A Prayer

Holy Father, use my work to Your glory and always remind me that nothing is done without Your willing it. Reward me with clarity and chasten me with futility. Make my tongue quick, my heart soft, my mind sharp, my knee bent, and my eyes fixed on you. Remind me of the tradition of holiness and not just the history of perversion. Guide my thoughts and actions first by scripture and then by the wisdom of the saints who have gone before me. Lighten my burden, strengthen my faith, cleanse my heart and create a profound sense of gratitude in all I do. Give me a portion of Your love, Your forgiveness, and Your patience for every person You place in my life. Remind me daily that the greatest goal I can strive for is to be reduced myself in order to reflect You to those I meet. Above all, give me the all encompassing peace that comes only from total surrender to You. In Christ I pray, AMEN


The Side Effect of Hope

Warning: Post contains references to female reproductive cycles.
I got my period today. Which is 86 days since the last time, which for me, without medication, is a really good sign. I have all my herbs and my thermometer and calendars. I didn't ovulate last cycle, but I hold high hopes for this month, I'm doing low-carb and I've been walking.
Last cycle I couldn't help myself and I counted. If I had conceived my due date would have been my birthday. I told myself, I promised myself, that I wouldn't do that again. How long did this resolution last you might ask? 8 hours. I was updating my calendar with information about my parents upcoming trip and I did it, I counted. Average first pregnancy count vs. "due date" count would have me giving birth on Mother's Day. I thought I was going to cry. I had this image in my head of holding a baby in my arms and nursing for the first time as the sun rises on Mother's Day morning.
Brian likes these images. He likes the way that my mind illustrates concepts and they make him smile. He fell in love with me while I described the scene I had in my head of watching my first child take his first steps. But I don't feel these images the same way. They aren't pleasant "maybe one day" things. They are tiny deaths. The baby that might have been born on my birthday was then a child I lost. And if I don't get pregnant this month I will lose that baby that I see in my arms on Mother's Day morning.
Every month, every week, every day I wake up with the image of the way the world should be and I am always disappointed. If I didn't see the world as it should be in such perfect clarity. I could be content. If my hope didn't come in Technicolor. If my dreams weren't like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel that alters itself to guarantee a happy ending. Because life doesn't have happy endings. Life has real endings. Life has bitter endings. Always bitter, if you're lucky bittersweet. If you're blessed bittersweet. If divinity intervenes on the behalf of mortality, then there is something that makes the bitter, not only palatable, but intoxicating and fabulous.
So I don't lose all hope, because hope is faith. To have hope is to believe that there is a higher power. There is no way to conceive of a world where anything good happens without a power that makes that good; because a glance at humanity proves that relationships, disease, incompetence, hatred, and ignorance untempered only kill us if we're lucky, otherwise they simply poison our spirits and make each moment unbearable. I let my hope, my faith, run like a film in my head and then when life disappoints I crash into that poisonous cesspool that is my mind. There are days that I can't get out of bed because the disappointment is so overwhelming. But I did it anyway, and I knew instantly what a mistake it was, and chances are I will do it again and again and again, because faith is hope. I have faith and so I embrace the insanity of hope. Like a fool I keep going back to that kernel of a dream that I can't let go of. I believe that it's coming right around the bend. If I believed it was years away I would know I don't have the stamina. If I believe that it's right around this next bend I can do it. I don't have two more years in me, but I can always handle two more weeks. Even if it's 52 times that I wait for 2 more weeks, it's better than wrapping my self around two more years. So at the end of those two week waits I find myself back in that pool of despair that shackles me to my bed. Then something happens that pulls me forward one more time.


Why My Heart Is Breaking

Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons? So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him. And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. - 1 Samuel 1:8-18

"For Hannah, having a child was the ultimate expression of her relationship with God," according to Holly Pavlov, author of Mirrors of Our Lives- Reflections of Women in Tanach. "It was as a mother, she felt, that she could serve God best. Therefore, her bitterness was a spiritual distress, an expression of spiritual loss. This prayer, then, was not merely about her own needs, but about her ability to serve God." (Found this here.)

I conceived a child a year ago. The timing is debatable and the midwives and I never bothered to nail down an exact date. Suffice it to say that it was about a year ago. I had a miscarriage, which is also nothing new. I've spent the last year trying to get it together. Trying to fix everything in my life that might have been wrong. There is a long list of things that might cause a loss as early as mine.
I cut down my caffeine intake. I don't take NSAIDs. I have been exercising (got out of it the last couple weeks, but anyway.) I have quit smoking. I don't drink often or much. I take vitamins and herbs. I am attempting to eat whole foods. Even my ridiculous dinner tonight had only 1 ingredient that was processed.
Yet, everyday coke-heads, 300 pound Jerry Springer guests, and other sundry women get pregnant. I really thought I was okay. I'm studying to be a labor doula. There was this whole part about my own issues and dealing with them. I thought that I had put it all in its proper Westminster Catachism perspective.
Then I started getting healthier. I had a period naturally for the first time in over 2 years. This meant things were suppose to be getting on track. I was thrilled to have another one. Unlike other women who are trying to have a baby I look at it as a sign that my body is doing what it is meant to do. But the second one didn't come. And then I threw up. And then the smell of the court room in Media on Monday had my so nauseated I was sweating. And then we took a test and it was negative. I was so sure this time. I've thought I might be pregnant before. But never this sure.
Yes, we can adopt. We have always planned to adopt even if we did have biological children. But, it all comes back to giving birth. I want to be a midwife. I want to be a doula. I have a passion for childbirth. My studies convinced me that birth has a distinct spiritual and theological significance. It is the reason I believe what I do about God and what it means to be a woman. Yet right now I feel very sure I am never going to experience it. I believe in predestination. I knew someone once who believed in God and predestination but believed that he wasn't chosen. Thats how I feel. I feel like I know all about this thing and how special and wonderful it can be but I will never have it.
So my heart is broken. So I am embarrassed. So I am depressed. So I don't feel a whole lot like celebrating my second wedding anniversary. So I don't feel much like doing much of anything.



I want to be a Universalist. I want to truly believe that whatever happens you will die and go to a better place. But I don't. It doesn't make logical sense. There has to be a scale or else there just has to be everyone. Either Mao and Mother Theresa sip mimosas together in a shiny villa on the banks of Styx or there is some sort of entrance requirement.
This whole concept is against my nature. I am more in line with Terry Pratchett, it saves a lot of effort if everyone just gets what they truly expect deep down. So basic human guilt sends your rapists and genocidal maniacs where they need to be.
I know people who have no problem looking someone in the face and saying, "You're going to hell if you don't ". I can't do that. I can not judge someone. I believe in Christianity. I believe you need to believe. I believe there is a hell. But I can't believe it's my place to pronounce your belief inadequate. I'm more than happy to tell you all about my belief. I will admit to anyone who asks that I believe that belief in Christ is necessary.
In the end only God can judge what amount of belief is belief or how much ignorance is bliss. So I don't think I will ever say "You are ____ therefore you are going to hell." But I think I will say "I believe in orthodox Christianity and it defines my universe and it is the root of everything good in my life."