Oh Nepal, you are small but fierce


This world is so big. And yet so small. Here I sit en route between California and Tennessee, but my heart is travelling between Nepal and Baltimore as quakes of the earth and civility rock worlds. I don’t have a lot of words for Nepal right now. I mean, what is there to say when you look at the news images? Buildings that once stood proud now reduced to rubble. Life stolen away from thousands. Temples that have stood for years now but dust. The rift in the main road representing the chasm they now have to cross.

I have big memories of this small place. So I’m turning back to those images, those memories – the Kathmandu we got to meet eight years ago. We walked your streets … IMG_5899breathed (sometimes chewed) your air, and even snuck a few peeks at Mt. Everest … IMG_5818and best of all got to look into the eyes of your best attribute: a beautiful, vibrant people and heritage.

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Oh Nepal, you are small but fierce. Fiercely strong. Fiercely beautiful.

May you … … grow strong in the midst of broken places.


… never lose your sense of creativity.

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… or serenity. IMG_5578 … have a reason to smile again IMG_5617 … never forget what is now missing – nor what remains.



FRIDAY’S RAIN: revealing what grief washes away [Bible-Study]


*Update May 2016: Thank you to everyone who participated in the e-launch to make Friday’s Rain great!

It is now available to order here!

Friday's Rain Card - Choose Joy 2015 copy FRIDAY’S RAIN: revealing what grief washes away

Week 1 of 5 is now available as a free download HERE. Each Sunday for the next four weeks I’ll be releasing the next week’s study – email subscribers will receive it DIRECTLY in their Inbox. SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL HERE

I’d love to know about your journey through this E-Study. Post thoughts, comments or questions here on this site or via Facebook or Instagram.

Standing in the storm with you,

just name


Are you one-in-a-_________? Me too.


Being one brings pain. Being one-of-a brings power.

A few weeks ago I talked my man into taking a day trip up to LA to enter the Newsies lottery for day-of tickets at the Pantages. And by talked into I mean I said “hey you wanna do this?” and he said “yeah”. I know, I’m really very convincing.

We got in line right on time (rule-follower here), and they said they’d be lottery-ing (is that a word?) 26 tickets. Several of us started counting. There were about 26 of us in line. Boom.

But then all these other people started showing up. Not on time. I’m just sayin’. By the time they called tickets, there were a lot more than 26 entries. Sigh. Our chances were now about 1 in 5.

About halfway through the call-outs, I hear my name.

It was a good day to be one in five.

Here’s my cheesy smile to prove it.


And really, being one-in-a-___________ is awesome when you’re winning something.

But there are other days that one-in-a-_________ is a punch in the gut. I’m one in eight women experiencing infertility. One in about eighty experiencing infertility without any explanation.

As National Infertility Awareness week ends, I find it no small coincidence that this very morning I’ll be in a room filled with brave stories at the Choose Joy conference, sharing both smiles and tears. There’s something fiercely powerful about bringing a bunch of one-in-a’s into the same room together.

And the awareness doesn’t end with a week. Having my own one-of-a story has made me all the more aware of the many other one-of-a stories being lived out around me …

… like a nine-year-old cancer warrior with rare genetic disorder that makes him susceptible to recurring cancer – chances are one in about 1.4 million.

… like having an in-utero test to tell you whether your baby has Down’s syndrome because other factors make the chances about one in forty.

… like a cancer that’s so rare it doesn’t even have a name and is only fatal when combined with another rare condition, both of which your husband had – chances are one in a million. Squared.

The thing about being a one-of-a is that you feel so utterly alone when the diagnosis is handed down. And you are. I mean, no one else has ever been you, facing this specific circumstance at this time in history.


But I think we tend to focus on the “I’m one” and miss the “of-a” part. That’s the powerful part. That’s the part that tells you that you. are. not. alone. That’s the part can happen over a simple cup of coffee or over instagram or at a gathering or anywhere in between. Just last night, as a Choose Joy speaker shared her story of infertility, bringing us laughter as the ridiculousness of hormones and the pee sticks and the what-not is a shared experience in the room, a woman turned around to her husband and mouthed “see, I’m normal.

Isn’t that exactly what we need to hear when we find out we are one-in-a-________? See, I’m normal. I’m one-of-a-new-normal.

So sister, whether you’re one-in-a-handful or one-in-a-million, you. are. not. alone. Find your people. Find your “of-a”. They need you just as much as you need them.



True Confessions: The childless-fist-bump


Fist Bump Image

True confessions time: we have a childless-fist-bump. Yep, it’s a thing in our house. It’s code for dodged-a-bullet-there moments. We can deliver it quite subtly. Sometimes. Other times we get caught. Just a month ago we got caught during Church, as our friend realized what we were doing and barely stifled a laugh.

It might sound odd that the girl who’s poured out her heart in longing for a baby also bumps knuckles to celebrate childless moments. And really, it took a lot of tears before I could make it to the cheers.

The fist-bump is about celebrating the as-things-are-right-now moments, without thinking about whether they’ll stay that way. For today, we’re childless. And while that has brought ache, there are also a lot of things about our lives that are way easier than all those poor suckers who ARE parents.

The first rule of the childless-fist-bump is that it’s never used in condemnation. Grace, grace. We are in humbled awe of people raising little people.

The second rule of the childless-fist-bump is to attempt subtlety whenever possible. No flaunting. This may or may not be more of a “guideline” as we age.

The third rule of the childless-fist-bump is to use it properly. As Auntie Boo and Uncle J, we have plenty of snot-faces to clean, boo-boos to kiss, and tantrums to survive. And we love all the littles in our life. Fiercely. It’s just that AT SOME POINT THEY GO HOME. Cue fist-bump.


Other examples of proper childless-fist-bump moments include …

when a toddler is throwing a tantrum in the grocery store … or at Target … or in the parking lot … or at the movie theatre … or at the park … or at Disneyland … actually, especially at Disneyland.

… while in line for TSA at the airport. Yep, you frequent flyers know what I’m talking about.

when a long drippy piece of snot is snaking it’s way down a child’s face and into their mouth. GAH! I can hardly type it.

… when we get to go to sleep WHENEVER. WE. WANT. TO.

… when we get to stay in bed AS. LONG. AS. WE. WANT. TO.

when a scent drifts across the room. You know the one. Chasing your nostrils down like a toxin. Challenging you to keep a straight face and pretend you don’t smell it. (To be fair, our dog makes the same smell, sometimes worse, but at least there’s no diaper to change in her world – yet – oh Lord have mercy if I ever have to change my DOG’s diaper.)

when we have only two schedules to consult before booking a trip. No cross-referencing with school, soccer, dance, gymnastics or chess matches (hey, our kid could’ve been a chess genius, it’s possible).

when our house is QUIET. Which is almost always. Amen.

 when we hear about labor and delivery. Any of it. All of it.

Really, the childless-fist-bump started as a way to capture small victories, small moments to defeat the emptiness and replace it with reminders of the good. Is there any part of your life that needs a fist-bump right now?

When you’ve cried enough, it’s time to laugh. And while not intentionally directed at infertility, I don’t know if I’ve seen a funnier video than this.

And if we ever do have kids, I imagine the fist-bump will look more like this:

 Baby Fist Bump

This post is dedicated to “the other side” of infertility loss, as Resolve.org hosts National Infertility Awareness Week. For a more serious take, go here … or here … or here. And for medical facts on the disease, go here.

For some ideas on how I came to “the other side”, go here and here.


But did she get happy again?


She’s got angel’s hair. You know the kind. So blonde it’s almost white. With an angel’s face to match.

She’s four. And precocious. She already carries a fierce stubbornness that is going to make her a challenging teen but amazing woman. She’s in her question-asking stage – you know the one. Why this? How that? I know some of the answers, but not all.

As we sat together and watched Up, she narrated. He likes balloons, she’d say with a grin. Her giggle was infectious as the love story of Carl and Ellie unfolded.Up_ellie_and_carl

When they started painting the nursery, she turned to me with a conspiratorious smile and half-whispered she’s going to have a baby.


I then saw her head go sideways when the next scene shows Ellie sobbing in the doctor’s office: why is shy crying?

 Ellie Crying Dr

Ah, this answer I know. She’s really sad because she isn’t going to have a baby like she thought, I answered. Why can’t she have a baby? Well, not everyone gets to. She let that answer sit – I could see that it was brand new information for her brain.

But did she get happy again?

Yes. Yes she did.

How? Well, she had a different adventure.


Contended, Charlie snuggled in, took a deep sigh, as if the breath she’d been holding had depended on how I answered that question.

The rest of the movie continued question-free. But as I snuggled my arms around this fierce-wee-angel-girl, I too took a deep sigh, knowing that in that moment I wasn’t only answering for Ellie, but for me.

It’s National Infertility Awareness week again. I’ve written a lot already about the grief of infertility, giving voice to some of the unique aspects of this type of loss, especially as your hopes, your faith, your marriage and your friendships are all affected when a pee stick becomes your companion.

This year I want to dedicate a few posts “from the other side”. Not the other side of infertility. That will always be a part of my story. Even if I get pregnant someday. And yes, also if I adopt someday.

I mean the other side of “trying”. The other side of the ugly tears. The other side of the doubt and crippling fear. Sometimes it’s tricky to share about grief and it’s honest depths because it’s easy to leave people feeling like you’re perpetually in that state. And it’s equally tricky to share about “the other side” because there are people that like to pretend that the ugly never happened. May we never be pretenders, my friends.

Because the reality is this: “the other side” has parts that are stronger, parts that are still tender, and even parts that are actually, well, awesome.

If you’re grieving, be it through infertility or another sacred loss, you will have a different adventure than the one you’d hoped for. I don’t know what that is. And I DO know what it’s like to want to punch someone in the face when they use those words to “console” you. I also know that grief is a window, not a wall. That if Ellie hadn’t sat in her tears, hadn’t sat in her backyard to grieve the future she was losing, then her “adventure book” would have had an undertone of unresolved resentment and not even three hundred colorful balloons could have redeemed the movie. But she did sit through it.

Ellie Crying Backyard

So when her different-and-not-at-all-what-she-expected-adventure continued, she was ready for it. She found her happy ending by being honest in her sad beginning.

So this week, in honor of the “You are Not Alone” theme set out by Resolve.org, I want to share that not only are you not alone, but you are not doomed.

Did she get happy again? Yes, yes she did. She had a different adventure.

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P.S. Next week I’ll be releasing an E-Bible Study: Friday’s Rain: revealing what grief washes away. It’s a journey alongside four characters in Scripture, journeying through their grief. I know God has a lot to say to us about loss and grief, whichever “side” of it you’re on. Subscribe here to receive download link.

P.S.S. If you want to know more about the basics of infertility as a disease, click here. Or about NIAW, here.


Bikes, Boys, & Ballads


IMG_8319Bikes, Boys & Ballads. I learned about them all from my Dad. And this week was a treat few daughters get, filled with all three.

Last week Dad and I boarded a plane to Georgia with a few simple goals in mind.

First the bikes. These are never on the official to-do list. But they’re also never officially off of them. Bikes are my happy place, and I guess I inherited that from dear old Dad. There’s really not a town/city/river we see that doesn’t sound more fun to explore by bike. Twelve years ago we took this same trip to see the same friends, except we went by road instead of air. Dad and I loaded up my Toyota Tacoma (may she rest in peace) with, that’s right, our bicycles. We cycled in every state between California and Georgia. And let me be clear: we are not cyclists. We are just two kids who like to ride bikes and feel the wind in our hair. So, on this trip we made good on that at Tybee Island and in Atlanta. Travel tip: ride Tybee Island at low tide. Especially sunrise.


And check out Atlanta’s Beltline – a fun student project that is replacing old railway tracks with a paved walkway/bikeway for connecting urban neighborhoods undergoing renewal. Think NY highline. Except in Atlanta. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Now for the boys. On that roadtrip of yester-year, we had lots of talks about boys. Well, a boy. See, there was this one boy that loved me and I wasn’t sure whether I loved him back. Now, neither of us knew that. No one had said “the L word”. We hadn’t even really dated. But Dad knew. And Dad prodded. And Dad helped me see. He was right about it all. I just celebrated my ten-year anniversary with the boy we talked about on that trip.


On this trip, another boy was ever close to our minds and hearts. Our framily (friends that are really family) had tragedy strike their story in December,when their vibrant twenty-two year old son/brother was struck and killed while crossing a crosswalk one foggy night. Our heads and hearts still can’t wrap around the idea that Andrew is no longer here. That his smile has faded from this world all the while undoubtedly brilliant in the next.

IMG_8316And the ballads. Oh the ballads. I don’t think there’s much better than a southern rain storm ala guitar music. I grew up on Eric Clapton, Kenny Rogers, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Both Dad and our friend, Bill, have voices that are as soothing as the water coming down, and deep enough to match the thunder rolls. My favorite night of this trip was out in Savannah overlooking the marshes. Also, screened-in-porches are quite possibly the best thing ever. A gentle thunder storm graced the horizon as the evening turned to night. Guitar music filled the air as Dad and Bill took turns strumming through their memories. We bounced from hymn to rock-song to ballad and back again. Singing lines and humming verses where we could. Our hosts were generous with the red wine and the frogs and crickets were generous with their harmonies. It was one for the books.

Georgia, you charmed us with your true southern hospitality. Thanks for the memories, both old and new.


Empty Tomb > Empty Womb


It’s not just the word-play, though I’ve always been a fan of those. Not puns, mind you, but word-play.

Empty Tomb. Empty Womb. I know the second one very well. I’ve written about it plenty. Much like Peter, I found myself lost on ‘Friday’, struggling with a storm of unexpected emotions.

Maybe you’ve got an empty space that’s stirred up a storm, too.

I spent a couple years trying to hold those emotions at bay. I’m not saying I did keep them at bay, but I gave it a valiant effort. But when the dam broke, I had to dig in to my empty place because you can’t heal from what you don’t first acknowledge.

I had to spend some time listening to my Empty Womb.

Because then I was able to listen to the Empty Tomb.

Which tells me that after death, life can be found.

That loss doesn’t have the last word.

That my story has a different ending than I’d expected. And a different beginning.

When Jesus rose, the grave was still the most logical place to find him. It’s where the disciples knew to go. And where they were asked one of the most philosophically-driven questions that Scripture presents: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

Why indeed. I think it’s because it’s where we know to look. If we’re in mourning for something lost, for whatever is our EMPTY PLACE, then that’s where we know to go. Where we know to search. In fact, I’d say it’s where we need to start. But it’s not where we need to finish.

Yes my womb is still empty, but so is Christ’s tomb.

What about you? What is your EMPTY today? Have you gone there? Do. Even if you’re scared. Go there and search. Run like Peter did. It’s where you’ll find out where to find Jesus. And maybe He’ll be right there when you turn around, with a clear-cut answer, like He was for Mary. Or maybe you’ll just get a clue, a hint, a reminder, and later He will find you while you’re at work. Like Peter.

The Empty Tomb tells our empty places that hope may look quite different than we’d thought, but Hope is nonetheless alive. And his name is Jesus.

Happy Empty-Tomb day, friends.


#tbt to that time I DIDN’T FINISH THE STORY!


Hong Kong

GAH! Remember that time I went to China and blogged about the power and the romance and the anticipation of it all and THEN TOTALLY BAILED ON FINISHING THE STORY!? Not that it’s finished, because really it’s still just beginning. But our nephew Johnathan is now home. There is one less orphan on this planet. He now knows about Aunties and Uncles and Grandmas and Grandpas and CHRISTMAS.

In fact, one of my favorite things about Christmas this year was watching our nieces and nephews play. On my husband’s side of the family, all of the kiddos are adopted. One from Russia, Johnathan from China, and our niece is “locally made”. There’s some kind of fascinating miracle taking place as God weaves this side of the family out of and through adoption.

Since they say a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m going to make up for my long silence, and just add a few words of my own about welcoming international adoption. And welcoming a nephew home from China.

First things first. It’s amazing. He’s amazing.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy by any means, nor does it run perfectly. Adoption is filled with questions, some with answers, some not so much.

It was incredible to be there for all the firsts. His first game of catch with his new big brother. His first (but certainly not last) tantrum. His first Thanksgiving and Christmas. But above all, his first giggle. Not his first giggle in this life, but in this family. See, it was clear he had been well loved by his caretakers. Thanks be to God, He had much to grieve. But grief is never something you want someone to experience. Those first few days and nights were brutal as his heart (and lungs) cried out in confusion and terror. See, his mom and dad knew him, had prayed for him, longed for him, worked hard to get to him. But to him they were just strangers that had shown up one day and taken him away from the nanny he loved. We were in the hotel room next door, taking care of his older brother, and let’s just say that the thin walls ensured that no one got too much sleep those first few nights. This is just one more parallel I see in adoption of a child and our adoption as children of God. Just because it’s “done” in one moment, in the signature on a page, doesn’t mean that the new identity is understood, or even liked, right away. Still, being part of a family is always > than being part of an institution, so it’s worth the work. On both sides.

Since we were there as part of their support team, we got a front row seat for what international adoption looks like through the eyes of an auntie. It looks like …

… Eating a lot of hotel food. You do what’s easy. But you also splurge on things like ice cream fondue. Come on America, let’s get THIS going.


… Building a lot of Legos. There’s a lot of paperwork to wait on.

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… Some exploring. Some tea-ing. We may or may not have been talked into some expensive teas. #wheninchina

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… Fake mustaches. Aka ways to make the hours pass.

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… Games of tag in front of ancient temples.


… Reminding yourself over and over that ‘sad is not bad.’ I’m a big proponent of this truth. Sad says that something matters. Still, sad is not fun.


… That priceless first giggle. Again, not his first ever. But first to our ears. A hard-earned, well-deserved giggle after days of tears and screams (sad is not bad, sad is not bad, sad is not bad). It took a few days to get a tentative smile, then a grin, and finally full out giggles as he took tiny steps into the heart of his family, and welcomed them into his own.


… Finding new and creative forms of recreation. New Zealand introduced us to Zorbing. China introduced us to Zorbing on the water. VERY sad that it was for kids only! (sad is not bad, sad is not bad, sad is not bad … it just means I have to keep exploring until I DO find this for adults :))!


… Finding yourself amongst so many other stories, all gathered in the city of Ghangzhou for the final leg of the trip to process US Embassy paperwork.


… Being home for Christmas. And soon, EASTER.

Johnathan Christmas

Happy #tbt everyone.