Personal Archive

Down in the Valley

MissWyolene-ValleyFear has pretty much always been just below the surface of my personality.

If I’m having a great day, it doesn’t take much to roll my stomach into the familiar knots of anxiety. Sometimes I feel the physical symptoms of that fear before I can even pinpoint its source.
I’ve mentioned it here before, maybe even joked about it out loud.

But it’s no joke.

I don’t mean to suggest that my anxiety is somehow more valid than anyone else’s. Or that I feel things more than the next person. Because, in the throes of my own anxious thoughts, it Is very easy to make myself the victim.

But the truth of the matter is, fear is a sin. Plain and simple.

It’s a lack of faith in my Father.

It’s my desire to control when I have none.

It distracts me from seeing God’s good provision all around me.

Recently, one of my biggest fears came to pass: the loss of a child. I miscarried very early in my third pregnancy. I quickly found myself in the exact place I feared the most: the valley of the shadow of death.

The atmosphere during our little one’s passing has threatened to suffocate at times. Loud voices tell me that I wasn’t really in THAT valley. I must just be in another, sorta sad, but very common valley and it wasn’t really life yet, anyway. But what we have walked through is a death in our family. Just because this happens to so many hopeful mamas doesn’t make the loss any lighter. Just because I never saw our sweet baby’s face doesn’t mean he didn’t matter. The deep ache in my soul tells me everything I need to know about the legitimacy of this little life.

Just when I think I’ve scaled the walls a little bit on my own, fear and grief slam me right back to the valley’s cold, dark floor. What in the hell am I supposed to do?

Nothing. I can’t do a thing unless Jesus shows up.

And He has.

Because of Him, I have not been alone. His rod and His staff have tangibly comforted me. He has been with me in ways that are nothing short of miraculous and precious. This has not been a season I can self-talk or B-complex vitamin my way out of. This is me saying I’m broken. I can’t fix myself. I have to face the fear that this could happen again. This world is a fallen one, after all.

But, Jesus.

He knew about this precious life before He flung the stars out into the black. And He chose to create me even though He knew I’d really screw up trusting Him as Abba Father. He paid the highest price for my lack of faith. For my prideful attempts to say “It’s cool, I got this, Jesus” only to realize that my broken body couldn’t keep this child safe.

There are certainly days and weeks when He seems far. And maybe it’s because I’m up to my old tricks: staying busy to numb the sadness in my heart and pretending like I’ve got all of it dangling on my own strings. Or maybe I’ve been listening to the critical voices too long. I can only pray that grace floods in and shows me where I am so very forgiven. His voice is always the sweet, confident one. Oh, how I want to know what it means to walk around in that grace. Kinda like when a breeze picks up the dead leaves and dances with them for a moment.

He tells me things like:

He is a he.
He is happy and whole.
He has a name.
You will meet him one day, but I get to hug you first.

If your heart is crushed in this way, ask Jesus to show up. He wants to carry you through the valley.

Though He brings grief, He will show compassion. -Lamentations 3:32

4 years on the 4th

I canNOT believe it’s already been four years since I married you. The details of that day are still so fresh in my mind, the most crisp memories, and yet as a whole, the day was a blur. That morning had the chilly brightness of early spring, not a cloud in the sky. I remember walking through Hobby Lobby with you the week before and crying because the weather report predicted it would be rainy and freezing, which it was, until that morning. My house was hustling with about ten ladies from church helping to ice about 600 cupcakes. (Seriously. Whose idea was that? Oh, right. Mine.) It felt like our little corner of the world was all abuzz with our wedding. I know you enjoyed a greasy breakfast with the men at a local dive while I enjoyed a much more dainty fare at my bridesmaid’s luncheon. Our sweet friends spent so much energy running our errands, finalizing last minute details, and being there to squeeze our hands or pat our backs. Everyone was so excited for us. After our respective time with the photographer, my bridesmaids all sat in a circle and wiped grass stains off my dress. That’s a little detail I will always remember.

I didn’t see you until 5:30 that afternoon. I think from 5:00 to 5:30 had to be the longest half hour of my life. I assumed that the doors opening from the back of the church would signal the universe unraveling because that was always the moment I imagined in my mind, even as a little girl. I remember seeing you at the end of the aisle, but I don’t remember much beyond that. People told us we swayed back and forth in unison for awhile. I suppose for all the planning and anticipation, we were still nervous.

By the time we got to the reception at Gardner-Webb, that coolness was back, bringing with it a smell of newness that only April can give. I remember gobbling a plate of roast beef while you changed into your reception suit. (Who was the diva then, I ask? Ha!)

Our first dance was the longest Avett Brothers song EVER written. People didn’t know where to find the tequila shots (because there weren’t any.) We ran out of garbage can space. The DJ played Journey WAY too early in the evening.

We had cupcakes and elementary school milks. Your buddy Jason caught the garter. Your sister Katie caught the bouquet completely by accident. Your dad gave the most precious toast. My dad and I danced to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” because that was our favorite song when I was little. Our old friends were there. Our new Greenville friends were there. Family members that are no longer with us were there. Some sneaky people used that dadgummed car paint that is still on my Honda. We stopped at a gas station in Gaffney to get bottled water and when you told the lady we were headed to Panama for our honeymoon, she said “Florida is lovely this time of year.”

I don’t think there ever was a more perfect day. I want to do it all again. But only if you’re there. Because you are my very best friend. The one who laughs at the same stupid things I laugh at. The one who speaks Sein-language with me. The one who makes our little boy giggle. The one who makes the BEST dang quesadillas. The one who supports my crazy creative endeavors even when I’m not sure I know what I’m doing. The one who strives to be a Godly man and leader of our little family. I am blessed beyond measure. I love you! Happy anniversary. Here’s to 60 more!











photo by Smitten Photography

Let’s Try That Again

You guys should know that this is the second draft of a blog post I started last night. Or rather, this morning. At 2am. Seriously. The house was quiet. The baby had no immediate need of me. And while all the books tell you to “sleep when he sleeps,” unfortunately, those books offer no advice for those of us whose creative juices only kick in after 11pm. (Why, Lord, why?)

I really wanted to show you all a custom piece I had designed for a client this past fall. (I know, I know, FALL was a while back. I had a baby. Give me a break.) But the words were forced and I wasn’t feeling it. Perhaps I don’t do my best writing in the wee morning hours. Sketching, maybe. (If I can still figure out what it is the next day.) Instead, I got up from my computer without hitting “publish” and hopped in the shower. (I do my best thinking in the shower.) I mentally surveyed the scene: everyone is quiet. It’s late. I’ve stayed up WAY past everyone else. I didn’t publish the blog post. What in the WORLD do I have to show for this sacrifice of sleep? I’d love to say I finished my collection and TA DA here it is–> PUBLISH!

And the crowd goes wild!!

Not so much.

So then those toxic thoughts start. Maybe they never really leave.

“You just wasted a ton of time.”

“You’re going to be worthless tomorrow for your family.”

“You really aren’t inspired.”

“You need to hurry up and design something because someone else will do it if you don’t.”

The results? Panic. Self-doubt. Worthlessness.

And you know? As I write this, and as I see it on the screen in front of me, I KNOW that’s not the Lord telling me those things. Creativity is from Him, the Creator.

So what do I do? I can’t control when the creative juices are going to hit. Probably not at the perfect intersection of B’s naptime, a clean house, crock pot crocking bliss, and a new InDesign document just awaiting a colorful life. Nope.

I ask again, what do I do? Maybe this is more of a prayer. Because I’m just telling y’all my struggle here. I have no idea.

Lord, you give us creative desires, because you are the source of creativity. You give us good gifts. Please forgive me when I try and control my time, when I panic. When I assume that one little bump on the radar means I’m doomed to fail. Forgive me for believing the lies. Always believing the lies instead of your truth. Show me where to focus my depleted energy- and fill me up to do Your good work. Thank you for creating colors and flowers and people and weddings and everything else that is beautiful. Amen.




Boy, oh boy…



Yep, that’s blue icing you see, people. The tiniest Mo is a little fellah! We surprised our families with the news last night using these fabulous cupcakes from Iced here in Taylors. There were a few tears of joy, and a few slightly off color jokes at our child’s bashfulness…or lack thereof. :)

In work news, Greenville shop Even a Sparrow now carries Miss Wyolene! Grab a beer at Community Tap, a t-shirt at Dapper Ink, and stroll on over to Even a Sparrow and take a gander at the cards and all of the other awesome local and regional designers they carry!

Happy weekend, everyone!