A sweet visit with grandma

A sweet visit with grandma

It was a treasured time with grandma, and family, and seeing the familiar Rocky Mountains out our hotel window. It was a long road trip we were determined to make, a 2 and 3 year old surprisingly happy with snacks and stickers and a stack of dollar store colored pencils. It was a whole group of us releasing balloons outside of grandma’s hospital room, waving and smiling and shouting that we love her. It was her saying that she wanted to follow those balloons right up to heaven to meet Jesus, and to see grandpa again. It was masks, and restrictions, and nurses “looking the other way” when more than two visitors were in her room at a time. It was holding her hand, laughing with uncles, and hearing memories of cousins, farm life, and grandpa’s early days in Iowa as they came to her mind. It was the birth of a niece just a few floors up from grandma’s room (a niece who was given grandma’s middle name!). It was life and near-to-death, the pain and the sweetness, but hope above all, wrapped up in one short visit. It was nurses moving heaven and earth (in this age of restrictions) for grandma to be able to hold, and to meet, and to whisper blessings over her new great-granddaughter’s life. It was the passing of the baton from the oldest to the youngest taking place in that little hospital room. It was special reminders at her bedside to keep walking with Jesus. It’s a vase she set aside for me, now sitting on my living room shelf. It’s a lifetime of having her in my life, and the gratitude that I got to see her one more time here on earth.

Grandma, God knows the day and the hour that you’ll join Him in heaven. Walk by faith in these last days, as you have for many years, knowing that if you’re still here on earth, He has a plan for your life. Hug grandpa for us all! Make sure and meet Shawn’s grandparents. And tell the Apostle Paul that I’m looking forward to sitting down with him for an interview. We love you, grandma!

Grief and lies we believe

Grief and lies we believe

Sometimes you just need your husband to get in your face and remind you with a stern tone and a loud voice that:

“OUR GOD IS NOT FICKLE!”

Let me back up.

I was just feeling down. Discouraged. And worse: believing lies.

It was a day of feeling caught back up in grief (we don’t move on, we move forward…and I was just not moving anywhere).

Why did God take our babies? Why did we lose our boy / girl twins? I was circling back around to questions we had already asked ourselves. Questions we’d asked in the past with other losses. Questions we didn’t have answers to and ones we gave over to God. But the questions were back. Why did that happen to us? What’s His plan? Does He have a purpose? Did He not think I could handle it? Was I not a good enough mom to take on two more? I was sobbing as I said these shameful lies out loud.

Shawn was intimidating as he said very clearly that those were lies, and that God does not work that way. He doesn’t just give and take for fun. He is not fickle. He is not mean. What lies are we believing about God? What lies are changing the way we live our lives?

The conversation circled around and around, the good but really hard kind, and Shawn kept asking me if I trusted God. I’d bring up a fear, a thought, a concern, a worry about our unknown future or pain from grief, and he’d ask, “Yes, but do you trust Him?” He kept asking that same question over and over as I tried to trip him up with a valid-to-me point or a seemingly good question. “Yes, but do you trust God?” He’d ask. “Yes, but can God be trusted?” He’d ask. It was the tough conversation I needed to set my mind back on God, and trusting Him even when we don’t understand.

Sometimes things turn out differently than we thought they would. Sometimes things feel unfair. Sometimes there’s hurt, grief, sadness, confusion. Sometimes we question God’s plan.

But in all of it, He is not fickle. He is not mean. He is good, and YES, He can be trusted.

Believe it to see it

Believe it to see it

Maybe you’ve never seen God move, or maybe you weren’t looking for it. Maybe it’s not ‘see it to believe it’, but BELIEVE IT TO SEE IT. Look for God on the move and you won’t miss it.

That tomb is still empty, and He’s doing impossible things in the lives of others. Ask me how I know.

Here are a few I’ve come across just in the past few weeks:

He takes a past of drug and alcohol abuse and prison and turns it into ministry with others facing the same giants. He takes you from dark to light because that’s what He does. It’s not a story of shame when Jesus writes it, it’s REDEMPTION.

He takes a $380,000 hospital bill and writes paid in full across the top. Just as He did with our lives. He bought them at a price. Our lives are marked by His red blood, and they’re paid in full. Freedom is ours if we want it.

He allows the man who trained under the inventor of the very brain surgery you need to come to your small West Texas town to operate on you. He’s a healer. We can walk into the scary by faith and see God at work in ways we haven’t before.

He allows some kind of supernatural peace to allow you to get up the next morning even after the loss of a child. He’s Father. He’s faithful.

When your country is rioting and fear is real, and you have a flee bag packed, He’s a God who offers safety even in the unknowns.

He gives us an out to die to self and choose to walk in His Spirit instead, even on hard days. Even when we don’t feel like showing up, He gives us the ability to love well. To choose to begin again. His grace is real. Look for it. Ask me how I know.

He takes our deepest pain, our greatest loss, our biggest weakness, and if we let Him, He uses it to change this world, to show that with Jesus, all things are possible, and that He is on the move.

Our culture has made God and Jesus either a ‘meh’ and boring conversation from ancient times, or a standard of legalism we could never reach. So why bother?

But if you look for the real, IT CAN ONLY BE GOD stories, you will find them.
You just have to believe it to see it.
Ask me how I know. I know because I’ve seen it myself.

Days are long, years are short, and all that

Days are long, years are short, and all that

Before a woman has children, perhaps she has a few misconceived notions of what it will be like. Maybe she dreams of her daughter sitting on the counter as they bake Christmas morning cinnamon rolls together, only a slight smudge of flour on her daughter’s nose. Or maybe it’s her sneaking out of the room in a long delicate flowy “postpartum” robe, hair pinned just so, and the baby sleeping peacefully in his or her Potty Barn nursery. Bookshelves organized and untouched. And perhaps some do have these pre-kid visions. But I never did. Being the oldest of five, marrying into a family of five boys, having loads of nieces and nephews, and working as a nanny, I KNEW BETTER. But nevertheless, and with all the chaos that I knew was part of the deal, I wanted to have a baby. And Shawn did too (gosh, I hope he didn’t have those preconceived notions… him sneaking out of the nursery in a long flowy robe). We were married, happy, and it was something we wanted in our married lives. Raising a child was something we wanted to do together.

And here I am now, three years and six months in, and I can say that:
1. Yes there’s all the chaos and then some. You can run but you can’t hide, honey.
2. There’s never just a “smudge” of flour. Lord have mercy, there’s never just a “smudge” of anything.
3. It’s the greatest thing to parent together, to raise a baby together, to be a mom, to raise little lives that we prayed hard for.
4. It’s hard, just as I knew it would be.
5. It’s worth it!!!

Even with these things spelled out, I still have days when I’m like WHY is this day so long, and WHO signed up for this!? (Especially on nap strike days, which this day has been one of…please pass the dark chocolate with sea salt and hazelnuts) WHY is Shawn still at work, and WHY do I have to clean up my kitchen and THEIR PLAY KITCHEN TOO. *stomps out of the room like a child* I know, I know and I AGREE that the days are long (holy living Mary and Joseph they talk a lot now too, like without ceasing) but the years are short. I couldn’t agree more.

But when all you can see are the long days and not the short years, here are a few things I’ve been trying to come back to:

 It’s done in God’s strength, not mine – “It” being all of it: cleaning mud out of the tile cracks, not yelling when someone pushes someone else, not giving up when the day has already been exhausting and now they’re crying at bedtime because God-forbid there’s a tiny amount of light coming in from behind the curtain and they can see it, being patient when they’re just now learning something for the first time (how to use a spoon, how to button their pants), how to respond slowly and in love… all day long. Every day, and again the next, and again the next. Even on nap strike days. YEP, gotta be done in HIS strength, cause otherwise I’ve tapped out around 11pm.

This is the last day they’ll ever be this little – OKAY, sobbing! But honestly, I love this perspective, because it help me value the time I have with them, this day I have with them, knowing that one day they’ll outgrow their baby cheeks and interest in having me hold them. I know that the more I focus in on treasuring them NOW, on this last day they’ll ever be this little, the more I’ll look back on this time and know I did what I could to treasure them and make the most of this time I’ve been given with them.

“I get to” vs “I have to”- this one comes from Just Open the Door by Jen Schmidt and that perspective brings life into the every day. I GET to stay home and create fun memories and experiences for our girls, I GET to do the hard work of training them and teaching them to love God and others, I GET to love my family by taking care of our home, I GET to tend to needs, I GET to spend a lot of time with them, I GET to make them lunch! This can also be a prayer request when it doesn’t come naturally. “God, help me have a “get to” attitude” when I just really want to be in Cancun with friends right now.

The little things are special to them, so let’s live it up – to this day, Noella remembers the lemonade she had at the fair last February, even down to the green straw. The little things are special to them, and we’re taking it slow and letting them enjoy the little things now, knowing the big things will also be special later on, so why rush it? Sharing a sleeve of Smarties is fun for them. Watching Shawn build a snowman (yes, Texas has experienced a taste of winter this year) is fun for them. Jumping in the car and getting Wendy’s for lunch or driving to see the lake is fun. I love this quote from Mandy Arioto in her book Have More Fun: “Hot take: mothering can be fun. It’s amazing what can happen when you start by assuming this rather than the alternative. The narrative we hear over and over is that being a mom is hard and exhausting. I am here to challenge that assumption. What if it was invigorating, transformative, and the most fun work we will ever do?” WOW. If that doesn’t turn a long day into something more. Bubbles, nature walks, and dance parties, let’s show our kids that fun is worthwhile. And that we enjoy being with them as they take in the little, but special parts of their days, and ultimately, their childhoods.

They need me – I’m the only one who can give my children a happy mother. ME. I’m the only one who can model a mother who forgives, offers grace, but has standards of obedience in the home, laughs, dances, apologizes. They need me to love them, to listen to them, to care about them. It’s not a point intended to make you feel more pressure, but to show the value in just simply who you are to them. You’re mom. And you’re needed. Long after they’re weaned, and walking, and maybe even living in another state, you’re needed, because God chose you for the role of mom in their lives. So love well today, even if it’s one of those ‘days are long, years are short’ kind of days.

God sees the bigger picture and He’s working in all of our lives –  through the longest, hardest days when I just don’t “feel” like being home again, doing the same mundane thing, with whiney kids and fights to break up, I have to remember that as I seek God’s strength and wisdom in raising our girls, it’s done by faith that God sees the bigger picture in all of our lives. He’s using this time, even the frustrating days, or the greatest days ever, to mold me into something, someone that He wants me to be. And He’s doing the same in the lives of our girls, if we ask Him to. And trust that He will.

I think often of the quote, “What you plant now, you will harvest later.” Planting is hard work man. But by God’s grace, the rain will come and beautiful growth will appear. We just have to take it one (sometimes long) day at time.

This is what we prayed for – this perspective is a game changer, because it reminds me that we prayed big, and that God in His goodness answered BIG. And that’s all I need to take on another day as ‘mom 24/7’ to two girls we have the privilege of raising in our home for a few short years.

The dreaded call and hope

The dreaded call and hope

Today was the day I’d been dreading. Today was the final video consult with our fertility doctor in Denver. We love him. He’s an Ohio State fan (because that means something when you’re Shawn DeAtley), and he’s been a cheerleader for us from that very first day that we showed up in his office, a little bruised and (literally) scarred from already having gone through three failed IVF cycles. He was enthusiastic about the likelihood of us having a baby. And guess what? With the help of him and his team, a whole lotta shots, and most importantly, the Almighty hand of God, we welcomed Noella. They knew, and we knew, that we had these remaining boy/girl embryos, and the relationship was intact for when we were ready to try our next transfer(s), in hopes of adding them to our family. But, an enormous God-surprise came along, just before we were ready to get started with the next transfer (we had already started emailing about our meds and protocol and we were ready to get started…), and that God-surprise was Shilo Hope! Dr. Greene and team were thrilled with our news.
Most of our interactions with Dr. Greene and team have been positive, hopeful, and encouraging.
So I was dreading today… talking about the loss of the twins.
Dr. Greene was so humble and sincere and so sorry to hear of our loss, the pain, the D&C, all of it. Our conversation was one of us sharing about our faith in all of this, something we were glad we had the opportunity to talk about. He wanted to know what was next for us, if we saw another treatment in our future, which we were both at peace in saying that our days of fertility treatments are done, and for that we’re filled with gratitude. Gratitude for all that God has done in and through those years of treatments, those years of hoping, praying, trying, and not knowing the end result. We’re grateful that our paths ever crossed with Dr. Greene and team in the first place. God had a hand in all of it. Even this phone call, which I had been dreading, ended up offering some peace and some closure in knowing that even from a medically professional standpoint, sometimes things just don’t work out like we hope they will. Sometimes our bodies and our embryos are too complex for us to know the whole story behind why things go the way they do. But our God knows, and He’s been the author behind all the stories leading up to this one, and even the stories to come. He’s the author behind the beautiful lives of our daughters, how they came to be and where they’re going. The call I was dreading turned out to still be one of hope even with grief still present and real.

Because our God is always one of hope.

It’s the love of…

It’s the love of…

It’s the love of getting up first when the 2-year-old is screaming, “Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaama!” in her bed.
It’s the love of showing up with a smile.
It’s the love of playing “magic queen” with your girls, for the 400th time. (It’s actually a pretty epic game I created, where I get to wear a crown and a cloak, and I’m the queen (speaking in a British accent, of course) who runs around the house (aka: the magic forest) and the girls help me rescue anyone in the forest needing a home, medical attention, or a good meal (in comes the little doctor kit and play food).
It’s the love of accepting one another’s differences. Which sounds so simple, but when people aren’t like us, or respond like we think they should, or do things differently than we do, it can be hard to love and accept them like we should. (Even when your wife impatiently rips into bags of carrots (and other things), and later realizes there’s a neat zip lock open/close option on the other end.)
It’s the love of holding the fussy toddler when it’s just frustrating that they’re fussy and can’t communicate well about why they’re fussing.
It’s the love of a good long kiss before he leaves for work.
It’s the love of not bringing up the past.
It’s the love of looking for the good in others: because we shall surely find what we look for.
It’s the love of not comparing who does what, when, how often, around the house and with the kids, and at work. Because that leads to resentment and resentment doesn’t make a love relationship grow.
It’s the love of service through hanging shelves for your wife, and helping keep her plants alive.
It’s the love of making another pb&j and peeling another orange for little hands who can’t do it yet.
It’s the love of sitting on the couch asking about the other person’s day.
It’s the love of choosing your people a little bit every day, over and over, because it’s the every day that leads to an extravagant kind of love over time.
It’s the love of God propelling us into a new day, albeit mundane at times, to love and encourage, help and serve, and choose love, all over again.

It’s God’s love that propels us.
That blue mug

That blue mug

At first it was a mug of encouragement, getting me through the hurdles of preparing my body for pregnancy / our double frozen embryo transfer. I’d sip my coffee + too much hazelnut creamer while the girls colored rainbows on the driveway with chalk, trying to take a deep breath and get through the day not feeling like myself (thanks but no thanks to the shots and meds).
Then there was the loss. (Click to read post.) So I ignored the mug for awhile. I pushed it to the back of the cabinet, not wanting to see its chipper encouragement. I was bitter that the hurdles I tried to bravely jump led me here: standing before a shelf of mugs, having lost the two ‘little victories’ we fought hard for through our Frozen Embryo Transfer.
The word “celebrate” just didn’t seem right. So I chose my “J” mug from anthropologie, or my Magnolia Press mug, or Shawn’s “This Is Bourbon” coffee mug instead. Somehow that seemed much more fitting. I’d pour some boiling water over my chai and, much like before, I’d move on through the day.
And in time, I realized I was still celebrating the small victories. Just in a different way.
I was celebrating the little victory of having cried over our loss, and not rushing past the feelings or hiding them. The feelings matter because grief is the price of love. The story matters to God, so it’s one we embrace and feel.
I was celebrating having swept AND mopped in the same day. Anyone else see this as a pretty big deal?
I was celebrating God’s goodness in our lives in the form of community – a community we prayed for while we were still living in Cheyenne, Wyoming… before we even knew there was a San Angelo, Texas! I see it in our neighbor who randomly tells me she’s going to the store if I need anything (we live outside of city limits…granted it’s only about 10 minutes from town, but it feels far when you only need one thing from the store). I see it in the neighbors who love our girls, invest in their lives, and even request to watch them from time to time so we can have a date night. (So dreamy, and no you cannot have them as your neighbors because they’re ours and we don’t share well.) I see it in the book club I’m a part of where I see my fellow mom friends wanting to live out the Gospel with their lives and their mothering.
I was celebrating a morning where I spoke with kindness. You know, the real kind where you don’t roll your eyes and have a frustrated tone. (That’s only done with God’s strength…)
I was celebrating a double nap time and the indulgent couch nap for myself.
I was celebrating a husband who makes wine and hummus and roasts his own coffee beans and makes the best breakfast burritos and loves me always – and tells me he does.
I was celebrating the way Noella puts her hand on an upset Shilo’s arm and says, “It’s okay honey.”
The royal blue mug of encouragement is back in rotation. Sometimes with peppermint hot tea in the evenings (because I’m precisely 100 years of age.)
God is good, no matter what. And the ultimate, ultimate victory is not found in our own lives, or in our present circumstances, but in Him. And that’s something worth celebrating every day, all day, forever and ever.
Amen? Amen!

Some closure in the what ifs

Some closure in the what ifs

It was kind of weird that some closure came from a ‘me and Shawn on the couch after the girls were in bed’ budget meeting. He mentioned that a big chunk of money went somewhere else this past year, and we both knew he meant FET and the whole process that comes with it. I was quiet for a minute, letting the pain and discomfort sink in of knowing that we had saved and planned and paid and still (for reasons only known by their Creator), lost the babies we were looking forward to holding and knowing. I was sad, he was too, that things didn’t turn out like we hoped, that the boy / girl twins that we had anticipated for so long didn’t grow past eight weeks. But we were determined to have them, and we did all we could to get them from the freezer as frozen embryos into my uterus, and we did. From there, we had to try and give the unknowns to God. And we did. I’ve said it so many times through this grieving process, but it’s true, that a big part of the loss is from knowing they were there for four years. Those were years where we’d try to imagine when and how they’d fit into our family. They were years of trying to save for the transfer and our appointments and travels to Denver. But looking over all of it, even way back to the first meeting with our doctor when we were considering IVF for a fourth time, God was our very-present Provider. He found the best clinic for us, after our return from Africa, He aligned our hearts to both be ready to gear up for another fight towards baby (babies: 1 turned out to be Noella, and two were the twins we lost in October), He provided the money for the actual IVF treatment, and later the money for the transfer, and by His grace, allowed us to get back on our feet to become debt free. We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (none, not one penny, covered by insurance; and this is the norm for infertility patients) and God was the one providing all along the way. He provided the money for treatments, the transfer, the medicine (one shot alone was $900!), He provided friendships once we opened up about the struggle and the lonely place we were in for so long. He provided an insight into how struggle can soften us if we let it, showing us the true compassion of our God. He showed us how to be brave when we wanted to fear- what if the transfer fails? What if we lose the baby/babies? What if the medicine doesn’t work? What if Covid shuts down our plans to move forward? What if there’s not enough money? What if we can’t pay off our bills? What if? What if? What if we trust these unknowns to a God who knows, who doesn’t just know but has crafted a beautiful ending that might look differently than we thought? What if we don’t have all the answers, and that’s okay? What if we look back over the whole process with gratitude for Noella, and in the middle of the wait, an extraordinary surprise in the form of Shilo? What if we rest knowing we did our part to bring these embryos to life, if even for a few weeks, because they were there, frozen, waiting for us, and our responsibility. Even if the shots and the waiting and the expense and the travel and the transfer and the loss weren’t always easy? What if we were given that mountain, one of loving, hoping, losing, grieving, and even gratitude and courage, to climb up and see things from a unique vantagepoint: that God was there, He’s still here, always providing and caring for us along the way.

What if we trust these unknowns to a God who knows, who doesn’t just know but has crafted a beautiful ending that might look differently than we thought?
Faith in Stacy’s embryo adoption

Faith in Stacy’s embryo adoption

Stacy and I met online. Years ago, when we were in some of the harder days of infertility, Jennie Allen wrote a blog post about me, encouraging women to pray for me and lift a sister up. Stacy saw her post, was in a similar boat and could relate, and just like that, we became friends. Seven years later, and she’s been a cheerleader and supporter through our long waits of IVF, the needles and procedures of FET, loss, and joy.

Recently, in this post, I talked about faith in every chapter of IVF. I mentioned Stacy and how her faith in this whole process, including the unknowns in what she’s recently gone through, has really blown me away.


What made you decide to try IVF?

We tried to have children for 10 years (Clomid, IUIs, 1 ectopic pregnancy) before pursuing IVF. It was very important to us to be able to pay for it out of pocket, so we saved up and it was our 10th anniversary present to each other. When we went for our first visit in February 2012, we found out our insurance had added one phrase effective January 2012, and IVF was covered in full. We only had to pay for our meds. God is so good!

Did it work?

In May 2012, we had our egg retrieval and had 7 embryos make it to blast. We transferred 1 embryo and became pregnant with our first daughter, Hannah Leigh, who was born in February 2013. We moved from Cincinnati to Danville, VA in the summer of 2013, so when we decided in 2014 to try for a second child, we had our remaining 6 embryos transferred to Duke. We transferred 2 embryos (ours were frozen in pairs) and became pregnant with twins. Unfortunately, I lost 1 baby around 8 weeks gestation and developed a large hematoma. I was placed on bed rest for the next 8 weeks to protect our baby while my body absorbed the hematoma. In June 2015, we had our second daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth. In the summer of 2018, we decided to try for another child. At this point, we live in SC, just south of Charlotte, so we decided to travel to Duke for treatments again. We love the doctors and nurses there! I turned 40 in May, and we transferred 2 embryos in early September. We were now pregnant with twins again! I gave birth to twin boys, William James & Samuel Wade, 13 days before I turned 41.

Talk a little about how it felt knowing there were remaining frozen embryos: 

After the boys were born, we knew our family was complete. We had always prayed and longed for 4 children. But, we had 2 embryos left…and that was something we never imagined. We knew that no matter what we did, we did not want the embryos destroyed, and if we weren’t going to use them, we needed to figure out what to do. I did some research on embryo adoption, and we quickly decided a national bank was not for us. I reached out to a few close friends who were trying to have babies, and offered our embryos to them first, but they both declined. I then contacted a few friends I knew in the adoption world to see if they knew any Christian agencies that handled embryo adoption. We used Quiver Full Adoptions Inc in Greenville, SC.

What brought you to thinking of embryo adoption?

We believe life begins at conception, and destroying them was not an option, so embryo adoption seemed like a perfect fit.

How did you know this adoptive family was the family God had for you?

We spoke with 1 other family, and reviewed the file of another before being matched with the Fullers. From the first time we spoke on the phone, the conversation flowed easily, their beliefs were in line with ours, they were open to an open adoption (before we even knew what that meant) and we felt so comfortable with them. After we got off the phone, we both said God had answered our prayers for these embryos.

I’ve loved seeing your theme / heart of thankfulness as you tell your story. What are you thankful for in all of this?

I’m thankful for the relationship we have with all of the Fullers. We don’t just want a relationship with our genetic children, but also with Ariana, Casey and their adopted son, Seamus. We’ve spent time together, we talk, text or FaceTime frequently, we share all our life together, not just things about Finn. Ariana (the adoptive mom of our embryo) has become one of my dearest friends!

What relationship do you plan to have moving forward?

We have an open adoption. Finn (and the other embryo) will know their genetic siblings and us. Right now we only live a few hours apart, however that will change with Casey’s Army career, but we will make it work. We think of all of them as an extension of our family.

How have you seen God’s hand at work in designing your beautiful family?

Like I said before, I never imagined we would be in this place, however God’s plan was greater than we could have even thought possible. Everyone always tells us how wonderful we are, but it is all God.

How has your faith been strengthened through all of this?

We would not have made it through this without our faith. God has walked through the entire process with us. One of the hardest parts was the psychological evaluation – they ask a lot of hard questions that you don’t think of. We left in tears, but prayed that God would continue to guide us if this was His will. It was also very difficult seeing a picture of Finn when he was born. He looks so much like my kids, and it took my breath away. I shed a lot tears that day. Later that night, Casey had time to send some other pictures and one was of Ari holding Finn. When I saw her joy, it took away all the pain I had felt.
How can we pray for you and your family?

Pray for all of us on this journey. It has gone so well so far that sometimes I worry it’s too good to be true, but I know that’s just Satan. I know God has intertwined our two families for life, and I look forward to living our lives together.

—————-

I just love this story because it’s an aspect of IVF that I think a lot of people are unaware of, and a unique way God is at work. Thank you so much for sharing, Stacy. May God bless your faithfulness as you stand in a place you didn’t ever see yourself being in, and for choosing to walk forward in faith.

A weather time machine

A weather time machine

Weather has a way of bringing us back to a place where we’ve been before. It acts as a quick and sometimes fickle time machine to a past memory. Like how intense West Texas dust storms remind me of Harmattan Winds and how our lives in Guinea and Senegal were often coated in layers of dust that blew in from the Sahara desert. We could write messages to one another on the thick layers that coated our table, or on the screen of our balcony where our clothes hung on the line to dry. The wind and rain before a big thunderstorm takes me right back to being up on the flat roof of our village house with our dog Roxy watching the skies turn from dark shades of blue to black. We had no tv or weather alert, but we knew what was coming because it was rainy season, and this was the norm over the span of a few months, hurricanes sweeping in every few days it seemed. I had never lived this close to the ocean before, so close that on a very late night (where there were no ceremonies or drums), we could hear the waves crashing in. The hurricanes were so strong at times that palm trees would blow over. But we’d hunker down in our house, until the wind would stop and the rain would ease. And then there’s snow: a magical piece of my Colorado childhood that I missed living in Africa. I missed snow, fall, and seasons in general. And then God, always with that sense of humor, moves us to the dessert of West Texas where triple digit temperatures last for long stretches in the summertime, and snow is rare. So rare, in fact, that we’ve only seen it (a dusting, even) maybe 4-5 times in the four years that we’ve lived here. But we do see plenty of dust, summertime winds, potential tornadoes, and Africa-like high temps.

But today… today is a snow globe of instant transportable memories to young-Jenn, walking about in the snow, all bundled and with a shawl draped dramatically over my head and shoulders, pretending to be on some grand adventure searching for Ma and Pa in a winter’s blizzard. The snow also takes me back to the icy state of Wisconsin for Bible College, road trips to Chicago, where we lived in Pennsylvania, and Missouri, then Ohio, and Quebec where the real, real snow exists (and yet, people were so used to it that life went on in the most beautiful way).

I wouldn’t want to be living anywhere else right now, but today I’m sure grateful for the little weather time machine that takes me back to all the memories that snow holds for me. And even on the hot and dusty days, I’m thankful for the connection I have with my African friends on that side of the globe.