Category Archives: Catastrophe

When God speaks…

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So my heart is still so heavy with all the loss, pain and challenges friends/strangers are experiencing. Some of the situations I know personally and others I read through social media and yet they still have impacted me. Their stories have made me cling closer to God and really cry out to Him on their behalf. I feel so many thoughts and emotions that I don’t know what else to do but write. I feel selfish writing about myself in a time like this, but my experiences are all I have. I also feel compelled to take my challenges and use them as an opportunity to encourage, comfort and help those that may need it like I did when I was going through the fire. The blessing of hardships is you learn from them and then can use that knowledge to comfort others. Today, I wanted to share a few specific times God spoke to me…

1. God spoke to me during a dark time in my college years. Did I listen? No. But he was calling me to stop and turn around. He gave me a way out time and time again, placed people in my life that knew I was getting out of control and even punished me in ways that I should have seen the destruction that was still ahead. Sadly, I pressed on and took a lot of hard falls because of it, but He spoke nonetheless. He tried. Later when I fell flat on my face…he picked me up and showed me grace. Amazing grace. God speaks through people and circumstances.

2. God spoke to me on the toilet during my separation. You may know my husband and I separated for two years. One year we lived a part and one year we just ignored each other or argued. Still don’t know how we are standing here today, but praise Jesus we are and celebrating ten years in November! (Yes, we count the two years that were doomed because we were still married!) I remember I kept trying to fix it. I would send a text, write a letter, make a phone call to him or make a phone call to her or just call a friend to see what they knew. I tried to fix it over and over and over again and it was exhausting. Until one day, I was contemplating my next move while peeing (probably peeing..who knows) and distinctly felt God speak to my heart “Stop!” Stopping to me felt like giving up, so I did not take this message lightly, but he said it again…”Stop!” When He finally got my attention he stirred in my Heart “Do nothing.”
What? The marriage will end…
He responded…if you keep doing what you are doing it will end anyway.
I argued some more before finally letting Him win and stopped trying to fix it and let Him take control. The hardest six months of my life followed in that I did nothing. I tended to our home, tended to my work, tended to my personal growth and the needs of others and just let God be God. We are still married today because in the silence God changed my husband’s heart. During that storm of life (by far the hardest thing I have ever endured and I have Lupus and infertility), God reminded me to keep my eyes on Him during the storm. “Watch me-keep your eyes on me.” I love the quote “God might be doing the most when it appears like He is doing nothing at all.” God speaks to your heart and He speaks in the silence.

3. God spoke to me through a Bible verse about my Lupus. Psalms 103:3. I read it one night before bed and it turned on a light that God is in control of this disease and healing in His hands. This gave me such comfort through infertility as well. God is the great physician. This verse was later in a song at church and it gave me such hope and strength during a tough time of feeling helpless. The song is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sG94EKGDcU another powerful one that goes with this verse https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM God speaks through His written word and in church (duh)…the trick is you have to read it and go.

4. God spoke through a song on the radio about the direction for my adoption. I had just visited the reproductive endocronologist (still don’t they I have ever spelled that right) and got the devastating news that pregnancy would not be in my future barring a miracle (which is always possible-but I am content that it may never happen.) I was beat down with that bad news because I had still clung to hope of IUI or IVF and we were willing to do that if he thought it would help. In his words “I could take your money and we could try, but it is not likely.” My OBGYN later said it more harshly, “Getting pregnant with your blood levels like these would be devastating to a baby and would possibly kill you.” She later went on to tell me how high risk my pregnancy would be and how I much monitoring would be needed..blah, blah, blah. I get it…no. While I sat in the parking lot of Schlotzky’s ( I eat for comfort) this song came on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yooJzuW8XDA This song spoke to me that God has a plan for my broken reproductive system and to go where He is leading. We began the adoption process the following week. God speaks through the radio.

5. On the day we were leaving to Houston to adopt our child and I was still so frantic and worried that we would get all the way there and the birthmom would change her mind, my devotional that morning (also on the toilet–hmmm???) was from Max Lucado and it spoke about taking risks. One of the lines in the devotional and it is saved in his baby book if you think I am a lie said “Go adopt the baby.” I ran out to Nathan and showed him the devotional and said “This is it. Let’s go adopt our baby!” It was an affirmation from God (and be mindful I am hit and miss when I open my devotionals and I am not even following the dates correctly. For instance my devotional today said December 22nd…I just read them when I can.) But this one was for me and it was for peace and comfort when I needed it most. It was Him speaking to me-I am with you. God speaks in the bathroom–ha just kidding or maybe–but God speaks through devotionals.

Now, you might have noticed a trend that God speaks to me most in my hardships. Sadly, that is often the only time I am listening. I pray for you and for myself that we listen in the good times too, during times that we don’t feel like we NEED him. (But hey, if a trial brings me closer to God then bring it…not really, I am good.) But, if you ever question if God speaks-he does. Stay near to Him and in His presence and you will hear it. Through a song, a hymn, a verse, a person, a text, a blog post, a peace in your heart. It happens.

The good news is: I don’t want this post to me about me and my problems, but it might offer someone out there encouragement when they need it most. Some day soon, my posts will be more light hearted and fun, but for now, I am grieving, praising and praying for the people that need it most. I pray that you are listening to what God is speaking to you because in all of these situations God has spoken to me. Your trials have drawn me closer to Christ; they are not in vain.

When God Doesn’t Make Sense…

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My heart is heavy this week because I have had dear friends and even some strangers attacked by tragedy. Unexpected death of a parent, contracting an illness while doing God’s work, stillborn baby, failed cycles, adultery in a Christian marriage, birth defects in the womb….pain after pain after pain. Some of these tragedies I cannot directly relate to (Praise God or maybe just not yet), but they all fall under the big umbrella of “Why God?” Being confused with God is something I can relate to very well. When I speak with people directly going through the storm, I can look back and reflect that I have been there…that lonely, angry, and confusing place. Even as a Christian, hearing the words “This is all part of God’s plan” stings. It burns in fact. How could God want my child to die? How could God be okay with the death of my father? How could God see a baby suffer?

The truth is He doesn’t. I think people often confuse this. He is just as angry as we are that we live in a fallen world. God is grieving the utopia He intended it to be with us. God grieves with us and that is the first truth I share with people hurting: Let God cry with you. He understands every pain we feel-especially betrayal. He can hold every tear, so let Him-let it out because it is needed.

The next truth I share is “It is okay to get mad.” As Christians, we feel guilty if we are angry about our circumstance. I mean who promised us a pain free life anyway? After all, God knows best and this is part of God’s plan so we must accept it. But, I don’t know about all that. I think God is angry too about the injustices of this world and I think He is powerful enough that He can take our rants. Hiding them from Him won’t work–just be careful that you do not forget you are talking to God. And remember as angry as you are-He still loves you. I stood in my hallway and wailed at God. I screamed, cried, hit, and complained. I let it be known that I have had enough and I was over all this—He listened. Later, he comforted and then put people in my path that could pick me up. I tell people that what you are feeling is real and meaningful and it is okay to be mad that bad things happen because it is hard.

I share with others to take the time you need to grieve. I took a day off and just was still. I allowed myself to be numb and separate from my surroundings. I needed to embrace the pain. Take a vacation, take a day or an afternoon, but grieving is not a bad thing and being still can actually give you the best chance possible to hear God’s voice and feel God’s presence. In that stillness He will say “I love you” and will give you the wisdom you need to move forward, but often we get so busy trying to fix it that we fail to let God take control. Let him.

Finally, tragedies like these and many others that I have not named or experienced are the best reminder that we are not home. This Earth and all its beauty is not the end. Sadness, sorrow, grief, tragedy, death, sickness etc. should make us more homesick than ever. It should make us eager to be home in Heaven. I saw a poster recently asking if you could speak to anyone from the past, while here on this Earth, who would it be? My first thought was my grandparents, but then I rethought it. Why would I take them away from Heaven to be here? How selfish to pull them from paradise! This place may feel pretty great, but they get to experience perfection every day…so keep them there-they are home.

My heart hurts for you if you are suffering during this season of your life. I pray that you will be reminded it is a season and seasons change. Sorrow will endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Even if you (like me) suffered in part from your own sin, knows God’s goodness is even bigger than your shortcomings and God’s grace is larger than we can ever fathom or deserve. Although, God does not place horrible things in our lives…He does bring good from them. Somehow or someway…maybe not immediately, but good will come from it eventually. It might be a connection from a blog like this, an opportunity to encourage or comfort someone in pain, a foundation or organization to help others that was birthed in the pain of loss, an adoption of a child that would not have come any other way, a birth of twins after many failed cycles…the list goes on. But God’s promises are true and He is good even when He does not make sense.

The good news is: I can say with certainty that the trials that have been placed in my life have given me wisdom and built my character. Through faithfulness, God has redeemed every mistake or sin I made and brought beauty from ashes. I am also thankful that I have been spared from a lot of hurt that I probably deserved. Just remember that-we all hurt at some point and no one (not even Christians) are exempt from pain. During these times of deep sadness, I can also declare great victories. I can rejoice and celebrate with new births, new families, healing, reconciliation, promotions etc. Often times the hard times bring an appreciation of the good times and victories come from defeat.

Infertile, Adoptive Mom

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I attended the Mother’s Day service with my parents at their church.  I say their church even though it was the church home I grew up in.  I knew the best gift that I could give my mother was to worship with her and the whole family so I surprised her and she loved it.

The preacher did a great job of acknowledging all aspects of Mother’s Day and pointed out that for many this was a challenging day.  He proceeded to read a long list of Mother’s Day feelings including “For those that lost their mother…we mourn with you.”  “For those that are expecting a baby…we celebrate with you.”  But the two that hit home for me were:

“For those that are infertile….we wait and pray with you.”

“For those adoptive moms…we thank you and need you.”

I fit in a few other groups in his list, but these two struck me.  I am an infertile and adoptive mom.  How can I be an infertile mom?  Well, I am.  I adopted a sweet baby boy, but that does not take away the infertility.  The sting still hurts.  Do I dwell on it?  No way!  Life is too short and it is what it is, but adoption and all the joys of motherhood do not erase that my body is broken.  It does not erase the memories of waiting, counting, testing, crying, asking, documenting etc.  I get infertility.  I get trying medications that made me crazy.  I get asking doctors to do more testing while trying to stay calm.  I get the two week wait where I put my life on hold.  I also get giving up and just living.  I get researching reproductive endocronologists and learning how to spell that.  I get vials and vials of blood work.  I get looking at an empty womb on a sonogram.  I get asking my husband to endure more invasive tests only to learn he is 100% healthy.  I get crying at night and all during the day.  I get the dreaded phone call reporting the disappointing lab results and the private meeting saying “there is nothing else we can do”.  I get taking off work because you can’t fake it anymore and you don’t want to try.  I get praying and reading scripture for meaning and then hearing a song that leads you straight to adoption.  I get infertility in an all too real way.

Thankfully, I also get adopting.  I get filling out a inquiry sheet and then going in for an interview.  I get the mounds of paperwork including criminal background checks, references, medical checkups, home studies, floor plans and safety plans of our home, submitting financial documents and pay check stubs and tax returns proving financial stability, the infamous adoption book that I labored for two months over.  I get meeting home study groups and discussing with other adoptive parents.  I get waiting and waiting and waiting. I get taking a phone call that would change our lives three weeks before the bably was born then preparing for a boy with only 20 days left.  I get meeting a birthmother and then hoping she likes me and hoping she does not change her mind unless it is God’s will then I pray for her to parent wisely.  I get going to the hospital for her planned Caesaren and then getting to know her for four days while we shared parenting responsibilities.  I get not knowing who should get up when he cried or needed to be changed and then I get not having the words when it was time to leave the hospital.  Watching her wince from her scars, seeing tears in her eyes and yet knowing we were driving four hours in the opposite direction.  I get her anticipation every time I post a new pic or give a new update.  I hold so much of her heart in my arms at night.  I get all that, too.

 

At the end of the day I am blessed to be a mom no matter how it all happened.  I am blessed to have empathy for the infertile in such a way that I can respond when asked what to say. So many don’t have the words or scriptures and I do. I can also respond when people ask about adoption and how it works, where do they start and what to expect. I can also relate to bottle feeding, putting a baby to bed, feeding solids, bathtime and everything baby because I have been there, too.

The good news is: I am blessed with the experiences that I have had and as we celebrate the one year anniversary of Callen’s adoption day…I am thankful for them all. I am especially grateful for a family that has accepted adoption and God’s plan for our lives with no hesitation and that his birthparents love us unconditionally and love to watch him grow. I am thankful for a husband that does not think twice about genetics when preparing to pass our full inheritance on to him. He is our son and he will get everything we work for and more. Our goal is to support him so that he can have it all. I am proud to be an infertile, adoptive mom because I am proud to be Callen’s mom.

Resolve to know that infertility can be a blessing…

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Is infertility a good thing?….Heck no, it sucks!  I despised waiting month after month to see if I was pregnant….hoping for two weeks then crying for the next two only to start the cycle again.  It got to the point where discovering my cycle had started became a sweet relief because at least I could stop hoping and resume normal living.  The worst feeling in the world is to be so out of control of something that is so normal and easy for others.  I had plans, a calendar, a kit, a timeline and month after month I had to rearrange and restart the future.  Sitting in a doctor office with a title I can’t even spell, so I willl abbreviate RE, was embarrassing.  You felt sympathy for every couple in there knowing you all shared a horrific common bond: you can’t get pregnant on your own.  It was a miserable time in my life so I am not saying I enjoyed it, but looking back being infertile is one of the things I consider a blessing…

Why is it a blessing?  Glad you asked:

#1 It is the exact reason I began to blog.  Before Lupus and infertility, I did not have much of a story to tell.  Nothing about me set me a part or made my story important.  Enter disease and a non working reproductive system and now I am interesting!  I never knew there was such a large world of writers that had experienced or were experiencing the same heartache and same struggle that I was going through.  I began to lean on their stories and cling to their comments.  Their likes inspired me to write more and my anonomity helped me to be real and open and it felt good.  Infertility gave me the chance to be a writer again and reconnect to a passion that I had lost.

#2 Infertility gave me empathy.  I was like most women clinging to birth control until the exact month I wanted to get pregnant then getting off it and expecting to see positive lines.  Month after month after month then year after year it all showed blank.  I now empathize with couples that it is not easy.  I feel for couples like us that just don’t decide one day we want one more or to go for a girl this time.  I don’t assume anything anymore and I learned to celebrate big with those that are successful and cry genuine tears for those that are not.  I understand women that struggle with conceiving children in a very unique way.

#3 Infertility brought me closer to God.  I learned patience, I learned timing, I learned I was never in control and the delicate system of our bodies is too much even for science to explain it all.  I clung to his promises and faithfully believed that I was not alone and my prayers were being heard even if the answer was not the same thing as mine.

#4 Finally, it led me to adoption.  I never considered adoption my last resort…I just never paid attention to it before.  When the door was finally closed to conceiving naturally then I opened my heart to another option.  An option that I did not consider because I did not think it was my calling.  Time after time, God dropped hints and signs, but I am so stubborn in my own plans that I kept telling him, “Shhhh…”  Finally, I stopped praying to get pregnant and began praying to create our family.  The timing was perfect for God to lead us to our son.  The boy I was meant to parent all along  and the reason I was born.  Our son is amazing and a promise fulfilled in every picture we take that I am living the dream. The affirmation of every decision I ever made that led us to him…our child…the perfect one for us.  Infertility made me listen to that calling and to stop trying to figure it out.  It shut the doors that I kept open with my foot because I wanted to do what I wanted to do. 

If I had another life to live…I would do it again if it led me to the adoption of our son.  Infertility did not destroy me.

Now this post does not mean that I will congratulate barren women everywhere or speak on behalf of increasing infertility for all the joys it will bring.  Never.  But, I hope to encourage women that infertility can be an opportunity to turn something tragic into a triumph.  Don’t let infertility define you and when you get the chance, be a rock for others to empower us to continue looking for healing.  Infertility takes a lot, but it does not take everything.

•http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
•http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About

Lupus Found Me…

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You may be saying “Dang girl, what’s up with all the posts?” The answer is simple, I have no idea when I will post again (took me two months to log in) so while baby is sleeping and I feel good then I am posting all my pent up thoughts so I don’t feel bad when I go back to not posting.

The pic above of the family is our first day of school pic! My husband had his first day of class and so did I …baby boy went to his baby school aka…grandma’s! Love that this was our first day of school as a parent!!!

You read by the title Lupus found me. I was flare free and feeling good all summer and that was with the hot sun! Yes, running around the park and playing soccer outdoors was not smart…I got a huge rash to prove it wasn’t my best idea, but I could do it. I swam almost every other day with baby boy…we did swim lessons and lots of visits to the park. Yes, we were the crazy parents that took like a hundred pics each day of the swim lesson. I held him one day so dad could take pics then we switched. Even with all that sun, I managed to be stress free and well rested to avoid any flares.

Then school started.

From the first week of staff development the flares began to build. I could feel the chills, the fevers came back, the rashes were on my face, arms and neck and that was just the beginning. By the first day of school, I could not move in the morning. Every joint was throbbing in pain. To turn over and turn off the clock was a battle. Getting out of bed was work. The first thing I did in the morning was take an anti-inflammatory pill. By midday, I felt better but by the end of the day I was exhausted. I began to take 5 hour energy for the first time. I could not last all day. I lost my voice, I began to get the whole sexy raspy thing that is only cool for a day. Going to bed at nine was a gift, but that meant SO much did not get done around the house or in the classroom. I was literally making it day by day. For the first time I felt like this is the invisible disease. From the outside I look fine, but inside I am hurting and just getting to work was a huge accomplishment. I googled Lupus flare more than I ever did before and I actually related to a video that described Lupus as the disease where “you don’t look sick” I understood the spoon theory that every choice I made meant I had a little less to give later. What made it all worse, is that I committed to do a half marathon in my summer I feel great days and running was no longer an option. I felt bad for not training, but I had nothing to give.

Thank God I began to do a daily devotional because I needed the prayers and affirmations. To be honest, I have been in a flare from the middle of August until now when I got back on Prednisone. I weaned myself off it, but now I am back to 5 mg a day. Not much for most, but I know have to wean myself back off it later. For now, I feel better than I have felt in over a month. I can be up at this hour typing and not wanting to sleep forever. I can pick my son up in the morning instead of grimmacing and praying I don’t drop him. I can turn in the middle of the night without waking myself up in pain. I can open bottles and bend my fingers. I can walk. I can bend my knee. Lupus affects my skeletal system the most and it hit hard for the last month. I got depressed again, I was afraid I would not be able to do my job, I thought that my life would be lived in pain forever. I questioned going on disability…it was bad. I did not want to take the meds, but finally realized I have to and I have to keep taking them until we figure out a different plan.

It finally clicked to take the Prednisone and keep taking it everyday. I first thought that once I felt better then I could stop, but my body was addicted again and stopping meant hurting. I feel so much better that I forgot what it felt like to feel normal. Again, I know now that this is the real me and not what I had become. My husband put it nicely “so I won’t have to live with that other girl…this is you again?” This is me.

I go back to the doctor in October to learn what to do. This may be my new norm with a kid and job. I have to be active all day and then come home and be active all evening for my baby. Remember this is my first year to do this so I am learning to do both, but I am also learning what it feels like when something is wrong and doing something about it.

The worst part is I did NOT lose weight dramatically which I liked until I got too skinny and looked like death when I was diagnosed. My belly is growing and it makes me mad because that is the only good thing about Lupus which is unexplained weight loss. If I am going to flare up at least give me that one symptom!

The good news is: I am able to type this post which I have not wanted or been able to do in a while.

To women everywhere on Mother’s Day

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</p><p>To all women everywhere…I feel you today.  I feel the young girl that laughs at the motherly responsibility and thinks “no way I love my sleep”, I feel the new bride that just wants to be selfish with alone time with her husband,  I feel the five year wife that wonders when her husband will commit to trying for children.  I feel the barren woman that feels guilty that she can’t create a child for her husband because he is not to blame for us not conceiving, I feel the lonely woman that feels broken and rejected and constantly questions should she keep trying or move on,  I feel the woman praying for her husband to consider adoption since she wants to parent a child and believes God has a bigger plan than conception, I feel the woman overwhelmed with paperwork because there are so many details to making an adoption complete.  I feel the hopeful mom praying her book was enough to be chosen and feels unworthy everytime a day passes with no phone call, I feel the woman frantically nervous if she will be able to connect to a baby that she has never met and will it be “her” child…finally, I feel the woman that meets the first mother of her son and together they create a plan of how we are going to give this child the best.</p><p>There are a lot of women that I cannot relate to with the positive pregnancy test, the first ultrasound, hearing the heartbeat, going into labor etc…but there are quite a few women that I feel exactly where you are at.  I have been there, too.</p><p>

A year ago, I was so hurt and bitter because it was my third year of infertility and I still wasn’t a mother. At the time, we were at the early stages of adoption, but still so far. I remember thinking everyone feels sorry for me because I don’t have a baby, but I am old enough to be a mom. I want women everywhere to know that you are not alone and this is a season. No matter where you are in your stage of life, you are loved and we are connected in that someone out there has been there, too.

The good news is: Love never fails. If you are not celebrating Mother’s Day today then know that you will if you want to. Anything is possible. I have no regrets about letting go of conception even though it is hard to imagine not carrying a baby or seeing my inherited traits in a child. However, I know that our adoption was never plan B…it was the Plan A that I could not see until I gave up what I thought was best for me and learned to trust God.

Feels so good to celebrate this first Mother’s Day…you never get another first Mother’s Day 😉

A Birthmother’s love…

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So, tomorrow is Birthmother’s Day…a day set aside to honor the women that gave life through the miracle of adoption.   

Callen’s first mother is amazing and generous and loving.  She allowed me to be in the nursery with him first, gave me full access to the hospital and allowed me to feel him growing in her belly.  She kept me updated on every detail leading up to the birth and then gave me a bag of goodies that she had been keeping for him to have when he gets older.  I know I am blessed because many moms do not get those treasures, but Callen has a box of them . His birthmom taught me how to burp a baby and swaddle a blanket. She encouraged me when I fed him for the first time and rocked him to sleep…how difficult it must have been to help me be his mom and yet she did it.

Our greatest gift is her choice to be open.  We love that she keeps in touch and considers us family. 

  I did not hear Callen’s first cry or his heart in my stomach; she did.  She felt his first powerful kicks and knew of his tendency to party late at night and yet she still loved him enough to make a plan for us to raise him.  At times, we felt overwhelmed by our commitment to raise this child and not think twice about the lack of biology…but more than that, we are overwhelmed that she chose us to love on him every minute of every day for the rest of our lives.  What love and sacrifice!  She is the best gift in that “she made this couple a family and turned nine months into a lifetime” Today, I honor the woman that ended years of sadness with the best gift of life.  I honor the woman that followed God’s calling in the midst of her sadness so that we could find each other.  I honor the woman that felt all those amazing first things and still wanted more for him.  Amazing love!

 

The Good news is: I thank God for adoption and for the birth of our son.  I thank God for his birth mom and her amazing gift. I thank God that He led us to our baby and continues to lead us every step of the way including financial contentment. I am thankful that He gave us peace about letting go of conceiving so we could focus on the blessing of adoption. I am thankful that we are in this together.