Word of the Week

Today, October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day.

I'm lighting a candle alongside so many of you for all the children in my life who could have been.

In the deepest points of my pain of child loss and infertility in 2011, I found myself on a plane headed toward Israel on an interfaith pilgrimage.

On the day we visited the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the following is the prayer called "I am a Mother" and laid between the cracks in the wall.

Though my grief is not as raw or even present in the same way that it was back then, I am still so thankful for every time I read this prayer I published in my book, Birthed: Finding Grace Through Infertility. For it reminds me that God begins to heals us (though nothing about our situation many change externally), I believe when we're able to truly say what is on our hearts.

Here's my Wailing Wall prayer-

I am a Mother. Yet in my house there are no stray toys rolling around on the floor. There are no sippy cups with apple juice residue piled up by the sink. There are no schedules of what child goes where and when on our refrigerator.

There are no school papers stacked on our kitchen table or science project parts strewn across our countertops. I am not identified in any communities of mothers. I am not invited to forums of mothers who work outside the home.

I’ve never read What to Expect When You Are Expecting, or gone to a play group with girlfriends and their kids. I cringe when I am asked by strangers: “How many kids do you have?” Why? Because I always have to say, “I have none.”

Rather, my home life is as adult-centered as it comes. Almost never do you find my husband and me sitting at the kitchen table at mealtimes. You wouldn’t find child-protective devices on our electrical outlets or wine cabinet doors, nor do we sketch out our weekend activities around nap times or soccer games. And there are empty rooms in our home, two of them. Though we’ve planned big, it is still just the two of us. But, I am a Mother. I have children. But no one sees them.

There are those who have dwelled within me, but decided to take a short, in fact very short, stay. And I wouldn’t have known about them either, except for the signs that pointed to their dwelling. My body spoke of them through exhaustion, nausea, and cravings of unusual foods. Something new had found its way into me, and my heart counted the days and yearned for them to stay, even—just even—for one more day. I loved them, each one of them. And when they were gone, making their way out of me like a disgruntled houseguest, I wept. I cried tears so big they ran from my cheeks to my navel.

They poured like an upstream river out of my being. I didn’t know when or if the intense pain would ever stop. I couldn’t believe that such a good gift could be so cruelly taken so soon. Yet, these children were never gone from my heart. I was still their Mother. Yet, there remain in this time and space children of mine who I do not mother alone. Some have blonde hair, some have dark skin; some are very young, and others are much older than me in years but alone in their own way.

Each is searching for spaces in this crazy world to call their own and for someone to recognize who they really are. They cry out and, even though my own pain sings a loud song, I do hear them. It is my honor to see them. I fiercely want to protect them from any more of life’s deepest pains. I love them and weep for them too—not because their life has gone from me, rather because it has come and stayed close. They have come into my heart and they are now part of me too. Our bond is undeniably good.

So, no, I may never be able to attend the innocence of the average baby shower with other mothers-to-be, or be invited to a mother’s support group, or even be able to talk fully about my mothering pain and joy in public.

I am learning to accept that the gift of mothering I have been given may never be understood by most. And I might never know what physical life coming from my womb is like. Such is the cost of unconventional motherhood: loneliness.

Yet, no matter how I feel or what others say or even what the future may hold for me, there is one thing I know: I am, and will always be, a mother. 

If you'd like to read more, check out Birthed here.

Know if days like this are sad for you, my heart is with you. You are not alone.

One of the deepest heartaches for any parent is the loss of a child. No matter if the child was a grown adult, a school aged student or a still-born infant . . . I would even add to this list that there's also great pain in the loss of a child who did not make it out of the womb. Failed fertility treatments leave deep wounds of "What could have been." (With nothing to show for it except drained bank accounts!)

As hearts ache, it seems everything in our world says, "Just move on. Get over it."

But I'm a firm believer in lament.

We can't move on if we don't speak our truth before God first.

Some of the best lamenting is done in communities where the grieving can know they're not alone.

For this reason and may more, today I'm offering a prayer I wrote that is meant to be a resource in congregations to honor children both that are a part of communities and those who have been lost.  October is National Infant and Pregnancy Loss month and I'm glad to participate in it. I hope your congregation will too.


Congregational Prayer in Remembrance of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month

God, today we want to thank you for the children who are a part of our community.

For the children that fill our community with laughter, with song and with questions

For the children that teach us in this over scheduled world how to play, how to walk slower, and curiously take in the world’s wonder.

For the children that try our patience one minute but embrace us with joy the next

We say thank you.


But, God for all the children we see and celebrate, we know there are many who we do not.

For the children who filled their parents’ hope muscles with more joy than they ever thought was possible but whose cells did not grow and multiply fast enough.

For the children with names were already spoken aloud and lived in their mother’s wombs 6 weeks, 8 weeks or even just 12 but not any longer.

For the children whose life span could be counted in hours or days but not years.

For the children who were held but whose futures are empty.

We say thank you, God, with tears in our eyes.


For it’s true, our hearts ache for all the moments of what could have been. Our pillows fill with tears of dreams dashed. Our souls overflow with loss beyond what we thought we could bear. But still, today, we want to stop and say thank you God for these children. We acknowledge them. We claim them. And we pray for peace for them and us.

Keep teaching us to welcome all your children in our community of faith.




Over the next 4 weeks of Advent, I'm thrilled to offer you the voices of some articulate storytellers--- storytellers with wisdom to share about how their experiences of pain or loss is birthing in them something beautiful. Not in a Pollyanna sort of way of course, but in the spirit of what Leonard Cohen once wrote: "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." 

And isn't Advent is all about light shinning in the darkness? 

Today, I'm glad to introduce to my friend, Meredith Holladay who I met this year while attending a writing workshop at Austin Presbyterian Seminary. Sometimes the best we can do is be exactly where we are now. 


I’m still waiting to get my period. That is something I never thought I’d feel the need to say to strangers, on the internet, by way of introduction.

In October I miscarried, and now we wait until we can “try” again. (A phrase I’ve never entirely understood, but that’s neither here nor there.) And when it finally does come - and flow - and go - we get to wait again. This whole ordeal is such a series of waitings. There is very little either my husband or I can do to affect anything. Even the “trying” is just a shot in the dark (weak pun, weakly intended).

We were pretty surprised that the pregnancy happened as fast and as easy as it did. So surprised, that I took no fewer than 5 pregnancy tests. We both know too many people for whom the journey from trying to parenting was long, difficult, sad, that it just seemed too good to be true.

No one told me (why would they tell me?) that losing a baby - an embryo - would hurt so bad. In retrospect it seems so obvious. I had never felt more like an unwelcome guest in my own body. My own attempts to understand are defied at how we could want something so bad, and my own body turns in on itself. Of course the doctors say all the right things about chromosomal abnormalities and how “this would have happened anyway,” and all the medical stuff to offer comfort. But that did not change the fact that my body had rejected a life it had helped to create and I was the one curled up suffering pain in all the ways I could possibly feel it - physical, emotional, spiritual.

One of the worst parts was the distance I felt from my husband, whom I love more than anything, more than any idea of a child.

As much as he tried to understand and help, he could not be inside me in the ways that the grief seem wrapped up in the cramping and bleeding and hollowness. How could he understand the feeling of his own body rejecting life - rejecting something that is supposed to be good and right? It was, to say the least, hard.

My counselor suggested that we find some way to find closure about the loss. I didn’t know what that looked like. (I still don’t. It seems part of the waiting.)

My husband likes to be outside and likes to work on our yard. He likes to discover new plants, flowers, shrubs.

The idea came to me that we should find some kind of flower that would bloom about the time that baby would have - should have - been born, and something we could plant now. It seemed like a small way to say - here’s this life we lost - we’re putting it in the ground. We’ve turned that life over to the earth, and the seasons. It seems too poetic, but perfect, that the life we meredith-headshotlost, and then planted, must first endure the frozen ground. And then the miracle of sun and rain and warmth will bring blooms into our yard.

The flowers seem enough for now.

But we’re still waiting. I’m still waiting. Hoping, longing, that life that breathes and cries and poops and walks and talks will be birthed from this.

We don't know. Maybe closure will be a much longer wait- A Come, O Come Emmanuel kind of waiting.

Living in the middle is where we are. It's almost too poetic that we continue to wait as we have officially entered the Advent season. I'll try not to overthink that part.

But for now, we are just hoping my period comes back soon.

By day, Meredith teaches 7th grade English in Kansas City, Kansas; by night, she is dog-mom to the two cutest cockapoos around. You can find her reading and laughing alongside her husband, Zach.