The Other Person’s Shoes


Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of stupid – “Given to unintelligent decisions or acts: acting in an unintelligent or careless manner”

One of the first things they cover when you are in school to get your teaching license is to encourage students to ask questions and delve deeper into the material. There is no such thing as a stupid question. And that, my friends, is why I teach the big kids. Because there definitely are stupid questions!

Classroom Examples (collected over my many years being both a student and teacher in the classroom):

Exhibit A: “So, will there be homework tonight?” After literally just finishing up explaining what the homework assignment was.

Exhibit B: “Did I miss anything while I was gone?” No, of course not. I stopped teaching in anticipation of your return (Insert exaggerated eye roll here).

Exhibit C: “Is this important?” No, I’ve just been talking about it for the last 20 minutes for kicks and giggles.

Now, please don’t start contacting my school about what a terrible teacher I am! I don’t always respond with blatant sarcasm. I work hard first to build a healthy, trusting relationship with my students before dropping the reality “there are stupid questions” bomb on them! I know my students and gauge accordingly based on who can handle what response. Honestly, I love my school and my students, I wouldn’t be there if I didn’t. Sweet elementary students are not yet ready for my degree of honesty and so I teach the big kids. I teach the big kids so I can carry around mugs that say things like: “And yet despite the look on my face you’re still talking” or “I Can’t People Today” and they know that even though I’m carrying those mugs around, they are still my kids and I will drop anything to help them.

For six years my job has been ever changing, ever evolving. I have created curriculum and taught 20 different classes, been class sponsor, ASB advisor, drama director, and more. The last two years I have taken on a new roll that includes being a TOSA (teacher on special assignment) giving me a small office. That little office has ever-increasingly become a place where students come in to talk and hash out life; a guidance counselor office.

Now, please don’t take the above list as me complaining about my job because I am not. I love my job! As exhausting as it can be, I love it! But I have learned, not just from classroom teaching or counseling sessions in my little office, but also from sweet, well-intentioned people wanting to give us advice after the loss of our daughter, that people can say some hurtful, and sometimes stupid, things.

So, the question then is how can we respond in a way that is both honest AND kind?

I am a people-pleaser by nature. A people-pleaser who does not like conflict! Most of my life I have preferred to let people lecture me (talk to my mom, she will attest to this fact) while I nod and take it or berate me uncontestedly. I frequently operate under the age-old saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” and so I avoid the tough issues with people. I avoid letting people know when they say something hurtful. I avoid telling people what I am really feeling. I avoid telling people things they might not agree with because I don’t want to hurt their feelings. Or, I take the other approach and bottle everything up for so long that when someone says something small and insignificant, I fly off the handle. Not because what they have said or done has actually made me that upset, but because it was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”.

What I am finally starting to learn is that I need to find balance. I need to find that balance between protecting my heart and also protecting the hearts of those around me. I need to find that balance between knowing when to be silent and when to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7); in using restraint with my words (Prov. 17:27-28); in being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19).

In this current season of life, I am learning that people mean well, even when what they say or do is hurtful. Most people are not intrinsically unkind. Often they simply do not realize the way their words come across. Even words with the best of intentions can be taken the wrong way. At the same time, there are some who lash out because they, themselves have been hurt. They have felt pain and don’t know how to process it and so they lash out. People are not intrinsically unkind but sometimes what they say can be unkind. It is one of the reasons I love teaching History. More than memorizing dates or events, I want students to learn how to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. I want them to imagine what it might be like for the person on the other end of the story and try to make sense of their actions. I want them to read primary sources and secondary sources and then try to figure out what actually happened, because history is rarely told without a bias of some kind. So what happened from the perspective of the “other side”? My heart is for students to be so accustomed to thinking about things from someone else’s perspective that they exhibit more patience, kindness, and compassion with each other. That without even realizing they are doing it, they have become less concerned with what was said, and more focused on why it was said.

This doesn’t mean we need to ignore the hurtful things said, at the expense of our own hearts, unintentionally collecting bitterness like court-cases awaiting justice. Instead I am learning (I would say I have learned but to be honest, this is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment thing for me) to stop, take a moment, try to think of things from the other person’s perspective and then be honest. The best phrase I am learning to say in times when stupid, hurtful things are said: “Is there another way you could maybe word that? Because the way I am taking it is hurting me.”

This doesn’t always happen in the moment, sometimes I take a while to process things. Sometimes a comment is made, I am hurt, and I say nothing in the moment because I know I won’t respond with kindness. The raw emotions and hurt the comment brought up means I will not be able to respond without lashing out and so I am learning to stop, take a moment, and then try to put myself in the other person’s shoes.

I am human.

I am not perfect. Please don’t expect me to be.

Know that I will occasionally fly off the handle over something that seems insignificant because I have been bottling up my emotions for weeks, or months, on end. Know that I may not always respond with kindness. I may not say anything at all, and simply move on.

Be patient with me as I grow and learn.

But also know that I am working on being a better person. A more Christ-like person.

This morning at church we were covering Nehemiah 9, specifically verses 16-17.

“But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them,…”

God is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love and He will not desert me. My heart needed that message this morning. My heart needed that reminder that no matter how many times I fall and fail, God is forgiving and full of grace. And if God is so willing to show me, a broken human being who says stupid things, compassion and grace then who am I to withhold those things from the people around me?

And so I try, moment-by-moment, day-by-day, to put myself in the other person’s shoes. I strive to keep things in perspective. And I attempt to find a different way to communicate with people when hurtful things are said.


My Little Gardens


Everyone’s journey is different. No two people are the same. No combination of events the same. And while that is true, there are also many ways we can relate, sympathize, even empathize with one another. We are not alone. My life experiences may not be the same as yours but with some of you reading this, maybe you can relate. Relate to loss. To waiting. To longing. To the frustrations that come with the answer “no” or “not yet”.

When I first decided to start a blog I was hesitant. To be completely honest, I still am. I wanted to give a place where people felt a little less alone, although I’m sure a large part of that was me needing to remember that I am not alone. I am not alone in loss or grief. I am not alone waiting or longing. This specific post has taken many shapes and forms over the last few weeks as I have stewed over the significance of today, March 4th, and of what I am feeling and how I might want to convey that. It has gone from being a post about learning how to communicate through sadness and grief to how to respond in kindness when people say stupid things (because, let’s be honest, we all say stupid things sometimes) to seasons of waiting to not wanting anyone to feel alone and somehow morphed into this: the lessons I learn from my little gardens. At some point you will probably see another post about the things mentioned above but for today, for some reason, I have decided to process by writing down my thoughts on the plants I have that hold meaning and significance to me and by the end of the post who knows, maybe it will have morphed again. I am not sure why this is what is in my heart today but my prayer is that, by revealing another glimpse into my life and the way I am processing today, you might feel a little less alone and be encouraged to find little garden lessons of your own.

I am going with my dump truck method (mostly because I am learning I over-think things too much if I don’t. Perfect example: the many different visions for this post that have almost made it an impossibility to publish). I will probably jump around here a bit and likely give you more information than you really want or need. If you choose not to read any farther, I won’t hold it against you, this post got crazy long. If you do choose to read more I want to thank you for walking with me as I process.

Today I want to share with you my little gardens that have come out of loss. I want to share with you the way plants have helped me grow and remind me of beautiful life lessons that can be learned as long as I choose not to allow my circumstances to consume me.

I am reminded by a little bamboo that a “no” can sometimes actually be a “not yet” and to never let the “no” make me bitter.

I am reminded by Grandma Anita’s strawberries (seen in the image above) to continue to fight and grow, even in difficult circumstances.

And I am reminded by a backyard oasis of immense love and rest and peace and grace.

~ My Little Bamboo ~

A few years ago when we took our first negative pregnancy test I experienced the struggle with the answer “no”. It was in the first few months of trying and we had known it wouldn’t be easy for us to get pregnant so I thought I had guarded my heart well, rationally anticipating a negative. I took the test in the morning, saw the negative and went off to school, telling myself it was like any other day. I made it through the day, putting it as far from my mind as possible so I could be present for my students. What I didn’t realize was just how deeply my heart hurt at the answer “no”. (Anybody else have a hard time with the word “no”?) My sweet husband, on the other hand, knew that while it may take a while for me to process emotions, eventually the sadness would seep in. Before even receiving a text from me about needing to bail on our plans with friends for that night because I just couldn’t “people” anymore that day, he went out to Trader Joe’s and purchased my favorite cheese, crackers, a bottle of wine, chocolate coconut covered almonds, and a small, beautiful bamboo shoot. That bamboo shoot was the start of my little garden of growth. He brought home the grocery bag, full of reminders things he had chosen with care, and I was overwhelmed by the love he has for me. In a day that started with the answer “no”, my husband turned it into a “not yet”. He took something that to me, felt so harsh and final, and reminded me that it was simply “not yet”. He filled it with hope, hope of growth and life in the future, and I was reminded not to let my heart become bitter just because it was not the answer I had wanted.

I still have the bamboo shoot (it’s one of the few things I have managed to keep alive. Yes, I have even killed succulents) and each time I see it I am reminded of the love my husband has for me. I am reminded to have hope, hope of life and of joy, and to never allow bitterness to consume me. I am reminded of how far we have come and how far we still have to go. I am reminded that I have grown and am continuing to grow, molded and shaped by life experiences, and that “no” can sometimes be seen instead as a “not yet”.

Grandma Anita’s Strawberries ~ 

Two years ago today, March 4th, the world lost a beautiful woman, Grandma Anita. The family did not see it coming. The loss was shocking and felt by the family and throughout the small church community she had been so greatly a part of. After losing my grandmother my senior year of high school, my friend’s grandmother adopted me. Anytime Grandma Anita saw me she greeted me with a smile and a, “Hey, grandfriend,” always asking me how I was doing. She was a woman full of life and vigor, who loved her family and invested in those around her. As her family got ready to sell her house, I was asked if there was anything I might want from the garden she cultivated with such love and care. She was well known for her beautiful garden! I brought home with me strawberry plants, now lovingly referred to as “Grandma Anita’s Strawberries”, and planted them along the barrier wall in our new backyard.

That first fall in our new home included quite the wind storm, knocking down three panels of our fence and crushing a section of strawberry plants. After being transplanted I wasn’t sure the plants would survive and my heart ached. Not only did I want to have a little reminder of Grandma Anita for myself but I also wanted my friends to be able to come over in the summers and eat strawberries from the same plants their grandmother had loved and tended to. The fence was fixed, Spring came, and low and behold, not only did Grandma Anita’s strawberries survive, they have actually grown and spread farther along the barrier wall! Those beautiful plants have grown and shaped our new house, providing us with delicious strawberries for the past two years. From those strawberries I have learned what it is to fight and grow, even in circumstances that seem impossible. Those plants were uprooted, replanted, and then crushed and still they survived. Not only did they survive, they became stronger, growing and spreading and producing delicious fruit. Each time I look out at those strawberries I am reminded not to let my circumstances overwhelm me, but instead I choose to fight and to grow.

~ My Backyard Oasis ~ 

And now, I finally get to the reason today has been on my heart for the last few weeks. I finally get around to telling you why I need to process today through writing. Now I get to the part I have wanted to avoid, but still cleared my schedule this weekend knowing I may need space to process and grieve.

One year ago today, March 4th, 2017, after negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test and seeing the answer “no” what felt like a million times, I finally saw those two, beautiful pink lines.

We were pregnant! We were finally pregnant! It somehow seemed so fitting that on the anniversary of losing Grandma Anita, the day would feel a little bit redeemed with so much hope and joy. And so I rejoiced! I had chosen to fight and grow. I had chosen not to allow myself to become bitter but to instead hope and finally my “not yet” had turned into a “yes”!

One year ago today I finally started to allow myself to dream and imagine our future with the little life that was finally growing inside me. The little life that had been so hoped for and prayed for. I started to plan out the nursery and what color schemes I might like. I would finally get to celebrate Mother’s Day and experience all of the joys of pregnancy! By now, if you have read any of my earlier posts, you know how this story ends. I experienced 22 beautiful weeks with our little girl. Weeks full of joy and hope and immeasurable love before we had to say goodbye. And now, as I look back on March 4th, 2017, I long for that moment of utter elation, not yet tainted by sorrow and loss.

If we are able to get pregnant again it will not be the same as before. We will look at those two beautiful lines and be excited, yes, but it will also be different than before. We cannot go back to the moment of pure and utter joy but that does not mean we can’t choose day-by-day, moment-by-moment, second-by-second if we must, to have faith and hope over fear. My prayer is that when that day comes, if that day comes, we will choose to continue to cherish each moment and not be consumed by the endless possibilities of what could go wrong.

Back to my little backyard oasis. The week we said goodbye to Verity Grace my parents came over on a mission, what mission they wouldn’t say. We were told to stay inside and let them work, they would fetch us when they were ready. Ben was working from home that week, I was on summer break, so he went back to working upstairs and I popped in the copy of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (extended edition) that my parents had brought with them. That’s right, when I am sad or sick I like to watch Lord of the Rings and the second one happens to be my favorite. I’m weird. I know.

Hours went by before we were finally allowed to go into our backyard to see what they had done. Our little backyard had been transformed into our own, personal oasis. My parents had graciously dedicated their day to transforming our backyard into a space where we could rest and find peace and comfort. In the empty space along the back of the house they had planted three blueberry bushes and two Russian Sage plants and even had a small potted mint plant to be added to iced tea or coffee. They used the tall shepherd’s hooks from Ben and my wedding to create a little square around our back patio and hung a strand of large outdoor lights from it. And, last but not least, they set up two comfortable reclining lawn chairs so that we could sit back there, in the peacefulness they had created just for us, and enjoy out little oasis.

My parents knew we would need a place where we could remember just how much we are loved and cherished. A place full of life and the promise of a better tomorrow. A place full of peace and rest and grace. A place of beauty amidst the struggles and hardships of life. They blessed us with a place where every time I enjoy the fruit grown by those blueberry plants I can think of my daughter and the immense love surrounding her little life.

My little gardens have taught me much. They have taught me that it is okay to feel sorrow and pain and sadness but to not become bitter at the answer “no” or “not yet”. They have taught me to continue to fight and grow, even when I feel overwhelmed by the fences that come crashing down on me. They have taught me to make time for rest, for peace and for grace. And they have reminded me of the immensity of love.

Today, March 4th, 2018, is also the day one of my friends is marrying her best friend in beautiful, sunny San Diego. As I sit here processing, I am receiving pictures from her stunning wedding and I am reminded of the many emotions of numbers and of dates. Todays date in history has held many, many emotions from the sadness of death, to the joy of new life, to the beauty and excitement of a marriage just begun. And I remember words spoken by Graham Cooke, “There are no good days or bad days, only days of grace. The grace to enjoy or the grace to endure.”

Today my prayer is that your day would be full of grace and that you would be able to find life lessons in your own little gardens.



The Many Feelings of Numbers & Waiting


As I drove away from yet another doctor’s appointment with no answers, no solutions, no progress made on our journey toward having another baby, with tears in my eyes (and by tears I mean I was ugly crying, almost to the point of needing to pull over) I was overwhelmed by the feeling of numbers. Numbers have feelings attached to them.

In Math class, or even History class, the feeling attached to numbers was often frustration for me because they never seemed to line up right. They didn’t make sense to the way my brain works. My mind jumbles numbers. It’s why I often don’t have my students memorize exact dates, but more the general time frame. I might see 1784 but out of my mouth comes 1847. I have to check and double-check that I have the correct order of numbers before I type them, say them, post them because my mind does not like to leave them in the order they were supposed to be in and so, numbers can often be frustrating to me.

Significant dates can hold such a wide range of emotions and feelings. Anniversaries, birthdays, March 13th – the start of March Madness (now THAT brings quite a bit of joy for me! I love creating brackets with my classes during March Madness and watching as the underdog teams defeat all odds to beat teams ranked higher than them!). Significant life events are often marked in dates and so we have feelings attached to them. Sorrow on the anniversary of the loss of a loved one. Joy celebrating another year well lived. Despair as months pass by with still no answers, being no closer to having and holding a little baby of our own. Anxiety, anticipation, warmth, love, happy, energetic, the list could go on and on. Dates are attached to events which are connected to emotions and so we think and feel when it comes to dates.

Appointments are filled to the brim with feeling numbers. Let’s take doctors appointments, since this has become the most prominent type of appointment in my life lately, although it could apply to other appointments as well. Specifically the appointment that had me driving away, feeling strongly in numbers. I sat there waiting, watching the minutes on the clock tick by excruciatingly slowly (numbers holding the feelings of dread and anticipation and a bit of hope that maybe this time there will be some answer, a move forward in the process of getting pregnant again. After all, this specialist was the one who helped us get pregnant with Verity). I felt like a number in a long list of numbers as I waited, not a name or a face or a person, just a number.

Finally it is my turn, my name is called. I step into that room and am asked my medical history, and I re-live, yet again, the life and death of my daughter and the infertility journey we have traveled. I am asked for dates, times, numbers and each one feels like a wound opening up again. As I sit there, I think to myself, “Why? Why do they need to know all this again? It’s all in my files and in the portal messages we have been sending back and forth. I have no new information for them so why dredge it all up?” Then, the specialist finally comes in and simply points me back in the direction of my primary care provider, because it will be more cost efficient in the long-run. Wait, what? And suddenly, in just a few short minutes, I am made to feel like a monetary number. I am made to feel like the number of dollars I can bring in and be charged for an appointment that held no new information and gave no new answers. I feel the cost of the half-day I took off of work to go to the in-person appointment the specialist had recommended, and the stress of creating lesson plans for a substitute. I felt the cost of parking in downtown Portland and the anxiety I get anytime I have to drive there. And I felt the cost of being charged to simply be told, “I can’t do anything for you” in person, instead of through messages. As I drove away I felt that hope start to slip slowly through my fingers as despair took over and I felt like a number, not a person and it hit me like a brick, numbers have feelings.

Time, ultimately, is a collection of numbers and so the passing of time holds a multitude of emotions and “feelings”. For anyone who has walked the path of infertility, you know that each month that goes by brings with it a roller coaster of emotions. Recently I have been reading a book titled Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams are Delayed by Betsy Childs Howard. This book was given to me almost a year ago for my birthday by a dear friend but, at the time, I thought my season of waiting was over. I was finally moving forward in my dream of having a family and so relieved to be done with the waiting and so I didn’t read it. And then, suddenly, life changed and I found myself back in the throws of waiting again. At least once a week my friend would gently encourage me to pick up the book, take a look, maybe see if there was encouragement to be found in among the pages. After months of waiting again for another miracle baby, rapidly approaching another year of waiting, I finally picked up the book. Now, let me just say that I am still working on reading it but I did make it through the first few chapters. I have read through the chapter on waiting for a bridegroom, waiting for a child, and waiting for healing and though there are more chapters yet to come, I have found renewed hope and encouragement in among those numbered pages. In the beginning of the book the author points out that God isn’t wanting us to learn our lesson about waiting so that we don’t have to wait anymore, but instead He wants us to learn how to wait well, even if that waiting continues on for the rest of this life (pg. 14). God is working in our waiting (pg. 15). The Bible is FULL of waiting! The Jews were constantly waiting; Elizabeth waited, Hannah waited, Job waited, the Disciples waited. I am slowly, excruciatingly slowly, learning that beautiful growth can happen in the waiting.

Originally, I had thought that my problem was in not being patient enough, that I haven’t learned my lesson about waiting patiently yet and so God is keeping me in this wasteland of waiting. But that is not how God operates. When it came to dealing with the overwhelming emotions attached to numbers and waiting my first reaction was to detach. Stop feeling numbers. Don’t allow numbers to dictate how I feel. But then, I’m not sure that is truly realistic for me. Round 2 then, how can I keep my many “feeling numbers” in perspective so that I can still feel them without letting them consume me? How can I learn to wait well?

I can start by believing in the truths found in Scripture.

I can continue to hold onto the hope found in Matthew 7:7-11, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

I can strive for the truths found in Philippians 4, to rejoice in the Lord always; to not be anxious about anything, instead bringing it all before the God who created everything and knows my thoughts and feelings better than even I do; to be content in every circumstance and to rely on Him for my strength.

I can keep things in perspective through remembering what Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 has to say about there being a season for everything and never forgetting that for God time is different (2 Peter 3:8).

I can gain wisdom in living knowing that my days are numbered (Psalm 90:12) and that God has established each and every one of my steps, no matter how I try to plan (Proverbs 16:9; Jeremiah 29:11).

I can remember to make the best use of my time because I do not know what tomorrow may bring (Ephesians 5:16; James 4:13-15) and I can be encouraged by those who lived before me.

And so today, my prayer for you is that you would be encouraged in your waiting. Whatever that waiting may be. Know that you are not alone in the waiting and that there can be great beauty in the waiting. That doesn’t mean that the waiting won’t hurt at times; that numbers won’t continue to pass you by, full of all kinds of feelings, but growth can happen in the waiting. Wisdom can be gained. And life can still be full of hope.





And Yet I Choose Hope


As I put on my makeup one morning in September, bracing myself for another day, I distinctly remember feeling that I wished I could just be “me” again and not this drained and exhausted being that seems to inhabit my body. I didn’t used to have to try so hard to be happy or even wake up in the morning. I used to be able to simply choose clothes to wear for the day, instead of feeling like I’m putting on a costume for a play called “The Happy Teacher/Friend/Family Member”. And then I realized that this is me. A new me. A new normal. And I needed to figure out who I was all over again.

Grief and tragedy don’t just happen for a moment. Sometimes in an instant life changes, but that’s just it, life changes. An event has occurred that has created a new normal. Sometimes the catalyst for change is something wonderful like graduating school, getting married, having a child, getting a new job…and other times it is something hard like finally realizing you need to get out of an abusive marriage, losing a loved one, losing your job.

When changes are hard we tend to lose things. We lose the hopes and dreams we had built, we lose the ease with which happiness once came, we can even lose a bit of ourselves. But I would also argue that we have so very much to gain out of loss, if we allow ourselves the opportunity.

Recently my husband and I escaped to the beach for a weekend. A short little vacation to our favorite cabin up on a hill overlooking this stunning view. It was set to be perfect, actually sunny weather (a rarity for the Oregon Coast) and a long walk on the beach was just what our hearts needed. Unfortunately that morning Ben got a horrible headache and lay down to try and sleep it off but I still felt the call of the ocean. I put on my giant, sleeping-bag of a coat (because even if it looks sunny it’s normally windy and cold down on the beach) and set off. Normally I would plug in my headphones and listen to music as I walked but I had just started listening to a new podcast on my commutes to work and thought I would give that a try instead (besides, if I got too bored I could always switch to music).

In her podcast, The Glorious in the Mundane, Christy Nockels was interviewing Annie Downs (from back in 2016, I’m a little behind in the podcast times and just found this one). As I walked along the beach, by myself, God used that podcast and the words of those wonderful women to speak truths into my life that I needed to hear.

They talked, laughed, reminisced and made me so wish I lived in the South! As they discussed the book that Annie Downs wrote, Looking for Lovely, my heart was overwhelmed by how perfect God’s timing is. I wasn’t behind the times in finding the podcast, I was right in God’s timing. God knew that my heart would need to hear Annie talk about hope, and how it isn’t a Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), or something that comes easily, when I was in a place of holding onto merely a shred of hope and feeling even that slip through my fingers.

That day, that walk, God knew that it was what my heart needed. That reminder that hope isn’t the easy choice but it is worth it! I loved that walk, and the way God used it to speak truths into my heart.

Fast-forward to a week later only this time, I’m at home sitting on my couch with a sinus infection missing a swim championship I had really wanted to be at and forgetting, already, that hope does not come easy. This was week 4 of being sick and I had started feeling that my body would never be (relatively) healthy again. I picked up my copy of Looking for Lovely (because of course I ordered it as soon as I got back to the cabin), while keeping tabs on the swim meet results online, and started the chapter titled “Tragedy”. First, let me say that I am pretty sure this book was written just for me! God knew how to find someone who’s life experiences and feelings I could so relate to and had her write it down knowing I would need to read it (awkward sentence but just roll with me here because I’m doing my dump truck thing). The first two chapters alone describe how I have felt much of my life, including having similar health issues! Anyway, back to the chapter “Tragedy”, that starts out with my life verse, the verse I feel God chose just for me (so much so that I have it permanently inked on my body, but more on that in some other blog post), and I was already hooked. It starts with Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Such a wonderful reminder that we are not expected to walk this path alone.

And then, her words. Her words summed up what I have been trying to embrace in these last months since losing Verity Grace, but she puts it much better than I so I want to share her words with you now. I tried to pair it down but, well, I just couldn’t because it’s all good so brace yourselves for a long quote (possibly formatted incorrectly because I am still new to this whole blogging thing).

It’s not about pretending everything is beautiful and nothing is ugly and you have no questions or doubts and picking out the beautiful in your everyday is going to protect you from anything hurting ever. It’s about feeling the pain, letting the suffering be part of your life, embracing the Romans 5:3 moments so you can process through the Romans 5:4 days so you can live a Romans 5:5 hope-filled life. If you aren’t experiencing pain, you aren’t experiencing beauty. Darkness makes us appreciate the beauty of the light. If you aren’t allowing yourself to feel the hurt, sadness, loneliness, and disappointment this fallen world has to offer, you aren’t feeling the fulness of the joy and beauty the redeemed moments have to offer. There is nothing beautiful about tragedy…But there is beauty in choosing to feel that pain, in calling it what it is, and not pretending everything is okay. Whatever tragedy you have experienced or are currently living through, the most beautiful thing you can do is LIVE. Keep walking, keep weeping, keep eating. Don’t ignore the hurt. Don’t attempt to avoid it and just move on with your life. Feel it all, and invite people in to feel it with you.

The idea of being okay with the sadness and the pain, but still looking for the lovely and the hope has been my goal. I am not always good at it. Some days the sadness overwhelms and the despair weighs me down so much I would rather not move from my bed. But then there are days, moments, that I see the lovely and the beauty in the pain and through the pain.

Recently my girl’s bible study group listened to a sermon by Graham Cooke where he talked about being in the wilderness and how the wilderness reduces our descriptions down to nothing, revealing who we truly are and teaching us how to depend on God and who He is. In that sermon he emphasizes the idea of an “…and yet” statement. Take Job for example, a man who suffered tragedy upon tragedy and yet he still trusted in God. Or the book of Lamentations, where the “and yet” statement can be seen in the middle of pain, panic and fear and yet that belief that God is still good. Sorrowful and yet rejoicing. In pain and yet God is good. When our circumstances feel relentless, we can also experience how relentless God is, something I often forget. As my wonderful bible study leader Anne pointed out, “God asks us to step into our pain to receive our ‘yet’ moment. This happens only in brokenness and humility.” Or as my friend Taylor so beautifully said, “God doesn’t ask us to deny or ignore the pain or hardship, but to believe in the ‘yet’.” And so I am working on looking for the “and yet” moments each and every day and would encourage you to do the same. What are some of your “and yet” moments? If you would be bold enough to share, I would love to hear ways in which you have been able to experience the power of an “and yet” statement in your life. You can either comment, or if it is something you would rather share with just me, please feel free to reach out through the “Contact” section.

The Story of Verity Grace

As I mentioned in my “About Me” section, I am a mom…sort of. I am a mom without a physical child here to hold. Our daughter, Verity Grace Drake, was loved every moment of her 22 weeks of life but she is already living out eternity. Some of you may have heard or read this story before, but not all of you know how long we prayed and waited for Verity Grace to enter our lives.

I have what is called PCOS, something that often makes it difficult to get pregnant, and while I knew this information when we first started trying to grow our family, I didn’t know the toll emotionally it would take. For over a year we tried to get pregnant, seeing doctors and specialists, and then, finally, on March 4 (almost a year ago) we finally took a positive pregnancy test! This means that last year, at this time, I was pregnant with little Verity Grace, even though I was holding my breath, not knowing. Honestly, I held my breath through the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy, in constant prayer that God would keep our baby safe and continue to grow and shape her until the safety of second trimester. Then second trimester came and I finally started to breath a little easier. I felt a little safer. I started to dream a little more, planning out the future, the nursery, wondering if it would be a boy or a girl, praying I would make a decent parent. The baby’s room would be travel themed because my husband, Ben, and I love to travel AND because the baby was lovingly carried around London, Paris, and Rome on a school trip I led Spring Break of 2017. The room would have pictures framed of each place the baby had already been and a giant map of all the places we wanted to take him/her, as well as special markers for loved ones living/traveling around the globe. Oh how I planned and anxiously awaited the arrival of that little life we had prayed so fervently for month after month!

Then, on June 19th, Ben and I went in for our gender reveal/19 week ultrasound. In that meeting we found out two things:

1. We were having a baby girl!
2. She was measuring at 16 weeks, on average, instead of 19

Because of how small she was the doctors set up an appointment with the perinatology department for the day before our 22nd week of pregnancy. The thought at that point was possibly something genetically wrong and we didn’t know what to expect or why she was so small.

On Wednesday, June 21st, I went in for a normal prenatal visit and heard her little heartbeat which helped put my mind at ease a little bit. She was moving around a lot and even though I couldn’t feel her, the nurse kept having to move around to find her heartbeat.

On Friday, July 7th we went in for an ultrasound with the perinatology department and within minutes of being there it was obvious there was no longer a heartbeat. The one thing we had seen and heard strong since our first ultrasound at 6 weeks was her heartbeat so it was a huge shock to us. We truly had not thought to prepare ourselves for losing her.

Verity Grace Drake was born July 9th at 7:02 in the morning. She weighed only 3 ounces and was 7 inches long. Cause of death could be seen immediately. She was such a mover and so active she got all wrapped up in her umbilical cord. Our doctor said the chances of that happening was 0.004% (or something along those lines). He also said this type of death was painless which made our hearts a little less sad. Knowing it wasn’t genetic and is highly unlikely to ever happen again is a huge blessing. The nursing staff that took care of us was amazing and we are so thankful to have had such great support and prayers from so many!

Verity means “a firm belief in something; especially of fundamental importance”. It is a name we always liked if we were to have a girl, but for her it was just perfect. We truly believe in God’s grace and that He is walking with us through this extremely difficult journey. While a part of us obviously wonders, “Why us?”, we also know God’s plans are bigger than our plans, His ways bigger than our ways and His grace is sufficient for us. Naming her became so clear….Verity Grace.

After delivering we were able to see her, hold her and get some much needed closure. We have pictures of us with our little bundle that brought us so much joy in those short 22 weeks we knew her, as well as a treasured memory box that holds her tiny footprints and handprints that we will always cherish!

The Why Behind the Name





Why “These Eternal Verities”? What does it even mean? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “verity” as:

  1. The quality or state of being true or real
  2. Something (such as a statement) that is true; especially: a fundamental and inevitably true value ~ Such eternal verities as honor, love, and patriotism
  3. The quality or state of being truthful or honest

Back in 2013 I read a book titled Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Up until that point I am ashamed to say I had no idea what the word meant. I knew veritas meant “truth” or “truthfulness” so I assumed it was something along those lines but I was prompted to actually take the time to look the word up. If you simply Google the word, what pops up is “a true principal or belief, especially one of fundamental importance”. I immediately loved it! I loved the word and what it meant. I loved it enough that when my husband and I got married I threw it out there as a possible name for a daughter someday. Granted, at that point we were still just talking about the possibility of children but we both liked the name enough to start creating our very own list of baby names. Quite a few names came and went from the list but one name remained the same “Verity”.

My purpose with this blog is to fill it with little truths, truths that I have learned or am learning as I walk (sometimes crawl) through this life. I believe in a Creator who made the Heavens and the Earth. I believe in a God who is great, greater than hardships faced and greater than my sins and failures. I believe in eternity and that it is only because of God’s amazing grace I will get to spend eternity with Him. It is with that eternal perspective that I desire to live my life. And so the name of this blog was born, with the help of my mother and sister, “These Eternal Verities”. These eternal, fundamental principals, truths, beliefs. That is what I want my blog to reflect. Things that are fundamentally important as we walk through this journey of life. Granted, with that being said, I’m sure not every post will be some great words of wisdom or things that are profound or even that relevant to anyone but myself, but I process through words.

I have a tendency to edit, re-edit, and edit again and then never post. (This post alone has been stared at for quite a while now and a small part of me keeps saying, “Don’t bother posting. It isn’t perfect yet. It won’t ever be perfect. You’re going to offend people.”) I am a champion at overthinking and over-processing. Most of the time I don’t feel that my words are relevant to anyone other than me, but lately I have had people come alongside me, encouraging me to put my words onto some medium where others can read and so this blog was born (because let’s be honest, a book is far too daunting and scary). It has taken me months to get to this point and honestly, if even only one person (likely my Mom or my Baby Sibling, I told them they could take turns if I got too boring) reads my words and feels encouraged, or somehow less isolated, then I have done what I set out to do. And so I have begun to dump (yes, I am definitely picturing a giant dump truck right now) my thoughts out into my computer and am placing them in your line of sight, flawed though they may be. I am choosing to ignore those small voices (even though I probably should re-read and edit this post…see, there I go again) and simply dump and post. This isn’t a book. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I am not perfect. So, if you have made it this far into what started out as the “why” behind the name of the blog and morphed into a “why” for the blog itself, thank you. Thank you for your patience and the grace you have shown me. Thank you for caring about the “why” behind this blog.

OUR WORDS MATTER: A Lesson Plan by Me


Last February I had my World History classes each get out a blank piece of paper and tear it in half. Next I instructed them to write down a positive thing someone had said to them in the last few weeks (or months, or the school year) on one of the pieces and something negative someone had said to them on the other. They hemmed and hawed and had an overall relatively difficult time coming up with things. When everyone had something written on both pieces I asked them to raise their hand if the negative thing had been easier to think of. In both classes, over 50% of the students raised their hands. I then launched into some brief stories of negative things from my childhood playground days that have stuck with me all these years and then told them this:

“I want you to remember two things this week: Number 1 – YOUR WORDS MATTER! Your words have an impact on others and every time you say something negative it sticks, sadly often it sticks longer than anything positive you might say. And Number 2 – DON’T BECOME BITTER! Bitterness doesn’t hurt the other person. They have probably moved on with their life and completely forgotten what they said or did to make you angry/hurt your feelings/etc. Being bitter about something turns you into someone that nobody else wants to be around. Being bitter hurts you, not the person who offended you. You become sad, depressed, angry, lonely…so please don’t be bitter people.”

Next I had them each read a different verse from Scripture all about how we should use our words and not be bitter. Take Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but ONLY what is helpful for building others up according to THEIR needs, that it may BENEFIT those who listen.”

Or Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of ALL bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, justas in Christ God forgave you.”

The Proverbs are covered in verses about how to use our words wisely, like Proverbs 12:18, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” And Proverbs 15:1 & 4, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger…The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Or Proverbs 29:20, “Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

Hebrews 12:14-15 says this, “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

I could go on and on with more specific examples from Scripture but I’ll leave it off there. If you have made it this far in my post, congratulations! I, myself, probably would have stopped reading after I realized how much of a time commitment it would be sooooo, back at “…A Lesson Plan by Me.” Haha. Thank you for sticking with me and taking the time out of your day to read my thoughts.

For those who are wondering, no, this was not sparked by all the political controversy. It was sparked by some things going on at school, however, it helped remind me that my words MATTER and I can’t become a bitter person because it will only serve to hurt me more. I thought maybe, just maybe, if I needed the reminder myself, maybe I’m not alone and others could use the reminder too.

So I leave you like I left my students, if you remember nothing else today, remember these two things:

1. YOUR WORDS MATTER. They affect people in ways you may not ever realize so choose wisely what you choose to allow to come out of your mouth.

2. Don’t become bitter. Don’t let bitterness consume you and cause trouble in your life.