Transitioning

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A year ago, on July 4, we were in Driggs, Idaho with Christopher’s family. At the time, we were anxiously awaiting a third early ultrasound (we had already had two) after being told at our previous appointment that the baby did not appear to be growing as it should.

Little did we know, though I would come to expect and fear in the days before our next appointment, that we had already lost that little one, too.

It was the furthest I had made it into pregnancy — the first miscarriage that went beyond what they label as “chemical” (such a harsh word when you believe in life at conception, as we do). The renewed hope we had experienced after my cystectomy last spring died quickly and, once more, I felt the keen failure of my body and its inadequacy in keeping our children alive.

The loss total now hit four — two unconfirmed and two confirmed — and I realized that I felt created to be a mother and utterly incapable of becoming one. I didn’t think I could bear the toll of another loss, so we decided to wait until I felt I might again be able to handle the outcome.

In the fall, I threw myself into finally finishing my master’s thesis and making my way through a grief cycle that had become very familiar to me over the last several years. My committee fell into place. I began collecting and dissecting data. It proved a nice distraction.

But December rolled around and I found myself completely terrified that I was pregnant again — I truly, deeply, feared it. I couldn’t handle the prospect. Thankfully, it was not so.

As the new year began, I wrestled extensively with what the previous months (and those ugly fears) had revealed of my heart. The answers I unveiled were decidedly shameful — I had no hope left, no trust in the God to whom I had once looked to for guidance and comfort. While working on our annual AIM resource, I had to (several times) turn off my office light, sit on the floor against the wall, and weep. I didn’t want to see or to acknowledge the places I had dragged my heart. I didn’t want to reopen wounds that I knew would still take years to heal.

And I really, really, really was sick of crying.

In the days that followed, we made a conscious decision to step forward in whatever simple faith we had and work to trust that God had some sort of good for us. We knew we desperately needed to move forward, even if we had no idea what that might look like.

February 12 saw the passing of my due date, as well as the day we had found out I was pregnant in 2013. On February 14, a date I most recently remember as the day we realized I was miscarrying in 2013, I anxiously discovered that I was once again pregnant. The fears of history repeating itself, of stacking another missed due date right next to our 2013 loss, of having yet another reason to despise the second week of February — it was all a little too overwhelming.

In all His grace, that was when God began to write a new story for us. It’s hard to describe without listing through every detail where He showed us that He had been paying faithful attention, that He had not been silent as I had feared — but merely waiting. He displayed full knowledge of my heart’s depths as I recalled dates, sequences of events, and how they so closely tied to each of my fears. Humbling doesn’t begin to cover the experience.

My blood work came back better than it ever had, but anxiety still securely gripped my heart. Those early weeks passed and each milestone was boggling in its details — things I had linked to the last two losses were unbound one by one from the horrible pattern into which I had sunk.

And then, one morning, just before our 10.5-week ultrasound, I was praying and felt God grant me a measure of peace that had been absent for many months. He reassured me that I would survive another loss. He wouldn’t leave me. He would pay close attention to the needs of my heart.

Later that morning, I wept as I watched this little one’s heart beating strongly and as we were shown his spine and his arms and legs. He was growing — and he has continued to grow — just as he was designed to grow.

It has been a very wet season in terms of tears. Joy, sorrow, and shame have intermixed in ways I never thought possible. This child doesn’t exist outside of the story God has crafted for us, that there were those who came before — that there was a season of loss that we lived through (however difficult it was). It all overlaps emotionally and I cannot untangle it.

Somehow, I finished my thesis and my master’s paperwork in those early weeks. The burden I had schlepped along for the four years I had been done with coursework and back in the working world was at last removed from my shoulders.

And, little by little, I have been settling into the fact that I have a healthy, growing little boy inside that will (by God’s goodness and grace) be joining our family in October. It has not been an easy thing to accept — on the contrary, it has been particularly difficult because my heart cannot help but ache for the other four whom we will never know.

But this little one is a beautiful gift. We look forward to loving and treasuring him, to being fully aware that we will make mistakes in raising him. We are grateful that we are not alone in any of it — that we have One before whom we can come and seek grace. We pray this little boy will come to know the same merciful and loving and grace-giving God who has given us so much more than we could ask or imagine — and most certainly more than we ever could begin to deserve.

The last long, hard season has come to a close. We are transitioning into something new and we are so incredibly grateful.

Six Months

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It is funny how grief comes on you in waves, and then it abates, and then it sneaks back in to hound you later. Eventually, though, you numb to the water’s chill and you learn how to brace yourself against its powerful rise.

Six months ago, I miscarried. Again.

I’ve attempted to not make a big deal of our desire and inability to have children in this forum, though I have mentioned it once or twice in passing. The reality is, however, that it has been an incredible force of pain and growth over the course of the past three years. And that grief ebbs and flows, continuing through every season.

Four months ago, I had a manic fit and decided both to migrate my blog and bring it back to life. I accomplished one and failed miserably at the other, as the tide threatened to pull me back under in the following weeks. I appreciate your never-ending patience.

Though it has been difficult, depression has not won. Those of you who know me well know that I have experienced freedom these last few years, but it is hard-won freedom. Most days are minor battles, with major ones scattered throughout the landscape. Sometimes, the major battles last for days and sometimes for only hours.

The last week has been a full-out battle for my soul in ways that I may never comprehend. My soul has been so incredibly downcast, my heart so very angry and irritable.

And yet, tonight, one of my best friends gave birth to a beautiful baby girl — long hoped for and dreamed of — and my soul rejoices greatly at that news.

With this incredible new life, however, I also find myself awash in fresh grief that I will not be able to join my friend yet in this new adventure.

It is amazing what can happen in six months. We are trying to wait with eagerness for what God has planned for us in the months and years to come, but it has made us weary. I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with the verse that says, “A hope deferred makes the heart grow sick.” It is truth, and so I dearly love it. But, alas, it also is so clearly and obviously truth. Of course a hope deferred makes a heart sick! Why would it do anything else?

I guess if you think of us, please pray for us. There are more good days than bad days, but the bad days still hang out with us sometimes. We don’t want to be bitter. Or angry. Or unable to enjoy what God has so graciously given.

Regardless, I’ve made the decision for this blog to stand mostly empty for the time being. Between my workload, my time with and serving my dear husband, the myriad of things we do regularly with our families and church families, and finally attempting to move forward on my thesis and finishing my master’s degree, I simply do not have the time for this space’s upkeep — and I think that’s okay for this season.

You can still find me on Twitter (akatereynolds) and now on Instagram (akatereynolds). Occasionally, I’ll still put together blog posts over at summitview.com/blog (because it’s a part of my job that I’m hoping to be more faithful with).

I’m working on enjoying life, on capturing it through a camera lens, on what it means to rest. Sadly, to report, I’m not very good at any of it, which is all the more reason to do fewer things — that I might grow to be excellent in those things I do choose to do.

I’m sure this will be my endeavor through the many seasons yet to come.

Gingham Revisited

So, if you remember, I finished a purple gingham blanket in October (see https://akatereynolds.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/weekend-workroom-finishing/). Things are beginning to look a little familiar around here, because I began a green gingham blanket in January. I’m about 15 rows from finishing the body. I didn’t use stash yarn for this one, and since they are all the same base yarn, it works up pretty quickly because the yarn is all the same size and feel.

I’ve been working on a bunch of projects again, which is nice for a lot of reasons. It’s great to feel creative again. You should be seeing some of them pop up in the next few weeks, as I have time. I’m not going to try to stick to a particular schedule for the time being because the last few months have been really busy and I’m sure the next few will be as well, but I’ll try to be semi-regular in posting items.

Small (Vague) Update

Hi everyone. I know I’ve been incredibly absent lately. The beginning of the year rolled in like nothing I’ve ever seen, and now Christopher and I are processing some things that have happened in the last week. Essentially, we could really just use a lot of prayer. We want God to be glorified in all we do, particularly in the attitudes we hold in our hearts.

Anyway, I know that’s terribly vague. Maybe someday I’ll feel up to writing about what’s going on, but today is certainly not that day.

Thanks for loving us! We are grateful for the people God has placed in our lives.

Weekend Workroom: Simple wall art

For a long while, we’ve still been trying to figure out how to fill those empty walls we tend to find throughout our home. We’re getting there, but it has been a slow process because we haven’t wanted to put things up just because we have them. We wanted to put things up that were meaningful or actually might qualify as grown-up art.

And, yes, I know grown-ups rarely refer to themselves as “grown-ups.”

I came across this project, however, and figured that if it worked it could be a really awesome way to make our own “art” pieces for both our bedroom and for the living room (which, aside from the Christmas season when stockings are hung on the wall, can be pretty barren). If it didn’t work, I realized I wouldn’t be out a ton of money and I would have at least spent an afternoon trying something new.

A quote Christopher has really come to love lately (that I’m trying to work into my own heart and mentality, as well) is from G. K. Chesterton: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

So, I set out to try this project. I bought most of my supplies at Michael’s, but I shift my supplier (that sounds so much more official than it actually is) based on what is on sale. Michael’s happened to have the better deals on large (I think they were 18×20-inch canvas packs), as well as a coupon for the Helvetica packs that I used for the lettering. I think I bought the paint there, too.

The project was initially supposed to be a secret but, as most people who know and Christopher and I well, we don’t do particularly well with secrets. We maybe keep them for two days. Then it’s all over. The main reason this project didn’t stay a secret was because I wanted something that would be meaningful for Chris and I wanted his input. We finally (after much debate) settled on short bits of one of the verses from “Be Thou My Vision,” which is one of Christopher’s favorite hymns (if not his favorite).

And, since the process takes a while, we’re still trying to figure out what to put on the other set, which is why they haven’t been put together yet…

Regardless, I liked how the panels turned out, particularly because I took the time to draw the necessary grids and to space letters for each panel, knowing that I am not capable of making anything straight on my own. We decided to keep this set (for our bedroom) really simple, only doing one color per panel. Some colors needed more coats of paint than others (particularly the deep red), but I just kept at it – I did laundry and cleaned the house bit by bit between coats. The paint did bleed in a bit (like the one from A Beautiful Mess), but from any distance it’s not too bad. It adds a bit of texture and gives the Helvetica a bit of a distressed look, which is kind of cool (in my opinion).

Anyway, it was a fun, simple way to do wall art. I’m looking forward to completing some more in the coming year and continuing to make our home both beautiful and meaningful.

Stash-busting V: Gift-wrapping, Round 2

So, seriously, like EPIC FAIL.

I realized after arriving at my parents’ house for the holidays that I forgot to upload pictures I had already taken to Blogger, thus disabling my ability to update  this particular series of posts, which is what I had planned…

I’m very, very sorry for that, but it was good in other ways… like had-a-lot-of-time-to-be-quiet-and-think ways. It was really good to have more than a full week off, to not feel the need to always be somewhere. Times like that really force you to be honest with your own heart.

But more on that some other time.

I wrapped a lot of gifts before we left, continuing to whittle down my stash of gift-wrap supplies. The result? I barely made a dent in what I have left. Sure, I got rid of a few rolls of paper that were nearing their ends and a few rolls of ribbon, but I still have plenty to wrap next year’s gifts and possibly more.

Just another lesson for me that I need to use what I have because I have been given so much, even when you’re just counting my wrapping paper stash.

Regardless, I still feel like I wrapped some pretty gifts. For gift cards, I taped the same tags I used for everything else onto small white (thank-you card) envelopes, which ended up looking clean but still kind of neat. Here are some images from the second round:

I think the last gift was my favorite in terms of wrapping… The paper was thick enough to not tear easily, but still made good creases and wasn’t too glossy to keep tape on. In my view, this is essentially a perfect wrapping paper. I still have plenty left to wrap some things next year, and that makes me look forward to next Christmas!

Stash-busting IV: Gift-wrapping, Round 1

As a continuance of my stash-busting mentality for this Christmas, I decided I needed to bust my gift-wrap stash. Every year, I go out and methodically select wrapping paper and ribbon so that all of my efforts are coordinated and beautiful. I love wrapping gifts, and I love making them pretty.

That being said, I have a lot of half-finished rolls of wrapping paper and spools of ribbon that I’ve picked up on clearance just sitting in my wrapping paper storage bag (yes, I’m that person). I decided that, this year, I needed to finish off what I already had before I could be justified in purchasing anything new. Should all go as planned, I should be cleaned out and ready to start looking for new paper for next year right as everything goes on post-Christmas clearance (which is the best time to buy anything that you needed before Christmas!).

I’m taking gift-wrapping in chunks this year so that papers are similar in the same families. My first set of gifts to wrap was for my brother-in-law, his wife, and their two boys. I chose two similar papers, both with snowflakes, and wrapped as many as I could in one paper before moving on to the next. For tags, I chose monogram letters this year, printed on card stock that I had left over from last year (stash-busting all over the place). I used this font (Apex Lake), which is available for free at dafont.com.

Thus, I give you a glimpse at my first round of wrapped gifts: