Though you take from me.

I heard this song a few minutes ago for the first time, via another blog written from the same place of brokenness and hope that mine is. It is incredibly powerful…it captures my heart so fully. Beautiful.

Though You Slay Me
By: Shane and Shane

I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You struck down to bind me up
You say You do it all in love
That I might know You in Your suffering

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I’ll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I’ll know every tear was worth it all

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

Though tonight I’m crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You’re still all that I need
You’re enough for me
You’re enough for me

Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

The music video is a *must*watch*…it has a message from John Piper that is incredibly powerful.

Blessed am I.

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Can of Worms.

Before I get to typing out today’s post, which is kind of a past & present kind of thing, I want to make sure I capture a sweet moment with Chris yesterday. 🙂

He walked into the room as I was washing dishes and wrapped his arms around me. “It’s funny,” he said, “But I really miss {boy name} and {girl name}. Is it weird to miss someone you’ve never met?”

It just melted my heart, and was such a blessing to me…we’ve done so much thinking about and praying for and crying over these future children of ours, to the point that I miss them sometimes too. I love that Chris is feeling connected to the process and is beginning to see himself more as being a dad one day.

Love moments like that!

{Of course, then there were a few moments today where I could have just throttled him…that’s marriage for ya. *wink* Gotta take the sweet with the frustrating!}

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Today we had an appointment with the fertility doctor…a pretty important appointment, in my mind. We needed to clarify the medical side of adopting an embryo…the process behind a frozen embryo transfer (FET)…if I needed any additional testing to get the doctors sign-off that I should be able to carry a baby.

I was a bit nervous…mostly because in a call with one of the office workers a couple of weeks ago I felt like I had been hit by a linebacker. She didn’t understand the need to ‘adopt’ vs. go with donated embryos, and {seriously, no pun intended} was pretty icy about the whole thing. She finally gave me the information I needed, but I wasn’t encouraged and was afraid that we might have a similar experience with the doctor.

{That day was just not my best…in a different phone call to an embryo adoption agency, I felt like I was then hit by a train going in the opposite direction of the first lady. Although I agreed with almost all the agency rep was saying, I didn’t feel like she “heard” me…and she definitely took several opportunities to go off on rants about her strong feelings & belief systems. I felt like I’d been hit from both sides & was just left spinning…}

Going in to the doctor today, we were prepared to have to defend our choice/interest in adopting embryos vs. receiving donated embryos. Much to my relief, it wasn’t really an issue after all.

While the doctor obviously didn’t totally “get it,” and still presented a few other options, he also repeatedly reassured us that he understood the importance of the decisions we were facing and that he would respect our wishes / do his best to help us have the most successful FET possible. He gave us the professional advice that we needed, and left us feeling encouraged that this is a very real possibility for us. {No guarantees of course…and some of the stats still had that ol’ terror rising up in my throat…but God willing, it is a definite possibility.} He also said no further testing will be required for me at this time, which was great!

While Chris was grumpy before the appt {combination of not feeling well & a muuuuuuch larger charge for the appt than we were expecting} I had a bit of a…processing time, we’ll say…afterwards.

The doctor mentioned an option that kind of caught me off guard…mostly because I couldn’t remember initially if it had been presented to us before or not. It had my head spinning for a while, but as I thought it through I decided that we had been aware of that option but had not seen it as an economically feasible possibility for us. {Like my dad said when I talked with him after the appt…sometimes it feels like we’ve opened a can of worms or Pandora’s box or something…there are just no easy, clear cut decisions in the land of infertility and adoption!}

Once I got a grip on that I was able to move forward in my thinking and acknowledge that really, everything we had hoped to find out/accomplish during the appt had been covered. Chris felt very confident after leaving the office, my parents seemed relieved to hear the doctor’s opinion of the medical side, and over the course of the evening I’ve settled down from the jitters I felt after the appt.

Whew. This is some serious business people.

It’s terrifying and amazing and all sorts of craziness rolled into one.

I’ll close today’s post with a question I heard in a video testimony I watched recently…

“Is your life explainable apart from the Holy Spirit?”

It’s been echoing in my mind since I heard it, and honestly…if we do pursue embryo adoption…it will be explainable only BECAUSE of the Holy Spirit. We didn’t go out looking for this option…it is, in several ways, “scarier” for me than traditional adoption…and it would be nothing short of a miracle if God so chooses to bring a baby to our family in this way.

He is the author and creator of life…and I’m thankful, fear & pain & all, for the opportunity to be part of the story He is speaking into life.

Blessed am I.

One Burning Bush Please.

Wouldn’t life be easier if God would just always get our attention and talk to us from a burning bush? 😉

One Sunday we talked about that briefly in our Sunday School class, referencing a *great* song by Love & the Outcome, as my teacher & her family are in the waiting stages of adoption. They’ve been waiting on their match about a year and a half, and she was needing a fresh word from God that He still had a plan for them…a baby intended for their family.

Later that night, as we were praying together, Chris asked God to clearly reveal His plan for us with embryo vs. traditional adoption. I busted into the prayer, singing my best rendition of “I’d like a burning bu-ush…” as my portion of the prayer. {Hey, it doesn’t always have to be so serious! God has a sense of humor!} Of course, Chris immediately came back with a witty response & reminded/reassured God that it’s very dry here, and we don’t require a wildfire to reveal His plan for us.

Oh that man.

Anyway, we had a good giggle and then went to sleep. The next morning, when I turned to my daily bible reading {I’m reading through the chronological Bible this year} it was about….wait for it….I’m sure you know where I’m going here…Moses & the burning bush.

Obviously, I was pretty interested to read about Moses’ experience…about what God revealed to him. Some might think that what I took away from it was a stretch…and maybe in some ways it is…but I still find it in line with what I know of God’s heart.

Exodus 3:7 – 12a:  “The Lord said, I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey …. and now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt. But Moses said to God “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? And God said, “I will be with you.”

From there, I wanted to clarify the definition of oppression, so I looked that up next. Most definitions look something like this: prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.

Prolonged unjust treatment.

Wow.

I definitely see how that could apply to orphans across the world and in foster care. Could it also apply to embryos that are created, but then frozen…perhaps indefinitely…and not given the opportunity to experience further life?

And reading that, it got me thinking…could it be that the Lord is saying…’I have indeed seen the misery of my children who are frozen. I have heard them crying out for a chance to live, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them, to bring them out of their waiting and into a home, either on earth or in heaven. Their cry has reached me, and I have seen their oppression.’

I know the value God places on life…that He is the author and creator of each life…that He cares deeply for His creation and desires that all should come to know Him and be called His children. I know He has commanded us to care for orphans {James 1:27}, and I believe that these embryos are a new generation of orphans.

Then, as we consider this as what God might be planning for our family, I find myself echoing the words of Moses. “But who am I God? Who am I to try this wild plan? I’m not brave Lord. I wrestle with fear…who am I?”

And there He is…not in a burning bush, but in a still small voice…in the words I read in my Bible, hear in songs, and hear whispered into my heart…”I will be with you.”

It wasn’t about Moses. It’s not about me. When God has a plan, and invites you into it…when you cry out “Me? Are you sure Lord?”…He says “I’ll be with you.”

I will be with you.

I will be with you.

I will be with you.

It doesn’t mean that He promises a baby come to term & be born into our physical family through embryo adoption. It doesn’t mean that we won’t have to wait, even years perhaps, for a child through traditional adoption.

But what it does mean is huge. I {as in God, not Heather} have a plan for my people, for my creation. I am inviting you to join me in the work I am doing. No matter what happens in the process of me completing the work I have started, I will be with you.

I will be with you.

I will be with you.

And in that moment, in the moments now as I type these words…that small voice, those words breathed by God himself into scripture, begin to flicker up and turn into a raging fire of hope and strength in my heart.

Turns out that the burning bush I needed wasn’t so much about this way or that way…but about refocusing me on THE way.

God is with me. God is in our call to adopt.

I pray the truth of those words, of the fire He has lit within me, would consume me in the days and decisions to come.

He will be with me.

Blessed am I.

Connecting the Dots.

It’s safe to say that I’ve read quiiiiiiiiite a few books about all things adoption. So one night I went back through some of my highlights from those books to see how what has resonated with me might support / not support our consideration of embryo adoption.

So tonight’s post, while perhaps a bit disjointed, is a way for to me connect all of those dots.

From “Adopt Without Debt” by Julie Gumm

*In the words of Dave Ramsey, “There is not one example in the Bible of God calling someone to do something and then using debt as a tool to accomplish it!” … ‘So why would He ask us to adopt and then make debt part of that process? …. The simple answer is, He wouldn’t.’

I read that at the beginning of our journey…and honestly tried to put it out of my mind. We owe quite a bit on school loans, and to save alone for an adoption would take us at least 3 years. :/ Selfishly, I couldn’t imagine waiting that long to even begin the process. However, when I look at it in light of the expenses / timeline of embryo adoption, the finances become much more doable.

I know that God could have something amazing in mind for helping us pay for our adoption….either way, we are called to be good stewards of what He has already given us.

From “This Momentary Marriage” by Jon Piper

*’The decision about whether to conceive children is not ultimately a decision about what is natural, but about what will magnify the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.’

Jesus is magnified through adoption…and since embryo adoption is something that is relatively unheard of, Christ has an opportunity to be magnified in a new and incredible way in the lives of those around us.

*’What is absolute is to pursue spiritual children, not natural children. Marriage is not absolutely for making children. But it is absolutely for making children followers of Jesus.’

This again supports adoption, and when you pair it with the truth that embryos are humans, created in the likeness of Christ, it supports embryo adoption.

From “Adopted for Life” by Russell Moore

*‘What if we as Christians were known, once again, as the people who take in orphans and make of them beloved sons and daughters?’

*’There seems to be an orphan-making urge among us, whether we see it in the slave culture of centuries past or the divorce culture of today.’

*’When it’s Jesus versus the self, babies are caught in the crossfire. And it’s always that way.’

*’When we adopt – and when we encourage a culture of adoption in our churches and communities – we’re picturing something that’s true about our God. We, like Jesus, see what our Father is doing and do likewise (John 5:19). And what our Father is doing, it turns out, is fighting for orphans.’

*’Because genuine faith is orphan-protecting, a culture of adoption and a culture of evangelism coexist together.’

There are over 600,000 embryos frozen right now…through fertility science we have literally created a new generation of orphans. Again I was brought back to the question of when life begins…and if it is at the fertilization of an egg to create an embryo {which I believe it is} then I am called as a follower of Christ to care for them as orphans.

*’Jesus is the one who tells us his Father is also “Father of the fatherless” (Ps. 68:5). He is the one who insists on calling “the least of these” his “brothers” (Matt. 25:40).

This particular point was very meaningful to me, and led me back to the Word to read from Matthew 25. All I could think as I read the King’s {Jesus’!} words…”Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” was…how much more ‘least of these’ can you get than a single cell embryo?!

From “Night Light Christian Adoptions: Our Ethical Obligation to Embryos”

*’Nightlight developed the Snowflakes program in order to give remaining frozen human embryos more respect than they were/are being given in the US and throughout the world.’

*’The Snowflakes program gives people with remaining embryos the opportunity to give those embryos life – life for which they were originally created. It gives the remaining embryos the greatest respect because they are being treated with the exact same standards applied to children who have already been born and are being adopted.’

*’The Snowflakes program was established to help bring about a moral solution to an immoral problem created by medical science: too many remaining embryos in frozen storage. It is a solution that promotes life and not death.’

Chris and I made the decision not to pursue in vitro because of our recognition that each embryo is life and our deep respect for each little one created by God. Because we could not settle within ourselves the possibility of ‘remaining embryos,’ we felt it was not God’s plan for us to grow our family through IVF of our own genetic children.

So here we are, considering the other side…once again recognizing and feeling a deep respect for the lives waiting in freezers for a chance to grow and live.

From “Joy in our Journey: joyinourjourney.blogspot.com: a post entitled The Beauty of Grief”

*’If God had disclosed our entire job description when He first called Micah and me to adopt embryos, highlighting the sacrifices required to show love, dignity, and respect to our six little ones in order to bring them directly to Him in the end, I know in my heart I may not have been so quick to obey. …. Honestly, for the first time in days, I can say in retrospect that I would without a doubt do it all over again. Even though God has added to our family in a way we never expected, He has honored our request for more children. It gives the phrase “treasures in heaven” a far deeper meaning to all of us.’

This was tough to read…but I wanted to include it in today’s post because it really solidifies to me how seriously we are taking this… that we understand that to adopt embryos does not come with any ‘guarantees.’

*’Over the past few weeks, we have contemplated the way we view human life in this country and in the world at large and see now more than ever that this issue is much larger than us simply adopting. We have been called to give these frozen ones – the least of these – a voice in the world. Their presence is easy to ignore. …. They are the “leftovers” of reproductive technology and have a totally uphill battle. They cannot speak, cry, or call out to us. Their needs don’t make them a presence in the world that demands attention. We, on the other hand, have perfectly good voices and we desire to use them to the glory of God and for the good of these little ones.’

*’In our country, embryos aren’t legally recognized as life. If they were to be found on Mars in the form they exist now, the headlines would read “Life Found on Another Planet!” yet there is still debate.’

*’Of course, our view of these persons is not property, but bearers of the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and known by Him before He ever created them (Psalm 139:16, Jer 1:5).

Is this girl not right on or what?! 🙂

*’Some believers we have talked with wonder why we shouldn’t first care for those orphans already living and breathing. Our question is, do we believe what we say we believe about life or not? We are called to love and care for orphans – all of them – and each in a way so they all have advocates.’

Honestly, I have struggled with the fact that if we move forward with embryo adoption, not everyone will get it. Not everyone will recognize it as adoption. I’m afraid they’ll see it as “the easy way out” (since I’ll have the opportunity to carry the baby) rather than as a road that promises to be anything but easy.

But I have to keep reminding myself…that it’s not about them. It’s not even about me. It’s about God. It’s about His truths. It’s about what He wants to do. Not everyone ‘got’ Jesus. {And even today, not everyone ‘gets’ Him.} If this is the path for us, I will learn to draw strength from God in situations where others might disagree or not understand…and will learn more and more to point back to Him.

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That’s all for tonight. It’s a lot to think on as it is. 🙂

Blessed am I.

The Multi-Generational Perspective.

It’s past my “go to bed time” {9 p.m….oh the life of a kindergarten teacher} so tonight’s post will be short & sweet…and unfortunately, not about embryo adoption.

Goal = fail

What can ya do? 😉

I recently started a new bible study on Wednesday evenings at church on Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts.” It’s been really good so far, but one of the greatest blessings has been the mix of women in the class. One of my friends is leading the class, and is also the youngest…she’s…3 or 4 years younger than me I guess. Then there’s a couple of us “basically 30’s” girls, several who are in their 30’s/40’s, a couple in the 50’s/60’s range, and one or two who I would say are 70+. The multi-generational perspective is really neat and makes our time of study that much more rich.

After sharing a bit of our struggle with infertility and our hopes to adopt, I received a call from one of the older ladies in the class. She asked if she could pass my name along to a friend of hers who adopted her son almost 40 years ago.

Of course I said yes, and tonight I was able to connect with that friend of hers {who is also a member at my church.} We visited for about 45 minutes, and she shared the heartbreaking and amazing story of a biological baby lost, two foster children lost {in a crazy way!}, and ultimately a wonderful adoption which was followed by two more biological children.

I was reminded that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’…hearing her memories of how she felt during that time, of things people said to her, of the questions she asked God… with shared experiences like those, time makes no difference. I was able to relate to her in a very real way, and I was incredibly encouraged by her story and journey of faithfulness.

It was very cool, and I count it as a blessing to know her.

Definitely one of the benefits of going to a church with such a wide range of generations represented…I’ve been able to talk with her as an adoptive mother of 40+ years, with an adult woman who was adopted as a baby, with multiple couples who adopted in different ways, with other families who are going through the adoption or foster processes, with children who were adopted…it’s been incredible, to say the least.

Blessed am I.

Testing the Call.

So…crazy Texas weather happening around these parts…which meant our agency orientation was postponed for several weeks.

I didn’t cry {which pretty much felt like a major accomplishment to me}…I’m not sure if it was because I was already anticipating a change in the schedule because of the icy weather or if it’s because we have this new option which occupies a lot of my mind lately. :/

Overall we were disappointed, but not devastated.

In the meantime, we have set up a doctors appt to meet with “our” fertility specialist {I call him that loosely because his only role in our story thus far has been to help diagnose our reasons for infertility} to discuss the medical side to adopting / implanting an embryo. I feel like the information he will have to offer will be a key component to making our final decision, and would have been missing had we actually been able to go to the traditional-adoption-agency-orientation this weekend.

So….the seeking and praying continues.

I was reminded today how to ‘go about’ seeking God from an ‘Experiencing God’ study we did as a church a year or two ago. It begins by seeing where God is already at work {adoption: check} then joining Him there. That’s where it becomes even more important to pay attention to Him, because there are different ways He has for each of us to ‘join him.’ {i.e. – not everyone is called to adopt, but you can join God in His heart for adoption by praying, monetary support, etc.} We are then to ‘test’ how we feel like He would have us to join Him against the truth of His word, to make sure we are really hearing from Him and walking according to His will. Once we confirm that what we feel like we’ve heard lines up with the nature of God and His Word,  we are free to join Him where He is at work in the way He has called us…

Does that make sense to anyone besides me? 😉

All of that said, I can wholeheartedly say that we’ve been seeking God’s face. We’ve been testing what we are hearing and feeling against His word…we’ve been seeking the council of others who can help us understand the Christian perspective of embryo adoption…we’ve been asking and muddling through answering some very real moral and ethical questions that require us to clearly define what we believe and where we stand.

In other words, we’ve been testing the call.

God is speaking. He’s coming through for us. He is providing peace and confirmation, as I expect He will continue to in the next few weeks through our doctors appointments and ultimately orientation. Come March 1st, I believe we’ll have answered God’s specific call to action and will be ready to pursue the adoption path He is calling us to.

I still spend moments staring sheer terror in the face {and I’m really not trying to be dramatic in saying that…parts of this call to adopt, whichever way, are terrifying to me} and I can relate well to Moses when he was saying “Not me God…really, seriously…this doesn’t make sense. Surely there are others who are more qualified to do your work…”

For those reasons, I’ve spent a lot of time listening {on loop} to a song that touched my heart around the Christmas season…”Be Born in Me” by Francesca Battistelli.

I am not brave
I’ll never be
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy
I’m just a girl
Nothing more
But I am willing, I am Yours

Amen and Amen.

Blessed am I.

P.S. – I feel like I’m so behind on writing about my process of thinking through embryo adoption…my goal for this week is going to be to try and write a little every night so that I can get some of it out and into words…

Jaw on the Floor.

I’m going to go ahead and put this out there…most everyone who I know in real life & who knows this blog exists are already privy to this information. To the one or two that I haven’t told this to yet….surprise! {And also…sshhh! This is still in the “praying about it” stage…we aren’t ready to talk about it with people publically yet.}

I need to ‘put the pen to paper’ so to speak because it’s how I sort through things…and I need to start getting all of those thoughts in my head out and in some sort of order. It’s why I started this blog after all…so here we go again. 🙂

Within the last couple of weeks, a new adoption route has been the topic of dinner conversations, before bed conversations, driving in the car conversations, brushing teeth conversations…you get it.

It’s embryo adoption.

Before I get to the now, I better go back to the start.

When Chris & I were deciding if we wanted to pursue in vitro fertilization or not, we decided against it because I felt so strongly about each embryo produced being a human life. Since there was no way to ensure that we wouldn’t have an “over-abundance,” so to speak, of embryos, we decided it was not a risk we were willing to take. The basic options with any embryos that are not implanted in a “fresh” cycle {ie – just days after being fertilized} are a) frozen storage, b) donation/adoption, c) donate to science, d) “let them go”…which is basically a nice way of saying destroy them. {I’m sorry, but it is.} :/

At one point, when we were still in the deciding stage, Chris said he would be fine with us putting any embryos we had remaining up for ‘adoption’ by another couple who was struggling with infertility. It wasn’t something I could get on board with…I had heard too many other women describe how connected they felt to the embryos, even those remaining in cold storage, and I thought that once we had a child or children of our own Chris too would feel differently about giving up our embryos for adoption. In the end, creating many to keep a few just wasn’t right for us.

Fast forward a bit, and I suggested to Chris that while we had considered the possibility of us giving up embryos for adoption, we had never considered the reverse side, which would be us adopting embryos that others are were willing to put up for adoption.

I got a firm, quick, and adamant “NO.” At that point he was still struggling with the fear that he would have trouble connecting to an adopted child, and thought that if I were to carry an adopted embryo he would feel totally left out of the process.

So….I dropped it. I tucked it away, thinking I’d save it for a few years down the road, maybe bring it up when we were ready for a second child. I didn’t push the subject because by this point I was realizing how important it was that Chris be “all the way in,” that he feel connected and know that I trusted his judgment and valued his opinion. I never want him to resent any part of the process, or me…so I dropped it and shortly thereafter we began pursuing traditional adoption whole-heartedly.

I can’t even explain the depth of my surprise when Chris called me at work one afternoon {just a couple of weeks ago} to tell me about “this really amazing thing he heard about…adopting embryos through an organization called Night Light.” He really thought we should look into it & thought it was a really exciting idea…overall he was pretty pumped about it.

When I didn’t respond, he thought I was mad. In reality, I was just trying to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Turns out, he doesn’t even remember me ever bringing it up. Oh that man.

In the time since, we’ve done a lot of research, watched videos online, talked with one another & our parents, prayed together, and tried to keep ourselves from making any rash decisions. 🙂 Chris immediately felt very strongly connected to this form of adoption, but at the same time I’ve been so proud of the way he has not pushed & has happily agreed to still go to the orientation for the traditional agency. It’s hard to put into words how this new option has brought out a different side of him…but it has. And it’s a good side.

I have been…cautiously optimistic. Erring on the side of caution. Wanting only what God wants and nothing more.

The thing is…I gave God my uterus. (I’ve written about that right? It’s kind a funny story…) But seriously, I gave it to Him & continued giving it to Him until I was finally able to surrender it to Him fully.

So, with this new option…the best way to put it is that…if this is God’s will, I want to know in my soul that HE is giving my uterus back to me… not that I’m taking it back on my own.

But if He does…

wouldn’t that be incredible?!

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Blessed am I.