Friday, February 1, 2019

the january titles

January is now over, and despite the almost impossibility of sitting down for more than five minutes to read while Josh is at work without Ellie instantly going needy (shocking how babies are silent when you're doing boring things, but as soon as your tea is hot and your book is ready, they pop awake, or blow out their diaper, or fall over and bump their head), THE BOOKS ARE READ.

If you recall, my humble goal for the next twelve months is to read at least two books a month. This month, I completed two books from start to finish, finished one I had almost completed around New Year's, and started a new title.

The two works I consumed in their entirety are as follows:

(1) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
- this is a truly delightful story, narrated with a unique point of view. This book is entirely comprised of letters between the characters, each voice with its own distinctive flair. Fraught with unexplained literary references, I was in heaven. My only grief is it was over too quickly.
“Isola doesn't approve of small talk and believes in breaking the ice by stomping on it.”

(2) The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
- by contrast, this was a hefty read. also written in the characters own singular voices, I was hooked from the beginning, but spent the better part of the month working through it. It's humorous, yes, entertaining for sure, but so intensely philosophical it takes some work.
“I find this a fascinating phenomenon: the ability we have to manipulate ourselves so that the foundation of our beliefs is never shaken.”

the others being:

(3) Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham (which I enthusiastically "reviewed" already here)

&

(4) To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (which I have only partially completed. but I'll tell ya right now, I already feel it's going to be a favorite)

so there's the January readings! I'm so thrilled I was able to meet my goal - it's encouraging for this scatterbrained mama, and I'm hopeful for the rest of the year!

also, to clarify the "TOTAL" - the number is for the entire year, and will increase by month, so I'm just counting any book I read part of. maybe that's confusing, but so is my brain, so we're just rolling with it, 'kay?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

nothing separates

Jesus said, "come unto Me." so you did. and you found Rest.

He wiped your tears in the middle of the night when you didn't understand the loneliness.

He exposed the shell you lived in, gave you new skin.

You said you didn't need Him. Couldn't need Him....didn't deserve Him.

You said, "But I'm THIS."

He says, "You're mine."

You flubbed the song. Broke the plate. Misspelled your name. Forgot the answer.

He said, "I washed it away."

You keep forgetting your mistakes don't define you.

He never gets tired of taking your hand, lifting your chin to show you HIS reflection in your mirror.

He brought you someone who sees you like He does.

Marriage highlighted the Mystery in ways you never dreamed.

You learn. Grow. Change. TOGETHER.

Passion and love reflect in each other's eyes as you finally put a finger on the reflection of Church and Christ on earth.

And just when you thought it couldn't get more beautiful.

He gave you a little lamb. a little reflection of both of you.

He entrusts you with a piece of His heart towards us.

"You're my child." He says.

"Here's your child." He says.

And suddenly you realize how much He loves you.

You almost lose her. And you almost forget how to breathe.

But then she's vibrant and thriving and your heart bursts with pride.

"It's how I feel about you," He says.

She cries at night. You're exhausted. Grace slipping.

"I never slumber or sleep. My grace is sufficient," He says.

Teething. Fever. Stuffy nose. Your heart aches for her discomfort. You want to take her pain on yourself.

"I never stop interceding on your behalf," He says.

Her smile lights up the room. You're helpless with love.

"You are the apple of my eye," He says.

No sleep schedule? No real routine? No problem.

She needs you. AGAIN. You're at the end of your rope.

"Lift her chin. Show her you love her. Show her me," He reminds you.

NOTHING can separate us from experiencing the love of our Father from us.

Cuddling at night - she's asleep next to you, you're both entranced watching her.

Two perfect pictures of Heaven's love. Given to us to walk out on earth.

Marriage.

Parenthood.

Nothing can separate us.

Not "normal", "mundane" life. Because He's there.

"This is a great mystery. But I speak of Christ and the Church."

"As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him."

"Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

our first miscarriage - two years later

the photo we used to tell the world
that jeremiah had come, and gone.
It's been two years since our first miscarriage. That in itself doesn't feel like that much time, but we've racked up quite some mileage since then so in many ways it feels like a decade. Today, I thought I'd share a little about how we're doing now, with the passage of time, and now that we have our daughter.
"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten..." - Joel 2:25

I want to be authentic, to share how I genuinely feel. My grieving for Jeremiah looks very different than it used to. If you're a fellow miscarriage mama, you know how it goes - right after you lose your baby, you start reading everything you can get your hands on. Every testimony, every story you can find. You share your own heart as best you can, and feel the grief will never go away. The stories you hear are all of recent loss, and all is fresh. I want to offer hope, and perspective, from two years down the road - WITH a rainbow baby. If that's what you need to hear today, this is for you.

Jeremiah was not quite a honeymoon baby, but close. *smile* Following a year of long distance relationship and intense spiritual and emotional challenges from outside, finally being married brought a huge sigh of relief and rest. Getting pregnant almost immediately didn't change that - we were elated. I had a niggling fear of miscarriage, but Josh's steadiness and confidence helped keep that in check. Regardless, I didn't even begin to think about preparing for a baby - put it on hold. For almost a month, everything was smooth. At seven weeks, we lost him.

We've had two miscarriages, and being completely honest here, my second one was "harder." More emotional. More physically painful. More intense. I still shed tears over my sweet rainbow baby at random unexpected times. HOWEVER. My first miscarriage took something from me that I'll never get back - the pure joy of a positive test.

Two years later, that's still what hurts the most. The fact that my first pregnancy test, instead of being this sweet, innocent story of bliss and "yay! we're the pregnant newlyweds!", it became a symbol of loss and grief for me. My heart still twinges when I see young couples get married, get pregnant immediately and are so happy and excited and have a healthy baby nine months later. Not a twinge of jealousy, of course, because obviously I wouldn't wish a loss on anyone (duh!) but just a twinge of loss that I missed out on what that feels like. I don't know the little face behind those very first two pink lines. It was a loss of innocence that you can't get back.

I also dealt with what was most likely postpartum depression after that loss. It wasn't just "feeling sad" - it was stuck-in-bed-till-three-pm-with-no-appetite depression that was impossible to "shake". Once my hormones finally balanced themselves again, four months later, I felt so much better, but looking back at my journals and posts and pictures from that season hurts my heart. It's just not what anyone wants their first year of marriage to look like, and that still makes me sad.

As a deeply emotional human being (cheers to fellow fours - good grief our lives can be roller coasters!), I'm often consumed by whatever I'm feeling. Grief, joy, pain, excitement - I'm all in or meh. No real in-between - unless we're talking about action movies. (tangent. sorry.) Acknowledging that grief changes over time was, is, hard for me. I was so consumed with grief - it felt embarrassing to admit that's no longer the case. Even though, of course, that doesn't invalidate how I felt then, but it's funny how self-conscious we can feel about the matters of our heart. I still refuse to be that person who tells friends in the midst of struggle, "Don't worry, it'll get better," because phrases like that made me want to punch a wall back in the day. I still understand, I still remember how that feels. Empathy doesn't mean throwing advice, it means getting down in the muck with people and meeting them where they are. But it's frustratingly true that grief does change. And that doesn't mean we're moving on, forgetting, "getting better," - it simply means just that. It changes. We grow into it. We move forward. We don't forget, but we accept, we grow, we walk. And seeing it now in my own experience brings me hope. And it's allowed me to offer hope to others, and feel less afraid of the future. We've seen what healing does. We understand now that the darkest nights end. The sun does rise.

the doorway to Ellie's room
Now that Ellie is here, the rough edges have softened. Grief DOES look different. It doesn't take my breath away, it doesn't cause crippling sobs. Sometimes I still sit in bed for half the day, cuddling Ellie, but it's usually to get perspective, to remember, to soak up the moments with my miracle baby, to regroup. Grief is more of an mellowed ache now, and when I look back it's as if there's a big black stamp of "WHAT IF" on that year. Jesus has used Ellie to bring enormous amounts of healing to our family, our hearts, our souls. The wounds don't gape like they used to. I daily live the conundrum of being so in love with my amazing daughter, and trying to comprehend the reality that she wouldn't even exist if either of my two other babies had lived. But I've come to terms with the fact that all three of my children's stories are tightly tied together, and none exist without the others. Ellie's story belongs to Jeremiah and Daniella as well, and it is possible to walk the tightrope of contentment and joy and questions and loss.

As this two year anniversary approaches, I'm aware that I'm the most stable I've been emotionally since. To be completely honest, my miscarriages are not on my mind every minute of every day. I no longer feel sorry for myself, or struggle with how Jesus is Healer but our babies still died. But every day as I walk into my daughter's room, I see Jeremiah and Daniella's shadow boxes on the wall - I see that very first positive test, and they are not forgotten. The other week, I walked in to hear Josh telling Ellie about her big brother and sister in heaven, and the family that we all are together.

Time doesn't heal, Jesus does. Time brings perspective. And I know that having a child in my arms has done my heart a world of good. I'm acutely aware that other mamas are still waiting for their rainbow - and that makes me ache. If that's you - I see you. I hear you. You are NOT forgotten! I've been there.

Two years later, and we're doing great. So well. Best we've ever been. We're older, we're stronger, wiser, more together than ever, and more grateful than ever for the healing Jesus brings, for the truth that we're never alone, for the love of the Father that holds us close, for miracles. Grief looks different. Our love looks different. But it's not fading - it's growing. Growing up. Moving FORWARD. Not moving on. Two years later, and we've learned healing doesn't remove grief, but grief doesn't have to stop the healing. As we approach January 11, we'll be doing both.
"Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things!...I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame." - Joel 2:21, 25-27

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

talking as fast as i can

you thought I made up the title of this post as the beginning of my reflections of the past year? ah, wrong. guess again.

it's actually the title of the first book I read this year. okay, I finished it on the 30th. but I'm sort of counting it - I did get it for Christmas after all, and we all know that week between Christmas and New Year's might as well be the next year for all nothingness we accomplish.

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham. A collection of personal anecdotes, a memoir of sorts, this is a conversation-style read with one of the most down-to-earth folks you'll find in Hollywood today. It's like reading an episode of Gilmore girls on paper - so your brain reels a little, but you also feel smarter because your brain also has to work harder to keep up with the stream of consciousness and that in itself is a good thing. Also, I may have finally found someone who writes longer sentences than me. (other than the Apostle Paul)

Lauren is ridiculously funny, and she tells her story of stage and success with refreshing honesty. Our personalities are similar, and I found it encouraging to see someone with character traits of mine that I've often considered to be a deterrent to my adult life, embracing her outgoing nature, randomness, spontaneity, chattiness, and even struggles with staying up with fashion and channeling them into her passion and creative work. She's authentic, unapologetically herself, and she's beloved for it.

I'm sharing this little "review" today, on January 1st of a New Year, because I love the idea of fresh starts. I love the chance to do something new, with a day to mark it. I know we have the choice to make every single day, and a square on a calendar is technically meaningless in regards to our ability to change the course of our life. HOWEVER. When you're a romantic like me, a project starter (with a penchant for leaving them incomplete) and a recovering procrastinator and scatterbrain who relies on lists and goals to stay functional, New Year's Day is the ultimate "Get out of Jail Free" card. A chance to take a deep breath, leave whatever emotional barricades hindering your productivity and creativity behind, and sprint into January with joy and excitement.

Lauren's sweet book was just the encouragement and pick me up I needed as I finish out an eventful, life-altering year and enter my first full year as a parent, and as rubber hits the road raising our beautiful daughter, and learning who I am as a mother, a wife and still as Liza. She writes as fast as she talks, and I had to read each paragraph twice to make sure I didn't miss anything, and my little fast-talking soul was happy to find a kindred spirit in her words and spirit as I start this new season of my life.

Also. She literally IS Lorelai and SHE thought Year in the Life was more of a cliffhanger. So. Instant bonding.  The End.

Happy New Year everyone - and if you think new starts are cliche and lame-o...get a new perspective.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

oy with the poodles already

I've always shared my inspirations over the years. historically, they originate in literature or film, and today is no different. I've been meaning to expound on this for a couple months now, and today is quiet and peaceful, my crazy child is playing on the floor happily by herself, I have coffee with actual CREAMER in it, and it just seems fitting to play with words in this moment.

real talk. this is about preparing for parenthood, and how I felt equipped by a fictional television show.

I'm SERIOUS.

Okay, half-serious, ha. Jesus had been preparing my heart for being a mama for years, so I'm going to give Him all the credit and all the glory, since clearly, that's where it's due. However, our hope can be sparked by others' genius, and as a lover of story and the human heart and relationships, I draw inspiration from so many sources through the lens of my faith.

not even gonna lie - I was half scared to have a girl. more than half scared. and maybe not scared as much intimidated. and I was SO SURE we were having a boy. partly because of some prophetic words spoken over me during my pregnancy pertaining to the meanings of three different boys' names - all of which actually apply to Ellie as well, and are incorporated into her name's meaning.  just felt pretty darn sure I was carrying a boy. (so did every Southern cashier lady I met in my final trimester) hearing my husband’s shocked voice, “Liza, its a GIRL!” as our daughter was born will go down as the biggest surprise of my life. In my (somewhat short) existence, my personal experience has colored mother-daughter relationships to be more complicated than what I felt ready to tackle - while I was obviously excited, I was also intimated.

SO.

On to my inspiration.

Is it weird to say that Gilmore girls got me excited to be a girl mom? Cause weird or not, it's true. My sisters recommended the show probably a year or two ago, and I watched that pilot at least twice before I finally moved on to the next episode and was hooked. I’m soooo far from the super efficient, organized power moms that are my mother and mother-in-law, so sometimes I second guess that my personality will make a good parent. Enter Lorelai. who is basically me. or I’m basically her. whatever. I can’t even tell you how many times watching it through the first time I kept exclaiming, “Josh, it’s me! Look it’s actually ME!” Y'all - do you know how LIBERATING it is to watch someone who talks MORE than you (who ever?!) be the HEROINE of a story?! I'm all for sweet, meek introverts being the star, but fast talking extroverts UNITE, thank you! And while I may not be a single mom with a baby at sixteen, I AM a young mom, still a teenager at heart, with a love for old movies, music of every shade, any and all styles of clothing, a coffee addiction, and the desire to give my daughter the best possible opportunities in life, and be her best friend. Watching Rory and Lorelai onscreen thrilled me to the core, that maybe, just maybe, I could do this girl-mom thing.

so yup. and as an aside: as a writer and reader and lover of words, the scripts are brilliant. SMART. And the story as a whole? Y'all. Brilliant again. It's probably the only show I could've justified binge watching as I was basically on bedrest for part of my postpartum recovery. We literally burned through four full seasons in two months - and you know it's more than just a "good show" when you feel inspired to break out all your favorite books and music after every episode. yay for building brain cells! And can I just say brilliant scripts one more time? If I ever grow up to be a screenwriter, I want to be Amy Palladino, please.

I'll stop rambling, although I feel that may accentuate my point *wink* And I know this post doesn't fit in any good "blogging" category except GEEKDOM (fine) but this is how Liza processes, and I said I was going to spit out more words, so here's a bunch to mull over. And maybe you're judging me, maybe you're agreeing with me, but on a deep note, despite the clear flaws in these characters that may deter the more clean cut of us from fully endorsing the show, isn't that what life is? Broken, imperfect people trying to love the best we can, and enjoy the days we've been given? (and ultimately I'm so grateful I have Jesus, since I firmly believe we need our faith to understand our relationships)

so here’s to parenting with vats of coffee, loud music, old movies, spontaneous road trips, crazy clothes, and raw relationships. oh, before I say bye, #teamjess. the end. Oy with the poodles already.


and y'all. "so" is SUCH a filler word. And I use it ALL THE TIME. Why. Why must every sentence have a "so"? DELETE DELETE DELETE