sailboat racing | Lake Ontario

It’s warm with a tempting breeze—the kind that beckons you toward refreshing water. Once again, it’s race time for the local sailors on Lake Ontario and they are in need of crew. Now in our 24th day of ongoing engine repair, Trent and I just happen to be available.

SILENT SENTINELS

The sun is dipping low on the horizon as we make our way on to the dock. The water laps softly beneath our feet as we tread past row after row of occupied boatslips. The surrounding schooners stand like silent sentinels, masts reaching skyward. It’s easy to feel insecure in this unfamiliar space. Yet I know that all that stands between the known and the unknown is the experience that lies before me.

sailboats lake ontario

BLUE LIQUID

A crew of six welcomes us aboard the Wind Thief. I’m given a brief tour before we shove off and make our way into the harbor. Once we near the starting point of our race, the motor is retired and the sails are hoisted heavenward. Like bees in a flower garden, the sailboats on the lake permeate the horizon, filling it with vertical sheets of white against a backdrop of blue liquid. Continue reading “sailboat racing | Lake Ontario”

faith escarpment | Hamilton, Ontario

Our truck’s old engine is out and the replacement is ready to go in. Mr. Mechanic is hard on the job. We are left playing the waiting game.

A sunny forecast beckons us to pass the time outside. I pack a lunch, the kids change into swimming suits, and we all climb in the van. Continue reading “faith escarpment | Hamilton, Ontario”

i choose to trust | lessons in faith

It’s morning. The day after the roadside storm that ended with our truck in the shop and us in an unexpected place of surrender.

Before my eyes adjust to the light streaming through my bedside window, I hear the birds. They are happy, flamboyant, carefree. Their jovial song serves as a strong reminder:

“Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?…Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:26-27, 2”

The truth is stronger than morning coffee. Thus my day begins with this simple prayer, “Lord, instead of worry, today I choose to trust in You. Remind me of that choice should I waver.

Continue reading “i choose to trust | lessons in faith”

Desperate for dependency

One thing that full-time travel is teaching me is that living in a state of dependency affords the best view for provision. Time and again we’ve been shown that God is willing and able to provide for us. However, we have to first be willing to humble ourselves to be dependent on Him. I believe this struggle is not uniquely my own but the challenge of our American culture.

How can we possibly be dependent on God when we pride ourselves so strongly on our own independence? Quite often I think the answer lies in our willingness to step out in faith. Because the more distance we place between our own self sufficiency and our our need for God to show up, the greater the likelihood that we will request His presence.

To illustrate this point I will share a frustratingly low point that I walked through just before we left our hometown in Idaho to begin our time on the road.

Deeply disappointing delays

desperate dependencyOn the eve of our launch day six months ago, this was the view from our RV. We had a van with a cantankerous disposition and a truck 90 minutes away in the shop awaiting a part that was “100% going to arrive that day” but never did.

Our countdown to launch had dwindled to the very lowest number. Now our departure date was at the mercy of two different mechanics in two separate towns working on two different vehicles.

The delay was deeply disappointing considering the obvious build-up of excitement to this moment. However, the daunting discouragement was most firmly rooted in the very possible reality that we would miss out on a doctor appointment scheduled the following day for our youngest son, Tanner, in the town of our first stop three hours away: Coeur d’Alene. Tanner had been experiencing frequent and persistent stomach aches and I felt sure that it was tied to something he was eating. The doctor in Coeur d’Alene was known for assessing and treating allergies with magnets and I was anxious to have Tanner seen by him before we started traveling.

The fact that we were even able to set up an appointment with this doctor on such short notice as a new patient felt like a miracle (new patient appointments were being scheduled four months out). We’d rearranged four dentist appointments and bumped our launch date up by a day in order to make Tanner’s appointment work.

Desperately dependent

I felt utterly defeated by this unforeseen delay. When I asked a few good friends to pray that God would allow us to leave on time in order to make this appointment, a thought occurred to me: why not just ask God to heal Tanner?

It was a valid question, but it also seemed redundant. I’d prayed for him already, several times. Yet, this particular situation pressed my heart toward the reality that my options had just narrowed to allow my dependence to rest solely on the shoulders of my Savior. In this place of surrender I could see my wavering faith with clarity. Why did I find it easier to believe that God would fix our schedule than to heal our son?

In Mark chapter six, a multitude of people had gathered to listen to Jesus speak. As it grew late the disciples and Jesus both recognized the crowd’s need for food. The disciples had their plan in place: outsource the problem–send the people away to get their food. Jesus had another idea: just meet the need. Jesus simply told them, “You give them something to eat.” When the disciples responded confused and frustrated, Jesus asked how many loaves they had.  They gathered their resources (five loaves and two fish) and Jesus blessed the small collection and began dividing it, again, and again and again until all were fed and 12 baskets of food were left over.

Like the disciples, I was ready to outsource Tanner’s treatment, confident that this Doctor would help. When it appeared that option was fading fast, I felt the Lord prompting me to consider the resources I already had on hand.

Providential provision: our only option

That evening friends stopped by to give their final good-bye hugs. I asked them to pray with us for Tanner’s healing and I recognized within myself a unique dependance that had not been there before. God was not the back-up option–He was very likely our only option.

Our launch day proceeded the following day as planned with the exception of a delay just significant enough to prevent us from making it to the doctors office before closing for the extended Labor Day weekend. This meant we absolutely were not going to make our appointment.

Desperate for dependency

It has now been six months and I’m humbled to say that the stomachaches that plagued Tanner for weeks prior to our launch disappeared after the prayer that was offered in a posture of desperation.

desperate dependency

God could have healed Tanner the first time I prayed but instead he chose to wait. God could have used the doctor but He chose not to. I believe God allowed me to reach a point of desperation and dependance in order to allow my faith grow.

I am reminded that the Israelites were only given the food they needed for that day and that if they tried to hoard and save, it spoiled. How do I return each day to God’s table and ask Him humbly to refill my plate? How do I foster a regular dependency on my Saviors’ provision?

I don’t believe it means I turn my back on medical care. I’m not convinced that we need to cease proactive behavior. However, I do believe that my heart needs to be more tuned to respond by instinct toward the heart of my Heavenly Father.

Stepping into the unknown

The longer I know Jesus, the more I am convinced that He is a true gentleman. Scripture says that He stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 6:20). He requests a relationship but does not enter uninvited. Perhaps one of the best ways I can foster dependency is to simply open the door and begin taking steps of faith with Him into the unknown.

desperate dependency

Once I am outside of my area of expertise, I require assistance. The tricky thing is figuring out how far I need to go before I am dependent. One day it might mean examining my giving. Another day it may relate to who I am willing to engage in conversation with. I am finding new opportunities to discover dependency as we travel. However, I believe dependency is more about the position of our heart rather than the location of our home: the challenge lies in desiring it.

We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith. ~Charles R. Swindoll

What about you? Do you find it challenging to foster a state of dependency? Has God shown up for you when you have been there?

the question you are afraid to ask: my stillbirth story

What happens when death visits and you have no one to talk to about your loss? How I discovered my tribe and found a voice in the void.

Whether its facing toddler tantrums or travel woes, potty training or panic attacks, it feels good to know we are not alone. Talking with others who are or have walked a similar road of celebration or sorrow is comforting, if not simply confirming, that we are not slipping silently into insanity. However, certain topics are by default easier to talk about than others. Menopause for instance is a conversation I have not dug into with anyone just yet. To be honest, that future period of my life (or lack thereof if you know what I mean wink-wink) is still very hazy. Stillbirth is another not-so-common topic of discussion. The unfortunate consequence is that grieving can be a confusing and lonely place to find yourself.

my stillbirth story begins
Our family the morning that Sawyer was born

Eight years ago, when our third child (Sawyer) died three weeks before his due date, I faced a mountain of unknowns. What was it like to deliver a dead baby? Does one have a memorial service in a situation like this? How do we explain his death to our children (who were 5 and 3 at the time)?  After delivery should our kids be allowed to hold their baby brother or be sheltered from seeing him? Should I change plans and deliver him in a hospital or continue with the home birth as planned? Should we induce or wait until my body went naturally into labor? Should we bury or cremate his body? Would my body still produce breast milk? How long would it be until my mind could conceive a single thing that was not somehow tangled in thought to my son? Would the pain ever go away? Was it normal to want to get pregnant again so soon? The questions seemed as endless as the grief. I’d never known anyone to face this kind of loss to whom I could go to and ask questions. Or so I thought. . .

According to the Centers for Disease Control website,

In the United States, a miscarriage usually refers to a fetal loss less than 20 weeks after a woman becomes pregnant, and a stillbirth refers to a loss 20 or more weeks after a woman becomes pregnant.

Stillbirth is further classified as either early, late, or term.

An early stillbirth is a fetal death occurring between 20 and 27 completed weeks of pregnancy.
A late stillbirth occurs between 28 and 36 completed pregnancy weeks.
A term stillbirth occurs between 37 or more completed pregnancy weeks.

Occurrence

Stillbirth effects about 1% of all pregnancies, and each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States.1 That is about the same number of babies that die during the first year of life and it is more than 10 times as many deaths as the number that occur from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

As it turns out, that 1% segment of the population was much larger than I realized and as I began to write about my stillbirth story on my blog, I began to connect with women who knew the road I was walking because they had traveled it themselves. I also began meeting others who had bravely walked alongside those women. Together we were stronger, braver and had more purpose than we did alone. Many of these women were willing to share a part of their stillbirth or infant loss story in my recent book, “Finding Joy in the Mourning: A Mother’s Journey through Grief to Hope & Healing“.  They openly answered questions such as:

  • After your loss, what were your feelings toward having another child?
  • Is it helpful for you when people bring up your loss or would you rather avoid discussing it?
  • Are you comfortable if/when others ask about the details of what happened (how/why your child died)? Would you rather people ask or just leave that question alone?
  • What would be most meaningful to you for friends or family members to do to remember your child’s birthday or anniversary of their death?
  • How have your relationships with other people changed because of your experience?
  • How have your beliefs about God and the world changed or deepened through your experience? Have you dealt with anger toward God?
  • Which “comforting phrase(s)” or comments were most hurtful to you (i.e. what should people avoid saying)?
  • Were there any gifts given to you or your family after your loss that stood out as most meaningful? Why?
  • Looking back, what do you wish your friends and family would have known that might have helped them to support you better?
  • And many more. . .

Isn’t it beautiful to think of the combined consensus of support that can await those who have a tribe of understanding hearts surrounding them? I want that. I want that for myself and I want that for you. Be it parenting, marriage, lifestyle choices (living in an RV anyone?) or grieving, we all need “our people”.

August 7th at 6 PST/9 ET I had the opportunity and privilege to speak to my new tribe of fellow full-time RV traveling families about losing Sawyer and the book that followed on the Roadschool Moms radio show. I chatted live with co-hosts Kimberly and Mary Beth and you can still listen to the recorded podcast here if you prefer iTunes or here if you would rather just listen to it via their website page.

Lastly, if you or someone you know is grief-stricken, I’d consider it an honor if you would share my book with them. I’d love to have the opportunity to keep them company on their own journey of sorrow and, Lord willing, bring them some glimpses of hope and healing.

*This post contains affiliate links.