Christmas Cards

I haven’t gotten into the holiday season mindset yet. That usually doesn’t hit me until after Thanksgiving dinner, and then I obsess about getting our tree up the next day. I live for everything Christmas. The tree, the lights, the perfect balsam or mistletoe scented candle, what to wear to family gatherings. It all has to be special. It’s all so magical.

So I haven’t thought about anything Christmas yet, not really. Then I saw this today.

ccmas card ideas

Crap.

I didn’t even think about Christmas cards. 

Every year since we got married, we have sent some out. We go onto a cute website and we (I) pick out the perfectly adorable, so-very-Christmasy card. Then we find our best picture. Sometimes we even take a picture for the occasion. J probably wouldn’t care if we sent cards out or not, but obliges me because he knows how much I love to do this. He even puts up with me wanting to get the perfect picture. Last year it took us about 10 shots to get it right (translation: about 1 hour, since he’s kind of a semi-professional photographer).

I used to get butterflies thinking about how one day, soon, our card would have a picture like this. I’ve fantasized about the day I could send our first Christmas card out as a family of three.

Guess that will have to wait.

This is hard.

November 7th-12th: Thankful for Consolation Prizes (if you can call them that)

Found this and had to put it up. Gotta find the humor in something, right?

In the midst of my spiritual tug-of-war-slash-epiphany this week, I got behind on my 30 days of thankfulness. Since I am still not pregnant, and since I’m currently not in my 2 week wait (thank you CD6, most boring cycle day ever), I might as well be grateful for the consolation prizes that AF brings, if you can call them that. Here’s a week’s worth of gratitude for all things I can find some relief in (whether I choose to or not), in the first half of my cycle:

1. Beer. Wine. A margarita. Just one tasty glass to sip on once or twice a week — and, if only for the hour or so that it takes me to drink it, forget that I’m still not pregnant.

2. Blue cheese and Sushi. I just love the stuff. Not together, obviously. But I love them both equally. mmm spicy tuna roll.

3. Hot Italian sausage. Technically they say you can eat it when you’re preggers as long as it’s thoroughly cooked, but next time around I’m going to be super careful. I’m enjoying it now so that’s enough for me.

4. Caffeine. Ah, the glorious cup of coffee in the morning. For years, I had 2 cups of coffee in the morning and a coke at some point during the day. That was shrunk down to only coffee — and only 1 cup — per day when I was pregnant the first time, which I was told was fine. Since my miscarriage it has become 1/2 cup of coffee per day in order for me to wean myself off of it, so that by the time I get pregnant again I can theoretically do without. Not because technically I can’t have one cup, but because again, next time, I’m going to be overly careful. Wish me luck.

5. Coloring my hair. So I’m a blonde but every year I get older, it gets darker. It’s now kind of a golden color. Every summer I like to highlight my hair, then in the fall I like to find a color close to my natural shade (yes, out of a box) and color it back to “normal,” so my roots don’t show. Both of those I would not do if pregnant.

6. Not imminently stressing about a miscarriage. This one goes without saying, and it’s a little serious, but honestly if there’s one thing I am halfway okay with about learning that I’m out another cycle, it’s that I won’t immediately panic and hold my breath every time I go to the bathroom. At least not right now. At present, my mind is mostly consumed with getting pregnant again, but miscarriage fears will definitely come back out of hiding the instant I see that second pink line. It’s a trade-off, and one is definitely not easier than the other. You worry, obsess, and imagine the worst, one way or the other. At least with both I can try to give myself a little grace to get through the insurmountable stress at hand.

7. Electric blankets. Technically I only have 6 spots to fill, but I couldn’t leave this out. I’m always cold and I’m obsessed with my heated mattress pad! If I get pregnant in the next 3 months, I’m going to have to pull all the sweatshirts out of my closet just to crawl in bed. But at that point I wouldn’t care. 🙂

His Response

Yesterday I considered the possibility that despite my journey trying to conceive, God may still choose not to answer my prayers for a baby (babies). The question that has been haunting me is: When God promises to give me the desires of my heart, does that mean He will necessarily allow me to have my own biological children? And I couldn’t come up with an answer; the question paralyzed me.

After pouring out my heart to God in prayer yesterday morning, and after putting together my HOPE page on this blog yesterday afternoon, I came across a couple of things that jumped off the page at me. One was C. S. Lewis’ quote, “I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face, questions die away. What other answer would suffice?” The other was the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, where they had been threatened by Nebuchadnezzar to be thrown in the fire if they didn’t worship him. “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us,” they said. “But even if He doesn’t…we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.

These two things softened my heart towards God, and made me see that I often put the thing I desire before my desire for God himself. I have been praying for God to change my heart, and make me truly able to love Him more than the thing I want, to cheerfully give it up if He asked that of me. And I now meant it.

I woke up this morning in a state of complete joy. I finally felt free. Free to be happy with whatever God had in store for me. Then the day set in.

My quiet time this morning was out of Matthew 8:21-22 — the story of the disciple who said he wanted to follow Jesus but first wanted to go and bury his father. Jesus told him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” Essentially, “Let go of everything that doesn’t have true eternal value. Follow Me instead, and let those who are are not Mine tend to these earthly concerns.

I got scared reading that. Is God really asking this of me? Is He really saying that because I gave this desire up to Him, He’s not going to consider fulfilling it? It seems from this passage that He actually does want me to give up my earthly concerns, my desires outside of Him.

The enemy filled my head with lies at this point. My joy began to fade to fear. In no time these thoughts had taken over and I was bitter at the thought of God taking this away from me completely. I want a baby. I want a family of my own.

It was like the enemy knew I was on the brink of a breakthrough with God, and wanted so much for me to retreat, to fear what I had just done. Fear that because I gave up my desire to God, that God would say, “I guess it’s okay that I don’t give this to her; she’s clearly strong enough to handle going without it.”

Then I realized something. God’s not like that.

And you know what else? God never asked me to give up this desire. He only asked that I put Him first.

He spoke to me very clearly today. And I’m so glad He did. Just when the enemy thought he could swoop in and distort God’s truth and my understanding of God’s character, God did something amazing for me. He opened my eyes to His Truth and His character more than He ever had before. Here’s what He showed me today:

  • He gave me Himself. That doesn’t necessarily mean He’s taking anything away or keeping anything from me. It just means that He wants to give me an answer better than the one I seek — not necessarily different, but better. Shortly after my miscarriage, I subscribed to a daily email devotional for grief. Today’s email topic was so spot-on, it could have been written just for me. It said:

    Because God sees your real need, He wants to give you an answer far better than the answers you seek.You may demand reasons and explanations, but what you need is something more—you need the Lord. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:28). Think about the astounding reality of this Bible verse. God is all-sufficient for you. Your very being is in Him. You need Him for survival; you do not need answers. Joni Eareckson Tada says, ‘Because God is at the center of the universe holding it all together, and because everything in Him moves and breathes and has its being, He can do no more than give Himself. To do anything less is to be less than Himself. Why seek pat, dry, formulized answers when you can actually receive the flesh-and-blood reality of the love of God?’ God would not be God if He were not sufficient for everyone.

    This was God’s way of showing me that I wasn’t wrong in questioning whether my desires are in line with His will — but that I was wrong to put limits on Him. To assume that He wouldn’t give me my desire just because I was willing to loosen my grip on it. In giving me more of Himself, He doesn’t necessarily not give me my desires. He actually wants to give me what my heart wants. But it has to start with Him.

    The concept is similar to something else C. S. Lewis wrote about in The Weight of Glory: “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

    I picture myself striving to make a perfect mud pie, and the Lord beckoning me to see beyond it, to see the holiday at sea He has waiting for me if I were to only look. Am I far too easily pleased by the prospect of having children, when infinite joy is offered to me in the person of Christ himself?

  • I went to a fall festival with my mom and sister-in-law today. The minute we got there I was surrounded by pregnant women, women with infants, and strollers galore. It was pretty depressing, and the enemy tried to use it. He was definitely prowling around like a roaring lion looking to devour me. I kept thinking, why would you torture me with pregnant women all around, God, if you’re not going to give me my own child? I walked around and then out of nowhere, stumbled upon this:ask seek knock 11-9-13
    This was the verse that just yesterday made me question God’s plan for me. How fitting that He would place it in front of me today, giving it a whole new meaning. I immediately felt a sense of peace, that God knows my heart and wants me to ask, seek, and knock when it comes to my desire. I started to move on, but looked back and saw this right next to it:beginning
    Is this not what I thought He would say to me? I had written about this just a few days ago. You won’t believe what I ran into next.mom and girl apron
    I have always wanted a little girl. This photo, this setup, seems to sum up exactly why. It gets at the heart of what I’ve always wanted. God was showing me… He sees that. He knows my heart. At this point, God wasn’t done yet…hope have faith
    That pretty much sums it up. He couldn’t have been any clearer. He is not suggesting, He is TELLING me to hope, and have faith in Him.
  • As if that wasn’t enough, He kept going. I picked up a few books while I was at the festival. God definitely led me to them. I came home and read The Prayer of Jabez (for Women) cover to cover (it’s only 91 miniature pages). The book is about a man named Jabez who the bible said was “more honorable than his brothers.” (1 Chron. 4:9-10) He prayed to God: “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” And then the bible says, “So God granted him what he requested.” Simple as that. He asked, God granted. Here are some excerpts in the book that really jumped out at me:

    God has a special plan to abundantly bless you and then bless others through you. (12)

    God truly does want me to ask in faith for His generous blessings. (21)

    Tricia was stunned by the many passages [in scripture] revealing God’s goodness and His desire to give to His children. She was particularly moved by the words God used when describing Himself…’merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth’…Tricia responds and prays to God differently now because she believes that her heavenly Father’s arms are open wide, inviting her to ask. Maybe without meaning to you’ve pictured God as withholding, not really inclined to bless you. Listen to Psalm 34:10: ‘Those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing’….Jesus promised: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (26-27)

    There it is again. ASK. SEEK. KNOCK. And this is the one that really got me…

    Inside the cover of my bible, I have recorded a little story. It’s about a man who once asked Napoleon for an incredible favor. The man knew that he deserved nothing from the great general, yet Napoleon immediately granted his request. When someone inquired as to the reason, Napoleon replied, “He honored me by the magnitude of his request.” God is also honored when you and I come boldly to ask for His blessing and favor. That’s because we ask according to His greatness and not according to our worthiness….God is honored in direct proportion to the magnitude of our request. (32-33)

    Right then and there I prayed for something BIG. I was immediately humbled by realizing that I truly don’t see how great God is when I pray to Him. I have been putting limits on Him without realizing it. I sheepishly pray that He will give me these things, when I should be coming boldly to His throne, asking with confidence — and honoring Him by the magnitude of my request. Because He is great enough to make it happen, and to make even bigger things happen than what I originally thought of.

    God isn’t scanning the horizon looking for superwomen. He is actively looking for those who will believe and trust Him to do what is humanly impossible…just like [He did] with Esther. (61)

    I’ve been trying to be superwoman, when He wants me to seek Him out to do the impossible through me. To glorify Himself through this journey. One more…

    Do you always give your children what they want as soon as they ask you? I’m reminded of friends of mine who have a teenager named Krista. Sometimes when Krista comes to them and asks for something, they don’t give her an immediate answer. They just say, “We’ll see.” Later, they discuss her request and decide what the answer will be. But even if it’s yes, they don’t always tell Krista right away. During the next few days, they listen to Krista share all the creative reasons why she thinks they should say yes. They enjoy watching her persistence and take pleasure in her sincere attempts to sway them. Often, it’s a profitable process for all three of them as they discuss the pros and cons of granting her request. When they finally give Krista the yes she’s been waiting for, her delight and excitement is far greater than if they had given her an immediate yes the first day. I believe that God, as our heavenly Father, feels the same way. Even though He already knows our heart, He wants us to go through the process of persistently asking Him for what we desire. He knows that as we do this, we become convinced that what we are asking for is what He wants to give us. When He eventually acts to grant our request, His delight is as great as ours. (85)

    As we KNOCK — persistently ask in prayer — we learn whether our desires are what He wants to give us. It is in this communion with God that we learn more about Him, our hearts become more like His, and we can see clearly whether our desires are in line with His will or not.

    And having been on this journey for 11 months now, asking, seeking, and knocking — and truly seeking Him — I feel that His desire was to change me. But He didn’t necessarily intend for this journey to change my desire. It’s still there. If anything, it’s grown stronger. And because of that, I believe I am praying in line with His will for me. And I believe that He will answer me… and when He does, His delight will be as great as mine.

    Coming back to my first question yesterday, “Why is it really taking several months for me to get pregnant again?”  Because if I had gotten pregnant by now — even up to this week — I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see all of this. I have learned more about God’s character this week than I ever would have being preoccupied with a BFP and all that that comes with. Truly, God does have a special plan for me — to abundantly bless me.

    My next quiet time is set up for Matthew 8:23-27 (I’m following a study of the book of Matthew in a group called Bible Study Fellowship). Funny, it’s the story of Jesus calming the sea. “And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but [Jesus] was asleep. And they went a woke him, saying, ‘Save us, Lord! We are perishing.’ And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

I finally get it

I’ve been struggling with some terrifying internal questions lately. For months, these questions have been relatively speculatory. In my mind, they were “what ifs,” and never seemed to be things that would actually happen to me. Moving into our eleventh month on this journey, that has changed. 

Why is it really taking several months for me to get pregnant again? 

If this continues, because it’s completely possible that it could…Am I really going to end up in that group of women who try for years to have a child of their own?

But then the scary thoughts get scarier. I go down into the rabbit hole and can’t get out.

Does God want me to completely give up this desire before He will bless me by fulfilling it?

If I completely give it up, will He fulfill it?

When God promises to give me the desires of my heart, does that mean He will necessarily allow me to have my own biological children?

Would God really allow me to be barren after I tasted what it was like to have a child of my own?

I mean, it is possible His plan is for me not to have children. Who am I to assume it’s out of the realm of possibility. To assume that just because I want something, even desperately, that I can have it. Little me. BIG God. I’m just a tiny speck on this earth. What do my desires have to do with anything — especially God’s bigger picture? Maybe certain ones don’t have a place in it.

This week I cried out to God. I was (and still am) completely confused as to what His promises mean.

His Word says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” But that implies that what you ask for is in line with His good and perfect will. That what you seek is Him, not necessarily the thing you want. And to knock — that implies that you persist, you persevere in asking. You bring it to His feet constantly. For years if you have to. That last part I’ve got down. But I’m not so sure about the first two.

Is having biological children in line with His good and perfect will for me? I can’t know that.

But what is it that I’m truly seeking? Is it Him? Or is it the thing I desperately want? And I had to answer that honestly. I’ve thought about this before, several times, and each time I answered in my heart, “Yes, Lord, it’s You I’m seeking.

But I had to examine that this week. If the Lord didn’t give me the thing I want — if he never blessed me with that thing — would I truly praise Him anyway?

In the book of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were commanded to bow down and worship Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. Nebuchadnezzar taunted them and said, “If you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” And what they did next took real faith. Not ‘I guess I should trust God because what else do I have left’ sheepish, selfish, half-hearted faith. They replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, your majesty. But even if He doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, your majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.

‘But even if He doesn’t.’ 

I finally got it. The thing I seek, the thing I’m so desperate for — it won’t fulfill me. It won’t even scratch the surface of the deeply-rooted longing in my heart.

God is the ONLY thing in this world — not my husband, not the possibility of children, not anything — that can fully satisfy my longing. That completely fills my heart with joy. He is not just THE Alpha and Omega — He’s MY Alpha and Omega.

So even if He doesn’t rescue me, even if He doesn’t give me the thing I ask for, I will praise Him. I will absolutely know that that is His best for me, and I will praise Him for graciously allowing me to experience His perfect love.

I can finally say I mean this. I’ve been praying, asking God to change my heart and help me mean it — that if He didn’t give me my own children I wouldn’t hold it against Him. I didn’t want to just say it. I didn’t want to act like I released my desires to Him, when I really hadn’t; when I was really holding back thinking, “If you don’t give me this, I can’t — and won’t — be happy.”

As I was putting together my HOPE! page today, I came across this C. S. Lewis quote:

I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face, questions die away. What other answer would suffice?
— C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

I understand.

The greatest gift God could give me is not children. It’s Himself.

Questions die away. Even the terrifying ones.

Because the only thing truly scary is to be separated from Him, from His love. And I’ve been blessed to intimately experience His love 100 times over this year. In the midst of this turmoil I can truly say I have found fulfillment in Him.

I know I’m not going to feel this way 100% of the time, and there are definitely times when I might not act like I believe it. But I know God will keep working on me. He will keep bringing me back because this is where life is found. He will keep bringing me back to this because His love is way too much to give me lesser things.

I don’t know the answers to these scary questions yet. But I am not as scared of them as I used to be… or at least I’m trying not to be.

I still want my own biological children. That desire has not changed. And I believe God cares about the desires of my heart, and that He delights in giving good gifts to His children. I believe He rewards those who seek Him. He tells us to hope. To ask, seek, and knock. I’m not giving up hope — and I will definitely keep asking, seeking, and knocking. I will keep trying to conceive, because with all of this said, I do feel God wants to bless me with my own children. But even if I’m wrong, even if He doesn’t, I will know that He is the answer. What other answer would suffice?

November 6th: I’m thankful for… CHOCOLATE

A chocolate broken heart. Seems appropriate.

A chocolate broken heart. Seems appropriate.

Yes, chocolate. Don’t judge me. I’m angry, grieving, and PMS’ing at the same time.

That’s right, PMS’ing. I found out on my would-have-been due date that I’m out this cycle (another thing that threw me for a loop that day). That’s why I was so angry and wanted to hit things. I shouldn’t have tested, but I knew I didn’t want to think for another 2-3 days that I was pregnant (I thought I was), and then have it turn out that I wasn’t. That day was already painful, why not rip the band-aid and get it over with?

The ugly witch should show her face tonight or early tomorrow. We’re moving onto post-miscarriage cycle 5, although not without a huge dose of “I don’t deserve this” kind of anger and ugly (and I mean ugly) crying. Technically, it’s month #11 of this journey. God’s dealing with me, but I never expected to be in this position. Almost a year later, with nothing to show for it.

Does this post go under the thankfulness label? Probably not. But I’m thankful for chocolate right now and don’t have the energy to think about anything else. Another day or two and I’m sure I’ll be fine.

The really eery thing? If AF shows up tomorrow, my due date if I conceive next cycle (yes, I looked it up already) would be our wedding anniversary. To the day. To say that I really, really want that is quite an understatement. But I don’t count on special dates working out anymore. That’s how my heart gets broken, over and over again.

Due Date Emotions

My grief has taken really weird forms this week.

I expected to be extremely sad on November 4th, then after that day, move back to the state of mind I’ve been in for months — quiet awareness of what happened, quiet sadness for what was lost.

But November 4th was weird. I started out numb, not believing that it was actually November 4th. I didn’t cry at first. A lot like the day I lost my baby — in complete denial at first because of the shock. Today can’t be my due date, I thought; it hasn’t been long enough yet. It’s not possible that he would have been here now. All of this didn’t actually happen.

Then I had lunch with a friend and forgot about it all for a couple hours, or at least, forgot in the sense that it wasn’t at the front of my mind.

She left, and as the day started its downhill slope into early evening, things got real. The day was almost over. I just wanted to hold onto it, because if I let the day go it was like saying he was really gone. That was when I started to think of him, to remember what it was like being pregnant with him. I just wanted to hold on to it. I hadn’t felt this way since the first week after my miscarriage. I was all of a sudden re-living my pregnancy, and at the same time, re-living my miscarriage. Re-living the day, and those first few weeks when the sadness was so fresh.

That’s when it felt more real than it has in a long time. It actually felt like I was living it all over again — vividly. I was nostalgic, and happy, thinking about my pregnancy. But then the memory of my miscarriage would go hand-in-hand with that, bringing me back to sadness. Real sadness, fresh sadness. Raw feelings that I haven’t felt since it happened.

At that point I tried to stretch out the day for as long as I could, because I just wanted November 4th to mean something. I’m not sure if that makes me crazy or not, but it’s how I felt.

And since then, I’ve had extreme ups and downs of emotions. I thought once I got past November 4th I’d be less sad. It’s quite the opposite, actually.

One minute I’m my usual self, going about the day as I always do, with quiet awareness of the memories and thoughts of him. The next, I’m numb again. This didn’t actually happen. And then the next, I recall a memory. It’s completely fresh in my mind, and so real, and I find myself sobbing, not believing that it’s past November 4th and that he’s not here. It’s almost like I thought the year would end after November 4th and that even though I’d still be quietly sad, I could start over on November 5th.

Boy was I wrong. I didn’t even consider the fact that after November 4th, he would’ve been here with us. Every morning I get up now, I think about how he’s not here, and this is when he actually should have been. It was different when I would’ve just been pregnant. Now it’s like there is really something missing. It’s so in my face, so unavoidable, and just all too real. I wish I could make it go away. But in a weird way, I want it to stay. I just don’t want to let go of him.

This probably makes me sound crazy, but I don’t care.

November 4th & 5th: I’m thankful for…

Yesterday was a highly emotional day for a lot of reasons, which I’ll write more about later. For now…

First, thank you to anyone who knew it was my due date yesterday and said a prayer or two for me. I was a MESS last night (more on that later). I was in a state of mind that, there was no way I was going to be in a good mood today, or the next few days. I was so, so mad. So FED UP. But something amazing happened. My attitude changed out of nowhere. I woke up angry and distraught this morning, only to have a complete shift in my attitude happen just a couple hours later. There was no logical explanation for it other than, I know someone — many people — prayed for me between yesterday and today. It’s kind of amazing to see yourself do a complete 180 and not be able to explain it, to know it’s God bending you and doing something incredible in you, completely outside the realm of your willingness. And it was because of others’ prayers. It had to be others — I was too angry and depressed yesterday to pray for myself. So THANK YOU.

For my thanksgiving list, I’m going to keep this short and simple since I need to get back to work, but I have to play a little catch up today:

I’m thankful for God’s financial provision for me and J. We are not in need, but things can change in an instant — so I want to stop and take note of the fact that God has provided for us, and blessed us more than we deserve. I don’t think about that enough.

I’m also thankful that since April 20th, the sun keeps coming up each morning, and I’m still breathing. 2013 may have done a lot of things to me, but it has not driven me to despair. I am not destroyed. I’m breathing, and God still has a purpose for me. He hasn’t left me to figure this out on my own. No matter how struck down I feel, how mad I am, or how hopeless it all may seem some days, I’m only in the middle of my story. I know this is not where God draws the line in the sand. It’s where years from now He will point to and say, “My child, look what I did for you there. You thought it was all over. But I was just getting started…”

thank you