It Takes a Village

It’s true what they say: It takes a village to raise a manuscript.

Okay, no one actually says that, but it’s true nonetheless.

Over the last year, I have poured countless hours (and cups of coffee) into Capacity, the first installment of my dystopian trilogy.

It’s my baby, and I try my darndest to take good care of it.

But I’m definitely not the only one who’s contributed to the nourishing and flourishing of this project.

Each Saturday morning, my husband—the rightful captain of our marriage, though he disputes that fact—spends special “Daddy Daughter” time with our girls so I can roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Each week, my Writing Buddy (and the best Writing Buddy in the world, I might add) looks over new chapters, and pours out great insight as to how to make them stronger.

And, I’m lucky to say, one morning each week, a family member graciously takes care of my kids so I can spend time with imaginary people.

It’s through the collaborative efforts of this small but powerful village that Capacity has grown and strengthened. Without you all, it would still be struggling through its first plot twist.

But, because of you, the 325-page manuscript is in the hands of my alpha reader. My husband. My champion. The one who gets a sneak peek into every aspect of my life, whether it’s beautiful or in need of critique. We have even designated one night each week to “Reading Time” after the kids go to bed.

And you know which book he’s choosing to read?

Mine.

That’s a pretty cool feeling.

But, best of all, it’s a great reminder that Capacity—and my writing career in general—is out of my hands completely and in the hands of someone else. Not simply the Alpha, but also the Omega. I have received His love and blessings on this journey already, and even if His ultimate vision differs from my own, I cannot wait to see where He will lead me.

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When Do You Rest?

“Is nap time over now?” my daughter asks for the fifteenth time in the same amount of minutes.

“No, Marie. Go back to your room.”

Casually (and oh-so-conveniently), she wanders through the play area on her way back to her room. “Can I take this car with me to my room?”

“Having another toy in your room won’t help you rest. Leave it alone and go to bed.”

She huffs her displeasure—making sure she’s putting on a good show—before returning to her room empty-handed.

From one bedroom, my one-year-old wails, pleading to be let out of her crib. From the next room, my three-year-old starts kicking the walls. Or doing construction.

“Lord, please help them rest,” I beg, imagining the rest of the day without naps.

Loud voices. Tears. Whining. Tantrums.

“Seriously, God,” I pray. “Help them sleep. They’re so much better off when they’ve rested.”

But I can’t even fold my hands in prayer.

My hands are too busy folding four loads of laundry. I need to fly through them so I can unload the dishwasher, refill it with the dirty stuff piled in the sink, clean the house, and hope I can squeeze in a blog before nap time ends. When the kids wake up, it’ll be time to shovel snacks down their throats, cart them off to gymnastics, then race back home to greet the babysitter so my husband and I can make a youth group engagement up at church.

Rest. 

I can almost hear God say it.

When do YOU rest?

I look around at all the junk littering the countertops, the dishes crusted with day-old food, the overflowing hampers. And those are just the things I can see from my spot on the living room rug.

How on earth can I rest when I’ve got so many things to do? So many people to take care of?

To me, the answer is clear: I can’t.

So I get back to praying that my kids will sleep so I can be productive.

In that moment, I can almost hear God chuckling. At the hypocrisy. The immaturity. The self-righteousness of it all. Like the world depends on me to make it turn. Like organizing the countertops has some sort of priority in the grand scheme of things. Like it will alter someone’s life if it doesn’t happen.

The fog of fatigue settles in my head, and I imagine how the remainder of the day will look without rest.

Loud voices. Tears. Whining. Tantrums.

But this time they’re mine. My stern brow, my short fuse. The deep breaths through my nostrils when I’m about to lose it.

My kids pick up on these things and copy them. In those moments, they look too much like their mother and nothing at all like their Father.

Because of me. Because of my weariness. My refusal to rest.

Casually (and oh-so-conveniently) I unplug my phone from its charger on my way to the sofa.

“Can I at least bring my phone and read a little? Scroll through Facebook?” I wonder.

But having a toy with me won’t help me rest. Even a three-year-old could understand that. So I leave it there, just one more thing junking up the counter. One more thing I’ll have to take care of later.

I walk, empty-handed, over to the sofa and stand there with gritted teeth. Like I need to mentally prepare myself to lie down.

How is the absence of work the hardest work to do? 

But the moment the cushions absorb my body, I feel better. Less hurried. Less anxious. Less fatigued. Rest, I realize, has some sort of priority in the grand scheme of things. It alters people’s lives when it doesn’t happen. Not only is my own life affected, but the lives of my children and husband as well.

My mind clears, the fog of fatigue rolling away, and His words finally come.

Everyone is better off when you’ve rested.

Hot Pursuit

My kids have a gift.

Momdar.

That’s what I call it, at least. Their ability to find me anywhere—at any time—is impressive. Albeit a little smothering.

After some pitter-patter footsteps and a series of “MOOOOM!” shouts, they seem to have no trouble locating me at any given moment. Even if I’m on the toilet.

So much so, I’ve learned not to try to do anything privately anymore. It just upsets the children. Instead, I invite them with me—even to the restroom—and they happily follow.

Always.

When I’m desperate (and in need of a shower), I’ve tried giving them their favorite things—milk, Mickey Mouse and graham crackers. But even that doesn’t do the trick. Their Momdar is still alerted. And sure enough, before the water warms, my youngest toddles into the bathroom to offer me crackers or play on the floor outside the glass door.

As if just being in my presence is better than anything else in this world.

I’m a wanted woman, that’s for sure. And these kids are in hot pursuit.

It’s in those long, dragged-out moments—when my desire for privacy is so palpable it practically slips beneath my skin and starts crawling—that I realize God actually wants us to seek Him this way.

He wants us to be in hot pursuit.

He doesn’t want one moment of peace and quiet to Himself.

He wants us. All of us. All the time.

He wants us to have a God-dar that beeps when we’ve strayed too far away. And He wants us to search, to ask, to call out His name until we’ve found Him again. Until we can sit at His feet, knowing that His presence alone is better than anything else in this world.

And yet, I find that really tough to do.

After all, if I had the choice to spend time in God’s Word or mindlessly enjoy snacks and TV shows, I probably wouldn’t even hear the proposition. My eyes would already be glued to the next episode of The Man in the High Castle while I shoved another Nutella-covered animal cracker in my mouth.

But what if His absence upset the children? What if we were in hot pursuit?

Because the truth is, He invites us to go with Him everywhere. All the time.

Sometimes He’ll invite us somewhere exotic and beautiful. Fun, even. Other times He’ll invite us to some pretty filthy places. But no matter what, He’ll be there, too.

And I want to be a child who happily follows.

Always.

Look, Daddy

“Mom, watch my new trick!” my three-year-old shouts. She’s about to do something amazing. Or so she says.

I turn my focus toward her, the small girl absorbing every ounce of my attention—a gift I hadn’t realized was so precious—before she does it. Her trick. She has lots of them now. Spinning on one leg. Cartwheels. Falling face-first onto her mattress. Tumbling fearlessly off the couch into a tuck, roll, and finish.

I must admit, some of her ‘tricks’ give my heart a slight hiccup. Still, I can’t help but watch. I can’t help but to celebrate each new feat. These awkward gestures she is learning in her small body. This adult-sized ambition packed tightly into her toddler coordination and execution.

As her mother, I get to be there to cheer her on. To support her and encourage her to be bold. To try new things.

I’m grateful it’s me she wants as a witness.

And I truly delight in these new accomplishments. Even the simplest ones.

My youngest has caught on to this attention-grabbing technique.

“Look, Daddy!” she shouts, then twirls herself dizzy. Or runs as fast as she can on two stubby legs. Or celebrates that she put her fork on her plate when she wasn’t using it.

She sticks out her tummy in triumph. Ta-da.

Look, Daddy.

It occurs to me I’ve never said those words to my Father before.

Instead, I fall into the rut of convenience and comfort—a means of pleasing myself and myself only—and by doing so, I stray away from intentionally using my God-given abilities to actually please God.

I don’t think much about showing Him any new tricks. Heck, I don’t think I have any. But even the smallest thing, if done for Him, makes Him rejoice.

So I turn my focus toward Him now, absorbing every ounce of His attention—a gift I know to be infinitely precious—before I do it. My trick. I may not have many. But there’s one I do have. One I’m determined to have.

To let people know I see them, and that they are valued. However that may look.

A smile. A sincere compliment. A hug. Even a high-five.

In a world smothered by fear, I will help a stranger in need.

Look, Daddy.

In our technology-saturated society, I will put aside my gadgets to be truly present with people.

Look, Daddy.

In the face of prejudice and oppression, I will embrace.

Look, Daddy.

In a country filled with angry voices, I will write and speak Truth.

Look, Daddy.

And, as the loving Father that He is, He will celebrate these feats. These awkward gestures I am learning in my small body. This godly ambition packed tightly inside human execution.

He’ll cheer me on. Support me. Encourage me to be bold in His name.

He’ll be grateful it’s Him I want as a witness.

And, I hope to God, He’ll truly delight in these actions. Even the simplest ones.

What Is a Beta Reader?

You guys!

You may not believe me, but I have some pretty big news: I recently wrote the last sentence in my novel, Capacity.

It’s been a long time coming.

I’ve spent an entire year squeaking this story out, squeezing it into the early hours of my mornings or holding office hours at a local coffee shop. But it is finished.

Well, sort of.

I still need to patch up some loose ends, plug some holes, and let my husband take a peak. After all, I consider him my alpha reader. My primary peer editor.

After all of that, however, I will be on the lookout for beta readers.

What is a beta reader, you ask?

It is someone who enjoys reading, and can identify a novel’s strengths and weaknesses from a reader’s perspective. Someone who can point out if something is amiss or unbelievable. Someone who can offer up suggestions to make a manuscript stronger.

It’s someone who can make my novel better.

Will that person be you?

If you’re interested in being a beta reader for me, please comment below or message me privately. It may be a short while until I’m completely ready to share my work in this way, but your input will be invaluable in shaping and strengthening my novel.

Thank you so much in advance!

Hopefully you’ll get to pick it from a shelf someday and read it that way as well.

Will I Miss It?

For whatever reason, my husband and I decided it’d be a good idea to bring our toddlers to a professional basketball game. He works in the sports industry and I grew up with basketball in my blood. So what the heck? It’d be fun.

Once we got our tickets, we found our seats and let them close their cushioned lips around us.

Not too long into the game, the crowd around us roared to life. My husband turned toward me with disbelief in his eyes.

“Did you see that?” he asked.

I quieted the toddler in my lap and shook my head. “No, what?”

He pointed to the jumbotron as the last remnants of replay flashed onscreen. But my lap-child was wiggling again and I looked away to tend to her.

The rest of the basketball game went by in a blur. A blur of giggles, tickles, and removing my children from the cascading cement steps. A fuzzy haze of voices. My voice. Repeating common phrases like “No thank you” and “Get down from there!”

For all I knew, only four people were in the entire arena. The same four that could have been at home doing the exact same thing.

Except for one man. The beer vendor.

“Looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you tonight,” he chuckled.

I nodded. “Every night.”

He smiled, a nostalgic look in his middle-aged eyes. “Yeah, well, one day you’re gonna miss this.”

For a moment, I paused. If for no other reason than to question the man’s sanity. Or perhaps his rose-colored rear view mirror. Or maybe he’d been drinking a little too much of the stuff in his tub.

After all, what was there to miss? I’d come to watch basketball. A game that’s as much a part of my personal history as the skin I wear on my bones. Most of the athletes were taller than my 7′ Christmas tree, and I had hardly seen them. Barely even noticed they were there.

Instead, I’d been constantly removing two tiny people from the handrails in the stands.

Miss it? I chortled to myself. How could I miss it?

But he’s not the only one who’s said those words. The message seems to be on the tongue of every parent who has made it beyond this stage. Like they know something we don’t. Like they’re in some secret parent club and all they’re allowed to say is, “You’re gonna miss it.”

But, honestly, what could anyone miss about this stage of life?

What is there to miss about being covered in someone else’s poop, pee, and snot? What’s so great about the middle-of-the-night interruptions and early morning wake-up calls? The long days and even longer bedtime routines? How could I mourn the loss of temper tantrums and conniption fits? Or the juggling act with several tiny humans as they all scream that they ‘need’ different things?

How would anyone in their right mind miss that stuff?

I spent the second half of the basketball game trying to figure it out. Racking my brain to discover what they know.

They’ve been in my shoes. These new-mom shoes. They know about the long hours, the aching muscles, the temper tantrums and conniption fits. They understand sleep schedules, and picky eaters, and constant noise.

The desperate need to throw in the towel some days.

We’re looking at parenting—the same exact stage of parenting, in fact—but seeing totally different things.

Like the story where blind men try to learn about elephants by touching different parts of an elephant’s body. One man hugs the beast’s leg and describes an elephant as a pillar. Another touches the tail and thinks an elephant is like a rope. One touches the ear, another the tusk. And, rightfully, they all say elephants are something different.

When it comes to parenting, I’m a lot like those blind men, clinging to one part and trying to understand its whole.

What these other parents see, then, isn’t rose-tinted. It’s more fleshed out. More truthful. More real. They can see a lot more of the elephant.

At this point in parenting, all I can see is how much my back aches from holding small kids all day. They know back pain is nothing compared to the heartbreak when kids get too big to hold.

I can see how hard I work to entertain my kids all day every day. They know it takes a lot more than silly faces and tickles to make their children laugh now.

I see how weighed down I am with snacks, drinks, bags, diapers, toys, and small people. Their hands feel even heavier now that they’re empty.

I dream about how quiet my house will be once the kids are grown or gone. They turn the TV on—not to watch it, but because silence feels dead compared to the noise.

I see the constant messes of spilled milk, chewed food, and death-trap Legos that I have to clean up. Their messes involve broken hearts, puberty, and body image issues.

I see how I have zero personal space or time to myself. They would give anything to see that little kid come into the room again. Even if they were in the middle of doing toilet business. But that little kid doesn’t exist anymore.

I sometimes think I could be so much more—DO so much more with my life—’if’…They’ve seen the fruit of parenting and know they’ve never done anything more important.

I see everything I’m missing out on, and worry I won’t have an identity when they leave. They see they’ve gained something greater.

I see tantrums, fights, and uncontrollable whining. To this day, they’ve never again come so close to pure innocence that they could reach out and hug it.

I see all my hopes, dreams, and ambitions. They witness their children accomplishing their hopes, dreams, and ambitions—and that’s even more satisfying.

I see myself getting pulled in so many directions I fear my body might snap like an overstretched rubber band. They know I will never be this pursued, adored, or admired again. Ever. For the rest of my life.

So, mama, maybe you’re wading through a dung pile trying to figure out this whole elephant thing. But keep in mind, you might not be seeing the whole picture.

The bigger picture is that you have a front row seat to your little person’s life story. There’s only one ticket, and it’s got your name on it.

Towards the end of the basketball game, my husband’s question changed. He knew I hadn’t seen the pass down the lane. The last second shot. The momentum shift toward our favorite team’s victory.

This time, his face was full of sympathy. Sorrow, even. Like I missed something.

“Are you getting to see any of this?” he asked.

I gazed back at the little person wiggling in my lap. The one whose smile could light up the entire American Airlines Center, but instead was begging for me to notice her.

Out of everything around her—the lights, the noise, the food, the excitement—all she wanted was me. Just me.

“No,” I said with a shrug. “But that’s okay.”

So will I miss it when they’re grown? I don’t know. Probably.

All I know for certain is that if I don’t pay attention, I’ll miss it now.

I Know the Plans

“Come on, girls!” I say in my cheeriest Mary Poppins voice. “Today we’re going to get donuts and take them to the zoo!”

The garage door goes up. The girls go out.

All is going according to plan. And momma is happy.

But the girls don’t stop at the car. They keep going. Down the driveway to the sidewalk. Ne’er to return.

“Come on!” I shout. “In the car!”

Marie looks at me with sureness. Defiance, even. Her jaw is set, her eyes focused. Those tiny brows pinching together ever so slightly. A look that says she knows what she wants. A look her younger sister has adopted and mastered.

A look that drives me absolutely batty.

“I want to stay here,” she says, and suddenly both girls are convinced. They plop their tiny rears down on the driveway.

But I know how much they love donuts. I know how much they love the zoo. The exotic adventures. The endless expanse of asphalt where they can run and play and explore. It’s like the place was made specifically for them.

And, more pressingly, I know how much I love plans. Especially plans that have already been etched into the schedule.

“Girls, get in the car.” At this point, I sound a lot less like everyone’s favorite nanny, and much more like Batman. “Now!”

No one moves a muscle.

It’s a stalemate. A draw.

Their defiance boggles my mind. My heart pumps impatience.

What on earth are they doing? I think to myself. How could they NOT want donuts at the zoo??

“You realize you’re saying no to donuts, right?” I ask.

They nod their small heads with certainty.

“And the zoo? You’re saying no to that, too. You understand?” I add.

Their tiny faces keep bobbing.

But the zoo is a treat for mom, too. I’d rather run around the zoo than sit at home doing the same thing we do every day. Donuts at the zoo is an adventure. A rarity. A special treat.

And I’m not about to give it up.

After all, my daughters learned that stubborn look from their momma—the lady who always thinks she knows what she wants.

So, fifteen minutes later—after I rounded up my wild animals and stuffed them in their car seats—we take off for the zoo.

As I pull away, I wonder what was so special about the driveway. What was so enticing about it all.

Almost instantly, I have my answer. Not because we have a super awesome driveway, but because I often find myself sitting there, claiming a spot on the concrete when God starts calling me into the car.

“C’mon, let’s go,” God says. Not like Batman, but like a loving father.

I look at Him with sureness. Defiance, even. My jaw is set, my eyes focused. My brows pinch together ever so slightly. A look that tells Him I know what I want. A look that says I’m the Plan Maker, not the passenger.

A look my young daughters have adopted and mastered.

My Father knows how much I’ll love what He has in store—after all, He made the plan specifically for me. But unlike angry-impatient-mom, He doesn’t force me into a seat belt. Doesn’t coerce or pressure me into the car.

He simply joins me on the cement and slips an arm around my shoulders. He knows the plans He made for me. He understands full well what I’m choosing to trade in for the sake of doing something safe. Easy. Comfortable.

I, on the other hand, have no idea. He doesn’t tell me His plans. He merely promises that He has some, and that they are good.

They’re an adventure. A rarity. A special treat.

All I have to do is get in the car.

Why Satan Will Never Win

Not long ago, my sixteen-month-old daughter left most of her face on the sidewalk. In her clumsy, top-heavy way, she ran—more like quickly staggered—down the cement path after her older sister. And, in her clumsy, top-heaviness, she fell face-first into the gravel.

Blood poured from her face in a runway strip from her forehead to her chin. But her nose…her nose had pretty much been wiped off completely and left behind on the ground.

The tiny girl wailed in my arms, rubbing her bloody, tear-soaked face into my chest.

What the heck was I supposed to do? I don’t have a medical degree. I don’t know how to stitch a nose back onto a crying toddler’s face.

So, I just held her. I whispered into her ear that things would be all right. I did my best to comfort her.

Sooner than I’d anticipated, her crying stopped and she pointed back to the sidewalk.

“You want to go play again?” I asked, half-shocked, half-impressed.

“Yeah,” she sniffled.

I set the girl on her feet, much to my delight, and she took off. Even freer and bolder than before.

The rest of the day, it was difficult to look at her. The wounds not only bled, but developed a sheen of bodily ooze. A shiny layer of rawness.

A scab began to form later that very day.

I imagined what her body must be doing. How hard it must be working. How platelets must be rushing to the scene, building a bridge across the cut to stop the bleeding. How white blood cells must be racing in afterward, cleansing the injury and continuing the healing process. How skin cells regenerated—I mean, completely grew back!—to cover the once injured area.

Our bodies are amazing.

I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t need a medical degree to fix my daughter’s wounds. I just had to let her body do its thing.

Now, weeks later, the scab has fallen away and has been replaced by a pale pink patch of new skin. But my daughter frequently reminds me of the pain she experienced.

“Boo boo,” she says with her saddest face as she points to her nose.

“Yes, you had a boo boo,” I say, now finally able to look at her without wincing. “But is it getting better?”

“Yeah!”

“Well praise God!”

And we do. We thank God for making our bodies something that can heal—and heal themselves, no less! We thank God for making our pain temporary. And we thank God for the memory of the pain so that we can grow stronger from it.

Like my daughter, I also find myself sorrowfully pointing to my boo-boos. Especially my rawest, most recent one. I rub my fingers over the three scars that form a triangle on my abdomen. Feel the tiny bump of scar tissue bulging underneath.

And though the scars will forever be a reminder of loss, they will also be a tremendous reminder of gain. Of being totally emptied of myself so that I could be filled with something greater.

They are a reminder of how I healed. Not in the physical sense, though that did happen (praise God). But in the spiritual sense.

I didn’t have to imagine what the body of Christ was doing. I witnessed it with my own eyes. How hard it was working. How hard YOU were working. How YOU were the platelets rushing to the injury. How YOU became the white blood cells that purged me of uncleanliness. How YOU helped me regenerate, rebuild, and completely grow back.

The body of Christ is amazing.

I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t need a theological degree to fix my broken spirit. I just had to let the body of Christ do its thing.

So why will Satan never win?

Because of you.

Because of God working through you.

Because of your hugs, your stories, your love. Like blood cells rushing to the wound to eliminate the pain. To heal, to recover, to nurse back to health. To resurrect.

Because that’s what God does. First, He did it Himself. Now He does it through you.

My wound had been as emotional as it had been physical, and you, like surgeons to my soul, pieced me back together until I was stronger than I had been before.

One incident. One huge loss. Thousands of spiritual blood cells.

So thank you. Thank you for your texts, your phone calls, your hugs. Thank you for the meals, the flowers, the babysitting. The shared tears. The shared stories of grief, weaving themselves together into one big, beautiful blanket that connects us and comforts. Thank you for so clearly revealing God’s sacred heart.

Because the truth is, together we are a body. We are one body. The body of Christ.

I have been held and comforted. And now, sooner than I’d anticipated, I find myself pointing back to the path I was on, ready to try again. Eager to give it another go.

So my Father sets me on my feet again, and I take off. Even freer and bolder than before.

How My Baby Survived My Miscarriage

One day after everything had been surgically sucked out of my uterus, I met my baby.

Not in the remains from the surgery. Not even in a photograph of the carnage.

But inside my body. On an ultrasound of my Fallopian tube.

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 11.31.08 AM

There, nestled in the nook of a narrow tube, I see her. Or him. Whatever it is, it’s clearly still growing inside me. Pressing against my Fallopian tube until the delicate tunnel is about to rupture.

“We need to perform another surgery.” My doctor can hardly believe what he’s saying. “Today.”

I nod, unable to peel my eyes off this bean-shaped treasure. I thought I’d already said goodbye to this baby. This baby who, apparently, could still be alive.

The little black peanut looks so innocent, cuddled up cozily in the tiny tube where only 1-2% of pregnancies occur. If only it had traveled an inch or so further, I could have welcomed him or her into my arms next spring.

In that moment, there’s nothing I want more than that baby. To learn the sound of his laughter or discover her greatest passion. To reach out and touch it, even if my fingers only graze a glass screen.

There’s nothing I want more than to prove to this baby I can be a good mother.

But that option doesn’t exist.

Tubal pregnancies are very dangerous,” my doctor continues, an added layer of seriousness in his voice. “If we don’t perform surgery and your tube ruptures, you could die from internal bleeding. If we do the surgery, I will most likely have to take the Fallopian tube.”

I nod again, like I’m consenting. Like I have consented to any of this.

Then, after bursting through the front doors of the doctor’s office, I sink onto the curb with my husband where the Texas summer clings to me like my diagnosis. Hot, sticky, grimace-worthy.

What’s worse: Knowing your baby could kill you or finding out your baby could still be alive and now you have to kill it?

The thoughts are too heavy to bear. But they’re also too heavy to shake.

“Do you trust me?” God asks, the same way He did when we first heard about the miscarriage.

I can’t think, let alone trust. Trusting something—even God—feels risky. Naive. Almost irresponsible.

I can only do what I’m instructed. Like a mindless drone.

And right now, I am being instructed to have another surgery. So I agree. I sign the papers, and agree to lose my baby—again—along with half of my future fertility.

***

When I wake up, the drugs are strong. I don’t know where I am or who’s beside me. All I know is I’m shivering away the anesthesia, and each twitch sets my stomach on fire.

Someone throws a warm blanket on my head.

“You look like Mother Mary!”

I swear that’s what a nurse says, but it might just be my own lame, delusional humor.

They tell me my husband is waiting, and that I have another visitor as well. Someone they call a ‘lady friend’. In my doped up state, I smile, and somehow know to look for my sister-in-law.

Then they roll me down the hallway in my casket of warm blankets. I’m buried in heat. And I’m still freezing.

Finally, I see his face. My husband. My best friend. The captain of our team.

“The doctor said everything went fine. Your Fallopian tube was ruptured. Apparently, it had also twisted up and attached to your abdomen wall.” He gently touches my hand, making sure to avoid the IV needle and tubes shooting out of my arms like wild veins. “Doc said that saved you.”

For a moment, the drugs stop tugging at my eyelids. Even the shivers stop.

“Do you trust me?” God asks for the umpteenth time since this all began. This time, I hear Him through the madness and finally grant Him an answer. Finally allow Him to stay.

Funny how His tone never waivers. Never condescends. Never says, “I told you so.” Not even now, when He totally could. He doesn’t even force me to trust Him or state it as a command. He simply asks.

Do you trust me?

Because the truth is—whether I trusted Him or not—He’s been on my team the whole time. Long before I even knew I needed a teammate, He was there.

Before I knew anything needed to be fixed, God knew.

And He chose to fix it. He chose to save me.

I imagine Him flawlessly twisting the tube and attaching it securely to my abdominal membranes. Tying the delicate tube into a knot that would stop the blood. Creating the perfect tourniquet before the injury even took place.

But this isn’t the first time God’s done that for me.

Long before I knew I needed a teammate, He was there, willingly hanging on a cross. His own blood gushing from his body without a tourniquet to stop it.

Before I knew anything needed to be fixed, God knew.

And He chose to fix it. He chose to save me.

What “Because I Said So” Really Means

The first time I laid eyes on my daughter, she looked like a pea pod. She had only existed for 6 weeks inside my womb, and yet there she was, dangling from my uterine wall by her head. A vegetable-shaped person with a swooshing heartbeat.

Since then, she has grown. Morphed, really. I mean now, at three years old, at least she looks human. That’s progress.

Also at three years old, she has talents and preferences. Strengths and weaknesses. And a ridiculously insatiable curiosity. There are some days I wonder if she’s forgotten every word in her growing vocabulary aside from one: Why.

“Marie, eat your dinner.”

“Why?”

“Because food gives you energy and makes you strong.”

“Why?”

I can’t explain carbs and lipids and proteins to a toddler, so I simply shrug. “That’s just how it is.”

“Why?”

Every single conversation goes this way. Life constantly gets boiled down to the molecular level and I’m expected to explain that to a three-year-old.

For a while, I would bypass the spiraling conversations and start with the age-old line.

Because I said so.

The words were like dear friends, and they became as automatic as my daughter’s questions.

But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

“Why?” I asked myself. “Why did I say so?”

Mostly, I discovered, the root of my choices stem from what I truly believe is best for my daughter. The tricky part was getting my daughter to understand that and trust it.

So the next time, I try to use different words. I try to say what ‘Because I said so’ really means.

It’s actually the question, “Do you trust me?”

It isn’t long before she gives me the opportunity.

“Marie, it’s bedtime,” I say when she comes out of her room late at night. “You need to stay in your bed and go to sleep.”

“Why?” she whines.

“Do you know I want what’s best for you?” I ask.

Her little face looks up at me, partially confused, partially shocked. Certainly she was expecting to dodge another ‘Because I said so’ as it flew from my mouth.

“My decisions are good for you, even if they’re not what you want,” I explain further, brushing blond hair behind her tiny ear. “My job as your mom is to keep you healthy and strong, so my decisions are meant to keep you healthy and strong.”

Contempt scrunches her face and wrinkles her miniature nose. She wanted me to say she could stay awake longer.

“Do you trust me?” I ask.

She pauses for a moment to take in my words. “Yes,” she finally mutters.

“And right now, going to sleep is what’s best for you. Do you trust me?”

“Okay.” She huffs her displeasure, but marches back to her room and curls up on the bed, ready for sleep.

***

Now—six weeks into my third pregnancy—I sit half-naked on a doctor’s table because the bleeding hasn’t stopped for four days. The doctor lumbers in, draped in his white coat and a thick cloak of concern.

“This doesn’t look normal,” he says slowly, pointing out all the abnormalities on the ultrasound. Highlighting all the shades of gray on his black-and-white screen.

There’s no swooshing heartbeat like there had been with my first daughter. No sign of life for the mass inside me.

The doctor doesn’t need to speak. Not really. His drooping eyes and deliberate demeanor say it all.

But he keeps talking, anyway. Maybe he’s professionally required to do so. Whatever the case, I can practically see him hand-select each word before it comes out of his mouth.

“I expect this pregnancy will miscarry,” he says.

Miscarry.

From a distance, the word seems innocent enough. Commonplace. Easy, even.

But when you get closer, it reeks of blood. Like iron and death.

And when you get a little too close, it sounds like pain. The pain of childbirth. The pain of a lost child. The pain of delivering your dead baby then watching it swirl down the toilet drain with the rest of your insides.

Miscarry.

“What?” I ask, partially confused, partially shocked. “Why?”

The doctor goes on, explaining that most miscarriages occur because of genetic abnormalities. That we did nothing wrong, these things just happen.

But my question wasn’t directed at him, so his response sails over my head.

What the heck? Why is this happening?

This time I ask the questions quietly, in the space only God will hear.

I can almost feel Him kneel beside me in this sterile room and tuck my hair behind my ear. Can nearly feel His life-giving breath upon my face, despite the death in my womb. I can almost hear the question that will determine everything.

“Do you trust me?”

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