Friday, September 17, 2010


Just under four years ago I miscarried. October 16th 2006 was by far the worst day of my life. Any mother who has lost a child can tell you just how devastating a miscarriage is. I truly felt robbed, especially when a good friend got pregnant the same week I did, and had a beautiful healthy daughter. Every accomplishment that little girl has had, makes me think about what my baby would have been doing.

The Bible says that the devil came to steal, kill, and destroy. Now I can’t really state that the devil killed my baby, but the destruction his whispers caused upon my already shaking faith certainly fits his terrible character.

God does not rob from people, but when a devastation occurrence happens in one’s life, they will often hear that word replayed in their mind. Lost a job? Lost a family member? Lost a baby? Any loss that anyone could go through can feel like theft.

As the years passed I watched many friends give birth, that first girl who got pregnant the same week I did, is three months away from having baby number three! It is so hard to resist comparing myself to those women. Every time a new baby is introduced I raise my eyes to heaven and ask “Why God? Why have you forgotten me?”

Then comes the torment… over and over, week after week I would go to church and see new mothers, new babies, new families, new pregnancies. Every one broke my heart, just a little more. Honestly, I began to wonder if my heart could continue to break! Despite all the promises God had made, I began to believe that going to church was just my ‘Weekly Torture’. I started to franticly consider all my faults, and wonder if I caused this curse upon me.

For a season a strong message went out in my church about how children are Gods ‘Perfect Gift’. While that is true and biblically accurate to be sure, week after week hearing such good messages was torture upon a barren woman’s soul.

Every baby cry in a store would cause me to stop everything I did and look. I would avoid walking by the baby section so I wouldn’t agonize about wanting to see and feel every soft baby blanket, and cute infant toy. It truly effected everyday life.

On top of all this torment, I began to feel guilty for being so obsessed. With most obsessions you can stop what you are doing, and do some sort of action to change your habits. It’s very different when you haven’t been able to have children and children are everywhere you look. The guilt began to erode the little faith I had left, I was afraid that if I continued to be constantly thinking about children it would never happen. I would go through seasons of depression, and season of hope and sunshine.

Of course, the Bible has many answers, balms to sooth a hurting heart.

I knew that setting myself up for disappointment was only going to hurt me…

12 Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick,
but a sudden good break can turn life around. Proverbs 13:12

My heart was growing so sick, and on top of that, I had the guilt of feeling I was being obsessed. God wanted to take care of that one too, let me know I was NORMAL!

Three things are never satisfied,
no, there are four that never say, "That's enough, thank you!"—
a barren womb,
a parched land,
a forest fire. Prov 30:16

Now the other three make perfect sense! Hell consumes people’s souls like no tomorrow, a desert, which would a parched land, can never have enough water to make it lush like a Maine forest! Those that live in areas where forest fires are common know that it is extremely destructive and takes, sometimes, months to fight! So why is a barren womb lumped in with these things? BECAUSE ITS NORMAL TO FEEL LIKE I DID.

You do NOT have to feel bad that you can’t stop thinking about babies, you want to be involved with very thing ‘baby’ and yet you don’t because it feels like you’re stabbed in the heart every time you see, smell, touch, hear, hey… even taste anything that is remotely related to a baby. Anyone who has struggled with this can tell you. There is NO escape from it! Even if I were to take my husband and live on top of a mountain, with no people, no books, no media, no pictures, no stores, my heart would still long for babies, the lack of them is a void in every woman’s soul.

Maybe you think, as I did, “Well, shouldn’t I be able to fill myself with God and no longer be tormented by these fears and desires?” Well of course filling yourself with God makes a HUGE difference, but you cannot deny what God called you to be! God promised children, and even deep in his presence the longing will still be there. Certainly not as intense, but still there.

I had season when I tried to fill every little hole with God, and it was amazing, but I grew frustrated, beliving that because the desire was there, I was not doing enough, or I was failing in some way. I still fill myself with God, but I’ve come to realize that what I feel is normal, and God knew that about women, which is why He put Proverbs 30:16 in the Bible.

You don’t have to strive to not want a child, you just need to accept that you need to wait for God. Impossible you say? Well… yeah, I’m still trying to figure that one out myself, sorry, I don’t have the answer on how to wait for God in something like this, but I am comforted to know that it’s ok for me to continue to desire while I fill my heart with His love.

God has not forgotten us, He never will. That is a hard thing to remember, the line slips from my mind constantly, but God has a funny way of fixing that.

One of my little brothers is adopted. When he was adopted my parents adjusted his name, adding Zachary to his name, which I just found out means ‘God has Remembered’. This boy is fairly new to faith, but his heart is open, and he listens. He is constantly hearing from God that I’m going to get pregnant, it’s persistence almost to annoyance! I’m not annoyed in the least, by the way, but it makes me laugh. God is using a new member of my family, who was named that God Remembers, to remind me of His promises. When the direct line of communication between me and God is faulty at best, because my faith has been worn down over time, like a river over a rock, He has used someone else to keep on me, helping me to keep hoping, keep waiting, and keep building my faith, which was once so strong.

A few weeks ago, God was pressing on Zach to pray for me, so he approached one of my fathers in the faith and told him. He then collected my other little brother Caleb, who has a gift for healing, and my parents who are strong for me when I can’t be, and my husband, who is always there, hoping and waiting along side of me.

They began to pray, and I felt my hope being renewed, my faith being built. With out me ever saying it strong spiritual men in my life broke off the theft. Then my mother told me what Zachs name meant, and again with out me telling them I felt this way, broke off the feeling that I was forgotten. My father began calling out names, strong children that would be birthed from my womb. One of the first names he called out, was the name God told me to name my first son, 11 years ago.

Recognizing this was a time for healing I told my family about the torment and torture I was suffering. I was angry that the devil had over time, turned something so joyous in to something of despair and sadness. Friends who struggled for a shorter time than I to get pregnant, finally did get pregnant, and I mourned, rather than jumped for joy, knowing they would jump for joy with me when I turn came.

I’m still waiting for my day, but my hope and my faith have been renewed. God has not forgotten about me, I’m NORMAL in the way that I feel, and it’s alright to feel that way. It’s not wrong! Never feel it is wrong! It is wrong to curse God because of your pain, but its not wrong to have a desire so strong you can taste it, and feel it in every bone in your body.

If you’ve struggled with this, or know someone that has, maybe my story can help them, to renew their hope. This isn’t just for me. I feel strongly that there are others out there who are fighting, and who are despairing, and I hope that my story can remind them, they are not forgotten. With God anything is possible. When I was a baby, I was babysat by a woman who had no womb, but had the strong desire to have children. God grew a womb for her and gave her children! He is a loving God who wants to give Children by the bucket full!

Please leave comments, I’ve love to know what people think…

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Calico Canyon

When I got Calico Canyon in the mail, my first thought was, ‘Oh that looks like a ‘cute book’. I vastly underestimated this story! A friend of mine got the chance to read the story before I was able to pick up my copy, she was bursting at the seams wanting to tell me about it! Every time I looked over at her while she was reading it, she had this goofy grin on her face and was stifling laughter. Now I know why.

Calico Canyon is likely one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time! I’ve had a pretty busy and draining couple of months, and this story brought a much needed smile to my face and had me almost crying in laughter.

Grace Calhoun a smart and bright girl is running from an abusive past, and finds her self running a school in a tiny Texas town. Five young terrors from the same family make her life miserable, by pulling the sort of pranks teachers have nightmares about. It doesn’t help their father, Daniel Reeves, seems to be a dull witted gruff man, who obviously doesn’t like her. He seems to think his five boys can do no wrong, and she just has a mean heart, and picks on them.

When a turn of events lands her running from her abusive past yet again, Grace finds herself married… to Daniel. It all happened purely by accident (I am serious! It was accidental!). Stuck in wilderness with six men who do not want her there Grace has to remember what it’s like to be brave, and that God is always faithful. It doesn’t help her new husband avoids her as if she were a plague, and the boys torment her at every turn. The rowdy and loud family, are constantly giving her headaches, just from the sheer noise of them all. Then Grace begins to see how, in all her running, God’s hand was always on her, and always directing her path. Truly, we plan our path, but God directs our steps. Grace learns just how true that is in her life, and prays she can show the six Reeves men.


So here is the deal, I’ve got a Q&A with Mary Connealy, author of this great story, at the end there will be a contest for a free copy! Be sure to read through so you know how you can win!

Char: Where did this story come from?
Mary: My husband is from a family of seven sons. His mom, Marybelle, is one of my favorite people on this planet and listening to her talk is both hilarious and terrifying. The woman was lucky to survive raising those boys. And she survived brilliantly. She’s eighty-nine now.
This woman is tough! She’s also smart and she has this wonderful sense of humor and she has a great knack for not sweating the small stuff.
She tells stories of pure mayhem. I don’t know how all little boys act but she was always breaking up fist fights and rushing to the doctor with broken bones and cuts that need stitches. They lived on a farm and…if she could possibly arrange it…they ran wild outside.
I got so much of what’s in Calico Canyon from Marybelle that I dedicated the book to her.

Char: I notice this is part of the lassoed in Texas series, why Texas? What do you like so much about Texas?
Mary: You know, Texas is just to utterly western that I have to stop myself from setting all my books in Texas, so Texas was easy.

Char: Your bio says you have four girls, was it hard to write the personalities and interactions between five little boys, compared to having had four girls around you all the time?
Mary: It was a serious challenge, not so much to write boys as to try and make so many little boys, whose looks were identical (except for the twins being older) be individuals.
You know the scene where Grace tells the boys how she tells them apart? As she runs down their differences, at the end of that, she glares, good naturedly at Mark and says, I know you from the fire in your eyes.” Well, I tried to give Mark that fire through the whole book. He was the most developed of the five but all the boys were real to me and I focused on having every word they said, within this parameter where they all acted so, so much alike, to be faithful to those differences.
I got the idea for Luke the so-tough-he’s-scary youngest from ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ if you’ve seen that and remember Gladys Herdman, she was the youngest and the meanest of them all.
And I liked the idea that the oldest would SEEMED to be the leader but he was very subtly taking orders from a stronger personality than his own.
Throw in Ike, the animal lover and the ‘good one’ John and I had the whole set.

Char: Who was your favorite of the Reeves boys? Mine would be John, because he reminds me of one of my brothers.
Mary: I think I secretly liked John best, too. But Mark was definitely the most fun to write. And I got to do so much with my characters through Mark, Daniel realizing he needed to be kinder to Grace so his boy wouldn’t grow up warped. Grace realizing she loved a little boy who was such a handful, to me that’s the sign of a true mother, to love their children, possibly the very most, when they’re not so lovable.

Char: Tillie was a really interesting character, a runaway slave, who had remained a slave well after the law granted her, her freedom. I honestly never really heard of that happening, I think, often, people think that the end of the civil war was the end all to the slavery in the south. I never really thought about people who might not have known the war was over, if they were kept in the dark. Where did the idea for Tillie come from?
Mary: Oddly enough, the whole idea of Tillie comes from a line in Gingham Mountain. That’s book three in the series and I didn’t have Tillie in Calico Canyon at first. In Gingham Mountain, Hannah who is trying to care for orphans who live on the streets of Chicago, meets a man she thinks is mistreating orphans. The man has taken in so many children and Hannah doesn’t like it a bit. Two of Grant’s orphans are black and when Hannah says Grant has enslaved children, one of those children gets really angry and says, “You’re a mean lady to come in here and tell Pa he’s treating us bad. You don’t know what bad is if you can say such things.”
Hannah thinks to herself that she knows exactly what bad was. She’d lived it herself when she’d been in her cruel stepfather’s hands. She has lash marks of her own, and she knew you didn’t have to be black to be a slave.
So that got me thinking about slavery and wanting to draw the distinction between slavery and other kinds of abusive treatment, but my book was set to long after the Civil War to have someone newly freed, until I started researching it and I came up with these amazing stories of black people who hadn’t been set free after the Civil War, just hidden.
So along comes the idea of Tillie.

Char: Did you ever have a time when writing this book you just had to stop and start laughing?
Mary: You know, Char, comedy is hard work. It really is. The scene, one of my favorites in Calico Canyon, when they get married, took so long to write.
I like a scene with too much going on, chaos, lots of characters, but it’s so hard to get it all right. To put it on the page. People talking over each other. People listening to half of one person’s sentence and then the other half of someone else and having that end up meaning something that makes them mad. I wrote that scene so many times. No rewriting the whole thing, but packing it with nonsense. Tweaking it, getting the beats right and trying to make sure that, while the characters are bickering and misunderstanding and reacting comically, the reader understands what’s going on. It takes a lot of attention and time. I love it but I always dread a scene like that because I know it’s going to be so much work.

Char: Did you learn any lesson while writing this story? Anything particular that God revealed to you?
Mary: I wrote this book not that long after my father died. I was on an airplane and I happened to think of one song we had at his funeral, Great is Thy Faithfulness. That song just helped me really focus on what I was trying to accomplish with this book. Not our faithfulness to God, which is so often where our attention lies, but God’s Faithfulness to us. Once Grace was reminded of how faithful God was to her, she could live so much more bravely for Him. And once she remembered how to be brave, her life because much simpler.

Char: You mentioned in your dedication, that your mother-in-law had raised seven boys! Is this where the inspiration came for the five Reeves boys?
Mary: Definitely. My mother-in-law can tell so many unruly little boy stories, I could fill ten books.

Char: What’s your favorite “little boy stories” that she tells?
Mary: She had the first five of her boys really fast. Then my husband and one more brother are stragglers. Of the five older boys, the youngest seems to be the one who had the most brushes with death. She heard a scream one time and ran outside and he was hanging from the eaves of her roof by his fingernails.
She heard a crash once and ran upstairs, he’d smashed through a window and was just standing there, with his head through the window, a jagged circle of the window pane surrounding him. Uncut.
Once when he was three a neighbor came pulling into her yard and lifted the boy out and brought him in…naked. The neighbor had found him walking down the road like that.
She asked the kid what he was doing and he said he was going swimming. They live ten miles from the nearest swimming pool so she has no idea what was in his head.
My mother-in-law swears she was watching him but he was just determined to keep up with his big brothers and they didn’t seem to worried about leaving him behind so that left him stuck, alone in some tight spots in his young life.

Char: Is there a favorite ‘little girl story’ you would have?
Mary: My girls are little balls of fire. They could outpace most little boys for pure energy when they were kids. One family gathering, Christmas, at my in-laws (they live about three miles from us and we farm their land) I had three girls at the time, one of Ivan’s brothers had three boys and another had two girls. All about the same age. It was a nasty, bitter cold Christmas Eve and when we got there I and the other family of girls, had brought winter clothes because we knew the kids would want to go outside and play despite the weather. The mother of the boys hadn’t brought stuff to bundle them up. They had coats and mittens but no boots, scarves, snow pants. We laughed because she thought she could control the boys but the other mom and I knew our girls would be outside so we might as well be prepared.

I could ask questions all day, but I won’t. Here’s how to win a signed copy of Calico Canyon: leave a comment on this blog, telling your favorite “little boy or little girl” story. You get bonus points if it’s funny, and bonus points if it taught you a lesson about God. And even more points it the lesson was about God’s faithfulness! You have until Sunday 11/09/08!