October 8, 2011

grieving and rejoicing

I hesitate to write about the emotions I have been experiencing these past few weeks, for fear that it will make my dear friends feel guilty or awkward around me in the midst of their pregnancies or new-mommy-hood. That is not my goal with this post.

I could not be happier for my friends who are expecting a baby. One of my friends, who is possible days (hours?) from meeting her little boy, is so lovely, so delightful, so honest in her pregnancy. I love being around her. I love talking with her about her baby. I love dreaming with her, laughing with her, agonizing with her when she shows me how big 10 centimeters is. I love pregnancy. I love babies.

Which is why this season of the explosion of pregnancies is so delightful for me...and also so agonizing.

I want a baby. I want to be a mom. I want to be pregnant.

And it seems like the answer is a resounding NO.

I've been wresting with the no. And I've been trying to grasp to enough faith to believe that this isn't a no, it's a yes to a different avenue toward motherhood.

I know there are so many fears that come in the 10 months of carrying a baby. Fears about labor, fears that the baby will be healthy, fears that you won't screw up a human being for the rest of their life, fears that you won't have enough money to pay for good counseling when they do end up screwed up...

But the fears that I'm experiencing right now feel so isolating. I think that's the hardest part for me, and especially for my husband, is that we feel so.alone. Nobody really understands the fears we face on the path toward foster parenting, towards adopting abused, neglected children.

It's a process of letting go of the picture perfect dreams I had built in my mind. It's letting go of the dream of seeing my husbands face in the face of my son, of seeing the face of my mother in the face of my daughter. It's a process of embracing imperfection, of realizing with joy that this is going to be a life lived in close communion with Jesus, or else it isn't going to work.

We start our foster parenting class this month. If all goes as planned and we get approved, we could have children in our home by February, if that's what the Lord has planned for us. So, in some ways, we could already be pregnant. Like I've mentioned before, its a different pregnant...but a time of growth, preparation and prayer, nonetheless.

If I could isolate one emotion about this whole process, it wouldn't be grief, though there has been a lot of it. It wouldn't be anger, though I certainly feel it. It's isolation. Loneliness. The bonds that come with pregnancy don't seem to apply to me. I don't feel like I belong in the mommy circles. I don't feel like anybody understands where we're at.

I've experienced this before...when my mom died, when I was depressed, when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But this time, it involves such a huge area of dreams...our entire future. Parenthood. And its just hard to not belong in the clubs where everyone else seems to be getting membership.

Anyways, this isn't to make anybody feel bad. I guess I just needed the world in general to know that beyond the hurt of not having babies or being pregnant, the feelings or isolation in this process are just difficult.

But the feelings of joy I felt tonight when I realized that I can start nesting - I can start getting bedrooms ready, buying clothing, getting life in order...oh man, that is exciting. So...can you be excited with me and try to understand that for me, this is what I need to make room in my heart and home for children that I don't get to connect with for 9 months in my womb? Because even though they won't be biologically mine, they will become mine...I love them already.

Will you love them with me?

September 18, 2011

my own little sufferings

I realize that there are people in the world who are really suffering. Hunger, persecution, watching your children wither away from starvation, prostitution, kidnappings, rape, abuse, infidelity, abandonment.

That is not my life.

And yet, I find myself entering into my own share in the world of suffering.

Coming to grips with my past has not been easy.

But coming to grips with my future is turning out to be not any easier.

I don't even have the words to explain it all, but if you're a praying person and you happen to love me, could you just pray for my heart?

It has been broken in the past, but this is a different type of breaking. A deep, dream-breaking that has me shedding a lot of tears, praying a lot of sad prayers, and hoping above all else that my Jesus who redeemed my soul is working to redeem this story.

September 17, 2011

The Reckoning

My heart is breathing this song right now.

How long?
How long?
How long until this curtain is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?

And I know You hear the cries of every soul tonight
You see the teardrops as they roll tonight
Down the faces of the saints
Who grow weary and faint in Your fields

How long?
How long?
How long until this curtain is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?

Oh, the reckoning

You are holiness and grace
You are fury and rest
You are anger and love
You curse and You bless
You are mighty and weak
You are silence and song
You are plain as the day
But you have hidden Your face--
For how long? How long?

And I am standing in the stillness of the reckoning
The storm is past and rest is beckoning
Mighty God, how I fear You
And I long to be near You, O Lord

(Andrew Peterson)

July 9, 2011

pretty good

"I know to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord...and from what I know of Him, that must be pretty good." [Sara Groves]

My mom is with Jesus. And my bet is, that's pretty good.

Miss her.

needs, prayers, and dreams

We had our first meeting with the foster care organization we are planning on working with last night. It was really encouraging. Throughout the conversation, we began to talk about the students who are least likely to be placed, and what types of "troubles" we would view as something we would not be willing to work with.

It's hard to say at this point. The hopeful part of me wants to bank on unconditional love and God's grace as coating any situation that we might enter into, but I know that doesn't mean it would be easy.

We are praying. Praying a lot right now. We have time. Our training doesn't start until October, which would mean that the soonest we could have children placed in our home would be around February. Which, honestly, feels really soon!

We are entering a new season of trust. It's just so crazy how my heart and my husband's heart is changing, being shaped by God for a new ministry.

Like, the ministry of giving hope and a home to pregnant teenage girls. Ever since it was mentioned last night as the most difficult to place, I haven't been able to stop thinking about these girls, homeless, pregnant, lost in a cycle they can't get out of without the grace of God.

Turns out that our type of situation is actually ideal for housing teenage girls who are expecting, because a lot of times foster homes turn them down because they already have young children, impressionable children, who they don't want being exposed to the complexities of that situation.

It makes me wonder whether or not we could do that. I just don't know. My heart aches for these girls, especially after watching one of my students carry a baby all through last school year. So we pray. And wait. And wonder what type of ministry God has in store for us.

I was at my friend's baby shower tonight. She's the first in our bible study to get pregnant. They talked about names. They felt her tummy. They showered her with gifts. And I'll be honest. There was a dull ache in my heart. But to be honest, it's less and less every day. Because there is a new growth in my heart now, a new dream. And now I find myself making room for plans bigger than mine, plans different, yes, but oh so beautiful.

I think of the experiences I have lived through, the families God has blessed us with, and the gifts and abilities Jeremy and I both have, and I smile thinking that God has something so specifically perfect in mind for us, it will surpass whatever we initially thought was the ideal family we would someday have.

I always wanted a big family. I wanted lots of pictures on the walls, lots of weddings to plan, lots of birthdays and celebrations and tons of kids gathered around the Christmas tree. And it seems like, in a special way, God may exceed my expectations. I wanted 5 kids. But it actually seems like we might get the chance to help care for more than I even imagined. That is amazing to me. A dream that makes me feel so alive and hopeful I just can't believe how sweet Jesus is.

June 22, 2011

doors

My husband and I have been working through the details of our next step recently.

I met with my psychiatrist a few weeks ago to discuss medication approved to take during pregnancy. There is one medication (that I am on now, and is working great!) that is approved for 2nd and 3rd trimester. But my secondary medication, which I really need to be stable and happy, is not approved for pregnancy. And even this medication that is approved is only approved for 2nd and 3rd, which would mean I would have to be off all medication while we were trying to get pregnant up through the 3rd trimester. The only alternative medication there is available is electroshock therapy, which is where you go in three times a week for as long as is needed for the doctors to give your brain a controlled seizure in your brain. Scary.

So we have been praying through this a lot. And to be honest, even though the door isn't completely closed, I am definitely grieving. I have dreamed of being pregnant for such a long time. And my mom loved being pregnant, so I grew up dreaming about how great it would be, how good it would feel, how wonderful that time would be.

I have had some good conversations with some dear women over the past week that have helped me see other options we have, however. Adoption is something that has always been on our hearts, something we considered even if we did have a few of our own children biologically. And my friend Ashley gave me a lot of hope about the process of adoption, the joy of mother hood, and, as she put it, how genes don't matter at all when it comes to loving your child.

The door to biological children feels like it's closing, but there's this amazing process happening in my heart, a  process of joyful expectation, looking forward to a different type of pregnancy and waiting, a different type of laboring.

We have been praying and talking a lot about becoming Foster Parents. This is something fairly new in our minds, but is taking root quickly as we talk about what it means to be Jesus in this world. We both have such full hearts when we realize that bringing a child into a home where he or she can be loved without reserve or conditions is exactly what God our Father has and is doing for us. Especially me.

Yesterday I was crying in the shower, feeling heavy hearted, praying about becoming foster parents, closing one door, walking through another seemingly open door.

I got out of the shower, looked on facebook, and saw a recent post from the local children's emergency care home, a plea for people to become foster parents. Apparently they are experiencing the greatest shortage ever right now in our area, having to turn down 30 children every week that need to be placed in a home.

We're still not absolutely certain about anything and are taking slow steps, but that definitely felt like a bit of confirmation from the Lord that there is a definite need, and that he has planted the desire in our hearts to meet that need.

It really is breathing life into me to be a part of something bigger than me, and bigger even than the dreams I had for myself.

As Jeremy put it yesterday, this marriage has brought us into a new season of choosing not to live life selfishly or for ourselves. It gives us a lot of joy to think of sacrificing for the sake of the gospel, giving up our independence and opening our hearts and home to love children who need security, hope and love. We know it wouldn't be easy. In fact, reading about sexual and physical abuse in children has us both very aware of just how difficult this could be. But when God calls you to something, all of a sudden those scary things that you never thought you would do begin to feel like exactly what you have to do.

We have an informational meeting on Thursday night. Pray for us. Pray that our hearts would be united, that the timing would be God's and not ours, and that we would continue to grow in knowing Jesus, our Father who has rescued us from darkness and brought us into his family as adopted heirs.

April 11, 2011

"Loneliness does not come from being alone, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important."

I was just thinking about my mom a few minutes ago, and how much I miss her. And then I read this quote and thought "That is why I miss her so much."

There's a part of me that just feels alone, like there's just not the right person to open up this part of my heart, the part of my heart that my mother owned and cared for so gently and generously. 

I miss her so much for so many reasons. There are just so many important things that I wish I could tell her.

I know that she didn't hold all of the answers, but it sure feels like she would have some good advice for some of the struggles I am facing right now.

Ohhh how my throat burns with the ways that I miss her.

April 7, 2011

soler

There's a verb in Spanish that is used to express something that used to be. I used to go to the beach. I used to run every day. I used to eat chocolate cake for breakfast. The verb is soler.

Tonight I am in a state of soler. I am grieving the loss of the person I used to be.

I used to be so many things that I find now are not a part of who I am.

I fear that I am losing myself. And honestly, I just don't really love the person I have become. I am having to get to know myself all over again. I spent many awfully painful, long years getting to myself in junior high. Those years were awkward, gawky, emotional and stupid. And now, here I am again. Having to figure out how to redefine and understand the person I am becoming.

I don't know what I want to be when I grow up anymore.

But I do know that I don't want to be miserable. I refuse to accept misery as the main status. And I know joy is a choice. And I feel like I have done a pretty good job choosing joy this school year. But deep cries from somewhere inside me hope that perhaps there is something that will fulfill, something that will make me feel alive, something that will motivate me to try and think and pursue things bigger than me.


I used to think I could be a writer someday.

I used to think I would love being a teacher.

I used to think my depression wouldn't be permanent.

I used to have so many hopes for the future.

I used to I used to I used to.

I feel like my medication, my diagnosis, and many other things have changed so many factors in my life. Chemically I feel different. Mentally I don't feel the same. I feel completely different in such weird, foreign ways. And now I feel like I have been left with a bunch of "used to's" and "if only's", which really, in the end, aren't much to hold onto.

March 16, 2011

spring

It's that time of year again. It's so hard for me to remember spring when I'm in the midst of winter. So hard to remember the joy of feeling warm again, so hard to remember the sweet taste of Strawberry Limeades with sunlight on my face.

I love spring.

No really. I love spring.

Someone else I know loved spring. Perhaps she passed it on to me, as I grew up watching her delight in fresh budding trees and planting flowers and nature hikes through the park.

My mom loved spring. Today I miss her a lot.

Every time March comes around, I find myself remembering a lot. I remember her last year, the struggle of watching her life fade from this earth, the pain of wondering every morning, Is this the last time I will see her? Will I ever say "I love you" to her again? Those were hard months.

And yet, they were so beautiful. They are so beautiful. They are marked with grace, a special grace that only terminal illness can bring about.

For now I can't go on. Grief, so fresh, my companion for so many years, wraps itself around me tight, and my heart struggles to beat, much less deal with this deep, unending ache. Oh, how I miss her.

February 25, 2011

come visit me

I am a new author for my friend Jake's blog Notes from a small place.

I just posted my first entry. You can check it out here.

February 23, 2011

valentines day

I never got around to posting pictures from Valentines Day. It was a super fun evening with my hubby. I know Valentines Day is just a commercial holiday and blah blah blah but to be honest, after you've been married for a while it's easy to lose track of time and not make as many special evenings as you probably should. So for us, this was a really fun time to make a special dinner and have a date night.

We had steak and potatoes (yummmmm) and sauteed Asparagus (love)...



...and watched Once, one of my favorites which Jeremy had never seen before. The music is absolutely amazing, and the accents and different words (set in Ireland) are so much fun!


At school Jeremy sent me flowers, which was super special and fun. I still get butterflies in my stomach when he surprises me with sweet things like that.


A very fun reason to hang out with my best friend Jerbear, eat good food, and delight in a beautiful story.

February 18, 2011

love.

I love this bouquet. I have my thoughts about redoing my wedding. I literally dream about it, actually. And though I loved my bouquet, I think that I would probably change to this if I had the chance.

Also, this bouquet reminds me of my friend Whitney's wedding.


...By Poppies and Posies spotted on You are my Fave.

February 8, 2011

Grace

The sermon on Sunday got me thinking about grace. The topic of the sermon was "Grace at Home." My pastor talked about what it looks like to be a grace-based parent. It was very interesting and compelling for me as a future mother, but where it really hit home for me was in the area of teaching.

I found myself asking the question: What would it look like to have a grace-based classroom?

What would it look like to always look at the intentions of the child rather than their actions?

What would it look like to try to understand the child before I jump down their throat for behavior that doesn't fit my rule book?

He said Before you ever lecture a teenager, ask 10 questions.
I have tried doing this for the past two days. I can't believe how quickly it dissolves situations that I was getting upset about. As soon as I take a breath and try to see where the child is coming from, I realize that their intentions were not evil or cruel, they were just not what I was expecting, not what made me most comfortable.

I'm not all about kids ruling the classroom, but I do have to wonder, Do my kids know what grace is because of how I have treated them?
My pastor pointed out that for children, parents are the first and main God-figure they have in life. He asked the question Can you tell your child "Think about how I treat you. That's the way God treats us as His children." ?
Got me thinking about how powerful of an opportunity I have to impact that lives of these students. What if someday they are presented with the concept of grace, and they look back and realize that the reason they understand grace is because they experienced it with me? Wouldn't that be amazing?

I have been pondering this for the past few days now, trying to think of ways to implement grace into my classroom. It's a lifestyle, a choice, a belief. What I believe about grace impacts every decision I make as a teacher - and believe me, we make a LOT of decisions throughout the day.

The final point of the sermon was that of celebrating a child because of who they are, not based on what they have done, but based on grace. Just as God looks at us and celebrates us as His most prized possession based on His Grace, so also we should celebrate the lives of our children and students as a prized possession, not because of what they have done, but because they are God's masterpiece.

Having this perspective has certainly changed the way I view my students. It has made me a more gracious person. And hopefully is giving my students a deeper taste of what it means to be loved by a gracious God.

January 2, 2011

the same place

I wrote this post a year ago (January 4th, 2010), in which I took a look at my walk with the Lord and reflected on changes that I was seeing in my life. Part of that post included the following thoughts:

"I have been in a spiritual funk for...quite a while. I don't know why it happened, specifically, but I do know that my senior year of high school was the most alive I have ever felt spiritually. My freshman year was a struggle for a while (that was the beginning of severe depression for me) but still, there were some really sweet times with the Lord, and I was still fervently in the word, reading Christian literature, journaling like crazy. My sophomore year was even harder, with the fall of that year bringing about some of the deepest struggles of my life. But yet again, though there were definitely dry spells, my time with the Lord was rejuvenating, sweet, life-giving.

I never thought I would be here two years later, yet I find myself lost, not sure how I got so far off the path...I used to long for scripture. I used to love reading and journaling and learning about the character of God. Now I just feel very ho-hum about things. This is definitely not the way I want things to be. But it's hard to know where to go from here.

I'm not really one for resolutions. I gave up on them a long time ago. But although there is no plan or implementation process, I am indeed resolved to not be in the same place one year from now. Jeremy and I talked, and it seems that the best place to start is to just start being in the Word again."

I'm a bit discouraged to admit that the resolve to not be in the "same place" a year from then has not quite come to fruition. In many ways, I am exactly where I was a year ago: a bit weary, confused, uncertain, disillusioned. But looking through my blogging from this year, I can still see traces of God's faithfulness, confirmation that though this land looks very barren and similar to my wanderings a year ago, God has not abandoned me. I have to believe that He has not left me to fend for myself. And I have to try, with as much as my heart can muster, to believe that He is still the Author of this story, the Perfecter of my faith.

My hope is that a year from now, I will look back on this year as the year when I finally gained confidence (and maybe a little bit of insight) into the process of prayer. Perhaps also this will be the year that I am able to stand up again and take a few steps with Jesus. And maybe this will be the year that I see my heart begin to mend in the areas of hurts and disappointments deep rooted and difficult to sort out, issues that have kept me in this area of disillusionment and mistrust. Perhaps this is a year where I will see some change come about in this heart of mine.