Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Glory Babies of Southern Illinois

I know I have posted a lot about Glory Babies the last few weeks, and I will be continuing to blow up your feed for a while.

But I wanted to take a minute to share my heart behind why I am so passionate about this ministry.


As most of you know, my husband and I had a miscarriage in 2015. It was our second pregnancy, and our child would have been born May 5th of the following Spring.

However, when I think about why this group, why this topic, why these women walking these roads are so important to me, the pull in my heart goes much further than the baby we lost.


It was my senior year of high school, first semester. My mom refused to let me take wood shop, so as I worked on my quilt at my sewing machine, I was waiting for the call.

My cousin was in the hospital in early labor with her twin girls.

It was a pregnancy that was long hoped for, long wished for, long prayed for, long longed for. Not only by her and husband, but by all of us.

After countless visits to doctors and a journey to pregnancy that wasn't easy, both babies were growing.

I remember as soon as I found out that she was having twins going to Old Navy and purchasing little sock hats for spring. One was a bunny and the other was a duck, I think.

But now, here we were in September, nearly 20 weeks too early, and our sweet longed for baby girls were coming.

There was an announcement over the intercom for me to come to the office. I stopped my foot pedal and stared at the fabric in my hands. I knew in that moment that the news on the other end of the phone meant our sweet baby girls wouldn't be held in the arms of our family members.

My mom gave me the news over the phone, and as I walked back to my sewing machine hot tears poured down my cheeks and onto the soft fabric in my hands.



A snapped photo of a positive pregnancy test sent to a best friend with the words "If you are going to be on this pregnancy train, you better hop on now!"

A text right back with the same brand of test and the words "Already on it!" meant my dear friend and I were pregnant at the same time. I could not have been more excited.

Pregnant bellies, baby showers, sweet newborns, and someday in the future our babies going to church camp together much like me and his mama had years before. The future for our second baby and his or her best friend was glorious.

Then the text message late on a Sunday evening. My 8th week of pregnancy, her 12th. She was rushing to the ER.

Her night ended with news of an ectopic pregnancy.

The next morning I sobbed at work as I erased the previous week's agenda from the white board. How was I ever going to walk through this pregnancy, through this baby's life without my friend and her baby? My heart ached for every way our joys would be reminders of her loss. My celebrations would resound with her pain.


That Friday evening, I quickly ran to the restroom as my husband was getting ready to leave for a work cookout.

A few spots of blood and my stomach dropped as I knew in an instant our baby was gone.

A never-ending evening in a cold and brightly-lit ER sent me home with news on what to expect with my impending "spontaneous abortion."

I spent the next two weeks waiting for my body to expel the life I so desperately wanted to cling to.


"We lost Amiah. She had no heartbeat."

The words hit me like a freight train, knocking the wind out of my chest and causing me to fall onto my bed in disbelief.

24 weeks. 24 weeks is viability. Here I was pregnant with our twins at 24 weeks, believing that if something happened, they would both survive outside the womb.

But the words in the text message from one of my closest friends, also pregnant with boy-girl twins, blew out the flame of truth I held in my hands.

She was further along. 29 weeks. Her babies were past the viability mark. This pregnancy, these twins, this successful IVF, after 3 failed IUIs, and an IVF that ended in another baby lost by miscarriage, these sweet twins were supposed to be safe.

But again, my sweet friend would only briefly hold her daughter in her arms before she had to wait for their reunion in Heaven.

What a gift that she has her son in her arms, but a tragedy of his missing half- twins separated between Heaven and Earth...


Over, and over, and over, and over, and over women have shared their stories with me about their painful walks through losing a child or their journey of longing.

Women close to my grandmother in age retelling the memories of their D&C.

Women saying "We've been trying, no news yet."

Tears of longing, sadness, desperation, anger, sadness, mingled in with hope and desire, these women, my family, my friends, my neighbors, my sisters-in-Christ, my women I meet at the doctor's office, my women I see at the library, my women avoiding the baby aisle at Target, my mothers of friends, my women across the aisle at church, my friend on Facebook, my follower on Instagram, my friend on Snapchat, ....the list goes on and on and on.

THIS, THESE WOMEN, THEY are the reason I am starting Glory Babies. They are the heartbeats in my soul and their babies are the ones I carry in my heart and in my prayers. They are the reason that every month I want to show up for them. To hold their hands, to give them a tissue, to hear their stories, to walk through them down this messy road of motherhood as a part of a club that no one wants to be a part of.

So I implore you, if you or a loved one could benefit from knowing they aren't alone on this journey, please consider sharing news about Glory Babies with them. We would love to have the chance to love them wherever they are on their motherhood journey.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Musings of a Mixed Girl's Mama

One of my biggest fears in life is not being able to relate to my daughter. Lately, that has manifested as me sobbing over not knowing how to braid. Because while working with my own stick straight texture is something I’m comfortable with, managing Raelynn’s curls is something I’m working on every day. 

I don’t take being the mother to mixed children lightly. I try to continually have my eyes opened to my own biases and privileges, and I am continually learning about the culture and life experiences of my husband and his family.

As a unit, we navigate through small town southern racism, where I have to question the feelings of the person flying the Confederate flag down our street, and where annually Easter reminds me that I chose love over my extended family as my decision to marry my husband removed my seat from the table.

We also, in the same breath, work to keep communication open and real with my husband’s family in the city. Recognizing that their struggles, while different from our own down here, are still largely in part due to injustices of our society.

We ebb and flow from rural to city, southern drawls to language that flows with a rhythm, strict and stressful parameters to an approach at life that is much more relaxed. And every moment of every day I stare into the sweet faces of my children knowing that regardless of my love for them, their walks through life will contain struggles I never have, and never will experience.

Moving back to Southern Illinois has been a struggle.

I have friends, who while they love my children, just don't get it. They don't understand that there is literally no one else that my kids see or play with that looks like them. They don't understand that while we have gained a tremendous amount of family within a few hours, we lost a rich and diverse community that surrounded us at our home in Wichita. But the loss that resonates with me the most is the loss of strong, beautiful, confident, passionate, God-fearing women of color that spoke into my daughter's life on the regular. Women who I entrusted with guiding my daughter on a walk through life that I will never step foot on. It is a loss has left me weeping, desperately praying to God to just send me someone Raelynn can not only look up to occasionally like her family in Chicago, but a woman who she sees and speaks with regularly in her daily life.

It's a loss that has left me struggling to connect with the women of color I have met at places like the library because I am afraid I will start rambling like a maniac of how all my black female friends live in Kansas and I just need someone to be present in my daughter's life, but I don't just want them to be my friend because they are a woman of color, because I am honestly just looking for friends period, but it's great that they are black because I actually do need women of color in my life and in my children's lives because did I mention my children are mixed?


The word vomit immediately starts to build up in my mouth as my inadequacies flood my soul and the fear of never being the mother my daughter needs tears my heart to shreds. So where do I begin? I'm not sure.

But today, I started with trying to teach myself to braid, and with every strand of hair I held, I prayed that Raelynn would see and know how desperately and fiercely I love every caramel colored inch of her and that God would hear my prayers and fill my life with women and children who experience their lives from the perspective that my husband and children do, a perspective that is rich and full of color.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Rwanda, Beautiful Beautiful Rwanda.

I figured by now I would have written a post about Rwanda, but the truth is, I haven't even sat down to fully process what I experienced. I think largely because processing it meant it was over, that it was a memory, that contrary to what my heart desires, I won't be seeing a Rwandan sunrise this morning.

God changed my life in Rwanda. And He fulfilled one of my greatest desires in giving me the opportunity to go there. Rwanda has had my heart since a young teen, and there are no words to describe the draw I have had to the country or it's people.

I could describe to you all of the details of my trip, the schools we visited, the genocide memorials, the children we met, and the knowledge I gained of an incredible organization that is being used by God to transform the country of Rwanda (Read more here.) But what God did while I was in Rwanda was more than working with Africa New Life. He gave me the opportunity to see the faces and hug the precious souls I have loved for so long. He let me look them in their eyes and tell them God loved them in their own language, He let me dance with them in the streets, and put stickers on their faces, and take selfies for the first time, and pray for them. He let me see, first hand, people I have loved deeply and have missed without ever knowing their names.

I love Rwanda. And I miss it, daily. I miss the calmness at night, the sunrise in the morning, the beauty of rolling hill after rolling hill, but what I miss most is beyond that. I miss the sound of God's redemption and provision whispering in the wind and glowing in the warmth of the sun.

In 20 years, God has transformed a nation of souls. From a broken ravaged country coming out of a genocide, the Lord has brought healing, and peace, and brotherhood in His name. He is bringing souls to Him and wiping away the tears of sadness from the horrific event of 1994. His redemption promise can be visibly seen in Rwanda. It leaves you longing for the same to occur in your own life...

But as He is restoring, God is also providing. Not in a Western 2-car garage townhouse and Starbucks, but a real life-giving provision. While doing a team debriefing one night after being in the town of Bugesera, a town that had been brutally destroyed during the genocide, we were discussing all that we had seen that day- the church where 10,000 were killed, the poverty of the children, the hunger of one brother who was not able to go to school, but God's provision as his brother in school snuck his meal behind the fence to him. There were so many things we saw in just a few hours, we were all swimming to process it. It was that moment on the trip where the enormity of American wealth just consumes you. One of the women, who has lived in Rwanda for a few years, said when she first experienced that same feeling God spoke to her and said, "These are mine."

God's providing for them. He is raining water to fill their wells, dirt and mud to build their shelter, animals and plants coming from the earth to feed them. God is providing for them. And for every family that Africa New Life has not transformed through education, yet (you could be a part of helping every child dream and changing those families' lives. Sign up here.) God is caring for them and sustaining them.

It is that provision that has my heart all twisted. I saw His provision first hand in Rwanda, and I see it daily in my life. But yet I always fear His goodness will falter. I always try to make my plan and my way without trusting the waves of life He has created to carry me where He wants me.

My prayer since being home is that God keeps directing my path. Showing me where I am needed and where He wants my family to serve. I pray that He continues to open doors for me to serve in Rwanda, whether that be an annual trip or a long-term trip as a family. But I also pray that He gives me the peace to rest in the knowing that the manna will come tomorrow. That He will reveal His plan, in time, and until He does, I serve whole-heartedly where He has me. The Lord is wrestling my heart, and my dreams, and my plans. But He cares for me more than sparrows, and I know He will provide.

I lift my eyes up to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. 
Psalm 121:1-2

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Stuff: The Ugly Truth of Day 2

So after some revision, I decided to jump into Jen Hatmaker's chapter on giving away 7 things a day.

Day 1 and 2? Easy. Tupperware, random forks that don't match our set, an extra towel, sheet set, and a couple random toiletries.

But today I sat on my couch looked at our throw pillows thinking about the small purge I have to do again tomorrow. I have 8 throw pillows on my couch, 2 throw pillows on my floor, and one throw pillow on the floor of our room. I'm not talking tiny little wimpy throw pillows. We are talking soft, comfortable, perfect for sleeping pillows. I have so many of them they are literally piled on my floor.

But they match so perfectly. They are just the pop of color I need. What if I decide to change my living room up? What about when we get a recliner and I want a throw pillow for it? Well these 4 came with the couch. And my mom made me these. And I love the colors in this one.

Do you hear that? The consumerism in my life saying my want is greater and other's needs?

Note that this conversation came after I opened our coat closet and counted 17. SEVENTEEN jackets and coats for Lorran and I. We could wear all of them in Boston right now and still be sweating. I have students that don't have jackets. But you want me to part with my Saluki sweatshirt jacket? Surely these kids are WSU fans. You want me to give up my favorite warm white fuzzy jacket even though I spilled coffee on it and hate to wear it because of the stain? You want me to give away my Carhart? Whoa now. That only leaves me with TWO other incredibly warm winter coats.

Jesus has a long way to go on my heart.

And on my connection to my throw pillows.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My Husband

Marriage can be tough.

And lately, our marriage has been anything but sunshine and rainbows.

But man oh man am I thankful the Lord gave me the husband He did.

The past few weeks have held lots of anger, hurt, frustrations, tears, and pain. But interwoven in that ugliness there has been a thread of hope. And my husband clung onto that thread and has made that our focus.

Ladies and gents, I have a Godly man for a husband. I have a husband who loves and fears the Lord, who seeks Him for guidance and direction, a husband who is slow to anger and fast to forgive, a man who pours buckets truckloads of grace over me- a supply that could only come from Christ himself.

In this tough season we are going through, I am so thankful that I have the husband I do. Because even when his flaws come shining through, his repentance is not far behind. I have a husband that earnestly comes to me seeking forgiveness when he has hurt me. If only I was that quick to seek his forgiveness....

I am so thankful my husband believes in our marriage, that he believes in Christ's restoration, and that he desires to make our marriage the best it can be even if right now we are in the trenches.

I am truly blessed to be his wife.

I love you, baby. Thank you for being the man, husband, and father that you are. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Perfect in Weakness

My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness. 

Jesus, I am weak. So incredibly weak.

This past month has been a whirlwind of emotions. When the new year began, I believed 2015 was going to be the year. The best year yet. I was ready to tackle it head on. I set some achievable goals that were not only things I wanted for myself, but were aimed at serving and loving others. I prayed through my goals and remembered being so excited at what God was going to do this year.

But four weeks later I am sitting back looking at this month wondering what happened.

In four weeks, I have completely lost sight of what I wanted to achieve, have completely fell off the bandwagon of really positive faith habits like regular prayer and Bible reading, have been so broken that I couldn't tell you the last time I reached out to build up someone else, and have gone through a whirlwind in my marriage.

There were nights of spiritual attack this past month that were so strong I cried and trembled in fear through the night.

There were anxiety attacks so bad I was left helpless at caring for my son.

There were fights with my husband that trudged up hurts from the very beginning of our marriage.

I have stood, crying uncontrollably, feeling as though I have absolutely no grip on this life that has me drowning.

My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness. 

My stepmom spoke beautiful words to me on the night of a spiritual attack I had. She said that I was on track.

I find it ironic that right when my world began to crumble was when my Bible reading plan led me into Job. How fitting that Satan began to tear my life to shreds right when I would be reading the story of his work on another believer's life.

The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”

Job goes on to remain faithful to the Lord, and Satan continues his work. 

He endures soul crushing attacks and still remains faithful. 

Boldly, loudly, faithful. 

My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness. 

I would love to say that I spoke of God's goodness and faithfulness this past month. But instead I have been weak. The proof of my faith has amounted to that of whispered prayers as I lay my son in his crib, saying, "God, just be here."

My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.

Do you know what Christ calls me to do? "...boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 

His grace is sufficient for me. His power if made perfect in my weakness. And I will boast of my weakness so that His power may rest on me. 

So on the eve of February, I am ready to be in God's grace and I am ready to see His power overcome my weakness. 

My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Is My Son Next?

I remember as a kid knowing that if there was ever a fire, my dad, or someone like my dad, would save me. And just as surely as I believed that firemen would rescue me, I had the surest of faith in policemen. 

But while I know that I can have faith in many, there is the ugly horrific truth that I cannot have faith in all. 

We grow up believing that these men are heroes. That they protect us from harm. And they do. They risk their lives for us daily. They work tireless hours. They sacrifice holidays, school plays, children's basketball games, and tucking their children in all so I can lay my head safely on my pillow at night.

But just as one drop of food coloring can change a glass of water, the decisions of a few have brought out my greatest fear- not the fear of criminals, but of police. And not my fear of what they could do to me, but of what they would do to my son. 

I remember vividly watching the Trayvon Martin news in a hotel room with my mom and husband. I remember fearing what the world would be like if and when I ever had a son. 

But that fear has never been so real until I held my son in my arms and had to begin making a mental list of all the things I have to tell him when he becomes a teenager. 

When you go into a store in the winter, take your hood off. 

Never reach into your pockets or keep your hands there.

If you are walking through a neighborhood on your way home, keep your phone in your hand, so in case it rings you don't have to reach for it. 

If you get accused of something that you HONESTLY didn't do, let them arrest you. Because of how you look, you are already a suspect, and it's better to be arrested than dead. 

Whether this list right or wrong, these are the truths I have to tell my son along with a laundry list of other realities that only my husband as a black male can know and understand. 

I wish I could stop here. I wish I could reference one case and just let my fear be unjustified...but it's not and I can't. Because just last week when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was murdered in the park, I yet again had to realize that someday, that could be my son. 

My husband had a toy pellet gun just like Tamir's in college. Just like it.

What if we had kept it? What if it made its way to the back of the closet and my curious 12-year-old son found it? And thinking he was cool like the people he sees on TV broke off the orange cap and headed to the park to shoot some birds? All while I'm thinking he is going to play? 

And what if out of a split second decision someone, a policeman, shot him thinking he was armed with a real weapon? 

And the worst part is- What if the policeman who shot my son then lets him lay there? Never trying to help him after realizing it was just a toy and that my son was not a criminal but just a boy making a bad, yet now fatal decision. 


I want to stop here. I want these to be the only instances in which I'm afraid. But just as I said before, they aren't, and I can't. 

What happens when my son gets arrested because someone thinks they saw him do something? And what if my son who knows right and wrong, who loves and fears the Lord, and has been warned by his mother and father to just listen to the police EVEN if they are wrong- what if my son doesn't fight back but tries to move away from their arrest? What if he stands up for himself because he IS innocent?

Do they choke him? Using a move that is illegal?

What happens when he pleads he can't breathe-over and over again?

What happens after he's breathed his last?

And person who killed him doesn't try to bring him back? Doesn't try frantically to save him but let's him lay there? 


I don't just have to fear for that moment when my son has to say, "My hands are up, don't shoot!" I have to fear so much more than that. 

And I have to face all of that in the eyes of an ugly and hateful society- one that says my fears are unjustified, one that says he should just go with being wrongly mistreated so "something terrible"-like his MURDER- doesn't happen to him.

But even though I have these fears, and even though the reality is that I have to wonder "Is my son next," I have hope. The only hope I can have- Jesus. He is my source of peace and comfort that I have as I lay my son in his crib night crying and praying that things will be different for him in the future. He is where I put my hope that someday, maybe someday, I won't have to wonder if my son is next.