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What 2013 Taught Me

I don’t know what yours was like, but my 2013 was quite the year.

2013 was a year I’ll certainly never forget and wouldn’t necessarily want to re-live. I won’t, though, go as far as to say I wish I could just re-do 2013 all over again. Though it was excruciatingly hard, the lessons I learned within the crazy that was my 2013 were well worth the pain and will never, ever be forgotten.

I’m not going to re-hash my entire year in this post, as there is plenty of posts already written (even whole series — read here and here) about much of what transpired in my life last year; others part of my life have remained more private, as they should.  If you haven’t been reading my blog the past year, just know I, even one with a wild imagination, could never have written the journey through which the Lord asked me to walk in 2013, especially the first 8 months of it.

As much as you’d like to think differently, you can’t change the past. You can only move forward. 2013 was what it was and it’s my job to learn from it, embrace the brokenness that came in many areas from it, and walk in 2014 full of joy and hope, just like I did when I walked unknowingly into the madness that was last year.

So, what did 2013 teach and/or remind me?
Well, lots of things.

Here’s some examples, in no particular order (except the 1st one):

  • God is still good and sovereign. Absolutely nothing can change that fact.

Though 2013 was my hardest yet, my steadfast belief in God’s sovereignty and goodness did not change. Were their moments I struggled with why God allowed me to become unexpectedly pregnant, let alone why He then allowed our child to die? Of course. I’m a human, after all. I am a human, though, who has seen the hand of God all over their life time and time again, even when things look the darkest from an earthly perspective.

  • My life is not about me.

After almost dying at 19, I am blessed to know from a young age that my life is not about me but instead the glory of God being displayed through how I respond to not only life’s highest highs but also its lowest lows. Though I know I didn’t do it perfectly, I hope that this year I brought Him glory through how I dealt with the circumstances He allowed into my life for my refining and His glory. I pray I do the same in 2014, no matter what happens.

  • My marriage is rock solid and can withstand anything that life throws its way.

I didn’t say my marriage is perfect, because it most certainly isn’t; it does involve two humans, after all. 😉 It is, though, rock solid, and it just keeps getting better. 2013 was the hardest year yet for our four-year-marriage. I’m thankful to say, though, that everything we went through this year brought us even closer together, horrible miscarriage included. During this year, at times, we fought a lot. At times, we cried a lot. At times, to be honest, we struggled a lot…but we came out on the other side a stronger, more unified couple. We came out a better definition of two people living “one flesh.” We came out of the struggle closer to the Lord on an individual basis as well as a corporate one. As  a couple, we came out of 2013 changed, changed for good! I can’t imagine displaying God’s love for the Church through marriage with anyone else than my best friend.  He rocks my world. 🙂

  • I long to be a mother more than sometimes I even know.

This could, and eventually will, be the subject of a whole post. Stay tuned. 🙂

  • Adoption (at least our journey) is hard – really hard – but so worth it. We can’t wait to meet Noah and Hannah and pray they join our family at the same time. 🙂

The giant mountain of paperwork hasn’t even been the hardest part. Being married to a really detailed-oriented person, though, definitely helped in that area. 🙂 No, the paperwork has been a breeze compared to other things, mostly emotional in nature, through which we’ve had to work; some of those things are just a part of the usual process (and will be written about in another series) and others are unique to our particular situation. No matter what comes up, though, the important thing is we’re committed to working through it; we’re committed to finding our children and bringing them home. No matter what, we Paynes don’t ever give up.

  • People like other people’s drama and shy away from public expressions of grief.

I learned this lesson back in the Spring/Early Summer. I had thousands of people (mostly strangers) suddenly flocking to my blog to read all 21 posts about our hard-to-believe adoption/surrogacy/pregnancy/miscarriage/adoption journey. Only an 1/8 of that audience read, though, after the 13th installment of the aforementioned series when I was heartbroken, and therefore devoted three blog posts to redeeming my miscarriage; most of the sharing of my posts stopped, too. Not surprisingly, most of that audience (and shares) returned once again when the other more-appealing series resumed for the last 7 posts.

Don’t get me wrong. I sincerely appreciated the concern (or curiosity) others showed (either through reading and/or contacting me) during my large series full of twists and turns. I just was rather shocked that my readership went down so much when I took a break from the other series (since I was initially hiding (even from my own parents) the fact I was sick post-miscarriage) to publicly deal with the intense grief that came with all that drama people loved to read. Though they were much, much fewer in nature, the private messages I did receive from that miscarriage series made the emotional exhaustion from writing them well worth it. It also reiterated to me just how important it is for me to obey His voice and live as transparently as possible, so that He can use me to encourage others who often feel alone in how they feel. I was amazed how alone so many women who have had miscarriages felt; it made me incredibly sad. It shouldn’t be this way, and as long as I’m alive, I will continue to be as real as possible (on that issue and others) so that others feel the freedom that comes with living without satanic shame.

Though I was humbled by my viewership this year, I don’t write for certain stat numbers. I write in order to be able to breathe, to connect with my Creator, to glorify His name and have Him do whatever with it He wants.  Your guess as to what He does with it in 2014 is as good as mine. No matter how many read, it’s all for Him!

  • Living “transparently” doesn’t have to mean giving anyone and everyone 24/7 access to your life, emotions, time, thoughtfulness, etc. without requiring anything from them; no, that would be toxic and will eventually leave you feeling burnt.  Having Christ-inspired, personal boundaries is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and others.

I wrote about this topic in my “mid-life crisis” series.

  • Though he came in contact with thousands, and was followed intensely by 12, even Jesus’ inner circle only consisted of 3 people. Yours will look about the same; don’t kid yourself into believing otherwise.

Not every friend sticks closer than a brother, and that’s OK. Life is full of relationships, each with their own level of closeness. Oftentimes, those in relationship aren’t even desiring the same level of closeness, but unless they’re willing to be honest with one another, one just assumes (and prays) the other will “get a clue”. Somewhere between sometimes and usually, the other party eventually does get a clue and is consequently left confused; that is, unless you’re like my former self, and then often you are left clueless for far longer than expected. In my case, for most of 2013, I also didn’t believe in personal boundaries, so my addiction to emotional harlotry didn’t help my case.

Some friendships are for a season, then fade, then come back again. Some never come back. Some evolve and change over time. You can be someone’s friend without giving them permission to know every single thing about you and vice/versa. You, unbeknownst to me until this year, can also do this while still upholding Christ’s call to love. In fact, sometimes the most loving thing you can do is let things change inside of, or even let go of, a relationship that is near and dear to you.

In rare cases, you will find those with whom your soul connects in a way that is, if I can say, not of this world. You will find people who just “get” you without you needing to explain yourself. They will give you the benefit of the doubt but be willing to confront you when needed. They will desire your good above their own, always without question. They will guard your heart as if it were their own. In your divinely-inspired friendship, you will give and take in a natural, beautiful exchange of wills. Cherish those people. Protect those people with a fierce and loyal love this world does not know.

  • With God’s help, you really can survive anything. Better yet, you can not only survive but thrive while in the midst of the deepest pain, no matter its nature.

I learned this valuable lesson in the physical realm back in 2005 and the emotional realm in 2013.

So what will 2014 bring?

I read a quote on New Year’s Eve that really spoke to me:
“A new year is at hand,” the king said. “We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted.”
King George VI

That is my prayer for 2014, that I remain undaunted in my commitment to the Lord and His sovereignty and goodness, no matter what befalls me this upcoming year. Whether it be another year of not having the opportunity to be a mother, another year of disappointments and confusion, or even death. By God’s grace, as long as I’m alive, I pray I remain undaunted in my commitment to Him.

Lord, let it be so.

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Filed under 2014, Adoption, Baby, grace, Life, Marriage, Miscarriage, Prayer, Purpose

Seeing Red

Some dates are etched in your memory forever.

Birthdays. Anniversaries. Days our loved ones pass away. Major life events. We all can list at least a few dates that automatically stick out in our minds, whether for welcomed reasons or not.

December 4, 2013 will always be one of those days for me. That was my estimated due date for the child I miscarried on April 1st at 5 weeks gestation. That was the day our child, as microscopic as he/she was, went to be with the Lord. That was the day part of me went to be with Him, too.

To say I was heartbroken after we miscarried is a gross understatement. If you recall, there was a lot already going on in our lives in early Spring. It was so much that the most grounded people would feel like they were losing their grip on their sanity prior to what transpired on April 1st. As we all know, the roller coaster wasn’t over, though.

Once the bleeding stopped, I was emotionally as empty as my formally impregnated uterus; in a matter of a few hours, the life had been sucked out of me, literally and figuratively. Like millions of women each year, I was left to pick up the pieces of my shattered heart and move on.

For me, though, “moving on” was going to be a long, long journey.
It was going to be a much longer, harder, more private pilgrimage through grief than with what I (and, in some ways, others) was comfortable.
It was my journey, though, nonetheless.

The first few weeks, I would come home from work some days and just sit on the floor in our empty nursery. I would begin to replay over in my mind the trauma that had been the few weeks leading up to me unexpectedly getting pregnant, as well as the subsequent drama which led to finally having a confirmation that I had indeed miscarried and wasn’t losing my mind...or was I? 

When I was alone, the previous few months played out like a dramatic Nicholas Sparks’ movie in my head. Scene after scene, I saw the characters, i.e. me and my husband, develop and the plot thicken and thicken some more. The plot became so thick, I felt as if I were traveling through a dense fog in my head, a fog which would last for months. Some days the fog was so thick, I couldn’t tell if I was indeed the protagonist or the antagonist of my own story; some days I felt like both, sometimes simultaneously. As I dealt with post-miscarriage health complications for months on end on top of my grief, there seemed to be no climax of events (let alone a resolution) in sight, in my real life or in my imagination.  I wanted out of the madness. Honestly, some days I wanted to just go to sleep and never wake up. I wanted peace and rest, and those things seemed hard to come by at the time.

After all, it was hard to feel at peace when you feel you have failed as a woman, and more importantly, as a wife. For a myriad of reasons, that’s the way I felt for a long, long time. Thankfully, though, after months of spending time with the Lord, countless hours of conversation with my husband and a few close friends, and being forced to deal with the root of my feelings, I (for the most part) don’t feel that way anymore.

Thank God, I don’t usually feel that way anymore.
One day, I hope to say I don’t ever feel that way anymore.
One step at a time, though.

I don’t really feel it necessary (at least now) to take you through the play-by-play of the highs and lows of my journey of grief. I guess after the realization I came to during my mid-life crisis, I don’t feel anymore like I “owe” you, the reader, an “all-access” pass into the most personal caveats of my life. I guess I’m still learning to have boundaries in my relationships, online and off. I have to say, after a year of a lot of hurt and heartache, it feels good to not (usually) feel guilty for protecting myself emotionally.

Just know that the last 8 months of my life have been filled with extremely personal, heart-wrenching moments. It hasn’t always been pretty. In fact, many times it’s been rather ugly, but it’s always been one thing – real and raw. After all, love it or hate it, I know no other way to be. If there’s one thing I’ve re-learned during the craziness that has been my 2013, it’s that I can’t control a lot in my life. God, in His sovereignty and goodness, numbers my steps, oftentimes much differently than I would. On the flip side, though, I’m learning there are some things I can control, namely having healthy boundaries with people and owning and being proud of, instead of shaming, my own journey.

And oh the journey it has been.

I’m thankful, though, I’m finally far enough down the path that I can say I’m thankful for the past 8 months. I may not ever understand why John and I had to lose a child, or why it had to affect me so deeply, but I do know good has come of it.

do know that what Satan meant for evil, my gracious Lord meant for good. Yes, He meant it for my good and, more importantly, His glory. Those nights I lay crumbled up on the floor in my empty nursery, when I wasn’t sure if I was the protagonist or antagonist of my own story, I had forgotten to ask the Author and Finisher of my story who I am. Instead of trusting Him, I listened to my doubt. Instead of believing I am who He says I am (beloved and loved, far from a failure), I believe the father of lies who is always out to steal my (and your) joy and vision. Thankfully, I don’t forget anymore.

In the Old Testament, when God’s people had an unforgettable encounter with the LORD, they often built a memorial out of stone in commemoration of the event. They (and sometimes the LORD Himself) wanted a tangible reminder of what the LORD had done. I, too, wanted a tangible reminder of how the Lord had restored and healed my heart, so I completely changed my appearance (at least for now).

For almost 28 years, I was a blonde. Now, I’m a red head. 🙂

2013-12-05_16-12-01_263When I look in the mirror, I am constantly reminded of the fact I not only look like a completely different person, I am a completely different person because of God’s gracious work in my life! I’m pretty sure I will eventually go back to my roots (or closer to them than I am now 😉 ), but for now, I needed an external expression of a very powerful, inward change. The dye is temporary, but the branding on my heart is forever.


I finally see He is bringing much beauty from the ashes of my once shattered heart.
He is mending and strengthening. He is healing and restoring.
He is being what He always is – good. So, so good.

I’ll leave you with a song that has meant so very much to me over the past several months.

 

Father, thank you for loving me so.

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Filed under Baby, grace, Life, Marriage, Miscarriage, Redeeming Loss, Sanctification

October & Adoption: A Call To Prayer & Fasting

I just love October! 😀

Every year, I wait in anxious anticipation for these 31 days of Fall bliss. Though we are apart much of the year, my love for October never wanes. Every year around this time I look forward to my pilgrimage to Mennonite Mum Mecca (what I’ve lovingly named a local nursery), so I can pick out my gargantuan mum (for only $5.50!!) for my front porch. I unashamedly dig through the pumpkin bin at Meijer (go ahead, judge me!) for the largest, most uniformed-in-size pumpkin, because they’re all the same price but far from created equal. Oh, October, it’s true – You and your gorgeous foliage, crisp air which begs for boots and sweaters to be worn, and granted permission to indulge in all things pumpkin makes you oh so beautiful to me. 

While reflecting on my love for October this morning during my devotional time, the Lord gave me an idea to make these 31 days not just fun for me but spiritually meaningful to me. Really, Lord, you’d do that for me? Yes, please! The best part? All of you get to be involved! 🙂

From October 1-31, we’re asking people to join us, as we boldly come before the throne of Grace regarding our adoption. Now that we’re officially “legal,” due to having a completed home study (insert huge sigh of relief) as of last month, now seems like a perfect time to start our quest to involve others in our journey to parenthood.

[Update: We are extending our call for prayer & fasting into November. Additional prayer requests are below in bold.]

Will you join us?

Before we begin, here are some things you need to know:

  • We as a couple are committing to being in daily prayer, as we have been, for our adoption.
  • We firmly believe the Lord is working in our midst and is going to make us a family of three, in His timing and way, for His glory.
  • We trust and believe that the Lord has known our child before the foundation of time and has specifically called us to love and raise them.
  • We are committed to loving our child with reckless abandonment and doing everything within our power to bring them home to us.

Especially during this month of corporate prayer and fasting, though oftentimes our situation can make us feel isolated and, we rejoice in the fact we’re not alone. We know that there is POWER in corporate prayer and are excited to see how the Lord uses this sacred time to strengthen our (and your) faith and further our adoption for His glory. I saw the power of a corporate call to prayer around this time 7 years ago, when I was finishing the first edition of Breathtaking, and am expecting just as awesome things to come of this time around.

We believe the Word calls us to pray not only in an expectant, but also a specific, manner, so we’d ask that you partner with us to pray/fast for the following:

Prioritized, Immediate & Specific Requests:

#1: The Lord’s Glory – Most importantly, that through all aspects of our adoption, the Lord would be glorified.

“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”
Isaiah 26:8

#2: Child(ren)’s Birth Parents:

  • Pray that they both will come to know the Lord, if they don’t already know Him.
  • Pray that they both the birth mother and birth father (if applicable) feel nothing but loved and respected by not only us but everyone with whom they have contact while the adoption is being finalized.

#3: Our Marketing Plans:

  • Please pray for me as I work on completing the “life book,” which will be used as a tool to introduce potential birth mothers to us.
  • Pray for wisdom and clarity on what to include (as this will be the first impression birth mothers are given of us) and how to disseminate that information.
  • It may sound silly, but as one who is not crafty by nature and is highly sentimental/takes this stuff really, really seriously, the “life book” planning really stresses me out, so please pray for peace to reign when I’m working on it.
  • Pray for the website design and our friend, Becky, who is helping us with both the “life book” and the website. We hope to launch that site (“The Paynes Adopt”) in the very near future.

#4: Our Finances:

  • Adoption is very, very expensive and can come with many unplanned expenses (potentially traveling out of the state, etc.). Please pray that we are able to complete our adoption debt free, which has always been our goal, no matter if we adopt within the state of Ohio or not.
  • Pray for me as I look into adoption-related grants and plans strategic and planning well-received fundraising ideas to help supplement our adoption account. *If you have ideas for fundraising, please feel free to share!

#5: Our Spiritual & Emotional Health/Stress Level:

  • This process can be extremely emotionally-taxing for both of us for different reasons. The stress level at our home can run very high right now, as we prepare tangibly and emotionally to add a little one (or two) to our home with potentially only a few days’ notice.
  • That we will keep our hearts open to what the Lord would want to teach us during this season of waiting and walk into our adoption spiritually and emotionally whole individually and corporately-speaking.

If you would feel comfortable sharing with us your commitment to join with us in concentrated prayer this month for Baby Payne, please either send me a message or join our Facebook group dedicated to our month-long event. If you are wanting to commit to praying certain days, please feel free to share that with us, as well. Obviously, we will continue praying after October ends, but we’re rather excited about seeing how God moves amongst us this month!

Thanks in advance for your prayers! God, have Your way!

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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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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.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

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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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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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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