Friday, January 27, 2012

These Broken Vases: Finding Beauty In Unexpected Places

Were you looking for "Stumbo Family Story"? You are in the right place, this is it! There is just a new name and a new look. Let me tell you a little bit about this…

Why the change?

I took a writing class last Fall. A momoir class to be more specific. Wow! What an incredible learning process it was, not only from “learning the craft” but also for gaining perspective. Why do I write? Why do I blog? What is it that compels me to share my story with you? Why would you come here and read what I have to share? 

I do not have it all together. In fact, I have come to look at myself as broken. Not in a, “I am broken, what shall I do!” sort of way. But rather “I am broken, and God is putting me together.” It is the living out of Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

As  a pastor’s wife, there was also something very powerful about taking a writing class with a group of women outside of my Christian circle. In this group, I found a level of honesty in the writing and sharing that it challenged me. Really challenged me.  My new friend Sara Lind wrote a post in her blog: Moments of Exhilaration, shortly after the class was over. This is an excerpt of what she said:

The truth is powerful.  And often uncomfortable.  Sometimes too uncomfortable. But you have to face those uncomfortable truths and you have to write them, both for your own sake and because you owe it to your reader.  And you have to tell the whole truth.  Because only half a truth isn’t really the truth at all.

If I tell you that being a mother sometimes makes me angry, but I don’t tell you that once at 3:00 a.m. I slammed the door so hard I broke the door jamb, or that one morning when she wouldn’t go back to sleep after 5:00 a.m. for weeks in a row, I ripped the curtain off the curtain rod, or that sometimes I have to dig my nails into my palm so hard it leaves marks, just to stop myself from doing something worse – if I don’t tell you those things I haven’t told you the truth.  And you might think: “ok, she gets angry, but I’m sure she doesn’t get as angry as I do.  I must be the only mom who ever feels this way.”  And then my attempt to connect with you might just leave you feeling more lonely than ever.

These uncomfortable truths are what draw people in, what make them want to hear more.  It’s what makes us feel like we’re not alone, in parenthood or in life.  As writers we need to tell those truths, more than anything else.  So I will, always, strive to tell the truth here.  It is, after all, why I write.

And this is why I want to write too.  I wrestled with Nichole’s diagnosis, I have struggled to find beauty in adoption, and I find it boring to be a stay-at-home mom many times, I have even shaken my fist at God in defiance, I have felt abandoned by Him. All that comes from places of brokenness. I am a pastor’s wife, but I am also a broken woman, allowing God to put the pieces back together into something beautiful.

If you have been reading this blog for some time now, you know that this is one of my favorite quotes:

"Christ is building his kingdom with the broken things of earth. People desire only the strong, successful, victorious, and unbroken things in life to build their kingdoms, but God is the God of the unsuccessful – the God of those who have failed. Heaven is being filled with earth’s broken lives, and there is no “bruised reed” (Isa. 42:3) that Christ cannot take and restore to a glorious place of blessing and beauty. He can take a life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it a harp whose music will be total praise. He can lift earth’s saddest failure up to heaven’s glory." J.R. Miller
What will you find? 

Here is the heart behind the new name:

These Broken Vases: Finding Beauty in Unexpected Places

When my second daughter was born with Down syndrome, she challenged what I viewed as perfect, worthy, important, and valuable in life.  I had received her as a broken baby, only to quickly recognize that I was the broken one. The treasures I have discovered along the way are not found in strength, performance, eloquence, character or confidence. They are found in brokenness, where beauty is found unexpectedly as a result of God’s love and compassion transforming my life. My life is like a broken vase and I offer the pieces to God, trusting that He will take them and use them regardless of my brokenness. 

As I write my story of life, marriage, parenting, special needs, and adoption, I present them to you as they are – broken vases – and share how I find beauty in unexpected places.


  1. What impressive new digs!! I'm honored to have the Traveling Afghan button represented!

  2. Ellen, I am intrigued by this memoir writing class you took. I finally began acting on my interest in writing my own memoir, though my original idea was to fictionalize it into a children's book or middle-grade story. I'd love to discuss this topic with you more if you've got some time, because I think you will find what I want to write about very interesting. Drop me an e-mail when you can...

  3. ...and by the way, I love the new name and look of your blog! It's a beautiful concept. <3

  4. Beautiful, Ellen! I am so glad you are sharing your story & your heart!

  5. Ellen,

    I am a long-time reader (we share a common walk w/Ds) and have so enjoyed your growth in your writing. I am even more impressed as I am NOT a writer, just a fellow sojourner...

    You express your journey with great beauty - especially in the broken places.

    I love your new look & name too!

  6. Hi Ellen! I have followed your blog for quite awhile (even passed it along to a friend of mine whose toddler has Down Syndrome). However, I don't think I've ever commented. But tonight I feel compelled to! I like the new name and look, and the story behind the changes. I have always enjoyed your writing style and appreciate how "real" you are when sharing your struggles!

  7. Looks great! I just changed over to a new format and got my own domain. I get it! Looking forward to coming by and visiting!

  8. Hi Ellen thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm so glad that you did. What a wonderful blog that you have here. I love the honesty in this post! Thanks for sharing, that can be so hard on the internet for everyone to read. I am inspired today! I'm following now, thanks :)


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