Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Thank Goodness Hope Floats

Luke's birthday balloons

I love the movie, Hope Floats.  Not only is it both hilarious and heartbreaking, but the movie's message of when you are down, and life has thrown a few big curve balls your way, hope just has a way of eeking its way back into your life and floating its way back up to the top...giving you the courage to believe again that things can be different and that brighter days are ahead....  Well, it's just plain good old encouragement for my often weary soul these days. 

As I mentioned before, 2012 was an immensely difficult year for me.  Not only were we trying to move and waiting for our house to sell and waiting to find our right home, but what I did not really dive into here on the blog was that we were also trying to have another baby at the same time.  And while the house related waiting was difficult, the baby waiting was next to impossible. We watched friends get pregnant with ease and have baby after beautiful baby and we joyfully celebrated along with them.  Like so many in our situation, our tears of joy mixed with tears of disappointment.  We wanted another baby so badly for ourselves, but for whatever reason, it just was not happening for us despite our best efforts.

We were blessed with being able to conceive Luke and Lily without any difficulty and so naturally, we believed that it would just be a matter of planning when it came time for baby #3.  But as we began trying for baby #3, well, things were a bit more challenging for whatever reason.  Not only was it a crazy emotional roller coaster each month with the rising and crashing of hope, but it really rattled my faith.  I mean REALLY rattled it.  I struggled deeply with feeling abandoned by God, forgotten, like I was being punished for something and that I was destined to be unhappy for the rest of my life here on earth.  That probably sounds dramatic, but that is how I felt all of last year.  I know I was depressed and were it not for Lily, I could have easily spent a lot of days in my bed just wanting to hide under the covers until things worked out the way I wanted them to.  Luckily that was not in the cards otherwise I would still be there! 

I know God's word says he has good plans for my life, but I do not understand why God is making my journey into motherhood, so utterly scary and deeply painful...first with losing Luke and now this.  Not to mention, I'm rapidly approaching the end of my 30s which does nothing to quiet by biological clock or my own worries about statistics and difficulties with pregnancies etc. 

So why share all of this now? I don't know.  I just feel like I'm supposed to.  I was asked a question, "Where do I think fruit could develop from my struggle?"  And the only answer I could come up with was here on the blog.  If I wrote about it and said some of these things out loud, maybe there would be other people who would read and who needed to know that they are not alone- and maybe I would find out that I too am not alone.  I know it really helped me to write about Luke here, but I just did not want to have another saga that I had to process here with you all- I wanted to have the happy blog where things are great and rosy instead of writing about infant loss or infertility.  But if I'm being honest, infant loss and now infertility ARE a part of my story along with the happy and joyful moments of our lives with sweet Lily.  So- I am writing again in hopes of clearing these ashes of fear and disappointment away in order to make room for some beauty in 2013.

For whatever reason, I have also been afraid to write about it here, it feels so deeply personal and the word 'infertility' seems so scary and final even though it's not.  Writing about it makes it real.  It puts my truth out there into the world.  We were receiving some initial treatments from my OB over the summer in hopes of them helping, but they did not.  We were referred on to a reproductive specialist back in September, but I just could not make the phone call to set up the appointment.  I so desperately did not want this to be a reality for us.  I think it was fear, lack of peace and feeling overwhelmed by the move (we moved in September) and did I mention fear?-  but I did not set up our appointment until today.  Part of my heart was still hopeful that this next month (whatever month it happened to be) would be different....but one month has led to another to another to another and here we are in 2013 and nothing has changed aside from new bruises to my heart and faith.  Our initial appointment is still several weeks away, but something inside of me feels a little bit stronger having scheduled it.  I feel like I took a proactive step forward instead of being pinned down by the relentless fear called 'what if...?" Where the only scenario played on the loop in my mind is the worst-case one.  So today, I feel happy that I took a step to change that channel.

Another area of strain is our finances.  With the move, we pretty much depleted our savings, so taking on doctor visits and exams and tests while paying out of pocket seems daunting, but with my age, time is of the essence.  We are praying for God's hand over our family both biologically and financially as we enter into this season.  As we work to build our savings back up, I am working on praying from a perspective of abundance instead of scarcity.  I strive to remind myself of all of the ways God has been faithful to us and continues to be and provides for us even in this season of struggle and facing the unknown. 

We have so much to be thankful for and when we stop and look back, there are flashes of moments when we can see God's hand.  We have seen Him using Luke's life in so many beautiful ways, we are positive that this new home is where we are supposed to be as a family- surrounded by these neighbors, our Lilybug is the brightest joy and greatest gift in our lives....  I know I would be lost without her.  We are rich in friendships, blessed with a solid, loving marriage and graced with opportunities to grow....and our list could go on...  I have struggled with keeping my eyes and heart focused on gratitude this past year because I have been struggling so much and seeing only what I was missing, but I also know that seasons like this one I'm neck-deep in, are when I need to practice gratitude the most.  The enemy of my soul is out to take anything and everything he can and while I may be struggling, there is still so much joy to be had and life to be lived.  I'm deeply thankful for that.

Hope can be both your worst enemy and your best friend.  I think one of the things I was telling myself was that if we had not called the doctor yet, there was still a door open for hope and possibility, but by calling the doctor, the process is set in motion for us to receive an answer one way or another- yes, there will be another baby in our family, or no, no more biological babies for us.  Hope will rise or hope will fall and we will soon know one way or another...which is scary.  But whatever the outcome, there is truth in the saying and eventuality:  hope floats.  I'm thankful for that too.
Getting ready to send off Luke's balloons

Lord, we pray that you would continue to open our eyes to your hand on our lives and to the ways you are moving in our lives.  We thank you in advance and believe you for your mighty ways and miracles that you have planned for us. We love you and thank you for loving us even when we (myself especially) struggle, fall down and doubt your goodness and your plan.  You are bigger and your ways are higher than ours.  Help me to remember this always...and especially as we wade into these uncertain waters ahead.  Thank you for giving us your courage when we are scared.
                               - Amen

The joy of letting go!  I want some of that!

Friday, January 4, 2013


It is hard not be in awe when standing beneath a blanket of stars on a clear winter's night.  How close they seem yet, still so far away.  Those are some of my favorite nights because I feel like I am allowed to see into heaven just a little bit in the only way God allows my earthly eyes to peek.  Most days, our sky is clouded or shaded by blue, but at night it is as if the curtain of the day is pulled back and heaven is right there for the looking provided we stop and take it in.  

I look for you there, Luke- my sweetest boy.  Over and over and over again.  I wonder what you are doing, who you are with, what you can see and what you know.  I miss you so deeply that at times it feels impossible to breathe.  The tears still fall fresh and my body shakes with the ache of missing you.  I wish you were here napping, making messes, telling me stories, playing with Lily, snuggling with books, sharing meals with us, playing in the playroom and that we were tucking you into a warm bed each night singing you softly to sleep.  

Today we remember your beautiful birthday and your amazing voice and strong spirit that hung on so tight.  Three years ago we whispered our forever love into your tiny ears, and I pray that those words, still being whispered to you from here will echo forever in your heart. 

Heaven.  It's where you are, my sweet little guy.  So very far away from my arms, yet so very close in my heart.  Happy Birthday, Luke.  I love you beyond the stars.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sweeping the Dirt Away...

Sweet Lily loves to clean- to get this photo, I surprised her in the act while we were in the mountains...
Today we took down our Christmas decorations- well, most of them anyway.  We dusted, swept, vacuumed, rearranged, and re-decorated for another season.  As I took down Santas, candles, greenery, Christmas trees and ornaments, I was struck by how much dust and dirt "pretty things" can hide.  It got me thinking of how people are similar...how we may look pretty and semi-together on the outside when really, just behind the surface and sparkle, we are all in need of a good cleaning that brings forth transformation and a fresh, clean start.  The best way to get rid of both our literal and figurative dirt is to actually notice it, acknowledge it, and do something about it. 

That is what this post is about.  My New Years Cleaning.  I'm sweeping the dirt from 2012 out the door and scrubbing my heart clean with the help of Jesus in effort to welcome 2013 into a life with a transformed perspective.

Typically, I love looking back at the end of a year in reflection on all of the accomplishments and joys I've been blessed to experience.  I enjoy ordering my memories and thoughts about the previous twelve months in my mind and heart allowing myself to close the door on them so I can fully swing open wide the door for the new year with great hopeful anticipation for all that is ahead. But this year has been different.

 In this season of my life, I find myself not having too much time to sit and ponder things the way I typically enjoy and I'm sad that this new year has snuck up on me without the "proper" time to reflect.  Here I sit not feeling ready to begin a new year, and yet, here I am somehow already in it.  Yet, part of me also wonders if I have somehow allowed myself to be "snuck up" upon because I simply don't want to face or reflect upon the ugliness and difficulty of this past year.  I don't know, its honestly, probably a little bit of both.

I admit, I'm happy to have 2012 behind me.  I started with a lot of hope, but as the days, weeks and months passed, I pretty much felt as if I was hanging on for dear life.  Not to be overly dramatic, but aside from our first year of marriage when I was pregnant with Luke, 2012 was my most difficult and personally disappointing year to date.  Challenges, doubts, struggles, tears, worries, fears, disappointments, toddlerhood, frustrations, setbacks, insecurities, mistakes, unpacked boxes, messes, tiredness, shaken faith, unread books, failures, and unmet expectations were wildly mixed in with joys, laughter, giggles, fun, our lovely new home, answered prayers, muscles, my beautiful little gal, my beloved hubby, vacations and lots of good old fashioned healing love.  It's why my blog has been both quiet and all over the place this past year...I have been too.   I fear I have lost a bit of myself amidst the struggles of this past year.

I feel like I have shaken and shifted and adjusted and morphed and fashioned myself into whatever/whoever was needed around here to make things run smoothly- and had absolutely nothing in the tank left to offer anyone else- especially myself or God.  I forced myself forward more times than I want to admit and I was anything but intentional where being our family manager is concerned. I consider it a failure on my part in my most primary of roles.  Yes, we all survived, but I was hanging on by mere threads for most of the time-think lots of wings, prayers, might and good intentions.  Budgets were busted, meals were not planned, bills were late, errands forgotten, laundry remained unfolded, lists not made, relationships dropped, housework undone...care not taken.  (See what I mean about lots of personal, ugly year-end dirt to acknowledge?)  

Last year, my faith trembled and I lost sight of not only who I am and who I want to be-but most importantly the woman God created and is calling me to become.  I know that sometimes comes with the territory of being a wife and a mother, but a big part of my heart knows that it does not always have to be this way and that I was (we all were) created for so much more than these empty feelings of constant defeat, doubt and failure.  I know this, but I have not been living as if I believe it...and well, there is a BIG difference. 

Forever feels like an appropriate word to describe how long it has been since I have felt inspired and energized by something -anything- outside of my day to day responsibilities.  I desperately want that to be different this next year.  I want to be sitting here at my little computer next January first in amazement and wonder at the difference I feel in my spirit and heart about my life and level of energized inspiration compared with how I am feeling today.  Truthfully, there is nowhere to go but up.

I have so much to learn and so much wisdom from women around me to pull from that I am finding myself excited about the possibilities for personal and spiritual growth this next year.  I have before me (by the sheer grace of God) another blank slate of a year.  I do not know the number of my days, but I do know that I have been given this one and God willing, another tomorrow to continue to try and grow and change.  If this past year is any indication at all, I know I have got to fully surrender and confess that I cannot do this on my own strength, but fully rely on the One who sets captives free. (Isa 61)  Only He can change me, I surely cannot.

Today I am driving a stake in the ground right here.  Right now.  No more backsliding.  No more scrambling.  No more half-way, or making due, and no more good enough.  No, this next year is about being brave.  It's about unearthing my heart from the ashes and clearing the way for beauty.  This next year is about finding my sparkle again.  It is about pursuing and choosing joy.  It is about passion.  It is all about being courageous and intentional. I want this for myself...I want it for my daughter.

2013 is about cracking open my heart toward joy and life again instead of wallowing in bitterness and regret.  It is about accepting and living in the freedom I have already been given from all of this bondage.  It is all about walking by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7)  It's going to be about changing perspective and re-training my heart to move toward beauty and gratitude in whatever shape they may take- even when times are difficult...actually, especially when times are difficult.  The pressure applied by God as he refines and makes me into the woman He desires me to be is the only way my soul can be cleaned, healed and my true sparkle returned.  Thank you, Jesus that you never give up on me.  Here is to a bright, shiny, clean and sparkly New Year!