Monday, June 29, 2015

Hope & Healing

Last night after Isabel’s midnight feeding, I sat down to finish the last few pages of The Art of Arranging Flowers. It was a light read, a beautiful story of opening yourself to love & hope after experiencing loss & grief. When I finished, I felt content, light & peaceful. As I put my kindle down, I looked around our room & took in the beauty of my sleeping family. Life over the past couple years has been challenging in so many ways, much more difficult than I imagined it would be when we first fell in love & planned our future together. I spent many nights of the past 2 years awake like this, taking in the stillness of the midnight hour, but with a heart full of heaviness instead of the peace I feel tonight. Over the past few months, since Isabel joined our family, my late night musings have been filled with deep joy, gratitude & peace. I am so thankful for the love Cary & I have for each other & the way our marriage has continued to blossom in this new stage of our lives.

As my mind wandered, I realized I was still wide-awake (I’ve always been a night owl, and even the demands of a new baby hasn’t changed that about me- not yet anyway!) so I picked up my kindle again & scrolled through my books until I came across one I started months ago but forgotten about halfway through Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty. {If you haven’t read this book, I urge you to stop reading this post & go purchase it or make a note to purchase it ASAP-seriously} 
I wasn’t even through reading the first page of where I’d previously left off when I realized that God had led me to pick up this book again, right now, at this specific turning point in our journey (more of that in a minute). Deep, raw & moving, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet is touching the inmost parts of my heart & helping me to unearth desires that I’ve buried over the past year & a half. I can relate to so much of Sara’s journey of infertility, adoption & relationship with the Lord. Last night, as I read words written by another woman, I found myself deeply moved-breathless & weeping because I saw my heart, my struggle, my questions, my dreams, my pain, my belief, my hope, my yearning to know Him in the midst of all of my mess & brokenness- I was literally seeing all of what has been swirling inside of me over the past few years spelled out before me in black and white.

Upon receiving our infertility diagnosis a year and half ago, we started the process of grieving. After months of going through the stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, I emerged from the fog - bruised, battered & changed, to embrace the stage of acceptance. Accepting that infertility was our cross allowed me to move forward with my life. Acceptance also allowed me to consider the future of our family in a new way, & it helped me open my heart to a new dream: adoption.

Lately, I have been feeling God stir my spirit to let Him lead us in a new direction, a path that I had closed the door on some time ago. Part of me has been tempted not press into this leading from the Lord. I’d be ok not opening any new doors right now, I’d rather stay right where I am, content in my safe & happy place with my husband & new daughter. After all, I’m still processing all I’ve learned over the past year, just getting a grip on who God is again… Deep down, I know that this is just a silly illusion & an excuse, for I could never “get a grip” on Him, He is so much bigger than the little box my mind tries to fit Him into… My heart knows that He has more, so much more of Himself for us to experience.

I can feel Him nudging me to loosen my grasp on acceptance & to fix my eyes on hope. I can feel Him opening my heart again to the idea of healing.

Opening the door to believing that He can heal us is scary, because belief leads to hope & infertility taught us that living with hope can be a dangerous & painful game. What if I believe & hope & ask, & He doesn’t heal us? Can my heart handle that? I’m afraid to let go of the peace I’ve found in acceptance. Is it possible to balance acceptance & hope? Can I do so without wrecking my heart again? What does God say about hope, about healing, about trust? As my mind wrestles with these questions, my spirit can feel Him asking me to place my heart in His hands again. Our journey with adoption has taught me that HE IS TRUSTWORTHY, and yet, although I believe it & I’ve lived it, I hesitate to give up my acceptance of our diagnosis.

As I spend time praying about all of these matters, questions & fears, I’m beginning to understand (and believe) that it’s not about what He will do, it’s about who He is.

He has shifted something inside of me, & I feel a peace about what’s to come. After so long of not being in a place to hear, receive or entertain hope of healing, I now feel like it’s time. We are ready to accept prayers, to hear success stories, to marvel at His miracles… 

So, here we are, believing that God can heal us & asking Him if He will. 

I don’t know whether or not we will experience healing from infertility, but I believe that this journey is not about what the physical outcome of our hope brings…it’s about the spiritual revelation of Him that we will receive by fully putting our hearts in His hands.

 God has been moving in my heart over the past few weeks, unearthing hope, drawing me near to Him, asking me to trust… I think it’s so cool that He led me to pick up a book last night that would speak to my heart so clearly during this new season of we are walking in. I wanted to share two excerpts from Every Bitter Thing is Sweet that brought me to my knees last night. I see so much of my journey captured in the words below:

“I knew that my womb wasn’t the only thing barren. My inability to respond with trust, to lean, to rest peacefully in what God could do, but hadn’t done, exposed me. Instead of saying, Show me Yourself as Healer, I asked, Why haven’t you healed me? Instead of saying, Show me the Daddy side of You, I asked, Why aren’t you Daddy to me? Instead of saying, Show me Yourself as Comforter of those in pain, I asked, Why all the pain? 
My questions revealed my resistance to the vulnerability God loves. If I’d let it, weakness would continue to produce a need in me that would draw me nearer to Him.
I had surely grown since that first negative pregnancy test, but there was still much more of God to discover. Barrenness, like nothing else, reminded me of how far I was from believing the truths about God that I proclaimed, how far I was from leaning against Him the way I wanted a baby to lean against me.
Yet He seemed to have ordained the emptiness every month’s not-yet created in my understanding. He seemed to be the hunger itself.
There has to be more here, I finally breathed, forehead to knees.
I barely know You, I whispered within, loosening my grip.”

“The question of pain, it’s buried deep in my bones. It is my story, though I’ve barely traveled the circumference that others have, not even to the half. But God wants me to know the nearness of Him in response to the deepest questions of my story, the kind of nearness that, when realized, heals.
Many of us, with bodies broken, find comfort in accepting what we’ve loosely defined as God’s sovereignty. After all, hope is awkward in a life of living by sight. It’s messy. It’s vulnerable.
At times it’s easier to accept a diagnosis than to believe He can heal. To know Him as Healer requires me to always be asking. To know Him as Healer requires me to stay, longer than I’d like to, as one in need of healing.
For those of us wanting to escape the tension of hope, too often we cease to think of God’s sovereignty as “He will decide” and instead come to think of it as “Here I am, forced into this position by a greater power.”
My form of pain held a monthly reckoning with this question: What does God do when a body breaks? But God was healing me even while I waited on His healing.
When I asked, How much of my broken body and broken life do I accept as lasting forever? the God who is sovereign over my story whispered, Be near to Me. When I asked, What if I pray, seek, and ask, and You don’t heal me? He answered with a dream for me that is far beyond what I’d whittled down for myself.
To know God as Healer is a relationship, not a moment. Search me out, He says, There is always more of me to be found.”

To read more of Sara’s beautiful words, purchase her book or visit her blog:

{Side note: I also want to say that my desire for a biological child does not diminish my love for Isabel in any way, nor does it take away from my heart for adoption. My love for Isabel is deep, beautiful, unique & precious; it could never be replaced by anything or anyone. She is a gift to my heart, a priceless treasure to our family. Part of me wonders how I could ever love another child as deeply as I love her, but in that same thought is the certainty that my heart has so much more room to expand & so much more love to give, because that beautiful ability is, after all, one of the great mysteries of motherhood (Can I get an amen from all the mommas out there!?). We know for certain that adoption will continue to be a way we grow our family, regardless if we ever conceive biological children or not.}

We would love to have you pray with us over the future of our family- for grace in parenting Isabel, for God to provide the financial means necessary for our family to continue growing, for wisdom in knowing when to pursue adoption again, & for the complete healing of both of our bodies.

We are in the biggest season of JOY that we've ever experienced as a individuals, as a couple & as a family. We praise God daily for the miracles He performed in bringing Isabel into our family. We are excited to see where He continues to lead us. Right now we are focused on caring for our precious daughter, loving each other & asking God to restore our fertility (but not yet feeling led to take any medical action). We are believing for big things & seeking to know Him more in this journey. Thanks for lifting us up & walking with us. Sharing our story publicly is still scary at times, but we believe God has a purpose in our sharing. I pray that through my words, God has touched your heart & encouraged you in your own journey.

With love,

Scriptures I am leaning on this week:

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
~2 Corinthians 12:8-9

As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
~Romans 4: 17-21 

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
~2 Corinthians 16-18 

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
~Matthew 7: 7-8 

“Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.”

~Psalm 25: 4-5

Sunday, June 21, 2015

First Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome dads out there who love & serve their families so well. I’m so thankful for the special men in my life who fill the fatherly roll- my dad, my father-in-law & my grandfather.

It’s been an absolute joy to watch Cary fully embrace his role as a dad these past few months. His love for Isabel is so beautiful; those two have a special bond. My heart is blessed to know my daughter has such an awesome, fun, encouraging, engaged, faithful, kind-hearted man to love her & set an example for her. I can’t tell you know many times people have said, “Cary will be the best girl dad,” “Cary thrives as a daddy,” “He’s such a proud dad,” “He just adores you both,” and everyone is right, I can’t imagine a better man to lead our family; we are blessed. Most importantly, I’m thankful that Isabel has a father who knows, loves & serves His heavenly Father & will always point her to His love & truth.

I asked Cary to write a little post in honor of his first Father’s Day. Here’s a snapshot into my sweet man’s heart… So thankful for you, Cary! Happy Father’s Day to the best man I know.

My First Father’s Day…I cannot believe it’s here! What a journey it has been. Last year on this day we were optimistically celebrating the last Father’s Day we would spend without our baby. We were in Canada playing football, filling out adoption paperwork in every spare moment, and yes how could I forget to mention fundraising?!?! Tyler and I have always had a love connection through arts and crafts. Last year, we grew closer by using the gifts and talents we were blessed with to raise money for our sweet Baby K. I had so much fun creating and crafting that sometimes we were so immersed in checking things off a list that I lost focus on what the end goal was. I kept being reminded throughout the entire adoption process that things will go wrong, go right, go as planned, and definitely go unplanned! Through all the chaotic moments and still moments the constant reminder and reassurance from God was, at some points, the only thing that kept me together. 
Thinking about being the adoptive father of Baby K brought on so many emotions. In the beginning, my heart was hardened to the idea of adoption, but God – through my sweet wife – showed me how wonderful, special, and privileged adoption is. After this shift in my heart… a slow burning passion began to catch fire. I am so blown away at how small of a world I used to live in. Adoption will be a marker on our family forever and I am so proud of that.
ISABEL GRACE was welcomed into our loving arms on February 12, 2015… Some days you will just never forget! She made me a father on that day and all the days leading up to that moment just seemed to disappear. Not for one single second did I ever doubt or question or wonder if I was her Daddy. I knew that after the steps God had laid out for our family that this was right. This was physical confirmation that God is good, constant, and just challenging us to give it to him when our backs are up against the wall. Tyler and I were faced with something very very difficult with both of us being diagnosed with infertility. Through the pain and suffering we continued to trust in Him, and He gave us our sweet Isabel. He just needs a spark to get a fire going. 
With whatever your facing today, know that God is real! God is GOOD! He is ready to welcome you with arms wide open. Just give Him an honest chance to be your Father. No matter what father you have or wish you had… He is the Father that will never leave you nor forsake you. He will bring you through whatever circumstance you are going through. He will ALWAYS be there throughout the highs and the lows of your life-give you high fives on the best days of your life & to pick you up on the worst! 
To all the fathers out there, be brave, be bold, be zealous, be tenaciously in love with your wife and kids. Be a real man, an accountable man, and a humble man – a man who trusts in Jesus.

“Fatherhood is not about perfection, it’s about loving Jesus” –Jake Griffin

“Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work & increasing in the knowledge of God.”  -Colossians 1:10

Dear Isabel,  
Being your daddy brings me great joy! I love your big smile & the way you light up a room. I pray that I would continue to set a good example for you in the way that I live, so that you would experience my love not just through my words, but also through my actions. My prayer for you is that you would grow to know Jesus in a real & tangible way. No matter how old you get, you’ll always be my baby girl.