My New Reality

So I’m sitting at my desk, surfing the Internet, eating my new favorite lunch (white cheddar cheese, reduced-fat Triscuits and grapes) and trying to comprehend the fact that I’m not pregnant anymore.

This time last week, I was “with child.” The baby inside my womb was 10 weeks old, growing fingernails and eyebrows. Virtually every organ in its tiny two-inch body was formed and functioning. I was starting to come out of the dreaded first trimester haze of nausea and exhaustion. Friday, I had a doctor’s appointment. Everything looked good. And then, Saturday, I started bleeding. By Sunday, I was cramping quite severely. Quite literally, I was in “mini-labor.” And by Sunday afternoon, it was all over. My body shed the little baby, still in its amniotic sac, and sent his or her soul to live with Jesus.

Intellectually, I understand what happened. Being a medical geek (My motto: “I only know enough to be dangerous.”), I know the facts of miscarriage. Theses days, they are quite common. About 20% of “normal” pregnancies end in a miscarriages, and the rate is higher for women over 35. (A group I’m now in, much to my dismay. Funny how that 35th birthday didn’t sting so much back in January. Being aware of a child growing inside of your body makes you feel young, not old.) There’s virtually nothing you can do to prevent a miscarriage. Almost all of them are triggered by chromosomal and genetic abnormalities.

But emotionally, I feel a little lost. The full impact of my new reality is still sinking in. Last week, I was looking forward to the rest of 2007. Now, it feels flat. Some of the sparkle has left my world.

Tenderhearted Lord, you see when a sparrow falls. You know about this little one, and you see my heart. I rest against your chest, knowing you are my Abba Father. Catch my tears, and hold me close. My hope is in You.

Like a Weekend in Napa

In other words -- whine, from sunup to sundown. And boy, do I have a hangover.

I have two beautiful children -- Natalie, 5, and Connor, 3. Normally, they are the sweetest gifts -- affable, easy-going, prone to laughter. But the last few days, a particularly hostile rhinovirus has set up shop in their little bodies. And while they are over the worst of it now, two symptoms are hanging on -- the coughing and the whining.

Natalie whines like a girl. (Go figure.) Her voice takes on a slightly nasal tone, her pitch rises two octaves and she speaks in a sing-song pattern. "But Moooom! I don't want to do that. I want to watch TV!" "I'm boooored!"And the triomphe grand: "Coooonnor, quit touching me!"

Connor, on the other hand, has a more masculine style. Instead of whining, he grumps. "Hmph!" he says. "Hmmph! Hmmmph!" He stamps his foot. He crosses his arms. He turns his back to me. Even in the middle of the night, he wakes up and mumbles to no one in particular, " No! I don't want to." And my particular favorite: "It's not fair!"

Under normal circumstances, I'm a pretty patient person. I'm sanguine, which means fun is my primary motivator, and I'm melancholic, which means my heart hurts when I see people in distress. Put those two together, and I tend to react to unpleasant situations with both empathy and humor.

But this constant whining? This drip-drip-drip of complaining and bellyaching?!? It's enough to make me pull my hair out by the roots -- and not only would that hurt like the "deacons" (that's what I used to say when I was little), but it would negate the reason for my much-looked-forward-to hair appointment next week.

So. What do I do?!? Well, obviously, I logged on to my new blog to do some whining of my own. Kids aren't the only ones who can play that game, thank you very much.

And then I did what I should have done to begin with: I picked up my Bible.

First, I turned to Numbers 11, where I found another person who was sick to death of complaining. In verse 11, Moses asks the Lord, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these [children] on me? Did I conceive all these [children]? Did I give them birth? [Well, now that you mention it....] If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now."

Don't you just love Moses' humanity? He's understandably exasperated by the constant "murmuring," as the King James Version so perfectly puts it. But since a complaining, whining spirit is usually as contagious as the rhinovirus, he turns from the people and whines to God about all this complaining -- and with more than a little drama, I might add.

What a sobering reminder. I have a note in the margin of my Bible that says, "The hallmark of complaining is not being grateful for what God has already provided."

Lord, I know you aren't a fan of complaining (to put it mildly). To be honest, neither am I. Remind me, gracious God, of all you have provided for me -- even when the gifts are tired and sick children. Fill me with patience today -- and make Your Spirit of gratitude and joy as as infectious as the common cold.

The Essay That Started It All

What I've been thinking about lately, and with a healthier sense of anxiety, is this. What constitutes a life that pleases God? The closer I get to the end of my life, it seems the only question that matters. Is the life I am living pleasing to God?

The question will keep you up nights. And it should. As we pull the covers to our chin and settle into our pillows, that's the question that should bring our day into the presence of God for His scrutiny.

Did the life I lived today please you, God?

How many things do we have to check off on our to-do list before we can say yes to a question like that? How many questions do we have to count before we can be done with them all and drop off to sleep?

Only one.

Have I loved well?

When asked the secret of living the Christian life, Augustine replied: "Love God, and do as you please." The thought of that is both liberating and confining. Liberating because it means we are free to do whatever we want. Confining because it means our love for God sets the boundaries of that freedom. It guides every thought, every action, every conversation. And it does so every minute of the day, every day of our life. Instead of a Byzantine complexity of laws to regulate the details of our life, we have only one. The love of God. When that is the heart of who we are, it changes what we do. And it changes something else. How we will be judged.

St. John of the Cross once said that "at the evening of our day we shall be judged by our loving." As we look back over our day, what we have done is not as important as how we have done it. Better to do little with much love than much with little love. For without love, whatever we do will be dismissed with a judicial wave of heaven's hand as just so many trivial pursuits (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

So it's the end of the day, and each of us is lying in our bed, reflecting. Have I loved well? Has love been the beating heart pulsing through all my activities? Can it be heard in all my conversations? Seen in my eyes? Felt when other people are in my presence? Was the truth I spoke today spoken in love? Were the decisions I made today based in love? Were my reactions? My devotions?
Have I loved well?

If we can answer yes to that question, it is enough. It may not be enough for our employer. It may not be enough for our fellow workers. It may not be enough for all the carpools and committees and other things on our calendar.

It may not even be enough for us.

But it is enough for God.

- Ken Gire, "The Reflective Life: Becoming More Spiritually Sensitive to the Everyday Moments of Life"

A Picture is Worth ... Well, A Lot

Since I'm still in introductory mode, here are a few pictures -- for those of you visually inclined.

The kids and me on Mother's Day 2005.

My husband and the kids.

Our backyard in the summer

Our backyard today. (Depressing, I know.)

The kids today.


E-mail me at kellyatlovewell (at) gmail (dot) com.

Best of Love Well

Pick your flavor.

Deep Thoughts:
The Long Slog
The Long Slog, Part 2
Story Unfolding
Story Unfolding, Part 2
My Living Delight

Please Laugh With Me:
Totally Teyla
I Am Never Bored
The Missing Shoes
A SAHM Moment
A SAHM Moment: The Rest of the Story
Mom Against the World
I'm Sensing a Theme Here

Birth Stories (I'm sure I'll have them all on the blog. Someday.):
Connor, Part One
Connor, Part Two
Teyla (whom we called Sparkles while we were deciding on her real name; sorry for the confusion)
Kieran, Part One
Kieran, Part Two

The Story of our dog, Sami:
Part One

Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

Cool Things about the Cold

A small portion of my husband's story, originally posted at the Compassion blog:
The Ripples of Child Sponsorship

About Me

My Blogger profile says:
Wife. Mother x 4. Writer. Thinker. Story-teller. Joyful. 60% Sanguine. 40% Melancholic. Evenly split between my Midwestern roots and my Californian spirit. Above all, I seek to laugh often, live purposefully and know God with my whole heart.
For a short bio, that pretty much captures it.

If you want more, fascinating, life-changing statistics:
  • I'm a preacher's kid.
  • I'm a boring preacher's kid. My parents never pressured me or my siblings to be perfect, and we were protected from other people who might have wanted us to act Better Than Most. As a result, I never had an off-the-cliff rebellious streak. (Although, certainly, I had my fair of struggles through high school and college. I'm just saying it's nothing that would make for a decent Lifetime movie.)
  • For all but 2.5 years of my educational experience, I attended Christian schools.
  • I have very mixed feelings about Christian schools. Very. Mixed.
  • I am the oldest of four siblings: girl, boy, girl, boy.
  • Amazingly, my own children are following this same pattern: Natalie (girl), Connor (boy), Teyla (girl), Kieran (boy).
  • I have lived in Kentucky, Texas, Minnesota, Arizona and California -- but I spent the majority of my formative years in the Twin Cities (which is why my core is Midwestern) and the majority of my early married life in California (which is why I have a love affair with homemade salsa and guacamole and I frequently say "DUDE!" when excited).
  • Corey proposed to me two months to the day after our first date.
  • The youth group kids who we worked with at our church set us up. They are still very proud of their achievements.
  • I was a 21 when we got married. That's really young. But I didn't feel young at all.
  • Corey and I skipped all the children questions during our pre-marriage counseling, since neither of us wanted to have children.
  • God snickered at that, I think. But that's OK. I like it when God laughs.
  • We were married more than eight years before we even considered having a baby. During that time, I worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and as a TV news producer. Those were fun years, and for someone in their mid-20s, I was pretty successful. I was even nominated for an Emmy at one point. But I was fried crispy by the time I left NBC, and while I would love to work in visual media again someday, I no longer have the patience to even watch the drivel that is TV news, much less produce it.
  • These days, I get all my news from the Internet. And I am as well informed as I was when I worked in the newsroom at NBC.
  • I have also worked as a media relations coordinator for a beachside Christian college in San Diego, as the world's worst teacher ever at a Christian high school in San Jose and as a food server at the trifecta of chain restaurants: Friday's, Olive Garden and Chili's.
  • I loved being a food server, especially at Friday's. And yes, I still have my red-and-white striped shirt and flair-covered suspenders in storage somewhere. Although I do think I tossed my red tights.
  • My life changed dramatically in 2001, because that's the year Natalie was born. Suddenly, I had an insatiable desire to be the very thing I used to despise: a stay-at-home-mom.
  • Natalie was quite possibly the sweetest, easiest baby in the history of mankind. I fell madly in love with her. I seriously can't remember one minute of that first year when I wasn't blissful.
  • Two years later, Connor was born in a rather dramatic fashion.
  • Connor was born just months after we moved from San Diego to a tiny town in Minnesota.
  • I am not a tiny town person. God blessed our years in Tiny Town in many ways, but the culture shock for a girl who's always lived in suburbia almost did me in.
  • My husband's career path has moved us many times. To date, we've moved 10 times in our 16 years of marriage.
  • I'm OK with change. As long as I can control it. (I hear God laughing again.)
  • We miscarried a baby between Connor and Teyla. When I went in for my 12-week check-up, we couldn't find the heartbeat.
  • Teyla was born a few months after we moved back to the Twin Cities.
  • I found out I was pregnant with Kieran on the first day of school in September 2009.
  • We are currently living in the Twin Cities in a cozy-but-small townhouse, because our rather large lake home in Tiny Town took 3 years and 10 months to sell.
  • I have kept a journal since I was in fourth grade
  • I love the act of writing. It is the way I form order out of the scattered bits in my brain. I often don't know what I think until I write it.
  • I crave diversity. I get bored quickly.
  • My soul is fed by living around water. (See also: I hated living in Arizona.)
  • God changed my spiritual DNA by speaking to me through Beth Moore's "Believing God" study.
  • The only reason Corey and I are still married is because God is a God of resurrection and restoration.
  • My favorite verses in the whole Bible are Hebrews 12:1-3. The truths in those verses have grounded me, encouraged me and nourished me since 1992, when I finally surrendered my all to Jesus.
  • I think life is the craziest, richest, most amazing adventure. I feel privileged - honestly - to share it with you.

Held Hostage by a Blank Screen

Is it just me, or is the first entry on a new blog The Single Most Intimidating Thing on the Internet today?

I only ask because I've had this blog set up and ready to go for months now. (Literally. Months.) But until today, I've been far too unnerved by the empty white screen to actually sit down and write something. (Of course, it goes without saying that the essays I've composed in my head while I've been in the shower or driving down the freeway have been witty, insightful and full of wisdom. Too bad all that creativity vanishes into steam when I actually sit at the computer.)

I've been like this all my life. The terror of the blank page holds me hostage. That's probably the reason broadcast journalism worked so well for me.
Deadlines force my hand. There's nothing quite like writing 20+ stories a day, sometimes within minutes of air, while an executive producer hovers over your shoulder, crying "Is it done yet? Is it done yet?"

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your view), I have no executive producers stashed in my closet. At least, not live ones, anyway. So I'm forced to hold my own nose to the grindstone. And maybe exercise a bit of Spirit-led self-control and discipline.

So here's to the journey. A white screen can be terrifying -- but a blank canvas is also a treasure waiting to be discovered. Thanks be to God for giving us clean slates every morning. I don't know where I'd be without His constant and yet always new mercy.