He Restores My Soul

I really don’t know how to write this post. I suspect I wouldn’t except for having already shared here about my pregnancy.

I was pregnant and now I’m not.

Last week, only a couple of days before I would have reached sixteen weeks, our baby died. We don’t know why. We may yet get some answers and we may never know. I had three ultrasounds (plus 2 in the ER), including one just last Monday in which our baby was moving and healthy and everything looked fine. I saw that heart beat.

Our baby was wanted and loved every day of his existence and I hope he felt that. I don’t know why God creates life and lets it die. I believe God loves me and I believe he loves my little one but this doesn’t feel like love and it’s hard to understand.

Psalm 23 was on my mind a lot while I was in the hospital.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

This doesn’t feel like goodness and mercy. I feel lost in the valley of death and the profound unfairness of having my baby taken away. I want to believe that God will restore my soul because it feels pretty shattered these days. It will be a big job.

I am so thankful for my husband and for our girl. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to walk through this valley alone and I’m thankful every moment I get to be Pearl’s mum.

 

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3 Day Quote Challenge: Day #3

Check out Day #1 and Day #2, as well as Judith‘s original challenge to find out what this is all about.

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My third and final quote comes from C.S. Lewis. I could probably share C.S. Lewis quotes all day long but since I’m sticking to things I’ve read this year, I’m sharing a quote from Letters to Malcolm.

The great work of art was made for the sake of all it does and is, down to the curve of every wave and the flight of every insect.

This quote comes at the end of a chapter – or rather a letter – about providence, destiny, and God’s creative acts. (Lewis is actually making an argument against a quotation by Pope.) A little bit before what I’ve quoted above, Lewis says,

One of the purposes for which God instituted prayer may have been to bear witness that the course of events is not governed like a state but created like a work of art to which every being makes its contribution and (in prayer) a conscious contribution, and in which every being is both an end and a means.

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God as Artist is one of my favourite views of God. I see this in the world around me – its beauty and complexity. I believe that the world shows us a Creator who not only loves beauty but delights in His creation, down to the very smallest of details. Lewis captures this beauty and joy in that wonderful phrase “the curve of every wave and the flight of every insect.”

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What are your favourite quotes? Something you’ve read recently or loved for years? Share it on your own blog or in the comments!

3 Day Quote Challenge: Day #2

(Check out Day #1 and Judith at ReadandReview2016 to see what this is all about.)

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My quote for Day #2 comes from Don Quixote. If you’ve been reading along here then you know that I (finally) finished Don Quixote in March and that it was a long time coming. For such a big book, I didn’t copy down a lot of quotes but here’s one I did like:

Honour is something that a poor man can have, but not a dissolute one; poverty can cast a cloud over nobility, but cannot hide it altogether; but if virtue gives out a glimmer of light, even if only through the chinks and straits of penury, it will be valued and therefore favoured by lofty and noble spirits.

Don Quixote is, of course, famously insane. He’s best known for his mad adventures and delusions. On the flip side of that though is that, throughout the book, others are often amazed by how sane he can sound when speaking of serious matters. Crazy as he may be, Don Quixote has some very noble ideals and upholds an admirable standard of behaviour and belief.

There’s something uniquely lovely in reading a book written hundreds of years ago and finding yourself agreeing with the author. (Though there was lots that Cervantes and I did not see eye-to-eye on!)

This picture has nothing to do with anything. When out for a walk, we always have to stop to say hello to dogs.

This picture has nothing to do with anything. When out for a walk, we always have to stop to say hello to dogs.

What are your favourite quotes? Something you’ve read recently or loved for years? Share it on your own blog or in the comments!

3 Day Quote Challenge: Day #1

IMG_6662When I read a book and I come across a line, a phrase, or a paragraph I like, I copy out the quotation in my journal. (And, I confess, if the book belongs to me I fold down the page and/or underline the part I like.) Sometimes I share these quotations when I write my book reviews here. Sometimes I don’t, because they’re too long or they don’t really fit in with what I’m trying to say about the book.

I was recently tagged in a 3-Day Quote Challenge by Judith over at her blog. So I’m taking the opportunity to share some of the quotes I’ve copied down so far this year but haven’t shared here. Interspersed with some recent photos because it’s nice to have something to look at, right?

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My quote for Day #1 comes from Heather O’Neill’s short story collection Daydreams of Angels. This particular story is titled “The Conference of Birds”.

Are you who you are when you are a tiny fetus? There are some people who will say that you aren’t properly you yet. But of course you are.

You are you even long before that. You are you when your parents begin to get dressed in fancy clothes one Saturday night. You are you when your mother, who is barely twenty-one years old, puts on a pair of yellow lace underwear. When she plucks her eyebrows in the mirror and when she puts on a red dress that is cut really low and burgundy lipstick: that’s all about you,baby.

You are you when your father, who is also twenty-one years old, pops a pimple on his forehead. When he puts on his fancy shiny shirt that was made by children in a sweatshop in Indonesia. When he isn’t sure that he actually looks good – but he has been lucky twice before when wearing it.

They are both riding the subway in opposite directions to meet each other and you have already begun. That is your beginning. You have as much right to be as anybody.

Heather O’Neill just gets it so right in the details. She nails the nerves, the excitement, the small moments of preparing for a first date. And I love this idea of how our lives – our very existence – is set into motion long before we ever exist. When you think back over the moments that had to occur just so your life could happen, it’s kind of amazing. Think of the moments your grandparents met. The choice your great-grandfather made that led down the line to your life. That the fact I’m typing this out today all began more than forty years ago when my parents went roller skating.

Our beginnings are complicated and important and good to be reminded of and O’Neill does a beautiful job here.

What are your favourite quotes? Something you’ve read recently or loved for years? Share it on your own blog or in the comments!

there is a place in the heart

No help for that

a poem by Charles Bukowski

there is a place in the heart that

will never be filled

 

a space

 

and even during the

best moments

and

the greatest times

 

we will know it

 

we will know it

more than

ever

 

there is a place in the heart that

will never be filled

 

and

 

we will wait

and

wait

 

in that

space

In the News…

Our local paper comes out once a week and covers news and events from Gibsons to Pender Harbour. My favourite section each week is the RCMP report. This column details crimes and misdemeanours that have taken place on the Coast. Generally, it’s a lot of traffic issues – drunk drivers, car accidents, an elderly person who gets confused while driving. What I enjoy about it is the lack of hardcore crime it displays. It’s usually petty thefts – like the attempt to steal a huge propeller on display in someone’s yard – or petty incidents like the teenager caught uprooting a shrub and throwing it into the street (the officer who caught him made him replant the shrub and then called the teen’s parents). These are submitted by the local Mounties and sometimes the write-ups are simply delightful. Like the one where a motorcycle hit a deer and “the deer fled the scene”. This week was a good one:

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In other good local news – the forest fire is 100% contained! I believe there is still some ground burning that will probably not be completely out until we get a good rain but it will continue to be monitored. In the meantime, the air quality advisory has been lifted, which Pearl and I are very happy about! Our whole community is so thankful for the firefighters and tree fallers who have worked to contain this fire. We are still under strict water restrictions and there are still many other fires burning across our province and in the prairies. I’ve never seen a July so dry.

What I Read – May 2015

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

It’s been a while since I read this one and so I’d forgotten that, well, not much happens in the story. It’s a creative idea – bringing the Pevensie kids hundreds of years forward in Narnian history so that their return is like the return of King Arthur – but it sort of falters on the action front. By the time the kids reach Caspian, the book is almost over and the final “fight” is kind of anti-climactic.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (Vintage, 1994)

I knew this was a book about World War One and so as I began to read the first section, I was surprised by its content. Beginning in France in 1910, it obviously doesn’t start with the war but the action is really of an entirely different sort. From there we jump to 1916 into the heart of trench warfare. Faulks does a heartbreakingly good job of showing the horrors of this war and just what a war of attrition looks like. By focusing on a few different characters with different roles, we see the myriad of ways that war affects and scars people.

I disliked the sections where the story jumped forward to 1978 and felt that they added nothing to the plot. I also found it pretty unbelievable that Elizabeth was an educated woman in her thirties, in England, and seemed to know nothing about World War 1. I knew more than her by the time I graduated high school and I would assume the world wars are also taught in English schools. Her ignorance felt false, simply for the sake of the plotline which, as I said, added nothing to the book over all.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

This story is unique in the Chronicles of Narnia as it’s the only story that doesn’t involve a child from our world entering Narnia. Set during Peter’s reign as High King, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy all make an appearance but our main character is Shasta, a young boy growing up in Calormene. Shasta makes his escape with a talking horse called Bree and the two have a few adventures as they travel to Narnia and the North. This one is a straight-up adventure story and a fun one to read aloud (you get to do a horse voice!).

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

My favourite of the Narnia series. I love sea stories and this one has it all – mysterious islands, a sea serpent, merpeople. I love the development of Eustace’s character and the friendship he and the Pevensies have with Caspian. I think Lewis’ imagination shines as he creates multiple adventures for the children. I could re-read this book forever.

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

As a child, this was the scariest Narnia book for me and so I’ve probably read it the fewest times. I think it’s the idea of being trapped underground plus being under a curse for ten years. The giants freaked me out too. It still strikes me as one of the bleaker books. The weather is bad even when Eustace and Jill are above ground and they never seem to experience that magical, beautiful aspect of Narnia like the others do. I did find Puddleglum much more charming than I used to though. And I applaud Lewis for taking the reader to a whole new region of this imaginary land.

Raised from the Ground by Jose Saramago

I have to be honest and say that I didn’t finish this book. That isn’t anything against Saramago (his book Blindness is one of the best I’ve ever read). It’s more about my life right now. Saramago has a very distinct style. He doesn’t use quotation marks and he moves very fluidly between time and characters. Add that to the Portuguese names and the fact that I was trying to read it in ten or fifteen minute chunks and I just didn’t seem to be able to keep up with what was going on and who these people were. It’s a multi-generational tale of Portuguese history and I hope to approach it again when I have the attention span for it.

Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger (Bantam Books, 1964)

This was a re-read. Something simple and quick to read after I gave up on Saramago. Great to read at 4 in the morning when you’re struggling to stay awake.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

I remember not liking The Magician’s Nephew that much as a kid. Maybe because the characters seem more disconnected from the other Narnia stories? I’m not sure now. It’s actually quite a beautiful creation tale. There is a beautiful scene where Digory longs to ask Aslan to save his mother’s life and when he looks in the lion’s face he sees that Aslan is weeping with him.

“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.”

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

I think this was the first book I ever read where the heroes lose (uh, do I need to call spoilers on this?). Of course, if you keep reading past that final battle, you’ll see that they’ve really won. But it’s still awful to read about Jill trying to keep her bowstring dry as she weeps over Eustace’s death, or the horrible scene where the horses are all killed. It’s a sad book and it gets sadder until suddenly the reader and the characters get to see the bigger picture, the bigger plan. It’s an unusual way to end a children’s fantasy series but fits in well with the larger, allegorical tale that Lewis is telling.

Though I always did feel really sorry for Susan.

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Touchstone, 1995)

(translated by R.H. Fuller)

I started reading this one back in January and have been picking at it slowly over the last few months. Executed in 1945 after imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp, Bonhoeffer is certainly an inspirational figure. This version included a short biography of him at the beginning that was very informative and put his writing into a larger perspective. I found the book to be a dense read but with a lot of wonderful thoughts (not always concisely put). I was underlining and jotting down in my journal and folding pages a lot.

I thought the chapter about the visible church and the church body was fascinating, especially in light of Bonhoeffer’s later life and death. (He was only 39 when he was killed.) He writes about respecting the way things are in the world and how, as Christians, it is not necessarily our place to incite revolution or change ruling powers. Obviously, his thoughts on this seem to have altered as he was faced with the growing evil of the Nazi regime, but I think his basic meaning here stayed the same. There’s lots of good stuff here.

Currently reading:

Requiem for a Nun by William Faulkner

Confessions by St. Augustine

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

The Problem with Pretty

The other day while making dinner I turned on Songza and chose an upbeat mix. Pearl was in her chair watching me as I made pizza dough and sang along to the songs I knew. This was how I came to hear Britney Spear’s new single for the first time. It’s called “Pretty Girls”.

It’s not the first song to celebrate girls being pretty and it won’t be the last. But as I listened to the lyrics and looked down at my infant daughter, the divide between what this song applauded and all that I want for my little girl as she grows up couldn’t have been larger.

First of all, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with celebrating feminine beauty. The Bible does this after all in Song of So fa. But that isn’t what “Pretty Girls” is about. I probably tell Pearl every day that she’s a pretty baby and I coo over cute she is. But I also tell her that she is strong and tough and brave. Sure she doesn’t understand these words yet but I want her to hear them. I want to be in the habit of saying them. I want her to always know that her value and power doesn’t lie in being pretty. And when I lay awake at night and pray for her, I’m not asking God to make her pretty.

A song like “Pretty Girls” celebrates only the physical aspect of girls. It applauds the power of getting boys to buy you drinks or getting to jump the line at a club. I have bigger dreams for my girl. I hope that one day if she influences those around her it’s with intelligence and compassion. I hope she learns to support herself and buy her own drinks. I hope she learns patience and how to wait her turn. And I really hope that she sees her own value and the value of others as creations of a holy God. Spears’ song reeks of entitlement and putting herself – as a “pretty girl” – above others.

I think my daughter is beautiful and I think I always will. But that isn’t an accomplishment. I would rather applaud the way she holds her head up all by herself, the smile she greets me with in the morning, and the sound of her chatter. And as she grows, I’ll tell her she’s beautiful but I’ll celebrate her accomplishments, not her looks.

The Pout

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She’s had this one down since birth, complete with trembly lower lip. We laugh at it now but wonder what she’ll be like as a teenager!

And what biological force is it that makes me think even the sound of her crying is adorable? I’m torn between wanting to capture it on video and wanting to comfort her. She makes a little noise that reminds me of these guys. Her thoughts on shrubbery, however, remain unknown.

May Day

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I call this look “wonderment”.

We did the long weekend up in style this year. The weather co-operated and we participated in what festivities we could with a 12-week-old baby. To be honest, I was more excited about the long weekend before I remembered that Pearl doesn’t understand the concept and probably wouldn’t let me sleep in. However, I may not have given her enough credit because I slept in until eight on Saturday.

Saturday we headed up to Madeira Park. May Day is their big annual celebration (each community along the Coast has one). We wandered the booths, bumped into people to show off our girl to, watched the parade, and witnessed the crowning of the May Day Queen. Every year a girl from the local elementary school is chosen. When I first heard this I thought it was strangely archaic but it was actually pretty sweet. The Queen’s float was full of girls of all ages and having fun together, all dressed up. We’re gunning for May Day Queen 2027.

Pearl did great and slept through the parade – at least until the emergency vehicles sounded their sirens at the end! She and I went home for naps while Peter played in a volleyball tournament.

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Sunday was Pearl’s second restaurant experience as we introduced her to visiting friends. She was asleep when we arrived at the restaurant and I’m getting good at eating quickly.

After our busy days, we took Monday easy and enjoyed time just the three of us. The tides are low this time of year so we walked out on the beach in front of our place as far as we could. Then we crossed the creek and got ice cream!

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In the evening Peter took Pearl down to the water and dipped her toes in. There was briefly silence, followed quickly by a sharp wail. She may not be ready for ocean swimming quite yet. Maybe in June.