Monday, November 19, 2018

Anna Rose

In 2005, when Samuel was about four years old, James finally agreed that we should (could) start trying to have another baby. I was ecstatic, to say the least!! Early in the new fall semester, we learned that we were pregnant and I was over the moon! 

I got an appointment with Dr. Merta as soon as possible since I knew that I was already high risk. Even though we'd had one successful live birth four years earlier, there had been the two previous losses prior to Samuel. So I was still very nervous, needless to say.

Things were looking good. I was throwing up every single day, which many women may see as a bother, but I saw as a blessing. As long as I was throwing up, I knew my baby was fine. As long as I was getting sick, I was still pregnant. So I was happy to throw up every single day.

The morning I didn't throw up, I knew. I just didn't want to believe. I still hoped. But deep down, where my knower knows, I knew.

I didn't say anything to anyone. I went to school. I acted as normal as possible. It was two days before Thanksgiving. It was an easy week at school; I had made sure that my classes were work days so my students didn't have to worry if they chose to take the time to be with family rather than come to class. So there were only two students in the classroom with me that morning. We chatted throughout the hour, mostly. I tried to get some work done, as did they, but it's difficult to focus when there are so few people in the room and it's a holiday week.

At one point during the hour, I felt an odd POP in my vaginal region. Yes, like a balloon had popped inside my vagina. I knew that was very strange, but I just thought I'd peed a little and that I would go straight to the bathroom as soon as the hour was up--which was in just a few minutes. I could hold on for just a few more minutes.

As the three of us were saying goodbye and walking out of the classroom, the gentleman had stepped off to the side to allow me to go ahead of him. I walked by him and he said, "Where's all this blood coming from?"

With barely a glance behind me, I knew exactly where it was coming from.

I screamed and raced from the room. 

I spent the next hour in the bathroom sitting on the toilet, screaming and crying. Crying and screaming. There were several ladies with me. A few on-campus EMTs came to check on me. An ambulance was called because I refused to allow anyone to drive me to the hospital; I wouldn't ride in anyone's car because of how badly I was bleeding. I was scared to get off the toilet, too, because it was one of those auto-flush ones and I didn't know if, well, if I'd already passed the baby. We made sure one of the EMTs looked quickly as I moved off onto the stretcher.

So I was taken out of the bathroom on a stretcher, in front of everyone. That was when I remembered that the bathroom didn't really have a ceiling, so everyone in the building had been listening to me scream and cry for the past hour or so and everyone knew what was going on. I pulled the sheet up over my head and wept.

The next several hours can only be described as more horror. James met me at the emergency room at the hospital. We spent many hours just waiting in a room. A doctor came in and examined me, pulling out one blood clot after another. He was very callous and cold. At one point, he even held one up and said, "This could be it." 

What an idiot. I think James and I both hated that doctor.

In spite of the fact that someone had called Dr. Merta, because I'd ridden in the ambulance, he couldn't see me until the ER doctor released me. It was a huge relief to finally be in his very capable and comforting and understanding hands. He prepped me for a D&C.

I don't know if having a D&C is the right thing to do when having a miscarriage, my friends. Please don't judge me. The horror of these experiences can't truly be described in words on a page like this. I had to do what my doctor recommended and felt was best for me. I was scared and I trusted Dr. Merta. 

As I had with my first miscarriage after surgery, I woke up in recovery sobbing. 

I honestly don't remember much after that. 

I don't remember Thanksgiving or Christmas. I think my family came here that year because I wasn't up for traveling, but I'm guessing. 

My depression worsened. 

I withdrew from everyone and everything, especially my husband. In fact, he withdrew from me. We withdrew from each other. We both put all of our focus on Samuel and only talked to each other when it came to Samuel or anything absolutely necessary.

It was during this time that if I could have taken my life, I would have. But I wasn't going anywhere without Samuel, so if I did it, it was going to be with him. I wrote stories about it. I imagined it in full detail. I knew exactly how I would do it. 

But then I would look at Samuel playing and his zest and love for life and how absolutely cute and adorable he was and there was no way I was going to ever take that away from this world. The world needed that gorgeous boy and his laughter, whether it needed me or not.

So Samuel saved my life.

It took a long time, but I finally named this baby, too. Again, we
have no idea whether this baby was a boy or girl. I was only 11 weeks along, again. I decided to use a girl's name: Anna Rose. It's actually a twist on my mother's name, Rosanne, as well as my middle name, Anna. And it comes from my family member's real name, Rosella. Appropriate, don't you think?

I imagine my Anna Rose would have been my shy one. Panya Ruth, I think, would have been my mini-me--joyous, rambunctious, full of life, difficult to reign in, always going full tilt! But they would have been best friends, in spite of their age difference. You would think that after 13 years it gets easier. It doesn't. 

It just gets different.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Warm Fuzzies

At one point in my young life, I remember something called "Warm Fuzzies" that were passed around. They were these little balls of fluff with wiggly eyes glued to them, tiny antennae, and large feet that were often stickers. We gave them to friends, teachers, etc. as a little way of encouraging one another. You know, a little "Warm Fuzzy" to help each other feel all warm and fuzzy, to bring a smile to one's face, at least for a moment or whenever he/she would look at/see the cute Warm Fuzzy and be reminded of the act of kindness.

I know it was silly and not everyone liked it--or even "got" it, but I always thought it was cute and fun. I had a purple Warm Fuzzy on my desk (yes, I took the sticker off the feet and stuck it to my desk permanently) for many years and I loved and cherished him. I gave many a Warm Fuzzy. I wish I could find them now, but in spite of my best efforts of searching, I can't find them anywhere.

I'm pretty sure it was my mom who taught me about Warm Fuzzies.
She is one of the greatest encouragers on the planet. She is my biggest cheerleader, that's for sure. Even when I mess up, big, she is right there, ready to tell me that it's ok; I have never messed up so big that she won't love me. Or that I can't overcome whatever it is that has happened. She still sends or gives me "Warm Fuzzies" of her own creation in the form of notes or takes me out to my favorite restaurant.

It truly means the world to me that my mom still encourages me with Warm Fuzzies.

I want to be a woman who passes on that legacy. I find myself, though, spraying my suppressed anger more than spreading encouraging Warm Fuzzies. It breaks my heart more than I can tell you. I can't help but wonder if God has a special bottle just for those tears or if all my tears are equal. 

I desperately want to give Warm Fuzzies. I want to encourage you to find JOY. I want to help you Choose Joy in your day-to-day living. I know how difficult it is. I've been down the road of the Hard and I know that Choosing Joy daily, hourly, minute-by-minute is a challenge that comes only through the strength of our Lord. But God gave us one another and encouragement from our brothers and sisters in Christ certainly can't hurt. I feel that the Lord has called me to be that for you.

He has given me an anointing oil of JOY more than anyone else (Psalm 45:7 & Hebrews 1:9). I know that He has comforted me so that I may comfort others (2 Corinthians 1). I desire to be used by Him to help others. I want you to feel safe when you are around me. One of the greatest compliments you could ever give me would be to tell me that you felt all warm and fuzzy while spending time with me.

There are many times, though, when I am angry or wrapped up in my own sadness and depression, and "you" are no longer on my radar. I am. And in those moments, I need the Warm Fuzzies. I need encouragement. Often I get them. And I appreciate them more than I can say. Sometimes the Lord sends a cardinal to remind me that He is still here, watching over me. My mom is always here to remind me that I can do anything. And I do have some amazing friends who encourage me.

But wouldn't it be nice if we sent more Warm Fuzzies more often, like every single day? I'm so tired of all the hate. It hurts my heart when I'm scrolling through Facebook or other social media or watching the news and . . . [fill in the blank]. We're all so busy focusing on being right or own agenda that we don't stop to think about the PERSON on the other end. I prefer stories of encouragement or of people being kind to one another. 

Don't be surprised if one day soon you begin to see digital Warm Fuzzies popping up in your IMs. I wish I could find the real, originals, but since I can't, the digitals are going to have to do.

And, just in case you're wondering, I don't mind if you reciprocate. :)

Saturday, September 29, 2018

We will #NeverForget

As we enter my favorite time of year--Fall/Winter, my heart is torn, as it always is. I love this time of year. I love the colors of fall and then all the colors of Christmas and winter. It's so beautiful. God truly knows how to paint a canvas and this is the time of year that I, personally, believe that He shows off best. It's difficult for me to drive because I'm admiring His canvas so much! Pictures don't do justice to what He creates, but I sure do try to capture it when I can!

But fall is difficult for me because all my struggles, all my sorrows have happened in the fall of the year. In November, actually. Well, not ALL, but a large number of them, enough to make this time of year super difficult: 

  • I miscarried Panya Ruth on November 10, 1999
  • I miscarried Anna Rose on November 22, 2005
  • I had my diverticulitis surgery in late November of 2009--where I had to have an ostomy [bag]
  • I had my uterine ablation in November of 2010
  • I threatened my husband in October 2012
And a few other things I won't mention here. 

One thing that helps people like me get through times like this is the fact that October is Pregnancy
Loss and Infancy Awareness Month. It is difficult for me to talk about my losses for a lot of reasons, but one of the biggest is because talking about losing a child makes people uncomfortable. They simply don't know what to say to someone who has lost a child. And quite often if they do say something, they say something hurtful. And friendships are broken. So people end up just not talking about child loss at all. And the grieving mother--or father--suffers alone. In silence. For years. 

It is this silence that tends to drive some women (and men) to action. Some DO something about their losses by creating organizations to help others who have lost babies. When we first lost our James Isaac and then Panya Ruth back in 1999, we didn't have the internet like we do now. It was just coming into being and getting on the internet was slow and laborious. And staying on the internet was next to impossible. Plus, there just weren't many organizations for people who had lost a baby. So we definitely suffered in silence. There was no Facebook group to join to discuss our hurts and we couldn't find a local support group. And back then, I had never heard of October being Pregnancy Infant Loss Awareness Month.

It has been exciting to see the organizations available now. There's one that will show up to take pictures for you. I had a friend come to the hospital specifically to take pictures for me when we lost our sweet James Isaac, but she didn't know if that was ok, so she never asked. It's a regret for each of us. There is an organization that sends a sweet care package to the hospital for moms who have lost a baby. There are online chat groups and support groups. There are groups who walk to raise awareness. There are groups who hold candlelight vigils. I've found places that sell t-shirts now and other wonderful remembrance paraphernalia. Someone has even started making dolls that are the same weight as your baby if that's something you'd be interested in. And the list goes on.

There are even more books now about child loss than ever before--good ones. Back when we first lost James Isaac, the pickings for good child loss books we really slim. There are a few good Bible studies, even. More and more women are sharing their stories. And even a few men, which is needed just as much. I'm working on telling my story, too. In doing so, I can tell you that it is not easy to share, but it does help in the healing process, in the healing journey.

We all grieve differently. We all travel the grief journey differently and take as long as we each need. October is a time set aside specifically to slow down or stop if we wish and Remember. Many of us have had some people act as if our babies weren't real or alive just because they didn't live outside our bodies, but we know the truth: the Lived. They deserve to be honored, to be remembered in whatever special way you desire, whether it be every single day of the month or just one day out of the month. October 15 is set aside as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day if you prefer just one day. It's your choice. No judgment. 

  • Tell your story if you want. You're welcome to share it here. I'd love to hear it. If not to me, share it with someone you trust. Write it down for yourself if not for anyone else. 
  • Look at your Memory Box that you got from the hospital. 
  • This is Shoebox season for Samaritan's Purse; donate a box in memory of your baby. 
  • Join a GriefShare group if you need to. 
  • Find a group online and just "listen" to their conversations to see if they have similar stories. 
  • Find a pen pal (I have 2). 
  • Start your own organization. 
  • Plant a tree in memory.
  • Make a scrapbook--if you don't have pictures, use poems, images and/or quotes that are meaningful to you. 
  • Write a letter to your Precious.
  • Get a tattoo. If that's not your style, you could always get a temporary one. :)
  • Make a list of all the hurtful things people have said to you. Journal why their words hurt so much. Get your hurt off your heart and out of your system, on paper--or on the computer.
  • Write a letter/note of forgiveness to someone who said or did something to hurt you, whether you mean it or not. You don't have to send it right now if you'd rather not. Just write it. Or go ahead and send it. You never know....
  • If you know or hear of someone who suffers the loss of a child, do something for that couple that you wish had been done for you.
  • Cry. Allow yourself a good cry. It really and truly is ok to FEEL whatever you feel.
  • Have a celebration in honor of your Precious. Whatever that celebration looks like for you is what you should have.
  • Create a Playlist.
  • Get alone and spend some special time just Remembering. 
  • Laugh. Sometimes a good laugh is just the right thing. 



Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I grew my heart inside my body

My grief will never end because I grew my heart inside my body 3 different times: 

  • James Isaac, stillborn on March 17, 1999
  • Panya Ruth, miscarried on November 10, 1999
  • Anna Rose, miscarried on November 22, 2005

Now, before you go attempting to correct me and bring out your Bibles and your scriptures and your examples of how things get better as time goes on and so on and so forth, etc., etc., etc., let me ask you a question: Did YOU grow your heart inside your body only to find out at the end of nine months that instead of bringing your heart home and loving him/her and watching him/her grow up to be a wonderful young man/woman, you had to bury him/her into a dark, scary, hole and walk away? And then you had to watch and pray that you didn't flush your baby down the toilet?! Or any of the other number of horrors that come with child loss???


For those moms who are with me, you know and understand that the grief goes on. Forever. Does it mean that we'll forever lie in our beds, never getting up and out and about? Of course not.

What Forever Grief means for us is that as the children of our friends grow up, we are imagining what our babies would have been like "If Only. . ." things had been different for us. Mom, as you get yelled at for breastfeeding in public, we're simply wishing we could breastfeed.

As you get to wipe your baby's face after s/he's eaten spaghetti for the first time and you laugh at the mess, we try to smile through our tears as we think about our son/daughter laughing and enjoying spaghetti for the first time.

Or when your son/daughter makes the ball team and you complain about his/her dirty uniform--again, we are wishing we had a dirty uniform to clean. We'd LOVE to have a dirty uniform to clean. The dirtier the better, in fact.

Is that your little girl/boy squealing in glee on the swing who you're trying to tell to calm down because it's just a swing? We're wishing our little girl/boy could swing on the swing and squeal as loud as s/he wanted. We'd let her/him swing as high as the sky, jump off, and catch her/him while we squealed and laughed right along with her/him.

Did your son or daughter just graduate? Did s/he walk across the stage, lift his/her arms proudly, pumping them to be sure everyone saw him/her and make the principal shake his head with a smirk, embarrassing you while you couldn't help laughing? We're just wishing our son/daughter was here, too. S/He was supposed to be in the same graduating class with your boy/daughter. But s/he's not. No walk across the stage. No graduation. No diploma. No college. No future. 

No marriage. 

So while you're enjoying such things with you're children, maybe for just one teeny-tiny milli-second of a moment, stop and think about all the Mommies (and Daddies) who continue to grieve every time we see you with your son or daughter because you have yours here with you....but we don't.

Yes, you grew your heart inside your body, too, but at least yours is walking around outside your body for you to see. To touch. To hold. To discipline. To cuddle. To watch movies with. To hug. To love. Daily. 

Mine isn't. So a little compassion please when the tears still flow even though it's been 19 years (for me). Or 30 years for my friend. Or 52 years for my sister-friend I've met recently. And it doesn't matter if our babies were infants or older. 

I know that there are those who feel the same way about the death of a loved one who is not a child. I am not challenging that. May God bless you. I am only sharing my heart and asking for a little compassion for those of us (any and all of us) who do continue to grieve our losses. I kindly ask the rest of you to quit making us feel as if we have to put our masks on--to perform--for you because we're having a difficult day. 

You know what?? IT IS OK FOR ME TO STILL BE GRIEVING. Get over yourself. I don't have to "get over it." YOU DO

You don't have to be afraid of me when I cry, Friend. Just hold my hand or rub my back or even just hand me a tissue and sit with me. It's ok. I'll be ok in a few moments. Crying is good. It's healing. "It has to hurt if it's to heal!" (The Neverending Story)

Don't worry. I haven't lost my JOY. Remember: I have to experience true sadness in order to know and understand true JOY. So let me experience the sadness. My JOY will be more JOY-FULL as a result. xoxoxo

Thursday, August 23, 2018

He Catches All my Tears: A Story

            “Wha’cha doin’, Lord?,” Gabrielle asked, as only someone familiar with God and His machinations could.
            “Oh, hi, Gabrielle. I just finished catching Polly’s tears,” the Lord said as He put the cap on a very large, beautiful pink bottle and placed it on a table.
            “Polly? Again? Lord, forgive me, but aren’t You getting sick and tired of focusing so much of Your Precious time catching her tears? She’s been crying nonstop for twenty years now, right?”
God nodded, “Give or take.”
“Good grief, every time we turn around, she’s crying again. Can’t she keep it together? She is so super co-dependent! She just needs to take her meds and get off it. Why can’t she just get over it already? Sheez! The angels are beginning to talk, you know.”
            The Lord smiled gently as He sat at His desk, pulling Polly’s book close, and opening to a clean page. He began writing.
            Gabrielle spent the time waiting to walk around the room, looking at the various bottles the Lord kept stored with their books. Gabrielle had no idea how in the world God had the time to keep track of all the tears of all the individual people in the world, write their individual sorrows in their books, and keep track of all the prayers that came every second of every moment of every day. It made Gabrielle’s head spin just trying to think about it, let alone comprehend it. But he knew God was God.
            Gabrielle continued His tirade. God was good at multitasking, of course. “It’s just so frustrating with this woman, Lord. I mean, come on, You Yourself gave her the anointing oil of Joy more than anyone else. I was there when You did it. It was a Joyous day. After all she’d been through already, I was just as excited as everyone else to see her finally get some relief to her tears then. That was a very good thing You did for her. It was a joy to see her tears turn from sorrow to joy that day.”
God sat back in His chair, steepling His fingers as He remembered the day He helped Polly see Psalm 45:7 in His Love Letter, knowing in her heart--feeling it deep in her knower, hearing the voice of His Holy Spirit that it was meant just for her: “You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”
It had been a Glorious Day. They had all been waiting for her to see it: His angels, Jesus, His Holy Spirit, and Polly’s children--James Isaac, Panya Ruth (Panny), and Anna Rose. They were so excited for her to see it and Know that it was especially for her. Oh, the celebration they’d had when she’d Gotten It!
Polly’s children had been so delighted. They’d been dressed in their best. They’d waited with such great anticipation, alternately sitting on His lap and jumping up to run to watch their Mommy. God had chuckled at their own joy for their beloved Mommy. Even James Isaac, the oldest of the three children, trying desperately to be a big boy, couldn’t contain his excitement for his Mommy.
Jesus, when will she see it? She’s going to be so excited! She’s going to love having Joy, isn’t she?!”
“Yes, James, she is.”
Panya Ruth came running back, her brown, curly hair flying all around her, her arms wide open as she flew full tilt into the Lord’s arms, laughing wildly. He caught her easily, laughing heartily along with her. “Oh, Jesus! Mommy is gonna be so happy with Your present! Did you put a pretty pink bow on it!”
“No, honey, I didn’t. Now why didn’t I think of that?”
“That’s ok. Anna and I will take care of it! Come on, Anna!”
Shyly, Anna stood by Jesus’ knee. The Lord put His arm around her and hugged her close. “What is it, Dearest?”
“Will my Mommy never be sad again?” her tiny voice quipped.
Panny for once sat still and quiet as a mouse. James moved closer and leaned against the Lord’s side, too. Jesus pulled Polly’s children close and kissed each before answering Anna’s important question.
“My beloveds, the gift of joy is truly a very precious gift. It is an honor to give it to your mother. She deserves it. She has fought hard since you three are here with me rather than on earth with her. As you all know, that hurts her heart very much. This is why we all want so much to give her this gift of joy, right?”
“Right,” three small voices piped, as three small bodies snuggled as close as they could to Jesus’ heart as is only possible with the Son of God.
“But your Mommy will still have sadness. Great sadness. The truth is she has a long way to go on her journey and that journey includes a lot more sadness as well as joy.”
“But why, Jesus? Why can’t Mommy just have joy all the time?” James asked boldly.
“I have a Great Work for Mommy, James.”
“A ‘Great Work’?” Panny piped in.
“Yes. And in order to prepare her for this Great Work, she is going to have to go through these seasons of sadness first. And joy, too.”
“But I only want Mommy to have Joy. I don’t like to see her so sad, Jesus,” Anna pouted prettily, tears shining in her bright brown eyes.
“I know, honey. It hurts my heart, too. Believe me. It truly does. Do you not see here, how my heart is bleeding?”
The children pulled away from Jesus enough to notice the blood stain on the front of His shirt.
James, awed, asked, “You’re bleeding because You love my Mommy that much? It hurts You that much to see her so sad?”
“Yes, James, it does.”
“I still don’t understand, Jesus,” Panny continued to pout. “If it hurts Your heart so much that You bleed for her, then let her have joy all the time!”
All three children sat up and looked at Jesus with their beautiful brown, puppy-dog eyes, blinking at Him with the Great Hope, believing with all their little Hearts that He would choose just Joy for their beloved Mommy and no more sadness.
“Oh, my sweets. Do you see how very joyful I am here with you in spite of my sadness, in spite of the fact that my heart breaks enough to bleed for people like your Mommy?”
“Yes,” all three children nodded solemnly.
“Do you remember what happened to me before I came to live here forever?”
“Of course. It’s our favorite story,” Anna said quietly. “You were murdered.”
“That’s right. I was nailed to a cross. I died a horrible death because I loved each of you and your Mommy so very much.”
The children put their tiny hands in His and traced the nails’ scars. Panny reached up and pushed His hair off His forehead, revealing the scars from the thorny crown. “Did it hurt much, Jesus?” She planted a kiss on one of the larger scars.
“Yes, it did, sweetheart.”
“But you’re Jesus!” James’ eyes almost popped out of his head.
Jesus chuckled. “That may be so, son, but at that moment, I was a human man and it hurt as such things hurt any human being. I was in more physical pain throughout the whole of that time than you can imagine. And I don’t want you to imagine it.”
“Oh, Jesus!” Anna threw her arms around Jesus, hugging him tightly, her tears flowing freely.
Panny kissed His brow over and over.
James grinned goofily at Him.
“But You still haven’t exactly explained why Mommy can’t have joy all the time, Jesus,” Panny reminded Jesus.
“Right, yes. Well, while I was on the cross, that was my own Great Sadness. The Greatest Sadness I have ever felt. I had been sad before and will be sad again, but that was the Greatest Sadness ever. Since I’ve come to Heaven to be with my Father, I’ve had Joy like nothing I’ve ever known before, especially since each of you has arrived!” Jesus tickled each child in turn, making each squeal in glee.
“So what I hear You saying, Jesus,” James said when they’d settled down again, is that in order to know true Joy, my Mom has to know the Great Sadness, too?”
In answer, Jesus gathered the three children in His arms and the four of them watched as Polly discovered her gift of the anointing oil of joy more than anyone else.
            “Are you even listening to me?”
            “Yes, Gabrielle, I’ve heard every word. I was just remembering the day Polly received the anointing oil of Joy. That was a beautiful day.”
            “But what exactly did it accomplish? Here we are, You’re still catching Polly’s tears and writing in her book. You’re spending an inordinate amount of time on her, Lord. It’s too much. Why’d You give her such an anointing if it’s all for nothing?”
            “Gabrielle, don’t you receive great joy through Polly?”
            “Of course, Lord. As You well know, we all love to hear her laugh. We gather with her children and have the most wonderful Laughing Parties. Such great times.” Gabrielle smiled fondly as he thought of Polly’s children. “So why does she still cry? She has so much capacity for great Joy! And she brings so much Joy to others! Her laugh is infectious! After all she’s been through, she deserves as much Joy as she can get. Not tears, not sorrow. Oh, God, why is she still crying?!”
            “Gabrielle,” God came around the table and laid His hand on Gabrielle’s shoulder to calm him. “Your frustration is good. I am so thankful that you care so much about the one I have asked you to watch over. But have you been watching her carefully recently?”
            Gabrielle squirmed. He stood and began pacing the room, avoiding looking directly at God. “Of course. She’s getting ready for the Great Thing You have for her. She’s been in the Word so much that I haven’t needed to keep such a close watch on her.”
            “Tell me the last thing you saw with Polly.”
            “That’s easy. She fulfilled her dream of taking Samuel to Disney World.”
            “Gabrielle, it’s been five years. What have you been doing since then?” the Lord chided.
            “Well, she was doing so well, I decided to focus on some of my other assignments who weren’t doing well and who needed more of my time.”
            “Gabrielle, you saw the outward appearance. The show. Not the heart. You saw what you wanted to see. I’m disappointed in you. Why did you give up so easily?”
            “Come on, God!? Seriously? You gave her the anointing oil of Joy! She didn’t NEED watching over! Someone with such an anointing certainly doesn’t need help from us! She’s the very one who is helping others! She’s going to be made a Saint! Well, not really because they don’t really do that in her time, but she is going to be one here. Why should I spend so much time on someone who doesn’t need it? She has JOY, God! Given in over-abundance to her by You! How in the world can she possibly still have so much sorrow?! I just don’t understand. I don’t want to spend any more time watching over her. I just don’t. I’m personally sick and tired of the ups and downs. I can’t handle it, God.”
            “How do you think she feels?”
            “How do I think she feels? I don’t care anymore, Lord!! She’s driven me almost mad! This rollercoaster of emotions is too much! I have too much to do to stay on this ride with her. My stomach simply can’t handle it. Hers can’t either, you know. Why don’t You just give her the Big Thing and be done with it so we can all get on with our lives?!”
            “No, God. Look at her. Look at her right now. She is worshiping you. She is fine. There is nothing wrong with her. She is praising You with all her heart and soul. She is not sorrowful. She has been studying Your Word with due diligence. She has been doing any number of Bible Studies. I saw that You sent her to that week-long place for counseling and she came home on the mountain-top. Her friends have rallied around her. Her son is doing well. She is fine. Did you hear that laughter during her Sunday School class? No sorrow. No tears. You can’t fool me. Her tears are fake. She is full of JOY.”
            “I don’t believe that a woman to whom You Yourself gave the anointing oil of joy more than else can possibly be that sad, Lord! I’ll get her to go back to her doctor and up her meds. That’s it. The dosage isn’t high enough. I’ll get right on that. Ah.”
            “No, Lord. I’m sick of it. I’m sick of her tears! I’m sick of You spending so much time catching her tears! I’m sick of You spending so much time writing about her sorrows in Your book! Good grief! There are other people in the world! Get her to make a decision and MOVE ON! Other people do it every day! Why can’t she?! What makes her so special that she is stuck in this rut? You have such a Special Thing for her! Give it to her! Make it happen so we can all get on with our lives! It’ll get her to stop CRYING ALL THE TIME!”
            “No! You gave her the anointing oil of JOY! You can’t give that to someone and expect me to be ok with all her many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many tears! No! I’m done! I’m not going to watch over her anymore! You deal with her! I can’t take it anymore!” Gabrielle turned around to find himself completely alone.
            He sighed deeply and sat down at God’s table in front of Polly’s open book of sorrows. Sliding his hand across the page, he began to read.

Friday, August 17, 2018

He collects ALL my Tears

Over the course of the past year, I have cried a LOT of tears. I
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joked with a couple of folks that instead of a bottle for my tears, the Lord now has a lake if not an ocean. I'm awed by the fact that I still have tears to cry after all the tears I've shed. I'm awed by the fact that my Lord has promised to hold ALL my tears in a bottle. I'm awed by the fact that He has promised to write ALL my sorrows in His book: Psalm 56:8 (NLT), "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."
Why is that so very comforting? Do you find it comforting, as I do, that God holds our tears in a bottle? As the tears pour down my cheeks, I often allow them to fall rather than grabbing a tissue to wipe them because I imagine God catching them. I don't want anything to hinder Him, especially not a dumb tissue. But then I also imagine Him wringing out each and every tissue I've used, getting out every last drop--including the snot because that's part of my sorrow. 

Don't flake out on me because I've gone there. Come on, now. Let's be real, here. You know what I'm talking about. The truth is that when we are crying, when we are sorrowful (hurting, truly SAD), along with the tears, there are other bodily fluids and snot is just a natural part of that. It can't be helped. The harder I cry in my sorrow, the more tears that fall, and the snot gathers. Don't be disgusted.

God isn't. This is real. This is reality. This is where the real pain hits the road. God knows. He knows all our hurts. All our sorrow. We shouldn't be ashamed or embarrassed of it or to talk about it. It shouldn't be taboo. 

Not only does He catch ALL our tears in a bottle (which, by the way, I believe is ONE bottle for EACH individual person, not one bottle that mixes every person in the world), but did you read the last line of Psalm 56:8?? He writes each of our sorrows in His book.

What book, you ask? I don't know, but God has a book and a bottle for each and every single one of us and He is keeping track of ALL of our sorrows--our deepest pains and hurts. He is not comparing your sorrow to mine or Martha's or Suzie's or Mark's or Harry's or Mr. Jones' down the street. He is seeing, hearing, and feeling MY sorrow, MY tears as I cry and He is not only catching them in a bottle, He is writing them in His book. And yours, too.


God cares enough about ME, little insignificant ME, Polly Anna who drives a lot of people around her a little nuts with her over-exuberance, enough to catch--and KEEP--close to His heart (I imagine) ALL my tears and to write them in His book. I can't explain more than this why it's so incredibly comforting to me that God catches my tears in a bottle and writes them in a book, but I will continue to thank Him for loving me enough to do so.

“God Has Taken Care of Sorrows and Tears Psalm 56:8 NKJV | If I Could Bottle It | Pinterest | Psalm 56, Bible and Psalms.” Pinterest,
*Note: I could not cite the original citation for the image as every time I opened the website, all I could get was an advertisement."

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Purple Lipstick

There is so much I want to say about the "story" below. But the more I think about it, the more I feel that I need to let the story sit for itself and let it be what it is for you. 

I watched myself in the mirror as I put on favorite purple lipstick. It was bold, but on this night, it was exactly what I needed. I was going to fight and this was my fighting lipstick. I had my armor on. I was ready.

“Let’s do this.”

“What are you doing here?” he asked without getting up.
Taking a deep breath, she stood beside him, keeping the advantage. You can do this. She closed her eyes and jumped in with both feet. “I’m done. I’m done being your slave and your part-time lover. I am better than that. I deserve to be treated better than that. I am valuable. Your lust for me is dirty and I refuse to allow you to continue to make me feel less than.” She raised her chin a little higher as he opened his mouth to say something. “No, I’m not finished. “You have locked your heart to love. I could have loved you. But I deserve to be loved by someone who loves himself. You need to love yourself.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t need you, anyway.”
“I forgive you. I wish you a good life. Bye.” The purple tattoo of her kiss sizzled on his skin. She forced herself to walk rather than run as she turned away.
She heard him shout, “Yeah?! You forgive me?! Ha! Well, it’s your loss, baby! I don’t need you! I don’t anyone! What do I need you for?!”
The door slammed before he could say anything else.

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Beautiful Conversation with God

About a year ago, a friend of mine shared on the Facebook that she was going through a new journal called "Whispers of Mercy" and God was changing her life. As an avid journaler and someone who is always looking for new ways God is moving in the lives of others, I clicked on the link to the journal and saved it so I could hopefully purchase the journal as soon as I had the finances. It looked like something that I definitely wanted to give a try. 

The concept Holly Love King uses in "Whispers of Mercy" is fairly simple: each new entry begins with a Bible passage and a brief devotional/explanation/discussion of the verse. Then there are lines for you, the journaler, to write your conversation with God. 

You have to get quiet with God and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. You cannot be distracted. This is a beautiful thing. It is real. It is powerful. And, as my friend shared on Facebook, it is life-changing. Following is my conversation with God this morning. It might not make sense if you don't know my story so you might need to go back and read some previous posts. Yes, this is super private and personal, but it was also very exciting and I just feel that you might be blessed, too. Rather than typing it out, I've chosen to upload images of my original handwritten conversation. I truly hope you can read it. 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Remember the Miracles

Seeing God's miracles in the midst of grieving, even after 19 years, is not easy, but it is something I hear Him calling me to do. I'm going to be vulnerable here, folks, so please, be gentle and kind, ok? To this day, I still question, "God, where was my miracle?" concerning my stillborn son, James Isaac and each of my miscarriages, Panya Ruth and Anna Rose. You see, I've heard stories where women went in to have ultrasounds and there wasn't a heartbeat, so they went back to their churches and began a prayer chain. The next time they went to see their doctor, their babies' heartbeats were perfectly normal. Or of women who began bleeding as I did, indicating a miscarriage was imminent, but somehow, miraculously, they delivered perfectly healthy babies. I just couldn't help asking God, "Where were MY miracles?!"

You see, I wanted each of my babies more than life itself. I knew each time I was pregnant that I was pregnant even before I had the proof. I began rubbing my belly immediately and nicknamed each baby. I grew up knowing I would teach (have the career) and be a Mommy. And be the wife of a Pastor. By the time I was pregnant with James Isaac, two of those dreams had come true. The third was about to. God was so good. I knew He was making the third come to fruition. I didn't have the American Dream; I had my God Dream--my God Miracle.

And then I didn't.

And my life was turned upside down and it has never been turned upside right since. In fact, it has been topsy-turvy ever since and all I want is off this roller-coaster. But yet if I get off the roller-coaster, it would mean forgetting my babies, so I here I must stay.

What I must do is begin to remember the miracles God did perform. The miracles I did get from God. It won't get me off the roller-coaster, but it will remind me that God is still in the business of being Awesome and that even if I didn't get the Miracles I wanted, He still performed amazing Miracles in my life that I need to remember. 

So here are just a few of the wonderful Miracles of God in my life, in no particular order:

  • My salvation: I became a Believer at the tender age of about 3 or 4 years old. I'm not sure which it was, but I know I was very young. I know a lot of people have trouble with young children's acceptance of Jesus into their hearts because they don't always know what they're doing, but I was quite precocious--if you'll allow me to say so about myself. I knew that I loved Jesus and I gave Him my heart then and I have never wanted to take it back. Have I been perfect in my faith? Of course not. But I have done my best to serve Him with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength ever since I was a very little girl.
  • Dr. Steven Merta: the doctor who delivered James Isaac and Samuel and who was there with me through each of my miscarriages. I can't even begin to explain to you what a comfort he was and has been for me then and now. He was an angel God sent to take extra special care of me. Dr. Merta made sure that I was in as little pain as possible during James Isaac's delivery and that I slept through as much of the labor as possible. (Yes, I had to deliver James Isaac naturally even though we already knew he was gone.) When we first saw on the monitor that there wasn't a heartbeat, I cried to Dr. Merta, "You fix it." He didn't get upset; he just patted my shoulder and told me he would if he could. He is the one who reminded us to call home and back then, there weren't cell phones, so we had to call long distance on the office phone; he told us not to worry about it. While I was in labor and sleeping, he even visited with my family. I remember waking up and hearing him chatting with them. I found that to be a huge a comfort. I can't explain why. It just was. After James Isaac was delivered, Dr. Merta immediately laid him on my chest and let me hold him for as long as I wanted. He just took care of me. Dr. Merta even came to our funeral. I'd never heard of a doctor doing that. It meant the world to me that he came. And he was with me for each of my miscarriages. He took care of me each time. When Samuel was born, my heart rate shot through the roof and while all the nurses and everyone else around me went a little nuts, he calmly and coolly delivered Samuel and just took care of us. He was an angel.
  • During my first ultrasound with James Isaac, the doctor found a cyst on my left ovary. When I went in just a few weeks later, the cyst had grown a centimeter a week. Concerned that there wouldn't be enough room for both the baby and the cyst at the rate the cyst was growing, I had surgery during my 20th week of pregnancy--between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1998. I had to be awake for the safety of both Mom and James Isaac. My doctor's name was Dr. Caparossi--another angel sent by God. He had to remove my left ovary and fallopian tube, but everything was healthy otherwise. (Yes, I do wonder why we didn't take James Isaac then. But the surgery was a success; all was well and the longer he "percolated" in my belly, the safer it was for him. How were we to know what would happen just 18 weeks later?)
  • When we first got to the hospital to deliver James Isaac, my nurse was the wife of one of the doctors in the practice with Dr. Merta and her name was Angel.
  • When Dad answered the phone when I called home to tell them, he knew and all I had to say was, "Daddy."
  • ALL of my students at the time came to the funeral. *My heart.*
  • My family has always been there for me.
  • The fact that I have had Laughter in my life at all even after having a stillbirth and 2 miscarriages.
  • Tears.
  • David and Phyllis Watson: James' brother David also came when they heard we'd lost our James Isaac. Phyllis had lost a baby, too, many years prior. Our loss was her loss; she had loved our James Isaac, too. They went with us to the funeral when we went to make arrangements. We had been told that it was "free." Once everything was set, the funeral director said, "That'll be $100." James and I just looked at him blankly. David stepped forward with the $100 and told us it was a gift. *My heart.*
  • When I left the job I'd been at when I lost James Isaac and Panya Ruth, God provided the next job practically immediately.
  • During my quiet time with Him one day, He called me His "Joy Song"
  • My Mom--there are no words, but she has been another angel who has let me cry and who has listened to a LOT
  • Katie, my sister, who has called and who has sat on the other end of the phone and just listened to me cry
  • Songs that have come on the radio or across my Facebook at exactly the moment I needed to hear them
  • Every single Hug I have ever received
  • I haven't killed myself. There was this one day, in particular when I was driving in the parking lot on campus and I started to speed up towards one of the lamp posts. I didn't slow down, but yet here I am.
  • When it was time to deliver Samuel, my heart rate went up to over 200 beats/minute. My wonderful cousin Robin Hodge who has been a neonatal nurse all her adult life was in the birthing room with me (mom made her after what had happened with James Isaac) and noticed the irregular heartbeat. Things got pretty "hairy"--to say the least, during Samuel's delivery. I was pretty out of it, what with the drugs I was allowed to have because, yes, I was too scared not to go through that experience without them. I desperately wanted to have Samuel naturally. You see, I'd had to deliver James Isaac naturally even though he was already gone. It was very important to me to deliver this son naturally, as well. Please don't make me say the words as to why. I just can't do it right now. But Dr. Merta was prepping the operating room for an emergency c-section because of what was going on with my heart. He checked my progress one last time before wheeling my bed down the hall and made the declaration that it was too late. I was just lucid enough to be aware and relieved and ready to push and do whatever he told me to do. Within minutes. my Rainbow Baby, my Miracle--my Sunshine--my Precious, was in my arms against my breast, breathing, crying, warm, and oh, so wonderful. He was HERE. And, like Hannah, God had answered my prayer. He was my Samuel.
  • My massage therapist.
  • I haven't killed or hurt someone else. (I won't name names.)
  • Our trip to Disney World. (Thank you, Katie.)
  • Fairhaven Ministries. They even told me to come when I told them I didn't have any money.
  • Samuel's joyous laughter.
  • Samuel's cuddles.
  • Samuel.
  • Cardinals. God has sent cardinals to remind me of His Son and His goodness just when I needed them, every time.
  • Sunflowers. I love sunflowers. They are another reminder of God and His Son and JOY.
  • I survived Mona. (Don't ask.)
  • When I miscarried Anna Rose, someone with whom I had a prior connection came and held me--even though I was on the toilet (sorry, Katie) while I screamed and cried.
  • Our finances.
  • I'm still here. I'm alive. When I was in the hospital in 2009, I seriously almost died. James has told me numerous times that he saw Death in that hospital room. I saw Demons. I also saw Angels fighting those demons for my life. Guess who won?! (For those of you who don't know, I had a severe diverticulitis flare-up/infection. I was in the hospital for a week while they tried to deal with the infection with meds but finally had to do emergency surgery. I had to wear a bag for three months; after three months, Dr. Cox (another angel, btw) reversed the previous surgery and removed 8 inches of colon.) 
  • When I was about three years old (or somewhere in there), I almost drowned. Kenny, my brother, and I had been dipping our toes in the water while the pool refilled and I slipped and went in. Dad had been mowing and came flying from the other end of the pool and saved my life. 
  • When I was a teenager, I choked on a piece of meat. My brother Kenny had to give me the Heimlich to save my life.
  • About 45 days before my wedding 25 years ago, I was in a car accident that rolled my car several times. If I hadn't been so short, I would not have walked away from that accident.
  • His High Places Ministries. I went for a week-long session, expecting God to move and Boy, Howdy, did He!!! Praise the Lord!!!
I may not have received the miracles I wanted, but God has performed many wonderful miracles in my life. I haven't even named the so-called "little" miracles!

What about you? What are some of the wonderful miracles of God in your life?

Saturday, May 5, 2018


It is not easy when life hits you out of nowhere and you crash. I mean, here you are, going along, minding your own business, living your life, things are going just fine, and BAM! A monsoon hits and your boat sinks. You're left in a tiny raft in the middle of the big blue ocean, fighting for your life, wondering if it's worth it.

(I honestly haven't watched the video that goes with this image. I just really loved the picture.)

Being adrift in the ocean has exacerbated my depression. I don't want to go anywhere or do anything. I have spent a LOT of time over the past two months in tears. I am alone--if not in reality, then metaphorically. Even the people who say they understand don't REALLY understand. (Friends and family, please don't be offended; hear my heart.) 

I've been lost. Just so very lost. Emotionally. Physically. Personally. Spiritually. Sharks have circled. As have other dangerous creatures seeking to devour me at their first opportunity. And trust me, they have all tried to knock me out of my raft. I have almost been eaten more times than I care to count.

I've seen such beauty, too, though. The sights of dolphins, whales, the moon, sunrises, sunsets, and so much more--I've been awestruck. How could anyone not believe in God? I've clung to those images and to Him and in those moments, He spoke to me.

My God spoke to me in His still small voice today as I was reading His Word, words of reassurance that I desperately needed. I pray that it is ok with Him that I share these words with you. If not, then I pray that no one reads this post.

In my drifting, I have lost my way. I have been stuck. I have no idea what to do next. I believe I'm supposed to write, to finish my Memoir, but I have not been working on it at all. I have avoided it. Why? 

Fear? Because I'm stuck? Because I'm adrift? 

I have no idea.

But today, the Lord spoke to me and I hope and pray that these words are all the motivation I need to be rescued from my raft:

"Take heart and finish the task, Polly! (Zechariah 8:9, NLT) (Be strong.) I AM HERE! Get on with it, Polly. You're stuck because you haven't finished the Work. I can't move until you finish the product. You keep waiting for Me to do something miraculous. And I will. But My hands are tied until YOU finish your part. So FINISH it. Quit stalling. Quit moping. Quit waiting on Me. I'm here. I AM! I AM WITH YOU, POLLY, My Precious Joy Song (Haggai 1:13, NLT)! I am going to fulfill the promise I gave you. But you have to complete your part. Now do it!!! Just do it! Don't be afraid or discouraged (Zechariah 8:13, NLT). All that has happened has happened so I may use you for My glory, Polly. Will you be obedient to My calling? To My purpose? All you have to do is finish it!"

Lord, I will be obedient. I accept. Here I am. Use me. I am getting out of my raft and finishing the task You gave me. I love You, Lord.

Friends, family, loved ones who have read this far: will you pray with and for me that I will finish the task that the Lord has given me and that I will stay the course??? That I will be obedient? That I will not let depression keep me from doing what I know God has called me to do?

Thank you. I love you all!