One Thousand Gifts.

I love to read. I’ll read almost anything I can get my hands on really…and I’ve done *lots* of reading since October’s diagnosis & November’s decision to adopt.

However, in a quite uncharacteristic move for me, there is one book in particular which I’ve been putting off reading…for well over a year now. I’d heard talk of this particular book, read a few blog posts & an advent devotional by the author, and even had a friend lend it to me after a women’s conference we attended together. {I actually tried to give it back to her over the summer because I felt so bad for keeping it for so long, but she wouldn’t hear of it until I actually read it.}

I guess the main thing that kept holding me back is that I knew it would take a lot of brain & heart power to read this book, in large part because of the author’s writing style, but also because of the way I knew it had challenged the lives of others who had read it.

Or perhaps the timing just wasn’t right. 

Regardless, I finally decided Christmas break was the perfect time to tackle it. And…I’m glad I did. A lot to digest, but God definitely spoke to me & revealed a refreshed focus for the new year. {As I have entered into this ebb & flow of waiting through the adoption process, I also really feel like this will help me to stay focused & joyful for the present, for the manna God  has for me today.}

So, without further ado, here are my notes  from the book “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. There were far to many words sticking to my ribs to retype them all here…instead I’ll try writing down the big ideas that captured me. Anything in { } is a quote from Ann.

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{The face of Jesus flashes…With an expiration of less than twelve hours, what does Jesus count as all most important? “And He took bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them…” Luke 22:19 NIV…In the original language, “he gave thanks” reads “eucharisteo.” The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be a gift and gave thanks. Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Deep chara joy is found only at the table of the euCHARisteo – the table of thanksgiving. … As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.}

As Ann begins to wrap her mind around “eucharisteo,” she begins to realize that, in scripture, thanksgiving always comes before the miracles. She also points out that humanity’s fall from grace was a direct result of ingratitude toward what God gives. Thanksgiving then, in everything, is what helps us to work out our sanctification.

{Maybe I already take up eucharisteo‘s hard meaning every time I take communion? In a very tangible, physical act, aren’t I enacting my thanksgiving for His pain? In a very real way, in a digestible, consuming-oneness way, I’m celebrating greater gain through great loss.}

{But awakening to joy awakens to pain. Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to really living…life is loss. … Every step I take forward in my life is a loss of something in my life and I live in the waiting: How and of what will I be emptied today? … What in the world, in a world of certain loss, is grace?}

Ann goes on to describe that as our perspective shifts, as we begin to see God in everything, to trust that he is {tenderly, tirelessly working all for the best good of the whole world} we begin to understand that God’s grace is in ALL. {Sometimes we need to answer the hard eurcharisteo.}

“Always give thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Ephesians 5:20

{It is suffering that has the realest possibility to bear down and deliver grace. And grace that chooses to bear the cross of suffering overcomes that suffering.}

As Ann observes and thinks about all of the suffering in the world and among those around her, she begins to see the “ugly-beautiful” {That which is perceived as ugly transfigures into beautiful. … The ugly can be beautiful. The dark can give birth to life; suffering can deliver grace.}

{What in the world, in all this world, is grace? I can say it certain now: All is grace. God is always good and I am always loved. Everything is eurachisteo. Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things – take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness. I have glimpsed it: This, the hard eucharisteo. the hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it to beauty. The hard discipline to give thanks for all things at all times because He is all good. The hard discipline to number the griefs as grace. All is grace only because all can transfigure.}

Wow. I had to quote that directly because that is the path I have been walking. The hard thanksgiving. The ugly beautiful.

Thank you Jesus.

Ann also talks a lot about how when you take on thankfulness, you are forsaking fear and anxiety. When you mentally name God’s graces in each moment / verbally give gratitude, stress and anger are overcome.

In a conversation with her son about how Jacob wrestled with God, Ann explains the significance of God touching Jacon on the sinew of his thigh. {And the doctor told him, ‘The sinew of the thigh is the strongest in the human body. A horse couldn’t even tear it apart. These are the words I have never forgotten, what the preacher said: ‘Ah, I see. The Lord has to break us down at the strongest part of our self-life before He can have His own way of blessing with us.}

I’ve written before about how I feel like this is what the Lord has done to me through the circumstances surrounding our decision to adopt…He had to break me down.

{Wrestle with God, beg to see the blessings…}

{If God didn’t withhold from us His very own Son, will God withhold anything we need? If trust must be earned, hasn’t god unequivocally earned our trust with the bark on raw wounds, the thorn pressed into the brow, your name on the cracked lips? How will He not also graciously give us all things He deems best and right? He’s already given the incomprehensible. Christ is our crossbeam. The counting of all blessings is ultimately summed up in One. All gratitude is ultimately gratitude for Christ.}

In this, Ann was talking about the ‘trust issues’ she has had with God…isn’t that what we’re all doing in our moments of stress and worry? How even in the hard times, when we want to ask “Where is God in this?”…what we are missing is the perspective of time….time to fully see that everything God gives us is good. {Trauma’s storm can mask the Christ and feelings can lie.}

Ann references Moses in Exodus 33:22-23, “When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back.” What she says next is just so amazing to think about…

{In the dark, the bridge and my world shakes, cracking dreams. But maybe this is true reality: It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can’t see and our world seems to be free falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is present in us, I-beam supporting in earthquake. The He will remove His hand. Then we will look. Then we look back and see His back.}

I read once, in another bible study, about a group of Christian men who had been taken captive and persecuted for their faith in God. Later, when they had been rescued and returned to their homes, several of the men talked about missing that place…that time in their lives. The missed it because they had so clearly felt the presence of God with them during their captivity…

I’ve felt this same way, though I’ve never voiced it because to many I just don’t think it would make sense. (And because I’m still working out in my mind how all of this weaves together…)

October was a dark month for me…the darkest I’ve known in this life. But, as it was, I have never so strongly and evidently seen and felt God at work at any other time in my life either. So to read Ann’s words…to connect them with what Moses experienced…to understand that when my world and plans were shaking and I couldn’t see through the darkness, it was because my God was passing by, working His glory into our situation & my life…that’s just incredible. And it explains why, when He opened my eyes and let me see, as He called me out of my mourning…I was left feeling a little let down.

It sounds crazy. But during that brief time of darkness, I felt closer to God than ever before. And in the days since, I haven’t felt like I’ve been able to recover that same level of closeness. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful that I don’t cry at the drop of a hat anymore, that I can function & think about things other than infertility and it’s consequences, that I have a hope & a future in the plans God has for me. It was good…right for me to come out of the darkness. Heaven is where I will get to bask in God’s glory indefinitely. But that taste I had…hard as it was…was sweet.

I guess that’s what Ann would call the hard eurachisteo.

In the final pages of Ann’s book, she explores why the fight for joy is always so hard and finds that it’s because we must be willing to die to self and tell God “They will be done.” {Joy is in the acquiescing.} Joy is fueled by God…and we can only be receptive to Him through a willingness to receive what He gives.

The good and what seems bad. The ugly beautiful.

God is grace in all.

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In the new year, I’m going to take the same challenge that Ann did….to look for one thousand blessings from God. To try and find Him in all.

Because He’s there.

Blessed am I.

Took the words out of my mouth.

I’ve read a couple of blog posts recently that I really connected with. I wanted to link up to them today for two reasons really…1) so that I can easily find them if I’d like to read them again, and 2) so that any of my friends or family who would like can read them as well to better understand what parts of this journey have been like for me.

One is from a fairly new blog called “The Not So Perfect Life of a Pastors Wife.” She’s written several things that really resonated with me, but when I read her post “The Night My Heart Died” I just about fell out of my chair. Infertility can feel so isolating at times (especially in the beginning) and to read her words and know how closely they represented my own experience felt pretty incredible. This particular post is about the night she and her husband made a decision not to pursue fertility treatments, and her realizations of  what that decision would mean for her as a woman. If you’d like more insight into what I felt and the grief I experienced, you can read about it through her words.

The other post is called “The Mourning in the Merry”…I wasn’t familiar with this blog until I saw the post via a friend’s facebook, but I thought the sentiment of her writing was really timely and beautiful. This Christmas season has had a different feel to me, and as I read this post I felt like it kind of summed a lot of my feelings up. Good read.

I’ve been doing lots of other reading…thoughts on those books coming soon. 🙂

Blessed am I.

 

Rest in the Joy

It’s been about 10 days since I last posted…Christmas has a way of keeping one busy. In my case, I’ve been busy in the very best kind of ways…spending time relaxing and laughing (and eating!) with our families. It’s been much needed, for sure.

As a child, the majority of our ‘Christmas gatherings’ were all on Christmas day. Morning with our little family unit, lunch with Dad’s side of the family, dinner with Mom’s side. Presents galore, too much food, lots of family and cousins running about. As we’ve grown up and added members to our family (first Chris, now Jessica) traditions are changing a bit…Christmas seems to be spreading out more.

This year we drove up to Chris’ parents on Christmas Eve and enjoyed a (rare) couple of days with just his parents. The dogs played like crazy (4 of them in all!) and we ate a sinful amount of food. 😉 Their family traditions consist of eating lots of junk-y food (although most of it is homemade and delicious!) and playing games together. A good time is had by all…except for the occasional pouting done by the losers of whichever game we’ve just played.

{Let’s put it this way…I didn’t do much pouting.}

We drove back home the day after Christmas, did a load of laundry, re-packed the bags, and drove in to my parents house on Friday. My first married Christmas away from home Mom started the new tradition of a fancy Christmas dinner, complete with fine china and linens, which we continue to do each year. Friday night we feasted, then had just this sweet, sweet time of exchanging/opening gifts. It was scaled back this year…Dad called it our “Wedding Bells & Diaper Pail” Christmas, but I thought it was perfect. It probably took us over an hour to open gifts; we just went one and a time and enjoyed the sentiment & story behind the gifts.

Saturday was glorious laziness, followed by family pictures {which turned out *amazing*} & wild board games, and today was our last family Christmas with my Mom’s side of the family. That’s a lot of celebrating!

I love that our families are both full of lots of love and laughter, and that we can enjoy just relaxing and having some downtime together. There was a little baby talk as we imagined what it will be like when we get to experience Christmas through the eyes of our baby {which we all agree will be a lot of fun!} and wondered if this time next year we’ll have a little one to spoil.

For me, I tried to just soak in the fun and joy of being together in this way. Just as we don’t always know when it will be our last Christmas with a loved one, we also don’t know when it will be our last Christmas “just like this,” before some new person (big or little!) joins the mix and changes the dynamic a bit.

I guess the best way to say it is that I  just don’t want to rush past the now to get to what’s coming. It’s a temptation I face. But the truth is that there’s a lot that’s good about today, right now. This is a time that Chris & I will never get back…once we become parents, we will always be parents. I want to enjoy what God has for me today.

So this Christmas, the lesson I learned {and what I enjoyed the most} was doing my darndest to be present…to observe & tuck away memories…to be thankful for the family God has given me…and to rest in the joy of those of I love.

It was a good Christmas.

Blessed am I.

Plan A…

This post has been sitting in my draft pile for a while now. It’s been a hard one to put into words…because the word choice is very, very important when it comes to this particular topic. At least it is to me.

When we were in the middle of our decision-making season, something that weighed really heavy on my heart & mind was “Plan A.” I *never* want my child(ren) to feel as though they weren’t my first choice…as though they were “Plan B.” I don’t want others to make that assumption about our choice to adopt, but I feel like it’s a danger since we have infertility issues.

My mom really helped me sort through everything I was thinking…and as we began to see how God has been weaving adoption into our story before we even became aware of what He was doing {Chris, as a child, wanted to adopt “a hundred special needs kids.” I haven’t met many little boys who have dreams like that?!}  I began to realize that it has always been His plan, we were just waiting on His timing for it to be revealed.

And that’s what matters.

Did Chris and I try to have biological children the natural, old-fashioned way first? Yes, although now I believe God was protecting our hearts through that process, because neither of us ever caught ‘baby fever’…and it was more like we were ‘not not‘ trying.

Could we have pursued infertility treatments? Yes…although our options were completely limited (medically speaking) to IVF. This was where it became important that we lay our own fears and wills down to see the path God had for us. When we decided to follow God’s call to pursue adoption, instead of IVF, we were again reaffirming adoption as His “Plan A” for us.

I believe that God has known from the beginning of time who our baby(ies) would be, and so the means through which He chooses to bless our lives with them will *always* be their (and our!) plan A…whether He does it through adoption or chooses to intervene physically / biologically.

So that’s what I’ll tell them one day…and that’s what I want others to understand in the meantime.

Blessed am I.

*I read a really great blog/post on this topic which gave me the clarity and courage to put my heart into words. Check it out here!

Be Born in Me.

This past Sunday we had our combined worship service / Christmas program. It was both a beautiful time of worship & focus on the joy of Christ as the reason for the season….and I felt so challenged by both the service and our Sunday School lesson to really let Christ ‘light me up’ with the peace & joy He gives.

There was one particular song which just took my breath away. {It also, to borrow words from a friend of mine, completely wrecked me.} I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, and spent most of my kid-free time at school today hitting replay so that I could hear it over and over.

It is just this stunning reminder of what God truly did for us by sending Jesus as a little baby…and what we do when we ask Jesus to “be born in us.”

And for me, with this lense through which I see life as of late, it spoke to me of adoption…of what I am praying for in regards to the way a baby is being born in my heart. It is so fitting to me…below are the lyrics and my brief thoughts & connections

Be Born in Me, by Francesca Battistelli

Everything inside me cries for order               {Um…yes!}
Everything inside me wants to hide                 {Been there…}
Is this shadow an angel or a warrior?

If God is pleased with me, why am I so terrified?   {I have faced fear as I consider the calling God has placed on our life…}
Someone tell me I am only dreaming                           {I felt this, especially in the beginning.}
Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes                {Oh, to see the big picture!}
And before my head agrees, my heart is on it’s knees    {This line captures my attention because that was me.}
Holy is He. Blessed am I.               {No matter what the circumstances are, this is truth!}

Be born in me, be born in me      {Christ has been born in me, and now a baby is being born in my heart…}
Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me      {Amen and Amen.}
I’ll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end  
Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem
Be born in me                                       {Oh that whole last part…that makes me think of our baby.}

All this time we’ve waited for the promise       {We are waiting on His promise to fulfill the work He has started…}
All this time You’ve waited for my arms            {One day…God knows when…there will be a baby waiting for my arms!}

Did You wrap yourself inside the unexpected          {I didn’t always expect my baby to not be biological…}
So we might know that Love would go that far?     {I’ve only experienced the beginning of the love Christ is teaching me…}

Be born in me, be born in me
Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me
I’ll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem
Be born in me

I am not brave
I’ll never be                                                {I certainly don’t feel brave apart from Christ!}
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy    {For both Christ, and a baby who needs my love…}
I’m just a girl
Nothing more                                          {The call to adopt is about HIM…}
But I am willing, I am Yours          {Not my will…I fight to give it up to Him every day it seems…}

Be born in me, be born in me
I’ll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem
Be born in me

All of that might not make sense to anyone but me. And that’s okay. All I know is that I love the way God is able to weave everything in my life together, and to bring it back to Him. That’s what is happening for me in this song. It’s my past acceptance of Christ and my future acceptance of a baby born in my heart instead of my womb…all colliding in a beautiful way.

He is Holy. Blessed am I.

To hear the song, click here. It’s beyond beautiful.

Happy Tears.

After hitting a little rough patch, God once again blew me away with the support and encouragement He pours out on us through those around me. I’m so thankful for that.

~ A coworker of mine who has adopted and knows about our hopes to adopt said she woke up one night in the middle of the night and couldn’t get us off of her mind, so she spent quite a bit of time praying for us.

~ A friend of mine from church (who I have not personally talked with about everything, but who has heard I guess) sent me & a friend of ours who also adopted the link to an uplifting video about adoption. http://www.faithit.com/couple-sees-son-first-time-reaction-is-beautiful/ Made me cry happy tears!

~ My mom’s best friend mailed us two tiny little baby blankets, one in pink and one in blue, to let us know that she has been thinking about and praying for us. It was so sweet of her to let us know that she is excited for us and trusting in God with us…and there is something so validating about having someone recognize and celebrate that we are working towards welcoming a baby into our family. 🙂  baby

~ Our crib arrived!! The box was HUGE, and so heavy. Chris and I unpacked each piece carefully & inspected every nook and cranny…it is absolutely beautiful! We lovingly wrapped it up and stored it away in a closet. It will be exciting when the day comes that we can pull it out and put it together, but for now it’s serving the perfect purpose of settling my spirit a little bit. I feel as though it’s another step towards that baby we’re dreaming of and praying for, and the planner in me is happy knowing that even though I can’t follow the normal timeline into preparing for a baby, I can tuck a few essentials away for the future. Thank you Momma & Daddy for the beautiful Christmas gift…we’ll cherish it for years to come with each baby that God places in our family!

~ My mom has known I’ve been feeling a little blue this Christmas season, and she’s been a big encourager to me. Turns out she was feeling a little down too, so on Friday she took half a day off of work & drove down to spend the night with me. She got to come to my work party & meet all of my coworkers (great to have faces for all the people she hears about in stories!), watched me clean up the crazy messy guest room, dreamed with me about how we could decorate a nursery, treated me to brunch, and ran around town with me doing a little holiday shopping. We aren’t just a mother/daughter duo, we are the best of friends…so sometimes we just need a little time with each other to make our worlds feel right again. She needed it, and I did too. I love love love her…she’s the best.

Sunday School & Church today was nourishing as well…but more on that tomorrow. 🙂

Through the good days AND bad…

Blessed am I.

TMI.

I hesitate to even post this…for several reasons. (Most of which tie back to it being too much information for some and a short lived emotion.)

But, since I’m documenting this journey, I figured why not be real.

One month ago, after a visit with my doctor on choices for managing my PCOS, I went back on birth control. It wasn’t my first choice…and I have been less than thrilled with having to do it. I don’t know that it will be a long term solution for me. But the most important thing was that I needed. the periods. to stop. Having multiple periods in a month (yes, you read that correctly) wasn’t doing much to help my already heightened emotional and mental state. And after dealing with crazy cycles for the entire year I had been off of the pill, I was over it.

So, I went back on…basically making our *highly* improbable chances of natural conception just-this-side-of-impossible.

Knowing this information didn’t stop Chris from throwing out the comment that maybe….just maybe….we would get pregnant the “easy way.” “Who knows?!” he said…”you could be pregnant right now!”

We both knew I wasn’t.

Oh denial…rearing it’s ugly head.

See, when I was having a bazillion periods, and they were coming all willy-nilly at totally unpredictable times, I prayed that they would stop. It came to a point where it wasn’t even about a baby. I just desperately wanted the periods to stop. (whereas a lot of women I’ve read about have been more desperate for a baby…)

This month…it was different.

For the first time, I was waiting on a period to come, and I knew exactly when it should be coming.

And so when it didn’t come right away…….I started to let my mind wonder “what if?”

“I do have one leftover pregnancy test…” I thought Monday evening. “If it doesn’t come by Wednesday morning (the day I’m supposed to start a new pack) I’ll go ahead and take the test. Even if we do end up pregnant, we’ll still adopt one day. God has called us to it, I’m sure.”

Tuesday morning dawned…and brought with it exactly what I should have been expecting. My period.

The letdown feeling of sadness and frustration, although short-lived, was both unexpected and maddening…and new for me. I knew what was inevitable…I have peace about our choice to pursue adoption…and I was mad that I would even set myself up for such heart ache.

I’ve read about denial being one of the stages of grief…and it’s one in which I didn’t spend a whole lot of time.

Guess I went back for a little visit. :/

But, in the end, I did what had to be done. Swished back a couple of naproxyns, put on my big girl panties (figuratively, of course), and went on with it. I pray I won’t let that happen to me again though…at least in that particular way.

I know that God CAN do the impossible. I want to have faith in that characteristic of His nature. But as I’ve seen God reveal His will for us, it has been moving us away from a pregnancy and toward an adoption. It’s the balance of acknowledging His power to do the seemingly impossible (pregnancy) and trusting/joining Him in the call to step out in faith (adoption)…all at the same time…that is a bit hard to navigate at times.

Such is life. But we’re getting there.

Blessed am I.

Choosing the See.

One of my sweet friends (who is also in the process of waiting on God to adopt) let me borrow a book that really touched her heart…the story of Mary Beth Chapman, her family, the 3 girls they adopted from China, and the tragic death of one of her daughters at just 5 years old. The book is called “Choosing the See.”

I didn’t read the book with a pen & paper in hand, as I often do when I read really good, truth-applying books. But here’s the general gist of what spoke to me.

~ Mary Beth struggled with perfectionism, and with her need to make a plan…then have everyone and everything follow her plan. {Um…yes.} But over the course of her adult life, God continued to turn her plans upside down. To place her in uncomfortable situations. To ask her to do things that she never imagined she would do. To walk down paths of incredible pain and despair. But He didn’t leave her to face these situations alone. With His plans always came preparation…He always paved the way…He placed praying people of faith around her to support her…He revealed Himself to her in the most incredible, and also the most simple and sweet, ways…and He was always there with her.

I’m in no way comparing our losses with infertility to her loss of a living child, but I was encouraged that her God is my God. That what He did for her He also does for me. To see someone who has walked through the fire and is emerging on the other side…that is so powerful.

Equally encouraging to me was to hear her stories of adoption. Three different girls, three very different stories…but, of course, my favorite part was reading of the absolute, immediate, and overwhelming love that they had for these 3 little babies God had planned for their family through adoption. I love reading that, because it addresses fears that Chris & I have faced/continue to face (though not nearly as often) about loving a baby that is not biologically ours.

~ Somewhere in the book (obviously I’m not quoting this exactly because I don’t remember exactly where it even was) Mary Beth was talking about their family came together after the death of their daughter to rally around her youngest son, who had been the one to accidently run over the little girl. She said something to the effect of “she wouldn’t have ever wished that or written it as a chapter in his story.”

That particular line pierced my heart and really got me thinking…because infertility and the choice against IVF (and ultimately biological children) was never one of the chapters I was planning on for Chris and I. And although adoption might have been a chapter I would have written in {we’d certainly talked about it in the past, and knew of several families who had made that choice whom we admired} I fear that the financial burden it requires would have kept us from pursuing it, had we been able to have children the old-fashioned way.

But, praise God, He can see the bigger picture of our lives…of the plans He has for us. And because His sovereignty , He allows chapters into our lives that give us opportunities to point back at Him, to become more like Him.

I mean, let’s be honest. Given the choice, we wouldn’t choose “hard.” We wouldn’t grow, we wouldn’t glorify God…in fact, we would probably be hard pressed to even see our need for Him.

So although infertility, or Chris’ wreck, or any of the other hardships we’ve faced, wouldn’t have been what I would have chosen for myself, I am learning to be thankful for the way God works good through all of those tough chapters.

Without Him, the story would be pretty hopeless.

{One other thought on this…adoption is born out of loss. I *hate* that my baby(ies) will have such a tragic chapter of loss in their own story. But I choose to believe that God will redeem that chapter, and I am so humbled at the chance to be able to play a part in the bigger story of their lives.}

~ “We can do hard.” Mary Beth spoke several times throughout the story about the realization that she, along with her family, by the grace of Jesus Christ, can “do hard.”

It made me smile to read that, because it reminded me of what my Dad has told me over the years…and what he told me the night of our “big talk.” He told me that it’s okay to cry, to be angry, to have a fit, to eat some marshmallows (ha!)…but just as there’s a time to do those things, there are also times when I need to be tough. To be strong. To bow up and take care of what needs to be done.

In other words, to ‘do hard.’

I think it’s true to say that you don’t know how you could/would handle hardship until you are knee deep in it. But overall, I feel like I can say that Chris & I are coming out stronger on the other side…both as individuals and as a couple. We are doing hard…and instead of crumbling, we are strengthening.

Only God can make that happen.

~ The book is called “Choosing to See,” which is in response to a revelation God gave the Chapman family after the death of their little girl. For them, it means choosing to see the bigger picture, to see God at work, to try and see through their own personal pain and into the truths of God that are at work.

It’s a good reminder.

I pray that as we continue to walk through this season of waiting until our orientation, we would choose to see what God is doing around us and in us.

Blessed am I.

JOY

Today I have another day off of school…which means just over 4 days of being “iced in” thanks to this winter storm. Yesterday I was feeling kind of guilty over how non-productive this little break has been, but as I texted with my friends who have little ones at home I realized that I should probably enjoy this quiet, nap-whenever-I-want season of life. 🙂

Today I’m finishing up a really great book that a friend of my mom’s lent me, doing some of the infant care course work that the agency requested, and *maybe* doing a little work cleaning out the guest closet. As I sat down to get started on my work, I checked my e-mail and decided to try to ‘unsubscribe’ from some of the bazillion e-mails I get everyday. For that reason, I opened a few that I haven’t taken the time to read in quite a while…and I’m glad I did.

This is what was waiting for me.

Unveiled Wife                                    

Prayer Of The Day – Fruit Of The Womb

For Dec 09, 2013 02:28 amDear Heavenly Father,I really feel led to pray a specific prayer for married couples who desire children, but for some reason have not been able to conceive.  You know the very reason of why these couples have not had children and you have insight into how this has affected their hearts and their marriage.  So I just lift them up to you today.  I pray that you would comfort them and speak softly to them, encouraging them in how to feel about this specific area of life.  May your Holy Spirit anoint them and give them understanding.  I pray your will is done in their lives.  Perhaps some will never have children, some you will open their wombs at the perfect time, while some will adopt or foster.  Whatever happens from this point in their lives I pray for complete joy, your joy to fill their hearts in Jesus name AMEN!

In a lot of ways, I’ve been feeling better & stronger than I was when I was really in the midst of my deep pain and struggle. Now it seems as though I’m struggling with feeling a bit melancholy. Usually Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year…I love to cram as many Christmas-y experiences in as I can and spread cheer to all of those that I know and love. But this year…I just feel kind of blah. I don’t think I’m depressed, I just don’t quiet feel myself.

So when I read this e-mail, and as I began to type this post, it became clear to me that what I’m missing right now is that ‘complete joy.’ I want to laugh and have the smile reach my eyes; I want to not feel so tired and ho-hum. I want to soak in every moment of this time in our marriage when it’s just Chris & I…giving us the time & attention we deserve, not just being wistful about what the future may or may not bring. I want to fully feel…I guess maybe the best way to put it is that I’ve felt a little numb lately. (Perhaps after struggling through such an intense time of feeling my body & mind need a rest…I don’t know…but her words helped me recognize my desire for the happiness that comes from the joy of Christ to bubble up in me again.)

I pray that this Christmas especially, I would be reminded that joy came into the world in the form of a precious little baby…and because of that, I can rest and rejoice in the joy & peace He gives me.

Blessed am I.

P.S. – Obviously I’m not going to be unsubscribing from this particular blog…check her out at http://unveiledwife.com/

Playlist.

I have always loved music, and always loved to sing…so it’s no wonder God has been ministering to me most consistently through music over the last several months. I’ve drawn strength, found words for things I couldn’t express, mourned with, sang at the top of my lungs in the car, whispered the words when I was in pain, and cried my way through plenty of songs lately. (*Seriously…during the month of October I think I bawled through every worship service at church…I’m sure people thought I was dying or something!)

For a long while now I’ve been wanting to write down all of the songs that have spoken to me…but by this point there are too many. So I’ll list the ones I can think of, and maybe I’ll remember to come back later and add to the list as I’m reminded of new songs.

Oceans by Hillsong United

Blessed Be Your Name by Tree63

Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns

Blessings by Laura Story

Broken Hallelujah by The Afters

Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns

Stronger by Mandisa

Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North

The Struggle by Tenth Avenue North

Help Me Find It by Sidewalk Prophets

Get Back Up by TobyMac

All Things Possible by Mark Schultz

Word of God Speak by Mercy Me

Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns

I Can Just Be Me by Laura Story

Lead Me to the Cross by Chris and Conrad

Pretty much everything by Love and the Outcome

Oh gosh, plus about a hundred more. I listen to Pandora a lot and song after song just speaks to me, puts salve on this hurting heart.

I’m so thankful for the gift of music.

Blessed am I.