Tag Archives: faith

A Mother’s Day Sandwich

It’s Wednesday. And we’re sandwiched right in between two special days: International Bereaved Mother’s Day and Mother’s Day. International Bereaved Mother’s Day was started in 2010 and now falls on the first Sunday in May. Mother’s Day, as you (hopefully) know, falls on the second Sunday of May. So … this is the way it will always be — a sandwich week. And, so far this year, it’s been a pretty emotional one. I’ve been feeling the loss of Penelope Joy so much lately. But, at the same time, have been finding so much joy in Dottie Lou. Every time I think I couldn’t love her more or be more in awe of her, I wake up and it’s a new day and there’s a fresh stock of brand-new love and admiration for her.

It’s fitting, I suppose, that this week is sandwiched between two days that are somewhat definitive for me. I’m grieving our loss of Penelope Joy — I’ll always be grieving it. But I’m celebrating — both her life and Dottie Lou’s. And I celebrate both of them for making me a mother — and for teaching me so much about life and what really, truly matters.

Penelope Joy made me a mother.

Penelope Joy made me a mother.

As Dottie Lou continues to hit milestones (she’s rolling over!!) and celebrate special days, I’m reminded of the milestones and celebrations we’ll never get to celebrate with Penelope Joy. While there’s a fleeting moment of sadness (OK, some days it may stick around a little longer than others), I try so hard not to live in the sadness of missed milestones and, instead, live in today’s celebrations. Because to focus on the sadness of the “what ifs” and the “why nots” is to completely miss the gift we have in Dottie Lou.

Dottie Lou teaches me how  to be a better mother — and a better person.

Dottie Lou teaches me how to be a better mother — and a better person.

I’ve said it a dozen times before — had Penelope Joy not lived and died, we would not have Dottie Lou. That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss Penelope Joy. Because I do, and my heart hurts every time I think about her. It just means that I can’t wish her back and this is our story. And Dottie Lou is here.

So, Mr. B and I celebrate every milestone and rejoice with every new expression Dottie Lou gives us — even her pout pout face. And I share way too many photos. And I talk about Dottie Lou way too much.

Yes, I’ll always be sandwiched between grieving and rejoicing. But I can choose how I live and which one of those I allow to take root and grow.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk of sandwiches has me hungry.

While we'll never have a complete family photo with both of our girls, we will always carry them both in our hearts. Always and forever.

While we’ll never have a complete family photo with both of our girls, we will always carry them both in our hearts. Always and forever.

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At the Baptismal Font

This past weekend, Dottie Lou was baptized. It was a wonderful day filled with such joy. Our little girl — our little family — is so blessed by the beauty, support and love that surround us.

Baptism at ChurchMr. B and I did not take the decision to have Dottie Lou baptized lightly. We recognize the significance of the event, and we didn’t want to do it “just because.” In fact, we’d started talking about how we feel about baptism when Penelope Joy was in the hospital. And at that point, we had decided we wanted Penelope Joy to make the decision for herself to be baptized. Well … obviously, that did not happen, and Penelope Joy was never baptized.

But, since then, our lives have changed — our faith has changed. When I was pregnant with Dottie Lou, I reached out to our pastor to see if we could have some time to chat with him about baptism, its significance and what baptism means in our church.

One thing I love about our pastor is his “OKness” with questions and honest discussion. (He’s also OK with doubts — which is a topic for another day.) After a nice talk with him — over a delicious Thai meal, of course — Mr. B and I continued the discussion for a while. We wanted to make sure we weren’t making a decision for Dottie Lou that was selfish. And we wanted to make sure we understood each of our own feelings and what those meant for our family.

In the end, we came to more fully understand our religion’s beliefs, our church’s beliefs and, much more importantly, our own beliefs. And, here’s what we believe about baptism and why we decided to have Dottie Lou baptized:

  • It is an important rite, as a Christian, to be baptized in the faith. Whether that happens as a baby, as a child or as an adult, we believe that it is part of what it means to be a Christian — and to be a member of the Christian family.
  • It is a sign to Dottie Lou that we will raise her in a Christian home and teach her about faith through our actions and through our love of her — and of each other and the world around us.
  • It is an acceptance of fellow members of our church as members of Dottie Lou’s extended family — as people she can turn to when she needs someone to hold her up in her faith.
  • It is a request for our family and friends to accept, understand and, hopefully, embrace our decision to raise Dottie Lou as a Christian.

Having Dottie Lou baptized means all of those things above. But, her baptism does not mean we expect her to embrace and choose Christianity without her own study, research and experience. We will raise her in a Christian home that encourages — and expects — free thought and exploration. I welcome the days we can have discussions about the world’s religions. I look forward to learning more about Islam and Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism right alongside Dottie Lou.

I want Dottie Lou to choose her religion — or lack of religion — for herself. Her questions will be welcomed, and we’ll find the answers to them together. Her doubts will be embraced, and we’ll all work to become stronger in our faith.

I was baptized when I was 4(ish) years old. And I was raised in a Christian home — with one of the most wonderful, giving mothers showing me what it means to walk in God’s light. But Christianity didn’t just “happen” to me. I don’t even know that I believed in God until a couple of years ago. And every day I fail, in some way, to be the Christian I want to be.

And I hope Dottie Lou’s journey is similar — I hope she stumbles and falls in her faith. I hope her walk of faith meanders through the woods and takes her on wonderful adventures. And, no matter what she ends up believing — which may be different for every season of her life — I just want her to know that she is loved and accepted exactly as she is.

Dottie Lou

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The Club No One Wants to Join

When you lose a child you become part of a club that no one ever wants to join. In fact, most people would prefer to ignore it. Because recognizing it makes you realize that — in a blink — you, too, could become an unwilling member. Whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, accident or illness, your child’s death is an initiation. An initiation that lasts a lifetime — when every single life’s occasion, every milestone, is clouded by your loss. And the membership fees? They can devastate you — in every meaning of the word.

Some days, this club — that has so many members — is a lonely one.

Some days, though, you realize there are far too many people in it. And that realization, in and of itself, can be too much to bear.

While I’m only an 18-month member of this club myself, I do know that there is hope. And there are some things to help you make it through your initiation:

  • Know that there is no membership handbook. When you are a member of this club, you must find your own way to survive the grief. I will gladly help you by talking to you, talking with you, listening to you or just staying on the phone with you while you cry — or while you just try to keep breathing. I will offer support in anyway I possibly can. I will tell you what worked for me — because maybe it will help you, too. But there is no one way to get through this. And however you need to survive this is what you need to do.
  • Know you are not alone. While it’s a club that no one wants to be a part of — a club that I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to have to join — it sure helps knowing that there are others there who have gone through it, who have survived it.
  • Embrace the sadness and all the other emotions, too. It is because you have loved that you feel loss. Sadness and grief are another part of the continuum that is love. And love is sometimes the only thing that will carry you through.
  • Be prepared to be surprised. Some days you’ll think you’re doing great — you may go for days at a time without crying or really feeling your loss. But then, it will hit you. Like a wave. Out of nowhere. On the flip side, be prepared to be surprised by the light and laughter and happiness that you can feel — even within your grief. Some days, the smiles and laughs of another child will knock you down with grief. Some days, though (and these are my favorite), those smiles and laughs will bring you so much happiness. Because every child’s laugh contains your child’s laugh — if you really listen. Yes, I hear Penelope Joy’s laughter in the laughter of other children. And it brings me such peace.
  • Realize one thing: you don’t have to be strong. One of the things people will tell you when they hear your sad news is to “stay strong.” These people mean well. And they want to say something to help because they love you. But, if there’s one time in your life that you don’t have to stay strong, it is when someone you love dies. So, break down. Scream. Yell at God — if you believe in God. Cry. Hide under your covers. Immerse yourself in the fantasy world of books and movies. Do whatever you have to do to survive this. Even if it makes you feel weak.
  • Take it day by day. Every day will be different. Some will be sad. Some will be happy (and that’s OK!). Some will be a mixture of sad and happy — and everything in between. Whatever you’re feeling in every moment is right. Because feelings can’t really be wrong.
  • Find a way to honor your child. I help Penelope Joy live on through my writing. I continue to tell her story. And I talk about her — because her life matters. I will never, ever be afraid to talk about her — even if doing so makes other people uncomfortable. Penelope Joy is — not was — my daughter. And she forever will be. We also have a beautiful rose bush in our front yard (a Penelope rose bush, in fact) that reminds me of her every day. I want Dottie Lou — and any other future children — to know Penelope’s story. Because her story is theirs just as it is mine. We also celebrate her birthday with cupcakes at the beach — and we honor her angelversary. But other people have found ways to honor the children who’ve died: trees planted in their memory, garden stones, charitable organizations — you name it. Just find something meaningful to you.
  • Know that this will forever change you. Losing a child — however it happens — changes your life forever. You will never “get better.” The pain will dull, but the scars will last a lifetime. But, the thing about scars? They show that you are a survivor — that something has touched you deeply and left a mark forever. Just like your child and your love for your child.

While you never wanted to be part of this club, you are here now. It is part of your story. And I believe that even beauty comes from loss. From Penelope Joy’s death, so much goodness has happened — not only in my world, but the world at large. It would be very, very easy to wake up every day and choose the darkness, the sadness — and, in a way, I’d have every right to do so. Instead, I choose the light. (To be honest, some days it’s a very conscious effort to choose the light.) Because, truly, without Penelope Joy’s life — and her death — we wouldn’t have our Dottie Lou. It’s very hard to live in the darkness and sadness when I can, instead, live in the lightness of Penelope Joy and all of the beauty she brought into our lives.

But, before I could embrace the beauty, I had to get through the ugliness. I had to live the grief in order to live the light. So, take your time. Grieve. Live what has happened to you. The beauty will come — maybe when you least expect it.

Let me leave you with a quote that helped me through many days:

Max Lucado Quote

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On Choosing a Pediatrician

After I gave everyone a Sprout update the other day, I’ve had a few questions — particularly about how we chose our pediatrician. Let me tell you, it was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

You see, we started the search for a pediatrician one day back in September 2013 when the doctors and nurses started preparing us to take Penelope Joy home. “You’ll need to find a pediatrician right away,” they said. Because we hadn’t even started looking. Honestly — why would we? We were staring down the road of a very long hospital stay and hadn’t really thought we’d get to take Penelope Joy home any time soon. (Well … you all know how that turned out.)

Anyway …

We started by talking to the nurses and doctors. And then we went to our friends for recommendations. With all of the 24-hour care and amazing staff at the children’s hospital, we were spoiled. And not just any pediatrician would do.

Recommendations were as far as we got.

We had set up an initial meet-n-greet with a pediatrician, but Penelope Joy took a turn for the very-worst, so we canceled that appointment — promising to reschedule once Penelope Joy turned around.

That appointment never got rescheduled.

But, when it came time to pick a pediatrician for Sprout, the initial legwork was done. We had narrowed it down to two choices: one, an office very close to our house where my own OB was located; the other, a highly recommended pediatrics office about 20 minutes away from our house (whom I’d emailed back and forth while Penelope Joy was in the hospital).

The first choice wouldn’t allow us to set up a meeting before Sprout is born. When I asked what would happen if we chose that office but didn’t have a good relationship with the pediatrician, they told me we’d have to just pick another doctor. So, that choice was immediately out the window.

We set up a meeting with the second office — and, you know what? They remembered me. And they remembered Penelope Joy. She wasn’t even a patient there, and they knew her. What’s more, they asked if we’d like a personal one-on-one meeting with someone on their team instead of doing the traditional meet-n-greet that would include other expectant parents.  Because they knew our story was different and that we would have questions and feelings and concerns that were different. And, still, because even to this day, sometimes it’s hard to be in a room with other pregnant women and mothers of newborns.

When we did meet with the woman at the office, she was kind and understanding. And when I apologized (well in advance) that if we chose that office I might be a little needy at first due to our past experience, she smiled at me and said, “of course you would be, and we wouldn’t expect anything else.”

All of this aside, even if we had met with 100 pediatricians, we most likely would have chosen this office. Because they acknowledged something in Mr. B and me that 90 percent of people in our lives (doctors, family, friends) still don’t understand: we are not first-time parents.* Yes, our first trip around this track was very, very different than that of parents who walk away from the hospital with a baby.

And, no, we didn’t do the whole sleepless-nights-with-a-crying-newborn thing. But, we did do the no-sleep-for-38-days thing when we were waiting for the nurse on duty to call and tell us that, yep, we missed Penelope Joy’s last breath because she died while we were selfishly at home in our own bed.

And, no, we didn’t change diaper after diaper after diaper, wondering when she would finally stop crapping all over herself. But, we did stand by her side begging her bladder and kidneys to do something, anything. Praying to God for any amount of relief he (or she) could give to our precious, water-retaining baby.

And, no, I didn’t have middle-of-the-night feedings over and over and over again. But, I was up and pumping every three hours — my heart full of hope that one day I would get to give her that milk and give her something no one else could give her (even those doctors and nurses who were saving her life while I stood by and watched).

And, no, I didn’t stand by her crib every night with my hand under her nose praying she was still breathing — I had machines to tell me they were breathing for her. But, Mr. B and I did hold her as she took her very last breaths — knowing I’d never get to be the mom standing over a crib waiting for that next breath.

So, yeah, every time someone tells us “just you wait” or “well, this is your first time” or “one day you’ll understand” it burns. Really bad. And is still a painful reminder of everything we lost. The fact that our pediatrician recognized that we have been parents — we are parents — went a very long way in helping us decide where we’d take our precious Sprout.


*Please don’t think I believe this means Mr. B and I don’t have any learning to do. Because we do — a lot. A lot, a lot, actually. And we’ll be the first to tell you that we are clueless on many things. We’re nervous and anxious and scared — just like any new parents bringing their baby home from the hospital. (Holy cow, you guys, we get to bring our baby home!) But forgetting that we have, indeed, done this before also forgets that Penelope Joy existed — and that she made Mr. B a dad and me a mom.

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36+6

Today is 36+6.

I’m 36 weeks and six days pregnant. With Penelope Joy, this is the day she decided to make her grand entrance into the world. To say I’m having some “feelings” would be fairly accurate.

The Day She was Born

One of our very first family photos.

You see, when you’ve been through the experience Mr. B and I have been through, you can’t help but make mental notes about how things were — and how things are. And no matter how many times everybody tells me that every pregnancy is different — and no matter how many times Sprout makes that painfully clear — my mind can’t help but think about it.

Because Penelope Joy was early. And then she died.

Were these two things related? In a way, I suppose, but not directly. She died because of an extremely complicated anatomy that included no immune system. She didn’t die because she was premature. (Actually, I like to think that her date of death was always going to be Oct. 17 — and she wanted as much time with us as possible, so she made her appearance early. I like to think she made the choice and gifted us with the additional time.)

Besides, she wasn’t ridiculously premature. But, she was early enough. And I’ve been watching this day on the calendar since finding out I was pregnant with Sprout. This day is symbolic for me. Lots of moms count to 12 weeks. Or 27 weeks. Or 35 weeks. Me? I’ve been looking at 36+6 since day one. (Though, when they pushed back my estimated due date by a week early on, I had to adjust that date in my mind, too.)

So, today is a big day for me. For Sprout. In reality, it means nothing — because Sprout’s still in there movin’ and groovin’ and because she’s not even due for another 3 weeks (and a day).

Am I eager to meet her? Heck yes. Do I want more than anything to hold her — as long as I want, without tubes and cords and the assistance of a nurse (or two or three)? You betcha. Am I looking forward to bringing her home with us (scared and nervous as we’ll be) and actually getting to be her mom — the mom I so desperately want to be? Words cannot describe.

But, I also want her to stay where she’s safe as long as she needs to stay there. Even if it means I get asked over and over again: “Are you sure there’s just one in there?” “Wow! You must be ready to pop any day now, huh?” “How much more can she grow?”

36+6 photo

As I snapped this picture, Sprout kicked me pretty hard. I think she might take after her dad by being a little camera shy. Oh well. She’ll get over it. Mr. B did. Kind of.

There’s a reason pregnancies typically last around 40 weeks — every day of those 40 weeks is important. And I will never be one of those moms wishing my pregnancy were shorter — no matter how badly I want to meet Sprout. Besides, while medical advances are amazing and save so many babies, I’d prefer to keep Sprout right where she is until she’s all filled in with that adorable baby fat and her lungs are truly ready to take her first real breaths and her brain is ready to absorb the amazing world she’s about to meet. So, we wait … anxiously, eagerly, patiently.

And yes, on this momentous — but also pretty average — day, I’m having “feelings” of all sorts. Gratitude. Hope. Joy. Sadness. Exhaustion. Lots of exhaustion. Peace. And love. Always. love.

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Being Grateful for the Ordinary

As you know, religion isn’t really my thing — at least not in the societal definition of it. But we’ve found a church — a community, really — where we feel as at home with our doubts and questions just as we do with our hope and our love. Still, though, Mr. B and I aren’t overtly religious people. And, we are most definitely new to this whole “practicing our faith” thing.

Since moving into our home, we’ve been making an effort to sit down to real dinners every night. Putting aside our phones, turning off the TV and just enjoying each other’s company (and the company of our wandering cats and our hopeful, under-the-table pup). Something wasn’t feeling quite right, though. Something was missing.

One day, I randomly asked Mr. B if we could pray before dinner. He wasn’t judgy or skeptical or turned off at all. In fact, he willingly said the prayer. For that, I was thankful. You see, I grew up in a Christian home — with a mother who was the epitome of a Christian woman, always opening her home and her arms, to those who needed something … anything. But we didn’t say prayers before dinner except at special occasions or holidays. And I didn’t say a bedtime prayer — at least not that I can remember. So I was — and still am, to some extent — uncomfortable with prayer. I mean, when you can’t see who you’re talking to, it’s weird — and, yes, I’m still confused/amazed/awed by “the telephone.”

Mr. B’s first prayer in our home was an awkward and simple prayer — as are ALL of our before-dinner prayers. But, it was beautiful. And it was exactly what our dinner table was missing. Every night, before we eat, we hold hands and say a prayer of thanksgiving. When we see special needs — in our friends and family facing a difficult time — we add those in, too. But, mostly, we say thanks.

We thank God for each other. And for our (most-of-the-time) delicious food, our new home and our silly pets. We thank God for family and friends, sunshine and stars, talents and dreams. Mostly, we thank God for loving us through another day and for being there for us through all the bad things life has thrown at us. And for giving us such beauty and love and hope. Sometimes, we even tell God to “have a nice day” — because, like I said, prayers are awkward and we never quite know how to end them. (Besides, as Mr. B says “God probably has people asking him for things all day long and no one takes the time to tell him to have a nice day.”)

It’s been an amazing experience in practicing gratitude. And it’s carried through in so many other areas of my life. Some of the things we thank God for are silly, simple things. Things that, on most days prior to our new dinnertime tradition, we would have overlooked and ignored. Because they weren’t special enough to notice. But they still are blessings that deserve recognition.

Blessings like:

  • wrinkles around our eyes — because it means we had something to smile about
  • our leaky basement — because it means we have a home
  • weeds in our garden — because it means we can have flowers
  • sadness — because if we can feel that, we can also feel happiness
  • our morning commutes — because it means we have jobs
  • grocery shopping — because it means we’ll have food on our table
  • muddy floors and dirty dishes — because they mean we have life in our home
  • missing Penelope Joy — because it means we had an amazing daughter who we had the pleasure to parent

You see, being grateful for your blessings shouldn’t be about only saying thanks when something takes your breath away. It should be about being thankful for every breath you take.

Even if you’re not religious, I believe that taking a few minutes each day to take note of the gifts you’ve been given — and the ones you’ve worked damn hard to earn — is important. My challenge to you: sit down tonight and write down five simple things that bless your life. Things you maybe haven’t taken time to appreciate before. Things that, on an ordinary day, are … well … ordinary. Because when you take time to give thanks for the small things, you realize you have a lot to be thankful for.

Sunset in Paradise

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Thoughts on Religion, Church and God

This post will do something I don’t like to do: talk religion. I’m putting it here because this has become part of my processing of what’s going on with our darling Pickle. I do not share it here to judge or to be judged. I do not share it here for unsolicited opinions or advice. I simply share it because it is part of my story. That being said …

I am not an overly religious person. Never really have been. I was raised in a Christian home and attended church with my mom nearly every Sunday. I have been baptized (I think I was 3 or 4), but never confirmed in a church. I have always believed in God — in some form — but I have never been a fan of organized religion or “church.”

“God has no religion.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

None of them gave me the feeling I thought you were supposed to get when you attended church. I had — still have — many problems with some of the “ideals” of religious people who proclaim to be living as God wants them to live. There’s an awful lot of hate and judgment coming from people who claim to be about love and forgiveness. And there are an awful lot of people who will say in one breath that God is the only all-knowing and all-powerful being but then say in the next breath that they (or their religion) know exactly what God meant or wanted or believed — and their way is THE right way. Politics plays too big of a role in something that should be about a personal relationship and understanding.

Me? I believe in Love — over and above all else. And as an adult, I’d searched for a church where I could feel that Love. But, after trying several churches, I couldn’t fight the battle anymore. There were just too many people-politics getting in the way of the Big Picture. So I haven’t attended church regularly in a long, long time.

Now that that’s out of the way, the meat of this post:

When we found out about Pickle’s diagnosis, I — quite frankly — was pissed off. For a lot of reasons. I could list them here, but no one wants to read that. I was mad at anyone. And everyone. I was mad at God. Some days, I still am. And I have to believe that God’s OK with that. Because, if there’s anyone who knows how hard life can be, it’s God. He — or She or It — has seen it all.

But then the first words of “comfort” I/we heard from people were that God gave us this for a reason. Or that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. Or that God made this happen so God would see us through this. Or that God would fix this. Or that God works miracles. Or that God is just testing us.

These things that were supposed to be comforting only worked to make me even angrier. Because Mr. B and I? We’ve done everything right. We live a good life. We are kind to people. We donate our time, our talents and our money. We help strangers, friends and family. We work hard. We do all of the things we are “supposed” to do. But, clearly, if God did this, we aren’t good enough. And if God doesn’t work a miracle to fix this, we’re not worthy. And this is our fault. And since I’m the one carrying caring for Pickle until she is born, it’s my fault. And God just doesn’t love me enough to give us a healthy baby. And God doesn’t love our unborn child enough to give her the life she deserves.

So, to say that I’ve been struggling even more with the faith I had is an understatement. And in talking to Mr. B about it one night, I knew I needed to get a handle on it — because if there’s anyone we need joining us in our corner right now, it’s God. So I told him I wanted to start attending church. A church where we could have a support system and a community to lean on. A church where our family could grow and learn and thrive. A church where there would be Love and not hate and judgment.

Like me, Mr. B is not an overly religious person — and definitely not a church person. So, I didn’t know how my statement would be received. But, I was OK if he said he didn’t want to join me. There’s nothing wrong with going to church alone — lots of people do it. Besides, Mr. B’s feelings and decisions about church/religion are his own — not mine. Just because I feel one way doesn’t mean he should/would/could feel the same way.

Mr. B, though, said he’d been thinking the same thing.

And so, we started our research — looking at various church websites and social media pages trying to get a “feel” for the churches we wanted to visit. In our town, this is not an easy task. There are hundreds of churches. But, we were able to narrow it down, and we made a list of four we wanted to try out. Some I’d heard about from friends, others we picked based on what we read about them online.

So, one Sunday morning, we set our alarms and headed out for the first church on our list.

The sermon that day? Exactly what we needed to hear. And I cried my way through it, listening with relief that there was a pastor who so eloquently put into words the experience we were having.

In a nutshell:

God doesn’t make bad things or good things happen. Bad — and good — things simply happen because that’s what life is. That’s what the human experience is. There is no formula. But God? God is there to help you through whatever may come your way.

So, you mean, this isn’t our fault? This isn’t because we’re bad people. Or because, for some reason, God thinks we should suffer. Or because God wants to test us. It’s because, well, sometimes life is crap for no reason other than it just is. And sometimes, really bad things happen to precious, innocent babies. And sometimes life hurts. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Because there is Love.

Flash forward to today: Mr. B and I have been attending this church for a month. And I like it more every week. We haven’t even made it to any of the other churches on our list. The other people who attend this church are so welcoming — without being overbearing or pushy. We’ve met a lot of really nice people. And the pastors have exhibited a genuine interest in Mr. B, Pickle and me. In fact, we had a quiet brunch with the head pastor last Sunday after church where we had a lovely conversation about our family and our story. Never once did he try to “sell” us his church or pressure us into anything. We simply … talked.

What’s more? This church is what I’ve always thought church should be:

We are open and affirming, a community where everyone is welcome regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or identity, physical, mental or emotional ability, or economic status, where the rich diversity of God’s creation is celebrated.

And, most importantly, this church is OK with my questions and doubts and fears and, even, my anger.

“We each hold our own understanding of the faith. We do not and cannot dictate the content of another’s faith …. We are blessed to be a place that encourages our individual search for God’s truth. There is grace enough to ask questions, make mistakes and express doubts even as we actively search for meaning in our lives.”

I could probably share more. But I won’t. Because I’m still not someone who is going to actively, loudly talk about religion and faith. Because I will always believe that those things are about a personal relationship and understanding. Whether you have them or you don’t, it’s not my business — and I fully support your right to make your own religious choices (just as I support that right for myself and for every member of my family). That’s why I won’t go on and on — I probably won’t even talk religion ever again. On this blog or in conversation. Like matters of money or politics, it makes me uncomfortable — because I’m not an expert nor am I a scholar. I only know what I know is right for me, right now.

Besides, that’s not what this blog is for. This blog is for Pickle and for processing and for sharing. So, for now, this is where my heart is. Full of more questions than answers. And still dealing with a faith that is not yet on a solid foundation. And still fighting anger and sadness that won’t ever go away fully. But we’re marching forward.

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