Saturday, July 25, 2015

Help me choose a name!

Okay, ladies, I need some decision-making help! (if you know me, you know I'm one of the most indecisive people on the planet.)

I'm looking into starting a new blog/website specifically dedicated to writing for young women. The audience would primarily be
  • Single adult ladies
  • Engaged women
  • Newly married wives
                (note: all the life phases I've been living in for the past few years!) 

Topics might include: Devos and spiritual insight relevant to these chapters of life, pieces of my story, and practical articles about relationships, marriage preparation, single life, etc. I'll probably even write about our miscarriage experience to help other young couples who are dealing with that. 

It's still very much in the planning stages. However, what I'm debating on right now is a good name, and wow, what a tough decision! I do plan to keep this Dreams That Move the Mountains blog going for personal updates for family and friends. This potential new site is a totally different project. Just FYI :-) 

Okay, back to the name thing. Choosing a good name is so important, and a choice I'll have to live with indefinitely. I want something that will be appropriate to both single and married women...and no cheesy Christian-ese stuff! 

So, ladies, here's a list of potential blog names I've come up with so far. Will you help me out by voting on which is your favorite? If you have a different idea, feel free to suggest it in the comments! 


Which blog name is your favorite?

Grace and Becoming
Love and Longing
Be Still My Waiting Heart
Lovely Longing Hearts
Graceful Journey
Quiz Maker

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Love Will Get Us Through

A couple weeks ago -- just a few days after our miscarriage happened -- Brett came in from working, opened his computer, and said he had a song playing in his head that he wanted to listen to. He found it saved on his hard drive, a song from an obscure singer from Canada named Dan Powers. I'd never heard of him or the song, "Love Will Get Us Through," but as we listened to it, the words of the chorus wrapped around my heart.

It's not enough to love you

Oh I wanna hold you


Yes. Yes, those were the words my heart wanted to say to my unborn baby, my baby whom I love but never got a chance to hold. It's not enough.

~   ~   ~

These days -- nearly a month past the loss -- I'm doing much better. Most of the time I feel pretty much like myself. But going back to normal is kinda scary, and at times I almost feel guilty for feeling better. I don't want to just move on and forget about the baby. I don't want other people to think that's the case.

But I know the Scripture, "Can a mother forget her child?" (Isaiah 49:15, paraphrased) is a rhetorical question. I won't forget. But I also don't have to dwell in continual sadness for the sake of remembering. I am free to laugh with my friends and participate in life and embrace the joy of the Lord...while accepting the pangs of grief that arise at unexpected moments...and knowing that I will never lose the love I have for my unborn little one. It's okay to move forward. God's Word instructs me to:


"We do not want you to...grieve as others do who have no hope." (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

"Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on..." (Philippians 3:13-14)

"Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it?" (Isaiah 43:19)

"Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy." (Psalm 126:5)




Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sadness With Joy



First off, I want to say how grateful I am for the outpouring of love, support, and prayers from so many people, following my first blog post about our miscarriage. God has absolutely used all of your comments, messages, emails, and texts -- and for the ones here with me at camp, your daily hugs and check-ins -- to wrap His love around me and hold me up in this time of grief. Thank you for caring. Thank you for speaking kind words. Thank you for acknowledging the legitimacy of our loss. Thank you for praying. Thank you, those of you who have shared YOUR stories of miscarriage and infertility -- you remind me that this is a shared grief and I am not alone in it. Thank you all.

It has been 2 1/2 weeks since we lost our baby, and those days have been nothing short of a roller coaster. The physical after-effects and the insane hormones can drive a person crazy, if the actual grief wasn't enough. For several long days, I struggled with depression -- unable to get out of bed in the mornings, and a lack of desire or motivation to do anything except sleep and eat cereal (yes, I wanted cereal all the time, go figure). Thank God, that heaviness has lifted. Smiles and laughter are starting to come back, sometimes forced, sometimes genuine. I'm slowly easing back into "normal life."

"Normal life"...with an ever-present sadness. 

God is using this hurt for His good purpose and His glory. I can already see that, and I rejoice in it. This has opened up doors for wonderful conversations, opportunities to share both sorrows and comforts with others who are grieving, and chances to "give a reason for the hope that is in" me (1 Peter 3:15). If Brett and I had to endure this loss, then I'm incredibly thankful to see God using it for good, to know that it's not being wasted. 

photo from Etsy
At the same time, we still have to wake up every day and remember that our baby died. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I will never know my first child. I still have to see pictures of women with their pregnant bellies and newborn babies, and fight the awful feelings of jealousy, because I really am happy for them, deep down. I still wrestle with the fear of having another miscarriage. And I still wonder, every day, what our little one would have been like if he or she was able to be born.

Yes, there's a sadness that remains, but there's a peace and a quiet joy in the midst of it. God has a hope and a good future for us. I rest in believing our baby is in His arms. We are not of those who "grieve with no hope" (1 Thess 4:13). God is pulling us closer to Him and closer to each other as a couple. He has surrounded us with people who care. He is good, and we're going to be okay.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Held for a Moment, Loved Forever - Our Miscarriage Story


This is a difficult post to write.

Because miscarriage is a sensitive subject. People don't talk about it much. And honestly, there's part of me that really doesn't want the whole world to know it happened to me. But God has been teaching me this year about being real and vulnerable, and this situation should be no exception.  There's also a part of me that feels our story needs to be told; that believes that somehow, in sharing this, I'll do my part in breaking the awkward, painful silence that surrounds the subject of miscarriage in our culture.


I knew I was pregnant within a few days after it happened. We weren't trying to get pregnant, but we hadn't been very diligent in preventing it that month, either. Obviously, there were no definitive physical signs yet, but I just had that intuitive feeling. Before it was possible to know...I knew.

For a week and a half, I meticulously recorded all my little symptoms and counted the days until I could take a home pregnancy test. Sometime during those 12 days, a friend came out to visit for an afternoon with her 6-week-old son. I cuddled baby Elias, mesmerized by his tiny handsome features, and was in awe of the two babies I held at that moment. It was like a sweet secret between God, baby Elias, my baby, and me. No one else knew yet.

Finally, the day came, and there were two pink lines on the test -- positive! My heart pounded with adrenaline, excitement, and joy as I tiptoed back into the bedroom, woke my husband, and told him the news. We laughed, cried, hugged, prayed, and laughed some more. What a surprise blessing from God! For the next few days, we tried to let this big life change sink in and become real to us. One of my favorite memories from that week is lying on our bed one afternoon during our off time, talking about what we would name our baby. That weekend, we called our parents and siblings to share the news with them, and the following week, we announced our pregnancy at the weekly camp staff meeting.

The announcement photo we made to tell my family about our baby.
On Friday, June 26th, we went for my first prenatal appointment. I was six weeks pregnant, so it was too early for an ultrasound, but the midwife talked to me about how I was feeling, gave me advice about my diet, and took blood for the standard prenatal blood testing. We were given a due date of February 18th. We scheduled a physical and another meeting with the midwife, and planned for the first ultrasound in mid-July.

And then Saturday came. I was bleeding when I got up that morning, and the cramps began soon after. Realizing what was happening, I stood over the bathroom sink, forehead against the mirror, and sobbed. I told Brett, and he prayed with me. I called the midwife. By 1:00 that afternoon, all the horror was over. My baby was gone, and I was left physically and emotionally empty.

In the days since then, I have experienced a full range of emotions, from overwhelming sadness to anger to hopelessness, including at times feeling completely void of emotion. Tears come at random, unexpected moments. I feel like I don't know who I am anymore.

Because as any mother can tell you, from the moment you know you're pregnant, you are a mom. And it changes you. It changes your heart, your thinking, your priorities, your identity.

I became a mom at the end of May. And at the end of June, I became a mom whose baby died. That one month has changed my life.

Brett made this little memory box, where I can keep our announcement
photo, our baby names list, etc. It's a good tangible piece of closure for me. 
Yet God is carrying me through. In the midst of all the grief, there is hope because of Jesus. Scripture has been comforting, especially the Psalms, and so have certain songs. Our first dance song from our wedding was "You Are Mine" by Enter the Worship Circle, and the words of that chorus have been echoing in my mind the last couple of days. I think of it as our for better or for worse song -- no matter what happens, we're together and God's got us. My husband has truly been Jesus to me during this time, and it's amazing to see how God is growing both of us and our faith through this trial.

And although suffering a miscarriage can be a very lonely and isolating experience -- many people are uncomfortable and don't know what to say, so they simply avoid or ignore the situation -- still, God provided a handful of people who have been a great help, a comfort, and sometimes simply a breath of fresh air to my hurting heart. I am thankful for those people who aren't scared away by the pain but are there to embrace me in the midst of it.

I rest assured that -- as one sweet friend reminded me -- death isn't God's plan. We're not meant to understand or accept death, she told me, because it was never how God wanted the world to be. Death and heartache happen because the enemy is in the world, and someday Jesus will redeem it and wipe all of our tears away. In the meantime, I can continue to trust that He is good...and trust that He will use this story and our baby's short life for His glory.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

I'm still alive, and here are some photos to prove it.

Okay, y'all, so I'm literally sitting down and forcing myself to write something on this blog today. It's been about 3 weeks since I've posted anything, and if I want to stick with my goal of "blogging regularly" (that's obviously loosely interpreted), I need to post something today while I have the time.

The only problem is, I don't really have anything brilliant to say today. So instead, I'm going to give you a few pictures of life lately. Here we go.

This is what a bunch of baby campers in the rain looks like. Aren't they adorable, in their colorful little rain jackets?!?! I just love them.

 This is a panorama I took at the Mendenhall Glacier. You can see Mendenhall Lake, a glimpse of the glacier in the right corner, and Nugget Falls to the right. Sorry, I can't remember the name of that mountain. 








And this is just a cute picture of me and my sweet hubby. Love that guy.


This is what a 4am airport run in Alaska in the summer looks like. Yes, sunrise was about 3:45 that day. We took a group of people to the airport, came back to the dorm, closed our thick curtains, and went back to bed.

This is me eating a halibut burger. DE-LI-CIOUS.

And that's my photographic summary of life lately! :-)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Things I Learned in May

Things I Learned in May

I'm joining Emily at Chatting at the Sky today for her "What I Learned in May" link-up.  Check out Emily's post and the other ladies' links, too!
Here are a few things, in no particular order, that I've learned in these past 31 days...


  • Weed-eating isn't as fun as I used to think it was. 
I used to love running a weedeater back when I worked at Camp Ba Yo Ca, so the other day I enthusiastically volunteered to help my husband out by doing so. Turns out it's not so enjoyable -- getting pelted in the face and arms with flying pebbles and grass? No thanks.


  • After a month of sun, I'm ready for rain.

Let's be honest, us Alaskans don't know what to do with this much sunshine. It's fantastic, don't get me wrong! I love the sunshine more than the rain, for sure. But a whole month with only 2 days of rain? Seriously, are we even in Southeast Alaska? The dust and the flies are getting ridiculous. Never thought I'd say this, but... time for a few rainy days.

  • Condensing your life story into 5 minutes is hard.
During Summer Staff Orientation here at camp, we each shared our testimonies and were limited to about five minutes each, since there were so many of us. Yeah. That's challenging. I feel like I left out lots and lots of important stuff.

  • When you live at work, time off isn't really a real thing.
Even when we're "off," we're thinking about work, talking about work, and often, actually working instead of being off. It's a tricky boundary. 

  • Hubby and I can eat a whole bag of these in one sitting.
                                      
Seriously, if anyone wanted to send us a bunch of these in the mail, we wouldn't be very mad ;-) 

  • Marriage really is challenging.
People always told me the first two years of marriage are the hardest, and I never believed them. I always thought, "Nah, the first years would be the best, right? Honeymoon phase!" But you know, there's a lot of adjustment, learning, growing, compromising, and stretching involved in these first months. All of that is amplified when you live in a Christian community bubble and work in full-time ministry. It's all good, it truly is! Definitely not easy. But good. 

  • The valley is still my favorite place at camp. 
                                  

What have you learned this past month? 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Glorify HIM, not me!

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they will see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."  (Matthew 5:16, my emphasis)

"Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be seen by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven."  (Matthew 6:1) 

This is a good reminder for me. Really, this is something I need to be slapped in the face with, just about every day. Especially here at camp. Why is it so easy to get into a mindset of performance? To think that I deserve recognition or thanks for anything I do?

The good works that my Father has given me to do (Ephesians 2:10) are meant to point people to Him and give glory to Him...not myself. Never myself! If I never get recognized for my service, it's okay. As long as my heart is pleasing to the Lord and people can see Him reflected in my good works, I must be satisfied and joyful in that.

Father, remind me daily that I deserve nothing. I am not my own, but You have bought me with the price of Your blood; therefore my life's purpose is to bring You glory! May my heart be joyful, willing, and humble as I serve, and may people around me see Your light reflecting in me-- for YOUR glory, not mine. Amen. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Good Weather, Healthy Choices, and Such

Y'all, it's been so warm and beautiful here in Southeast Alaska lately!  We had a week of sunshine, followed by one or two days of rain and clouds -- which is the norm for this area! -- and then right back to sunshine again!  This is such an unusual blessing for us.  This afternoon, we've moved the camp office outdoors -- two of the other staff girls and I are sitting on blankets in front of the office, getting a bit of work done but mostly soaking up the sunshine!  Living in a rainforest like we do, you never know when it's going to start pouring again for a week straight.

I started making green smoothies this week.  We were able to go into town to the grocery store a few days ago, and I bought some spinach and a bunch of fruit to make smoothies (I have a cool single serve blender). I just drank my second one, while sitting out here in the sunshine today, and I'll just say today's tasted better than yesterday's!  If any of you have any delicious smoothie suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

I guess I'm on a bit of a "health kick" lately -- smoothies and other healthier food choices, natural homemade detergents and such.  Really, it's a combination of wanting to be healthy, save money, and live simply.  I've always been aware of those things, but I think being married puts it all in a new light.  I'm not just taking care of myself anymore.  There's a husband and, someday, children to think about (don't worry, that's not happening anytime soon!).  That's giving me a new perspective of the lifestyle I want for myself and my family -- and the best time to start is now, right?!

The other news around here is that camp is in full swing!  Today our 4th retreat group of the spring season is here.  We have a couple more retreats before Counselor Orientation begins, and then it's full speed ahead into summer camp season!  Soon our summer staff (counselors, wranglers, maintenance help, etc) will be arriving from all over the United States.  I'm excited to meet everyone!

And on the topic of summer staff.... we're still in need of a nurse for the month of June, a couple of girl counselors, a videographer, and a girl wilderness camp counselor.  Please contact me ASAP if you know anyone interested in serving in one of these roles at a Christian summer camp in Alaska!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

DIY Laundry!

Okay, y'all, I think I'm getting addicted to the DIY Natural Homemade Things.  One day a while back, in the midst of perusing Pinterest boards, I found a recipe for homemade laundry detergent, and it didn't sound too terribly difficult.  I decided to give it a shot, and before I knew it, I was sitting on my living room floor making homemade dryer sheets, too!  Just the other day I bought supplies for reusable makeup remover wipes, and I think DIY liquid hand soap may be in my near future.

I'm telling you guys, this stuff is addicting!  It's exciting to make something myself, with simple, natural ingredients, so that I'M in control of what I'm putting on my (and my dear husband's) skin, and actually SAVE MONEY in the process.  And it's not hard!  I'm so stoked about this.  Can you tell?  ;-)

Alright, so on to the recipes.  Since the laundry detergent and dryer sheets are the ones I've actually made so far, those are the ones I'll share this time around.

Homemade Laundry Detergent
from diynatural.com

1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar of soap, grated*

Grate your soap into a bowl and mix with the other two ingredients. Store in an airtight container and use 2-3 tablespoons for a large load of laundry.  That's it! 

*The soap you use is totally up to you -- go super organic and natural, or go scented and colorful.  It all depends on what you want to put on your skin.  I used a bar of Dove Unscented, because my husband has very sensitive skin and this is the kind of soap he uses daily, so I knew it wouldn't cause him any trouble.  

Homemade Reusable Dryer Sheets
from ViewFromtheFridge.com

Several squares of fabric (I cut mine about 6"x6" from an old t-shirt, but you can use any fabric scrap)
1/2 cup vinegar
8-10 drops essential oil*

Mix vinegar and essential oil in an airtight container.  Fold up your fabric squares, place in the vinegar mixture, and replace the lid, letting them soak.  When you are ready to dry a load of clothes, take out a few of your dryer sheets (I use about 3-4 per load), squeeze out the extra liquid, and toss them in the dryer.  When it's done, just fold your little squares back up and put them right back into the vinegar mixture.  So easy!  My clothes were soft and static-free - and no, they don't smell like vinegar!

*Your choice of scent. I used lavender and tea tree, because that's what I had on hand!  You don't need the expensive essential oils for this project; something cheap will suffice because it's only for scent.