The Top 17 Times Bob’s Burgers Perfectly Illustrated Your Infertility Struggle:

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  1. That time someone said, “Stop worrying about it, I know you’re going to be a mom.”

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  1. Every time someone apologizes when you tell them about your infertility.

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  1. That time Aunt So-and-So told you about how angry she was that her friend’s meth head daughter just gave birth to her sixth baby and “two great people like you can’t have a baby…”tumblr_n6hyn5kbro1sl1tibo2_500

 

  1. That time someone tried to give you sex advice and were totally unprepared for the amount of reproductive knowledge you now have, so then they started asking you reproductive questions

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  1. That time you were super hopeful and everyone else was worried about how disappointed you would be if you weren’t pregnant.

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  1. That time your husband accused you of ignoring someone when they asked you , “when are you guys going to start having kids?” giphy.gif

 

7. That time someone told you “to adopt and then you will get pregnant.”

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  1. That time you see the mom-of -three is pregnant…again…

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  1. That time someone told you about their cousin’s sister’s friend getting pregnant after she did such and such.

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  1. All those times you tried anything…seriously ANYTHING… to help you get pregnant

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  1. That time you just needed to vent about how much infertility sucks but everyone keeps bringing up things you should be thankful for.

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  1. Every single time the test is negative

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  1. Every time the fertility doctor switches your medication and you freak out on someone for no reason

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  1. Every single two week wait when all you can think about is whether or not you will get your period and EVERYTHING makes you think about it.3e6c427b9589a3971fe7f9fadb242bf5.jpg

 

  1. That time you tried to soothe your broken heart with food. enhanced-buzz-7417-1401462036-11

 

16. That time your doctor put you on progesterone, but the IUI didn’t work and you got the most intense period known to womankind

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17. After every single trigger shot or progesterone injection

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Hang in there champ and do what Tina does, put your bra on one boob at a time.

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Assembling Your Home Study Binder

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The dreaded home study- this is the adoption version of birthing: tons of paperwork, hours of labor, and a lot of waiting. Many prospective adoptive parents fear the home study because of its daunting nature and mountains of paperwork, but it really doesn’t have to be that scary. I was blessed to be a housewife during our home study process which really allowed me time to organize and reorganize our home study binder until I found a system that worked for me. And I believe God called me to help others who may not have the same luxury of time I was blessed with.

With that being said, this is not the only way or even the best way for YOUR home study binder. This was the best way, so far, that I have found for myself. But I understand that many of you work and may not have extra time built in to your schedule to organize and reorganize a home study binder to fit your needs. I know for myself, when life got super busy and I was still searching for a way to best organize my binder, the paperwork stacked up super fast. Before I knew it I had a binder full of loose papers and I had no idea which documents I already copied and which ones I scanned and emailed before sending out all the originals to the agency. The confusion is enough to make you have a breakdown, IF you don’t have the time to or energy to “deal” with the mess of papers.

First things first, if you are on the verge of a breakdown or at the very least a tantrum, THAT’S OK!!! Go ahead and feel it. It’s ok to be pissed that you have to do this in order to have a baby. It’s ok to be angry with God, He can handle it. It’s ok to cry and mourn over this process. I believe the greatest blessing of the home study process is the very stressful nature of it all. I believe the fact that you will be interviewed about your past, questioned about your parenting, and expected to sign forms stating you promise to vaccinate your child (I agreed, but I still felt like the choice had been taken from me), is all a beautifully challenging way to get us adoptive parents to mourn our inability to conceive our own children. A lot of this process seems unfair because most parents don’t have to go through these hoops in order to have children. And as much as I hated all of that in the moment, it forced me to recognize how hurt I was by the unfairness of it all. It forced me to confront the issues of unfairness with the head of it all: God. The agency was doing their best to help me become a parent, these measures were to cover their butt in case I turned out to be crazy, and most importantly to find a suitable and loving family for these babies that they vowed to protect and speak for. As much as it felt like it, the agency was not causing my feelings of unfairness and hurt, no, I had to take this up with the source of all life: God. So if you find yourself in this place, GREAT! You are well on your way to becoming the parent your child needs! Because this mourning process will help open your heart FULLY to the wonderful child God has planned for you and your family. Every piece of paperwork is a labor pain that is so worth it, I promise.  Start working through the emotional crap (I ended up finding a counselor to help), and I will help you organize your home study binder, so you can work through the shit and still have a beautiful binder with everything you need. YAY!

Today, we will simply be putting together the binder. No paperwork just yet, but at the end of today you will have a place to put your paperwork. This binder will be able to store all of your home study paperwork before you are matched with your child and all of your placement documents and progress reports after you matched, so everything for your child will be in one organized place! This is super helpful, especially if you move houses less than a week after you have been matched (Like us).

 

What You Will Need:

  • One 4in Binder (believe me, the bigger the better, even my 4 in binder is about to bust at the seams)
  • One set of 8 Tab Dividers
  • At least eight Velcro expandable binder pockets (I have 8 and wish I had 2 more)
  • One 3 hole punch (not those sissy plastic things you put in your binder, I broke 3 of those before sucking it up and buying a nice hole punch)
  • Easy Access to a Printer
  • Tape

Instructions:

1.Go into the kitchen and rustle up your drink of choice, beer, coffee, wine, whatevs, I don’t judge, but I prefer drinks I wouldn’t be allowed to have if I was pregnant; it makes me feel special or something.

2. Download the following pdf for your title-labels-dividers and print them out. Of course you are always welcome to make your own.

3. Let’s get these title pages out of the way first. The large print “Adoption Paperwork” will go on the front of your binder and the smaller version, needs to be trimmed to fit on the binding.

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4. Insert your 8 Tab Dividers into the binder. Use the hole punch to punch holes in the 8 Divider Title Sheets and place each title sheet behind its own divider in the following order: “General Info & Notes”, “Application”, “Instruction Sheets”, “Home Study Documents”, “Renewal Documents”, “Home Study Drafts”, “Placement Documents”, and “Progress Reports” img_9772

5. Take a moment to cut out the labels for the divider tabs and insert them into the corresponding divider tab (or just write them on the tabs, it’s up to you!). img_9775

6. Now, cut out the medium sized square labels along the gray lines. Each one of these labels will be taped on an expandable binder pocket. I taped mine behind the pocket flap to keep it looking nice. Actually, to be completely honest I made these labels for this blog post so that your binder would look nice. Mine was just these same titles scribbled on sticky notes. I put it behind the flap so dust wouldn’t get in there and make my sticky note stop sticking. img_9779

7. Some of the locations of these expandable binder pockets are obvious, but some not so much. These expandable binder pockets were the MOST useful items when it came to my home study binder. They easily held packets of paper, loose receipts, business cards, donation checks, etc, without any fear of them falling out of the binder. If I didn’t have time to hole punch some papers, I just slipped them into the “To Do” binder pocket with a sticky not label “to punch” (sometimes I put a picture of a pregnant lady in there with that label on it just for fun. Just kidding…but you know…that feeling is legit.)slapping-pregnant-ladies

At the moment, most of your expandable binder pockets will go behind the “Home Study Documents” tab because you will be using them to organize paperwork that is still be processed and is incomplete, but we will go into more detail with that in a different post. Right now, let’s just focus on getting this binder put together and ready for the eventual paperwork. Place the “To Do”, “To Copy”, “To Send”, and “Original Documents” pockets behind the “Home Study Documents” tab. The “Placement Documents” pocket will go behind the “Placement Documents” divider and the “Progress Reports” pocket will go behind the “Progress Reports” divider. You should have two more pockets: “Donations” and “Receipts & Expenses”. These two pockets I have moved around so many times. It changes based on where we are in the process. When we were accepting donations I had the “Donations” pocket in the very front of the binder. Then every time a check came in I could quickly get it into a safe place until I had time to deposit it and write a thank you note. Now that we have our son and don’t need donations, I keep the pocket in the back of the binder where it stays out of my way. The “Receipt & Expenses” Pocket I like to keep in the back of the binder, simply because I hate looking at it. Really, it can go anywhere as long as you know where it is because this pocket will be your frenemy during every single portion of this process, especially when you go to file your taxes (yup, sorry I brought up taxes, but this will be so helpful I promise!)IMG_9782.JPG

8. (Optional Pockets) I would have liked to have an expandable pocket for my photo book ideas and quotes and a pocket on hand in case I needed an extra for some reason. I don’t know why I never bought 2 more pockets…I guess I felt we were already strapped for money with the adoption, but honestly I could have just gotten them.

9. (Optional) Print out some encouraging quotes or bible verses to place in the front and back covers and the front and back pockets. Or just tape them anywhere you will see them. This helped me a lot. I read these bible verses over and over and over and over again, and slowly I started to believe them and feel the truth in them.

10. Close your binder, take 3 deep breaths, and congratulate yourself on a job well done. Your binder might not be full of papers yet, but it is ready and so are you!img_9783

I hope this has been helpful so far. If you have any questions do not hesitate to comment below. I will do my best to answer them in a timely manner. Also, keep an eye out for the next Home Study Binder post: Organizing You Home Study Paperwork. Also, please share this with anyone who you think might benefit. Happy Home Studying!

The Tiring Truth of Motherhood

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I haven’t been able to really write since we brought Sammy home. Not necessarily because I haven’t had the time, but mostly because I hadn’t really processed everything. I still find myself looking down at my son and bursting into tears because I just can’t believe it’s finally my time to be a mom. But I will admit the first couple days weren’t filled with joyful happy tears. I thought they would be. I thought I would be on cloud 9 and no amount of exhaustion could break me.

The exhaustion from years of infertility broke me several years ago. It was the scariest place I have ever been. I remember back in college going to see one of my favorite bands in concert. At one point the band was taking requests from the audience and many of us shouted, “Silencer.” It was my favorite song of theirs, and I had never heard it live. I was excited to experience it, but then the lead singer, Aaron Weiss said, “I don’t play that song anymore. I never want to go back to that place.” At the time I didn’t really understand- It was just a song about that place, it wasn’t the actually place. But ever since that dark summer, I get it. I have experienced that oppressive darkness and every now and then I will get a glimpse of it again and I can’t go back, I must run into the arms of my savior, I can’t go back. Aaron Weiss sang of a girl, and in the past several years I have felt like that girl. I have called out to God, “please take me home!” more times than I can count. That anguish that Hannah felt in 1 Samuel 1…I felt that.  I thought that becoming a mother could never bring me to that place, because being a mother was the exact opposite of what broke me before.

But there I was day 1 of being a mommy and as I looked down at my little boy, all I felt was panic. I didn’t feel ooey gooey and full of love like the very first moments I met him. Now we were home and it was just our little family and I felt terrified, stuck, and unsure. I felt the rapid flutter of my heart, the tinglies in my feet and hands, and the heat slowly spread from limbs to my core. I am not describing what it felt like when I would see Dean walk into a room back in the day…no, these are my very beginning signs of a panic attack. These signs suddenly brought flashbacks of those dark days…those dark days that I never wanted to revisit. Those days when hope was like a fish in a stream, but every time I thought I could grasp it, the fish darted away before I could even lightly brush a scale with my finger. The more I tried, the more I failed, and the more I failed, the more sediment I dredged up from the bottom of the stream. And then the stream was so cloudy and I couldn’t see the fish anymore.

But now, I held my son and I cried in fear. He slept in my arms and I cried. I still loved him, I felt that love from the moment I saw his picture…no, even before then. I had felt emotionally pregnant with my son for months now (that’s another post though). I loved him before I even knew him. But right now, fear was overpowering love. I couldn’t go back there… I couldn’t…I wouldn’t survive. Luckily, God taught me how to fight. God taught me how to wield my sword of truth. And I wasn’t going to be some Bella Swan or the little mermaid…I was going to be Hermione Granger, Princess Leia, Arwen. I was a warrior; God had showed me that many times and now was time to fight for my son.

All I could say was, “Jesus come.” I sat there for 15 minutes repeating that phrase, “Jesus come.” And I knew in those words I was safe. I knew just the name of Jesus brought every creature to its knees! I claimed Jesus’ presence in my life. And the panic started to fade.

Every now and then the panic comes back, but only for a moment. It’s usually when I’m really tired and I think, “I can’t do this…” but then God reminds me, “I called you to this, I need you to remain in the moment. No more saying, ‘I’m so tired.’ Start saying, ‘God has given me the energy for this moment.’”

I want my infertile friends to know the truth, motherhood doesn’t cure those dark places. Only Jesus does that. But my infertility helped me learn how to invite Jesus in. Motherhood is a different fight, but it uses similar tools. But I will say this, nothing melts my heart much like my sons little toes. Nothing softens my frustration like Sammy’s little smirks and gurgles. In infertility it was hard to live in the moment, because I had so many goals, and so many wants, and only me to worry about. Motherhood…oh, sweet motherhood: slowing down and remaining present is easy when it means sharing smiles with my Sammy-Sam. Stopping everything is easy when my son is so in need of a feeding. Sacrificing my needs for his is one of the biggest blessings I could imagine. It’s learning to live in the moment for the betterment of another. Does that even make sense? With infertility I had to learn to do that for myself, I had to stop everything and be present with God, because I was the needy one, I was the one needing a feeding. I still need those moments with my Father, but it’s easier for me to take them, because I have to, because if I don’t, Sammy suffers too.

I get when mom’s says they have never been so tired in their life, it’s true. I have never been so tired as I am now, but I have also never been so purposeful, so full of love, so sacrificing, so fulfilled, as I am right now. Every day I spend with Sammy I understand God’s love for me, his child, more and more. The more unconditional love I ooze out to Sam, the more unconditional love I feel washing over me from my heavenly father. This lack of sleep, this 17,000 steps a day, this constant giving IS tiring, yes, but it is nothing compared to the exhaustion of infertility. I feel so blessed for my seven years of infertility, because as I struggle to fight for what’s best for my son, I remember that I’m fighting for my son and Jesus is leading the charge and I know the outcome: Victory!

I probably should just end this post on that note, but something in me keeps wanting to say something more. I want the other mom’s out there to understand why their infertile friends are so hurt by their complaints of motherhood. And I want my infertile sisters to understand why it’s so important for moms to have that time to vent about how tired they are without fear of hurting someone’s feelings or being called, “ungrateful”.

If motherhood is a soccer game, infertility is the player that always comes to the games and never gets to play. Infertility is the player that never misses a practice and works her ass off trying to get better, trying to strengthen her weak side, trying to fix her game in every single aspect so, maybe, just once, she will get to play in a game. Sometimes there are players who don’t show up to practice ever, and then show up to a game completely wasted and still get to play the entire game. And a lot of times there are players who show up to practice, who work their asses off, and who play amazing games. But the infertile player is upset, because they never get a shot. They are exhausted from the mental and emotional battle to finally be chosen. Sure they get to play during practice, but it’s not the same. And then to hear your friends run in from the field after a big win and say, “wooooo, my legs are shot! You have no idea how tired I am, because you haven’t played in a game yet.” Ouch….

But the reality of the situation is, it’s totally true! The infertile player hasn’t gone out onto the field with a crowd cheering them on and booing them! Mom’s are judged every single day for their choices in parenting and applauded or slandered. And the infertile player hasn’t experienced the high stakes energy of keeping a little human alive! But the infertile player also hasn’t experienced the celebration of a great pass, a goal, or an amazing save (if you’re a goalie) and all they want is a chance. But none of the players get to decide who gets a chance and who doesn’t. So instead of getting mad or frustrated with the other players, it’s high time with take up our issues with the coach…God.

He can handle it. He can handle your anger, your sorrow, your threats, your accusations. But just like with a coach in real life, you have to be willing to listen, and sometimes he says, “not yet.” But he never says, “you’re not good enough”.

Anyways, I’m rambling, and Sammy is calling for some love!

Hope or Stupidity?

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We are moving.

The packing has started and so have the tears, although, they aren’t the tears I thought they would be. I’ve cried about leaving my church family, but we are only moving an hour away, so it’s not like I will never see them again. I thought I would be more upset about moving further from my friends and family, but it really isn’t that far. So, I was a little shocked when I started packing up my Office/Craft Room and the floodgates opened.

My Craft Room was not intended to be a craft room, it was intended to be a nursery. When I painted it, I painted it as a nursery. When I walked in there I said prayers for my babies. Over the five years we have lived in this house it was into that room that I would drag my bleary eyed, defeated body and lay upon the floor to cry when life didn’t go according to plan. So many tears and prayers have been baked into the walls and floors of that room. It was in the confines of that room that I imagined myself praying with Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Just as Jesus pleaded that this cup be taken from him and then accepted the will of God over his own, I prayed for the mothers of the babies I hoped to adopt. I prayed for their courage and wisdom. I prayed that they would know that God was their strength and that their children needed THEM. These prayers broke my heart every time, because I was praying God’s will instead of my own: I desperately wanted to be the mother to all these children.

God had promised to settle me in my home as a happy mother of children (Psalm 113:9). He had promised me that to me back when we lived in our apartment. I thought he was settling me in this home to welcome in our children. And five years later I am packing up the craft supplies that migrated and made a home in the room I so desperately wanted to hold our most precious creation.

Packing up this room felt like another stepping stone in my journey of infertility. The other infertiles out there know how daunting those stepping stones are. They are not the excitement of birthdays or growth. These benchmarks aren’t celebratory like when a child begins to coo and make noises: the first steps to talking. No, benchmarks and stepping stones of infertility always mark the loss of a dream. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but it means it still hasn’t happened. We’ve been through so much and in all of that still no baby. If God would have told me that I wouldn’t become a mother in this house back when we moved in, I think it would have crushed me. I really don’t know if I could have handled knowing that I had 5 more years  of infertility ahead of me.

And that scares me now. What if that happens again? What if this new house isn’t THE house either? What if I’m wrong about what God said to me?  I keep trying to explain away God’s timing and plan. Like, “Oh, he had a different house in mind for us and that’s why we have to move, and that’s why I didn’t have children yet, and this is good.”

But this doesn’t feel good. This feels like disappointment. I know He is good, but this hurts so much. Jesus dying on the cross was good, but I’m sure it didn’t feel good. And I don’t dare want to think that my struggle is anywhere near what Jesus went through, but I do know that He has given me a reflection of that pain. How did Jesus keep going when it felt so awful? How did he get up after falling? How did he look into the face of his mother and then continue on to death? How did he leave them all behind when he didn’t know exactly how God would reveal His goodness? How did he continue to pray for those that couldn’t even begin to comprehend the blessing they were receiving through his death?

Did Jesus have a dreams about his life? Did he imagine growing old? How did he submit those plans to the plans of God. This room, this room has become an emotional prison. It has become a plan of my own feeble mind. And that plan, along with 7 years of other plans, has once again been foiled. And I am left, in this empty room, feeling silly for creating yet another plan, knowing full well that the first room I will paint in my new house is the nursery. Is that stupidity or hope? Does that make me a bad Christian, trying to make my own way; or a faithful servant putting my hope in the goodness of my Master and believing in the promise He gave me?

Adoption Update: Hope that Triumphs Over Fear

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image1Well, life has been a bit crazy. I don’t even know where to start. I don’t even know how much to explain. I want to explain everything so you can hear my stress and then be like, “Oh Liz, how are you handling all this?” because if I’m honest, I want your admiration. I want you to think I’m kick ass and super strong. And because that is a weakness of mine, I want to purposefully not go there. Especially since, I’m really not handling all of this completely well (just ask my husband and my realtor…they see the breakdowns). But is this post going there? I don’t know, if it is I guess God will let me know when I’m ready to hear it.

But, I do know I need your prayer. And I also know, I want to express my hope and excitement. I might not post this until I know one way or the other, but I want to write this in the moment so I can capture my current thoughts.

We have some updates: Our house is under contract and we have put a contract on a house in Annapolis. Everything seemed like it was going to go through and then we randomly had an issue. Our buyers were thinking of walking. The issue just didn’t seem right though, it seemed like a mistake. Ok, I’m getting off track, that’s not the point. We fixed the issue. Everything seemed to line up again, and then…

We got an email from the adoption agency. They wanted our permission to show our profile to a couple with a very unique case. We said, “yes.” Nothing is set in stone. We don’t even know if the couple will pick us. I’m in the adoption version of the TWW (two week wait between ovulation and when you can take a pregnancy test). It’s really early to talk about, but I’m so excited. I’m dreaming of the nursery and cuddles and introductions. I’m dreaming of the baptisms, yes baptismS, because they are twins. I’m dreaming of the songs I will sing, and the spit up I will be covered in, and the exhausted mornings from being up all night comforting the cries of two precious babies.

But I’m also worried. How is this all going to line up? The timing of all of this seems impossible! We have to move, get our new house approved by the agency (water tests, fire marshal survey, and a new home inspection), and the second we are out of our current home we are out of the adoption pool until we can get the new home approved. But as long as we are in our current home we can be matched. If we get matched before we move then we can still have placement in the new home as long as we can get all the paperwork done before the placement occurs. I can’t even begin to go through possible timelines of things, because everything is constantly changing.

Just yesterday it seemed like everything was going to go through with the houses and then we heard that the buyers were not happy with the solution we had come up with and unless we did something else they were thinking of walking away, again…. So the timeline went completely wonky again and I gave up trying to figure it out.

So here I am, confused, excited, and hopeful. And my hope is greater than any hope I’ve ever had before, because this time I have a knowledge that surpasses understanding. This time I know that if it doesn’t work out and I must grieve another loss (or two), that I will not remain in that place of sorrow. I know who my savior is, I know how much he loves me, and I know he will rescue me from my disappointment and sorrow. He will restore me. I know it because I have experienced it. He has been faithful for seven years of grief. He has been faithful longer than that, but that is only how long I have had this struggle.

I am hoping. I am putting my hope in the Lord and in his goodness. There is something about this circumstance that seems completely beyond anything I could imagine or facilitate or control, and so it must be up to God. And there is something about that that gives me peace and hope beyond what I have ever known before.

I naively thought that my hope would extend to everyone around me, but it doesn’t. I see you out there doubting, I see you worried about me, I see you trying to tame my hopes and prepare me for disappointment.

Stop worrying so much.

I know you are doing this out of love for me, and I appreciate that, but it seems like you might be letting your fear overcome your faith. Disappointment won’t kill me, I’ve been disappointed many times before and I’m still alive! In fact, the more disappointment I have had the more I have found my joy in the only thing that can never disappoint: Jesus!

I’m excited. I’m happy. I’m hopeful! You can try and protect yourself, but please stop trying to protect me from disappointment. I don’t need your protection, I have the best protection: Jesus Christ. He is with me right now. He keeps saying, “I got this. You don’t have to figure out how, you just have to say, ‘yes’.”

I’m saying, “yes!”

Whatever he is offering to me in this situation, I say, “Yes! Yes, God! Yes, Father! May it be done as you have said! May it be done as you have said! May it be done as you’ve shown us through Jesus!”

I’m not trying to change your mind. You can feel whatever it is you feel. I’m just letting you know that God has got this, and he has got me, and he has got these houses, and he has got these babies, and he is the only one who I want to have this and so I am putting all my eggs in His basket.

I am at a bend in the road and I’m not going to slow down and creep to the corner and crane my neck around the bend to try and see what lies ahead before I dance with praise and excitement. I’m dancing in the road, and praising my God because whatever lies around this bend doesn’t really matter. What matters is that he is good! And I want to experience whatever lies beyond this bend with Him by my side. I’m running toward it! If beyond lies a dragon, I’m prepared because I have the God of angel armies by my side! If what lies beyond is a sunrise, I’m going to experience as much of it as I can, and not waste a moment worrying instead of witnessing its beauty.


­­­­­­­­­Well, that was fast. I wrote the above post yesterday morning (but didn’t post it) and now this morning I write to tell you the birth mother has decided to parent her twins. What wonderful news for her and her children.

Yes, I am sad for me.

No, I have not lost hope.

God is so good to me. Yesterday, I read the book of Philemon. I never read that book before and it was exactly what I needed to hear. This book is about how every movement we make in response to God has a ripple effect. In Philemon 1:10-16, Paul says, “While here in jail, I’ve fathered a child, so to speak. And here he is, hand-carrying this letter-Onesimus. He was useless to you before; now he’s useful to both of us. I’m sending him back to you, but it feels like I’m cutting off my right arm in doing so. I wanted in the worst way to keep him here as your stand-in to help out while I’m in jail for the Message. But I didn’t want to do anything behind your back, make you do a good deed that you hadn’t willingly agreed to. Maybe it’s all for the best that you lost him for a while. You’re getting him back now for good—and no mere slave this time, but a true Christian brother! That’s what he was to me—he’ll be even more than that to you.”

I know this seems like a weird a verse, but Paul understands the joy and sorrow of my loss. He understands the prayers for the one who doesn’t quite know the gift that they have. He understands that his purpose does not override Philemon’s purpose, that God’s call for Paul does not counteract Philemon’s call from God, or Onesimus’ call from God, but instead their calls all join together and interact in a way that only God can facilitate.

God has shown me over and over again that he uses me as a prayer warrior for these mothers and their children. His glory is so beautiful! He allows me to be a part of their lives and they don’t even know. He connects me to these families in the most intimate of ways: through union with God. What a blessing to me! It is not a blessing you can see, it is simply known.

Yesterday, I prayed for the mom of these twins. I prayed for her, and my prayers for her broke my own heart because they went against everything my physical, mental, and emotional body wanted.

“Lord, make your strength known to her; help her to see that she can do this with You as her guide. Her babies need her, Lord, help her to see that, help her to see that you have chosen her for them. And Lord, if she can’t see that then let her know you will provide a loving family for her babies.”

It wasn’t a surprise to me when I received the email saying that this mother had decided to raise her children. It still hurt, but it wasn’t a surprise. And then a huge storm rolled in and I felt like God and I were fighting together. I felt like my prayers were fights against the evil one. I felt like God wept for me as we fought for her and her children. I can’t even explain it. My physical body simply sat there watching the storm rage around me, while my spiritual body wielded the sword of truth alongside the armies of angels and Jesus my king. I wept and prayed and fought. The darkness was so great and ominous and yet, I felt completely at peace in the outcome. I had said, “yes” to my purpose, and in that I found joy beyond sorrow, peace beyond circumstance, and a will to keep going, to keep hoping, to keep fighting, to keep loving, and to experience the beauty of the storm.

This morning I asked the Lord what he wanted to tell me today. He said, “Isaiah.” He knows me so well, Isaiah is my comfort book. Isaiah is where I go when I don’t know where to start. I opened up to Isaiah and began to read Chapter 26. It’s amazing how good God is.

Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “People with their minds set on You, you keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.”

A Short Adoption Update

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I finally summoned up the courage to ask the agency if our profile has been shown. I hadn’t wanted to ask, because I didn’t think it would make a difference to know: If it had been shown then I would just be disappointed we weren’t picked, and if it hadn’t been shown I would wonder why we weren’t matching with anyone. But after 7 months of staying in the dark, I decided I wanted to know. Whatever it was, it was. It doesn’t change the goodness of the plans God has for me and Dean.

“Oh yes, we’ve shown your profile, we’ve shown it five times. Three of those times the mothers made a decision to parent and two of those times the birth parents picked a different family.”

It took me a little while to let this information sink in. Wow, 5 times in the past 7 months is pretty good, but we still haven’t been chosen. I was a little disheartened, a little irritated, and feeling at the end of my rope.

But this was really an answer to prayer. I’ve been praying for birth mothers. Praying they will find a way to parent. Praying they find confidence in the provision of Jesus. Specifically, I pray Psalm 127 over them.

1Unless the LORD builds the house,

They labor in vain who build it;

Unless the LORD guards the city,

The watchman keeps awake in vain.

2It is vain for you to rise up early,

To retire late,

To eat the bread of painful labors;

For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.

 

3Behold, children are a gift of the LORD,

The fruit of the womb is a reward.

 

4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,

So are the children of one’s youth.

 

5How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them

They will not be ashamed

When they speak with their enemies in the gate.

Sometimes I get names from the holy spirit and sometimes I don’t. So why was I sad that these prayers were at the beginning of being answered? Because, I so desperately wanted to be a mom too.

This blog entry is mostly just a bunch of ramblings about my feelings. I am at a place where God has spoken, and now I just wait and choose whether or not to cast my fears on him. Do I trust Him? Will I take Him at His word? Will I immerse myself in the nature of His goodness instead of drowning myself in my fears? It’s a daily decision. Sometimes it’s an hourly decision. Today it’s a decision I am making every moment.

Today, I mourn, but I also celebrate that for the fifth time since February, my period has come on the day it was scheduled. For the fifth time I did not have a day past due and wonder, “could it be?” Sure, during the two week wait I had my moments of “maybe this time…” but those feelings intensify even an hour past my expected period. My body is doing what it should, and my God is protecting my heart.

But this waiting, oh God, this waiting is taking a toll. I feel your goodness all around me, Lord. I sense your presence and your will; It is the best and also the most frustrating. I truly feel my Scout is a child not born of my own womb. She is a child born of my heart and the womb of another. My brave boy is born of my womb. But his time has not yet come. Scout’s time is coming. She is on her way. I feel it. I feel these spiritual contractions. I couldn’t imagine giving up my Scout, even for a child of my own. I’ve met her, my sweet silent fawn. I’ve met her. I can’t ever go back. I know it was just a dream, but it doesn’t matter. It was so real, it was a gift from You, Father, I know it. I saw her dark hair, I saw her dark eyes, I saw her rich colored skin. I felt her hugs. She never spoke, she didn’t laugh like Casey did. She was quiet, reserved, beautiful, delicate, loved. I long to meet HER; I long to love HER and be HER mother.

So, my dear Scout, I’m waiting for you. God is protecting our families and ensuring we meet. I am praying for your birth mommy. She is preparing to meet you too. She is scared, and maybe you feel that, but I’m not, my sweet daughter. God is good. He is working. He is in this. He has gone before. Can you feel my prayers feeding you spiritually? Can you feel the excitement of life? Feel that heartbeat? That’s yours and I am so glad! I am celebrating your life! I am thanking God for his protection over your little body. I am thanking God for your birth mommy and her courage.

You see, I don’t get a sonogram of your little body like other mom’s do. So God sends me his own visions of you; His own little snapshots of you. I heard you crying the other day. I was so tired, so I laid down on the couch, just for a short 30 minute rest after lunch. As I laid there trying to fall asleep, I heard a cry. It was a baby’s cry, and I knew it was you. I instantly got up, ready to pick you up and hold you close and comfort you, but your cry was gone. It evaporated into the sounds of my home. I whispered, “I love you, it’s going to be ok” and hoped that just as I heard your cry, you would hear my comfort.

Does My Pain Keep Others From Trusting?

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Several weeks ago my husband sent me flowers. The flowers were gorgeous, but what really made them special was the note that came with them, “You are gonna make one hot mama!!”One Hot Mama

Shortly after that a woman from my church sent me a message. She was worried it would sound weird, but to me it was a message from God. She told me that she would sometimes see me sitting across from her in church and would see a flower growing out of my belly. She felt like God was telling her to tell me, but fear kept her from saying it right away. When I posted the flowers, she felt like it was time to obey God and let me know. I cherish that message dearly.

But on Saturday my flowers had finally bit the dust. They were faded and dried and had that sickly sweet smell of death on them. Every time I walked by and stirred the air close to them, more dried petals would fall and litter the ground. This had been happening for a couple of days, but I didn’t want to get rid of them. So instead, I would give the flowers a wide birth so as not to disturb them. But on Saturday the smell had grown and the faded blooms fell to floor with the smallest movement of air and I knew it was time.

As I crushed the dried flowers into the trashcan I couldn’t help but feel like the promises God gave me were fading and dying just like those flowers. As a vacuumed up the fallen petals I tried to fight the fear and despair that often plagued me when I started to lose hope…like two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago I was a little shaken when I got my period. I guess I had assumed that if I was healed then I would get pregnant right away. I have associated health with pregnancy, but God cleared up that little lie for me, and reminded me that a period is healthy, especially when the full cycle was in the 28-35 day range instead of my usual 11-49 day range.

But the period was still a blow. I still felt let down, disheartened, and scared. “What if I’m wrong? What if I didn’t hear God the way I thought I did? What if I just told all these people about a miracle God performed for me and now my life afterwards just proves to them that God is a fraud?”

I was tired of praying, not because I didn’t want to pray and believe, but simply because my body, mind, and spirit were all exhausted from the spiritual battle. I was fighting the battle with prayer and praise; arms raised to the sky and worshiping my savior! But my arms were exhausted, I needed to just rest them for a second.Praise.jpg

When I first got home from my Holy Yoga retreat it was easy for me to hold fast to the promise of God’s healing. Everything was so fresh, so vibrant, and so real, but as the roaring fire in my soul slowly died to hot embers, I felt like I was trying to keep a fire going without any logs to sustain it. It took so much energy just to keep a small flame going; constant fanning of the embers to create a flame that would stop the second I stopped fanning it.

God spent a week showing me that He was present in the darkest of times, that He never abandoned me, and that I can trust Him with my life. God pursued me without ceasing so that I would, to the best of my ability, feel and understand His love for me in all circumstances. And finally, God healed my body from my past abuse and my current infertility. But now I’m home. I’m home and the ones who were with me when I was healed are miles and miles away.

When I got my period the first thing I wanted to do was fall back into my old pattern of thinking, “why not now? Why not me? God, do you even care? What is your plan? I don’t understand. I can’t make sense of this, let me try…”

I used to run down rabbit holes trying to make excuses for God and explain to myself why He didn’t pull through; why he didn’t fulfill his promises yet; why right now was not the right time. I would say things like, “Well, maybe this egg would have grown up to be a serial killer, so God is really protecting me.” Or “He is just waiting until I get back from Africa” or “He must really want me to get my HY Instructor Certification.” Or “Once we move, it will happen.” I would set new dates in my mind to protect God from my doubts: “Mother’s day is coming up, so God probably wants me to find out I’m pregnant then, what a gift that will be.” And when Mother’s day passed without a positive pregnancy test, instead of grieving the loss I would say, “oh, well, maybe this baby is our adopted child and has been conceived, but I just don’t know it yet…”

God has been teaching me that He doesn’t need me to defend Him against myself (or anyone else). I’m not holding Him up, He is holding me up. But it’s hard to recognize my patterns of thinking and it’s even harder to change them. Something in me desperately wanted to go back to that place of being a victim.

I quickly texted my seven Holy Embers ( my yogini sisters from retreat) asking for prayer. Right away they reminded me of the truth and goodness of God. They reminded me of His promises and used their own strong faith to help me with my faltering faith. I rested in their strength. I felt like they were holding my arms up like Hur and Aaron did for Moses so that the Israelites could win the battle.victoryolord

Exodus 17:11-13  (NIV)

11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

They sent me verses, songs, and videos to encourage me. They spoke their own faith into me and told me what God had done for them. One video that was sent included this verse:

Psalm 84:1-4

“How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.[c]

The speaker talked of the swallow, and how it cannot help but produce young when it is in the presence of the Lord. I want to be that swallow. I want to make a nest for myself in God’s presence, at his alter, because in God’s presence one can’t help but be fruitful. I want dwell in His house and praise His mighty name, I know I must, even though my heart is hurting, I know nothing else works. Nothing soothes the pain like crying out to my God. Nothing lifts my heart like dwelling on His goodness.

And then it hit me… I was reminded of the dreaded verse for anyone struggling with infertility:

Isaiah 54:1 “Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous Than the sons of the married woman,” says the LORD.

I used to hate this verse. I loathed it. How dare you tell me to break forth in joyful shouting, you clearly don’t know my pain. How can I be joyous and full of praise when I am hurting so deeply?

But now, I get it. It’s the joyful shouting in the pain that soothes the pain. It’s not joyful shouting because there is no pain. It’s not ignoring the pain. It’s not condemning the pain and guilting myself into being joyful. It’s praising God just as I am. It’s coming to Him and declaring His goodness even when I can’t FEEL His goodness. And it’s in the pressing into Him that relieves me of the pain, even if just for the moments I am completely immersed in Him. I know my escape and it’s not the wine, beer, or cupcakes. It’s not the ice cream calling out from the freezer. It’s not the likes on Facebook or the clothes that make me look thinner than I am. It’s not a good hair day or the affection of my husband. My saving grace, my escape, is the goodness of my savior.

But it’s not always as easy as that. I’m going to get really authentic here. I want to preface the following paragraphs with this little note:

*I love you. I love your children. Please DON’T stop asking me how I’m doing and DON’T stop asking me about the adoption. Please DON’T stop being you, please be boldly, bluntly, authentically you. Please DON’T fear hurting me, God is growing me in ways I would never be able to grow if it wasn’t for this pain I feel. And this pain is NOT your fault and it’s NOT your rolly-polly child’s fault either. Even if you say something stupid or somehow make me cry, it’s not your fault! Some of the things I’m about to say involve you or your kids, and I would NEVER change this for the world. Please believe me. I’m not writing this to vent about how insensitive people are or bla bla bla. I know your heart, I know it’s loving, I know you love me, I know you are praying for me, I know you don’t want to hurt me. I write this because I know I’m not the only one out there struggling with God’s timing and plan. I know I’m not the only one waiting and hoping in the Lord for something. I want to be authentic, these are the thoughts that go through my head and the feelings I feel in everyday life while I wait on the Lord. I want you to know, if you feel this way, you’re not alone and your emotions don’t make you a “bad” Christian.*

Ok, so this past week and a half has been a bit brutal for me emotionally. It started out not so brutal. Actually it started out with me really seeing growth in myself. My friends had their baby, and I was bringing them dinner. On the way over I prayed to God to protect my heart. I knew I was very fragile because (sorry TMI) I just got my period. I wanted to bless my friends with food and I wanted to see their baby, but I was scared. I almost turned around so many times. I wanted to feel joy, I didn’t want to cry. I wanted to bless them during this time and not burden them with my broken heart. So the whole way over I prayed for God’s protection. God came through. Mommy and baby were feeding in their room and my only interaction was with my dear friend who is now a daddy. I only spent  5 minutes there and I left filled with joy. I got in my car and was feeling pretty good about myself. My new mommy friend called me as I turned onto the road to tell me that she just finished feeding the baby and I could come back and see him. I declined for my own heart’s safety and also because I was running late to hang out with another friend.

“Well done Liz.”

“Why thank you, Liz!”

Next I hung out with my very pregnant friend and we even talked about pregnancy and children and I was fine. She blessed me immensely (with food, hand crocheted yoga socks, and her friendship) and I left feeling uplifted, and I had a wonderful time, and it was good. Growth.

“Wow, Liz, I’m so proud of you!”

“Me too, Liz, me too…”

After that is when things started getting shaky. I spent the following week with a lot of babies and kids. I mean a lot! Way more than I am used to and it was authentic real time with them: holding them, playing, talking, feeding, caring, changing, etc. It was wonderful, I felt like I could finally be me without bursting into tears at the pain of my longing. I felt like I could finally interact with people’s children without my awkward “hi, he/she is so cute, bye” safety conversation.

I know it sounds weird, but if a kid likes me, it kills me. If a kid grabs my hand it could crush my already fragile heart. When my niece ran off the bus into my arms yelling, “AUNT WIZZY!!”I almost cried. When my nephew smiled and placed his hand on my cheek I just about died. It was the best death of my life. That’s what I imagine dying for someone you love feels like. I am so blessed by them, and I love them more than words can say, but that love makes my heart feel like it just might explode, especially after it’s over and Dean and I are back home without any children of our own.

Being around children and babies doesn’t always feel like my heart exploding, but usually it feels like what I imagine the show Wipe Out to feel like: It looks fun! But once I start to play it’s only a matter of time before I get walloped by something.1426699748-gif20wipeouttumblr_lxuwitjdqk1r21bzco1_50044937-wipeout-giant-penis-gif-imgur-vo8c

 

I made it through the multiple days of hanging with babies, each time thoroughly enjoying myself, but it was when I was back at home that the longing hit. The kids were gone, my arms were empty, and I had no idea when I would have the chance to be the nurturing, protecting parent that I felt so called to be.

I feel like I am in the final stages of pregnancy…I mean I don’t know what that actually feels like, but I hear women say things like, “Ok, my feet are killing me and I can’t stop peeing, it’s time for this little one to come out!” or “I’m getting antsy, I just want to hold him in my arms” or “everything is in order, I’m ready, just waiting on the little guy,” or “Being induced, little girl is 5 days past due.” And I’m here thinking, I’ve been ready for years…maybe not the entire 7 years of infertility, but I would say I’ve been so ready for the past 4 years. I’ve already read a million books, painted my nursery, bought tons and tons of baby things (although never for my own children…just for everyone elses…) and I’m just so ready to hold that baby in my arms. I’m so ready to quiet her cries and I’m so ready to kiss every one of his toes. I’m so ready to finally find a cute outfit that my own baby gets to wear. But I don’t have a due date, I think that’s the hardest part. I feel pregnant…the baby is coming, I know that, but when?

On Sunday I felt so ready. I felt like I was going to burst. My heart was literally aching. I believe what God has told me, I do, I trust Him, I really, really do. This ache wasn’t doubt, this was longing beyond what I felt like my body could physically handle. I felt like if this didn’t happen now, I was going to die. That sounds really dramatic, but there is no other way to explain it and that doesn’t even come close to fully explaining it. It doesn’t even capture that feeling. This time I decided not to run away from that feeling. I decided to meet God there. Everything He has taught me is to come to Him just as I am and not to try and fix it myself before coming to Him.

But I was scared, not because I was scared of God, but because now, for the first time since retreat, I was coming to God just as I was, while in front of others. I can come to God just as I am in the safety of my own home, or in the privacy of a hiking trail, on my parent’s treadmill, or even in Celebrate Recovery. But now I was in a church service surrounded by Christians that I dearly loved and my fear of making them uncomfortable with my tears and heartbreak was crippling. What would they do? Would they try to fix me? Would they have thoughts like, “there she goes again, Liz is crying like always…” I love my church, they are a huge support to me, and I feared being abandoned by them because God has not yet healed me of my pain. It sounds silly when I write it out…but it’s the truth.

If God hasn’t answered my prayers yet, I fear the pain I feel during the waiting could lead others astray, or encourage them to doubt God, when I so dearly love Him and quite honestly, I need THEIR support. But I knew I needed God above all things, and I needed Him right then and there. The only thing that mattered was that I run into His presence.

So despite the fact that I was in church and surrounded by my church family, I went to God in it. And do you know what happened then? My friends walked in with their brand new baby. Their little family made their way through the church. It was the most beautifully devastating scene. I was trying so hard, so so so so hard not to cry, and for a while I did it. I smiled, I felt the joy, I didn’t look away, I didn’t hide, I didn’t leave, I didn’t wish to be somewhere else. I sat in it. I felt it, all of it. I felt the joy for them and I felt the sorrow for me. Not like, “oh, woah is me, look at me empty handed” but like, “When Lord? When will you remember me? I can’t wait much longer.”

When we started singing again I couldn’t help but cry. When I worship God, when I go fully to Him, I cry no matter what. He moves me to tears every time. His greatness is just beyond me and I can’t hold it in, I just have to let my emotions out, because I need to make room for Him. So whatever I’m feeling just gushes from me! Laughter, tears, all of it. So there I stood, crying, while I praised my God. Calling out to Him, claiming His goodness, fighting doubt with truth. My pain gushed out all around me, and God’s goodness filled me up. Tears streamed down my face and I didn’t even try to hide them. And I felt Him, I felt God filling me up, I felt Him say, “stay here with me, my love, I will protect you.”

With my husband by my side I knelt at the alter of my Lord, and there heard my Pastor bless the sweet newborn child next to us (in the arms of our friends). A couple with arms full of joy kneeling beside a couple with hearts full of pain, both at the alter, both receiving Christ just as they were, joy and sorrow…all are welcome.