Category Archives: Ministry

Where I’ve Been

I realize it’s been a while.

As much as I adore getting to do what I do, I tend to struggle with regular blogging when I am working in the publishing industry.
When you are working  as a Project Manager with dozens of others on their writing all day, at least for me, the thrill to write out my own thoughts tends to gone by the time it hits 5pm. Frankly, I seem to be more excited about my authors’ projects than my own writing these days. If you knew the whole back story of the last 2+ years and what drew me back into the industry I abruptly left, you would probably have a deeper understanding of why I feel such redemption through my work. Maybe one day, years from now, I will feel comfortable publicly sharing all of those details; today is just not that day.

In any case, as you have probably noticed, my public writing is fueled 99% by what I’m processing with the Lord; it’s emotional, it’s vulnerable, and rather intense — just like me.  🙂 I do want to start writing about some of the tangible parts of our adoption journey, as many have you have requested. To be honest, it just hasn’t been one of my top priorities. As I’ve written about before, the present is a very busy season for us. I’m having to be very intentional with my time or I don’t even get done the things that help our household run smoothly. Sadly, me sitting down on the couch after work and writing a blog post is not a way in which my over-stressed husband feels loved; he likes things like food, calming walks and eye-to-eye contact. To combat the constant busyness, though, I am going to sit down soon and try to get a blog “schedule” figured out, so stay tuned.

Before I go, thanks for all your prayers, private messages and support during this season of my life.  It means more than I could ever say to know that they are people, many I don’t even know all that well, are praying for us and are unborn children. As we tarry on, the Lord continually reminds me that He is enough and always has been.

A fear-driven question, “What if you are never a mom?” daily pops in my head. I’m training my heart and mind to automatically respond, “Then, Lord, You are still good.” Do I always want to say that? Of course not. I desperately long for motherhood. Even though it’s oh so difficult, I don’t want to waste this season of waiting. After all, it isn’t about what I want, anyway; it’s about how He wants to use my life for His glory and my good. In the end, when I put things in eternal perspective and take my emotions out of it, my ultimate desire is to know the Lord, with or without motherhood.

Have your way, Lord. Have Your way.


Filed under 2014, Adoption, Blogging, Life, Purpose

8 Years: Reflections on Life Post-Transplant

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

8 years.
2,922 days.
70,128 hours.
4,207,680 minutes.
252,460,800 seconds.

It’s been 8 years since I was wheeled through those double doors and taken back for my double lung transplant. It’s been 8 years since I said goodbye to a room full of family and friends, never knowing if I’d see them again this side of Heaven. It’s been 8 years since the Lord saw it fit to rescue me from my physical brokenness and save me from the brink of death in a matter of just 12 hours for my good, but most importantly, His glory. It’s been 8 years, but those years have been so very full, it feels more like a lifetime…and then some.

So much – so much more than I ever could anticipate – has happened since that time. It would take several blog posts to go through it all, but thankfully I’ve already written about much of it in my book, Breathtaking, as well as documented the most recent happenings here on the blog. If you only recently started following my story during the series on our adoption/surrogacy/miscarriage/adoption journey (thanks for reading, btw :)), I’d encourage you to get to know my life prior to 2013 through my husband’s and my book, if you get the chance.  It truly is a miraculous story of God’s sovereignty and goodness amidst human suffering, a story I could never, ever conjure up on my own in a million years. When I occasionally stop and read portions of the book, or even blog posts I have written this year, to remind myself of how faithful the Lord has been to me during my 27 years of life, I sometimes have a hard time believing that the person I’m reading is about me.

The ways in which I have seen God move in my life are staggeringly beautiful and constantly leave me face-down in a posture of humility before my King, as they should. On days like today, when the vivid memories come flooding back, and the tears fall like fresh rain, I am once again left speechless and so in awe of the work He has chosen to accomplish through me instead of choosing to take me Home years ago, which He so easily could have done. Words can never express my gratitude for the 8 years I have had to walk this earth. No matter how many more years I get, I have been blessed beyond measure to have had the fullness of life I have experienced since September 25, 2005. He didn’t have to practically raise me from the dead for Him to be sovereign or good. By His sheer nature, He can be nothing but those things and more. Friends, He didn’t “owe” me 8 more years, and He certainly doesn’t owe me any more.

He may not owe me any more, but I’m still a human. I still desperately want more time with the ones I love, especially my husband and my children, with whom I have yet to get to spend any time. If we’re truly honest with God, ourselves and others, we all want “more” of something. Whether that be something as simple as more understanding of why a life circumstance had to occur, more children, more money, more friends, more prestige, more whatever. At the end of the day, though, Jesus is asking us – is asking me – if we (I) ultimately only want more of Him, no matter if we get our desire for “more” ____.

That’s a hard pill to swallow (and believe me I’ve swallowed thousands of pills in my life), though, when more of Him may never mean more of the thing you so desperately want. You want the good news, though?

He promises He’ll always be enough.
Always. No exceptions – ever.

I wish I could say I live like I believe this 100% of the time. Like all humans, my finite mind has a hard time sometimes grasping why certain things have to happen. To be honest, 2005 was a lot easier for me than 2013 has been thus far. I know that will sound dramatic to some. It is what it is, though. I can’t really articulate for you all the ends-and-outs of exactly why that is. That is my reality, though, whether you (or I) understand it or not.

As I continue through my post-transplant journey, I admittedly struggle at times feeling like a ticking “time bomb.” In some ways, this feeling has gotten better as time as gone by; in others, it has become harder to escape. 8 years out, 1 year always feels like 5 years, if not more. In the beginning, 1 year would feel like a decade.

After all of these years, I think I’m finally starting to realize why:

The longer I live, the more people die who began their transplant journey around the same time as me (60-70%); that’s a fact of life I can’t change. I don’t have to be a slave to it, but I can’t hide under a rug and act like it doesn’t exist. Consequently, though I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God can choose to have me live another 50 years, time certainly doesn’t seem on my side. Just like an older person who most likely has lived at least 1/2 , if not much more of their life, I am left with not only a keen awareness of time but this insatiable desire to not only be a good steward of my time but also for more – lots more – of it in general. To not be enslaved to the awareness of life being but a vapor (James 4:14), I also have to daily (especially during this season of barrenness) give my desire for control over my time on earth over to the Lord, the One who numbered my days before time existed.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer that being cognizant of time isn’t all a bad thing – hardly so. In fact, I believe (for me) having a healthy awareness of post-transplant patients’ life spans, and thinking through how your family is going to be taken care of if/when you’re gone and unable to be there for them, is not only the responsible thing to do but the Godly thing. That’s why I took the time to plan out my funeral 8 years ago when I was faced with the very real possibility of death. I refused to leave that difficult task on my parents to do with the help of my close friends, who also would have been grieving (though not as deeply) upon my death. My mom didn’t understand my reasoning for such planning at the time. Understandably so, she refused to take part in it. It had to be done, though; at least it had to be done for me, if even only for a few months, to live with a clear conscience. Even though  God had other plans for my life, and those written-out funeral plans were obviously never used, I know to this day I was obedient in doing it, even 8 1/2 years after sitting down with a group of people and planning out something that never came to fruition.

Now, 8 years, a loving marriage and Lord-willing soon-to-be, precious children later, my focus has shifted from my parents and close friends to my husband and children. My love for my parents hasn’t waned in the slightest (in fact, it has grown as I prepare to be a parent myself), but my priorities have changed and rightfully so. I still want more time with my parents, other immediate family and friends, of course. After all I had been through, I had no idea how much marriage, and the oneness (spiritually, emotionally and physically) that comes with it, would change the way I process time. After my surgery, I was made aware of how precious time truly is, but my urgency for spending my time well has only been heightened since marriage. I’m sure it will become even more sensitive once our children are here. Now I just don’t think about how I’m spending my God-given time and what type of legacy I am leaving. I also have a  physical longing to be a good steward of my time with my spouse and kids. I daily long to “redeem the time” we have with one another. I’m consciously aware that my days with them are (most likely) fewer than we all would like and for which we would ask, and that knowledge changes the way I view everything.

To illustrate my point, I’ll give you an analogy:

Sometimes I feel as if I am standing within an hourglass made of impenetrable glass, which is quickly burying me with sand, i.e. lost time.

As I look out at 99% of the world, in particular those my age, I see those whose glasses seem to be pouring much more slowly than mine. They are standing only knee-to-waist deep in their sand and hardly aware of the urgent feeling they, too, will one day feel to “redeem the time.” For most of them, that realization of their finiteness will come many years later in their journey called life. Due to feeling as if they, even those older than me, “have all the time in the world,” I see mostly a generally worry-free attitude when it comes to redeeming their time left on Earth.

As for me, no matter what the speed of others’ glasses, or how hard I try to move at their speed, I can’t crack the glass or slow down my sand. As a result, I continue to be (or feel as if I a being) swallowed up at a much faster rate than the vast majority of my peers. Those who are my age, including my own spouse, are naturally more concerned with their grandparents’ and parents’ hourglass at this point in their lives than their own.

As Christians, weasily say that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Most of us are planning on easily living at least 70-80 years, though, because that’s what statistics tell us we’ll most likely get.  In the process of living all of those years,  it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty and importance of redeeming ever single day, even the mundane ones. It’s easy to “bank” on things happening in life for you (whether graduating from college, marriage, having children, succeeding in your career, retirement, etc.), because after all, that is the natural trajectory of the vast majority’s lives. Furthermore, as people are moving through life and its natural ebbs and flows, most don’t consciously take their finite nature to heart, at least not every single day. This is especially true of those living within the first half of their natural lifespan.

People don’t consciously think about their own hourglass until tragedy strikes.

A few times in life, one will inevitably be rocked to the core and left to deal with a loved one’s mortality. This uneasiness is most likely first felt through the death of grandparents, in particular a close grandparent. Usually, after the initial blow (through the death/sickness of whomever is closest to them — usually the oldest loved ones still living at the time), life eventually returns to “normal.”

When tragedy strikes the younger (peers, spouses, children), however, it tends to “wake people up” a little more than when the elderly pass. Depending on how close and young the dead loved one was, the sting of death seems a little deeper, because all of us (no matter our religious affiliation) know the young aren’t “supposed” to pass away. We feel the effects of the Fall a little more during those tragic times.

Still, the formative life-changes that come from these times of grief, even in its most tense form, usually do not fully garner our attention to our own life clock. Even after the gravest of situations, the urgency to “redeem the time” wanes until the next tragedy, which starts the process all over again for a few days, months, or possibly a few years. 

Most of our lives are not lived under the part of the mantra that says “for tomorrow we die” but instead the former part, which says “live, drink and be merry.” And so we do. Like the old Tracy Lawrence song says, “time marches on,” and it does so without much thought from us most of the time.

Eventually, though, everyone starts to acknowledge their “sand.” After usually a very long, full life, people “suddenly” become aware of their hourglass filling up. They seem shocked and act as if it happened just overnight. As we all know, though, aging,  and consequent loss of time, is a natural progression; it is one that occurs whether we pay attention or not. Some life events, such as illness or a major birthday milestone, just make us more aware of that fact. Major life changes, such as graduating high school or college, getting married, having children, a mid-life crisis, or retirement can also remind us, at least for a bit, that life is indeed moving along.

Eventually, not only do people have to come to grips with time passing, they are faced with their pending death – the end of their “sand” falling – whether they’re ready or not. Psychology experts will tell you that it is during the last years of one’s own life, that deep reflection on one’s own life occurs for the first time for the majority of the human race. Some are eased into this pattern of thinking very slowly and reflect on-and-off for two or more decades before their demise. Others, however, are shoved forward into dealing with their mortality in a more tangible way when they are suddenly diagnosed with a severe illness (such a cancer or heart disease), diagnoses which can even come with a possibility of death for some. For many individuals, due to lack of self-actualization throughout most of their lifetime, oftentimes this period of end-of-life reflection brings up past regrets and disappointments in their personal, professional lives and even spiritual lives. It can conjure up feelings of  past hurt and shame and cause one to feel the consequences of the weight associated with a lack of fulfilled dreams, forgiveness for oneself and/or others, or a pattern of disobedience to God. Sadly, for some (even Christians who are confident in their eternal home), the darkest period of their life is the very end of their life – a very, very sad fact, if you ask me.

Whether we’re ready or not, whether we are at peace or not, the fact is this: We all die.

The question is this: Are we going to not only die well, but more importantly, live well? Are we going to live with conviction for the glory of King, the Author and Finisher of our faith, or are we to try be the masters of our own fate until that no longer works for us?

 Fast pouring glass or not, whether we choose to acknowledge our glass throughout life or not, in order to have peace, Jesus still has to be enough – in all things.

He has to be enough in life and in death. He is the Keeper of the glass, after all. He is the One who determines the number of our days, not us or a statistician who promises us far more, or maybe far fewer, days than we will actually live.

For me, that means a desire for more of Him has to be more than my desire for more time. On a tangible level, that means daily balancing the tension I feel to not focus so intently on my hourglass I feel paralyzed, but to be responsibly aware of its contents, nonetheless. That daily tension causes me to be cognizant of our finite nature, and therefore wanting to live my life to the fullest, but also wanting to be capable of relaxing and enjoying life while I have it, too. Some days, I walk the mental tight rope better than others.

Bottom line: I have to balance my keen awareness of the time at hand (which is a unique gift I’m thankful to have) with also a permission for myself to join the others and, at least in a way, “live, drink and be merry,” as long as I’m doing it for the glory of my King. After all, I’m not dead yet. 😉

Thank God, I’m not dead yet. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Breathtaking, cystic fibrosis, grace, Health, Life, Marriage, Purpose, Sanctification, Simplicity, Transplant

Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 2 – The Calling

56 days ago, while being examined to see if I had indeed miscarried…

Because I didn’t know what else to do while I lied there in the stirrups completely exposed and vulnerable, I decided to bare my soul, too. I told her about how I was born with cystic fibrosis and had a double lung transplant at 19, how we had always had plans to adopt, until just about a month ago when we were approached about surrogacy but then found out we couldn’t afford it, how I then started strangely feeling pregnant right after that, had fought with myself for over a week about it but been told just yesterday I was never pregnant, and then today that I most likely had been, which is why she was now examining me. As I took her through step-by-step through my life, especially the past several weeks, it began to hit me – My life thus far read like a fiction book which was “too good to be true.” Remarkably, though, none of this was fiction. No, amazingly all of it was the truth, the almost unbelievable, even for me at that point.

The suspense novel that was being played out over the past several weeks, aka my ever-twisting, unpredictable life, incredibly wasn’t over. No, an hour later, just as I had suspected, my biggest fear was confirmed. I had indeed been pregnant but sadly wasn’t anymore. The symptoms I felt, the intuitive thoughts, and most importantly, the promptings from the Holy Spirit, all of it was true.  I wasn’t crazy, after all, though I now so desperately wanted to be declared as such.

In that moment, the moment that I became a mother, yet knew I would not be given the opportunity to mother my child this side of Heaven, after everything else that had transpired before this ultimate blow, even I felt like my life was stranger the fiction. As I stood there in the hospital entryway with my husband’s arms tightly squeezed around me, with neither of us uttering a word, I longed to just be one who was just an innocent bystander to the madness, one who just read without consequence the train wreck that was my life. I wanted to be anyone instead of the one who was not just living this “hell” on earth but who was also called to share its events with others.

Yes, I said intentionally said “called.” I chose that word on purpose. I can’t say I always understand the calling to share my weaknesses with others in such an intimate way that the Lord has placed upon my life. I can’t say that in my flesh I always enjoy it, either, because I don’t – hardly so. I can say, however, that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I am following His will for my life when I allow Him to speak through me in a very public way in my most vulnerable of states. He’s used me before, and by His grace, He’s choosing to use me again. It’s not always fun. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (or should I say “usually not”) what I would choose for a way in which to glorify Him, but it’s the avenue through which He tends to give me.

So, that leaves me with a choice: Allow Him to use me as He sees fit, or forsake my calling and be a ‘normal’ person, one who processes their life in a much less public way. The most redeeming, most healing, and most obedient answer for me, at least usually, is the former. I don’t pretend to think that everyone is called to such a life, because I know that’s far from true. I also know with marriage comes a responsibility to be sensitive to your spouse’s feelings, and the way in which they are most comfortable with processing, which is why (believe it or not) everything that we go through doesn’t end up on this blog. Even I have a filter through which I pass through what ends up in the public’s eyes; my filter just happens to be named John. 😉

I am thankful that my husband sees the beauty in my desire to be vividly transparent with others, that he allows me to be extremely transparent about our life together as one. Unlike when I was single and dying and bearing my soul to the world, now bearing my soul has to do with two people’s lives, not just mine. Though his personality and usual way of processing is very different from mine, and typing out a blog post would be about the last thing he’s wanted to do after the traumatic events of our lives the past few months, he allows me to because he sees the value in my (and therefore, at least in a way, our) calling, in allowing Christ to be glorified through our weaknesses.

For some silly reason, I thought (at least sometimes) that after we wrote the 2nd book, that my life of transparency about my life may be over, at least for the most part. I thought maybe that ultra-open chapter of my life was once again ending, as it had so abruptly when I first got married 3 1/2 years ago, and a new, much-less-public, but far more rewarding, one was beginning, i.e. motherhood.

I simply had no idea that my journey to motherhood, though, would be but just another avenue by which the Lord would call me to a life of not only openness but also one of allowing Him to make beauty for ashes, too.

I had no idea that this journey would be 10x harder than 8 years ago when I almost losing my life, when I was grasping for every breath and going to sleep every time not knowing if I’d live to see another day. I had no idea that my journey to motherhood would test me and my trust in Him to the core. I had no idea that my love for my husband, and therefore my desire to keep him from experiencing all the pain I know too well, would cause me so much grief when I could no longer shield him from the inevitable.

I was far from versed in what was ahead for us down a road to parenthood so many had sojourned before us. I knew the journey would most likely be much more difficult than for most, but even I was unprepared for the trials we’ve come upon along our path. I didn’t know that “I surrender all” for me would mean the Lord allowing us to conceive and then, in His sovereignty, taking that baby to be with Him in glory. I had no idea so many opportunities to cry, to doubt, to fear, but more importantly, to smile, to trust, and to praise, were in store. I’m sure many more of both are waiting for us. Thankfully, though, my precious Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ, knew what was before and knows what lies ahead. He is all we need for this journey, no matter what is ahead. After all, this world is not our home; we’re just passing through.

As I pass through, though, I have decided to follow Jesus. For me, following Jesus means sharing my scars, my failures, my fears, and my shortcomings with all of you. It means making myself walk (in this case, type) back through every emotion I have experienced and bringing you along for the ride, so that He can impress upon your heart the same lessons He has taught me. I know from plenty of experience that these are lessons that are only learned in their fullness when you have experienced the highest highs and the deepest lows surrounding the crucible of the situation at hand.

Please think something through with me: Imagine I had gone ahead in Part 7 and told you I, unbeknownst to us, actually was pregnant myself during Part 1-6 of the last series. If that wasn’t a shock enough, in the 3 days since I had last written a post, I had actually found out I wasn’t just unknowingly pregnant but had already lost the baby. Wouldn’t that had been a lot to digest in one sitting? What if I had taken you all the way through not only that news but the surrogacy process (at least as we know it right now) in one post, too? Not only would those 2 posts had been ridiculously long, they would have been horribly emotionally overwhelming – for you and for me. Honestly, besides the obvious reasons why that method wouldn’t have been a good idea, I think dealing with what has transpired in such a way would have been irresponsible, horribly destructive, and far from wise.

Instead of being careless, I walked – and will continue to walk – you through this journey painstakingly slow on purpose. Why? Because I always live posts ahead of you. I know what is coming next and therefore know you need time to digest what has happened thus far; too much at one time, and I’ll lose you. No, I – because I honestly feel it is how God has asked me to do it – choose to walk you through my life bit by bit, always with complete emotional vulnerability, so you’re not overwhelmed by too much at one time but also feel a “part” of the “story,” at least in a way. It’s true. I wanted you to believe I was pregnant, and then that I just crazy, and then once again that I was pregnant, and then crazy again. Why? Because that’s exactly how I felt when I experienced this “story”  I call my life you log on (thanks, btw!) to read.  I wanted you to be heartbroken when, after being so thrilled for us about how surrogacy seemed to be just falling into place, you found out that the complicated process was going to cost us far more than we first thought. That is exactly how we felt, after all.

Why, though? Why get your emotions involved, too? It’s not your life, anyway; you’re just trying to read a blog post. Well, because  If I don’t get you emotionally vested, you won’t read. It’s simple as that. There are billions of other pages clamoring for your attention every time you get on the Internet. If I just lay out the facts all cut and dry, short and sweet, not only will I not be processing my life in a way that is unnatural to me, I’ll lose your attention.

If I lose your attention, I will lose the opportunity to allow Him to impress upon your hearts the message of the drum I will beat until the day I die – that God is sovereign and good – no matter what happens in your life. He’s just as sovereign and good now – 56 days after my miscarriage – as He was a few months ago when I had no idea what all was in store. He’s just as sovereign and good as He was before we were given the estimated bill for surrogacy as He was when I received that Facebook message that started it all. In fact, He’ll be just as good if, after years of heartache and trial, I die and am never able to be an earthly mother. If you get nothing out of my blog, I long for you to get that concept. Yes, bringing everything back to His greatness, my friends, is the method behind my madness.

So, if me giving you a front row seat to my life leads you to Jesus, then I’m game. If it means not shying away from my grief and my hurt, but embracing it and allowing Him to use it for His glory, I’m all about it. If it means continually going through things that I don’t ask for, that I don’t want, that I don’t understand but things that make me more like Christ, more sensitive to His people and more aware of our desperate need for Him, I couldn’t ask for more. After all, I always ask Him to please redeem whatever difficulty I go through in His time, preferably while I can see it, in His way, for His glory and my good.

It’s my daily prayer that my openness gives others  – including you – permission to grieve, to share, to stop pretending everything’s OK, to admit life’s overwhelming and far from clean and cookie-cutter….or is that just my life? 😉

As you’ll learn more and more, my life is far from easy…but as I’m learning again, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Part 3 to come!

1 Comment

Filed under Adoption, Baby, grace, Life, Marriage, Ministry, Miscarriage, Purpose, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification, Surrogacy

Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Confirmation – Part 13

It’d be so much easier to just stop now, to allow the end of Part 12 to speak for itself. After unsuccessfully trying to get this post done for the past two days, it’d be so much easier to quit writing, yet so wrong at the same time. The truth is, I’ve been dreading this day for quite some time. We’re here, though, and I must tell you the rest of the story. In doing so, I know I’ll have to go back to that painful day myself. I know I will not only have to recount the hardest day of my life thus far but, as I’ve done this whole series, also feel the emotions that come with this part, too. As I keep telling myself, though, I’ve already done that a million times in the past 13 days, so what’s one more?

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
*For more on the strange, but strong, intuition I was feeling just a little over a week after our dream of surrogacy seemed to be slipping from our hands, please see Part 7.
*For more on all the signs that just weren’t going away and ultimately pointing to my intuition being most likely true, please see Part 8.
*For more on the dramatic turn of events that took place one early morning, please see Part 9.
*For more on the painful drive, and then wait at the hospital, I endured while waiting to hear if my intuition was true, please see Part 10.
*For more on the internal conflict I felt when I found out my intuition was wrong, please see Part 11.
*For more on the decision I made to go seek a second doctor’s opinion on what had (or hadn’t) happened, please see Part 12.
Time stood still.
I saw her mouth moving, but I couldn’t hear her words.
All I could hear was the sound of my heart shattering.
All I could taste was the hot tears running down my face.

I was screaming on the inside for air, yet I couldn’t make a sound.

Only three seconds prior, the words,“Based on all your symptoms, and my experience, I’m pretty confident you actually did have a miscarriage,”  had come out of Dr. Sharp’s mouth and left me in utter shock. What was said immediately after that, while I struggled to keep my composure, is still a mystery to me.

“Amber, I’m so sorry. I’d like to do a pelvic exam to confirm what I’m thinking,” was the first sentence I heard after what seemed like an eternity. Completely numb at that point, and unable to speak, I proceeded to place my feet in the stirrups and allow myself to be examined.

There really was no need, though.
I knew what was coming next.
I wasn’t questioning my gut anymore.

“I’m sorry. Based on everything we’ve discussed, and the fact your uterus is boggy, I’m pretty sure it was a miscarriage. I need you to go to the hospital to get an ultrasound, though, to make sure. It’s like that for one of two reasons: You were either pregnant, and your body was preparing for it, or you have an infection and we need to take care of it right away. The ultrasound will confirm either way, but I’m pretty sure you were indeed pregnant. I’m so sorry…”

She trailed off. I didn’t need to hear any more.
I knew it, and she did, too.

I can’t express to you how I have never in my life – and will never again – want so badly to not be right. I can’t express to you how much overwhelming peace, yet tremendous sorrow, I felt in that moment. Never. 

After a few seconds, Dr. Sharp continued talking, and though I said nothing to her, a conversation with myself began.

“Women have miscarriages all the time and go on to have healthy children.”
But, you see we weren’t trying to have kids in the first place. “Trying” again isn’t the answer here. It’s not a wise idea, which is why we were adopting. Then, only because we were approached, we were looking the past month or so into surrogacy. Once we heard we couldn’t afford that, I was just stressed out and had myself convinced I was pregnant, but I’m not. I’m just crazy, remember? This isn’t what was supposed to happen. You were supposed to tell me what they told me yesterday. I was supposed to leave here forgetting about all of this. Didn’t you get the game plan?”

The fetus most likely implanted for a few days, which is why your symptoms started, and then somehow dislodged. That’s why your HCG numbers were the way they were. The hormone rapidly leaves the body once implantation is disrupted, but your body (esp. one like yours which reacts very quickly to change) takes a while to catch up and accept the fact you are no longer pregnant. You probably would have only had a positive pregnancy test up until when you were supposed to start your period, possibly even only a week to a few days prior to that. These types of miscarriages happen all the time (oftentimes unbeknownst to them) to perfectly healthy women. “Even if there isn’t another reason why you miscarried, your anti-rejection medicine just wasn’t going to allow you to sustain a pregnancy. There’s absolutely nothing you could have done differently. You didn’t know, Amber. You have nothing to feel guilty about. Your transplant team wasn’t equipped to know to dig deeper. You did, though. You have nothing to feel guilty about. You did all you could, more than anyone could have asked you to do.”
But I do have plenty to feel guilty about. I knew, at least a very large part of me knew, I was pregnant over a week ago. The other part of me refused, even though I had every pregnancy symptom known to man, to let myself take a test for several days, for fear l was losing my mind. By the time I did, it was too late. I took that medicine not one but – two – times a day. I could have stopped taking it as soon as I felt I was pregnant, taken a pregnancy test and sought help right then, instead of waiting for a missed period. Then the baby would have been OK. I could have just believed what God was trying to tell me, instead of wrestling every hour with myself about my sanity, and then taken precautionary steps. I can’t say the baby would have lived, but I could have done plenty more. I didn’t do “all” I could. Don’t you understand?”

“Let’s find out for sure and get you to the hospital for that ultrasound, OK? I’ll leave you alone so you can get dressed and call John. Someone will be back in a few minutes to let you know what we’re going to do next.”
“Yes, let’s do that. She could still be wrong, which means I could be, too. I need to know, and I need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt. There’s still a plausible explanation for all of this besides a miscarriage or me losing my mind. Hopefully, I just have a tumor or a cyst on my ovaries or my uterus. I’ll have surgery, and it’ll be gone. No harm, no foul. It’s not a miscarriage. It’s a tumor.”

I didn’t buy it, even though every single part of me wanted to believe it. In that moment, though, cold and alone in an exam gown, afraid and scattered on the inside,
I was grasping at straws.

Then there was John, my loving husband. Oh, how I missed him in that moment. I tried calling and couldn’t reach him at work. I tried messaging him on Gchat and didn’t get an immediate response. He was clearly away from his desk, most likely working on a case in Judge’s office or helping his new co-worker figure out something. Though I knew he wasn’t ignoring me, and didn’t even know (for whatever reason) I was trying to reach him, I was growing impatient. All I wanted in that moment was his arms around me, the ability to bury my head in his chest and block out the rest of the world. No part of me wanted to relay this information by phone or chat, but I wasn’t going to go to the hospital for some evasive ultrasound to most likely confirm I’d lost our baby without letting him know.

When my efforts to reach him failed at first, and I felt like I was going to be swallowed whole by the emotions which were flooding my soul, I quickly messaged a few close friends letting them know what was going on and asking for prayer. I needed confirmation this wasn’t dream, that I was actually awake and experiencing all of this in real life. While I waited for my husband to call me back,  and the nurse to come back in with my instructions, I sat in the pew (yes, a pew) in the exam room and began to cry – again.

Once I got my marching orders, and collected myself enough to feel comfortable driving, I turned on my car and got on the road. My first stop, however, wasn’t to the hospital but instead to my workplace, just right down the street. In that moment, I needed physical contact with people who cared about me, with people I could touch and find comfort in. I needed someone to hold me and tell me it was going to be OK. The closest place to receive such comfort was at work, so that’s where I went. I walked in, not to start my day a little late as I had previously planned, but instead to let them know what was going on and ask for, of all things, a hug. I just needed a hug.

I got my hug and got back in my car to the sound of my phone ringing. John was calling me back. Since I’d sent him a message that said “Dr. Sharp thinks I had a miscarriage. I have to go get an ultrasound,” I knew he already knew what was happening, which just made answering the phone even harder. The conversation was somber and spoken in low, soft tones; words didn’t come easy from either of us. He asked me if I wanted him to go with me to the hospital. He was willing to leave work and meet me there, but there was one problem: His co-workers had already planned a surprise office birthday party for him, which was starting in just a few minutes. Tomorrow, April 3rd, was his birthday.

In just a matter of an hour or so, I was most likely going to find out I had lost our baby, the baby we never planned on conceiving but whose “loss” had been grieved for by John (and therefore by me) for years. If that wasn’t heartwrenching enough, I was going to find out our baby was gone the day before my husband’s 31st birthday. Right in the middle of his birthday party, as his life was being celebrated less than a mile away, I would be finding out that the life inside of me – the life I had tried so hard the past few weeks to convince myself didn’t exist, the life that my husband so desperately wished would have come so easily for us – was gone.

Due to the party, and all the efforts of his co-workers, we (well, I) decided it’d be best if he stay at work for now. He would go to some of the party and leave toward the end, so he didn’t have to make a scene. He’d meet me at the hospital just as soon as he could. He tried to comfort me by telling me we didn’t know for sure, that maybe there was another reason my uterus felt the way it did. I didn’t buy it, though, and I don’t think he did, either. When he asked me for the third time if I wanted him to join me, and I declined, we said “I love you” and hung up. There was nothing left to say at that point. It wasn’t that I didn’t want him to be there. Of course I did. No woman wants to sit in stirrups alone in that situation, or maybe just this woman didn’t want to do so. I guess you could say, though, as much as I wanted John to be there, the part of me that vows (right or wrong) to emotionally protect the ones I love was more important to me than his presence in that moment.

Finding out from medical professionals that life will never be the same was the life to which I was accustomed, not him. I had been in this position several times before during pivotal moments in my life, he hadn’t. Right or wrong, I felt I had to do this alone. Though no part of me would want to tell him, once everything was confirmed, I wanted him to hear it from me, not a well-meaning doctor who would deliver the news as delicately as possible but had absolutely no emotional connection whatsoever to the meaning behind their words – their words, which if they were what I was expecting, would shatter my husband’s soul.

I parked my car, walked up to the hospital’s entrance, and found my way to Main Radiology. I checked in and was called back after several minutes. As I, still cramping and in pain, was being led right and left through a long series of hallways, to the left of me a man was being wheeled the opposite way by two women. Unlike all of the other transported patients I had seen on my way, this man’s face pierced my soul. Why? Well, this man appeared to be….dead. Now, maybe he wasn’t, but the fact that those who were transporting him appeared on a very distinct mission and weren’t making eye contact with anyone, the fact he had absolutely no IVs (or evidence of IVs) or other medical equipment to speak of with him, and also the fact that he looked stiff as a board and placed very strangely in the bed, make me believe he very much so was. I will never forget that man’s face as long as I live or how I felt next.

As I dutifully walked behind the lady who was leading me to my next stop, I couldn’t help but fight the tears which were forming in my eyes. The walk we were taking now felt like “The Green Mile,” the walk that one takes when they’re walking to their death. No, death wasn’t waiting for me at the end of our walk. As I unconsciously found my hands on my stomach, though, I knew that death had already come for the life inside of me, that consequently I was about to experience an emotional death for which I wasn’t prepared. As much as I still wanted to deny it wasn’t true, I felt the inevitable in the marrow of my bones; it was a feeling I never want to experience ever, ever again.

I was led to a room to wait – again. Someone would come get me “soon” for my ultrasound. There was a bathroom just down the hall, if I needed it. Only one other person, a gentleman, was in the room with me. An old, fuzzy, tube television broadcasting March Madness highlights on Sportscenter sat high in the corner. The only time the man and I spoke is when I asked him to let them know I was in the restroom if they called my name. I’m sure he had a story, too, but I didn’t have the emotional energy to care. When I returned, I stared blankly at my phone, mindlessly checking Facebook and occasionally messaging my husband, who was waiting to go to his birthday party. I felt numb – on the inside and out. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t breathe.

Finally, someone called me back and led me, once again, to another room. I was thankful to be paired with an extremely sweet lady, who inevitably knew what was going on. She had my orders, after all. I’m sure I was just one of hundreds of people in my position with whom she’s dealt before, but for the time we were together, only I mattered. As was protocol, she reminded me that at no point during either ultrasound could she tell me any conclusions. She was simply there to administer to the test. The doctor would look at the scans and write out the report. Dr. Sharp would be called, and then she would call me back. I wasn’t to leave the hospital until Dr. Sharp got a hold of me. She suspected the process would take about an hour to an hour and a half in its entirety.

We began the first ultrasound and did our best to make small talk. As she used the ultrasound probe on my stomach, we talked about all the things I always say I hate talking about, all the “shallow” things, like the weather, that people hide behind when they don’t know what to say. She asked about my marriage, what I like to do in my free time, my job, etc. I obliged and asked her the same. I don’t know if she purposefully did it, or maybe it was just by God’s grace, but the monitor was pointed away from me the whole time.

After I changed out of my clothes and into a hospital gown, we then moved on to the next ultrasound, which was much more evasive and uncomfortable. Again, like a good professional, the ultrasound technician did her best to make the circumstances the least awkward she could.

Because I didn’t know what else to do while I lied there in the stirrups completely exposed and vulnerable, I decided to bare my soul, too. I told her about how I was born with cystic fibrosis and had a double lung transplant at 19, how we had always had plans to adopt, until just about a month ago we were approached about surrogacy but then found out we couldn’t afford it, how I then started strangely feeling pregnant right after that, had fought with myself for over a week about it but been told just yesterday I was never pregnant, and then today that I most likely had been, which is why she was now examining me. As I took her through step-by-step through my life, especially the past several weeks, it began to hit me – My life thus far read like a fiction book which was “too good to be true.” Remarkably, though, none of this was fiction. No, amazingly all of it was the truth, the almost unbelievable, even for me at that point. 

She completed the second ultrasound and told me I could get dressed. It was over. When I returned to the room, the technician was still finishing up and asked if I wanted to see some of the images she had just taken. I was admittedly curious, so I accepted her invitation.

For the first time ever, I saw my uterus. Though I’m not trained in reading ultrasounds, and my friendly technician wasn’t giving me any helpful hints (though I may have tried to get it out of her), I didn’t see any sign of life. I didn’t see any tumors or cysts, either.

No one was going to have to confirm to me what was going on. I already knew, just as deep down I already had known for days. In that moment, looking at that screen, all I saw was an empty, empty grave. In that moment, looking at that screen, part of me died, too.

I was left for several minutes alone with my thoughts until she returned to tell me that my doctor would be giving me a call soon. The technician said her warm goodbyes and indicated it was time to leave. I was reminded not to leave the hospital and shown the way out through the tunnels I’d walked through just an hour or so before. Before I left the Main Radiology department, though, I made a strange request.  I asked for a copy of the images. Though in that moment I didn’t have official confirmation, I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt my womb was a grave. Despite that, I still asked for the CD. I asked for the proof.  Though obviously perplexed by my request, the receptionist made sure I got what I wanted and said her goodbyes.

Still waiting to hear from my doctor, I had just walked into the hospital’s Starbucks, where I planned on drowning my sorrows in a $5 coffee, when John called me. He was on his way. He’d be there in matter of five minutes or so to comfort me and wait with me. I wouldn’t have to be alone much longer. I hung up from my call with him and, not two minutes later while perusing the menu, my phone rang again. It was a restricted number, but I had no doubt who it was – it was my doctor. It was time to learn the truth.

I answered the phone, took my purse and my CD and walked out of Starbucks to a small, secluded seating area. The walk to the seating area was a mere 30 feet, but my feet could barely get me there. My body felt numb and unresponsive. My heart was beating out of my chest. I managed to get to a chair and sit down. They always say it’s best to be seated in times like this.

I sat, and I heard:
“I have good news and bad news. The good news is that your ultrasound showed absolutely no abnormalities. There were no cysts, growths, or tumors. Things looked great. Unfortunately, though, that means you’ve definitely had a miscarriage. There is no other answer to everything. I’m so sorry, Amber.”

I responded, several times, like this:
“Are you sure? Couldn’t it have been something else? What about the HCG numbers yesterday? There has to be another explanation. Maybe I’ve blown all of this out of proportion.”

Each time, Dr. Sharp responded back:
“I’m sorry, Amber. No, there’s no other explanation. You’ve had a miscarriage.”

As we finished our conversation, and I looked out the window with tears in my eyes, I saw a familiar sight. John. He was walking up to the same entrance I had used just over an hour earlier. He was walking up to hear the truth, and like I wanted, he was going to hear it from me. Unlike I wanted, however, I was going to have to tell him our baby, the life we had created together, was gone.

I was in the process of hanging up the phone just as John was coming through the automatic doors. As I said goodbye to Dr. Sharp, I rounded the corner, forgetting my CD on the chair, and John’s tear-stained eyes met mine. I didn’t have to say anything at that point. He knew. I forced myself, though, to say it, to say words I never could have imagined I would ever have to say to my husband, words that I could barely get out of my mouth, words that still haunt me to this day. 

“I’ve had a miscarriage. I’m so sorry, Baby.”

My thoughts on our miscarriage, and my intense desire for the Lord to use it, are coming soon.

*Please note: The next series may not start for several days. Thank you to all of those who are praying for us, as well as to those who have reached out, even if I haven’t had the time, or emotional energy, to respond. Even if I haven’t responded, I am praying for you, too. We love you all and covet your prayers and support during this difficult time.  “The LORD gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD,” (Job 1:21).


Filed under Adoption, Baby, cystic fibrosis, Life, Marriage, Ministry, Miscarriage, Purpose, Sanctification, Surrogacy

Dreams Realized: 2nd Book & Ministry Website Are Done!

In case you haven’t heard, my new book is finished and available for $2.99! 🙂


…and I can’t tell you how good that feels! So, so good!

The book, available in all *E-book formats, is a revised and expanded edition of my first written work, Breathtaking.  For various reasons, we chose to take the original edition of Breathtaking out-of-print, but the new book has all the content of the first book, so don’t worry; you aren’t missing anything, if you never purchased the 2008 version!

If you did purchase the first version (thank you!), this one has plenty of new content you’ll want to read! 

Content such as:

  • A new cover (seen above)
  • A new prologue
  • 2 whole new chapters, written by me
  • My favorite part – A new epilogue written by my husband and better half, John

The process of getting this book to print was far more time-consuming and emotionally, spiritually and financially taxing than I could have ever imagined. Without the Lord’s help, Breathtaking, The Revised Edition, would have never been finished. You have no idea the unforeseen roadblocks we faced along the way; the release date got moved more times than I’d like to admit. That is all in the past, though!

We are finished, and we’re ever so grateful to the Lord, and the rest of you, for seeing us through!

**We had originally planned to have the book available now only as an E-book but also in a soft cover version, but due to circumstances beyond our control, doing so just wasn’t feasible. We apologize for the inconvenience. You can, however, download a FREE E-book reader, such as Kindle for PC, for your computer and/or tablet,  if you do not own a traditional E-book reader!


We also want to make sure you’re aware of the fact that, after a few years sabbatical, John and I have also revamped what was once my non-profit ministry, Breathtaking Ministries, Inc., into our joint venture.

The ministry’s vision statement says it all:
“To corporately encourage the Body of Christ to trust in God’s
sovereignty and goodness amidst human suffering.”

We’re really excited about what the Lord is going to do with the work of our hands and know He has given us a PURPOSE for His glory and our good! We SO appreciate your prayers, encouragement and support during this exciting time in our lives! Between re-launching the ministry and getting ready to adopt, we certainly have a ton going on! 🙂

Please share our good news with others, so that they, too, can be encouraged with the message of God’s sovereignty and goodness, even amidst human suffering!

Leave a comment

Filed under Breathtaking, Life, Marriage, Ministry, Purpose, Release


“You make beautiful things out of dust. You make beautiful things out of us…
You make me new. You are making me new.
– Gungor

This year has been full of changes for me.
A few have been welcomed. Most…well not so much.
It is what it is, though. My life keeps changing, and I am forced to move on with it.

I don’t want to just exist in my current reality, though. I want to grow and adapt well.
I want to do more than that, though. I want to thrive no matter where I’m planted.

Right now I’m planted smack dab in the middle of a very difficult season in my life – again – and trying to make sense of it all. I feel like I’ve been here, in some shape or form, this whole year.That’s probably because since February I have been. Just when I thought my life, at least career-wise, was moving in a very positive direction, things changed again. After a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime virus ravaged my body all Summer long, unfortunately my dream job is sadly no longer available. For the second time this year, I feel like an idiot with no direction in my life. I am unemployed.

Instead of jumping back into the work force right away, however, my wonderful husband and I have decided that God would be honored by me taking this time to see to it that our book gets finished. You can read more about our adventure so far this year with those plans by going here (and please do). We both feel that honoring our commitment to seeing its completion through to the end — despite the long, hard road its been – is vitally crucial to us being obedient to Him.

We want to finish what we started.
We want to watch Him make beautiful things out of dust.

Sadly, I can’t put the book together by myself, though I wish I could. That’d be so much easier. Instead I’m relying on people thousands of miles away, on a process that I thought was going to be completed several months ago but hit more roadblocks than you could ever imagine. By not working, however, I can be readily available to check on  how things are going and answer any questions immediately, which can only speed up the process. Working full time really took a toll on how much I was checking up on things. Now it’s my #1 focus, and Lord-willing its release date will be moved up exponentially because of it. I also will be able to devote plenty of time to working on the new ministry website once we’re to that step.

Due to where we’re at in the process, there’s not a ton to do with the book right now, which has left me with a lot of idle times on my hands. I’m trying to figure out what to do with said time; knowing how to spend it is definitely a work in progress. Though I’m not a very scheduled, regimented person, I do enjoy knowing I have x amount of things to get done in a day. I thrive under pressure and a love a busy schedule. I like to feel productive, but more importantly, I like what I’m doing to has eternal purpose; that is something extremely important to me.

So, in my time of constant waiting and changes, I pray for purpose and focus, no matter what season I find myself in. I am believing that, after almost a year filled with more than I would have wanted to go through in a lifetime, I am once again allowing Him to make me new.

1 Comment

Filed under Ministry, Purpose, Sanctification

Did You Write A 2nd Book or Not? What’s Up With That?

Remember when I posted the preface for that revised and expanded edition of my book I was supposedly writing with my husband?

I know what you all are thinking – “What in the world is taking so long?!?!” 
[sigh] I feel ya. I do.

Maybe you just honestly forget that I was working on a 2nd book, or didn’t even know I published my first one in December of 2007. You can admit it. It’s OK. If so, on one or both accounts, I completely forgive you. It’s not like I’ve been touting it on Facebook or this blog. Why not? Well, let’s just say there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes, things I could have never planned for or could have imagined would happen, things that have sadly severely delayed the publication of BreathtakingThe Revised Edition and caused me to have to keep silent on the book and its progress.

The worst part of it all?
We have had absolutely no control over any of it.

Nonetheless, on the positive side of things, God is in control of our book’s future and always has been. He was not caught by surprised by any of the circumstances through which the ministry, and John and I personally, walked through the past several months. We know the Lord has called us to release a revised and expanded edition of Breathtaking, so we’re not giving up. I won’t lie, though. There have been times we certainly have wanted to walk away from it all and almost did. It was during those difficult hours of prayer, tears and conversation, however, that John and I had to remember the calling He gave us as a couple before we were even wed, a calling greater than ourselves and for an eternal purpose.

As I’ve always said, no, the ministry will never look the same as it did before I got married (living out of a suitcase is not conducive to a marriage), but that doesn’t mean it has to shut down all together. It also doesn’t mean we can just throw in the towel and give up because life got hard and letting everything go seems like the option that causes the least stress.

No, the will of God isn’t always an easy path; sometimes God calls us to do hard things. We can choose not to and miss out on His presence, or we can forge on for His glory.

We’re choosing to move forward, and we pray you are still up for taking the journey with us. We’re so sorry for the delay. It’s frustrating, we know, but focusing on the past certainly isn’t going to get us anywhere. We must embrace the present.

In doing so, we’re also going to be embracing technology and re-leasing the 2nd book just as an inexpensive E-book, for now, to save on $$ and, to be honest, my sanity. We hope to have an approximate release date soon. The new book will include that preface I released before on this blog, as well as 2 new chapters, and a new epilogue written by my better-half (best part of the book by far). I can’t WAIT to get it finished for God’s glory! We turned the manuscript in for this revised edition in July 2011, so we’re quite anxious to see this project come to fruition.

I’ll admit there’s a small, small part of me that has that silly fear I had the first time around that tells me no one will even buy my revised memoir, especially since much of it is the original text. I desperately want to share the new text with readers, though, so I hope people jump on the bandwagon and want to hear what I’ve been doing since Dec. 2007. Regardless, if no one buys it or not (please do, though!), I know I’m being obedient to His calling; that’s all that matters to me and to John. That’s all that should matter to any of us.

So, yes, I did write a 2nd book, and that’s what’s up with that. 🙂
Please spread the word!


1 Comment

Filed under Life, Ministry, Sanctification

“Go Fearlessly” – A Review

Have you picked your word for 2012?

If you recall, last year after much thinking, I picked “fearless” to be my “word” for 2011.

When you put John’s and my word together, you got “Go Fearlessly.”

…And I’m proud to say we did, most of the time. 🙂

Though there’s nothing tangible (yet) to prove it, we accomplished a lot in 2011 when it comes to our ministry and book.

  • It took a while, but we worked through our different ideas of what the ministry should look like and are now on the same page.
  • We wrote the new preface, 2 new chapters and new epilogue for Breathtaking. This required me to take a few weeks off of work to pen my part (everything but the new Epilogue), but forfeiting a paycheck was well worth the focus I was able to give my writing.
  • We hired a friend, who is an incredibly talented web designer and runs his own business, to create our whole new website. The site will be launched soon!
  • We started meeting regularly as a ministry board and voted 2 new members in, one being my husband — probably a good idea. 😉
  • We turned all the text into the publisher and have been working with them (a lot of back-and-forth) on getting that through the process. We’re finally to proofreading — this is huge. You have no idea, unless you walked through the sometimes-very-frustrating process with me before when I was trying to release the first edition. I forgot how many boxes on a check-list one has to cross off before they can become an author.
  • After more revisions than I could have ever imagined or would have wanted, we almost have a cover for the new edition that we can be excited about. If you want your say to count, check out some of them on my Facebook page.
  • We got all the paperwork signed in order to have an E-book for the new edition. Hurray! 🙂
  • We’re planning for a Spring release (Lord-willing…pllleeease, Lord?) and excited about the future.

I hate that it still seems like we haven’t been doing anything with the book and ministry. Rest assured. We’ve been working very, very hard, and eventually, our behind-the-scenes work will pay off.  Many things are just simply out of our control and we’re having to trust Him to take care of everything in His timing. This timing certainly isn’t lining up with what we had planned. We were hoping for a 2011 release, but He must have a better plan that goes along with releasing in 2012. I can’t wait to see exactly what that plan is. Pretty soon you will be able to see the fruits of our labor.

While you wait, you could always read the Preface of the new edition, if you haven’t already. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Ministry

“Breathtaking” 2.0 – The Preface

I’m posting a small part of our new book today.

I’m excited and nervous at the same time, but here we go!

As promised, here’s the preface for the new edition of Breathtaking, which will be published in 2012.

Please note copying and pasting onto a blog can cause spacing issues, so just focus on the words, please! 😉

Enjoy. 🙂


July 11, 2011—Full Circle

“Why go back and rehash the past?”

I constantly asked my husband this question during the winter of 2011, when we were contemplating rereleasing Breathtaking. The idea of going back over a book I released over three years ago and originally wrote between four and five years ago really didn’t excite me . . . at all. In my mind, we were going to be beating a dead horse. Since I am a visionary and always thinking about the “next big thing,” my five-year-old double lung transplant, and the book that was born out of the brokenness that came with my almost dying at nineteen, seemed like really old news—at least to me. I didn’t even know my husband until two years after my transplant. Life obviously had moved on. In my mind, so should we.

The almost two years between Breathtaking’s release and my marriage were filled with dozens of speaking engagements across the country. With Breathtaking in tow at each event, I shared about God’s sovereignty and goodness amidst human suffering. I also had television and radio interviews, completed my bachelor’s degree, and formed a non-profit ministry. Yes, I was an extremely blessed and busy single woman.

Now, over a year into my marriage, I was working out my salvation in a completely good and different, though not nearly as adventurous, way. I spent the vast majority of my time serving my husband, taking care of our home, and working from home as a publicity and marketing assistant to help pay down student loans. All and all, I was living a rather “normal” life for a young, married woman in her twenties.

The Lord wanted more, though—for me, for us.

Granted, John and I very much needed that first year of our marriage to cultivate our relationship with God and each other in order to build a foundation on which we can stand when times get tough. After all, if our marriage is not Christ-centered and solid and we have a hard time living out the gospel in our own home, how can we expect to minister to others?

When John, after consulting with the Lord, finally declared it was time to move forward with the ministry, I was more than elated. I was looking forward to the help of my husband and what God had in store for the two of us together. I had no desire to go back and revisit the past. Instead, I was ready for the two of us to pave our own way and tell our story, the good and the bad, for the glory of God, not tell my story all over again. In addition, like most authors, I was my own worst critic. I was starting to loathe some of the prose I used as a frail nineteen-year-old and longed to be able to go back and “fix” the book to my liking. Changing everything around didn’t seem like the right thing to do, though. In my mind, it was settled, then. We’d just leave the book the way it was and never look back.

God had other plans for me, though. Again.

I should have known from the start that I didn’t have it all figured out, but, like everyone, I’m still a work in progress. The Lord changed my heart and showed me that revisiting Breathtaking is not just something my husband needs but also something that I need, as well.

More importantly, the revised edition of Breathtaking is for you. Maybe you never read the first account and are diving into it for the first time. If so, welcome. I hope my brutal honesty hasn’t scared you away. If you’re familiar with me or my story, then I suppose you wouldn’t expect anything else. I know of no other way to write, so if refreshing honesty is what you’re looking for, then this book’s for you. If you’ve already read Breathtaking before, I pray God can reveal something different to you through your second, or third, reading of the text.

Through having to revisit the text myself, I’ve learned some valuable lessons. Most of all, I learned that I have a choice: On one hand, I can refuse to share my story again. In the process, however, I will derail plans God has for us to minister to you. On the other hand, I can humbly submit to His plan and go back and remember for myself the time of quiet desperation for Him that inspired Breathtaking. I can be encouraged by remembering a time that was excruciatingly painful but that shaped me into the woman who is a suitable helpmate for my husband, a helpmate who is wholly devoted to Christ and striving to be secure in who she is in Him. Even though the part of my life spotlighted in this book seems so very long ago, I now know there is profit in revisiting the pain that I often unintentionally, but sometimes intentionally, forget. I know there is benefit in remembering God’s faithfulness during my time of grave need and acknowledging He is still the same LORD today.

Beyond the readers’ and my own needs, my husband needs to feel a part of the time in my life that changed me forever, a time that I, and others, can tell him about, but one of which he has no memory. I can choose to honor that need or dismiss it, but regardless of what I decide, the need will not disappear. The bottom line is that he needs to feel a part of the ministry I started on my own before he’ll be ready to grow and shape it together. No, I can never physically take him back to the months of my being bedridden and dependent upon oxygen for air and a feeding tube for extra nourishment, but I can give him a tangible way to feel a part of what he was a part of all along. The truth is, even though we were hundreds of miles apart and unaware of each other’s existence, as he’ll tell you, he was praying for me and very much a part of my recovery. Now I can give him a tangible way to feel a part of what he was a part of all along.

That tangible way is through this revised edition of Breathtaking. Now that I am older and a more polished writer, there’s a part of me that still wants to change the majority of how the original text was written. As the Lord showed me, though, I can’t. I can’t go back and completely change how I expressed my thoughts during a time I will never see again. To do so would be nothing short of a lie and would deny readers the chance of knowing me for me, at least me during the time in which I wrote the original book.

In this revised and expanded edition, there are a few minor edits, but you won’t find a complete overhaul of the text. You will, however, find toward the back of the book the addition of two new chapters that I wrote after Breathtaking was first released. One is shares how the Lord is using me today and how, at least for a season, He chose to use me in a mighty, unique way, a way that I found—and still find—an honor and privilege of which to be a part. The other tells of how I met and married the man who is my best friend and the godly leader of our home. Since I wanted you to be able to hear his perspective too, there is also a new epilogue that was written by my better half, John. He will give you his thoughts on our journey to Christ-inspired oneness. Even though his writing style is completely different than mine, his is by far my favorite part of the book. (I’m just a little biased, I know.) Oh, and please note that my husband is not to be confused with my prior and only other boyfriend, John Varland, who also wrote a small section of this book. No, instead I bear the last name “Payne,” a name that suits me well and is a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness to me.

As you’ll see, I’ve gone through a lot of pain in my twenty-five years of life, but like all things that go through the Refiner’s fire, I (thankfully) have not only come out on the other side alive but also as a much purer, useable vessel for His kingdom. I have hardly arrived, but in many ways, my life has indeed come full circle, as has this book.

As I look forward, I am praying for at least a few more turns around the wheel of life. I want to continue to bring the Lord glory and become more like Him by His grace. I want to continue to be my husband’s wife, to become a mother, to write, to speak, and to be allowed to get caught up in life’s simple joys.

Beyond all of that, when I stop and think about what I truly want, I come up with the same strongest desire—I want more of Him and less of me. Living by John the Baptizer’s mantra of “He [Christ] must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30) is truly the only way life makes sense, has eternal meaning, and is filled with purpose and joy. After all, God knows the number of my days. Worrying about how many of them I have left, or how I am going to fill however many I have, get me nowhere. Just as I have in the past, by God’s grace, and not by sheer human effort, I will continue to trust Him, even when the road He has marked out for me is not easy. I pray in your own life, you will do the same. Most of all, I pray we meet again, if not in the pages of another book, in heaven – where all things will finally be made new.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ministry

When You Don’t Want To

Ever just not want to ____?

Yeah, me too.

Today, my “don’t want to” involves spending hours updating and sorting through a database of over 1000 (so far) names and email addresses for our new ministry newsletter database. Instead, I’d much rather be spending quality time with my husband, calling old friends I haven’t had time to call in months (sad face), writing all the blog posts I thought of this week but didn’t have time to write, be leisurely reading a book, or feeding my Pinterest addiction.

Instead, I’m stuck doing this. I’ve been at this, what seems like a meaningless task,  in my minimal spare time for days. Mind-numbing data entry is getting old – fast. I know it’s important, though. I know it has value and that Jesus wants it done. It’s just not nearly as fun as the other side of what comes with ministry, i.e. getting to be out amongst the people and sharing about His greatness (which I got to do on Wednesday) instead of working on the administrative side of things.

Back in the day, unlike now, I didn’t have a full-time job to do, too, when all these things needed completed. It all can feel very overwhelming at times, and the new book hasn’t even came out yet. I keep pressing on, though, because I know this is where God has me for now. This is where He wants to sanctify me and make me more like Him.

Today’s a good reminder that life isn’t all about what you want to do; it’s about daily taking up your cross daily and being obedient to His will — no matter how you “feel” about it. 

It’s a reminder of how much the Lord has allowed me to walk through so that I could – and now we will – have the opportunities to share of His sovereignty and goodness amidst human suffering to the masses. It’s also a reminder that I married an awesome man, who’s cleaning our bathrooms and mopping our floors while I work (thanks, Baby).

I may not want to, but I’ll go back to my work and be thankful for the life He has given me — databases to which need tended and all.


Leave a comment

Filed under Ministry, Sanctification