plan interrupted

plan interrupted

When I was 15 I had a plan.

  1. Graduate college
  2. Find a man
  3. Get married
  4. Adopt a dog
  5. Be adopted by a cat
  6. Have kids
  7. Live happily ever after

My life soooooo didn’t go according to plan.

I didn’t graduate college till I was almost 30.   I had two failed marriages.  The dogs and cat didn’t come till after I turned 30. And children of my own body will never happen.  Some of the reasons my life didn’t go according to plan are my fault, some were things that were never in my control to begin with.

Like many couples, we struggled for years to have children.  Eventually we made the life altering decision to open our hearts to adoption.  (Let me just say here that this was not a decision we made lightly, nor was it an attempt to replace childbearing.  Adoption is an entirely different emotional adjustment and needs to be approached with prayer and care)

That said, we went through the process and were eventually selected by a young couple to raise their baby that was due in approximately 5 more moths.  We really bonded with them.  They said it was very important to them for their child to be raised in a Christian home.   They let us pray with them.

Just a month later we got a call from another agent.  An Emergency Situation – a baby had been born in a local hospital and the mother had just walked out.  Classic abandonment.  Did we want the baby?  Martin and I looked at each other…we were tempted.  Oh so tempted.  We could honor our agreement with the first couple and wait for their baby, or go right now and come home with a baby today.  Oh we were tempted.  That’s when grief unresolved rears its ugly head.  My arms ached to hold a baby, any baby. But we prayed, and felt a sense of peace about honoring our agreement with the first couple.  We felt good about that decision.

Then it happened again, the very next week. Similar situation.  This time it was twins.  Oh my word!  But again we decided to wait and go with the couple we had already committed to.

We were now just a month or two away from her due date.  It looked like our happily ever after was just around the corner.

But …(why is there always a but?)

A week later this couple, that had been so open and sweet turned out to be dishonest.  They chose to disappear with a large chunk of money and a huge piece of our hearts.

We were devastated.

We were in shock.

Why had God allowed us to connect so well with this couple? Why did He allow them to defraud us? Why had He given us such peace about continuing with a couple that HE knew was going to wrong us?  A couple that he knew was lying to us and their own extended family?

Some good things came out of the situation.

We watched our agent display integrity and compassion.

We were able to be a witness to the couple through our opportunity to show them mercy and not press charges. As well as the various kindnesses along the way.

Maybe God’s purpose was the timing?  For those of you who have met Ginny,  you know the story turns out well.  But did you know that she is a miracle of timing?

The very same weekend that we had been invited out to meet our first couple.  The very same weekend that we were supposed to go to an ultrasound appointment with them

Is the same weekend, even the same HOUR that Ginny’s birth parents  were having an ultrasound that showed them Ginny.  That was when they were making their decision that would lead to us adopting Ginny.

We didn’t know it at the time of course.  All we knew was that we had been hurt by one couple and we didn’t know what to do next.  Weeks later when I eventually saw the ultrasound for Ginny, the time and date stamp just leaped right off the page at me.  I got chills.

Was that the purpose of the whole mess with the first couple?  Was God just trying to keep us on hold with them so that we wouldn’t jump at those two abandonment situations?  Was he trying to make sure we would be ready and waiting when Ginny’s birth parents were ready to make their decision?

Maybe.  It is certainly one pattern that I can see. But was that God’s purpose?

I don’t know.

I may never know.

But here is the key to the whole thing

I don’t need to know.

It is enough for me to know that God is good.  I can trust that God did have a purpose in everything that lead us to Ginny.  NOT because I finally have my fairy tale, but because all things are in God’s control and he works all things together for HIS GLORY

HE interrupted my plans (multiple times, but who’s counting?) so that He could give me something far greater than anything that was on my pristine plan.

Yes Ginny is nearly eight now, but I still marvel at how beautifully God orchestrated events so that Ginny would be part of our family and we would be forever part of hers.

 

 

wanting the microphone

I’ve been wishing for a chance to speak publicly about some recent events in my life, and at the same time I’ve been ashamed of that desire.  Part of my southern upbringing is to suppress all hankering for publicity.  So every time I caught myself wanting to speak up about some recent blessings I would firmly squash the desire by telling myself that it was rude to brag.  But what I was failing to comprehend was that the publicity I wanted was not for myself.  I don’t want to brag on my own accomplishments. 

I earnestly yearn to brag on my God. 

The God who brought my family through the struggles of infertility. The God who abundantly blessed us during both my husband’s layoff and my recent job loss.  The God who has showered me in loving mercies during a time that most would see as a severe trial.  Sure, I do have a public forum.  I write a blog, but most of the folks in my church don’t read blogs and I find myself wanting  my congregation, my home church to hear about my God and the wonderful things He has done for me.

Even the psalmist had this same longing.  Look at Psalm 116:17 – 19

To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call upon the name of the LORD
I shall pay my vows to the LORD
Oh may it be in the presence of all His people
In the courts of the LORD’s house
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem
Praise the LORD!

So, in an effort to break out of my overly-southern, rigidly-polite heritage and offer public praise to my Lord, I now submit a sacrifice of praise in the form of a psalm.   I’m not a poet, so forgive me if this is a little rough.  It is from the heart and that is all I was trying to accomplish.

When I cast myself down and wept
Lain down on a bed of sorrow
You comforted my heart
Your peace, O LORD flooded my mind

When I wandered in darkness,
angry and filled with bitterness
You sent words of comfort
you gave a song to my throat
and fierce joy to my limbs

My God will fight my battles
You allowed earthly powers to triumph over me for a day
but granted me the grace to look
mine enemy in the face and
bless Your name

My oppressor has acknowledged
You O my God.
The power of Your hand has been visible
even unto him who has struck me down
You caused him to weep
in bitterness and to bless your name
You have allowed my oppressor to see
Your favor for me.
He has witnessed the outpouring of
Your blessings on my house and my lands

O LORD my God
May Your name be praised
May my speech and the labor of my hands
Be nothing more than a window to You
Protect me LORD from everything
except Your Glory.

May I never cease to sing Your Praise.

Try writing your own psalm to God during this Lent season and see what happens.

have my baby..please?

Can you possibly imagine that line as the start of a deep, meaningful friendship?

Well, I can.

Cause I once asked that very question of someone.  They turned me down and then proceeded to become a major part of my life.

What on earth am I talking about you ask? (or maybe you’ve already stopped reading ’cause I’ve offended you…)

Well back a few years ago when I was still reeling from our failed IVF tries one of the options the doctor mentioned was to have a surrogate mother carry a baby for us.  We could either use our own …um….material, or just my husband and the surrogate.  That last option completely turned me off, but the idea of having someone carry our child for us was not completely repugnant, so we agreed to think about it.  But then the doctors  started telling me all the stuff we would need to look into to find a surrogate.  DNA testing for the surrogate and descriptions and interviews…it was all so cold and clinical.  We were turned off by the whole process, so we put the notion on the shelf and got on with the process of healing our sore hearts.

Another friend who had been going through infertility issues herself pointed me to a wonderful blog post by a person named Missy.  It was all about how God never puts us in a place or situation without there being a reason, a meaning in it.

After reading that first post I kept reading.  and reading.  and reading.  I really liked this lady.  I liked her style and I envied her the ability to have four kids.  Her fertility and my infertility were in stark contrast to each other, and the thought crossed my mind…I wonder if she would be willing to be a surrogate for us?

I took my courage in both hands, and emailed her.

She very compassionately said, no.  And for a very good reason – Missy had had a rough delivery with her last baby and she was scared to try again.  Which is perfectly understandable.

Now this COULD have been a humiliating moment for me, but Missy made it into the beginning of a sweet relationship.  And no matter how depressed I got, or how frustrated with God’s timing, she kept pointing me back to God and reminding me that He is GOOD and He had not forgotten me.

Eventually, after a lot of healing and soul searching, we chose to adopt domestically and we could not possibly have been more blessed than we are to have Ginny.  Her birth parents are a wonderful part of our family life and they know how much we love them.  I honestly would not trade Ginny for any child of my own body.

But beyond helping me with my emotional healing, Missy did something far greater for me – she pointed out a prejudice that I was holding on to unjustly and opened my eyes to the amazing ministry of a lovely lady in Houston named Beth Moore.

Since then it’s been three years of non-stop blessing. Accountability,  Bible studies,  discussions, scripture memory teams, and now I’m EIGHT DAYS away from FINALLY meeting MISSY.

so Missy, thank you for NOT having my babies.

the most wonderful post of the year

This post is important.

It is the post that lead to a friendship.

But it is more than just simply important to me.  At this time of year there are loads of people going through depression for many reasons.  This post helps those who know God to get through it in a better frame of spirit.

There are loads of reasons people get depressed during the holidays.  I can’t speak to all of them.  But I can talk about this.  December of 2007 I was in a very bad place emotionally.  Martin and had been through lots of treatment for infertility issues, including two rounds of IVF.  All our efforts  had failed.  We had come to the end of our rope.  I was basically okay with it…at first.

then came  Christmas.

and oh boy.  all the symbolism, all the services, all the kids programs, all the holiday photos and posters, and commercials.

I felt like I was in a flood.  Being overwhelmed by the Virgin Mary and her Baby Boy.

It was so hard to take.  I sat in the balcony and cried through the children’s service.  I ended up staying home that night and not even doing the Christmas play at church that I was supposed to be in.  I knew I should have gone and fulfilled my commitment, but I just couldn’t bring myself to be around kids at that point.  I saw them not as little people, but as walking symbols of my pain.  It was a very unhealthy outlook, but I was caught up in the middle of it and couldn’t see that right then.

It hurt too much.  I was so sad and jealous and angry.  I wanted to scream out my anguish to God.  WHY was I not a mommy yet?

Then Trish pointed me to this post. Everything changed.  Something about this post just turned over my apple cart.  Put the focus back where it was supposed to be in the first place.

Read it.  No matter what your reason for depression, or if you are simply disgruntled this season, it will change how you look at your current circumstances.  I re-read it every year. And find new reasons to revel in the message.

Enjoy.

sunday roast is in the oven

Acts 16: 22 – 26

22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.

When this passage is talked about or preached about people tend to concentrate on the moment that the chains fell off.  I want to point out something different.

Paul and Silas had been attacked.  I am certain that right before and during the attack they prayed to God for deliverance.  And in that moment, it looked to them like God didn’t answer.

Paul and Silas were stripped of their clothes.  I am sure they asked God to spare them.  Being without clothes in front of a jeering crowd is a horrific thought.  But in that moment, God let it happen.

Paul and Silas were beaten.  I am positive that they begged God to still the hands of the person holding the whip.  To change the heart of the magistrate who had ordered this.  But in that moment, from their perspective, God did not answer.  He allowed the beating to happen.

Paul and Silas were thrown into prison.  I need no one to tell me that they were pleading with God in their hearts, and perhaps out loud to deliver them. What possible ministry could they hope to have in a prison?  But in that moment, God was still silent.

Paul and Silas lay on the probably filthy floor of that prison.  Their skin flayed open, dirt, grit, sweat, blood, and tears all mingling.  They were hurting.  And the hurt had been going on for hours.  At some point they have to have beseeched God “please Lord, if you must leave us in jail, heal our wounds! Then our jailors will see your glory when they come down here and see that you are our Protector!”

Everyone focuses on the deliverance from prison and I too tend to forget that they went through a long process of hate, attack, fear, beatings, and pain. I cannot for one minute believe that the songs that night around midnight were the first time God had heard from Paul and Silas that day. The Sunday school image of a cheerful Paul and Silas with their limbs semi comfortably arranged in chains is just so wrong.  They were praying and singing hymns to God the bible says.  Do you imagine that they were singing “clap your hands all ye people”? Or something more akin to “the Battle Hymn of the Republic” ???

It would have been so easy for them to cry out to God “You let us down! You let Your enemies attack us, beat us and now you have left us here to rot!”  How many times do we go through trials  (infertility, joblessness, hate and harassment, ridicule) and when God doesn’t answer the way we were expecting we assume that means that He has abandoned us or that we did something wrong.  “Lord, I’ve prayed and prayed and you haven’t delivered me yet!”  But what if the reason was so that you could cross paths with someone further down the path?  Someone that needs to see you trusting in God.

On the other hand there is only so much we can learn from seeing others trusting God while they suffer.  I really think the reason God needs us to stew in a particular problem for a while is that WE OURSELVES need time to learn.  Time for the lesson of God’s sovereign care for us and over our lives to sink in.  Time for us to, in effect get spiritually tenderized.  No roast ever got tender by watching another roast cook. eh?

So it’s time for me to apply this lesson to myself.

No matter how much I learn from reading or hearing about other people’s lives and trials and tribulations, there will be things I can only learn from going through it myself.

I hold up pretty well in emergencies.  Quick disasters.  High heat, short cook time. Those are no problem for me.  It is the long drawn out situations  – like infertility, and learning to hold my tongue at work – those are my bugbears.  The ones that completely trip me up.  The slow cooker situations are the ones that get me in trouble.  I’ve always just accepted that I’m not good at them.

Recently I’ve been coming to the conclusion that I don’t have to be good at them.  I just have to remember that God IS Good at these long slow drawn out situations and learn to trust Him.

Also it finally hit me that the best way to tenderize my soul is to put it through a long, slow, low heat scenario.  The end result is a tender, gorgeous, tantalizing meal.  Much better than charred steak.

The scent wafts through the house on a Sunday afternoon…you know what I’m talking about.  A portion of beef, potatoes, onions, celery, and carrots.   Seasoned just right.  The beef was seared this morning, then put in a large pan and seasoned.  Vegetables were cut up and tossed in.  The whole thing is covered.  They have been cooking slowly in your mother’s oven or crock pot the whole time the family was at church.  And now the gorgeous aroma fills the house.

I want the aroma of my soul to fill God’s nostrils with that type of scent.  Warm, promising, delectable and oh so tender.  Just like Paul and Silas.

what to say

Missy has asked for people to help her know what to say to an infertile couple.

This is hard.  I was one.  I was once one of those walking bundles of pain and anguish who wants to hold a child so badly that it colors everything.

I have friends who say that “the infertile woman inside your head never goes away, even once you have children” … I disagree.  I am deliriously happy with my one little girl.  She came to us through the difficult process of  adoption and I simply don’t know if I could love any child more than I love her.  We have a wonderful relationship with her birth parents and our whole extended family embraced adoption as a perfectly understandable way of having a child join our home. (And yes, I’m simplifying.  I can’t tell the whole adoption story here.  If you want to know more, read the archives. Jan 2008 through now)

We are lucky.  Very lucky.  God Healed a lot of things before the adoption.  Not the least of which was my heart.

But back when I was going through the whole IVF process, after the second try failed, a dear friend pointed me to a post by this woman named Missy.  It was a Christmas post about how Mary hadn’t expected to give birth in a stable.  It was powerful.

I liked her writing style.  So I read more.  Then I took a deep breath and contacted her.  Even though you would think that someone with four kids under four wouldn’t really appeal to a woman who was aching to have a child.  But we connected.  What did she say that made me feel better? that made her my friend and not the enemy?

  • She didn’t act like there was anything wrong with me as a person.
  • She reminded me CONSTANTLY that God loved me and He had a plan and that it was Good.
  • She listened EVERY time I needed to whine or cry.
  • She CRIED WITH ME
  • she didn’t claim to have answers to the physical struggles, but she applied the balm of scripture to my heart.  Reminding me that God ALONE was my rock.
  • And if we had lived in the same state she would have let me hold her kids.  This one is big.  Women who are infertile sometimes have a HUGE sense of restraint when it comes to holding children.  I can’t speak for everyone, but for me I was terrified of holding my arms out to a child.  What if they laughed and ran away?  I KNOW that toddlers do this all the time.  But for a woman who already is feeling like maybe God is saying “you are unfit to be a mother” having a child run away from you can very nearly feel like a physical blow.  So mostly I didn’t have the courage to hold my arms out. I would wait for someone to place their child in my arms.  It was much safer.  Much less chance of rejection.

So moms of many kids – show confidence in your infertile friends as people.  Love them for who they are apart from the issue of childbearing.

Directors of worship – find ways to celebrate mothers day without making it about biological motherhood.  Try celebrating the act of mothering, rather than the miracle of conception.

oh, and whatever you do, don’t earnestly assure them that if they just relax it will happen.  Look.  That has nothing to do with it.  Conception and birth is a miracle that ONLY God controls.

And do yourself a huge favor.  Read this blog post from a friend of mine.  It address some theological and cultural hurdles that infertile women face in the church.  It may help you see some of the hurt in a different light.

Thanks Missy for doing this post.

oh and there is nothing wrong with encouraging folks to consider adoption.  We did.  And I would not have missed out on my Ginny for all the “biologically mine” children in the universe.

happy baby

happy baby

one year

Tomorrow, December 11th, will be my one year anniversary as a blogger. Or Bloggaversary as some have put it.

Wow.

Has it been a year?

Already?

last year I was hurting. Emotionally wounded. I couldn’t go to church or wal-mart or anywhere really without experiencing agonies of longing.

Every. single. time. I saw a child. Or even a reminder of parenting. I would fall apart.

Sometimes it didn’t even take a reminder. There were times at my desk at work. While doing normal work things. With no warning whatsoever, I would just fall apart.

You see in late September of 2007 I had just found out that our final IVF attempt had failed. We had gambled everything, all our reserves on two rounds of IVF. We reasoned that for the cost of one international adoption we could have two rounds of IVF and that seemed better to us that all the potential complications of international adoption. We had already ruled out domestic adoption because we had been told that the wait would be far too long and that the process was out of our financial range.

So basically I thought we were at the end of the line.

During October and November I was sort of numb. But when December hit, my emotional state went downhill. I didn’t blame God. I just figured that we had been deemed un-suitable to raise a family so God was withholding His blessings from our endeavors. What made it worse was that it was MY BODY that had failed to accept the embryos. That twisted like a knife inside me all the time.

My emotional state was so erratic that I talked to a friend about it. She gave me some things to read and then she made another suggestion: blog.

huh?

Well, it turns out that she had been using her blog to work through her pain and it really helped her to be able to look back and see her progress.

um…..okay sure. I’ll try it.

So I started this blog. I titled it based on a state of mind that I assumed would continue forever: scream of continuousness. But something changed.

I got better. Was it blogging? nope. It was a direct result of blogging though: I had to DAILY spend time in exploring my thoughts and feelings and asking God what he wanted me to say. That changed my outlook within just a few weeks.

Have I always posted on devotional topics? Nope. Sometimes I’m frivolous and silly. Sometimes I am just working through stuff “out loud” with no real plan of where the post is going.

But mostly it has been a recognition that I have to DAILY place myself in God’s hands. Blogging has helped me with that.

I’ve made some incredible friends here. And learned at lot. In the course of this year of learning, we were matched (twice) and eventually adopted a gorgeous baby girl who is proving to me even more than this blog could, that I have to put myself DAILY right where God wants me: in HIS hands.