Category Archives: Purpose

8 Years: Reflections on Life Post-Transplant

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

8 years.
2,922 days.
70,128 hours.
4,207,680 minutes.
252,460,800 seconds.

It’s been 8 years since I was wheeled through those double doors and taken back for my double lung transplant. It’s been 8 years since I said goodbye to a room full of family and friends, never knowing if I’d see them again this side of Heaven. It’s been 8 years since the Lord saw it fit to rescue me from my physical brokenness and save me from the brink of death in a matter of just 12 hours for my good, but most importantly, His glory. It’s been 8 years, but those years have been so very full, it feels more like a lifetime…and then some.

So much – so much more than I ever could anticipate – has happened since that time. It would take several blog posts to go through it all, but thankfully I’ve already written about much of it in my book, Breathtaking, as well as documented the most recent happenings here on the blog. If you only recently started following my story during the series on our adoption/surrogacy/miscarriage/adoption journey (thanks for reading, btw :)), I’d encourage you to get to know my life prior to 2013 through my husband’s and my book, if you get the chance.  It truly is a miraculous story of God’s sovereignty and goodness amidst human suffering, a story I could never, ever conjure up on my own in a million years. When I occasionally stop and read portions of the book, or even blog posts I have written this year, to remind myself of how faithful the Lord has been to me during my 27 years of life, I sometimes have a hard time believing that the person I’m reading is about me.

The ways in which I have seen God move in my life are staggeringly beautiful and constantly leave me face-down in a posture of humility before my King, as they should. On days like today, when the vivid memories come flooding back, and the tears fall like fresh rain, I am once again left speechless and so in awe of the work He has chosen to accomplish through me instead of choosing to take me Home years ago, which He so easily could have done. Words can never express my gratitude for the 8 years I have had to walk this earth. No matter how many more years I get, I have been blessed beyond measure to have had the fullness of life I have experienced since September 25, 2005. He didn’t have to practically raise me from the dead for Him to be sovereign or good. By His sheer nature, He can be nothing but those things and more. Friends, He didn’t “owe” me 8 more years, and He certainly doesn’t owe me any more.

He may not owe me any more, but I’m still a human. I still desperately want more time with the ones I love, especially my husband and my children, with whom I have yet to get to spend any time. If we’re truly honest with God, ourselves and others, we all want “more” of something. Whether that be something as simple as more understanding of why a life circumstance had to occur, more children, more money, more friends, more prestige, more whatever. At the end of the day, though, Jesus is asking us – is asking me – if we (I) ultimately only want more of Him, no matter if we get our desire for “more” ____.

That’s a hard pill to swallow (and believe me I’ve swallowed thousands of pills in my life), though, when more of Him may never mean more of the thing you so desperately want. You want the good news, though?

He promises He’ll always be enough.
Always. No exceptions – ever.

I wish I could say I live like I believe this 100% of the time. Like all humans, my finite mind has a hard time sometimes grasping why certain things have to happen. To be honest, 2005 was a lot easier for me than 2013 has been thus far. I know that will sound dramatic to some. It is what it is, though. I can’t really articulate for you all the ends-and-outs of exactly why that is. That is my reality, though, whether you (or I) understand it or not.

As I continue through my post-transplant journey, I admittedly struggle at times feeling like a ticking “time bomb.” In some ways, this feeling has gotten better as time as gone by; in others, it has become harder to escape. 8 years out, 1 year always feels like 5 years, if not more. In the beginning, 1 year would feel like a decade.

After all of these years, I think I’m finally starting to realize why:

The longer I live, the more people die who began their transplant journey around the same time as me (60-70%); that’s a fact of life I can’t change. I don’t have to be a slave to it, but I can’t hide under a rug and act like it doesn’t exist. Consequently, though I know beyond a shadow of a doubt God can choose to have me live another 50 years, time certainly doesn’t seem on my side. Just like an older person who most likely has lived at least 1/2 , if not much more of their life, I am left with not only a keen awareness of time but this insatiable desire to not only be a good steward of my time but also for more – lots more – of it in general. To not be enslaved to the awareness of life being but a vapor (James 4:14), I also have to daily (especially during this season of barrenness) give my desire for control over my time on earth over to the Lord, the One who numbered my days before time existed.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer that being cognizant of time isn’t all a bad thing – hardly so. In fact, I believe (for me) having a healthy awareness of post-transplant patients’ life spans, and thinking through how your family is going to be taken care of if/when you’re gone and unable to be there for them, is not only the responsible thing to do but the Godly thing. That’s why I took the time to plan out my funeral 8 years ago when I was faced with the very real possibility of death. I refused to leave that difficult task on my parents to do with the help of my close friends, who also would have been grieving (though not as deeply) upon my death. My mom didn’t understand my reasoning for such planning at the time. Understandably so, she refused to take part in it. It had to be done, though; at least it had to be done for me, if even only for a few months, to live with a clear conscience. Even though  God had other plans for my life, and those written-out funeral plans were obviously never used, I know to this day I was obedient in doing it, even 8 1/2 years after sitting down with a group of people and planning out something that never came to fruition.

Now, 8 years, a loving marriage and Lord-willing soon-to-be, precious children later, my focus has shifted from my parents and close friends to my husband and children. My love for my parents hasn’t waned in the slightest (in fact, it has grown as I prepare to be a parent myself), but my priorities have changed and rightfully so. I still want more time with my parents, other immediate family and friends, of course. After all I had been through, I had no idea how much marriage, and the oneness (spiritually, emotionally and physically) that comes with it, would change the way I process time. After my surgery, I was made aware of how precious time truly is, but my urgency for spending my time well has only been heightened since marriage. I’m sure it will become even more sensitive once our children are here. Now I just don’t think about how I’m spending my God-given time and what type of legacy I am leaving. I also have a  physical longing to be a good steward of my time with my spouse and kids. I daily long to “redeem the time” we have with one another. I’m consciously aware that my days with them are (most likely) fewer than we all would like and for which we would ask, and that knowledge changes the way I view everything.

To illustrate my point, I’ll give you an analogy:

Sometimes I feel as if I am standing within an hourglass made of impenetrable glass, which is quickly burying me with sand, i.e. lost time.

As I look out at 99% of the world, in particular those my age, I see those whose glasses seem to be pouring much more slowly than mine. They are standing only knee-to-waist deep in their sand and hardly aware of the urgent feeling they, too, will one day feel to “redeem the time.” For most of them, that realization of their finiteness will come many years later in their journey called life. Due to feeling as if they, even those older than me, “have all the time in the world,” I see mostly a generally worry-free attitude when it comes to redeeming their time left on Earth.

As for me, no matter what the speed of others’ glasses, or how hard I try to move at their speed, I can’t crack the glass or slow down my sand. As a result, I continue to be (or feel as if I a being) swallowed up at a much faster rate than the vast majority of my peers. Those who are my age, including my own spouse, are naturally more concerned with their grandparents’ and parents’ hourglass at this point in their lives than their own.

As Christians, weasily say that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Most of us are planning on easily living at least 70-80 years, though, because that’s what statistics tell us we’ll most likely get.  In the process of living all of those years,  it’s easy to lose sight of the beauty and importance of redeeming ever single day, even the mundane ones. It’s easy to “bank” on things happening in life for you (whether graduating from college, marriage, having children, succeeding in your career, retirement, etc.), because after all, that is the natural trajectory of the vast majority’s lives. Furthermore, as people are moving through life and its natural ebbs and flows, most don’t consciously take their finite nature to heart, at least not every single day. This is especially true of those living within the first half of their natural lifespan.

People don’t consciously think about their own hourglass until tragedy strikes.

A few times in life, one will inevitably be rocked to the core and left to deal with a loved one’s mortality. This uneasiness is most likely first felt through the death of grandparents, in particular a close grandparent. Usually, after the initial blow (through the death/sickness of whomever is closest to them — usually the oldest loved ones still living at the time), life eventually returns to “normal.”

When tragedy strikes the younger (peers, spouses, children), however, it tends to “wake people up” a little more than when the elderly pass. Depending on how close and young the dead loved one was, the sting of death seems a little deeper, because all of us (no matter our religious affiliation) know the young aren’t “supposed” to pass away. We feel the effects of the Fall a little more during those tragic times.

Still, the formative life-changes that come from these times of grief, even in its most tense form, usually do not fully garner our attention to our own life clock. Even after the gravest of situations, the urgency to “redeem the time” wanes until the next tragedy, which starts the process all over again for a few days, months, or possibly a few years. 

Most of our lives are not lived under the part of the mantra that says “for tomorrow we die” but instead the former part, which says “live, drink and be merry.” And so we do. Like the old Tracy Lawrence song says, “time marches on,” and it does so without much thought from us most of the time.

Eventually, though, everyone starts to acknowledge their “sand.” After usually a very long, full life, people “suddenly” become aware of their hourglass filling up. They seem shocked and act as if it happened just overnight. As we all know, though, aging,  and consequent loss of time, is a natural progression; it is one that occurs whether we pay attention or not. Some life events, such as illness or a major birthday milestone, just make us more aware of that fact. Major life changes, such as graduating high school or college, getting married, having children, a mid-life crisis, or retirement can also remind us, at least for a bit, that life is indeed moving along.

Eventually, not only do people have to come to grips with time passing, they are faced with their pending death – the end of their “sand” falling – whether they’re ready or not. Psychology experts will tell you that it is during the last years of one’s own life, that deep reflection on one’s own life occurs for the first time for the majority of the human race. Some are eased into this pattern of thinking very slowly and reflect on-and-off for two or more decades before their demise. Others, however, are shoved forward into dealing with their mortality in a more tangible way when they are suddenly diagnosed with a severe illness (such a cancer or heart disease), diagnoses which can even come with a possibility of death for some. For many individuals, due to lack of self-actualization throughout most of their lifetime, oftentimes this period of end-of-life reflection brings up past regrets and disappointments in their personal, professional lives and even spiritual lives. It can conjure up feelings of  past hurt and shame and cause one to feel the consequences of the weight associated with a lack of fulfilled dreams, forgiveness for oneself and/or others, or a pattern of disobedience to God. Sadly, for some (even Christians who are confident in their eternal home), the darkest period of their life is the very end of their life – a very, very sad fact, if you ask me.

Whether we’re ready or not, whether we are at peace or not, the fact is this: We all die.

The question is this: Are we going to not only die well, but more importantly, live well? Are we going to live with conviction for the glory of King, the Author and Finisher of our faith, or are we to try be the masters of our own fate until that no longer works for us?

 Fast pouring glass or not, whether we choose to acknowledge our glass throughout life or not, in order to have peace, Jesus still has to be enough – in all things.

He has to be enough in life and in death. He is the Keeper of the glass, after all. He is the One who determines the number of our days, not us or a statistician who promises us far more, or maybe far fewer, days than we will actually live.

For me, that means a desire for more of Him has to be more than my desire for more time. On a tangible level, that means daily balancing the tension I feel to not focus so intently on my hourglass I feel paralyzed, but to be responsibly aware of its contents, nonetheless. That daily tension causes me to be cognizant of our finite nature, and therefore wanting to live my life to the fullest, but also wanting to be capable of relaxing and enjoying life while I have it, too. Some days, I walk the mental tight rope better than others.

Bottom line: I have to balance my keen awareness of the time at hand (which is a unique gift I’m thankful to have) with also a permission for myself to join the others and, at least in a way, “live, drink and be merry,” as long as I’m doing it for the glory of my King. After all, I’m not dead yet. 😉

Thank God, I’m not dead yet. 🙂


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Filed under Breathtaking, cystic fibrosis, grace, Health, Life, Marriage, Purpose, Sanctification, Simplicity, Transplant

Life After A Mid-Life Crisis

I recently had a mid-life crisis.
Sounds fun, huh?
Not so much.

During the emotional turmoil which was that season of my life, I discovered (and shared about how) I was a relational harlot – for years. The crisis is over, though, and life has thankfully moved on. I’m officially a recovering relational harlot at this point. From the messages I received after my post, it sounds like some of you are moving into that category, too. Good for you! I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be happier. I pray the same for you, as well.

So, not only has life post-crisis moved on, it’s changed – a lot.

Some days I willingly embrace my new-found relational freedom. Other days, like a drug addict in rehab, I crave my former life and wonder if I was really hurting myself as much as I have recently come to make myself believe. No matter if my feelings align or not, I’m daily left to make a conscious decision to still live as authentically as I always have (and always will) but not as transparently as I – and everyone else – have become accustomed.

After a few minutes of doubt, some prayer, and a lot of grace with myself, I feel confident in my decision once again…until the next time, when I repeat the process over and over again. I guess that is what people de-toxing from old, unhealthy habits do. As I “get healthy,” I don’t want to get so caught up in not going back to my old relational habits that I am tempted to move the complete opposite way, which wouldn’t be healthy, either. That wouldn’t be profitable and would just lead to another rehab program down-the-road. No, thank you.

I’m daily committed to finding the happy relational medium.

That means…

  • I’m learning how priceless my marriage is and how much my husband means to me and deserves my undivided attention. I’m learning relationships are few and far between where both parties, whether in a marriage or a friendship, are being mutually transparent and giving; they may be rare, but they truly are a taste of Heaven on Earth.  I am more consciously aware of these relationships’ value and uniqueness. Moreover, I am more devoted to cultivating these few relationships, especially with my spouse, instead of giving so much of my heart to so many and not getting much (if anything) in return. I’m learning you can be loving without giving all of yourself to every single person.
  • Furthermore,  even though it feels so wrong to even say that, let alone do it, I’m learning self-preservation, at least in a way, is Godly and good. I’m left to show more wisdom and pursue “wide-open” relationships with people who don’t question my heart (You want to really hurt a hyper-relational, honest-as-they come type of person ? Just question their motives.) and desire to reciprocate the transparency I’ve always so easily given. Moreover, because I’ve consciously preserved myself and not expended myself (even if sincerely) to the point of emotional depletion, I’m left with more emotional energy to “love” the masses from a healthier distance without unintentionally needing anything from them or getting hurt when they don’t (for whatever reason) accept my genuineness.
  • I’m on my phone a lot less. This is still a work in progress (ask my husband), but I’m slowly losing my desire to constantly “connect” with people via text, to “Like” everyone’s latest status updates on Facebook, and everything else that can easily deceive you into thinking you have a close, mutually-giving relationship with someone when you have the furthest thing from it.  My phone doesn’t blow up nearly as much as before, because I’m intentionally taking a step back and not initiating contact with most. I’ve slowly realized that, because of my former propensity to live life wide-open with everyone and therefore share all my cards to anyone who breathes, I have been duped all along into believing this sentiment was mutually being practiced by far more than who actually reciprocated that level of transparency. Ouch. Admittedly, after years of being the pursuer, I’m wanting to be, and working on being, pursued. Though it’s hard,  I guess I’m learning that timeless lesson, “You teach people how to treat you.” People are rightfully used to me being the pursuer; that’s what I’ve always done and enjoyed, after all. Well, not anymore. I’m sure I’ll increase my pursuit with time (never to the extent I did before), but during this time of transition, I’m not setting myself up for failure. I don’t want to go back to bad habits, and they do die hard. In the meantime, I’m learning the few people who do regularly contact me, without me always having to contact them first, are the ones who deserve my attention the most. My love and appreciation for said individuals has only grown and matured. 
  • I spend time with Jesus a lot more. Since my phone hasn’t been occupying my time as much, I have had much more time to devote to the Lover of my Soul, Jesus Christ, during this season. Not surprisingly, He hasn’t changed. He has waited patiently for me to climb up into His lap, tell Him my troubles, and let Him slowly heal me to the core. I listen to sermons a lot more, in particular those on relationships and how most people function with each other (I’m realizing I really am rather strange). I review almost daily how the Lord ministered to (and very much loved) the masses, yet was obviously closer to the 12 disciples and even closer to the “inner circle” of 3. I am encouraged by the fact that, if Jesus didn’t feel guilty for not giving Himself fully to every single person, I don’t have to feel guilty either. I journal prayers and talk much more to the One who knows me better than I know myself. I love you, Jesus. Thank you for never giving up on, and believing in, me.
  • I’m choosing to be more guarded with most, yes, but also refusing to become someone I’m just not, i.e. cynical and cold. Though I wish it were possible to healthily give so deeply of yourself to as many people as I’d like without hurting yourself, I’m learning it just isn’t. No amount of sincerity can change that fact.  On the other hand, becoming bitter and cynical isn’t an option for me. Sure, I have my moments when I think about some past relationships and realize it wasn’t really the way I perceived it and feel hurt. There’s even past relationships that, now when I think about them, make me feel extremely burnt. That’s when, though, I find myself having the most compassion, even for the people who caused me the most hurt. I find myself praying for them and their families. I find myself genuinely wishing them nothing but God’s best. I told you before, I’m not very good (at all) at holding a grudge. I refuse to stop loving people. Doing so, would just deny a very large part of who I am — a very outwardly giving, caring person who loves very deeply very easily. I’m just learning I deserve to be loved, too, and that starts with me properly loving myself through putting up relational boundaries.
  • I’ve realized that, for years, I haphazardly left so many more very personal pieces of me with a much larger population than whom has left valuable pieces of themselves with me. In a way, because of my carelessness, I’m left feeling like a prostitute who has given away her body far too many times. I wasn’t just cordial with the masses. I didn’t just “kiss” all of these people. I emotionally went to bed with humanity, exposing all my “goods” for the whole world to see. I’m now dealing with the consequences of my emotional promiscuity. I honestly still don’t really know what to do with that fact but face it and move on; what else can you do?

Yes, as my good friends (a girl can dream, right? ;)) Rascal Flatts would say, I’m movin’ on

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Filed under grace, Life, Purpose, Sanctification, Simplicity

Lessons Learned During a Mid-Life Crisis

“If you deny your story, you deny not only yourself…
but you deny the very Author Who is writing your redemptive epic.”
– Ann Voskamp

FYI: This post is not going to be about our family planning. You’re free to check back at a later date, or you can stay and learn more about the woman behind the blog — a woman who, emotionally-speaking, is coming out of a really, really dark place. Don’t hide your surprise. Believe me — this is just as shocking to you as it was recently to me. This post isn’t really for you as much as it is for me, but you’re free to listen to me process. I’m warning you; it’s going to take a while.

No one wants to admit they’re having a mid-life crisis, especially me. [I say “mid-life,” because even though I’m only 27, let’s face it — I most likely am in the middle of my life, if not the latter part. As I’ve always told you, transplant wasn’t a cure. Though I refuse to be a slave to statistics, and wholeheartedly believe my God can have me live 100+ years if He so wills, having a shorter life-span is still very much most likely my reality. I had to acknowledge that fact a long, long time ago. In fact, daily embracing my mortality is a huge part of my personality and the driving force behind my transparency.]

There is nothing fun or sexy about saying you’re emotionally in crisis, especially when you live your life as openly and positively as I live mine. No, I would say that someone with my personality admitting such a thing is one of the scariest things they’ll ever do; as one who “let’s it all hang out,” it takes the concept of being “vulnerable” to a level they weren’t even aware existed. That’s why I almost saved myself the embarrassment and just went on my merry, blogging way. More so, that’s why it took me so long to admit to myself I was (and had been for a long time) struggling, let alone to anyone else.

After all, I am a “the glass is always half full (and usually brimming over)” kind of person. No matter how many trials I endure, I have made a conscious decision to be always pressing forward in Jesus’ name, in championing His sovereignty and goodness amidst human suffering to anyone who will listen; that message is my calling and my song. If I didn’t believe that concept down to the very marrow of my bones, I wouldn’t have wasted my time, tears and energy (spiritually, physically and emotionally) writing two books and starting a non-profit ministry around that idea. I would have done anything but endure everything that came with getting that all done. If I didn’t believe the Lord made it very clear from the moment that the idea of surrogacy was brought to us (before I had the slightest idea of the twists and turns of life ahead) that I was to be painstakingly transparent with all of you about the excruciating year that has been me 2013, I never would have. I don’t know about you, but re-living my worst nightmare (and then remembering it was actually my reality) by writing almost two-dozen blog posts with a box of tissues beside me every time isn’t really my idea of ‘fun.’  Had I been a “normal” person, I wouldn’t have ever subjected myself to such emotional trauma. But I did, time and time again. 

I did because, no matter how hard you try, how much you let yourself get distracted, how many times you run, how much you want to deny it, don’t like it, or want anything but it, you can’t outrun God and His calling on your life. You just can’t — me included.

You also can’t run from your humanity or the humanity of others.
You can try. I did. I can promise you, though, it’ll catch up.
If you’re not ready, it won’t just catch up; it’ll trample you.

In the process, this head-on collision with human nature (yours and that of others) will leave a gaping wound on your heart that only Jesus and time can heal. I speak from experience — lots of it here recently, actually. My realization of my deep, emotional wounds didn’t happen overnight – hardly so. It was a slow, very painful process. It was only after the recent, final blow that I finally realized I had been unconsciously, but dangerously, “running with the bulls” for a long, long time. I wasn’t just emotionally injured but instead bleeding profusely and far from healthy. After years of running through the streets exposed, my pulse was thready and my body was broken.

After finally admitting I had been feeling tired and battered for oh, so long, I began to acknowledge my “sickness” to a few and seek out why I felt like I was suffocating. To be honest, for several days, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I just wanted to be left alone. I was no longer full of positivity and hope. I was instead full of brokenness and despair. I had nothing left to give. My body was physically tired from crying a sea of tears caused by an attitude of “just keep swimming” after years of deep disappointment, numerous serious trials and wounds caused by relational betrayal and misunderstanding.

I had hit my limit. I was officially done.

Once I dried my tears, I began to come to terms with the fact that, no matter how much I wanted to believe otherwise, my joy was gone, long gone. I began to come to terms with the fact that the person I saw staring back at me in the mirror wasn’t someone I recognized. Instead of a woman full of hope and joy, instead I saw someone who bore deep, deep wounds from not only a very difficult life but a difficult life lived wide-open.

If you think I’m honest on my blog, you should meet me in real life.  I not only write, but also walk around, with my heart on my sleeve. I genuinely adore people and can feel extremely real, very deep connections (and the emotions that come with said connection) to people I hardly know, let alone the people to whom I am close. To say I’m “relational” is an understatement. I thrive off of interaction with people. I’m the furthest thing from an introvert you can get. Human interaction for me is like a hit of the best drug for an addict. I can never get enough.

Because I know our life is but a vapor, and have a constant dialogue within about that fact, I sincerely love pouring into the lives of others and being open (even to the point of it being unhealthy for me) with them about my life so that they, too, feel safe to be open about their struggles, fears, failures, etc. I happily spend hours a day investing in others. I easily give people the benefit of the doubt and can’t hold a grudge more than an hour, if that. I admittedly have a really hard time understanding passiveness, let alone passive-aggressiveness. I don’t play emotional games. I don’t have hidden, ulterior motives when dealing with people, and find the actions of those that do appalling, sad and confusing all at the same time. My motto in life has always been, “what you see is what you get” – always without question.

Thankfully, the Lord gave me a spouse who appreciates this way of living. Most importantly, he values, believes in and protects my tender heart. Though he is much more introverted, private and less relational than I am (opposites do attract), he is is just as much a lover of living transparently as I am. We are both far from perfect, but one this is for certain: We say what we mean, and we mean what we say – the first time, all the time. We don’t wonder what the other is thinking or feeling; we know because we share it all– the good and the bad. We live life completely wide-open with each other every second we’re together. We aren’t afraid of disagreeing with each other, having a confrontation or embracing raw emotions, even if they involve hurt caused by the other.  In fact, for us, dealing head-on with those things are quite normal and highly accepted. Why? Well, because as we learned especially this past year, our love for each other (and others) is strong enough to handle the truth, even when the truth is hard to say or to hear. It’s been often said you never have to worry about where you stand with the Paynes. I am proud of that fact. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Except for our staunch commitment to honesty, my husband and I vastly differ in how we relate to the human race. Though he’s completely honest with everyone, he’s only transparent with a few. Like me, he’s far from passive, and will answer anything (and I mean anything) you ask him. Unlike me, though, he doesn’t trust just anyone with his heart. He’s cautious and guarded. He makes you earn his trust, his time, and his heart, instead of giving it out generously; once you earn it, though, he’s as loyal as they come. He doesn’t live his life exposed for all to see. He doesn’t wear his heart on his sleeve but instead gives it to those whom he trusts to protect it. Simply put, like most people, he gives his heart to few and far between; he doesn’t live life wide-open.

Wide-open. That’s how I’ve lived my life since I was 18 and faced with my pending death. 9 years of refusing to go back to putting on the mask and being a part of a facade for which we were never meant. To combat that lie, I ended up going the opposite-but just-as-unhealthy way and conforming to a mindset that says you bear all, and give all, to everyone, no matter the cost or what little emotionally-speaking you get back in return. Christ has called us to live “selflessly,” after all.

9 years of no-holds-barred, not-worried-about-self-preservation wide openness. 9 years of, at least in a way, relational unhealthiness that involved me giving myself so deeply, so genuinely to so many without a second thought. Unknowingly to me until recently, this mindset I thought was so life-giving and Christ-like was instead toxic and exhausting for a human who could benefit from some self-preservation, and relational reciprocation, now and then. 

For years, though it was never my intention, I played the relational harlot. I gave myself away too easily and too deeply to far too many people. I didn’t think that showing all my cards to anyone and everyone was a bad thing, let alone a harmful thing. I didn’t think the fact that I admittedly asked for, and consequently oftentimes got, nothing (or little) back from my relationships was going to have consequences; just as long as I was being “selfless,” that was all that mattered to me. After years of loving and giving so deeply to far more than who returned the favor, and being (whether intentionally or not) misunderstood and used by many of them in return, I was left jaded, confused, and broken. I was left to deal with the mess, that because of my own doing, was my battered heart.

Through it all, I’m learning to allow Jesus to mend my heart and move more toward a happy, relational medium. I’m learning to emotionally take care of myself.

Even though it feels so wrong to even say that, let alone do it, I’m learning self-preservation, at least in a way, is Godly and good. In return, though I extensively invest in fewer people, instead of being emptied, I’m left full of joy and life. I’m left far from bitter but instead better. I’m left to pave a path in a different and foreign, more guarded, yet healthier direction.

I’m left to make a conscious decision to still live as authentically as I always have (and always will) but not as transparently as I – and everyone else – have become accustomed.

[Side note: This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop blogging, so don’t worry!] I’m left to daily choose to not become hardhearted but also not to whore my whole heart out to anyone who breathes. In return, I’m left with more time and emotional energy to love with reckless abandon those who, like my husband, value and protect my tender heart.

Instead of wondering why I feel so empty when I’ve given to the point of exhaustion, I’m left to show more wisdom and pursue “wide-open” relationships with people who don’t question my heart and desire to reciprocate the transparency I’ve always so easily given. Moreover, because I’ve consciously preserved myself and not expended myself (even if sincerely) to the point of emotional depletion, I’m left with more emotional energy to “love” the masses from a healthier distance without unintentionally needing anything from them. It’s a win-win, people.

I’m learning how priceless my marriage is and how much my husband means to me and deserves my undivided attention. I’m learning relationships where both parties, whether in a marriage or a friendship, are being mutually transparent and giving are precious and few and far between. When you find them, though, they are a glimpse of Heaven on Earth. Most importantly, I’m left with a peace I haven’t had in a very, very long time. I’m left feeling redeemed and new again. 

Thank you, Father, for continually redeeming me.

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Filed under grace, Life, Purpose, Sanctification

Why We Are Not Pursuing Surrogacy

Sorry it’s been a while.
I’ve been too busy living my life to have time to blog about it.
I’m back, though. 🙂

In case you missed it, we finally are done with the “Why We Halted Our Adoption” series. I’m just as relieved about that fact as you, believe me.

Why is that?
Well, because that means that after about 6 months
, which included planning on going forward with adoption, being suddenly approached about surrogacy, suffering a miscarriage, and waiting out possible health complications from the unplanned pregnancy, our plans to start a family are back on! 😀

Not only are our plans for a family back on, they are in full swing, but we’ll get to all of that soon. We must deal with first things first, though. Before we can discuss how we plan on going forward with our journey to parenthood, we have to talk about what we are not planning on doing – at least not right now.

Long story short: Surrogacy is not currently an option for us.

It was far from easy coming to this conclusion, and it certainly wasn’t a decision that was solidified over night or without plenty of tears. We, especially I, really struggled with the whole thing, to be honest. I spent many nights praying, begging the Lord to just make it crystal clear to us what we were supposed to do with the selfless offer we were given literally out of the blue, an offer that to this day hasn’t been taken off the table by the other party.

I’m not going to lie. As much as we were floored (and humbled) by the opportunity to even be offered the ability to have a child through surrogacy, and as absolutely thrilled as we were with the prospect of safely having a biological child, our (especially John’s) strong, gut-reaction was to say “No” to surrogacy after finding out the costs surrounding it were going to be a lot higher (due to lacking fertility coverage like we thought) than we had anticipated or could afford without taking out a loan.  A lot higher – like $30,000+ higher (i.e. double what we thought) AT LEAST, that is if things went smoothly on the first try.

Hold the phone, people. I’m not married to Jimmy Fallon. $30,000 in the Payne (and I’m sure your) household is a huge chunk of change, and that was a conservative number. It could go a lot higher. To my husband, the more frugal one of the two of us, the new cost of pursuing parenthood through surrogacy might as well have been a $1,000,000. Not good, not good.

Though the new price caused us serious pause, we (especially John) struggled through our fear of not being good stewards of our God-given finances, should we go forward with surrogacy and have to take out a loan. We’d saved the past 3 1/2 years, but we hadn’t saved $50-80,000, hardly so. We hadn’t completely closed the door at that point, though.

We’re Christians and believe in the concept of God being Jehovah Jireh (the LORD as Provider), after all. We knew if He wanted us to pursue surrogacy, He’d provide the finances; we were absolutely sure of that. As I’ve always said, God doesn’t call the equipped but instead equips the called. We just weren’t sure if He was pulling us toward surrogacy or not.

Though due to the nature of how surrogacy became an option, many would (and did) argue that God had obviously made His will known and wanted us to go forward with pursuing it for His glory, it just wasn’t a black and white issue to us, especially to me. It was a really ugly, opaque shade of grey. If you know us, we are very much people who view life through very clear hues of black and white, so admitting we were struggling with making up our minds was hard for us. Though to our amazement (and yours) the idea of surrogacy had literally fallen into our laps, before we even found out about the new price tag associated with it, we really wrestled with the idea of spending out all this money (loan or not) to have our own biological children when so many children are waiting for their forever homes. Once we found out how much having a child through surrogacy was going to actually cost, that internal struggle just became that much harder.

We struggled with passages in Scripture that called us to take care of the orphans, and others which commanded us as Christ-followers to “die to self.” On the other hand, we also struggled with how it obviously wasn’t a sin for others (including our own parents) to have children of their own; they didn’t adopt nor deny their God-given desire to have biological children. Did that mean that just because the method by which one obtains a biological child may be different, and the financial cost may be astronomically higher, the outcome of having a blood-relative child through surrogacy really isn’t a sin (just thinking out loud here)?

Opinions on what we should do very much favored us pursuing surrogacy, no matter the cost. Clear answers, though, were few and far between. We felt torn in more ways than one.

Then life happened. A lot of lifeDuring all of this, we got unexpectedly pregnant ourselves, miscarried, and were left to deal with the loss of our biological child, a child we never imagined we’d ever conceive on our own. Talk about an unexpected, hard and fast detour in the road called life. Though that detour was filled with plenty of heartache, it also came with a blessing in disguise. We found something out that provided the clear answer for which we had searched for weeks. 

While we were dealing with my health being adversely affected by the miscarriage, we were made aware that the imunosupression medicine that most likely caused the miscarriage not only can affect any pregnancies that occur, but there is new evidence that is warning that it could also adversely affect your EGGS themselves

There is still not enough research to make a conclusive decision, since there hasn’t been enough post-transplant women of child-bearing age on it. Just knowing there were even shreds of evidence that pointed that way, however, was troubling enough for me. I knew the drug was toxic for a pregnant woman in any stage (especially the first trimester), which is why we never planned on becoming pregnant and consequently why I miscarried. The thought of my actual eggs being altered by this drug,  though, made feel physically sick. I have taken that drug every day, every 12 hours for almost the past 8 years. I had consumed literally thousands of these pills, during the years of my reproductive prime, without any knowledge of how much this nasty (but life-saving) drug could be affecting my fertility. 

To say I was disheartened is an understatement. Who wouldn’t be?

Even though I’m obviously extremely thankful to even be alive after everything I’ve gone through, and know I have no room to complain, I’m still a 27-year-old human. I’m also a woman, a woman with a God-given desire to have the ability to have children. I’m still a woman who wants to believe that, even though I can’t carry our child successfully, my eggs – my contribution to the creation of a human being – are full of life and not death. I’m still a woman who wishes my first child was currently still residing in utero instead of in Heaven. I’m still a human whose heart has been broken too many times to count.

At the end of the day, like you, I’m still a human who, a lot of the time for many different reasons, feels very broken and battered by the Fall and longs for Jesus to come and make everything new, as He’s promised to one day do.

Today is not that day, however.
So we wait.

While we wait, life does not always go as planned. Instead, unlike what prosperity teachers will tell you, life hurts; sometimes it causes what feels like absolutely unbearable pain. We press on, however, knowing that God is good and sovereign, no matter our circumstances.

No, He is not surprised by our circumstances or angered by our consequential emotions about said circumstances. He was human once, after all. All He asks of us is that in the groaning, during the daily war for our heart and our hope, we trust. All He asks is that we believe He is who He says He is, that we believe He has us in the palm of His hand when the waves of life come (and they will) crashing down upon us, that we do not lose heart in the One who has overcome the world.

Though the answer didn’t come the way we imagined, He gave us what we asked – a clear answer. That answer for our family, at least for now with the possible side effects from this particular medication, is a resounding “No.” Maybe someday I will be on different medication and that answer will change. I don’t know. I also don’t pretend to fully understand why He took us, and the precious, willing surrogate and her husband, down this path, either. In my finite thinking, it really just doesn’t make any sense, to be honest. Even though I don’t understand, I’m called to trust that His ways are higher than our ways, as are His thoughts (Is. 55:9).

So, for now, we move on. We don’t just “move on” as ones without hope but instead as those who trust and believe in Ephesians 3:20-21, which tells us:

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, cystic fibrosis, Health, Miscarriage, Purpose, Sanctification, Surrogacy

Why We Halted Our Adoption: Life Is Messy – Part 14

I have a confession. I have been keeping a secret.
A pretty big secret, in fact.
I know. I know. I’m no fun.

Before I reveal the rest of what has been going on the past few months, for those of you who may be new, or didn’t catch it all in “real” time….

Let us review: Why did we halt our adoption?

The simplest answer is because we cannot afford to pursue adoption and surrogacy at once.
*For more on why we before 3 weeks ago we never dreamed surrogacy would be an option,  and how we were both finally at peace with moving forward with our adoption plans, please see Part 1.
*For more on the Facebook message I received 3 weeks ago from practically a perfect stranger that would rock anyone’s world, please see Part 2.
*For more on our surprisingly spirited 1st reaction to that message, please see Part 3.
*For more on the questions we both had, and the emotional struggle I went through, once the surrogacy option was presented to us, please see Part 4.
*For more on the initial, God-filled meeting I had with the woman who strongly felt God may very well be calling her to be our surrogate, please see Part 5.
*For more on the extremely disheartening news we received the day after I met with the woman who appeared to be an angel sent by God to carry our biological child, please see Part 6.
*For more on the strange, but strong, intuition I was feeling just a little over a week after our dream of surrogacy seemed to be slipping from our hands, please see Part 7.
*For more on all the signs that just weren’t going away and ultimately pointing to my intuition being most likely true, please see Part 8.
*For more on the dramatic turn of events that took place one early morning, please see Part 9.
*For more on the painful drive, and then wait at the hospital, I endured while waiting to hear if my intuition was true, please see Part 10.
*For more on the internal conflict I felt when I found out my intuition was wrong, please see Part 11.
*For more on the decision I made to go seek a second doctor’s opinion on what had (or hadn’t) happened, please see Part 12.
*For more on how we found out we had actually miscarried our baby, please see Part 13.
*For more of how the miscarriage affected me emotionally,  please see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my “Redeeming Miscarriage” series.

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All caught up now? 🙂 OK, good.
Now we can move on.
So, again, I’ve been keeping a secret for quite a while.

Before I can divulge all of those details, though, it’s important I share with you something else.

I’ve learned a lot during the past 3 months about the unpredictability of life — more specifically, my life. If you’ve been following along with my previous posts, you have, too. When I think back through everything John and I went through in a very short amount of time, I am sometimes shocked that neither one of us was medicated for clinical depression or gained 50 lbs. from emotional eating, though I gained (and am still in the process of losing) about 8lb. from too many nights with my face in an ice cream or chip container – haha.

No, it is only by God’s grace that our individual relationships with the Lord, as well as our marriage, our stronger than ever. By looking at it through human eyes, our circumstances certainly wouldn’t seem like the kind that would draw one closer to a God that, for reasons outside of your control, allowed your child to pass away.

Thankfully, though, we understand the concepts of God’s sovereignty and goodness, even amidst human suffering. That understanding is the only thing that pulled me off the nursery floor during the days right after the miscarriage when I was too weak physically and emotionally to work, sometimes to even move.  That understanding is the only thing that got me through during the days following that I didn’t want to go to work but instead wanted to once again sit in the empty nursery with junk food and just cry. That understanding is the only thing that allowed us to once again feel comfortable putting ourselves back into a position where there is always a chance – no matter how much protection we use – that we could wind back up in the same position as before. That understanding, coupled with our firm belief in the sanctity of life, is the crux behind why we call who was lost a baby and not just a clump of cells and why we believe we will see that child again.

Notice I said “we” believe all of those things. It can’t be said enough how I can’t imagine going through the past 3 months without my husband, whom I love more now than I ever knew was possible 3 1/2 years ago when we pledged our vows to each other in front of 300 people. Jesus is my everything, but John is my earthly rock. I honestly adore that man, no matter how many times he drives me nuts, no matter how many times we don’t see eye-to-eye, no matter how many times he steals the last bite of ice cream. The proof is in the pudding. Time and time again, no matter how many times life beats us down, we always get back up, and we always do it together, stronger and closer than ever. Interestingly, not only have I become closer to my husband during this time but also to the Lord, the Redeemer of all things, as well.

In my “Redeeming Miscarriage” series, I walked you through some of the emotional toll of the miscarriage. Those posts, though, could never sum up every emotion I have felt since I became a mother to a child I will never see this side of Heaven. Though I am rather verbose by nature, I don’t think it’s even possible for me  (crazy, huh?) to articulate every feeling that has coursed through my body during the past few months.

Nevertheless, I certainly tried. Why did I? Because I wanted to give you, the reader, a rare glimpse into the heart of a grieving woman in her most vulnerable of states. In doing so, it was my hope that you wouldn’t feel sorry for me (though I’ve appreciated the concern and care) but instead that you would see the incredible beauty that comes from allowing oneself to be completely transparent, that comes from taking off your mask and showing your bare skin marred with the messiness of life.

And boy was life messy during that time – much more than you even knew. That is, until now.

Part 15 to come!

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, grace, Marriage, Miscarriage, Purpose, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification

Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 3 – Embracing Emotion

Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 1 – 53 days

Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 2 – The Calling
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It’s been a little over 2 months.
It’s been a little over 2 months since I became a mother to a child I’ll never mother here on Earth. It’s been a little over 2 months since part of my heart went to be with Jesus. Some days that 2 months feels like it’s been 2 years, other days like it’s been 2 minutes.

That being said, it would be an understatement to say the emotions surrounding the miscarriage are still raw. Honestly, I think they always will be, at least in a way. No, I don’t cry every day anymore, but that doesn’t mean all is forgotten. Call me crazy (I’m used to it), but I am so very thankful for that fact. I am so very thankful the Lord hasn’t forgotten about our child and I don’t have to, either.

Though I try not to dwell, I still find myself thinking about our baby quite frequently throughout my day. Some days I think about how I would have already been in my second trimester.  I wonder how much weight I would have gained at this point, if I would have been carrying high or low, and if I would have actually looked pregnant at this point or instead been in that awkward-in-between stage when people are hesitant to ask if you are with child. I think about how beautiful John would have found me pregnant and the special time we would have had together waiting for, and experiencing firsthand, our child’s birth. I daydream about the time we would have spent corporately feeling the baby kick, going hand-in-hand to ultrasound appointments, and making memories I will never get to experience. I wonder if the baby would have had to be taken early and/or if they would have had a rough start to life. I think about our first Christmas photo (with the baby only a few weeks old) and how proud I would have been to introduce our blessing to the world through a card similar to ones we’ve received from other friends and family who have had recent additions.

Other days I think about our child, whether they are a boy or a girl (we both think boy), what their personality would have been like (outgoing and visionary like me or reserved and task-oriented like John), who they would have looked like (our body types are polar opposites), what their calling in life would have been, etc. I think about all the precious little people already in our circle of friends, and how our child would have had such great playmates. I think about how awesome of a dad John would have been, and how much I long to see him in that privileged role.

Most importantly, I think about how much I long to mother my child and help them grow in all senses of the word. I think about rocking them to sleep in their room in the middle of the night, praying over them and dedicating them to the Lord in front of hundreds of witnesses. I think about the love I feel for my child already and how consuming it would have been had I ever gotten the chance to meet them. I contemplate the awesome privilege and responsibility of motherhood, the lessons I would have learned from parenting my son or daughter and how the Lord would have used them in my life to make me more like Him.

Each time I let my mind wander, I am quickly brought back to my current reality:


Having our child here with us on Earth just wasn’t meant to be. God in His sovereignty and goodness allowed it, and I am called to accept it. No matter how much I wish they could, they aren’t coming back.
Life has moved on and so must I.

I don’t have to forget, but I do have to live in the present and not the past. I do a better job of embracing my circumstances some times more so than others. Thankfully, as time passes, most of the time it is getting easier to accept what has happened.

Some days, though, the emotions I have felt since the miscarriage still overwhelm me. There are still occasional times I will sit in our empty nursery and cry. There are still times I struggle with seeing on Facebook another pregnancy announcement via ultrasound picture with the child’s due date right around – or even on – my estimated one. There are times I struggle with not being jealous as I see our friends’ families expanding and have no idea when, or how, our time as parents will even begin. There are times, like earlier this week after being at a cook-out with several incredible women who are either already mothers, pregnant or hoping to be pregnant soon, I still snuggle up next to my husband and cry silent tears as I pray myself to sleep. There are still times I repeatedly ask the Lord, “Why?” and swear I cannot bear more heartache in this life.

In those moments of weakness, though, when I struggle with my humanity and long to remain stoic and unaffected by my loss, it is then I remember something – His power is perfected in my weakness (2 Cor 12:9-10). In this time that I feel the most weak, He is doing a great work in – and through – me for His glory. I can forsake that calling, or I can embrace it and all the emotions that come with it.  For me, there is no other choice but to embrace my humanity; after all, in doing so, I am reminded of just how desperately I need Him.

I am so thankful I don’t have to be ashamed of the sadness I still sometimes feel. I don’t have to hide behind a facade that says my miscarriage didn’t deeply impact me and didn’t leave a lasting impact on the very core of my soul. I don’t have to have man’s understanding when it comes to how I view myself as a mother, because the way I feel isn’t going to change with or without it. I don’t have to act as if losing our baby wasn’t the hardest thing I have ever endured, just because some may find that statement melodramatic in light of everything else that has gone in my 27 years of life. I don’t have to downplay the grief I feel, just because I was only around 5 weeks pregnant when I lost our baby.

I don’t have to justify the intense loss I feel to anyone. Neither do you, if you are in my shoes. Never forget that.

As for me, as with every other life-altering event in my life, I just have to embrace the hurt, allow Him to heal it and use it, and allow Him to leave the scars as a constant reminder of His grace in my life.

Thank you, Lord, for the scars.

 

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Filed under Adoption, Baby, grace, Marriage, Miscarriage, Purpose, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification

Redeeming Miscarriage: Part 2 – The Calling

56 days ago, while being examined to see if I had indeed miscarried…

Because I didn’t know what else to do while I lied there in the stirrups completely exposed and vulnerable, I decided to bare my soul, too. I told her about how I was born with cystic fibrosis and had a double lung transplant at 19, how we had always had plans to adopt, until just about a month ago when we were approached about surrogacy but then found out we couldn’t afford it, how I then started strangely feeling pregnant right after that, had fought with myself for over a week about it but been told just yesterday I was never pregnant, and then today that I most likely had been, which is why she was now examining me. As I took her through step-by-step through my life, especially the past several weeks, it began to hit me – My life thus far read like a fiction book which was “too good to be true.” Remarkably, though, none of this was fiction. No, amazingly all of it was the truth, the almost unbelievable, even for me at that point.

The suspense novel that was being played out over the past several weeks, aka my ever-twisting, unpredictable life, incredibly wasn’t over. No, an hour later, just as I had suspected, my biggest fear was confirmed. I had indeed been pregnant but sadly wasn’t anymore. The symptoms I felt, the intuitive thoughts, and most importantly, the promptings from the Holy Spirit, all of it was true.  I wasn’t crazy, after all, though I now so desperately wanted to be declared as such.

In that moment, the moment that I became a mother, yet knew I would not be given the opportunity to mother my child this side of Heaven, after everything else that had transpired before this ultimate blow, even I felt like my life was stranger the fiction. As I stood there in the hospital entryway with my husband’s arms tightly squeezed around me, with neither of us uttering a word, I longed to just be one who was just an innocent bystander to the madness, one who just read without consequence the train wreck that was my life. I wanted to be anyone instead of the one who was not just living this “hell” on earth but who was also called to share its events with others.

Yes, I said intentionally said “called.” I chose that word on purpose. I can’t say I always understand the calling to share my weaknesses with others in such an intimate way that the Lord has placed upon my life. I can’t say that in my flesh I always enjoy it, either, because I don’t – hardly so. I can say, however, that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I am following His will for my life when I allow Him to speak through me in a very public way in my most vulnerable of states. He’s used me before, and by His grace, He’s choosing to use me again. It’s not always fun. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (or should I say “usually not”) what I would choose for a way in which to glorify Him, but it’s the avenue through which He tends to give me.

So, that leaves me with a choice: Allow Him to use me as He sees fit, or forsake my calling and be a ‘normal’ person, one who processes their life in a much less public way. The most redeeming, most healing, and most obedient answer for me, at least usually, is the former. I don’t pretend to think that everyone is called to such a life, because I know that’s far from true. I also know with marriage comes a responsibility to be sensitive to your spouse’s feelings, and the way in which they are most comfortable with processing, which is why (believe it or not) everything that we go through doesn’t end up on this blog. Even I have a filter through which I pass through what ends up in the public’s eyes; my filter just happens to be named John. 😉

I am thankful that my husband sees the beauty in my desire to be vividly transparent with others, that he allows me to be extremely transparent about our life together as one. Unlike when I was single and dying and bearing my soul to the world, now bearing my soul has to do with two people’s lives, not just mine. Though his personality and usual way of processing is very different from mine, and typing out a blog post would be about the last thing he’s wanted to do after the traumatic events of our lives the past few months, he allows me to because he sees the value in my (and therefore, at least in a way, our) calling, in allowing Christ to be glorified through our weaknesses.

For some silly reason, I thought (at least sometimes) that after we wrote the 2nd book, that my life of transparency about my life may be over, at least for the most part. I thought maybe that ultra-open chapter of my life was once again ending, as it had so abruptly when I first got married 3 1/2 years ago, and a new, much-less-public, but far more rewarding, one was beginning, i.e. motherhood.

I simply had no idea that my journey to motherhood, though, would be but just another avenue by which the Lord would call me to a life of not only openness but also one of allowing Him to make beauty for ashes, too.

I had no idea that this journey would be 10x harder than 8 years ago when I almost losing my life, when I was grasping for every breath and going to sleep every time not knowing if I’d live to see another day. I had no idea that my journey to motherhood would test me and my trust in Him to the core. I had no idea that my love for my husband, and therefore my desire to keep him from experiencing all the pain I know too well, would cause me so much grief when I could no longer shield him from the inevitable.

I was far from versed in what was ahead for us down a road to parenthood so many had sojourned before us. I knew the journey would most likely be much more difficult than for most, but even I was unprepared for the trials we’ve come upon along our path. I didn’t know that “I surrender all” for me would mean the Lord allowing us to conceive and then, in His sovereignty, taking that baby to be with Him in glory. I had no idea so many opportunities to cry, to doubt, to fear, but more importantly, to smile, to trust, and to praise, were in store. I’m sure many more of both are waiting for us. Thankfully, though, my precious Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ, knew what was before and knows what lies ahead. He is all we need for this journey, no matter what is ahead. After all, this world is not our home; we’re just passing through.

As I pass through, though, I have decided to follow Jesus. For me, following Jesus means sharing my scars, my failures, my fears, and my shortcomings with all of you. It means making myself walk (in this case, type) back through every emotion I have experienced and bringing you along for the ride, so that He can impress upon your heart the same lessons He has taught me. I know from plenty of experience that these are lessons that are only learned in their fullness when you have experienced the highest highs and the deepest lows surrounding the crucible of the situation at hand.

Please think something through with me: Imagine I had gone ahead in Part 7 and told you I, unbeknownst to us, actually was pregnant myself during Part 1-6 of the last series. If that wasn’t a shock enough, in the 3 days since I had last written a post, I had actually found out I wasn’t just unknowingly pregnant but had already lost the baby. Wouldn’t that had been a lot to digest in one sitting? What if I had taken you all the way through not only that news but the surrogacy process (at least as we know it right now) in one post, too? Not only would those 2 posts had been ridiculously long, they would have been horribly emotionally overwhelming – for you and for me. Honestly, besides the obvious reasons why that method wouldn’t have been a good idea, I think dealing with what has transpired in such a way would have been irresponsible, horribly destructive, and far from wise.

Instead of being careless, I walked – and will continue to walk – you through this journey painstakingly slow on purpose. Why? Because I always live posts ahead of you. I know what is coming next and therefore know you need time to digest what has happened thus far; too much at one time, and I’ll lose you. No, I – because I honestly feel it is how God has asked me to do it – choose to walk you through my life bit by bit, always with complete emotional vulnerability, so you’re not overwhelmed by too much at one time but also feel a “part” of the “story,” at least in a way. It’s true. I wanted you to believe I was pregnant, and then that I just crazy, and then once again that I was pregnant, and then crazy again. Why? Because that’s exactly how I felt when I experienced this “story”  I call my life you log on (thanks, btw!) to read.  I wanted you to be heartbroken when, after being so thrilled for us about how surrogacy seemed to be just falling into place, you found out that the complicated process was going to cost us far more than we first thought. That is exactly how we felt, after all.

Why, though? Why get your emotions involved, too? It’s not your life, anyway; you’re just trying to read a blog post. Well, because  If I don’t get you emotionally vested, you won’t read. It’s simple as that. There are billions of other pages clamoring for your attention every time you get on the Internet. If I just lay out the facts all cut and dry, short and sweet, not only will I not be processing my life in a way that is unnatural to me, I’ll lose your attention.

If I lose your attention, I will lose the opportunity to allow Him to impress upon your hearts the message of the drum I will beat until the day I die – that God is sovereign and good – no matter what happens in your life. He’s just as sovereign and good now – 56 days after my miscarriage – as He was a few months ago when I had no idea what all was in store. He’s just as sovereign and good as He was before we were given the estimated bill for surrogacy as He was when I received that Facebook message that started it all. In fact, He’ll be just as good if, after years of heartache and trial, I die and am never able to be an earthly mother. If you get nothing out of my blog, I long for you to get that concept. Yes, bringing everything back to His greatness, my friends, is the method behind my madness.

So, if me giving you a front row seat to my life leads you to Jesus, then I’m game. If it means not shying away from my grief and my hurt, but embracing it and allowing Him to use it for His glory, I’m all about it. If it means continually going through things that I don’t ask for, that I don’t want, that I don’t understand but things that make me more like Christ, more sensitive to His people and more aware of our desperate need for Him, I couldn’t ask for more. After all, I always ask Him to please redeem whatever difficulty I go through in His time, preferably while I can see it, in His way, for His glory and my good.

It’s my daily prayer that my openness gives others  – including you – permission to grieve, to share, to stop pretending everything’s OK, to admit life’s overwhelming and far from clean and cookie-cutter….or is that just my life? 😉

As you’ll learn more and more, my life is far from easy…but as I’m learning again, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Part 3 to come!

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