Sarah Rieke » Living. Loving. Pressing on.

At three years old I have a vivid memory of using the beige carpeted hallway of our small ranch style home like Hollywood Boulevard for Barbie and her sweetheart, Ken. They cruised so smooth in their pink Ferrari. Or sometimes to shake things up a bit, the red Porsche.

This day wasn’t too unlike the many days that had preceded it – me, dressing Barbie and Ken to the nines, jamming them into their two-seated sports car (that day it was the candy apple red Porsche), and cruising down the same sandy-colored hallway.

There was one big difference about that day though. My parents were in the process of selling our home by owner and, for some reason, the couple who planned to buy the house were there that day. And so was their son, probably similar in age to me although I really don’t remember.

So there I was, cruising with Barbie and Ken as I was accustomed to doing. When the little boy asked to play I moved aside to proudly display my favorite toys. And what he did next, I will never forget.

In one effortless motion, as if he had done this a thousand times before, this little guy ejected Barbie out of the front seat of her own car, threw her onto the floor, and used said car to run over her plastic body a few times. I stared with eyes round and mouth wide open.

This was not the appropriate way to play with Barbies.

Years later I look back at that memory and smile to myself. I didn’t grow up with brothers so it wasn’t until I had my own son that I realized how boys just do things differently.


Before he could even say many words, my son knew and could imitate train and car sounds effortlessly.

When Micah was a toddler and we would sit down to color, we would only be able to fill in a few lines before the crayons turned into swords or spaceships.

The other morning when he came downstairs to greet me for the day, he gave me a playful punch on the arm and said, “Hey mom, good to see ya!”

Boys are just different.

But I’m learning that’s ok.

As my wise friend Shannon says, different isn’t wrong, it’s just different.

But sometimes I have trouble living that out.

No you can’t explore in the woods in our backyard with your camo rubber rainboots. What if you get lost?

No you can’t bring rocks into the house and store them on the kitchen table. Can’t you see the mess you are making?

No you can’t use that box cutter to open your amazon package. What if you hurt yourself?

Certainly there are real dangers in this world and I should not be foolish enough to think our family immune to those dangers. But my son also has an intrinsic spirit of adventure and a desire to be brave and flex his little man muscles. And I cannot let my fears of his differences squelch those things.

By God’s grace I’m learning to recognize what my son needs. I’m learning that sometimes when I react negatively I can visibly see the light leaving his eyes. I’m learning to say yes more than no and be excited when he comes in muddy and dirty because underneath all that mud and dirt is a little boy whose soul is coming alive.

So I’ll peek out the back door to make sure he’s ok and I will remind him gently to make sure he can always see the house. But I’ll try not to let my fears keep him from discovering the world and growing into the strong, ambitious man I know he will be.

Boys are different. And different is ok.

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Episode 16 - Pami

Joining me today on Heart Lessons is my friend, Pami Clark. She goes to the same church as some of my family in Pennsylvania and reached out to me a few years ago to let me know she was praying for me during my journey with Evie.

Since then I have been blessed with the details of her story and her faith through the difficult road the Lord has her on.

About five years ago, Pami suffered a massive stroke that severely impacted her physical and cognitive abilities. Since then she has had about 12 strokes (maybe more), and doctors predict this will continue for the rest of her life.

But Pami’s testimony remains strong. She has such a tender heart and talks about all the good that has happened as a result of her strokes. She also shares a unique and challenging perspective of what it means to live every day knowing it might be your last.

I’m so grateful Pami was willing to share her heart with me and I know you will be too.

Heart Lesson:

The steadfast love of the Lord never changes.

Pami’s blog: Back to the Beginning

Scriptures Mentioned:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 2:12

For the Lord is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold for those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11

Resources Mentioned:

Sara Groves

Brennan Manning

A Place of Healing, by Joni Eareckson Tada

Related Material:

Late On Purpose, from Mom Struggling Well

Perfect in Weakness, from Come Sojourn

When You Wish that Troubling Thing Would Take a Permanent Vacation, from (in)courage

Episode 16

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  • Rachelen Hensler - This episode was encouraging in that Pami seems to have the clarity that I often desire regarding”each of us is dying” and “God has put ministry right in front of me; my responsibility is to act.” Then you Sarah and Pami.ReplyCancel

    • sarahjoyrieke - It was so great. “Bloom where you are planted” comes to mind.ReplyCancel

On Feeding My Friend

So my dear friend Lauren, whom you may have heard on Monday’s podcast, wrote a really lovely blog post about me donating my breast milk to her and her daughter after Evie passed away. It was something that was meaningful to her and to me, and she wanted to share it. I expected some kind comments and general well wishes from her facebook followers. What I didn’t expect, however, was for this story to be shared by huge online media sources like Today Parents, Huff Post Parents, Scary Mommy, and Babble. I was for real blown away by how many people were interested in that story. It was nuts.

I am fully aware of the life cycle of viral posts (although I’m not necessarily sure that it reached “viral” proportions), and I am fully aware that the viral wave of this post is surely fading into the sea of next week, so I won’t mention it much more. But, there are a few things I really wanted to say while this story is still fresh on people’s minds.

Pumping milk for Arsema after Evie passed away was a blessing for me. It was good for me to sit and be still and take the time to think and reflect on Evie’s life and pray for Arsema’s future. It was also good for my postpartum body – breastfeeding aids in returning your uterus back to normal size. And honestly, I was just happy for the opportunity to pump because I felt like allowing my milk to just dry up would cause my heart more pain. So, even though readers are commenting on what an amazing woman I am for making that decision, it really felt so normal. Logical, really. A blessing, certainly, on both sides. But maybe not as saintly as others seem to think.

The Babble article quoted me saying that, if roles were reversed, I am certain Lauren would have extended the same kindness to me. That is without a doubt. And I am blessed to be acquainted with dozens of amazing women who would do the same – for me, for Lauren, for each other. I am one in a population of many Christ-like women who pour themselves out for others on a day to day basis. It is a club I feel privileged to be a part of.

I also wanted to add a note for women suffering infant loss, or anticipating losing their baby. Pumping for Arsema was exactly the right thing for me to do after losing Evie. The opportunity was there and I was grateful for it. It felt right for my grieving heart.

But after losing my son, Charlie, in September 2015, I chose to do the opposite. The shock and pain of losing another sweet baby after birth was just too deep – I couldn’t bring myself to pump. Disgusted by the whole gut-wrenching situation I just let my milk dry up on its own. It was a tearful three or so days, but that’s what felt right to me at that time.

So to any woman out there who has read the articles and wonders how she should handle her postpartum milk supply after losing her baby I say, do what feels right for you. Whether you pump and find healing there, or actively work to prevent your body from producing milk at all, both are right. The depth of pain after losing an infant is something I have still never been able to find adequate words for. Do what feels best for you, and that is exactly the right choice.

Those are my reflections on what has been popping up all over the interweb for the last week. A truly heartfelt thank you to Lauren for writing this article and allowing me some exposure as I continue to try and influence others for Christ with my story. Yet another reason why your friendship means so much – you’re always looking out for me.

Thanks for following friends. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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Episode 15 - Lauren Casper

Joining me today on Heart Lessons is Lauren Casper. She is an amazing wife, mom, and writer but to me personally, she is an amazing friend. In the few years Lauren and I lived near each other, we both walked through some really hard things – life-changing diagnoses, losses, and other big life transitions. While we never would have wished to know the pain like we did, we were glad to have each other. I love Lauren so much and her friendship means so much to me. I know you’ll love her too and be challenged to be an even better friend.

Heart Lessons:

It’s so important to simply validate what another person is feeling when they are going through a difficult time.

It’s ok to not have the answers and sit silently with a friend. It’s ok to not know what to say.

Coffee. All the coffee.

Connect with Lauren: blog // instagram // twitter // ebook

Resources Mentioned:

Missing Pieces, by Jennifer Rothschild

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The drive to write feels so strong within me (that sounds very Jedi-ish, doesn’t it? Anyway …). A lot of what I do on a weekly basis involves writing or planning what to write. I feel so compelled to share, not just about the children I lost, but about the God who brought me through.

It can be hard though. Sometimes it’s really hard to balance pursuing this writing dream in my heart with the very normal life I live now. So often it feels like I’m living my life in the 2:30 pm of a Friday afternoon of a classic 9 to 5 work schedule: still with a few more hours left of work, hours that need to be productive, but looking very much forward to the plans I have at 7:30 that night. 2:30 pm still holds purpose in my work day, but it’s so much more exciting to think about 7:30.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I quit. Certainly it would be easier than trying to balance life and dream pursuits. And maybe I’m just making all of it up – all the purpose and influence. Sometimes it feels like I am.

I think that’s the enemy though. When I’m battling for balance – when I suddenly find a quiet twenty minutes to write but my sweet son comes and asks me to play legos – that’s when the enemy knows to discourage me. Because that’s when I’m most vulnerable. I’m most vulnerable when I’m wondering if I’m on the right track and really pursuing what God has for me, or riding a wave of vanity.

Who are you to think you could write something worthwhile? Why would anyone care what you have to say anyway? Why would anyone listen to you?

It’s those times when I remember wise words from a woman far more experienced in the Christian life than I, a woman gifted with language. I asked her how to convey confidence in my voice. I observed, from editing my podcast, that I often sounded bored or super tentative. I asked her how to combat that. She told me, “Speak with the authority God gave you. If you truly feel He’s given you a message you can feel confident to speak with that authority.” Her words changed me.

And not just for my podcast, but for my writing as well. Now when the enemy feels slick enough to come in with those jabs, to rub sandpaper on the parts of my heart that already feel raw and exposed from authenticity, I can combat him. I can combat those attacks with the authority of the Almighty whom, I believe, gave me this message.

Who am I to think I could write something worthwhile?

God’s humble servant who wants to tell the story He wrote for me and show Him as Hero.

Why would anyone care what I have to say?

Because it’s not really me speaking (thankfully). It’s the Lord.

Why would anyone listen to you?

Because I come with a powerful message of endurance and hope in brokenness. And God’s bright light shines through every single crack of that brokenness.

I truly believe I’m running the race God has set before me. And I’m currently working on running that race with confidence.

Hebrews 121

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