Bringing Sexy Back to Infertility [NIAW]


“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” –Henry David Thoreau

Resolve to know more. This is a week-long series to invite you to look through the eyes of infertility for a moment, as part of the NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week). This is not a series about the medical condition of Infertility – you can find facts here if interested.

Instead, this series is dedicated to the heart’s awakening to emptiness – and ultimately, to life. Even without an answer. Each day this week, I’ll be sharing a letter that I penned throughout this journey of infertility, as I tried to find words to describe the silent experience. Days filled with hope, cynicism, laughter, tears – and sometimes all at once. 

One in eight couples are experiencing infertility right now – about 7.3 million. We are 1 in 8.

Keep Calm & Grab a Pee Stick

Infertility brings a lot of, shall we say, interferences. Things like thermometers and ovulation kits and charts can quickly take over your nightstand. Se-xy.

You might be dealing with the super-se-xy side of infertility if …

… you call out “hey Babe, can you grab me a pee stick?”

… a romantic whisper in your ear is “hey, did your temperature spike today?”

… you HAVE TO COME HOME RIGHT NOW. No, seriously. Like right now.

… balancing your chart and your checkbook take the same place on your things-I’m-not-excited-to-do-today-list.

In the midst of making trying to make a baby, sometimes you gotta fight for the sexy.

Today’s letter is in honor of all women everywhere who have turned to the help of thermometers, baby-making-charts, or a smiling pee stick to tell her if she’s ovulating.

Dear pee stick,

Yes you, the one with the smug smile. You’re such a punk. And I think you know it.

I just got you and your smug smile out of the box a few months ago. Because I don’t need you. Or so I want to believe. It’s no big deal having you around when you stare blankly. But on the day you smile, well, I kinda hate you on that day.

I want to throw my hands on my hips and tell you “you’re not the boss of me.” But then you smile patiently, and remind me that you are, actually. You call the shots here and tell me when it’s go-time.

By morning, you’re a science teacher, telling me something interesting about the chemicals in my body and that ovulation is nigh. By mid-afternoon you’re the obnoxious coach who won’t stop with the whistle – alright, already! By evening, you’re the wench in my bedroom.

The hardest part about having you in my life is that I know I will probably see your smug smile again next month, when we are trying. Again. I know this because 48 months of trying have taught me well. We will smile at each other, but only one of us will really mean it. 

So let me tell you something. I’m taking sexy back. I’ll patiently listen as you share your opinion. I’ll heed your advice. And I’ll happily give you credit if you ever earn it. The bathroom is yours, but the bedroom – that’s ours.


For more information on infertility, you may visit:


My Valentine’s Day Tip


Step one:  Locate a florist

Step two:  Pick up a phone

Step three: Do not order flowers.  Repeat:  do not order flowers. 

Step four:  Instead, ask if they need delivery drivers. 

Step five:  Show up valentine’s morning – whether solo, with a friend, or your valentine – ready to fill your car with the scent of long-stemmed roses, daisies and forget me nots.

Step six:  Enjoy guessing people’s stories based on the type of flowers and their reaction to receiving them. 

Step seven:  Return home with cash in your pocket and a smile in your heart.  

Delivering flowers is my favorite way to spend Valentine’s Day.  I’ve signed up as a delivery driver three or four different years.  196 million roses are delivered on Valentine’s Day.  Yes, one hundred and ninety-six million.   Whether you’re for or against the whole Valentine’s Day thing, that’s a whole lotta delivered roses.

I first jumped in on the action over a decade ago, back when I drove a shiny black truck and had to rely on a Thomas Guide to get me to the next address for delivery.  Yes, a THOMAS GUIDE, people.  As in, a map on PAPER – with no shiny blue dot to tell me where I was or a red one to tell me where I wanted to end up.  I can’t even explain how crazy lost I got in Mission Viejo.  If I had to use a Thomas Guide today, I’d probably end up in Denver before I could find Laguna Niguel.

And I still can’t believe how many vases of long-stemmed roses I crammed into the cab of my truck.  Confession:  someone somewhere received 11 long-stemmed roses that day, because one snapped off in transport and I umm, hid it among the others.  I know, I KNOW.

When I got married, I told Jason about this little trick and so instead of dropping a lot of cash on buying each other Valentine’s gifts, we turned it into a day to make cash together.  I mean, a whole day together making money by delivering beautiful gifts that other people paid for and a chance to see the first smile of surprise when someone realizes “you’re here to deliver those to me?”  Win!  

So, whether single or married or somewhere in between, my little Valentine’s Day tip is that you can have just as much – or maybe even more! – fun giving as receiving.  Seriously, so. much. fun.

This year, we will be up in San Francisco for a little getaway, but you better believe I’ll have my eye out for people delivering flowers, smiling at the memories they’re making for themselves.  Even if it involves a snapped rose or two.


Playing Into the Wind


I’m not a golfer.  Not by a long shot – pun intended.  My husband’s a golfer, and four years ago he got me golf clubs for our anniversary.  I squealed in delight because they are “pretty” – I tried them on.  You know, slung the strap over my shoulder and struck a golfer’s pose (whatever that is).  And that’s about where my golf experience ends.

But I know there’s this idea of playing into the wind.  That true golfers can’t blame the conditions for their bad game.  That part of the game is assessing the wind and playing your ball accordingly.

There’s a hefty breeze blowing in my life right now and I don’t like it.  Not a bit.  It’s an uncomfortable, harsh wind.  It’s throwing me off my game.

I’m not a stranger to changing breezes – I’ve weathered multiple storms.  I just wasn’t prepared for this one.  This breeze comes in the form of a job loss for my husband.  In the most untimely of seasons: as we are in the midst of a remodel/renovation on our recently purchased house, and as I’m just starting to take my own risks in career/life transition.

I don’t like this breeze.  Not a bit.

There are days that it makes me sad, days that it makes me angry, and days it just makes me plain tired.

See, I was playing my game (translate life) and was just starting to feel the swing of things.  Sorry, I just can’t resist the puns today.  Not in my nature, but I’m just going with it.

But really, if life were a game of golf, you would have seen me smiling as I looked down the fairway on a beautiful sunny day.  I was swinging my little club with a sense of clarity, passion, and fun.  But then this darn breeze kicked up.  And I see all my golf balls flying to the right and the left.

Some days I get so angry at the wind that I could spit into it.   But see, the thing is with wind is, it always wins, and the spit will just fly right back in my face.  And that may be the very worst thing about it:  that my anger, my frustration, my sense of injustice, doesn’t change the wind a dang bit.  I am powerless in the face of this wind.  DANG for powerlessness.

The wind is the wind and it doesn’t care that I don’t like the way it’s blowing.  Leaving me with three infuriating options:

  1. I can keep hitting my darn balls the same way and complaining about that dang wind that keeps blowing them sideways,
  2. I can stop playing altogether, or
  3. I can play into the wind.

The thing is, I don’t want to stop playing.  So that eliminates option number two.

And while I want to keep playing my game the way I was, I’m really not getting anywhere with that strategy.

So that means I have to change my game.  And I don’t want to.  I really, really don’t want to.

But I have to play into the wind.

This is what I think it looks like to change my game:

  1. Look Forward.  I have to stop looking backwards and thinking about how the wind was blowing, or how I think it should be blowing. Forward is the only option, and every minute I spend thinking about the past is a wasted minute.  It won’t change anything.
  2. Remove obstacles.  Right now, that’s my anger.  My anger has to die.  I want to feed it and cultivate it because I think I’m right.  Like, really.  I think I’m right and choices that have been made are wrong.  So what I WANT to do is hold onto the anger.  But what I HAVE to do is put it to death, starve it, stop giving it time and energy and attention.  If I don’t, it’s game over for my heart.
  3. Study the wind. The only way I can play into the wind is if I understand where and how it’s now blowing.  This will require me stopping, being still, watching, and listening before taking action.  Bagger-Vance style.
  4. Adapt my swing.  Change what I’m aiming for.  Re-calibrate, re-position.
  5. Swing.  It’s not enough if I take all the first steps – I still need to actually play.  This means my first calibration might be wrong, might need some tweaking, might take me back to steps 3 & 4 again.  And again.  And again.
  6. Be ready for the wind to change again.  If it’s not clear by now, I’m not the most adaptable person in the world.  I used to think I was, but I’m not.  I’m just not.  But the wind is a wild thing, and not subject to my desire to tame it.

So this is my world right now.

It’s breezy.  The wind is whipping my hair in my face.

But I’ve still got a game to play.

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What about you?  Any breezes blowing?

What does it look like for you to play into the wind?




This month brought some bummer news – a job loss, an unsuccessful fertility treatment – true bummers, not the kind that are momentary.  But this month also brought things to celebrate – nine years of marriage to my best friend being paramount.  The near-advent of having a kitchen again being runner up.


And this month, while we have cried, we have also laughed in celebration.  Like, real celebrating.  The day we found out that a month’s worth of self-injections and monitored ultrasounds would not lead to a Jr. Miller, we cuddled and cried for the afternoon, then went out to a fancy dinner to celebrate what we do have.


I’m sitting in a beautiful place.  Overlooking my favorite thing: the ocean.  Sitting with my favorite person: my husband of nine years.  Having driven California’s beautiful coast in an adorbs little Mini Convertible.  And I just finished writing postcards – yes, the old-school version – to the people we a) are thankful for and b) know their mailing address.  List a is much longer than list b, but you get the point.


These are the things I’ve been given today.


I think this is what it looks like to live out the scary-good prayer. Yes, to allow pain in the things that have been taken away, but also to breathe deep of what has been given.  I’m not talking about donning rose-colored glasses or seeing the glass as only half-full.  That kind of stuff makes me gag.  I am talking about life with a God who answers prayers with both yes and no.


Next week, I may be banging my head against another wall of loss.  But today – today I’m soaking in all the things God has said yes to, including a life full of richer, poorer, sickness and health.









Ten summers ago, I said a scary-good prayer.  At the time it was just scary.  Now I know it was good.

It was through grit teeth.  Have you had those?  Fingers initially clenched but released with this first sentence  “Fine, God.”  So eloquent, right?  Fine, God.  Those two words essentially shape all theological history.   Fine, God.  Your way over my way.

The next sentence of that specific prayer went:  “I will go home and marry Jason Miller.”  Jason Miller was a boy I’d not spoken to in nine months, had never dated, and to be honest, didn’t want to.

A little back-story, if you will.

It was the summer of 2003, and I was in Nashville, Tennessee.  No, not to find myself in a country music career, but certainly to find myself.   As a good start, I decided to go by my middle name.  And I accepted a job way outside my comfort zone.  I pulled up to Belmont University and introduced myself as Mardell, on the Creative Arts Team.  A world removed from Brooke, Attorney at Law.  That summer, I would discover that both were the real me.

I joined a staff that would transform me.  Each of them uniquely spoke into my life that summer in ways that they’ll never fully know.  And Jesus was in hot pursuit.  With a specific mission in mind.  Mission-Marry-Jason-Miller.  While we’d been friends for nine years and flirted on and off for three, I had closed that door long ago.  I had my reasons, and none of them were scandalous, but they were valid.  So I closed that door.  Closed the way that you close a shipping box, not expecting to ever see the stuff inside again.

But unbeknownst to me, there was a “return to sender” label snuck on there.  And that summer, it came back.  It came in unexpected ways.  In dreams, in random thoughts, and even through friendships that pointed me back to thinking of this man I’d left behind.  My heart was stirred, but it bothered me.  It bothered me because this boy was outside my plan, my idea.

Slowly, deliberately, the Spirit was relentless.  Slowly, painfully, I surrendered.  One thing at a time.  Yes, yes Lord, you can have the pen to write my love story.  Yes, yes I trust you to make better decisions than I do.  Yes, yes fine, I would be willing to date Jason, and you know, see if there’s anything there.  It wasn’t enough.  I got no rest.  None.

Until the day that I prayed the most transformative prayer of my life to that date: “Fine, I will go home and marry Jason Miller.”  I actually had no idea that I really would, in fact, go home and marry Jason Miller the following summer.  I really truly thought the issue was surrendering even to that extent.  I had no idea God would take me up on it.  But finally, finally I had rest.  I finally wasn’t trying to write my own story anymore.  I was totally and completely surrendered.  I’d never felt free-er.  I’d never prayed such a scary prayer.  I didn’t yet know how good it would be.

Last weekend, ten summers later, I again walked the Belmont campus in Nashville.  The specificity of memories overwhelmed me.  Flooded my senses.  All at once I remembered the battle and the surrender.  All at once I could see the faces and remember the conversations that had shaped me that summer.


With the benefit of ten years hindsight, my tears flowed freely as I thanked God that I did, in fact, go home and marry Jason Miller.  That in so doing, I received the best gift I could have ever imagined.  Better than I imagined, actually.  Our ten years together have been rich, and deep, and powerful, and playful, and painful, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything at all in the entire world.

And as I walked, I was soon brought to my knees as I realized God was asking me to speak another scary prayer.  More terrifying to me than the last, really.

You see, ever since I opened my hands up to what God wanted to give me, I’ve been afraid that he would take it away.  I don’t know where that fear was planted, but what I do know is that for ten years I’ve lived in this tension.  I know first-hand that He is a God who GIVES.  I also know first-hand that He is a God who TAKES AWAY.  A God who gives an around-the-world experience, but also takes away health.  Who gives family and light and love, and takes life through cancer. Who gives a beautiful marriage, and takes away fertility.  Who gives a house, and takes away jobs.

I want to worship this God who gives AND takes away.  But too often I’m left paralyzed and confused.  At a stalemate.

There, back in that place where I’d prayed ten years before, I knew the words Jesus was asking me to say.  The words to end the stalemate. Jesus, please take only what you must take, and please give all that you are willing to give. 

This prayer is a game-changer for me.  I have focused much on His taking in the last few years.  His taking has hurt me, wounded me, and left holes in my heart.  I have thought He might arbitrarily take something away if I gave Him this kind of permission.  Or worse, that He might take something away to teach me that He can.  Well, He has.  He has taken.  Dare I trust that He only takes away what He absolutely must?  I’m choosing to trust just that.

But the bigger shift is here:  I have never asked Him to give all He is willing to give.  I don’t think I can even comprehend all He’s willing to give.  I’ve been too afraid to ask for it because the more He gives the more He can take, right?

Take what you must, but please give all you are willing to give.

This is my new prayer.  I am so excited.  I am so terrified.   Just as I was on the day that I uttered that scary-good prayer agreeing to go home and marry this man I’d never dated.

In 2023, what will be the tale that came from this prayer?  What will He be willing to give?  What must He take?  Oh goodness, just typing those words fills me with exhilaration and fear.  So. Scary. Good.

Have you dared to pray such a scary-good prayer?  Tell me …


Building Future Ruins


Future Ruins

I’m in a building season.  Literally and figuratively. 

I’m building a new me.  I’m restructuring and redesigning places in my heart.  Letting light into dark spaces.  Splashing new color where before it was drab.  Serving up new tastes and projects to stimulate the senses.

I’m not alone in it:  My husband is my biggest champion, and constantly reinforces the me who sits at the teahouse in quiet and rest.  The me who is inefficient with her time and heads to the beach.  The me who fails more because she tries more.

I’m building a new ministry.  Shaping values and goals.  Seeking the core truths of God’s heart.   Putting together words to try and express His vision for His Bride, and how she is to care for orphans.

I’m not alone in it:  I get to build this ministry with an amazing team.  Volunteers, pastors, social workers, and regular old Joe’s like me who are willing to roll up their sleeves and take some hard knocks.

I’m building a new house.  Not from the ground up, but from the inside out.  A bank-owned home just became our first home, and it needs new paint, new bathrooms, and most exciting/daunting of all, a new kitchen.  It needs life and light and love to be poured into it again. Image

And I’m not alone in it:  We have amazing friends and family, ready to get dirty and knock out walls.  Ready to analyze paint swatches and window treatments for hours.  Ready to pray through every room in the house.  Ready to enjoy the soon-to-be-BBQ area as a reward for their labor of love.

I’m in a building season.  And I can’t help but be ware that what I build today will someday be a story-once-told.  The projects of today are the ruins of later years.   Rather than deterring me, this is invigorating.  I love walking the ruins of Rome, the archaeological finds of Israel, and the restored relics of Istanbul. 

And while I don’t expect to ever build something worthy of a guidebook, I do want to build with future ruins in view. 

When I design a kitchen, I want to build more than cabinets.  I want to create a space where hearts are opened up in between bites of chips and guac (which should be plentiful thanks to the Avodaco tree! Can I get an Amen!?).

When I step away from building an Orphan Care ministry, I want to have more than a folder of events and procedures to leave behind. 

When the new-me is no longer on this old-earth, I hope there’s a whole lot more than dust in my wake.

I want to build future ruins, because when you walk through ruins, you see the strong stuff, the enduring stuff, the stuff that held all the temporary stuff together.  

When we’re in building seasons, we actually get to have some say in what will be discovered about us.  What mark we get to leave.  I pray that my future ruins tell a story of relationships over tasks.  Of a healthy marriage.  Of generous living.  Of core truths over meaningless compromise.  Of exploring.  Of redemption. 

What about you?  What story do you want your future ruins to tell?