Friday, July 17, 2015

Running to God

I do not remember where I heard this, but I am pretty sure it was Christine Caine who said it. The quote went like this: "When you are faced with difficult circumstances in life, you can either run to God, or you can run from Him. The choice is yours."

If memory serves me correctly, I first heard this when I was pregnant, so I didn't think too much about it, because I felt like I had faced my adversity called infertility, and I felt I had beat it and was finally on the other side. I had no idea that a few weeks later, I would have a miscarriage.

I was talking with a friend the other night and we were sharing the story of our miscarriages. We've both been through it, and it came up. I told her that some of that time is a blur, but there are certain things I remember. I remember the silence as the doctor looked at the screen during my ultrasound. I remember the nurse look from the screen to my doctor's face with a worried look in her eyes. I remember being marched over to the main hospital for another ultrasound there. I remember the word ectopic and the fear in my heart when they told me how serious that could be. I remember them telling me to call if I had any pain or bleeding over the weekend. I remember sleeping on the couch and hearing my husband on the phone with our pastor who had called to check on me. I remember the pain I went through physically. I remember the callous remark of an employee when I came back to work.

A lot of that is a blur with some distinct memories, but one thing I remember very well. This was several days after my ultrasound when it was confirmed that I was miscarrying. I remember standing in our living room and absolutely losing my mind with anger and fury and tears and sobs and accusations. I yelled angrily at God. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME!? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!? I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU AT ALL! I DON'T UNDERSTAND THIS AT ALL! A MISCARRIAGE? SERIOUSLY!?

And on and on and on I went, until I was absolutely exhausted. My husband looked on probably in horror, but He understood there was nothing to say or do but let me grieve.

I think about that moment, the absolute PAIN of it all, standing in the middle of our living room, when the horror and unfairness of a miscarriage after nearly three years of trying to conceive hit me. It brought out an anger in me that I did not even know existed, and just in case you are not clear, my anger was definitely directed at God. Was I going to turn away from Him? No. No way. But in that moment, I was furious. Thankfully He is not dismayed or startled or angry at our anger. He gets it. He not only gets it, but He knows that our anger is coming from a place of hurt. And He hurts with us.

I'm getting ahead of myself. I don't remember what happened next, but Brad probably came and put  his arms around me, I probably cried until I was done, and then I most likely curled up on the couch and went back to sleep.

I don't know if it was that day or the next day or the next, but at some point, those words came back to me. "When you are faced with difficult circumstances in life, you can either run to God, or you can run from Him. The choice is yours."

I decided right away. I would be running to Him. There was no question. Even in my anger at Him, I wanted Him. I needed Him. I've walked with Him long enough to know that He is the only place you can find the kind of comfort and peace you are longing for. Running to Him was all I could do. And so I did.

I am now about 15 months from that time. Have my circumstances gotten easier? No. Am I finally a mom? No. Are there still days of grief, sadness, discouragement? YES. Absolutely, yes. If you would have told me during that time that I still wouldn't have a baby over a year after my miscarriage, I wouldn't have been able to take it. But here I am, over a year after my miscarriage, with no baby. Not only no baby, but also another failed procedure. But it's okay. It is OKAY. Because I have found that when you run to God instead of away from Him, you find so much more than you ever thought possible.

I was driving home from work the other day and it just began to dawn on me that God is working through my situation, big-time. I mean, I know that God is always at work, but sometimes you can see that, and sometimes you just can't. And I began to just get overwhelmed as I started to see all these little things that have taken place in my life one by one. My circumstances haven't changed all that much, but my heart has changed, I have so much more compassion for other people and their own struggles, my desire to know God more has deepened, I have learned a little bit more about what it means to trust Him, my passion for praise and worship has increased tremendously, and my prayer life has become more of something I want to do than something I should do. I do not say any of this to make myself look good. Truly. I am human. The only thing I did right was make the choice to run to Him instead of away from Him. He took care of the rest. So, no, none of this is to say I am some sort of special person. I am saying this to brag on God, and how he can use every situation for His glory. I do believe and trust that He is going to give me a baby, but it makes total sense to me that He would allow infertility in my life knowing it would bring me closer to Him. This is what He does! He is not out to destroy your life, but He loves to use those tough times for a greater purpose! It doesn't mean He will never turn your situation around. It just means that it is more important to Him that you find Him, that you get to know Him, that you fall in love with Him. And sometimes the only way we will run into His arms is when we are faced with the most difficult circumstances we could have imagined.

He has been so faithful. I think for the first two to three years of infertility, I really struggled to see or understand what he was doing. Especially after my miscarriage. There is absolutely no sense in losing a baby, and I still cannot begin to understand why that happened to me, or why it happens to anyone. But I do know that in the midst of all that pain, God is doing great things. When I was just a pre-teen, I was very tenderhearted, very compassionate. I loved the Lord and I was close to him. I continued to live my life for him through my teens and twenties. Somewhere along the line, though, I lost the closeness I once had with Him. Of course I didn't notice this as it was happening, I just remember early in my marriage, before infertility, realizing I was no longer compassionate like I used to be. I had a bitterness to my words that kind of bothered me, they were not portraying the kind of person I thought I was. I remembered that I used to be so tenderhearted, and I wasn't any more, and I didn't like that. I remembered that I used to be so uninhibited in my praise and worship, and now I was very timid, and I didn't like that either. There were all kinds of other signs, and I didn't like any of them. I wanted that closeness back; it really disturbed me that it was missing. I remember realizing all of this and being troubled about it, because how could I ever get back to that kind of closeness with God? That had taken years to develop in the first place. I told God that I wanted to be close to Him again, but didn't know how to get there. There was no secret sin that caused me to back away, no offense. It was just a gradual focus on other things besides Him. I asked Him to help me.

That is a very long way of saying, He did it. He helped me. He answered that prayer. He is so faithful. I wonder if I would have faced infertility if I had not prayed that prayer. I have no idea. But I know He has definitely used infertility and loss to bring me back to a close relationship with Him. And for that I am truly very thankful. He is all I need!

I have seen people run from God. They were offended or hurt or they faced a very difficult trial that they did not recover from. They were furious at God, and so they ran. Were their specific circumstances harder than mine? In my eyes, sometimes yes. Sometimes no. But you know what? The specific circumstance is not the point. It's all hard. Life is hard. Pain is pain. You just have to know who to run to. I'm not saying you can't be angry. I'm not saying you can't be angry with God. He knows you're angry anyway, and He understands why you feel the way you do. But in your anger, through your anger (or sadness or despair or hurt), run TO Him. Not from Him! Trust me, the place you want to be during adversity is right in God's arms. There really is no better place to be.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

4th of July Weekend

So despite the bummer of 4th of July weekend (which I talked about in my last post), we still had a pretty good one. I didn't take many pictures at all, but I did get a few!

I think this was the Wednesday before 4th of July weekend, but I have to share it anyway! Silly dog!

We were off work Friday, so this is me with my coworkers Cheryl & Morgan heading out at 5:00 on Thursday afternoon! Goodbye, workplace! HELLO, three day weekend! :)

LOVED being off on Friday!! I had a free day to do whatever, and since there was no rain in the forecast (for once!), I went to my parent's house for a swim. My friend Amanda joined me! We swam and talked for a few hours. Had a great time. Love this girl! 

Fourth of July started with lunch & swimming at my parent's house. Fievel was very excited to get to go for a ride!

Everything looked SO good! Mom made the best barbeque chicken, baked & sweet potatoes, her amazing green beans and her wonderful baked beans! She also made my grandmother's homemade  vanilla ice cream, which is the BEST! Michelle made her famous apple pie! Everything was absolutely delicious! (I know that's a lot of big adjectives, but really... we had some good food!)

My view for an hour or so while we waited for the rain to stop! It wasn't just raining, it was storming! I so wanted to swim! Finally gave up and went in the living room for some TV. (Well, TV for some, napping for others!)

FINALLY it stopped raining!! Michelle & Mike had to go, as they had evening plans in their city, but me, Brad & my parents swam for a couple of hours!! We had a so much fun! Beach volleyball and Marco Polo, anyone?!

We finally got out, and got dressed, and headed over to Brad's Aunt & Uncle's house. For dinner there was hotdogs, hamburgers, and ALL KINDS of other deliciousness! Including this cake. SO GOOD!

We had to leave early because I wasn't feeling so great, but it was still a pretty good day!

Sunday we took this picture because we didn't get a picture in our red white & blue on Saturday! Even though I didn't really get much of the red white & blue! Oops! :)

Hope you had a great fourth of July weekend!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I Still Believe

I do not even know what to say right now. It amazes me how quickly God comes in and rescues me when I am having a particularly hard time. He absolutely amazes me.

I should probably back up.

Most of you are familiar with our infertility story. (If not, you can read it here.) I do not want to minimize the pain of this disease. IT IS PAINFUL. It is the hardest, most frustrating, most exhausting, most discouraging, most unfair, most expensive, most heartbreaking journey I have ever been on. It absolutely sucks. Anyone who has been through it will agree. Nobody will say, "I mean, it's not that bad. I got through it." Nope. Nobody will say that. It changes you. For better or worse. I have to say some people get angry at God and run from Him when they face infertility. I am thankful that isn't what's happened with me. I have been angry with God through this before. Furious, even. But the anger melted away before I could really get anywhere with it! I think this is because He so quickly comes in to comfort, to restore, to reassure, to LOVE ME. I do not know how people face something like infertility without Him.

I feel like it is a misunderstood disease (and I'm not being dramatic by using the term disease... that is what it is). People who haven't been there just shrug it off as either (a) the hand you were dealt (as in, you know, get over it and move on), or (b) they try to diagnose it by telling you what you should be doing and insinuating that if you did that maybe then you would conceive. (These instructions are almost always given when the person doesn't know your infertility diagnosis.)

After our miscarriage last year we took a much longer break from treatments than I expected. At first we needed the break because I was an emotional mess, to put it mildly. I needed to grieve and heal and I needed a break to be able to do that. Then we needed to continue our break for financial reasons. Then we moved, then the holidays came, and we decided we would go back in the new year. During all of this we continued to try to conceive naturally.

In January God gave me a word for the year. BELIEVE. Believe! Believe that He will give us our baby. Believe the impossible. Believe in His faithfulness. Believe in His miracles...not just His miracles for others, but for ME! For us! BELIEVE HIM. So I began to read the gospels and I took note of when someone's faith made them well. The woman with the issue of blood - I really related to her. So many healed because they believed. I kept reading and gradually, I began to believe too! After years of infertility, your trust & belief in a God of miracles might waver. It did for me. I knew he COULD heal me. I knew He COULD give me a miracle. But I didn't know if he would. And I was afraid He wouldn't. He hasn't answered... maybe He isn't going to. Maybe he doesn't want me to be a mom. Maybe that's not something He is going to give me. Maybe I would be a terrible mom. Maybe I'm too old. Maybe maybe maybe... all of these were fears that had nothing to do with what God was actually saying. God was saying one thing to me: BELIEVE!

So. (This is getting way too long.) On June 19th, we had another IUI. For many reasons, I felt that this time was IT. I just knew it. For one thing, this was our first treatment since He'd given me the word believe - and i actually DID believe. What does His word say? "All things are possible if you believe." "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can tell a mountain to move and it will move!" "We know that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know that we have what we asked of Him." "Daughter, your faith has healed you." (Some of those are my paraphrase, sorry!) So my longing to believe had turned into ACTUAL belief in Him and what He could (& would!) do in my life. So of course, now that I believed, He would come through. Right?? For another thing, God has been moving in our support group. One girl after another has been conceiving after years of infertility. This is super encouraging to me! Now it was my turn, and guess what? God was going to come through for me too! That's what I thought. Surely He wouldn't leave me out. Surely I would get to experience this joy right alongside my infertility sisters. Right??

Of course there were moments in my two week wait that I was so fiercely believing in a "YES", that I had to allow myself to consider that his answer would be "no". I remember thinking, "He is going to give us our  miracle this time around! But if for some reason He doesn't, I'm just going to have to understand that no right now doesn't mean no forever. I am going to have to trust Him and know that He knows best, and that He will give us our baby - SOON - but just not THIS month." But I still thought it would be yes. And I was worried about how I would handle a "no".

Well, the IUI was not successful. It did not work. Everything leading up to it... everything that has to happen with the meds and my body and Brad's - all of that happened flawlessly. But I still did not conceive.

The two week wait is torture. For anyone but especially when you are 37 and on your fourth year of infertility. Especially when you're pursuing treatments. TORTURE! So week one wasn't too bad. Week two was ... well, I felt insane. Ha. Thursday night I started cramping and had a little bit of bleeding. Of course you tell yourself it can still be implantation bleeding or something else. Lots of women cramp before they find out they're actually pregnant. Friday morning I took a pregnancy test. Big fat negative. Well, I didn't want to think about it. I was not in the mood to grieve...yes, I actually said that! So i put it out of my mind.

But late that night, I just cried and cried. On Saturday I started my period. It was the fourth of July so I tried to just live in denial so I could enjoy the day. But the cramps were pretty intense by evening so we said goodbye to family at our get together and we went on home. Saturday night is a blur. I was up half the night with the heating pad. I was so tired, I could have stayed in bed, but I wanted so badly to go worship! (I know that is odd, but it's true!)

Sunday at church there was an altar call for those who need healing. I went forward and one of my dearest friends, Mandy, met me there. She wrapped her arms around me and I (literally) cried on her shoulder. (I got mascara on her sweater!) I felt people surround us and I heard their prayers. I heard Billy, her husband, singing Healer on the keyboard (which has been one of my songs through infertility). One of the men in our church prayed for me, and afterwards He told me he knows I want a baby and he believes God is going to give me the desire of my heart. Some people hugged me after church, too. I honestly have never felt as loved by a church family as I did Sunday! (Don't get me wrong! They show their love all the time but this was something special!)

And that is just one of the ways that God blessed me after getting our news that our procedure didn't work. He touched my heart so deeply on Sunday morning. He brought so much comfort. It's almost like ... He knows how bad I want this, He knows how painful it is to continue to go through it year after year after year, He knew this time it wouldn't work - not because of anything we've done wrong, but because (what ever His reason is!). So knowing all of that, but also knowing He couldn't give us our yes yet, He was ready and waiting to rescue me when I needed it most. I mean, I needed what happened Sunday morning. God set that up for me & for others in our church body who needed His touch. How wonderful is our God!

In the past, the longer I went through infertility the harder it got. The more the "why me" questions lingered, the more doubts consumed me, the more I wondered if God was ever going to come through for us! But now...things are different. Because of one word. BELIEVE. There were times towards the end of the two week wait that I thought, "If this doesn't work, I am going to be SO ANGRY!" And I was - for all of about fifteen minutes. The thing is, God has not told me anything except to believe Him. Trust Him, knowing He can do more than I could ask or imagine. I told this to a friend and I'll you the same thing. I really do not understand why He is allowing us to go through this, and I don't know if I ever will. There are days when the pain is unbearable, and there are days when I feel like God has let me down. There is confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to infertility. But there is one thing I do know. He gave me the word Believe. So that is what I am going to do.

P.S. I wanted to add that I really appreciate those of you who have taken the time to pray for us! I know we have many prayer warriors, and I am convinced your prayers are why I feel his presence in my life so strongly right now. I just want to say - please continue to lift us up in prayer! I know I sound so positive in this post, and I wrote it from my heart. But there are still hard moments, and hard days. There are days when I can't stop crying, days when the doubt begins to creep in, and honestly, days that I am just SO TIRED of infertility. We could also use your prayers that God would continue to provide for us financially, and of course that He will answer our prayers with a baby - or two! Haha!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Father's Day, two special birthdays, & other stuff.

Look at this dog. I've had him for ten years, and I've seen him lay down in many different positions and places, but this one is new! Of course it's his first summer in a home with wood floors, and I've seen him sprawled out on our cool floors more so than in the past when we were in the trailer. But half in bed half out? That's new. I'm thinking he couldn't decide. :)

Speaking of, let me just say. Some woman wrote an article about how calling your pet a furbaby is an insult to moms everywhere. I did not read the article because I knew it would do nothing more than tick me off, but it was posted by moms who thought she needed to get over herself. So i feel justified in being disgusted by this woman. Trust me, lady, I know my FURBABY is not an actual human baby, I know having a human baby is ten times better and harder and more rewarding, so please let this infertile woman call her ONLY baby a furbaby if she wants to.

Sorry. Haha. Had to get that out. I am in the two week wait, and I'm feeling kind of crazy at this particular moment, so. I needed to rant about that for a second!

So now I'm just going to keep saying it. FURBABY FURBABY FURBABY. (I'm so mature.)

Moving on. 

June 18th was a fun day! Apparently it was National Recess Day, and the BRG Fit team went around the hospital with this little fun obstacle course thing for employees to do for a little exercise break. It was fun actually! I was thinking no way would I make a fool of myself in front of those people, but when Morgan said she couldn't hula hoop either, I decided we could make a fool of ourselves together. :) We rocked it, though!

Me & my coworker Morgan. You got an apple if you completed it! Haha!

Coworkers Jenni & Frankie

That evening I had a much needed date with one of my favorite people, Brittany!! She is such a doll! I just love her! So we went to Bistro Byronz, which is quite possibly my favorite restaurant in Baton Rouge. We had a great time. Then we went to Music Man at Theatre Baton Rouge! 

We ran into Zac there and obviously had to have a selfie with him! Love me some Zac! 

And my girl Caty, stage manager for the Music Man! Love her!

June 20th, I was second shooter for my friends Becca & Josh's wedding, and had a blast. It was exhausting and HOT, but such a blast shooting for a wedding at my church where I knew so many people! The father-daughter dance was AMAZING! So fun! No pics though, except the ones taken with my Canon!

After the wedding, we headed to Texas de Brazil for dinner with my dad for Father's Day. My sister and her husband had made the reservations and they picked up Brad's tab for his birthday. Brad turned 40 on the 22nd & Michelle turned 40 on the 23rd! Cannot believe we are getting so old!

Love this picture of us with dad!!

 The three we were celebrating!! One father's day & two fortieth birthdays!

 Michelle & Brad always have to take their annual silly pic.

 Michelle & her husband Mike.
 Mom & Dad!

Me & my sweet love!

 Me & my sis!

Sunday June 21, I wore a dress to church. I never wear dresses except to weddings (weddings that I'm not shooting). So this is rare. I felt it needed to be documented! Even though you can't see the whole thing! I love it! But spanx are painful after a couple of hours. Thus the reason i never wear dresses! If i were thin, I would wear them all the time!

Our church has a father's day tradition where we serve ice cream cone after service. Pastor always asks a few of the ladies to help, and this year I served ice cream with Sarah & Melody. Sarah is new to our church so it was fun getting to know her for a bit! :) 

Later that day, me & Brad went to Sammy's with his parents & sister to celebrate Father's Day & Brad's birthday with them! We went to his parent's house afterwards for cake & ice cream! We had a great time together, as always! I just didn't get any pics!

I may or may not have failed as blogger of the year because I didn't do a special post for Brad on his birthday - and not just ANY birthday but his FORTIETH!!! (Or maybe I fail as a blogger because i rarely blog anymore...). Anyway, I gave him plenty of goodies - and this card! I promise it says nothing dirty inside the card! Ha! A lady from church commented "I'm glad you stopped at the last one!" when i posted this on FB! Hahaha! (He is a good kisser, though! Probably more than you wanted to know! So sue me!)

He had a pretty good birthday, I think. :) Love him SO MUCH.

I guess that's it for now! Hope your June is going well, too!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Friends, Family & a Wedding

The bad thing about not regularly blogging is never knowing what to write. I mean, there are probably 5940933 things to catch you up on, where to begin?! Well, last post I told you about the first weekend in June, so here is the weekend after that! Another great one in the books!

A few things are worth mentioning before the weekend got started, though!

Monday, June 8th - Dinner at Panera with these girls! I have been friends with Sarah & Shana forEVER, and I love them both so much! Sarah & I met in the 5th grade & became best friends, Shana & I met shortly after high school. Not to show my age, but that means Sarah & I have been friends for over 25 years, and Shana & I for almost 20. Crazy! We have so many hilarious stories from working together, going to school & church together, being roommates, you get the idea! We were in each others' weddings too. So now we have to actually make time to get together, and it's hard to do. But we make it happen once every few months. I love it, because no matter how long it's been since the last time, we pick up right where we left off. I guess that's what happens when you've been friends for so long.

Thursday, June 11 - My friend Mary Claire stopped by my work to return a book she'd borrowed & because she had a little something for me. Turns out it was a new mug! And look how cute! I've been calling this girl my soul sister for awhile now (& she's been calling me hers, too), so it was SUCH a sweet gift! (And I'm obsessed with coffee mugs, in case you didn't know.)

 Doesn't she have the cutest handwriting?! LOVE!

Friday, June 12 - Brad's cousin Whitney's wedding!! What a beautiful service & fun reception! I am so happy for Whitney & her new husband, Justin! We had a great time! Here are several pics from the night!

 Waiting for the service to start. 

 Just married!

Us with the beautiful bride! :) (Not sure why I bothered to straighten my hair if the humidity was going to ruin it within 10 minutes of being outside at the reception! Haha)

 Lots of silliness at the reception with this family! Haha! Love Brad's family - including all those crazy cousins! This is Brad & Jaimie with their cousin Matt. Matt always cracks me up!

 Me, Jaimie & Leah...with my mother-in-law and Matt photobombing us!

 Probably my favorite pic of the night. :)

Me with my in-laws - and Brad's cousin Shelley & her husband photobombing!

 Jaimie & Leah - this was hilarious because they took this with my phone & I didn't know it - then they set it as the lock screen on my phone! I didn't realize until i grabbed my phone when i got home. I about died laughing! They crack me up!

Whitney with her sister Crystal (next to her in navy), and her cousins Megan, Shelly, Leah, Jaimie & me! (Well, I'm her cousin by marriage!)

 Megan & her son, Izaac.

My in-laws with their nephew Matt & his nieces Kierstyn & Rylee. (Yes, those are casts on BOTH of Kierstyn's arms! Poor thing broke both wrists a day or two before the wedding!)

 Me & my love!

Saturday, June 13 - A girl at our church, Becca, had her lingerie shower at my good friend Amanda's house (her sister). We had so much fun & laughed til we cried!!!
 Amanda's daughter Elliana sat in my lap for most of it! :)

The whole gang!

Been having some fun times!! Will catch you up on Father's Day, Brad's birthday & my sister's birthday in the next one!!