Saturday, November 29, 2008


Happy belated Thanksgiving! I hope you had a lovely holiday with family and friends. Our celebration was rather quiet this year--Aaron's in Africa, my brother and his wife are in Montana, and most of my extended family was feasting with the "other side" (of the family, that is)--but it was nice all the same. Good food, good conversation, and a spirited fooseball tournament... Who could complain?

Anyway, as the weather cools and I spend my evenings alone (16 days with an absent husband is no fun), I find myself reading more and more. Thought I'd share a few of my most recent good reads with you. Stay tuned--I'll post one at a time. Enjoy!

Away ~ Amy Bloom

When her husband and parents are killed in a Russian pogrom, young Lillian Leyb thrusts her three-year-old daughter out a bedroom window in the hope of saving her life. Miraculously, Lillian herself is not murdered, but when she is able to leave the house in search of her daughter, little Sophie is long gone. So begins a lifelong pursuit for Lillian, for though all evidence suggests her daughter is lost forever, Lillian's love for Sophie will not die. From New York to Chicago, Seattle, and finally up through the Alaskan wilderness, Lillian searches for her daughter. "Encompassing prison, prostitution and poetry, Yiddish humor and Yukon settings, Bloom's tale offers linguistic twists, startling imagery, sharp wit and a compelling vision of the past" (PW).

Away is a slim novel and a hurried read because from page one this reader longed for Lillian to find what she was looking for. I was so consumed by her deep, undying love for her daughter that I found myself urging Lillian on in her search. Her devotion is heartbreaking and her story is filled with sorrow and brokenness--it forced me to look at my own love for my children and ask myself: "How far would I go?" To the ends of the earth and back. I don't want to give anything away, but the ending was so bittersweet and satisfying, I want to read the book all over again just so I can savor the final pages.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I want to see Twilight. I know, I know, this admission cements me as a hypocrite. How can I love all things literary and yet find myself itching to see Bella and Edward come to life? Especially after my experience with Stephanie Meyer's series as a whole: I devoured Twilight, and though I found the writing subpar and the intro way too long, I loved it. Then I read New Moon and was disappointed by the fact that it felt like a retelling of the first book, except for a werewolf was subbed in where the vampire used to be. By this time I was relatively bored, so I let a good friend give me the cliff notes on Eclipse. She said it just wasn't worth the read. But when Breaking Dawn released I had to know how it ended. Too cheap to pony up the dough for a hardcover I doubted I'd cherish, I read as many spoiler reviews on Amazon as I could find. I was shocked by what I read. Sounds like the final book in the series is a huge stretch and a colossal let down. And yet, I want to see Twilight. What's wrong with me?

Okay, I'm going to go somewhere and hang my head in shame. But if anyone's in the mood for a cheesy vampire-love story, you might be able to twist my rubber arm into tagging along.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our Kids

In light of everything that has happened recently, it does me good to think about all the blessings that God has rained down on our lives. First and foremost in my mind are my own children. And then I think immediately of the kids at Christ Our Hope, the orphanage that our non-profit One Body, One Hope supports in Monrovia, Liberia.

One Body has been in existence for only a year and a half, and yet God has done such amazing things it makes my head spin. What started as a friendship in Ethiopia has expanded into a growing organization that has raised over $40,000 for our neighbors in West Africa. And on Thursday my husband is on his way to Monrovia. I'm so happy for him and yet so jealous... The reason I'm not going with him is because I was supposed to be sixteen weeks pregnant. Argh. But I am doing much better, and I am very excited about his amazing opportunity. Hopefully this will pave the way for yearly trips (or maybe an extended sabbatical in Liberia??? I can live on rice and bottled water...).

Anyway, I thought you might like to see our kids. At least, I consider them our kids. Aren't they beautiful? Maybe, when adoption stabilizes in Liberia... :)

I also wanted to take a moment to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your overwhelming display of support after I shared with you about my miscarriage. It wasn't an easy thing to do, but I'm so glad that I did. Your emails, comments, and prayers have meant so much to me. I know this probably sounds cliche, but I really, truly, honestly could feel the power of prayer in these last weeks. I thought this pain was something I'd never get over, and already I feel the sort of healing that only came months and months after I lost our last baby. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am humbled and I am blessed. And I'm starting to wonder if there's a book in here somewhere...? I never thought I'd write non-fiction, but boy, do I have stories. And so do you. Thank you for sharing them with me.

May your cup overflow, my friends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Hi friends. I'm sorry about my absence and my cryptic announcement that I would be gone for a while. Our computer generation has gifted us with the unique situation of having online friends... I may have never met most of you (and probably, sadly, never will), and yet I consider you friends and I appreciate the interaction we have in emails, comments, and sharing each other's lives through our blogs. All that said, thank you for your prayers and understanding. Thanks for waiting around while I pulled myself together.

I've never had to deal with such a tough situation while being involved in an online community, and so I'm not exactly sure how to handle this. Disclose everything? Nothing? What's too personal? And what's edifying for people who may find themselves or someone they love in a similar situation? I guess I've always been rather open, and I don't mind sharing what the last two weeks have held for me and my family.

Two weeks ago today I lost our fourth baby to a miscarriage. Ironically, I was one day shy of the all-important twelve week mark and was very excited to announce online that I was pregnant. Instead, I had a D&C. You'd think that since this is the fourth baby I've lost, I'd be used to it by now. Unfortunately that is the farthest thing from the truth. I have struggled more with this loss than any of the others and I'm not sure why... Maybe it's because I was closely monitored and saw the sweet babe via ultrasound three times (healthy and growing with a strong and steady heartbeat) before she died. Maybe it's because I believed that I had learned the lesson God intended for me through the loss of the first three. Or maybe I just let myself hope too hard that everything would be fine this time around. At any rate, I'm still healing.

It's a strange mix of emotions that this sort of loss leaves with you. I'm heartbroken (I was sure that this was my little girl), filled with remorse (did I do something to cause her to die?), ashamed (I'm broken, my body doesn't work the way it's supposed to), numb (is it really over?), jealous (of all my friends who are currently pregnant or who just had beautiful, healthy babies), and the list goes on and on. It's exhausting. But in the midst of it all, I can see light at the end. I know that Kahlil Gibran is right when he says: "The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain." Grief is exactly that: a deepening. I don't always like the process, but there is something rich and beautiful about living a life that is filled with all manner of things. My soul longs for the day when "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of all things shall be well."

In the meantime, life goes on. I have two handsome sons to fill my days, and, oh yeah, I write books, don't I? It's time to resurface. There's laundry to be folded, supper to be planned, and I'm halfway through a major chapter. I think I'll be gracious to the inhabitants of my fictitious Bridgewater this week...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Joy & Sorrow

Then a woman said, "Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow."
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

~From The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran