Tag Archives: women

The Long & Hard Road

No one ever told me this season in life would be so hard.
More importantly, no one ever told me it would be so…lonely.
So very lonely, at times.

My husband and I both are experiencing very hard seasons in life. He is getting used to a new and exciting, yet stressful, job. Consequently, often (like tonight) the last month-and-a-half, because of the stress and/or lack of sleep the night before, he gets tucked into bed when there are still hours left of daylight. I, too, am getting used to a new job, and have experienced my share of long hours and work-related stress, though my job is thankfully slowing down and becoming much more life-giving. It also helps that I am now 2 months post- sinus surgery, so I am no longer heavily drugged or in pain; therefore, I can think straight, unlike when I first started. 🙂

For my Loves, his career, though he loves it, is his main source of stress and exhaustion right now.  For me, it is my empty arms and nursery, especially around Mother’s Day. For both of us, this is the hardest season of our marriage, and in some ways, our lives.

Last night, it was John’s turn to not sleep. He sat awake in the family room with his Bible,  sermons on his phone, and his nightlight while I snoozed away. I, on the other hand, had my turn the two nights before, when while he sawed logs, I slept no more than 2 hours in 48. I tried so, so hard to stay awake with him, as I usually do. The Lunesta I found in the cupboard from my surgery, though, beckoned my attention and wooed me into a deep, much-needed time of 12 hours of rest.

 To say that life is hard around the Payne’s right now is an understatement. We are exhausted, in all senses of the word. We are also closer than we have ever been. It’s funny how, if we are willing, the Lord refuses to waste our (and your) suffering, even the kind that involves the most stinging of pain.

 

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. Yesterday, for us, was in a way a living hell. We both didn’t make it through church without crying. John got close but broke down at the end. I never had a chance. We both cried some more later on in the day. To make matters worse, I had spent the last 2 nights up in the dark crying out to the Lord to please take this cup of sorrow from me.


He has chosen to call me to wait for earthly motherhood, and though I can quote you all the verses and know I am to be content, sometimes I am just not OK with that. I know that’s not the “Jesus” answer, or something of which I am proud, but that’s the truth. I can quote you all the verses (in context) and exegete the passages, but sometimes all I can manage to pray is, “I believe. Lord, help my unbelief!” To be honest, this road of barrenness has been much harder for me than it ever was to almost die at the age of 19. Can I say that without you judging me and calling me melodramatic? Maybe not, but I am going to say it, anyway.

Sometimes, the pain that is involved in not having our child who passed away, here or earth or any child at all, is just too much to bear for my weary soul.  With each passing announcement of another pending or new birth, I feel like part of my heart is being ripped from my chest, that I am slowly dying inside. I desperately long to be a mother, much more than I ever knew until I was asked to journey the road less traveled that involves not being able to have them. My husband struggles, too, though he tries to keep it together outwardly more than I do; for both of us, though we deal with it differently, it’s our Cross that we daily bear.

As I said on Facebook last night, though my journey is not normal (especially in my circle of friends), it is not unique. I know that. I know, even though Satan want me to feel like I’m the only one, there are millions of women who are either barren or who have miscarried; they understand my pain in a very tangible way. As I also said, though, we women need each other. We need each other, no matter if we are the mother of 8 kids or on our 8th year of painful infertility. We all have something to learn from, and more importantly to offer,each other.

We need to rejoice with those who rejoice just as easily as we mourn with those who mourn. There are a women on both sides of the coin, women who deserve to be loved and fully met in their current season, even if that season is the polar opposite of ours. Is that always easy? No. It is always necessary? Yes, for the benefit of all involved.

Why? Why force ourselves to enter someone’s joy when we are hurting or embrace their sorrow when our life is far from sorrowful?
Because that’s what Jesus would do and calls us to do, as well.
After all, we are to be His hands and feet.

Why? Because that’s how we learn to do live life – the good and the bad of it – together as the Body of Christ.
If you just focus on the good, you lose sight of our utter dependence on Him, of the perfect Redemption to come.
If you just focus on the bad, you lose sight of the beauty of grace and God’s constant hand in our lives.

So, even though my arms are still empty this Mother’s Day, and I just experienced 2 of the darkest days in my life, I publicly celebrate and honor those to whom I am close who are mothers. I love you all and think you are doing a great job. Happy Mother’s Day.

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Filed under 2014, Adoption, Baby, grace, Life, Marriage, Purpose, Sanctification

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

Where Our Adoption Stands

Don’t worry. Our plans haven’t changed (again).
As I told you last month, we’re still adopting. 🙂

Sorry I haven’t really updated you all on our progress lately.
I guess working through my mid-life crisis, and life itself, just got in the way.
There’s been a lot going on here at the Payne’s, I guess you could say.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, so I figure it’s time to update you again!

I have some exciting news, though, on the adoption front!

If you didn’t catch it in last month’s update….

As of mid-September, we have an official, completed home study! 😀 😀 😀

This makes us officially “legal” and able to take a child, if one would be offered to us. In case you couldn’t already tell, this is a huge, huge deal and was a giant hurdle to cross.

Last time I checked, though, even if you’re legally able to say “yes,” to a child, it’s rather rare to just get called out-of-the-blue and offered the opportunity to parent one, not that it couldn’t happen if the Lord saw fit, though! 😉 

That being said, logistically, we’re making progress.
Not enough, though.
There’s still much work to be done. :/

To be completely honest, October wasn’t a fun month for me. I had grandiose hopes and dreams for the month with our call to fasting/prayer for our adoption, ones that (for the most part) did not come to fruition. When God wasn’t meeting my expectations for the month, I oftentimes struggled with feeling depressed, emotionally tired, confused, alone, and every other negative feeling the enemy tried to throw at me. I didn’t always stand firm on the promises of the Word. Many times, I let my circumstances, ones that weren’t changing fast enough for my liking, determine my level of joy instead of my confidence in Him and Him alone.  Many times, though I was participating in my own call for prayer and fasting, I wasn’t actively participating. Instead, I was just going through the motions, tapping my foot, waiting for Him to “just do something” because we were doing all that we could do and seemingly getting nowhere. Consequently, during those distracted times, I missed out on seeing what the Lord was doing in our midst, even if those things upon which He was working weren’t at all for what I had been praying so fervently and weren’t exactly fun to process.

You see, God certainly did move in October; it was just mostly in ways I hadn’t planned. In hindsight, I am reminded of the verse in Isaiah 55 (v.8) which tells us, ““For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.”

The Word tell us that man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (I Sam. 16:7). How does that relate to us?

The Lord showed me that oftentimes I, like most people naturally do in my situation, have been coming at the adoption from a purely logistical (“outward”) standpoint. After all, if you know anything about adoption, there are a lot of logistics to think about. When I wasn’t thinking about the logistics, I was thinking about our child and the awesome privilege and responsibility it is going to be to be their mother. Obviously, these were all good things on which to ponder. God, though, in His divine sovereignty and goodness, has been coming at it all along from a holistic standpoint. Moreover, because He so lavishly loves us and longs to reveal Himself to us, He has been thinking not only about not only our precious child and all the details that go with bringing them home to us but, just as importantly, about ME, about US, this whole time, too. 

Though we (especially I) couldn’t see it for the longest time, He hasn’t left us in the desert. We aren’t aimlessly walking around year-after-year, experiencing trial after trial, locked out of the “Promised Land” of parenthood because we’re being “punished” for whatever reason. No, He knows exactly what He is doing, and, contrary to the lies Satan would have me believe, His goal isn’t to break my heart; actually, it’s quite the opposite. No, before He allows us to enter the new “land” of parenthood, He sees the utmost importance in beginning to heal our hearts (in particular mine) first before He moves us elsewhere, especially into such an important season as the one upon which we are about to embark.

No, He isn’t purposefully withholding parenthood from me to torment me. No, instead, He longs for me, for us (individually and corporately), to feel whole before He moves us to a different, very challenging land. The Lord loves us, and our children, enough to tend to our hearts before He ever brings them into our lives.

Sure, He could have parted the waters by now and easily allowed all the tangible, logistical things to fall into place for us to be able to adopt. We could have been richly blessed with a child (or more than one) and going about our lives with our newborn(s) feeling extremely tired but blessed. He chose not to, however, because we never would have felt completely whole. Consequently, things never would have been completely as they should, and the Lord loves us too much to allow that.

He loves us too much to allow us to gain what we want tangibly but, in the process, settle spiritually and emotionally for much less than we could have with Him and with each other as husband and wife. He loves our children too much to leave their parents (i.e. us) as broken beings unable to fully embrace and appreciate our family for what it will be. All this time, He hasn’t been withholding from any of us but instead protecting us, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Though I couldn’t say it much last month, I am so thankful for that fact. I am so thankful that God did not abandon us in October but instead was preparing and healing our hearts, in particular our marriage, in ways that are crucially important for the well-being of our family once we finally do become a family of three (or four 😉 ).

So, where do we go from here?

  • Well, we pray. And then we pray some more. We have extended our October month of fasting/prayer into November and would love to have your support in our efforts to be bathing our adoption in prayer. You can find an outline of our specific requests (which have been updated) by going here.
  • We refuse to lose heart.
  • As Charles Stanley would say, we “obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.”
  • We stand back in awe and wonder and watch Him move.

Lord God, thank you for how You’re moving. You are all we need.

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Filed under Adoption, grace, Marriage, Prayer, 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: The Answers – Part 21

You weren’t the only one who thought we’d never reach the final post in this series. It’s been a long haul, full of the highest mountain top experiences and the lowest emotional valleys, but we made it. 🙂

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,  and why I chose to share my grief, please see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my “Redeeming Miscarriage” series.

*For more on the messiness of life, in particular my life, please see Part 14.
*For more on a new, mysterious word that was going to affect my life, please see Part 15.
*For more on the possible reasons why I was suddenly not in the best of health, please see Part 16.
*For more on my two days of testing to try to figure out the problem, please see Part 17.
*For more on the uncertainty that came with the initial results, please see Part 18.
*For more on the time I spent waiting to know our future, please see Part 19.
*For more on a sudden, unexpected change, please see Part 20.
_____________
Numbers talk, and mine had just decided to finally find their voice.

Just a few minutes prior, I was astonished to learn that a few months ago, the predictors used to measure our pulmonary function tests had made a rare and sudden change. This change was so rare, nothing like it had occurred since I started going to that hospital almost 9 years ago. Furthermore, if measuring my past few tests according to the old standards, the lowest my lung function had measured during all of this uncertainty was 97% – a number I had seen many times since my transplant in September 2005, instead of 92% That day in mid-May, it was actually sitting at 99%, a number just as high as it had been in September last year.  No, it wasn’t over 100%, but when you are trying to figure out what exactly is going on and every % is being scrutinized, having 99% (my normal is 98%-105%) of my lung function instead of 95% (what the new standards ranked me at that day), was a huge, huge deal.

Walking into the transplant clinic, re-calculated numbers in hand, I still didn’t know why this change hadn’t been taken into consideration, but I was about to find out. I was a woman on a mission. I wanted answers, and I wanted them now. I was sure there was a reasonable explanation. I just couldn’t come up with one off the top of my head.

I didn’t need answers just about my pulmonary function test.
I needed answers about my antibodies.
I also needed an answer on whether or not I was pregnant.
It was going to be an eventful visit.

I got all checked in, had my vitals taken, and got settled in my spacious patient room. It wasn’t long before my nurse, Kerri, came in and got the visit started. I really like Kerri. We get along quite well. She asked me the usual questions, told me about her weekend, and listened to my findings in regards to my pulmonary function tests. She seemed intrigued but clearly didn’t want to say much. She and I both knew Dr. Kirby was the one with whom to speak about this issue.

He wasn’t too far in timing behind her and, like usual, showed up relatively quickly. Unlike usual, another doctor was with him, tagging along to learn more about the never-dull world of lung transplantation. I had nothing against the guy, but I wasn’t really wanting to “confront” my beloved doctor in front of a complete stranger. I didn’t want to make him look bad in front of his colleague, but I had some things I had to say. Even though we had unexpected company, my curiosity couldn’t wait.

For the next several minutes we went over what I knew at that moment compared to what I knew when I drove into the parking garage approximately two hours ago. The poor doctor who came with Dr. Kirkby just silently stood in the corner while we discussed the ends and outs of pulmonary function tests and the change that, as far as I could tell, hadn’t been considered when analyzing my data since the miscarriage.

I asked extremely pointed questions, and like I expected, I got extremely honest answers. No, the sudden change hadn’t been taken into consideration. It was what it was. You can’t change the past. On the other hand, even if my lung function hadn’t undergone as large of a percentage change as first suspected (which was a very good thing), there still had been a change, a change worth investigating with everything else going on. Yes, the number had gone back up, but even if you used the old standards, it still wasn’t my highest reading recorded since my transplant. When you have antibody issues, it is better to be safe than sorry, after all.

Furthermore, the bronchoscopy would have still been necessary with all the antibody issues I was currently experiencing, since I hadn’t had any biopsies taken in 6 years; that’s like a lifetime in the transplant world. At that point, the pH probe test I also did 6 weeks prior wasn’t explicitly labeled “necessary,” but at least it was now done and showed I wouldn’t need surgery anytime soonIt wasn’t worth focusing on whether or not I should have done it. It was over. Bottom line, we were all thankful my lung function was up from 6 weeks ago and also higher the two times before that day than previously thought. For the sake of clarity, we agreed from now on, we would use the actual reading instead of the % any time my test results were discussed, in case of any more sudden changes in the predictors in the future.We agreed to be thankful and move on.

After months of uncertainty and so much emphasis on a percentage of lung function that never even existed, it wasn’t exactly the explanation I wanted to hear, but I accepted it and still loved my doctor just as much as before. I guess when you have been shown so often how much your doctor and your team care for you, when you’ve felt less than comfortable with – or genuinely cared for by- other physicians over the years, it’s easier to “forgive” oversights from those whom you trust. Yes, some unnecessary worry over my lung function could have been avoided. It didn’t matter, though. Unfortunately, all was not now right with the world. I still had a major antibody issue, one that was more than likely caused by the miscarriage and a serious issue, no matter what “system” you used to measure my lung function.

What I didn’t have, though, was a positive pregnancy test. Thank you, Lord!

Since we no longer had to worry about me being with child (still not sure why I was so whacked out) and my lung function was once again completely normal, our focus was once again on my antibody level.

Thankfully, the good news just kept on coming.

I was also informed that my former doctor, Dr. Astor, who had been in charge of my case from the first time I set foot into that hospital when I was 18 (2004) up until 2010 had been consulted about my antibodies and given his opinion.

“Don’t treat at this point,” was his answer.

Better yet, that was his answer even before the change in predictors for the pulmonary function test was even broached.

Though some in his field would disagree with him, with no signs of antibodies in my lungs, and my lung function so incredibly high, he didn’t find treatment necessary. Trusting his years of experience, Dr. Kirkby agreed with him. Consequently, as long as my numbers didn’t come back sky-high this time around, he made that sentiment his recommendation, as well.

If the numbers were still rapidly climbing, we’d just re-evaluate.
I was sent home to wait – again.

2 days later, my new antibody readings came back.

37% was my new measurement – only 2% higher than 6 weeks before. The numbers thankfully weren’t doubling anymore. No treatment was needed. I wouldn’t need to be seen for 3 months, and then we’d test again. We weren’t too worried at this point, though, since my lung function had gone up, I hadn’t shown any signs of rejection, and there were no antibodies in my lungs. For the first time in over 4 months,  I was free to go back to life as normal. Let me tell you. After everything we had been through the past several months, “normal” never sounded so, so good.

The End…of this chapter, at least. 😀

A new series to come on our plans to move forward with our family. You don’t want to miss it. 🙂

*John and I could never say thank you enough to those of you (strangers and friends alike) who have prayed us through this journey. Your love and support means more to us than you will ever, ever know.Whether you choose to continue to follow my blog or not, please keep those prayers coming! Thank you for giving us the privilege of seeing the body of Christ at work in such a beautiful, inspiring way. Though we never would have imagined what all 2013 would entail (thus far), we are so thankful that, though our circumstances have been far from consistent, not only has He remained constant but so have the prayers of the Saints. We love you all.

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Filed under Adoption, cystic fibrosis, grace, Health, Life, Miscarriage, Transplant

Why We Halted Our Adoption: The Change – Part 20

I’d know in a matter of a few hours if not only my antibodies and lung function were still out of control. I would also know if I was most likely soon going to be experiencing déjà vu and consequently making my health situation even more complicated with a second pregnancy.

I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to hear all of those answers
Too late. Ready or not, answers were coming.

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,  and why I chose to share my grief, please see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of my “Redeeming Miscarriage” series.

*For more on the messiness of life, in particular my life, please see Part 14.
*For more on what I never told you had happened after the miscarriage, please see Part 15.
*For more on the possible reasons why I was suddenly not in the best of health, please see Part 16.
*For more on my two days of testing to try to figure out the problem, please see Part 17.
*For more on the uncertainty that came with the initial results, please see Part 18.
*For more on the time I spent waiting to know our future, please see Part 19.
_________________

Surprisingly, my transplant nurse, Ashley, stayed calm while I told her about my possible second conception. No, you can’t make this stuff up. 

I made sure she knew I didn’t think I was pregnant. I had no idea at that point. With the strangeness going on, though, there certainly was a possibility, at least in my mind. I wasn’t convinced either way, but I knew well enough that I needed to be cautious and not just play a “wait and see” game. She agreed and ordered the HCG blood test, the exact same test that didn’t do me any good last time due to the type of “chemical” miscarriage I had. I knew this time, though, I was testing much sooner. As a result, if I really was pregnant, the test should work; we would catch the hormone in time before it, if things went like last time, rapidly dispelled from my body.

To be honest, walking into the lab to give my multiple viles of blood, whether or not I was pregnant again was the least of my worries. It was what it was. There was nothing I could do to change it at that point. Worrying myself to death for the next 2 hours wasn’t going to do any good. We certainly weren’t trying to conceive again. We hadn’t been the last time, either. We were using protection and still ended up “scoring a goal,” so anything was possible. I could definitely see it going either way and was learning toward it coming back negative. Please, Lord?

While my blood left my body and filled the tubes of all shapes and sizes, I kept my mind focused on the fact that God was still going to be sovereign and good, no matter the outcome of the test. He was still going to be sovereign and good, even if I lost another child. He was still going to be sovereign and good, even if I had to go into treatment for the antibodies and felt crummy the rest of the summer. He was still going to be sovereign and good, even if I went into rejection and lost my life because of one, or more, unplanned children. He wouldn’t change, just as He has remained the same since before the foundations of time.

I had my battled wound dressed and took the elevator up to do my pulmonary function test, since if I was pregnant, I was skipping my chest x-ray. The number of times I would do the tests was going to be determined by how things were going after 2 or so tries. Once I got there and settled, I was ready to battle myself. My competitive nature hadn’t waned since the last time I had blown through the device over and over again. Last time I was never satisfied with the numbers that popped up on the screen. After 1 blow, I knew things were going to be different this time around. I could feel it. After much fewer attempts, I settled with getting 95% instead of 92%. I could have continued to repeat the test, but I wasn’t in the mood. I was satisfied with my efforts. The main number wasn’t a huge improvement, but it wasn’t another decrease! We were moving in the right direction. Lord-willing, I wasn’t pregnant again, and my antibodies were recovering, as well.

Right before I grabbed my stuff to go, my respiratory therapist said something that would change everything.

I don’t remember her exact question, but it was something to the effect of, “Did the new standards cause your numbers to go up or down?” Confused, I responded, “New standards?”

It took her only five minutes to explain to me that a few months ago, the predictors used to measure our pulmonary function tests had made a rare and sudden change. This change was so rare, nothing like it had occurred since I started going to that hospital almost 9 years ago. 

Speechless, I let her continue. After we printed off my last 4 tests (spanning back to September 2012), we discovered that what was set as the standard for receiving a 100% had now been raised, at least for me. Now both of us were intrigued. So much so that we manually went back through and re-calculated under the old standards (the ones I had been tested under hundreds of times) my last two tests (April 1 – the day my miscarriage started & 1 in Mid-May) and learned that under the old standards, since the miscarriage, my lung function was neverever at 92%.

In fact, the lowest it had been measured during all of this uncertainty was 97% – a number I had seen many times since my transplant in September 2005. That day in mid-May, it was actually sitting at 99%, a number just as high as it had been in September last year.  No, it wasn’t over 100%, but when you are trying to figure out what exactly is going on and every % is being scrutinized, having 99% of my lung function instead of 95% (what the new standards ranked me at that day), was a huge, huge deal. 


Immediately, I felt a million weights lift from my shoulders, yet was in so much shock, I didn’t know if I could move. I had to move, though, because I couldn’t wait to go to clinic, calculations in hand, and
speak with my team about my incredible findings.


During my walk to the other side of the hospital, whether or not I was pregnant was the furthest thing on my mind. What had just occurred was all I could think about. As I re-played the previous 10 minutes in my mind, I admittedly had an obvious question – “Why was this change not taken into consideration?” After literally months of uncertainty, I was thrilled with, but also deeply confused by, my new-found results. Was this going to change everything? I was about to find out.

Part 21 to come!

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Filed under Adoption, cystic fibrosis, Health, Marriage, Miscarriage, Transplant