our little sparrow – our miscarriage story

 

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It’s been 12 days since I was told the little life inside me that had barely begun had already ended. It was was shocking and as cliche as every movie, every TV show: “I’m sorry, but there’s no heartbeat.”

I know people don’t talk about miscarriage, but I want to because I like talking about the things no one wants to. I’m all about open communication. I’m the girl in the church who asks new married couples how their sex life is going. I’ll tell you all about our budgeting and savings goals. I blurted out “We’re pregnant!” to one of my close college friends just days after we’d taken a test, when we were just four weeks along. They say not to tell many people until you’re out of the first trimester, in case you miscarry, people nearly whisper, as if saying the word brings it about, like it’s Lord Voldemort or something. But we couldn’t keep it a secret; we were too excited. So I want to share our story of loss for the same reasons I wanted to share our news of life with friends right away — because I can’t keep it inside of me. And because October is Infant & Pregnancy Loss Awareness month, ironically enough.

Honestly, I never thought a miscarriage could happen to me. Sure, we’d always end the announcement by saying, “Yeah, we hear not to tell people so early just in case something happens, but we’d want support from you even if something did.” But it never crossed my mind that something might actually happen. My mom never miscarried and I knew my maternal grandmother had had 10 successful pregnancies out of 11 (I was later told she actually did have a miscarriage at another point, taking her “success rate” to 10 out of 12). We got pregnant basically without hardly trying, which I know is a huge blessing, and one I don’t take for granted, but all these factors made me think I was untouchable. It wouldn’t happen to me. Actually I didn’t even think it wouldn’t happen to me, I just didn’t think about it at all.

So that Monday morning when I wiped and saw just a little brown blood, I told myself not to panic. I’d known for reading every pregnancy website that spotting was fairly normal and half the time meant nothing. The blood was old and brown, not fresh and bright red. I didn’t have any cramping. I actually felt extra sick that morning, and they say if you feel pregnant, and I did, it’s a good sign. It’s when you stop feeling pregnant that things go south. But we were leaving on a multi-state road trip in three days, so I decided to call the nurse and just check to be safe.

The nurse called me back and said what I expected: it’s probably nothing, you can wait a few days to see if it goes away or gets worse, or you can come in just to check. I mentioned the trip and she asked if we had heard the heartbeat at our first appointment two weeks earlier. We hadn’t. At the time, the doctor said it was still fairly early (six and a half weeks), but we’d hear it the next time. (Now I wonder if it ever did beat…) So we decided to go for peace of mind so we could go to Missouri unworried.

I picked up Greg and we drove to the clinic in New Braunfels, and although I kept trying to tell myself it was fine, I started getting uneasy. What if it wasn’t? We prayed outside the clinic, checked in, and waited. We went back to the exam room and saw our doctor,  who seemed quite hopeful. She did a pelvic exam and confirmed I wasn’t “actively bleeding,” which was a good sign, and I still felt pregnant, which she also deemed a good sign. So she started up the ultrasound to finalize all the good signs, but  that’s when things changed.

For whatever reason, my body just never got the news our baby had died. It kept on going, pumping out hormones and blood and growing placenta, all while the life had gone from our child more than two weeks before. That’s why I still felt pregnant, why I wasn’t actively bleeding. They call it “missed miscarriage.”

They brought in another doctor just to confirm what the ultrasound was showing. I bawled. Greg held it together but only until the car. Our doctor assured me it wasn’t my fault and explained what could happen next. For various reasons, we chose to go with a dilation and curettage, better known as a D&C, a procedure in which the doctor dilates your cervix and removes the contents of your womb in a surgical environment while you’re under general anesthesia. We set the date for two days later, the day we had planned to leave on our trip.

Our trip. The timing. My lack of actual miscarriage symptoms. The only signs that something was off was the spotting on Monday. I had no symptoms of miscarriage at any point, not even spotting on Tuesday and Wednesday. I can’t help but attribute the whole timing scenario to the Lord. I almost feel like He said, “I’m so sorry. I’m going to let you in on this now so you use this trip and this planned time off to grieve and heal.” I fully believe had I not spotted on Monday, we still might not know we’d lost it. Our next appointment wasn’t scheduled until two weeks later. Finding out your baby passed away two weeks ago without your knowledge sucks. Finding out it died a month ago… I can only imagine it would be even worse. Or maybe my body would have gotten a clue, and we would have naturally miscarried hundreds of miles from home while on vacation. The alternatives horrify me, and although this is the saddest thing that’s happened to me, I’m grateful for the way in which it happened. I see the Lord’s hand in it.

On the drive to the hospital, as cheesy as it sounds, God spoke peace and comfort to us through some Christian contemporary music (Jason Gray’s “Sparrow”).

“If He can hold the world, He can hold this moment.”

I think He has our little sparrow in his hands. A few weeks before we found out about the miscarriage, I had spent some time journaling with God, and He shared with me His love for me and for our baby. I know He has our sparrow.

The D&C went fine. The worst part of physical pain was the six sticks it took the nurses and staff to get an IV and blood drawn. Our doctor even let us do one final ultrasound, just for peace of mind, just to check that God hadn’t allowed a miracle to happen. She was so kind and compassionate. I went home that afternoon, and after resting for a few hours and finally getting to eat something, with our doctor’s blessing, we left for Arlington.

It may seem crazy they we went on vacation literally hours after leaving the hospital, but I think it was what was best for us. We saw family (including my parents, grandparents, and two of my three siblings) and mourned with them. We spent a lot of time together as a couple. We checked in on each other’s emotions. We held each other as we cried. We laughed and had fun. We enjoyed amazing weather and beautiful scenery. We accepted feelings of sadness when we saw adorable babies in Mizzou clothing everywhere, but also started regrowing our hope that one day we will have adorable babies in Mizzou clothing. We worshiped in the church where I started to fully cultivate my relationship with God. We ate breakfast with the pastor who married us, who has mentored us throughout the years. We cuddled a fat cat. We ate amazing food. We wrestled through the complex thoughts of grief (Am I sad because we lost this baby, or am I sad because we lost the possibility of a baby? Or both? Or does it matter? Should I be more sad? Should we start trying again right away?). We drove through four state capitols. We saw one of Greg’s favorite musical artists. I bought a candle from the Fixer Upper Silos. I posted a lot of happy pictures from that trip and felt conflicted about it. I didn’t want to paint the picture that we were fine because we weren’t. But it’s not a lie to say we enjoyed the trip and we did have fun. The trip was a gift I am forever grateful for.

I’m also forever grateful for the man I married, my best friend, my rock of a husband, Greg. Many times over the last two weeks I have been overwhelmed to tears with love for him. Seeing his heart for our baby and for me through the last few months is astounding. I know I wouldn’t be in this situation without him, but I also know I couldn’t make it through this situation without him. I know he’s hurting, too, but even in his pain he serves me and puts my needs first. He watched the Middle Tennessee Nobodies just decimate my Tigers instead of watching the biggest game of the week (maybe season?), Alabama vs. Texas A&M. A&M ended up losing, too, but the fact that he went to that football game with me instead of watching his (actually pretty good) team, is just one of the thousands of ways he’s shown me love lately.

On our honeymoon, Greg I went to see the Seattle Symphony play a Pixar concert. They performed music from all the Pixar movies, accompanied by clips from each film. Right before intermission, they played the score from the opening montage from Up!

If you haven’t cried while watching this opening montage, you are a robot. And for the newlywed couple who’s marriage was less than a week old? You better believe we both cried like little babies! After the symphony finished their piece you could audibly hear the entire audience sniffling, which was pretty hilarious actually. Greg even overheard a college-aged girl on the way out for intermission proclaim, “Why didn’t they show the part with the goofy dog??”

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On the Tuesday after we got the news, I scrolled through the “miscarriage” part of Pinterest for whatever reason, looking for hope, other people’s stories, a chance to cry, something. I saw this image from Up! and I couldn’t contain the tears. I remembered our honeymoon and our first few days of marriage. I remembered watching that montage thinking it was sad, but it was life, and hopefully none of the hard things in that montage would happen to us. But even if it did, at least we could have each other. And we still do. And that is something I thank God for every day.

We’re back home now. The first day back at work was rough. While I was out, a few things happened with coworkers at my office and now we’re down two staff members for the next few months. It’s stressful, but my boss and coworkers are kind and understanding. Greg came back to one of the biggest church events bearing down on him, just about a week out. It was hard to go back into our normal routine when we’re feeling anything but normal.

God continues to meet us here, though. He gives us friends with listening ears and big hearts. He reveals other couples who have walked this walk before. He speaks hope and comfort to us. I know He grieves with us. He is here, and He works all things for the good of those who love Him. He also lost His own son and knows the pain of death. Thankfully He has conquered it, and we have hope in eternal life with Him.

Thank you for letting me share our story.

CoMO Spring Break 2013

I’m a little slow updating, but spring break was last week, and I took advantage of my gracious graduate assistantship supervisor and took the week off to head up to Missouri for the first time since I graduated almost 2 years ago!

Absolutely Mizzou-tiful

Absolutely Mizzou-tiful

It was a really lovely time of seeing old stomping grounds and hanging out with dear friends and mentors. It was hard to balance a week of seeing lots of friends, trying to do all of my favorite CoMO things (didn’t make it to the Ragtag… womp womp), eating my favorite CoMO food, trying to be a little productive with job searching and support raising, while also trying to relax during what was likely my last spring break ever. Although it was a busy week, I love every part of it and am so glad I got to visit the Zou! Here’s a little of what I did:

  • Ate delicious Apples & Sausage on a pancake with Samjay at Cafe Berlin, a CoMO brunch MUST.

    Cafe Berlin (photo by Samjay)

    Cafe Berlin (photo by Samjay)

  • Visited with Mariah in Mizzou’s beautifully gothic Memorial Union.

    Memorial Union

    Memorial Union

  • Dined on Addison’s famous Nachos Bianco with my blog friend, Kate, IRL! It was our first time to meet in person after two years of internet friendship!

    Kate & Me

    Kate & Me

  • Hung out in Center Hall and Sporcled with the ladies of Dobbs Canvas Group, aka what my undergrad small group became after they closed Mark Twain Hall for renovations.
  • Applied for some reslife jobs at Mizzou and in Texas, and ended up with a phone interview!
  • Visited the Missourian and caught up with one of my favorite editors, the lovely Liz Brixey.
  • Grabbed some delicious cookies from Ellis Library’s Bookmark Cafe and washed it down with some Kaldi’s coffee before catching up with my favorite eccentric and brilliant professor, Dean Ted Tarkow.

    Bookmark Cafe cookies. Soooo good.

    Bookmark Cafe cookies. Soooo good.

  • Walked across campus to see the newly renovated Pershing Commons and chat with my former Freshman Interest Groups colleague and Director of Mizzou’s ResLife, Frankie.
  • Resisted buying so many glorious black & gold souvenirs, settling instead on a T-shirt for the boyf. He joked that he now has a shirt to mow the lawn in. Jerk. #Aggie
  • Drank some Fitz’s rootbeer in Kaldi’s and worked on support raising.
  • Spent the evening snuggling and giggling with my five hosts (Katie, Elaine, Samjay, Allie, and Michelle) in their adorable house, the Loo (which stands for Land of Oz).

    The Loo gals and me

    The Loo gals and me

  • Grabbed gyros at Casablanca with Pastor Garrett and his lovely pregnant wife Brenna. (Can’t wait to meet baby Eben!)
  • Walked over to Pastor John aka Drage‘s house and hashed out my summer internship job responsibilities for LT and talked recent and upcoming life events.
  • Spooned and took the best nap ever with Samjay.
  • Treated myself to way too much food at Flat Branch with Allie. By far my favorite restaurant in CoMO. Had to get the Flat Branch burger smothered in their ‘Chokes & Cheese for old time’s sake, followed by their cookie sundae with black & gold Tiger Striped ice cream. Also finally got around to trying a sample of six of Flat Branch’s own brews. My favorite was definitely the Oil Change Oatmeal Stout. Dark and chocolaty with some coffee flavors; yum.
  • Craft nighted it up with Mazvita (Mah-‘gee-ta) and made some adorable fabric flower hair clips. Buy one here to support Mazvita and invisible chonic illness awareness!

    Craft night! (photo by Mazvita)

    Craft night! (photo by Mazvita)

  • Enjoyed a famous Rollins Dining Hall omelet with Elaine.
  • Lunched at the Upper Crust with my Walter Williams mentor, Maggie. Although it was a good lunch, I’ll have to remember in the future brunch is the best there.
  • Grabbed some Which Wich with my dear friend Justin who also happened to be in town.
  • Took a walk/hike through Clyde Wilson Memorial Park, tucked in the back of the East Campus neighborhood, with Samjay & Michelle

    Hiking with Michelle and Samjay

    Hiking with Michelle and Samjay

  • Crashed Dobbs’ Canvas Group
  • Watched a terrible movie on Netflix with Michelle.
  • Enjoyed delicious Thai iced tea and peanut phat thai from Bangkok Gardens with my former internship supervisors, Jill & Laura.
  • Toured the under-renovations Mark Twain Hall, my home for 3 years while at Mizzou.
  • Enjoyed the spring weather, the Columns, and Peace Park with Michelle.
  • Crashed a Rollins/Dobbs canvas group video game hangout.
  • Went home early for more snuggling, giggling, and worship with the Loo gals on my last night in CoMO.

    Worship time!

    Worship time!

Overall a beautiful week in Missouri!

I’m no Merida

I have been told by many people this summer that I am incredibly brave. People are amazed that I would just pick up and move to Oregon without knowing anyone. They’re astounded I just picked up and moved to Missouri for college without knowing anyone. They think I’m this confident, independent woman who just makes friends at the drop of a hat and isn’t afraid of being alone. In some respects, part of that is true. I like to think I’m somewhat confident and independent (though I think that sentence just negated the “confident” part). I do make friends fairly easily, and I enjoy my alone time.

But y’all, if I’m being real, what you don’t know is that I’m homesick right now. I’m sitting here missing Columbia. I haven’t truly been homesick for Columbia in ages! I’m missing Colorado, and LT was two years ago. I’m missing College Station and Texas A&M. I’m missing my beautiful roommates and their daily friendship. I’m missing my homegroup and our crazy antics and shenanigans. I’m missing the dudes at the Dudeplex. I’m missing the people I play worship with on some Sunday mornings. I’m missing people able to play music with others in general. I’m missing people who would get excited and care that Mizzou and A&M are now both members of the SEC. There, I just word vomited all my homesickness out.


And I hate admitting this.
I want to be brave. I want people to think I’m independent and confident. But that’s just my stupid pride. And that actually isn’t so good. So here I am telling you. When it comes down to it, I’m just not that brave.

(I am, however, a fiery redhead with a Scottish background, so in that sense, yes, I am like Merida. The blog post title is mostly a play on the movie’s title.)

Going to Mizzou wasn’t that big of a deal because it was college. Everyone picks up and starts a new life in college. You’re encouraged to break away from your high school friends and meet new people. Even though I knew no one going to Mizzou, I also knew lots of people would know no one at Mizzou. And we could know no one together. Plus there were all sorts of instruments in place to help me meet people at Mizzou: my Summer Welcome group, my residence hall, my FIG. That doesn’t count.

As for Oregon, yes, I moved here not knowing anyone, but I also knew it would only be for nine weeks. You can do anything for nine weeks. I also did a lot of research to ensure I wouldn’t be totally alone here. I friended the two ACUHO-I interns on Facebook before I even got to Oregon after I asked my boss if there would be other interns here. I researched churches before I left so I could start meeting people right away. People saw that as be just being a planner, but it was also me not wanting to be alone.

And even though I’ve met some great people here and really never run out of things to do, I miss my friends. I miss my home(s). I miss CoMO. I miss Colorado. I miss CStat. (I even miss Arlington a little, but actually not all that much. Sorry Mom & Dad and Blair and grandparents! I’m not used to seeing you that much… that’s the only reason why! I promise it’ll make sense by the end of this post.)

Ever since I moved to Mizzou, I have never truly been without friends. I had my Mizzou friends at Mizzou. I stayed in Columbia with friends for two summers. I went to Colorado for a summer, but I went with Mizzou friends, and in fact, it was nearly all my close Mizzou friends that went! I moved to College Station, but I also already had friends there. I went to Italy for two weeks, but that was only for two weeks, and I at least was starting to become friends with most of my teammates.

This summer, this Oregon summer, is the first time I have truly moved somewhere without knowing anyone or having a group of other newbies to cling to. This is the longest I’ve been apart from my CStat friends. (This is not even close to how long I’ve gone without seeing my family, hence not missing them as much. This is somewhat normal for how we function these days.)

This is quite possibly what post-grad-school life is like. And that terrifies me. People say I’m brave and can just move somewhere without knowing anyone, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I don’t want to do that when I graduate.

Searching for a job is like a big scary black unknown for me right now. Thank God it isn’t happening for 10 months. If I had my way, next fall I’d working in College Station, Austin, Memphis, San Marcos, the DFW, Mizzou or Pitt. Where I know people. Or where there are GCM churches. Where I would not be alone. I see these SAAHE second years recent grads who are off starting their lives in totally new places. They are the braves ones.

I dread starting over. I don’t want to have to share my life story with a new set of strangers. I don’t want to have to re-explain who people are when I tell stories from my past. And I realize this will happen even if I stay in CStat or move to another GCM campus church or back to Mizzou or whatever. I’m going to meet new people, and I actually enjoy making new friends. But only if I have some constants. Even moving to CStat was hard in that aspect because even though I had a few close friends there, I still had a support system to rebuild. I remember thinking to myself, “Crap. I have to find my new Amanda Craven (one of my closer female friends, peer discipler, and confidant).”

Anyway, now I’m just letting my fears out all over the page, which is silly because I know God is going to take care of me wherever I go. I will be okay if I stay in College Station. I will be okay if I end up moving to Montana or somewhere equally as random and far away. In fact, I will be better than okay. I will be great because the Lord’s plan for my life is more than my tiny, homesick mind can fathom. And if this post makes me sound miserable, don’t worry, I’m really not. I’m just excited that in five weeks I’ll be back in Texas. I’m going to enjoy my last five weeks here, but I’m also glad it’s only five weeks.

I just wanted to dispel this myth everyone keeps believing. I’m not that brave! I am only able to do this, to have this experience, because I trusted God with my summer. I know I’m supposed to be here, and it’s been really, really good for me. It’s been restful. It’s been professionally helpful. And it’s been revealing, socially and professionally, about what I want in the future. Just think. If I hadn’t come here this summer, this whole new experience might have been at my first job, which hopefully will last more than nine weeks. At least now I won’t be surprised by my homesickness in the future. I’m coming to terms with it. I don’t have to hide it out of my pride. I’m learning to accept my inherent need for true community, unconditional support, and deep friendship. And that’s worth nine weeks of missing.

Spent

Well, hello, faithful blog readers. Before you reprimand me for “breaking my fast” with the argument that you came across this post via Twitter and/or Facebook, I would like to defend myself with the fact that I have WordPress automatically set up to post to Facebook and to send out a tweet whenever I post. That being said, we can move on to the matters at hand.

I. am. spent.
But we will get to that in a moment.

The Divine Experiment has been good. Last week’s focus was on humility, and although I didn’t necessarily connect super strongly with our prayer guide each day last week, I do feel as though God put the spirit of surrender in me, which is somewhat related to humbleness. God repeatedly told me to give him everything: “my soul, my life, my all,” my worries, my fears, my uncertainties, my work, my school work, all of it. He spoke to me in the daily prayer meetings, in the discipleship class I’m taking at my church, and even through a really great “Serious Wednesday” post on Stuff Christians Like. He reminded me that his batting average is 100% and that I will never get the short end of the deal when I give him my life.

Surprisingly, the media fast hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be. While I often find myself composing tweets and status updates in my head when funny or interesting things happen, or when I come across a particularly awesome Bible verse, or encounter God in a cool way, I don’t miss it all that much. Part of me thinks that might have to do with the fact that I had zero free time last week to even think about being on Facebook, but we’ll see how the next two weeks go. I do miss staying updated on my friends’ lives back in Missouri, but I think after three weeks of no Facebook and Twitter, I can probably cut back my social media consumption considerably. With the help of Jesus and a Google Chrome plug-in, of course!

What has been difficult is the lack of sleep I’ve had. Although I set myself a 10:30 curfew, it has only been half successful. And even if I do isolate myself at 10:30, that doesn’t necessarily mean bed right away. And that also doesn’t include late nights Thursday-Saturday. So those 7 a.m. prayer meetings are rough muffins, as my MTCG girls might say. I have some struggz getting up in the morning! On top of getting 5-7 hours of sleep a night, I worked several really long days last week. Wednesday I left my house at 6:40 a.m. and returned at 10 p.m.

I’m realizing 6 and fewer hours of sleep make me incredibly vulnerable. By the evening, the littlest thing can set me into tears for no reason. Well, I mean, there’s a reason. I don’t cry for no reason, I just cry because I’m frustrated with things that wouldn’t normally frustrate me to tears. This is not an entirely new realization — it’s happened before, especially the summer I worked at the Missourian. I would wake up at 5 a.m. to work at the rec center and then go to the newspaper until the evening. The long days + lack of sleep + overwhelming or frustrating experiences while doing journalism = somewhat unexplained tears. Let’s just say I made one guy grad student TA really uncomfortable when I inexplicably (to him at least) broke down after some constructive criticism as I sobbed “It’s not you! I’m just so tired!” So I’m working on trying to go to God in those times when I just feel spent and empty physically. I’m trying to figure out if this crying thing is an appropriate expression of emotions or not. I feel like it is. Or at least it makes sense. I’m realizing more and more that our bodies were meant to work holistically: if we’re not completely in balance mentally, spiritually, emotionally or physically, the lack of balance in one area can affect the others, i.e. being more outwardly emotional when I am exhausted.

This week we’re focusing on seeking God’s face. Let me just say that God has been working on this in my life like crazy since school started. I’ve been seeking him a lot; I just want more Jesus! And he has been so faithful. I’m starting to recognize his voice more, and he’s been revealing himself to me in new, amazing ways. I had a really cool encounter with him this weekend at Onething. I want to blog about it later, I think. Let’s just say God has really crazy awesome eyes.

In conclusion, I will leave you with a few verses I’ll be focusing in on as I seek God’s face this week. Please continue to pray for me and my homegroup as we get into the second week of our sleep deprivation and fasting!

PS: As noted in my “About Me” page, my homegroup had a name change! We are now Shockwave, the homegroup formally known as Smackdown.

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
—Jeremiah 29:12-13 (Too many people stop at Jeremiah 29:11!)

“Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.”
—Psalm 27:7-9

I am still alive!

Hooo boy. It’s been a whirlwind two weeks since I last posted. I apologize for the radio silence, but I’ve been trying to get my life in order during the busiest time of the year for me as a proponent of campus ministry and as a future student affairs professional. Here’s a recap of my life (with more detailed posts to come in the following week or two):

My job
Work has been busy but fun. I’ve been transitioning from my summer duties of helping with New Student Conferences and planning Gig ‘Em Week to my school-year duties of advising A&M’s F1:First-Year Photo Project, teaching a First-Year Seminar (FYS) and advising part of the Aggie Orientation Leader Program. Gig ‘Em Week went really well despite the Thursday downpour that left us soaked and mud-stained during the Pizza Taste-Off. My first FYS class also went well. I was very excited to be back in the classroom in front of 20 freshmen. It reminded me a lot of my FIG teaching days, and I’m pumped to get to know my students better as they transition through their first year. F1 is the most intimidating thing in my job description. I’ve never advised a club by myself, so I’m learning on the job while my sophomore executive members are learning on the job how to run a student organization. My students seem stellar though, so I think in the end this, too, will go well.

School
Oh, school. That’s what I’m here for, right? For now, school is okay. I just finished up my first week of class, and the assignments don’t seem impossible; several of them actually sound fairly fun. My main concern is the amount of reading! I know I can handle it, but it’s going to be a lot of work. As much as I hate to admit it, I think my horrendously boring HDFS class from last fall has prepared me for grad school by familiarizing me with APA style. I am also thankful for “Journalism & Democracy,” my capstone from last spring! It was very similarly structured to my classes here in grad school, so I don’t feel like the class format is too foreign. Thanks, Dr. Hinnant!

My church
Getting involved with Smackdown has been a huge encouragement and change in my life. As much as I want to think homegroups here at A&M are the same  as canvas groups at Mizzou, they’re not. They’re structured differently, they meet differently, they’re planned differently. There are some similarities, but there are a lot of differences. This is good and difficult at times. I’m adjusting to the new things, but I’m also excited to bring my experiences at Mizzou to my new family here at A&M. I’ve jumped right into follow-up with nearly 10 girls, which has been discouraging at times, but I’m starting to see some fruit from the perseverance God has given me. If things go the way they seem to be going, Smackdown is gong to be huge this year. It’s exciting but also a little daunting. Discipleship here at A&M is much more intentional and structured than it was at Mizzou. We have a lot of girls to meet up with, and my schedule is already getting full as it is! I cling to the fact that God will provide. He will provide the girls, he will provide the time to meet up with them and he will provide the words they need to hear. It’s a little intimidating seeing the list of things that need to happen this year, but I keep repeating, “I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open.” I’m giving it to you, God, and I know you will make it beautiful!

My house
The Den is, by far, one of the best things about my life here in College Station. It is so incredibly encouraging to live with four other women on fire for God who have caught the vision of our church. It’s been a huge blessing to have roommates who serve one another and pray for each other, who listen to one another and give each other a lot of grace. They’ve made me laugh until I cry, spoken truth over me and celebrate in the small joys I share with them on a day-to-day basis. In short, my living situation is wonderful.

Missing Mizzou
There honestly isn’t too much I legitimately miss about Mizzou, the school, itself. Yes, there are a few things, but I mostly miss the people. I miss my equipping team and my canvas group a lot. It’s been hard to be away from them during what is the busiest time for campus ministries: the start of school. I feel like I should be there following up with them! Fortunately, God gave someone the brilliant idea to create Skype, which has been a blessing for keeping in touch. I’ve gotten to hear about the good and bag things about the start of the year from several of my friends, which I have loved. It’s been beautiful to see how God has grown the younger girls and how he’s using them this fall. I am pumped to see what else God has in store for them!

Life Lessons
God has been teaching me a lot. It really won’t do it justice to elaborate here, but look for future posts about how God has made us so incredible different, how we shouldn’t compare ourselves to one another, how I’m realizing my desperate need for the Lord, how my apathy is often rooted in pride and probably a thousand other things. Needless to say, God is doing work in me!

So there you go. Proof I am alive, learning things, transitioning and adjusting somewhat well. I’m going to try to blog more regularly as a means to keep in touch with my loves far away and as a way for me to continually process my life, as I am realizing more and more that I am a visual learner and processor. I need to write things out. So that’s what I’ll be doing here! In the mean time, God bless!

The tangled web I weave

The idea of connection is a huge theme in my life. In my mind, everything in my life is connected. My life is a continuous chain of events, each part connected to the next. I am unable to see parts of my life without the context of what brought me to a specific point and what that specific point did to alter my life. For example:

  1. My family is weirdly close to my dentist. This is partly because there are six people in my family who go to the same dentist, but also partly because my dentist is also my orthodontist, and after putting three kids through braces, we were at the dentist office a lot. Also my dentist’s receptionist is his wife, so we know her well, too. In short, my dentist is a family friend.
  2. The summer after my freshman year of college, I needed a place to live in Columbia. I ended up rooming with my dentist’s daughter because, “coincidentally,” (I don’t really believe in coincidences anymore) she was also at Mizzou, 700 miles away from home.
  3. While I lived with Dentist’s Daughter, I met a lot of her friends from Sigma Phi Lambda, the Christian sorority at Mizzou. They convinced me to join in the fall.
  4. Once I joined Phi Lamb, I came across the problem of conflicting sorority meetings and church small group meetings. Because of this and a few other reasons, I decided to find a different campus ministry for the last half of my time at Mizzou.
  5. Enter my friend John, who invited to me to The Rock.
  6. After 6 months with The Rock, I decided to go to Colorado LT during the summer of 2010.
  7. At LT I met all my Aggie friends and fell in love with A&M.
  8. I applied and got into A&M.
  9. I moved to College Station and will start class here in just more than a week.

So the moral of the story is I’m at Texas A&M because my family is freakishly close to my dentist.

I realize this is a somewhat weird way to look at life, but I just can’t help it. That’s how it makes sense in my head. So much so that one of my top five StrengthsQuest strengths is Connectedness. EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED.

And God has been faithful to show me just how connected my life is recently.

Exhibit A: LT
LT 2011 was possibly one of the biggest webs of connections for me ever. Although I wasn’t there, the majority of my Mizzou canvas group was. And so was my sister. And our friend from high school. Plus random acquaintances from A&M. And returners from LT 2010. And they all mixed and met and connected. My Mizzou friend Michelle led a project group with my A&M/LT 2010 friend Brett. My Mizzou friend Sam befriended the daughter of my new A&M pastor. And then there’s the life group of Ethan, Jason and Cody.

I went to high school with Ethan, I went to Mizzou with Jason, and now I go to school with Cody, though I don’t know him hardly at all. All these people from various places in my life meshed together and met one another. They connected.

Exhibit B: East Asia
One of my roommates here in College Station just recently got back from a mission trip to East Asia with a group from our church. As she was talking about the trip, she mentioned the name of the missionary they worked with there. When she said his name, I instantly recognized it, though I wasn’t sure if it was the same person I was thinking about

“Wait… was he from Texas?”
“Yeah, he was from the Dallas area.”
“I think he was my friends’ youth minister.”
“Uhhhh… what?!”

I texted a few friends from high school and discovered that yes, it was in fact their youth minister. In summary, my roommates from grad school spent four weeks in East Asia with my friends from high school’s ex-youth minister.
Yeah. In the words of my friend Allen, “And people say there isn’t a God.”

Exhibit C: My Ship
If you’ve followed my blog, you know about my blog friend Kate. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this.) The story of how we “met” is a weird connection in itself. But today, I got a phone call from my friend Katie at Mizzou.

“You’ll never guess who we just met.”
“Uhhhh… yeah, you’re right. Who did you meet?”
“THE SHIP! WE MET THE SHIP!”

Kate met my Mizzou friends at Which Wich. In line. Just chatting. WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT, PEOPLE?! So now my blog friend has met my Mizzou friends and my pastor.

Text from Ed: “Just met Kate at the [outreach] table. She’s a J-School grad student. She said you guys connected after she stalked your blog.”

Yes, Ed, we did connect. And now she’s connected with my Mizzou family!

I feel like God is using me as some sort of weird connector, a strange link between unrelated people. This has happened in the past, too. I’ve introduced a couple of roommates to each other and things like that. I’m not sure exactly what good it does, or why it keeps happening, but for some reason, it makes me very happy to have my worlds constantly colliding.

525,600 minutes

Well, I am (unfortunately?) back in Texas. It’s nice to be back with regular access to cell service and computers, but the time away in the mountains had its perks: quiet, relaxation, family, friends, mountains, cool weather, etc.

Going back to the Y was weird. It was really good, but really weird. I haven’t been back there since August 7, 2010 — almost a year ago. Although it was all familiar and comfortable, it was also different. I belonged there, sort of. All the buildings were in the same place, but some of the furniture in the Admin has been rearranged. The mountains looked the same and the air had the same familiar smell, but the people there were different. While there were some familiar faces, there were also a bunch of new ones.

Like when I ate in the Spruce and Katy Welch didn’t greet me at the door. And the guy replacing the food on the line was not Barclay Bell. And the girl at the front desk wasn’t Alexandria Miller. The guy driving around in the B&G truck wasn’t Matt Beach. Allen Rivera wasn’t giving me ice cream at the Rustic, and Blanche Jacobson didn’t check out my stuff at the Craft Center. It was just weird.

Although LT 2010 seems like it just happened, in reality it’s been a year. 12 months. 365 days. And so much has happened in theat amount of time. As I sat in the Admin thinking back on all the conversations with various people I had there, I couldn’t help but think about how far I’ve come since the end of last summer.

This time last year…

  • I didn’t know where I’d be going to grad school.
  • I hadn’t planned a fall retreat. Or made enough food to feed 100 people at a Super Bowl party.
  • I didn’t know Amanda, Ben and Breezy as well as I do now.
  • I didn’t even know Katie, Michelle, Sam, Elaine and Allie existed.
  • I couldn’t tell Jason and Kyle apart.
  • I wasn’t as comfortable with sharing the gospel as I am now (though I’m still working on boldness for sure.)
  • I actually had never flat-out shared the gospel.
  • I hadn’t done canvas group follow-up.
  • In fact, I hadn’t been a canvas group equipper.
  • I had never led worship in canvas group.
  • I hadn’t missed a Mizzou football game.
  • I didn’t have a guitar.
  • I hadn’t admitted several things to myself.
  • I didn’t really think God could speak to me outside of reading the Bible and circumstances that just worked out a certain way.
  • I hadn’t explored the idea or read about spiritual warfare.
  • I didn’t really “get” the Holy Spirit. (Still working on understanding, but He’s making it clearer each day.)
  • No one I was close to was married or had children.
  • I didn’t have a degree in journalism.
  • I thought I’d be going back to LT this summer.
  • I had never seen more than a few inches of snow at once.
  • I had never been to Ohio (in my cognizant memory.)
  • I had never been on a mission trip.
  • I had never been to Tennessee.
  • I had never had a class with Jen Rowe.
  • I had never lived in my own apartment.
  • I had never carved a jack-o-lantern.

And of course those are just some of the random things I thought of at the time. So much more has happened, and all I can say is praise God!

A few weeks ago I was reading back through some old journals from the summer and last fall. There were several fears I was facing at the time, and it is amazing to see how God has worked through those fears and freed me of them!

So despite the fact that last summer seems like only moments ago, God has DONE WORK in the past twelve months. PTL.

And here are some photos. Because God made Colorado amazingly beautiful.

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Meanwhile, back in College Station…

It’s been a while since I wrote anything of significance about myself personally. So here’s a little catch up of what’s been going on in my life.

Must love dogs
In the past, I haven’t been the biggest supporter of dogs, mostly because my family dog, Molly, ruined all dogs for me. So it’s taken some time, but over the past year or six months, I’ve begun to warm back up to dogs.

This process was significantly sped up by the arrival of my friend Barclay‘s husky, Cobalt. It’s not that Cobalt isn’t somewhat cute, it’s just that Cobalt is the dog of one of my good friends, so I pretty much have to like him. Luckily the obligation part of liking him is slowly giving way to almost near genuine affection.The change in my feelings towards dogs has also been accelerated due to the fact that A&M’s mascot is a fluffy border collie, and I desperately want to meet her and take a photo with her.

Cobaltimore Bartlesby Bell, aka Cobalt

Reveille, the First Lady of Aggieland

*baby voice*
I have recently been surrounded by babies, which has been pretty heavenly. I love babies, so it’s been great to play with Ezra, Eva, Jackson and the babies in my church nursery. This weekend I get to go home and meet another baby, Elliot! (What’s with all the E-names this year? Must be this year’s trend.)

New and improved
I updated my “About Me” page and got a new header! You like? Now I just need to adjust my Twitter background…

Pass it back, Ags!
I met the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Yell Leaders and took a photo with them. Perks of my job/perks of my boss’s brother being a yell leader.

Thanks and gig 'em!

Awaken your wine
Today my friend and coworker Nick and I went to the Messina Hof Winery in Bryan because he likes wine, I want to learn more about it and he’s leaving Texas to go back to the Midwest in three days. $7 got us a tour of the winery, a sample wine glass and four wine tastings, though our tour guide ended up letting us try six wines since there were only four of us on the tour. The only bad thing about this whole deal was that the tour guide asked Nick and I

  • if we were married
  • if we were engaged
  • if we wanted to get engaged
  • if we wanted a room at the bed & breakfast

It was all in jest (I think), so it was more funny than awkward. I’m not entirely sure if the tour guide ever realized there were no romantic feelings between Nick and I, but despite all that, I still feel like $7 for the evening was a sweet deal. And I found out I like Port. Yum!

It all ends… 7.15
Tomorrow night I’m going to see the last Harry Potter movie. Crazy. We had a Harry Potter movie marathon and watched the first seven moves last week. It was a long 28 hours, but it was really fun.

Harry Potter was such a huge part of my junior high and high school identity. I went to several midnight book and movie releases, dressed up as Ginny Weasley more than socially acceptable, listened to Harry Potter podcasts on a weekly basis, studied for vocabulary tests using Harry-Potter-related sentences (It took me way too long to find that link)… I was a Potter-head if there ever was one.

My high school friends and I at the midnight release of the seventh book four years ago

It’s funny to think about what I did for the last several movies that came out. It’s definitely indicative of what stage of life I was in at the time…

  • Order of the Phoenix: Midnight release with Caleb and Angela
  • Half-Blood Prince: covered the midnight premier for the Columbia Missourian
  • Deathly Hallows Part 1: watched it the Saturday after it came out and immediately left town to visit College Station when it was over
  • Deathly Hallows Part 2: midnight premier with my new A&M friends

Dearly beloved
It seems that I might be reaching the life season of weddings. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of two people in my new A&M homegroup, and this weekend I’m heading back to the DFW for my dear friend Angela’s wedding. I wonder who will be next in this season of life! (Probably Thomas & Shelby in January… but after that, who knows!)

Rocky mountain high
In just a little over a week, I will be en route to the Rocky Mountains to visit my sister and all my friends working out at the YMCA of the Rockies: Estes Park Center for Colorado LT 2011. I am beyond pumped to escape the Texas heat, hang out with my favorite (i.e. only) sister and catch up with my dear, dear Mizzou Mark Twain Canvas Group loves!

So in the end, that was still somewhat of a lame post, but at least it wasn’t about the Ambien Walrus. Maybe I’ll write something of spiritual depth and fortitude soon. Until then, this is what’s been up with me!

First friend-dates

If I’m being completely objective, I’d have to say my move to College Station has been one of the easiest transitions I could have imagined. That’s not to say parts of it haven’t been hard or challenging, or that I don’t miss my Mizzou folks more than words can express. It just means that when you take in everything that could have gone wrong or how hard it could have been, this transition has been relatively easy.

It was a huge blessing from God to come here with a few close friends and at least a bunch of other friend-ish acquaintances . It was a great base for me to start rebuilding my support system and a great resource for meeting new friends. But the thing about moving somewhere and starting over is that you have to start over.

Not many people here really know me. I’d say maybe three people do, so far. (Which isn’t half bad, considering I’ve been here a month.)

In order to combat this, I’ve taken it upon myself to ask several friends and acquaintances out on first friend-dates. I just this term because it’s the best metaphor I can think of to represent what I’m doing. Essentially I find people I’d like to get to know better (as friends) and asked them to get lunch/dinner/coffee/ice cream/froyo/snow cones with me. And then we basically have a first date, if we’re being honest.

How many siblings do you have? Where are you from? What’s your major? How’d you get to A&M? How’d you find Fellowship Church? What’s God been doing in your life lately? Share your testimony. How’d you get involved in student affairs? What was your undergrad experience like? What do you like to do for fun?

I’ve had these first friend-dates with about 5-7 girls so far. (I’ve really only done it with girls so far, but I definitely want to get to know my homegroup brothers, too, so they’re next!) A lot of my conversations have been really blessed by encouragement and testimonies and being able to see God working in other people’s lives. It’s also been a blessing to get to know my coworkers and understand their background and education. But I’ve also gotten to share a lot about myself, where I came from and who I am during these conversations. People are picking up on my quirks already! (i.e. love of proper English, my Mizzou pride, my height, my ginger citizenship, my love of Gilmore Girls, how I got to A&M, bits of my testimony, my journalistic background, what student affairs is, etc.)

It’s been a cool opportunity to lay the groundwork for some really awesome friendships I can see forming in my future, and I’m excited for more first dates and more follow-up dates!

“By His grace I’ve been blessed to call you my friends”

More crying this week. Like anyone’s surprised at this point.

These tears were for my dear, dear equipping team*. Last night we had dinner together and Amanda performed a song that she wrote for us. Needless to say I broke down. I love these five people so much, and Amanda Craven write freaking beautiful music. Watch the video here.

*My equipping team is the group of six of us who have been leading the Mark Twain Canvas Group this year.

The six of us just started working together in August, but we’ve grown extremely close over the past eight months. We’ve argued, been frustrated and grown in our patience with one another. We’ve laughed until we’ve cried, enjoyed one another’s presence and had a lot of fun. We’ve teased each other about being punctual, mumbling and not making eye contact. We’ve debated and discussed our faiths. We’ve challenged and encouraged one another. We’ve done a lot of hard work. We’ve built life-long friendships; at least I hope we have. But most importantly, we’ve served the Lord together.

This post goes out to you guys, my fellow servants.

Just in review of the past year, here are some things that come to mind when I think about each one of you, whether it be things we did, things you showed me or characteristics of your personality…

Justin: late-night Facebook chats, Skyping from South America to Colorado, giving each other advice, baby voices, arguing all the time, painting doors, ruining my canvas groups, always questioning and seeking, loving homeless people, Teen Girls Squad, Dexter, wheelies, reaching out in Speaker’s Circle and spontaneous New Year’s road trips

Amanda: laughing at everything, loving squirrels, sermon CDs in every nook and cranny of your car, BAP, wanting to be your friend, walks around the YMCA grounds, journal entries, Friday lunches, beautiful music, girl talk, PTLing, 21 shots of juice, hugs, encouragement, being a huge example for me, discipling and sharing the gospel

Sam: hanging out in my dorm room, that stupid alarm all summer, neighbors, roommates, walking to Twain, staying at your house in KC on the way to Texas, giving you all my stuff, QT runs, riding shotgun, laughing and late nights

John: mumbling, various “styles” of hair and beard, Twain life, Super Smash Brothers, zip-lining into trees, having a huge heart for outreach, being a huge role model, inviting me to the Rock in the first place, The Sound of Music and talking through every movie we’ve ever watched

Ben: arguing over ResLife, teaching me to clean fridges, the Papa to my Mama, loving efficiency, reassuring pats on the back during long meetings, LEGIT, hugs, getting cultured at plays and baseball games, really bad puns, sharing the gospel together, a passion for prayer and a no-nonsense approach to following Christ

I can’t even imagine what this year would have been like without each one of you. In the words of Amanda’s song, look at the work God has done here. Praise Him with your holy hands! Without you guys, we wouldn’t have this:

Our Mark Twain Canvas Group family

In closing, I leave you with this song. This song meant a lot to me my junior year of high school when the majority of my friends were seniors. I was really sad when they left, but I think the song means even more to me now. Although my Class of 2006 friends were wonderful, I think this song applies more to my equipping team.

“You know no one could ever fill your shoes.
And as iron sharpens iron, you have taught me how to be a stronger man.”