning at my vulnerable dreams with their big eye-glazed stares, and my natural response is to kick, kick, kick at myself because I don’t want to be yawned at or glazed over, or be different than what is normal and convenient and that for which people have the patience for, then what, oh what, am I missing of my one true self?

What would it look like to be untamed, vulnerable, running wild, brazen, free?"

What would it look like to not be ashamed of my needs, of my gifts, of my untamed parts, of the whole self that God has made and is making?  What would it look like if I didn't apologize so often for things that I shouldn't be apologizing for?

The words of this quote really spoke to me today.  

Because when you grow up reading the unspoken directive that screams from between the lines that you are a problem and you're only loved when you're perfect (as if perfection actually possible), it's hard to learn the truth, later, that it's normal to have needs.  That it's normal to have expectations, that relationship is not a one way street of you hiding and wincing and trying-to-measure-up.  That there is give and take.

That it's okay to need to feel loved by the one(s) you love.

Since Eve died, I have been learning a lot about myself.  Of where I came from and just how deeply that has affected me, from big decisions to the small nuances of everyday behavior.  I already knew a part of it, learned painfully in the grip of an eating disorder and its treatment, but grief is teaching me more.

More about God.  More about what's important in life, about priorities.  More about the kind of woman I am, and was, and want to be.  More about how I should treat others and how I should be treated, and not treated.  More about human dignity.  More about needs.

And today I realize that even though God is growing my soul through my sweet girl's death, I still hide.  I still long to just fit in to appease the voices speaking in my ear from years ago that play and replay in my head even though I pray for Him to stop them, please, instead of daring to try to be the woman that He had in mind and stick out in the process.

I second-guess God, and myself, and my loved ones.  I apologize too often for things that need no apology -- like having a scarred and wrinkled forehead, and needing to be touched, held, sometimes.  I apologize too often for speaking my mind with respect and love.  For honoring my body's needs, and my heart's.  For being honest about how much I miss my daughter, and how hard this pregnancy has been.  I feel guilty with every decision made that honors what I need, and what my family needs.

And that's on top of the guilt I feel for the selfish decisions.  For the fear-inspired actions or non-actions.  For the mistakes, the willful and the accidental.  Guilt that makes more sense.

This guilt for the things that warrant no guilt, it makes me afraid.  Afraid of myself.  And I'm tired of being afraid of myself.  Of not being confident enough in God and the way He made me.

What if I didn't apologize so often?  What if I courageously believed in my right to make nourishing decisions and to stick to those decisions?  What if I even more courageously fled to the only One that's really in charge of this mess for the decisions that end up being not-so-nourishing without the flagellation from myself and others?  What if I didn't live only to please and appease people I am not meant to to live for?  What if I didn't live only inside these certain lines as I was trained to do, but lived first for Him?

I wonder.

The possibility, it excites me.

And it scares me, because I don't know how I'm supposed to find out. It seems like I'd have to chew through the bars around my heart first to set about discovering the woman that I might be in Him alone.  And even though those bars cut deeper into my flesh with every blood beat and infection has set in more than once, something about them feels safe.

Who would I be, unmoored from hurt and fear?

I don't even know if these words have value, if they can be described as anything but egotistical, delusional.  I can't trust my own questions.  Are they blasphemy or the beginning of something lovely?  Am I running forward, toward Him, or merely agitating my hamster wheel?  I have no idea.

But it's something.  I'm trying to pay attention.

* * *

Don't forget to enter my art shop's first birthday giveaway!  It's open until August 2.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Epiphany Art Studio! {GIVEAWAY}


One year ago today, I did a scary thing.


I opened Epiphany Art Studio on Etsy.


It's been an unimaginable year, in both happy and not-very-happy ways, in my art and in my life.  But even in the hard things, there is so much to be grateful for.


One of the things I am grateful for?  You, of course.  

Thank you for reading my blog and following along on my art adventures.  It means more than I can say.

To celebrate my shop's first birthday, I'm having a little giveaway.  You can win one 4" x 6" giclee print of "I Want Adventure." 

To enter, visit my art shop and tell me in the comments -- which piece is your favorite, and why?  The winner will be announced Thursday, August 2rd.

Also through Thursday, please enjoy free shipping on all purchases from Epiphany Art Studio by using the code HAPPYBDAY12.

Thanks, friends! 

Free eBook for Babylost Parents: Remembering Your Child

Remembering Your Child: free eBook

You may have noticed that about a month ago, I added a new tab to the navigation bar at the top of this website -- Free Stuff!  That tab was born when, upon reading of the needs of the Still Standing Magazine babyloss and infertility community, I created a free eBook to help babylost parents remember their passed on children. 

This eBook has been tucked away here for several weeks now, but I wanted to wait to officially announce it until it went live at Still Standing, too.  And that day is today! 

So I hope that you will find something helpful in this little freebie if you find yourself in the sad position of being a babylost parent.  It's a hard road to walk, but it's made a little easier if we walk it together.  You have my empathy and my love. 

To download your copy, click here or on the image above.  And keep watching the Free Stuff tab!  More freebies will be added in the not-so-distant future.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fear vs. Trust: Babyloss & Creativity Converge

Even though the temperatures have been a little cooler here, I've been finding it hard to sit down in my "studio" (a.k.a. our kitchen table) and push paint around.

It's because I'm afraid. 

And it's not the kind of fear that I usually run up against in creative endeavors.  It's not the I'm a perfectionist and am afraid of ruining this piece if I touch it kind of fear. 

It's of the My first baby died inside me and I'm afraid to get so engrossed in a project that I don't notice my second baby dying, too variety.

Yeah.  That kind.

Since hitting my third trimester, I've started doing twice-daily kick counts to monitor Jacob's movements.  I thought I would find them reassuring, but I don't.  Not only is the actual act of counting anxiety-inducing, but it also highlights just how little control I have over whether he makes it out of me alive.

See, I count his kicks in the morning, and I count again in the evening after dinner.  But he could die in the middle of the day.  It could be sudden, and it would be silent.  I might not learn of it for hours, and in any case it would be too late.

That's how it happened with Eve -- at least, that's how it felt like it happened.  I was blissfully counting down the weeks to her birth by throwing myself into art projects.  But what if I hadn't become so engrossed in those projects?  Would I, not having been told to do kick counts, have noticed if her movement patterns changed?  But I didn't notice anything, and the reality and regret of that has made art-making terrifying.

This week the guilt has felt worse than it ever has been.  I have remained fairly protected from feeling like I am the reason that Eve is dead -- until a few days ago.  I have heard that this is common in rainbow pregnancies, that the as you get closer to the gestatation that your lost baby died at, you may feel overwhelmed by guilt.

I certainly do.  And that and the fear have all but stopped me from making art. 

Earlier this week, I began the painting you see in the photos here.  Working on it was delightful.  I lost myself in its creation for hours at a time.

But then, one night after a painting session, I froze as I washed my brushes in the sink's flow.  When was the last time I'd felt Jacob move?  Had he died while I was painting away?  I panicked, downed some juice, and waited, terrified that another of my children had slipped away without my knowing.

I am happy to say that he is alive and, quite literally, kicking.

But I realize that I am faced with a choice.  I can either grasp desperately at the little scraps of control I have and wring all that I can out of them, checking out of my life until Jacob is born, panicking all the way.  Or I can do my kick counts and live my life in between, trusting that (as with Eve) I am doing the best that I can.

Because I know (in my mind, even if I can't feel it) that making art did not kill Eve, and that it won't kill Jacob.  And I also know that even if I do nothing but lay in bed all day counting kicks, that still might not be enough to save Jacob if he succumbs to some unknown, invisible problem, as his sister did (and that doing nothing but counting kicks would make the next eleven weeks pass excruciatingly slowly).  On top of that, I know that I have been given very precious gifts of creativity in my art-making and writing, and that checking out of those serves no one at best, and takes me out of the story God has chosen for me at worst.

So . . . I am writing, even though the vulnerability of this post terrifies me (please be gentle if you comment).  And I will finishing this painting, even though it hurts sometimes.  Both of my children's lives are largely in God's hands and God's hands alone.  Any attempt on my part to bear the responsibility meant for solely Him both has done and will do nothing to protect them, and it will crush my soul in the process.

I don't want to be crushed any more than I already have been.  Jacob deserves better than that.

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life" 
~ Philippians 4:6-7 MSG

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Little Glimpses of What Almost Was


I've heard a lot of babylost mamas talk about how they sometimes get a sense of their lost children's presence around them, soothing and peaceful. Or they talk about how their dreams are filled with comforting visits from their children.

In the eight months since Eve died, I have not had such an experience.  The only dreams I've had of her have been pure nightmare, or at best a reliving of her death and birth.

I have not felt comforted by her.

And really, I'm not sure that I want to.  I believe that my daughter is safe with God.  I believe that in Him, there is life after death.  And while I don't know what that looks like, I believe that it is good.

So to feel that my daughter's spirit is visiting me?  I'm not sure I would welcome that.  If she's in Heaven, I want her to stay there, safe and whole.

But in the past couple of days, I've had some interesting experiences.  I wouldn't call them visits from Eve, but more like glimpses of the future that might have been.  They are both comforting and bittersweet, and I am treasuring them while they last.

Yesterday, for example, I was snuggled up in bed reading my Bible and praying.  I was doing a good bit of crying, too, and I wondered what Jacob might think of this sort of behavior when he is old enough to be aware of it.

Then, clear as day, I could picture a child running down the hall into the room but pausing on its threshold when my tears became apparent.  Not a boy, but a girl, maybe three feet tall.  She asked what I was doing, and I told her.  She seemed a bit perplexed, like she didn't quite understand but was tucking the exchange away into some pocket of her brain for later.

Was it a figment of my imagination?  Probably.  But there was such a richness and clarity to it that I can't help but clutch it close to my heart.  It's easily something that would have happened with Eve, had she lived, and it's all I'll get to "know" of her in this life.

And another -- this morning, while driving to my doctor's appointment, I found myself wanting to reach an arm back to comfort a baby riding there.  Only of course there was no baby in the backseat.  It was such a strong instinct, though, that it makes me pause, and then makes me grieve all the more.

I don't know what these experiences are.  Little glimpses of a future that almost was?  Reassurance from God that my daughter is safe with Him?  Or the pathetic imgaginings of a bereaved mother's brain?  I like to think that they are not the last, although I am not comfortable in saying that they are visits from my daughter.

But they feel like something close.  And whatever they are (or are not), I know one thing for certain -- they bring me a sort of muted joy.  I hope that I will continue to have these glimpses.  They aren't much, and probably aren't anything at all, really . . . but they are so much better than the devastating emptiness of the Eve-shaped hole in my life.  So I'll take them,  real or not.

Have you ever had similar little glimpses of what might have been?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

On Art, Perfectionism, & Not Giving Up

Held 4x6

Perfectionism nearly got the best of me while working on this new creation, called "Held."  Remember when she looked like this?  I got a lot of really wonderful positive feedback on that in-process photo . . . and nearly gave up and threw the whole thing away when I felt that I'd ruined her.  I liked the lighter hair, and when I painted it over with brown, I thought that was the end.

But I didn't want an unfinished piece taunting me, so I sucked up my courage yesterday, let go of my perfectionistic expectations, and ended up with something that I'm really quite pleased with.  This experience has definitely left me with something to remember the next time perfectionism strikes! 

If you'd like to make a print of "Held" your own, they are available in my Etsy shop, here.

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What do you do to push through and not give up when perfectionism strikes?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Eight Months


Today it is eight months since she was born.  Since I held her for a few hours before giving her away forever.

I didn't think today would be hard.  I think I expected to be getting used to the accumulation of time between her brief appearance on earth and my present life.  But I'm not used to it, not even a little.

I feel heavy.

Waking up to further tragedy didn't help.  

I am missing you, baby girl who barely was.  There are no words.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

When Your Baby Has Died and Your Friends are Pregnant

I was the first in our circle of friends to become pregnant. Soon after my husband and I discovered that we were expecting our first child, three of our friends discovered the same in quick succession. I rejoiced at the idea that our daughter, Eve, would grow up with the children of our friends.

And then she died.

Truly, I am the one in four. Four of us were pregnant together, but only three babies survived.

We found out late at night on November 18, 2011 – our baby girl had died inside my womb, 31 weeks along. The next day, after preparing (as much as one can) to have labor induced that evening, I asked my husband, “How will we stay friends with our friends who are pregnant?”

Today I am writing over at Still Standing Magazine!  

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Problem of Maternity Photography

17.5 weeks
Eve and I at 17.5 weeks, August 2011

Today I had am having a bit of a freak out.  I realized that we are now in the time period of pregnancy that is ideal for getting maternity photos taken.  I have a lovely but sizable bump, clothes still fit and look attractive, and we don't have to worry about imminent labor.  And -- I haven't researched photographers or sent inquiries, and I certainly haven't scheduled any photo sessions.

So why the freak out?

Because today I came to a second realization -- that I desperately want photos taken with this baby in my belly, and I want them done within the next few weeks. 

With Eve, we had a maternity photo session scheduled for November 19, 2011.  Complimentary sessions were offered to every couple in my birthing class, and we planned to take full advantage of that.

On November 17, I went shopping for the outfit I planned to wear for the photoshoot.

On November 18, we found out that Eve was dead. 

On November 19, instead of getting happy maternity photos taken, I got pills put inside of me to ripen my cervix and prepare for labor. 

On November 20, Eve's body was born.

I only have eight photos of me from when I was pregnant with her, including the above.  Eight measly photos of when she was alive within me.  Eight photos that have to last a lifetime.  Eight, because I didn't schedule a maternity shoot enough ahead of time.

And now I feel like I have made the exact same mistake again.  Even though I know that the stakes are higher.  Even though I don't feel like we have the luxury of passing on maternity photos and waiting for the newborn photos, because I know too well that there might not be a newborn. 

Even if nothing bad happens (a hope that I am daily disciplining myself to hold with faith), I still don't want to miss the chance to have photos taken of this sweet time when our son is physically a part of me, when we share the same body.  I don't want to miss this opportunity, and am afraid we have.

I am afraid that we only have until 31 weeks, the gestation that Eve died at, and that's just a month off now.  Or even worse, that we have less time, that this boy will die just a suddenly as his sister and never outlive her.  And I am afraid with a superstitious, stupid, illogical fear that if I schedule a maternity photo session, then that will cause our son to die. 

But mostly I am afraid that we have missed out.  Again.

The tears hover behind my eyes as I write. I am trying to trust that it's not too late, because really (for any sane, normal pregnant woman), it's not.  I'm nearly 27 weeks along, which means that I have at least a good ten weeks in which to secure some photos.  But the tears, ready to fall, tell a different story.

And again that same word as before comes to mind -- that it's reckless to think like that, to assume that we have decades or years or weeks with our son, when really all we have is now. 

I have no choice, I suppose.  I will make my plans the best I can.  I will inquire with photographers and schedule a session, and try to leave the rest where it belongs -- in God's hands. 

I will try not to snatch it all back from Him too often.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Baby Clothes and Reckless Hope

I promised myself I wouldn't buy any more baby things for Jacob, our rainbow son.

But today I did.

I was in Wal-Mart, and when I passed by the baby section, I thought, why not?

So in I went.  And of course I found some adorable things, like some puppy-themed onesies and matching pants, and a fleecy dinosaur sleep sack. 

And of course I bought them.

When I was at the store, I felt like a normal pregnant mama, happily planning for the safe and much-awaited arrival of her baby.  Planning as if said safe arrival is guaranteed. 

But I know that it's not guaranteed, that nothing is.  I know that I am not your typical pregnant mama.

Today I let myself indulge, let myself pretend.  After all, our baby will need clothes to wear when he arrives.  So it's not even like I indulged extravagantly. 

But when I got home it suddenly began to feel extravagant.  No, that's not the right word -- reckless.  It felt reckless.

To buy clothes for a baby who might not live to wear them?  To pretend that I know what tomorrow holds for this pregnancy, much less next month or three months from now?


When I got home, I stashed Jacob's new clothes in the bin where I've been storing the sweet gifts he's gotten from friends and family, plus the few things I bought him early on.

The bin is pretty full -- but it's mostly full of the clothes I bought for Eve.  Snuggly onesies purchased in preparation for the winter weather of her January due date.  Gingham sundresses for her first summer.

At first I put Jacob's things in there because they made me afraid.  I wanted them tucked away, just in case the worst happened.  Again.

But it hasn't (yet) and now I have mixed feelings about the bin storing the unworn clothes of both my children.  Part of me loves having Jacob's things nestled up against his sister's.  And part of me is terrified, supersititously, that what happened to her might somehow rub off on his clothes and cause him to die, too.


And yet . . . isn't hope reckless?  And isn't reckless hope worth having? 

I want to celebrate this boy.  I want to celebrate my daughter.  I don't want to live in fear, although often I do.  And hope really is scary.  But if a bit of fear is the price of reckless hope -- well, that is a price I am willing to pay.

Because the reward of hope is far greater than the price of fear, even when that hope is not realized.

That happened with Eve.  I hoped for her, planned for her, but the hope for her life was never fulfilled.  And yet, although she is dead, I do not regret a moment of that hope, that planning.  It was a gift I could give to her, and to God, and to myself.  It is a gift that I am glad to have given.

I refuse to plan for our son's death unless we are forced to.  Until then, I will hope, and plan for life.  Even (or perhaps especially) when it makes me tremble.

"While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, 'Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?'  But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, 'Do not fear, only believe.'"
~ Mark 5:35-36

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sweaty Art-Making

This has been a slow week, creatively. It's been near one hundred degrees here everyday, I think, and we don't have an air conditioner. I've been camping out in our basement, but all my art supplies are upstairs. So . . . not much art has been happening. But I did manage to get a couple of new things started, like my first paper doll set.

Paper dolls!  I was obsessed with paper dolls as a kid.  It was impossible for me to get enough of them.  I could spend hours and hours cutting them out and dressing my dolls in their adorable outfits, and just admiring the art. So to start making my own? It has been a really sweetly emotional and nostalgic endeavor.

Other than that, I've been working furiously on my Etsy shop.  There are loads of new prints in there now.  My goal is to get it to the point where it requires minimal effort to maintain by the time this rainbow boy arrives.

He is kicking and bumping around as I write this, and I am overcome all over again.  Love is terrifying, but what would we do with out it?

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

It Might Even Be Better


"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." ~ James 1:2-4

"[James is] not saying to feel happy when you experience the challenge of unfulfilled hope.  He's saying to put the trials and testing of your faith into the joy category.  It goes in the joy category because that's how you'd feel -- joyful -- if you saw the whole thing from God's view.  

You're frustrated, you're confused, you doubt, the gap's too big, you're out of time, out of money, out of options, out of ideas, out of friends, out of hope.  But something good is coming form the unfulfilled hope thing.  It might even be better than what comes from the fulfilled hope.  Does being perfect and complete and lacking nothing sound good to you?  

That's what you get when trials and the testing of your faith produce steadfastness in you.  So let your non-fulfillment produce steadfastness.  And put it all in the joy category."

~ from Scary Hope by Gary Morland

I'm reading this book by Gary Morland, and he says a lot of profoundly impacting stuff in it, including the above.  I stumbled across the book randomly -- it's written by the dad of another blogger that I read, and she was plugging it on her page.  He kind of strikes me as the male counterpart to Ann Voksamp and her gratitude experiment.

And the title, Scary Hope?  That sounds about right.  Because hoping is scary, especially after you've been through hell, when you're going through hell.  But hope is also what I need.  What we all need, really.  Anyway, I just wanted to share this in the hope that it will impact you, too, in whatever way you need to be impacted. 

p.s.  Does anyone else find it ironic that the next post after the one on not reading is about . . . reading?  ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On Not Reading + Perfectionism


When I was pregnant with Eve, I was all about child-related reading.  Books on parenting, unschooling and homeschooling, newborn care, child development, elimination communication, sleep cycles -- I devoured as many as I could get my hands on.   

This time around, however, things are different.  It's been really, really hard to get myself to read any baby-related books at all.  

Much of this is due to fear.  I had read and prepared for Eve's arrival the best that I could -- and then she died.  So it feels wrong to pick those same books that I was in the middle of at the time of her death now.  I know that there's probably a lot of superstition motivation behind it, but even knowing that doesn't make it any easier.  

But not reading makes me feeling like a terrible mother.  It's a tough spot -- reading parenting books makes me feel like I'm condemning our rainbow to the same fate as Eve, and not reading makes me feel like I must not care enough about him to prepare for his arrival.

I can't win this battle against my own mind.


A few weeks ago, I was chatting with another babylost mama who is also pregnant with her rainbow right now, and the topic of books came up.  She told me that she wasn't reading many parenting books for the same reasons that I've been doing the same.  She said that she's been giving her the space and grace to not put herself through the mental and emotional ordeal of reading now, to make this pregnancy as least stressful as possible.

When she shared that, I felt an immense rush of freedom.  I don't have to be a parenting-book-reading powerhouse!  I don't have to be perfect, to perform perfectly (and really, isn't "perfection" relative?).  I can be the broken, anxious, carefully hoping woman that I have become.  No forced reading required. 

I wonder if this seems like a trivial, silly thing to be concerned with.  But it has been a heavy weight upon me -- a weight that is now lifted.  

So instead of forcing myself to frog march through books on parenting that I now know too well I might never get to put to use, I am reading books that serve me in this season.  Books on pregnancy after a loss.  Books on faith.  Books on God and doubt and fear and sorrow.  Books that lead me along the path I am currently walking, not a future path that my feet have not quite come to.  

I will one day return to the parenting books.  But I'm not ready yet.  I will be, one day, perhaps sooner than I expect.  But now I know that it's okay to let those books alone, and so I am.

Have you ever given yourself permission to not be perfect?  How did it go?


For the curious, here are the books that I have been reading lately (yes, there are a few parenting books, but only the ones that feel nourishing):

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gratitude on Monday


On Mondays, I catch you up on the beautiful gifts — both large and small, hard and comfortable — that God has been giving me.  Start your own One Thousand Gifts adventure by clicking on the banner below.

... figuring out that I don't have to have it all figured out
... walking the chihuahua at dusk and encountering a family of curious deer
... lurking in coffee shops to take advantage of their air-conditioning
... being gentle with my exhausted self
... remembering a childhood passion
... some pieces of my art finding new homes with online friends (thank you!) 
... the Best Husband Ever
... my book being available in print and getting a copy in the mail (amazing!)
... a flooding incident in our house turning out to be not at all as terrible than it could have been
... music
... finishing up new artwork that stretched me in the making of it
... reading a hilarious book on life with a newborn by Anne Lamott (one of my favorite writers)
... . . . and crying over grief renewed
... writing this blog

Friday, July 6, 2012

In the Art Studio + Shop Changes

{in progress} 

I've got quite a few things going on in my artistic life right now. Like the above girl who lives in my art notebook, and this curly-haired girl that is currently frustrating me big time:

{in progress} 

I'm [mostly] okay with that frustration, though, because initially I was also very frustrated with the orange-haired girl, and now quite like how that's gone.  Expect prints of her soon!

Speaking of prints, I am restructuring how I sell my art originals and prints.  Before, you could purchase originals in my Etsy shop and prints + cards from my RedBubble shop.  But while I adore the quality of the RedBubble reproductions, they charge quite a bit of money and I see very little of it.  On top of that, I can't track the traffic to my RedBubble shop well, which leaves me feeling a bit frustrated (hrm, I am sensing a theme to this post that has nothing to do with artwork . . .).

So I decided to take back a little control and make my Etsy shop my one and only.  All of the same lovely items will be available (eventually . . . I am in the process of transferring everything now).  The only difference is that now I will be able to offer those amazing high quality prints at a much lower cost to you, and keep more of the profits myself.  It's a win for everybody!  So keep your eyes on my Etsy shop, because big stuff is happening there.

One example of "big stuff" is a new kind of print that I just released today -- wood mounted prints

Wood mounted prints

I've affixed a high quality print onto a 5" x 7" molded rectangular wooden plaque, painted the borders a vibrant color, and sealed the whole thing to protect it from wear.  I really love these, because they don't require framing -- you can just hang them as is on the wall, or display them with a tabletop easel.

Wood mounted prints

When I buy other artists' work, it often languishes in storage for months because I find the framing process so daunting.  I'm a big fan of ready-to-hang stuff!

Also, I added a $10.00 sale section to my shop, which holds (you guessed it) items that are $10.00 (US), with free shipping.  

So . . . I've been keeping busy!  Which I like, and since it's a passionate kind of work, that busy-ness is even better.  And right now, I need some busy-ness to keep the time flying toward October.  I cannot wait to meet this little rainbow baby face-to-face!  I had nightmares about him dying again last night, and I woke aching for this boy to be in my arms.  But although I am impatient, I know it is better for him to stay unborn for a little while longer, so I will try to make my peace with the waiting.

What have you been up to, artistically or otherwise?

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p.s. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments on this post, and this one. I love reading the conversation. You are a blessing to me, each one. Thank you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July Fourth + the Bigness of God


Yesterday we completely forwent any Fourth of July celebrations.  In the past, the Fourth of July used to be one of my favorite holidays, spurred on by a geeky adoration of 1776, the musical on the writing of the Declaration of Independence.

But now?  While I am grateful for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, I don't feel the need to watch fireworks or grill patties of dead cow (as tasty as those are) or blow things up.  I'm sure that a part of this is the grief, but really -- it just doesn't seem that important anymore.

And so, at sunset, the Best Husband Ever and I took two of our three pups to play at a beautiful mess of hiking and biking trails.  He sped off on his bike with the most athletic of our dogs, while I accompanied the chihuahua on foot.


I hadn't been walking in the evening for a long while.  The last time I remember doing so, I carried our daughter, alive, inside me.  Last night it was incredibly peaceful, pacing through pooling shadows and thinking big thoughts.

They call Montana Big Sky Country, and for good reason.  Last night, the sky felt incomprehensibly large and heavy, but not in too uncomfortable of a way, arching over the chihuahua and I as we walked.

In the city, fireworks began to fire and pop as evening descended.  Beneath the sky's dome, just the right shade of blue that always makes me imagine that I could break off a piece and eat it, the fireworks seemed so tiny.  The explosions that are so thunderous close by sound like corn popping from only a few miles away.

The sky seemed to drape itself around me like a quilt, softening the unfurling of the night against me.  And I thought -- God is like this.  So big -- terrifyingly big -- and yet He tucks our souls into peace like a mama tucks her child into bed.

And we humans, we like to think ourselves big, but really we are achingly small and delicate.  We need His draping, comforting, earth-shattering touch like we need air.  But somehow we forget that (or at least I do, and often), and so we flop and gasp our way through life like grounded fish and wonder why this is so damn hard.

And if God is so big, bigger than the sky that kisses every mountaintop and steams against every desert and ocean and highway, than maybe knowing Him is a lot simpler than we try to make it out to be. 


We only ever really see Jesus loving people, after all.  What if that is all we're meant to do?  Just to love Him, or try?  Because He is God, after all, and knows how hard is for us to wrap the smallness of our brains around loving the bigness of a God that we cannot see.

I don't know if the bigness of God is an answer.  But last night, as I watched from the mountains as the fireworks began to bloom transient ember flowers over the city, it did.  Perhaps the bigness of God is the only answer.  The only answer for my heart, which longs to know Him and love Him, but feels so very knotted up in the mess of how

I don't know anything, really, not for sure.  Especially now.  Grief has turned me adrift even within myself.  But in the fading light, as the chihuahua and I padded back toward the car, the bigness of God seemed to be the only thing that can be anything even close to enough.


"How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son." 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Unwanted Fame of Pregnancy

23 weeks

I'm starting to get more from strangers while out and about.  Or really, my belly is.

Because my pregnant belly no longer can be mistaken for bloating or weight gain.  It is obvious that there's a little person growing within.

This fact seems to make some people chatty.  Complete strangers want to trade happy pregnancy stories with me.

They don't understand that for me, pregnancy is not a happy story.  Even while I am so happy to be pregnant with our rainbow, the experience itself is not a "happy" one.  Instead, it is terrifying and stressful, worthwhile, painful, refining, and one of the most challenging paths I have ever, ever walked.

It feels like daily walking up to the edge of a cliff and throwing myself off onto mercy and thin air, praying that God will not let this journey obliterate me.

I don't want to trade happy pregnancy stories.

But I can usually manage to smile politely and fob my way through it.  I think I might even convince these strangers that their blissful memories of pregnancy hold true for me.

The happy, chatty strangers are not the most difficult, though.

Far worse are the uncomfortable or even hostile stares I sometimes find myself the target of.

I don't know if they've noticed me notice, but I have caught more than a few women eying my swelling belly with animosity.

I could be misreading these stares.  I hope I am.

But knowing how many babies die before birth, and knowing how easily, how silently they go, I don't think that I am wrong.

The other day, for example, I was holed up in my favorite air-conditioned (!!) coffee shop, writing away.  When I got up to leave, my pregnancy huge and obvious, a woman who had been sitting behind me positively glared, eyes glued to my belly.

I am ashamed to confess that I glared back.

Why did I glare?  Knowing what I know, why was my instinctive reaction to return in kind, instead of a compassionate smile?  I will try harder next time.

A smile in the face of animosity doesn't take much courage.  But what if I had approached that glaring woman, asked if she grappled with infertility or babyloss or some other sort of wound that would cause her to dislike pregnant strangers?

I wish I had that kind of courage.

I wonder if I was the recipient of similar stares when I was pregnant with Eve.  That pregnancy, it was truly blissful.  Eve was a surprise, a beautiful miracle in the face of the lifetime of infertility my doctor said to expect as a result of my eating disorder.  The 31 weeks I carried this baby who I was cautioned never to hope for were truly the happiest days I have ever known.

And then she died.

Why did I not smile at that woman who glared?  At every woman who glares, or whom I even suspect of glaring?

I know that babies are dying in my city.  That babies have died here, and recently.  And I know that there's so much more pain out there, pain that is beyond my comprehension.  That too-young people are given fatal diagnoses and children are losing their hair to chemotherapy and families are torn apart by illness and anger and abuse and death daily.  And yet we all assume that no one is as wounded as we are.

Why can't we wear our wounds more openly?  I wish that I could.  I have often wished it since Eve died.  And still, I glared.

I will try to do better.  The road of pregnancy and mamahood is already too marred with potholes.  I want to hold my fellow wounded up, not push them down harder when they fall.

22 weeks

Have you ever had an experience similar to mine, regardless of whether it involves pregnancy or not?  If so, how did you deal with it? 

Monday, July 2, 2012

New in the Art Shop: Faith Keeper

Remember when I blogged about art and healing the other day?  Well, the piece that I was working on and that inspired that post is finished!  Here she is . . .


I called this one "Faith Keeper."  The words around her head are from Psalm 119.  They read:

“With your very own hands you formed me; now breathe your wisdom over me . . . Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight! just the way you promised.”
~ Psalm 119:73-80 (selected)

I just cannot get enough of painting blue-haired girls.  And this shade of turquoise is a favorite of mine, especially when paired with the darker pinks and blues.  I wonder if I might need to dye my hair this color at some point .  Although maybe I'll wait until I get a few more gray hairs . . .  I do enjoy my hair the way it is most of the time.  :)

I am really pleased with how this one turned out.  For perhaps the first time, today I was looking back over the body of my artwork and able to see how it is evolving and changing.  Subtle aspects of techniques I am learning in various online classes are working their way into each piece, but without overwhelming my unique style.  

This is such an intriguing path, this art-making, just as babyloss and faith and pregnancy and life all are.  What a gift to be able to travel each one, even with the pain.  They are all leading, I think, to one very, very good place -- the heart of God.  I am grateful.

Gratitude on Monday

On Mondays, I catch you up on the beautiful gifts — both large and small, hard and comfortable — that God has been giving me.  Start your own One Thousand Gifts adventure by clicking on the banner below.

... a rainbow blanket for our rainbow baby from a sweet friend whose own rainbow, Charlie, recently died

a rainbow blanket for our baby

... all three dogs curled up on the bed with me as I write my gifts
... enjoying making my first ever speaking video
... pregnant moon

... pregnant belly (24 weeks + 5 days today!)

24 weeks 3 days

... a visit from far-away family
... a friend's baby born 10 weeks early but healthy (pray for them? he's in the NICU for 4-6 weeks)
... Cody running and woofing in his sleep


... the Best Husband Ever tickling our niece's feet
... healing painting
... staying long after church to talk with a much-missed friend
... watered flowers
... a message to not be afraid seeming to be whispered from many lips
... beginning to catch glimpses, finally, of how I am changing, even though it feels precarious and I can't see how it will end

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Today is the last day to receive 20% off any one purchase from my Etsy shop (excluding gift certificates) with the coupon code GRATITUDE2012!