What are you up to God…

Hum.

Well, it’s been a few days since I posted last. I’m a year older now {the big 2-9…ha!} and a little wiser perhaps from a teaching conference I spent a couple of days at in San Antonio.

I’m calling tomorrow to just confirm that everything is for sure on with our agency orientation in a couple of weeks…we are looking forward to learning more and having a more concrete “stepping stone” to this calling God has placed on our lives.

And so while that is drawing near, it would seem as though God may be opening another door…down a slightly different path. Still adoption, still through an agency.

But definitely different.

I’m trying to err on the side of caution right now…which is what keeps me from even allowing my fingers to type it out. My heart & soul & head & entire being are back to calling out…back to asking “Just what are you up to here God?”

So we’ll see. We’re praying that He’ll clearly open and shut doors…that He’ll settle a peace deep into our bones about the path He has…that He would confirm our next step.

A burning bush would be nice.

I’m just sayin’.

Blessed am I.

Trusting.

Just a quick thought tonight…something God keeps bringing to my mind.

God can fill in the gaps.

I can’t ensure that my baby will get the proper pre-natal care…but God can fill in the gaps.

I can’t ensure that our adoption process will be smooth sailing…but God can fill in the gaps.

I can’t ensure that our child won’t one day struggle with being adopted…but God can fill in the gaps.

Whatever it is…infertility struggles…adoption struggles…baby struggles…life struggles…God can fill in the gaps.

If he so chooses.

And, if He doesn’t, it just means He has something else in mind.

All that leaves me to do is to pray & to trust…that He will fill in the gaps.

Blessed am I.

Out of Control.

Those would be the 3 best words to describe what my life feels like right now.

*Sigh*

It was a hard day (…week…month…six weeks…semester…year) at work.

This group of kids…this spunky, playful, wonderful & adorable by themselves and somehow spine-shivering when all together group of kids. I love them.

But I feel like they are trying to kill me.

:/

They have stretched me professionally…and not always in the fun way. I feel like a rubber band that is rigggggght on the edge of snapping apart & flying across the room.

They challenge me…daily. We literally have conversation multiple times a day about who the boss is {IT’S ME! ME I TELL YOU!}…about their brain telling their body how and when to move…about believing that I mean what I say, and that I will follow through.

It’s exhausting.

They are my “simmering pot”…just looking for an opportunity to boil over.

And it would seem as though they’ve had several opportunities lately to do just that, with the necessity of subs being in my room. Not a problem that’s going away between an upcoming workshop and orientation.

:/

So today, as I find myself doing so often these days, I was reflecting on the role I play in this situation. On what I could do differently. Of how what’s going on with ‘me’ is affecting ‘us.’ And in doing so, I just realized that I’m really just feeling like so much of my life is just out of control…out of my control…right now.

At work it’s these kids who, after 85 days of kindergarten, are still testing and pushing me. I struggle every.single.day. to get those darlings in control. {And I’m a good teacher. I really am.}

It’s the unknowns and the talks of what-might-be for next school year which have started popping up lately and have the potential to very much affect me…yet are not within my control.

Then, of course, there is our hope to adopt. I’m still pretty new at this thing, but if I understand anything it’s that a lot of the circumstances {and timeline} surrounding an adoption are OUT OF YOUR CONTROL. I don’t like it, but I really feel like God has been helping me to handle my anxiety  in this area. He’s been faithful to work on the heart of this girl who likes for things to follow my plans, in my time.

All of it at once though…

It’s a lot.

I feel like I could handle this out-of-control-ness either personally or professionally…but both is wearing me down.

:/

So self. Game plan.

At School: Let go of the unknowns for next year. God knows where you’ll be next year. What room, what grade level…what school, what profession. {Ha! I mostly threw those last two in for a giggle.} Don’t add to your plate by thinking about what’s to come.

With Your Students: Reminder. You can’t control everything. Focus in on what you can control…desk arrangement, schedule, work load, etc…and make adjustments to those until you see positive changes for the kids. Focus in on what you can release…on what you can ask for help on…on which battles aren’t worth fighting. Release yourself {gasp} from some of the expectations you generally hold your classroom too…until your kids show they have the self-control to handle some of the things you’d like them to get to do. Pray, pray, pray…and remember that it is not your job to raise these kids.

With Adoption: Press onward. God is with you. It’s out of your control because it’s IN God’s control. Run the race at His pace. He knows when that finish line is…the one with the baby that He has for you to raise. Pray & watch for each step He’d have you to take, trust the wisdom of those He has to lead you through the process.

Whew.

Today it is really mostly about work. But if I’m honest, given much thought, it could teeter to the adoption side pretty easily.

Tomorrow is a new day though…thank you for that Jesus.

Blessed am I.

It will be okay if I never get pregnant.

I’ve been joking about this post for a while now, and I decided today was the perfect day to write it. After a *late* morning of sleeping in, I woke up to discover that I felt nauseous. *ugh* I’ve spent the rest of the day sleeping, drinking ginger ale, and walking that fine line between trying not to throw up and wishing I could just go ahead and get it over with.

So without further adieu, here is my list of reasons why it will be okay if I never get pregnant

#1 – My feet won’t grow anymore.

This is on the top of the list for a reason. When my mom was pregnant, her feet grew half a size with both me and my brother. I’ve heard that this happens pretty regularly to women.

The problem is that I already wear a size 11. It’s already pretty difficult for me to find shoes to wear.

Can you imagine if my feet grew more?!

*shiver*

#2 – No morning sickness.

Today’s nausea was a good reminder of why I won’t miss this part of pregnancy. My mom was *super* sick with me…it’s not to say that I would experience that as well, but it is a possibility.

I won’t be sad if I miss out on that.

#3 – No stretch mark battles…well, as the result of pregnancy anyway.

Chris added this one to the list after seeing a cocoa butter lotion commercial. For some reason pregnant bellies freak him out.

#4 – Minimal poking and prodding in my lady parts.

This is a benefit of both no pregnancy and no fertility treatments. Going to the gyno is never a pleasant experience, so I can safely say that eliminating the need for excessive time spent down there is a good thing.

#5 – I don’t have to give anything up.

I can keep eating all the raw cookie dough & drinking all of the dr.pepper & coffee that I want…in addition to all the other things pregnant women are warned about staying away from. I know myself, and I know that I probably wouldn’t be able to be calm about that part of pregnancy.

{*Not to say that I should guzzle DP or eat raw cookie dough everyday…but if I wanna, I can.}

That’s all for tonight. Let’s go ahead and put it out there that this is a working list, so I’m sure I’ll be adding to it. 🙂

Blessed am I.

Change me Lord.

Once a group of my girls from church got together to pray for our husbands. It was a legit thing…done in a spirit of love & understanding that our husband’s were facing some pretty big battles personally, culturally, in their work environments, etc. {Not done to air out all of our dirty laundry & ‘girl-can-you-believe-what-he-did’ snaps.} We prayed silently for almost an hour, using prayer prompts to guide us along the way. It was a really sweet, sweet time.

When we were finished, and kind of debriefing over some type of tasty dessert {hello, we are girls after all} there was one thing that kept coming up over and over.

We thought we were there to pray for and lift up our husbands. But that God of ours…He kept turning our prayers back to ourselves.

I’d start out praying for Chris to feel more fulfilled in his work and end up praying that God would give me the discipline to regularly recognize and thank him for sacrificing doing a job that isn’t always his fav so that he can support our family.

I’d start out praying that Chris would be able to release some of his struggles surrounding the wreck he was in as a teenager and end up praying that I would be more empathetic to him in his moments of pain, because he didn’t always feel that from me.

What we realized is that all of those things we want for our husbands…we play a big role in giving those to them (or protecting them from others) by our own actions and words. We realized that while we should pray for our husbands, we should also pray for ourselves as we live out our day to day role of being their wives.

Make me more like you Lord, so that I can be the type of wife you call me to be in Your Word.

And so I kind of had a full circle moment last night when, as I prayed for our baby, my prayers began to follow that familiar path…and I ended up praying for myself as a mother.

Since I won’t be the one to carry my baby, I must admit that I do battle some fears over what type of things the baby will be exposed to in the womb & what type of pre-natal care he/she will receive. I was praying along those lines (which I don’t believe is wrong to do, and I will continue to do for sure…) & praying for the baby into childhood and teen years when it hit me that I was praying with a heart that was hoping for perfection. For no struggle. For God to spare us and our child of more pain and let everyday be a happy day.

But that’s not to be found in this world.

Even if our baby is born & is completely healthy (God willing!), he/she will face struggles. Health issues pop up. Emotional issues pop up. Learning issue pop up. Adopted or biological…it matters not. We are human…and we are not perfect.

The “American church,” myself included, has a tendency to pray (almost above all else) to be comfortable above all else. We don’t want to face strife…and we’re certainly not going to ask for it. But, as I’ve recently been reminded with this new adventure, God shines in the midst of strife. Jesus’s life wasn’t safe or comfortable…and He’s our model of Christian living.

So there came a point in my prayer when I had to say “Lord, I really want my baby to be healthy…I want him/her to have the best start in life with proper nourishment & the chance to develop without harmful substances introduced into his/her system. I know that you could protect our baby from harm if you chose to, that you could provide everything he/she needs even if the birthmom doesn’t. But I also recognize Lord that…you might not. That at some point you will allow adversity into his/her life…and ours…whether as a baby or further down the road as a child or teenager or adult. There’s a big part of me that doesn’t like that God. But I know that you are good & that I can trust you. Your will Lord.”

Once I followed that thought all the way through…submitted myself again to God {whew…you’d think I’d have gotten the memo by now right?}…it was then that He turned my prayers back to myself.

Because the thing is, I don’t know what specific struggles my child will face.

But God does.

God knows who our baby will be. He knows exactly what struggles he/she will face…He knows the things He will allow in His grace to draw our child closer to Him.

And God can do a work in me…He can prepare me and give me a heart for our child’s specific needs & struggles.

So while I will continue to pray for a healthy pregnancy and baby,  and as I continue to submit myself to God’s will and plan, I will be praying that God would begin to prepare Chris & I to be the parents He would have us to be…that our baby will need.

Make me more like you Lord, so that I can be the type of momma you call me to be in Your Word.

You are good Lord.

Blessed am I.

Picking Names.

This year {or actually…last year I guess} Chris & I decided not to buy gifts for Christmas. For anyone. It was no easy feat for a girl who loves to give presents, but we did enjoy the savings we were able to sock away & definitely had less stress to deal with.

Buuuut I really wanted to give our immediate families a “gift from the heart”…something special to help them connect with our adoption process in a more personal way. I wanted to give them our *hopeful* baby names.

Somewhere toward the beginning of our journey, I had read {from several different sources} of people choosing baby names before they had children so that they could pray over the child in a more specific way. It struck my heart as something I would like to do, and I felt God confirming it as I messaged with an old friend who had done the same thing & talked about my idea with Chris.

{The preface here is that we know there are a lot of variables involved…and that there is a possibility we won’t get to keep these names. I’ve joked that we’ll get to our orientation at the agency & they’ll say something about not ‘buying a crib or picking names’… in which case Chris & I will just have to shrug & wink at each other. So needless to say, we’re holding onto the names loosely…}

Choosing the names themselves ended up being almost comical…Chris & I can come from two different planets sometimes, and baby names were no exception. I feel like I read at least a thousand names…and there just weren’t many we could agree on wanting. At one point Chris was looking up Viking names…I mean, come on.

We found a boy name that we both agreed on, so we decided to sit on it for a few days & feel it out. During that time Chris thought of a different name that he liked more. A good, solid biblical name. As I thought about the new name, I could see parallels between it and what God is calling us to do, so I liked that added layer of meaning.

But as Christmas drew closer, we were still stuck on a girl name. One day I came across one that had appeared on lists many times before…we might have even talked about it at one point…but I decided to throw it out again just for kicks. When I suggested it to Chris, he immediately said “Oh yeah, I like that. I could call her _____.” I had been waiting for him to really connect with a girl name, so that seemed like a good sign. I went and did a little more research on the name, and when I saw it’s meaning it sealed the deal for me.

So it was settled.

I made little photo prayer albums with the boy name on one cover and the girl name on the other {typed in really cute fonts, which made the names even more adorable!}, and filled the pages inside with prayer starters for different aspects of the adoption. We wrapped them up in sweet little boxes & excitedly packed them in the car to deliver on our Christmas trips.

Chris was so cute when we gave them to our families…he was so excited for everyone to open them up & see the names we had chosen. It was a special time to see everyone’s reactions…a few little sniffles, lots of smiles & hugs…repeating the names…watching as each person connected in a new way with this experience. We loved it.

My dad always says that to test a name, especially a boy name, you’ve got to go to the baseball field and shout it out…see how it feels. We didn’t go to the field, but we did test it out…and it definitely works. 😉

{Another really sweet moment was when my Dad thought of the same girl nickname that Chris had thought of…they do share a brain wavelength every once in a while! Hehe…}

We’re not sharing the names with anyone else right now…just praying over them & dreaming a little. Giving them for Christmas gave us sweet memories that I’ll always cherish…{and at least now we won’t have to rush into picking a name once we’ve got a sweet little one in our arms!}

Blessed am I.

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After Christmas, I read these quotes in “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. I thought they were pretty spot on, and helped me understand part of why I felt a desire to choose names at this point in the process…

{Naming is Edenic. I name gifts and go back to the Garden and God in the beginning who first speaks a name and lets what is come into existence. This naming is how the first emptiness of space fills: the naming of light and land and sky. The first man’s first task is to name. Adam completes creation with his Maker through the act of naming creatures, releasing the land from chaos, from the teeming, indefinable mass. I am seeing it too, in the journal, in the face of the Farmer: naming offers the gift of recognition.}

{Now, in the Bible a name … reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God’s gift … To name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in  it.  ~ Alexander Schmemann}

What to do.

To add a little to yesterday’s post, I want to write/remember a few of the things that my friends & family have done that are the RIGHT things to do in response to infertility & adoption. {Well, things that have been right for me, I guess I should say.}

*Educate yourself on what the couple is going through… When I was struggling through a hard period of grief, my mom did a little reading on her own about infertility grief. Even though she’s never been through it personally, she was able to validate my experience and encourage me to allow myself to go through the process. Since mom was my main sounding board as I worked through everything, the “research” she did on her own {both in reading & talking to a friend of hers who has been in my shoes before} was really invaluable to helping me sort through everything.

Recently a friend of mine told me how she had done some research on what to say/not to say to couples in our situation. She knows how painful parts of this process have been, and she wants to make sure she doesn’t say or do something that will add to our hurt. When she told me this, I thought it was just the sweetest thing…and it really communicated how much she truly cares for me.

*Listen… This is a big one. A lot of people don’t quite know what to say in response to infertility, and many have limited knowledge of adoption…so when they feel as though they need to say something, it usually ends up being something cliché, hurtful, or ignorant. It’s not that their heart isn’t in the right place…not that at all.

I have felt most encouraged by our friends who have said “I’m sorry girl. I don’t know what to say except I love you, I’m praying for you, and I’m here for you.”

*Ask the right questions… In general, tread lightly when asking questions. With both infertility and adoption, the couple’s privacy is compromised over and over with doctors appointments, home study questions, etc. Unless you are very close to the couple {and they have opened this door to you in the past} don’t ask a lot of specific questions about treatments they are doing, costs of the adoption, etc. You wouldn’t ask intimate “sex questions” of a couple who was trying to have a baby the old-fashioned way. :/

Also, don’t has questions casually. Infertility questions are not appropriate for small talk. What you may only have a passing interest in at that moment could be ripping a scab off of a painful wound for the person/couple you are talking to.

When it comes to adoption, all questions should be asked through the filter of what is respectful to the child. Asking a lot of hushed “questions” about the birth family are like someone casually asking you to disclose all of your private family drama.

The questions that I have appreciated most are those that check on Chris & I, ask for prayer requests, help the asker understand the process or clear up adoption misconceptions, and checked in to see how the process is going {with the purpose of encouraging us and letting us know that we are in their thoughts.}

*Share… Kind of a two-fold point here. If you have faced infertility, or been a participant in the adoption process, your thoughts and experiences can be incredibly helpful to others. Chris and I, along with our families, have been amazed by how many people we interact with on a daily basis who kind of “came out of the woodwork” and shared their stories with us. I can’t explain how helpful it is to have people walk alongside us, offering encouragement & wisdom.

Even if you haven’t had personal experience with infertility or adoption, many people “know of someone” who has. Sometimes the stories are good, sometimes they are nothing short of horror stories. A good rule of thumb is…don’t share the horror stories! Chris and I struggle with battling fear & anxiety as it is…your horror story of your best friend’s uncle’s wife’s sister-in-law is just not helpful. On the flip side, I received an e-mail just this week from a friend of mine with an excerpt from an adoption blog she’s reading that was beautiful and encouraging. It gave me a new perspective and I appreciated her sharing it with me.

{Special note here…when a couple shares part of their story with you, remember that they are sharing it with YOU…and that it’s not your business or job to go around telling others specific details. I was never super hush-hush about any of our stuff, and didn’t tell the circle of people we were talking to not make our infertility struggles a part of their random conversations with others…but it did happen a few times. Once at church a new friend came up to me and started asking hushed questions about a doctor’s appointment I had been to earlier that week. She and I had *never* talked about any of this before, and I have no idea how she knew specifics as to what we were going through. It didn’t make me super angry, but it did weird me out to know that conversations had been going on about something that is incredibly personal to me.}

*Mourn with… An interesting aspect of infertility loss is that you are mourning a death…and yet it’s not the type of death that is recognized by most people around you. No one brings casseroles, flowers aren’t sent. You have to keep getting up and going to work, and when you just aren’t yourself most people can’t understand why.

That’s why it was so meaningful, so validating, when family/friends were willing to enter into our mourning with us. I had a friend who just cried with me one day, my parents drove up to acknowledge our loss & hug us & weep with us, other friends brought me chocolate and flowers before our final appointment at the fertility specialist.

{Another friend came by privately to tell us that she was expecting again, and brought with her chocolate and Kleenex. It was a sweet gesture to show that while she knew her news was happy and that we were happy for her, she also knew that it would be a hard reminder for us of what we had lost. I don’t expect people to keep doing this for me for the rest of my life, but she knew we were in the middle of our grief and we needed to be able to absorb the news privately.}

*Celebrate with… When we accepted God’s call to adopt, it was fun a fun surprise to see the ways our friends & family celebrated with us. There were squeals, hugs, congratulations; I received a card or two to encourage me…my parents sent flowers when we sent off our pre-application to the agency. Those in our “circle” have truly embraced this process wholeheartedly & recognize it as our “pregnancy.” My sister-in-law to be promised to be the person I can ‘dream big’ with…when we talk about everything we act like our baby could be coming tomorrow. She celebrates with me by giving me the chance to put caution and reason aside & just giggle…that’s why she was the first one to know when I bought that giant teddy bear. 😉

One of my dear friends from church offered (from the moment we told her we were moving forward with adoption) to throw us a little party once we mail off our big application. She knows how much I love a party & that I would have loved to have been able to do a gender reveal…so she wanted me to be able to have something special to celebrate the adoption process. It’s definitely something I’m looking forward to!

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There have been other things people have done to support us…let me borrow books, sent me encouraging videos, those sweet little baby blankets that came in the mail from my mom’s best friend, my parents buying us a crib for Christmas. I’m just so thankful for each act of kindness…for the love of Christ that has been shown to Chris & I through our friends and family.

Blessed am I.

Getting in on it.

For Christmas I gave both of our parents an e-book called “In On It” by Elisabeth O’Toole…it was written as a tool for families & friends of those who are adopting. In the book, Elisabeth provides a lot of helpful information & insight, plus advice on how to best support and speak for (and to!) the family during the time leading up to the adoption and for years beyond. It was a great read, quick & easy, and definitely something I would recommend to adopting families.

So with that said…more notes today. Lots of good reading happening…I want to remember all of the highlights!

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In on it: What adoptive parents would like you to know about adoption by Elisabeth O’Toole

*In adoption, in order to gain – a child, a family, a parent – there must first be a loss. It is a fundamental part of any adoption, and it complicates and deepens the experience of becoming a family in a way that may differentiate adoptive families from other families.

*This aspect of adoption is particularly challenging for those who are used to being able to rely on their own abilities or hard work to make things happen as they wish. I’m one of those people. As my husband and I waited on our first child … I tapped into my tackler’s approach to obstacles and diligently sete about completing all of the steps necessary to adopt. But I  have to admit I found myself more than a little exasperated when a particular young and … irresponsible pop star got pregnant – twice! – while we parenting-manual-reading, thirty-something, rule-followers waited (and waited) for a child. I was doing everything right and still couldn’t control this aspect of my life. I thought I was annoyed with her, but I was really annoyed with myself and my limitations (and annoyed that I was annoyed.)

*Adoption is bittersweet. Though ideally adoption comes as a result of the birthmother making a loving choice for the child, adoptive parents often feel guilty about wanting a child at what can be perceived of as a cost to someone else. Many adoptive parents struggle intensely with the idea that they are benefiting from someone else’s loss. The often find themselves balancing their own excitement and anticipation with the concurrent awareness that someone else may be having one of the most challenging and difficult experiences of her life.

*There’s not always a clear and final endpoint to mourning a loss. This potential recurrence of grief is sometimes referred to as cyclical grieving or the grief loop, and might be experienced over time by anyone who’s had adoption related loss.

*What they do know is they’re waiting for their life to abruptly and completely change … at some point.

*Adoptive parents learn that to simply love their children who are of a race other than their own – and they will profoundly – does not fulfill their obligations to the child. Indeed they have an added responsibility to try to prepare their children for a world that will sometimes treat them in ways that are race-based, an experience that may be unfamiliar to the parents. This reality can be challenging for Caucasian parents, who have typically lived as part of a majority culture, to identify and understand on behalf of their children.

*Adoptive parents struggle with the public/private nature of adoption all the time. … The precarious task for adoptive parents is to be open enough about adoption that their children don’t see adoption as a secret or as something to be ashamed of, while at the same time taking care not to compromise the right to privacy of everyone involved. … Adoptive parents need to actively think through what information is “in-house,” and what information is for public consumption. … I suggest that new adoptive parents – including those still in the adoption process – develop for themselves what I call a Privacy Plan … and have a plan for responding to inappropriate questions.

*When adoptive parents are immersed in the newness and stress of the adoption process (to be followed by the general upheaval of life as a parent), they may find they’re just more willing to be annoyed than they are to perform the role of adoption educator – fair or not.

*I know I was far more sensitive to the words of others when I was still getting comfortable with adoption myself. And like anyone else, adoptive parents don’t always know quite where their boundaries lie around this new aspect of their lives – not until the first unfortunate person steps over them (at which point they become quite clear). So while adoptive parents may have some responsibility for explaining and guiding, they’re not always able to do so.

*Many, many adoptive parents with whom I’ve talked about adoption – especially those who first considered adoption following infertility – cited this first comment as the worst thing people said when they told others they were adopting. These parents advice that no matter how much personal or anecdotal evidence you have, no matter how well-intentioned you are or how much you think it’s what the parents want to hear, please don’t tell someone that as soon as they adopt, they will get pregnant.

{My emphasis added!}

*Remember: adoption is not a strategy for attaining a biological child. When someone announces that they’re adopting, they’re announcing the coming arrival of their child; their adoptive child. For adoptive parents, a biological child is not the focus for them by this point. … Others may mean it as a positive thing, but please understand that to promote a pregnancy now is dismissive, if not downright disrespectful, of the coming adoptive child, as well as of the great effort and consideration that went into the adoption decision.

*Adoptive children may be confused and even offended by being told that they are “lucky” that they were adopted. … It dismisses their own essential contributions to the family. … “They’re so lucky” can end up sounding to a child’s ears like “you should be grateful.” We don’t want to put that burden on kids.

*In general, to refer to someone’s adoption or adoptive status is almost always unnecessary. … Thus, it is respectful to refer to your loved one’s child…without using “adoptive” as a qualifier.

*When you’re called upon to discuss a child and his adoption, it’s important to think of the child as your real audience. After all, you are really speaking on the child’s behalf. … Consider your answers with two goals in mind: To protect the child’s privacy and integrity, and his right to a sense of normalcy. To reinforce the child’s adoption and background as positive and permanent things for the child and family.

*Just because someone asks you a question does not mean you have to answer it.

*Yes, adoption is critical to them. It’s a wonderful, important, fundamental part of them; but the adoptive part is secondary to family. … They are just another family. both ordinary and extraordinary.

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I have a few ideas of my own to add…perhaps tomorrow. 🙂

Blessed am I.

Book Notes.

A friend of my Mom’s loaned us a couple of books that are near & dear to her heart. (Thanks Mrs. A! It was so good to meet you!) One was a well-worn, much loved copy of “And With the Gift Came Laughter” by Ann Kiemel Anderson. I didn’t read it with a pen in hand, but I could definitely see why it would have touched her heart in such a special way.

The other was a book called “Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, and Adoption Loss” by Jennifer Saake. Following are {direct quotes} from the book that spoke to me….notes I’d like to remember.

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{Your fertility challenges hurt this much because you already have a mother’s heart and are grieving for your children. God knows this grief personally. He has gone to greater measures to make you His child than you will ever go in the pursuit of growing your own family.}

{For God so longed to call me His child, that He offered the life of His only biological Son to pay the price of my adoption. ~paraphrase of John 3:16}

{Our challenge, like that of the oyster with that irritating speck of sand which will eventually turn into a beautiful pearl, is to take the things that “get under our skin” and use them to God’s glory. There are some things I can change, while for others I must seek the Lord’s wisdom to endure my circumstances with grace.}

{Knowing that God is in control doesn’t always keep the pain at bay. As you find yourself in uncomfortable places or conversations, ask God to give you the grace to survive the moment, along with an understanding heart to hear the intended meaning behind your friend’s words. Ask the Lord to prepare you heart, even now, for ways to help your loved ones understand your needs. Prayerfully consider what you would like others to know about your grief.}

{In the struggle to “have a family” it can be so easy to forget that as husband and wife we already are a family.}

{The authoritative source that answers all questions (about fertility treatments vs adoption vs remaining childless) is the Word of God. But even though we’re all reading the same Bible, Christians often reach significantly different opinion about acceptable options. I believe this can be attributed, at least in part, to the Holy Spirit’s unique leading in each family. “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) While there are some “black and white” scriptural constants, I must remember that the convictions God lays on my heart in “gray” areas, may or may not be applicable to others. Just as I don’t won’t you to judge the choices I make with a clear conscience before the Lord, I cannot fault you for the paths He chooses for you, even when I would not personally have peace in the same decisions. It all goes back to each person’s need to listen for that still, small voice whispering to our hearts, “This is the way, walk in it.” Then we must walk where He directs, not run in our own direction ahead of His will or stubbornly dig in our heels and refuse to move forward.}

*That last one is a big one! I’ve spoken to & received advice from several women who felt much peace with their decision to move forward with fertility treatments. I so appreciate their openness and willingness to talk to me. When we recognized adoption as God’s plan for us, it was important for me to tell those special ladies privately so that they understood I was not “faulting the path God had for them.” 

{The Lord gifts people in many different ways. He has chosen to give us the gift of infertility. It is a gift that neither of us wanted. We spent over two years trying to deny, refuse, refund, or exchange this gift before finally, with many tears, accepting it. God only gives good gifts, and I am continually learning that He chose to make us infertile because He loves us. He has bigger dreams for us than we even have for ourselves. ~Denise England}

{The drama of fertility challenges often painfully performs on the stage of church participation. Public worship, in and of itself, opens the floodgates of my emotions so that I react to all stimuli more intently. Music is designed to open my spirit to connect with the Lord, but in doing so, it can also peel the scab off of my hurting soul. Prayer is a window from my heart to God’s. The Word of God is a double-edged sword that can painfully pierce my heart in ways I may not be able to publicly handle when I’m already so fragile. I have often sat through a service unable to sing as the tears poured down my cheeks…these feelings  are fine between God and me, but in church they easily become a public spectacle.}

*Oh my, was this one true for me when I was in the midst of the storm. I sobbed my way through church for over a month…reading this helped me understand why. 

{Society teaches us that reproduction is ours to control. Shock and sorrow accompany the discovery that we cannot always plan parenthood. Infertility is prolonged grief with few defined points of closure. Anguish is caused by the death of dreams, not always by the death of an individual. Because there are few ways to memorialize the profound loss of a child who never existed, it can be an agonizingly extended grief without validation. Truly infertility or the loss of a child brings deep grief, but does God’s Word validate such anguish? In addition to holding many accounts of barren characters carefully preserved for our benefit, the Bible treats childlessness as a truly devastating pain. Proverbs 30:15-16 lists barrenness right up there in the “top three” things that are never satisfied, along with death, drought-devasted land, and fire.}

*Mom and I had several conversations about how un-acknowledged infertility loss is. No casseroles brought by your house. No flowers sent. No cards with condolences. It is something that is so hard to understand until you’ve been touched by it…

{A lifetime of losses overwhelmed Hannah.}

{My surrender started with the breaking of my heart, of my will. Relinquishment was a conscious, painful decision. Learning to worship through the wait was not a one-time event, but an ongoing process. Living in the ongoing unknown made worship a true sacrifice.}

{God wants my heart to be fertile soil for His love to blossom, even if my womb remains ever barren.}

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Thankful for my love of reading, authors who share their stories & revelations from the Lord, and how God speaks to me through the words of others.

Blessed am I.

Broken Hallelujah.

Another year has come & gone…

Gotta say, this last one brought with it some struggle.

But really, what year doesn’t?

A while back I heard the song “Broken Hallelujah” by the Afters…and I can’t think of any truer words to describe what Christ asked of me in 2013.

And the thing is…there is a very real possibility that it will continue to be an anthem in my life in 2014. The path to adoption is not that big, well traveled, smooth-riding road…it is often narrow & curvy with lots of unknowns and possibilities for bumps & bruises on your heart. I don’t know if God is done with this season of brokenness in my life…but really, isn’t God in the work of brokenness? If not this area of my life…then in something else that needs prying out of these tightly-clenched fists of mine.

The truth is, God receives so much more glory from the broken hallelujahs of His followers than the empty, over-indulged, #lookhowblessediambecauseofhoweasymylifeisrightnow #lookhowblessediambecauseofallthematerialthingsihave offerings we have a tendency to post on our Facebook walls & write about in our Christmas cards. And I’m saying that to myself. To me. I’m beyond guilty of thinking that breezy, sunshine-y days are the only indication of God’s blessing in my life.

{I have a feeling I’m not alone in that.}

But to take those days & call them good and a blessing, I’ve learned that I must also be willing to take the hard days…when it’s raining and I’m lost and I find myself in a place where I don’t speak the language…and recognize that the same good God is weaving blessings into my life. That He’s taking the fire I’m walking through and using it to make me more like HIM.

Call me crazy, but He’s brought me too far to stop here…moment by moment, day by day…I pray He will empty these hands of mine in such a way that makes my life a series of broken hallelujahs that all point back to Him.

That would be a hashtag worth reading about.

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“Broken Hallelujah”

I can barely stand right now. Everything is crashing down, And I wonder where You are.
I try to find the words to pray. I don’t always know what to say, But You’re the one that can hear my heart.
Even though I don’t know what your plan is, I know You’re making beauty from these ashes.
I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain. On my knees, I call Your name. Here’s my broken hallelujah.
With nothing left to hold onto, I raise these empty hands to You. Here’s my broken hallelujah.
You know the things that have brought me here. You know the story of every tear. ‘Cause You’ve been here from the very start.
Even though I don’t know what your plan is, I know You’re making beauty from these ashes.
I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain. On my knees, I call Your name. Here’s my broken hallelujah.
With nothing left to hold onto, I raise these empty hands to You. Here’s my broken hallelujah.
When all is taken away, don’t let my heart be changed. Let me always sing Hallelujah
When I feel afraid, don’t let my hope be erased Let me always sing Hallelujah. Let me always sing Hallelujah.
I will always sing I will always sing Here’s my broken hallelujah.
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I’ve seen lots of really cute “2014 is going to be my year!” graphics floating around today…but tonight, my prayer is a little different…in a big way.
I want 2014 to be God’s year in my life…I’m learning more and more that His plans are better than my own.
Not going to lie though…it requires a lot of deep breathing on my part to type that…to feel that way.
I don’t think that I am alone in that either. 🙂
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This post kind of took on a life of it’s own…can’t say it totally ended up going where I thought it was going when I first opened it up. It’s not the first time God has revealed what He has for me as my fingers fly…and pick…and wander across the keyboard.
I really like it when He does that.
Blessed am I.