Build a Bigger Table

Since the beginning of time, we have been on the move.

For any number of reasons: water, food, shelter, dinosaurs, volcanos, family ties, earthquakes, adventure, danger, curiosity, beauty, divine calling, opportunity, safety, home.

Home; the thing we long for most, the reason for all the wandering – we want to go to there.

Look around you.

None of us originated where we are. Maybe you have to go back a few generations, but chances are, someone somewhere in your family took a chance – a leap from where they were to where you find yourself now.

The square root of all humanity is immigration.

Only in the last few hundred years (maybe longer, I wasn’t there) has the world begun to define its resources as “mine” instead of “ours.” Finders keepers, losers weepers.

We think we actually own stuff, just because we have it. Meanwhile, the bank, the credit card company, maybe even God himself, are all chuckling to themselves a bit because they know you’re almost nothing without them.

I was almost nothing, once.

I was 18, living on $5-an-hour in a $12-an-hour world. Somewhat educated, a whole lot unprepared for real life.

Why? Because I was an immigrant. Not from Syria or Africa or India – from the United Freaking States of America.

How did this happen?

My family situation was one of fear: the future, the US government, relationships, Harry Potter. Nothing was to be trusted except ourselves and God. But he’s kind of a wild card, so tread lightly.

I’m 28 years old and I’ve lived in Canada since I was 10. But only in the last 5 years have I been legally able to drive, work, travel, get married and have an education. The previous 13 were spent in fear, hopelessness, depression, guilt, worthlessness and secrecy.

Once I took the step and made myself known to the Canadian government through refugee status, I didn’t know what would happen. Jail? Deportation? I had not kept up connections with anyone in the US except for a couple of friends. No family. I’d barely graduated high school, and I had no resume except the occasional babysitting and housecleaning. #HollaAtMeMexicanStereotypes

I was scared. My mom (at the time) did not support my decision to officially emigrate. Are you *supposed* to do things your mom doesn’t want you to do?

But after 4 long years of waiting, surprises were in store. I was not deported, but my mom was.
Turns out working 40 hours a week is really hard, but minimum wage is really nice.
Europe was pretty amazing; I’ve heard other places are just as good, so I might go there too.
I can’t imagine my heart or my life without my husband.
My home, with my little cat and my big dog and the dishes I hate doing and the laundry machine that whirs peacefully, is a gift.
In the big scheme of things, I have absolutely nothing to complain about, and everything to be thankful for.

I want that for my Syrian humans. And my East Indian humans, my Asian humans. My native American, African, South American, Mexican, Russian, European, American & Canadian humans. All the humans.

And if they have to come to where I am to receive that, then my arms are open.

Because I’ve lived with nothing, and others have shared with me. If they hadn’t, I’d probably be dead, inside and out.
And now that I have some things, I want to share with others in need too.

What we have before us is an opportunity to love greatly with simple actions. Don’t miss it.

**On behalf of the town of Smithers, British Columbia, I say WELCOME to the Syrian families that will be joining us soon. I hope we can make things better.**

image

The Turkey & The Hurricane

Last Friday, the Button family went on the road trip of a lifetime.

We just didn’t know it at the time.

1. The Hurricane

It was a dark and rainy morning. We had the next 4 days off work, because we’re in Canada. And instead of celebrating the domination and desecration created by that Columbus guy, we eat turkey while knowing little to nothing about Sir Martin Frobisher.

image

We left our house around 6am, so it was still dark. For the next 3 hours, we were blindsided by driving rain, gale-force winds and nasty-ass dog breath.

image

The weather was actually a little scary. Our little car tried to leave the road several times.

image

Thankfully, Steve was the one driving.

Later, we would turn on the news radio and learn that an event called Hurricane Oho was occurring off the Pacific coast, and we were literally feeling the after-effects of it in the middle of British Columbia. Steve quickly coined it Hurricane Uh-Oh, and I quickly coined us Bill Paxton & Helen Hunt.

image

^^^ Dat’s us. #DriversAndSurvivors

2. The Never-Ending Ride of Burgers, Weed & Sh*t

Hear this: I love coupon day. I love opening my mail box, and seeing those shiny red papers filled with pictures of food I want to eat and money I want to save.

No more.

We brought all of our coupons for the road trip because #poor, so we basically ate burgers and potato-related foods, all 3 meals, in the span of 14 hours. Sure, we saved money, but by the end of the day when I could no longer poop, I found myself wishing they made coupons for organic salad.

Oh yeah — we were in that car for FOURTEEN HOURS. Because the freeway between Hope and Vancouver is bat-shit crazy on a good day, and we were there on a Friday. On a holiday weekend. And while the Fraser Valley has many lovely qualities…

Smelling good is not one of them.

I know they *say* marijuana hasn’t been legalized in Canada yet, but in that valley, it might as well be. Also there are cows and mushroom farms and lifted trucks that are singlehandedly putting a hole in the ozone.

Did I want to poop? Did I want to throw up? I couldn’t tell anymore.

image

3. The Golden Anniversary

But the reason we drove (besides turkey) was well worth it. It was the 50th anniversary of my mother-and-father-in-law.

And they didn’t know we were gonna show up.

I was a little nervous; I hadn’t seen them since we moved away a year ago, and I feel like a golden anniversary is kind of a big deal. I wanted it to be memorable.

image

I found this beautiful British-style teapot awhile ago, with them in mind, as well as some loose-leaf earl grey tea that could be used to fertilize Mum’s garden after they were diffused.

To me, it was meaningful on many levels.

To them, it was too.

But that wasn’t the only surprise of the night.

4. Poppy vs. The Pool

It was dark by the time we arrived at the house, and we thought Poppy should explore her new surroundings.

I didn’t see any of this happen, so this is how I understand it.

Poppy was busy sniffing the backyard by the light of the back deck, when she suddenly came upon a strange new surface. It was blue, kinda wet and level with the ground.

It was the tarp cover on the swimming pool.

She quickly realized she’d made a terrible mistake, and tried to swim her way to the sidewalk. Instead, she started sinking.

Very calmly – like Jesus, one could say – Steve reached in and pulled our Precious out of the pool just as the cover was starting to blanket her.

And since she’s smart, she remembered and avoided the special blue ground for the rest of the weekend.

5.The Guardians of the Toy Store

We’re nerds. Straight up. We collect Funkos from multiple fandom’s, and our Christmas tree looks like the entire pop culture from the 1970s-now threw up on it.

So when Steve showed me the newer, much bigger location of our favourite toy store, I nearly had a heart attack.

image

Ewoks on a tree bridge over the toy shelves! #UhhhhCha!

image

Treebeard & Gollum creepin’. #We’reTakingTheHobbitsToIsengard

image

Completed by the best: Groot & Rocket extending hands of friendship to yours truly. #WEAREGROOT

And finally…

6. The Darla Effect

Have you read Darla Halyk, from New World Mom?

You probably should. She has amazing stories, from comparing herself to Amy Schumer to her literal, actual, text-the-Vatican miracle baby.

I had no idea, until recently, that she lived near Vancouver her whole life – up to and including the time I lived there. When I think about the coffees and laughs and sisterhood wasted, I wanna cry.

Because I got to meet with her for approximately 90 minutes before heading back north, and you guys.

She’s amazing.

image

We hugged upon meeting, because of course we had to. She drank out of a coffee cup the length of my forearm while we talked non-stop about writing and our pets and her kids and food and it all ended too quickly. She is the Real Deal, from her sweary-mouth to her sparkly eyes and again to her fierce love for life. I can’t wait to hang out with her again.

So, I am very thankful. I made it to my 28th birthday with little mental breakdown, I ate turkey dinner twice, laughed at YouTube videos with my sister-in-law until my stomach hurt, made great memories with friends & family, and I survived a hurricane.

But above all, I am thankful this picture exists. Because we’ve had enough of Sharknado to last a lifetime. Haven’t we earned…

image

…Turkeycane???

Shared from WordPress

Friends,

Please read this extremely important letter. My best friend wrote it so eloquently, and more and more people are catching her fire.

I don’t know about you, but I am not okay with hearing about another mass shooting in the US, or anywhere. These are preventable. Laurie’s letter comes from a simple blog, but even one voice can make a difference. The President can only do so much – it’s Congress and the voters who can make new gun laws a reality.

Rest in peace, Stephanie, Rachel, and countless others. We will fight for you.

Dear Congress ā€“ Sincerely, A Mass Shooting Survivor – http://wp.me/p2ftlr-UG

My Inner Child Is A Cool Teenager Now

I have an admission to make:

I’m turning 28 in a matter of weeks.

But I’m pretty sure I’m still 16 on the inside, and last weekend I discovered…I love it.

When I actually *was* 16, I constantly heard from strangers that they had taken me to be at least 25. Now, people are surprised to hear that 28 is approaching. That’s not a humble brag – that’s actually a sort of effed-up psychological facet that I’m starting to explore.

For starters, I didn’t have much of a childhood. As a homeschooled only child preparing for the Apocalypse to hit in Y2K, I took life (and what I thought was left of it) pretty seriously. Books were for learning survival skills in the woods, even in something like Little House on the Prairie. Movies were for becoming desensitized to blood and violence and end-times scenarios. Music was for prayer and thoughtful reflection. I “grew up” pretty quickly.

I learned a lot. I learned that you can’t predict anything the future holds. And because of that, I learned that you have to live a little, otherwise you might as well already be dead.

As you can imagine, my upbringing made me a little…awkward out in regular social circles. I was not cool, no matter how hard I tried. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I found my self-deprecating charm that people enjoyed. I joined Facebook; I started blogging. My “voice” online feels like it could be important, but out in the real world, there’s no way that being 28, among all the other 28 year olds, is something I’m ready for.

So I hosted a sleepover. At my house. For 6 teenage girls, and one 7 year old little sister. Throughout my childhood, I had been the babysitter for almost all of them. #OkayIDOFeelOld

It wasn’t hard for me to come up with ideas for our sleepover. Teenage girls? Cupcakes, dance competitions, pizza, face masks, nail polish, Bollywood musicals and Disney cartoons and selfies.

It’s so simple. *mic drop*

image

image

17 hours later, it was declared “the best sleepover ever”; we stayed up til 3am, talking about The Hunger Games, Divergent, as well as Shawn Mendes, Imagine Dragons & Taylor Swift. I knew all the songs on their iPods, to their genuine surprise. They all want to divide up my house into their own rooms to live there permanently. As long as they have access to an easy-bake oven.

Quotes of the Night

“My booty is unshakeable!” – Alys

“I’ve been interpretive dancing for approximately an hour and a half.” – Journey

“Um, esscuse me, is that fruit punch organic? If not, I’m leaving.” – Camryn

“Burn! That’s checkin’ your white privilege right there!” – Avery

I never thought I’d live to see these little girls become teenagers. They’re enchanting in their almost-woman-ness. And now, like some sort of weird Benjamin Button story, we have met in the middle. I finally belong.

I used to be ashamed of myself, my weird amalgamation of balancing my checkbook and watching The Vampire Diaries, not being late to work while eating leftover Kraft Dinner for breakfast. (Although I AM determined to finish Anna Karenina & Les Miserables, maybe even find someone to have an intelligent conversation about them.)

I’m sure I’ll grow up one day. Just, for now, let me have this. It’s the most myself I’ve ever been.

image

“Be who you needed when you were younger.”

Dump Etiquette

A few weeks ago, I took a big step in the world of fashion: I bought my first above-the-knee skirt (above? below? It’s shorter than my legs are, period.) I love wearing skirts, especially in the summer, especially if they have enough material to allow a little swirl in my twirl.

This skirt is all that and a bag of chips. It’s from Bootlegger, navy blue with colored anchors and cutesy shit all over it. I can wear it with literally anything. It even looks good wrinkled, not that I would know that. *ahem*

So last weekend, I was emptying our storage barn of garbage and recycling, getting ready to make a dump run – maybe make some money at the bottle depot. (To buy more pop and beer, of course. It’s the ciiiiiircle of liiiiiife.)

I don’t know what possessed me to decide that wearing the Skirt of Wonder to the dump was a great idea. Probably the same demon that convinced me to wear my lacy white underwear underneath it. I guess I was feeling good about myself.

So there I was, tossing bags of garbage and bottles into my car in a manner that would make a Tetris champion cry.

When I got to the dump, I had to unload a bag of recycling to get to the garbage underneath.

And then, a hurricane-force gale blew in from the coast of South America to make all hell break loose.

The big blue bag of bottles and cans tipped over, and all of my drinking problems scattered around the dump.

Have you ever been to a Walmart on a Saturday? Then you’ve been to our local dump on a Saturday.

I chased my recycling all over the gravel parking lot, hoping one of the thousand people there might help me, but alas. Also? It’s very difficult to grab errant recycling when you’re busy trying to keep your extra-twirly skirt (God why did I choose the extra-twirl?!) where it belongs.

I’m not saying I publicly exposed myself indecently – I’m just saying that Marilyn Monroe would have been embarrassed.

image

"Really? Lacy white underwear to the dump? Oh, honey."

After a few moments of “The Carly Show”, I finally dumped my shit, re-packed my other shit and peeled out. To their credit, I didn’t see anyone staring after me.

Less than an hour later, I made $23 dollars at the Bottle Depot. Suck it, Marilyn.

I told Steve when we saw each other that evening, and we had a bit of a giggle. Then I moved on.

The very next day, we were at the grocery store. (Like I said, we had $23 fresh dollars.) We turned down the pet aisle and saw our friend Mik pushing her cart towards us, her 9-month pregnant belly being adorable. We smiled and chatted for a couple of minutes, and then she threw in this offhand comment – “Oh hey, I saw you at the dump the other day!”

“Oh!” I replied nonchalantly. And then I remembered. “…oh?”

She smiled compassionately. “Yyyyeaaahh.”

“I am so sorry you had to see that.” I’m surprised the sight of my booty didn’t send you into labor immediately.

She was full-out laughing now. “I thought you recovered very gracefully!”

In an attempt to change the subject, I *very gracefully* gestured to her belly and very loudly did my Brian Regan impersonation: “So when’s that BABY due, eh?!” #ProudDoula

What am I trying to say?

A.) Buy the cute skirt, no matter how insecure you are about your legs. Cause your legs are awesome.
B.) Don’t wear it to the dump.
C.) Even if you think you’re at a place where you don’t know anyone, you’re wrong. You live in a town with less than 10,000 people; you are never alone.
D.) Seriously, don’t wear a skirt to the dump.
E.) All of the above.

The Story of Poppy

A few months ago, I shared a story about a very special golden retriever who got her ear in a predicament.

Her name is Poppy, and she has changed our lives.

When we first met her last winter, we were just helping out one of the families I nanny for. She belonged to them, you see. They’d rescued her from a shelter a couple of years ago, and so she’d been showered with love from 3 kids and two cats since then. But occasionally, they travel, so we happily opened our home to have Poppy stay with us whenever they went away.

Then, something strange happened.

Every time they came home to their busy lives, they noticed Poppy seemed to be a little…less. Less happy, less energetic, less Poppy. They felt concerned, and a little guilty that they couldn’t devote more attention.

So, while it was painful, they decided to do what was best for her. They gave her to us. They would feel better knowing she could have more space out of town to run, and to be adored by a family that wasn’t quite as busy. The kids were consoled knowing that I could bring Poppy for visits when I came to nanny them. And me? Well, I was like a kid on Christmas morning. The golden retriever I’d always dreamed of having was now a reality.

In the past few months, we have learned many things about Miss Poppy.

1. She is made to adore.

image

Her eyes are pools of dark melted chocolate, and they speak volumes. If we’ve been separated for a few hours, her reaction to seeing us again will instantly change our mood. She jumps and hops and *smiles* in absolute exuberant joy at our existence. I’m not gonna lie, it feels pretty damn good.

2. She’s cool with Walter.

Which is just an amazing bonus. I love that we are a little family of rescuers and the rescued.

image

But even she knows better than to cross paths with him in a catnip-induced hallway hangout.

image

3. She knows what the words “car ride” mean.

And it.jazzes.her.right.up.

image

image

4. Playing a game of tag with her will lighten your soul.

Without a doubt, this beautiful creature is teaching me how to play again. Can you believe she is 8 years old? I’m half her age in human years, and her energy puts me to glorious shame.

image

image

5. As strongly as she loves, she just as strongly hates.

She actually cannot handle thunder, the vacuum cleaner, anyone squeezing her ears or touching her food bowl when she’s not done eating. We don’t really know what to do about that, but we’re working on it.

6. She has the soul of a wanderer.

We have a very big yard where we live, and it’s completely fenced in – which is perfect for Poppy (and friends) because, while we rent a large property, there is a raging highway and a thick forest full of bear and moose not far from our house.

About a month ago, I had a day off at home, so I was relaxing on the deck in the beautiful sun while Poppy chased her purple squeezy ball around the yard.

After a while, I went inside to make some lunch, leaving the dog outside. In the distance, I heard a roll of thunder, but didn’t think too much of it. We’d been having thunder every day for almost a week now; I opened the screen door to let Poppy inside.

She was gone.

I searched every inch of the yard, looked under the house, called and called. She was mischievous occasionally when it came to the fence, but she always came back when I called.

There were no obvious openings in the fence, and she was not coming to my call.

Lunch forgotten, I grabbed her leash and jumped in my car, preparing to peruse the neighborhood street, preparing myself to *not think* about the highway and the forest.

After an hour of driving and calling, I phoned Steven at work. I tried to keep the worry from my voice, but his mind went to the exact same place mine already had.

“Shit,” he muttered, “I can’t leave work. Just pray, and keep calling. Let me know if she shows up.”

It would be 4 hours before Steve could get home, and so for the next 4 hours, I screamed and prayed and swore into the atmosphere that if she didn’t get her GD-effing-ass home right now, Mama was gonna lose her shit. Because there was no way we were ready to lose *another* precious family member after last summer.

When Steve got home, I had almost no voice left. With slight relief, he told me that he had not seen any dogs on the highway, alive or dead.

We decided to go to all the places we had ever taken Poppy, starting with our landlords farm just down the road. They weren’t home, but we felt free to explore their property and call her for the 57,000th time.

No sign of her.

So we posted a LOST sign on the neighborhood mailbox, and went the opposite way on the highway. A knot of dread sat in my stomach as I pictured her beautiful amber fur matted with blood, her energy and passion sapped and lifeless…

Nothing. No news is good news.

We went back to our neighborhood, deciding to go door-to-door now that it was almost evening.

Starting with the abandoned property directly across the street from us, we parked the truck.

“POPPY! PAAHHHHPPY!”

Like a dream, we heard a reply coming from our house.

“She’s here!”

We abandoned the truck and ran down our driveway. A farm truck we’d never seen before was parked at our house, and guess who was in the passenger seat.

image

We all but fell at the farmer’s rubber boots in gratitude. He shrugged, like it was no big deal.

“She showed up at my place a few hours ago, and jumped in my truck like we were best friends. So I figured I’d better go around and find her home.”

(Yes, of course this would happen before we’ve had a chance to get her a proper dog tag!)

“Took her up to Gweek Riding Center, and Cindy thought she looked a lot like pictures she’d seen online and sent me over here.”

(Bless Cindy. And bless Facebook pictures.)

“Where do you live?” We asked him.

“‘Bout two kilometers up the highway. She was soaking wet when she showed up; I figger she swam all the way up Deep Creek.”

Two kilometers. Up a creek. Returned to us because of Facebook and good neighbors. Without a scratch on her.

image

Moments after this photo was taken, she barfed up a gallon of creek water and grass on the kitchen floor, then took a long nap.

We didn’t mind at all.

She hasn’t tried to escape since then. It’s like she knows what she put us through. She knows that we need her, for just a little while longer. And for that, we’re grateful.

Welcome to the family, Poppy. We love you.

image

Take Me To Church

I am what you might call a “church-goer”. I look back on my life and cannot remember a time that I was not connected to a church somewhere. I’ve attended chapel at school, chapel at camp, Presbyterian church, Alliance church, Foursquare church, home church, Pentecostal church, Evangelical Free church, Salvation Army church, Baptist church, and back to Pentecostal church. Morning worship, communion, Vacation Bible School, Sunday school, children’s church, youth group – sometimes attending, sometimes leading. I’ve done it all.

What can I say, sometimes they have snacks. And always really good juice. I know it wasn’t koolaid because I’m still alive. (Really, Carly? Too soon.)

It’s not hard to picture going to church like going to a family reunion. There are people you know, some you love, some that you’re just like “ehh.” And if you go to church alone like I have for most of my life, then sometimes you actually *do* get adopted by some parents or grandparents that take you home for lunch after the service since you are probably wasting away.

A church has always been my place of refuge, confession, re-confirmation of faith. Where I could find God the easiest.

And now, I find myself being called away. Maybe not from church completely, but from what I think I know and believe about church.

Like any family, church assemblies occasionally go through rough patches. Fighting, gossip, disagreement over how things should be done, taking sides, misunderstandings, financial stress; sometimes, people walk out and don’t come back. Bridges are burned, hearts smoldering in the ashes.

Unfortunately, in these situations, the rest of the world looks at people like us and points vigorously, “See! I knew they were hypocrites! That’s why *I* don’t go to church.”

And unfortunately, some of us are not humble enough to admit that it might be true. So, once again, the reputation of God gets dragged through the mud.

I have recently discovered that I am very passionate about the integrity of God’s reputation. And that because of this, I need to be equally as passionate about the possibility that I may not be right about everything.

“Anyone who gets to the end of their life with the exact same beliefs and opinions as they had in the beginning is doing it wrong.” – Sarah Bessey

Some people might call this instability; a flaky standpoint. I call it maturity.

When I first started out, no matter which of those many churches I attended, my core beliefs were always the same.

God is watching my every move angrily so I better toe the line. God hates gay people. God hates women who have had abortions. Poverty and homelessness is God’s way of saying they should have worked harder. People that aren’t white or Christian are kind of scary; I should avoid them. Women should be seen and not heard in church. Men are always right, especially pastors because God speaks directly to them always. I am a bastard child, but God might still have room for me somewhere, if I try hard enough.

I don’t remember actually hearing any of those words being spoken to me personally or from the pulpit. (Especially considering my 2 year experience at the Salvation Army church, where they are all about women serving equally in whatever capacity!)
They were just…there. Maybe they were the lies I was born with, and no one bothered to set me straight. These lies would tangle around my heart like poison ivy.

But as the years have passed, a garden scissor has slowly been cutting through – a painful act of being set free.
They aren’t done yet. For the truth to continue, for the pruning to yield more fruit, I need to step out of the comfort of the church building for awhile. It’s far too easy to arrive at a church every week, dressed in your Sunday best, to stand and sing a few songs, sit and listen to a few words, learn a few lessons, greet a few well-known strangers, and then run out the door to beat the brunch crowd.

I’m not saying that everyone does this. I’m just saying that unless I’m living in a country that forces me to sneak-read my Bible, or whisper Jesus’ name for threat of death, I am the laziest Christian ever.

Turns out I’m not alone. I have friends who suspect there is more to this Jesus person and his way of life, and they want in.

“So you moved me, out of myself and into the fire… I can’t go with you and stay where I am, so you moved me…” – Susan Ashton, You Move Me

And so we’re going on a journey together. We don’t know where it will go, or what it will look like yet. But we do know that there will be no politics. Separation of church and state is still a thing.
We do know that it won’t always be on a Sunday.
We do know that we won’t be meeting in a building, and that there won’t be any programs designed to draw people in to the latest spiritual attraction.
We do know that it will be hard as hell, like someone’s pulled the plug on our Matrix-induced slumber and now we can see things as they really are.

Because that’s what we’re asking for: the real, warm, hard truth. To meet anyone and everyone in that truth, in
their story, and walk it out together.

For example, next week, the town is offering a bike course to teach kids how to ride bikes if they don’t know how. The course needs volunteers. So, next week, we’re going to show up, and help out. Because we know that if we can teach even one child how to ride a bike, we’ve changed their world. We don’t have a building with a kids program to invite them to, but we have our hands and hearts, ready to meet a need in the here and now. We didn’t have a board meeting, we didn’t take a vote, we’re just going.

Last week, we hosted a party where an entire pig was roasted on a spit, and many people I’d never met before showed up. And I talked to some of them. And I tried goat meat for the first time. And I helped a friend through 5 contractions in her long labour. It was all terrifying and exhilarating.

Maybe sometime, we’ll collect some of our own money to help a single mom without any strings attached. Meals For Moms is still going strong, and I’m thankful for that open door.

Maybe the week after that, one of our D.J. friends will book a wedding reception, and he’ll take a few of us over to start a celebration without asking anyone what their religious affiliation is.

Because love and building relationship and challenging any hidden prejudices is the name of our non-game.

Who knows what could happen?

And when we do get together to study the word of God, we’re going to ask the scary questions. We’re going to wrestle the angels until we find a crown worth keeping.

Maybe a woman will preach without feeling like she has to ask permission. Maybe a child will hear God speak and share it for our knowledge and benefit. Maybe we’ll see a body or soul be healed in front of our eyes.
Maybe we’ll fall on our faces, failing miserably.
Maybe we’ll get back up again.
Maybe we’ll wash out the bitter taste of God’s name in others’ mouths with pure water, free of hypocrisy and hidden agendas.
Maybe I’ll finally learn who I’m meant to be, and cut the last tangle of poison ivy from the soil of my soul.

That’s what I’m asking for.

[To be continued…hopefully]

Next Time

At this time last year, I was four days late. My breasts were sore, my appetite had changed; something new was going on.

My husband and I welcomed our first pregnancy with shock and awe. We hadn’t planned for it, we weren’t ready – but really, can you ever be?

6 weeks later, our baby was gone. We hadn’t planned for it, we weren’t ready – but really, can you ever be?

I still can’t believe it’s been almost a year. A year of walking through a strange fog of grief that only someone else who’s experienced it can understand.

We haven’t tried again. We’re afraid. We want to be secure in finances and housing and knowledge about child-rearing – but really, can you ever be?

Ever the optimist, I have hope that one day soon, our life will hear the sounds of a newborn cry morphing into the pitter patter of little feet running down our floor.

And once it does, this is what I want to do.

1. Next time, I want to tell my husband the news a little more creatively.

As much as he loved the news, I’m sure he will appreciate being told in a way that doesn’t involve being woken at 6:30 on a weekend to have a pee-covered stick shaken in his bleary face.

2. Next time, I want to tell more people in person.

Technology is great for sharing news, but there’s just something extra special in seeing a loved one’s face explode with joy in #realtime.

3. Next time, I want to tell people early-ish.

We announced our pregnancy to our world just shy of 8 weeks in. A foolish thing, some might say, but I believe something unexpectedly bad can happen to a pregnancy at any time. I’m not jinxing anything if I share early. It was a life saver for me to be able to use my blog and Facebook as a platform to document every high and low of my 9-week pregnancy and the weeks that followed. Every time I made an update, I knew I had people waiting to support me with comments, prayers or even just silent heart emoticons. Friends appeared out of the woodwork with their own stories of loss, that I might have never known otherwise, and I value that more than keeping secrets for taboo’s sake.

4. Next time, I want to ignore my phone a little more.

“Hi! Welcome to the MyPregnancy App! Today, your precious baby is the size of a raspberry. Make sure you avoid soft cheese and raw fish. Watch this video of computer-generated genitals emerging from your cartoon baby’s abdomen!”

*An hour later*

“Sweetie, your baby is *still* the size of a raspberry, and probably will be tomorrow as well. You know how at sometimes you keep checking the fridge in hopes that new food has magically appeared? Same concept here. Go take a nap.” – what MyPregnancy App should have said.

5. Next time, I want to finally become a fashionista.

I am not fashion-conscious. At all. I am the reigning queen of hand-me-downs and thrift store bargains. There’s nothing wrong with that. But my queendom has been established for more than 10 years. I’ve been out of high school for only 8 years. Yes, if you do the math, that’s a problem. But not one that I can justify changing until I literally cannot fit into those clothes anymore. And there’s never been a cuter time to be pregnant, Pinterest will tell you that right now. Hang in there, holey wardrobe. Your time is coming.

6. Next time, I want all the photos.

One of my good friends took my wedding photos almost 3 years ago. I booked her that same day to take all my family’s photos for all time ever. But before that, I want baby shower photos, I want maternity photos, I want labour & birth (YES, birth) photos, and I want newborn photos.

This will be my “rainbow” baby, and I want to soak myself in their presence, just once, before I’m too tired to function and staring at a tiny stranger who’s changed my whole life.
I want to revel in every glorious inch of those days before and after because I’m making up for lost time.

I know that the world is already flooded with baby photos that everyone else is sick of, but you don’t understand. It’s my turn. You don’t have to look at the pictures, but don’t you dare deny me the joy of sharing them, just like I’ve shared every single other difficult step it took to get me here.

7. And finally, next time…

…even if I don’t accomplish everything on this list, my baby will still be here, and I will still be a good mom. Because Love conquers Lists and Fashion and Pregnancy Apps and Photography.

And I’ve got Love in spades.