Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Trip

I've missed writing.
It's been a few months of not knowing exactly what I could or should write, though. At some point you get tired of saying, "Hey guys, don't worry- we're still not pregnant..." and at some point it's just good for me to be still. At some point I can't exactly publicize all the ins and outs of what's going on in my life either, and usually that's very okay.

But writing is an important way for me to process through all The Stuff and that's something I've been neglecting.  It's also a great way for me to remember.

So here I am.
This particular post isn't really for anyone but myself. It's public because somewhere out there it may benefit someone or might interest someone a bit. You just never know.

My husband and I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Europe. Whirlwind because in our 13 days of being gone, we hit up 5 different locations: Manchester, Edinburgh, London, Dublin and Lahinch/Cliffs of Moher. We averaged 8-12 miles per day of walking, spent way too much money, ate delicious food, and experienced some incredible things. We stayed in hotels, apartments, hostels, cottages and castles.

We walked through the National Football Museum and learned all the things about soccer and the history of it. We ate food in Chinatown. We got a tour of Etihad Stadium and then saw Manchester City get destroyed in a football match against Liverpool (and heard lots of crass and angry language in the process). We discovered that our plan to change seats halfway through (we were sitting in VERY different spots during the match) was foiled due to high security and a stadium that doesn't allow the first floor to access the second or third. We mastered all types of public transportation. My husband got close to perfecting his Australian accent (yes, it's just as confusing as it sounds). We found ourselves in Christmas markets all over town, buying international adapters, and eating our first round of fish and chips.

We rented a car where we drove on the left side of the road on the right side of the car all the way to Edinburgh. We pre-filled our tank which, we now realize, is always a bad decision. We saw sheep...lots of sheep. Blue and red spotted sheep. We saw the sun set behind a castle. We saw Susan Boyle sing Silent Night while we stood on the street in a crowd of thousands of people where fireworks soon followed. We saw a circus performance where a very strong woman did impressively strong things and a man wearing a bear suit held a lunchbox and then did tricks on a pole. We walked the Royal Mile, toured our way through Parliament and hiked up to check out Arthur's Seat in the middle of Holyrood Park. We drank tea and ate waffles at the Elephant House, where Harry Potter was jotted down. We went on a ghost tour and barely escaped the claws of the Mackenzie Poltergeist. We were truly enchanted by Scotland and all it had to offer.

We trained our way to London and found ourselves suddenly thrown into the hustle and bustle of tourism at it's finest. Inside the British Museum we saw mummies and really old human remains. We tried bartering with a man on a street for Lion King tickets, but opted out of 'standing spots only' and decided to check out The War Horse. The puppetry of the horse was incredible and I may have shed a tear (and missed our dog) as a result of the show. We watched the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace and got to hear the band play a surprising amount of the score from Les Miserables. We marveled at the history inside of Westminster Abbey--and I think this was one of my favorite parts of the trip, still. We got two for the price of one so we decided to check out the London Dungeon...where I discovered that Sweeney Todd might just be real and had fake leeches crawl under my bum while the plague was dramatized before our eyes. We happily strolled through the Hyde Park Christmas markets and drooled at the crepes (but couldn't buy because we had no cash and had forgotten our debit card).

A subway, train, and plane ride later, we headed into the heart of Dublin to join forces with friends for Thanksgiving night, thankfully making the switch from pounds to euros. While our connection wasn't seamless, we finally found each other and our Thanksgiving consisted of an Irish pub with pumpkin pie and American football (the Irish were loudly cheering on the Panthers and the Cowboys presence was minimal, at best). The Guinness Tour and the Musical Pub Crawl were next on the docket. McDonalds was somewhere in there, too (don't judge). The pub crawl had less pubs and more music, and we learned the ins and outs of a traditional "session". We tapped our boots, listened intently and cheered, "You couldn't have come at a better time" when prompted by our guides. We learned that thirty sounds a lot like 'turdy' and that three sounds much like 'tree' and if you're ever the third wheel, you might just actually be the 'turd' wheel (sorry). Following our guide's recommendation, we worked our way over to another pub and found ourselves in the midst of a real live traditional session. It was intimate, beautiful, and honest and I felt privileged to catch a glimpse of this remarkable musical talent. There were instruments of all types- the bodhran, the accordian, the fiddle, pipes and a couple extremely captivating vocalists. Old men. Young men. Irish history and culture on full display. Another favorite of mine.
video

My first night in a hostel involved 22 other folks, little sleep and fears of falling off the top bunk in wee hours of the morning. Despite the cold wind and the rain, we jumped on a charter bus the next morning to see the Wicklow mountains and Glendalough (oh, and the PS I Love You bridge, of course). While we started off drenched, the rain let up for the perfect amount of time so we might enjoy a bit of an exploratory walk before heading to, yet another, pub. Did you know Irish stew is fantastic? We found another Christmas market and the most tasty cheeseburger and I unhappily bobbed my head to some non-traditional Irish music. A second night in the hostel included my poor husband vomiting up the fish and chips he had eaten a few hours earlier (everyone can cringe now).

Another rental car, Papa Johns in our bellies, and three hours later took us across Ireland to a small coastal town called Lahinch. There has never been a windier place in all of my history of life. Beautiful views, a quick grocery stop and a night in a cottage with homemade scones and a sweet frontal Mary. We shared the things in this past year we were thankful for and made our way to another pub with high hopes of catching another traditional session. Instead we found burpees, arm wrestling and a juke box.

Prepared for the worst, wettest, windiest weather, we set out for the Cliffs of Moher the following morning. The Lord was so gracious with the weather and we were easily able to enjoy the great outdoors. Quite possibly one of the most continuously beautiful hikes I've ever been on. 8 kilometers along the coast, testing sketchy grounds and snapping hundreds of pictures. The most gigantic waves crashing 700 feet below us, getting scolded by my over-protective husband for getting too close to the edge, leaping over streams, trudging through mud, checking out a washed up whale or shark-type thing. And, of course, stopping every few minutes to hem and haw over how stunning the landscape was. Definitely at the top of the list: you must do this if you ever visit Ireland!

A final pub, a final cider (Orchard Thieves, anyone?) and the drive back to Dublin to stay in a marvelous castle for the night. Upgraded to a suite, we left with an Irish breakfast in our stomachs, the $1800 hold on our card for the rental car guaranteed to be released and 24 hours of travel to make it back home. We may have flown on the oldest plane still in motion, but we survived the 8 hours (even without televisions in the back of the seat in front of us). During our 6 hour lay over in Philadelphia we happened upon a group of men singing Christmas carols in our attempts to get more steps in for the day. We sang with them, filled with good cheer and Christmas spirit! Another 5 and a half hours on another ancient plane, a quick blip in Phoenix and we breathed a sigh of relief when we rolled into Albuquerque airport just before midnight. Time travel, at it's finest.

We survived.
The dog survived (with only a few minimal incidents of an escaped kennel due to an intense battle with diarrhea and an escaped fence due to a bandit of a dog friend).

The world around us is in mayhem and I have a thousand deeper thoughts on all the things we actually experienced, but now we at least have a little bit of what we did documented.

Ultimately, we are thankful. Reminded, yet again, of how much bigger the world is and how small we are in the scope of time. It's crazy humbling. Our eyes are bigger. The Lord is bigger. Pray we don't forget it.

Cheers.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Piece of Cake

A year ago I was groomed, pampered, calm... ready.
I had just finished racing go-karts, trying my hand at the batting cages, and having the finishing touches of my wedding-face applied. White dress (with pockets!), red heels, champagne sash, five billion bobby pins and glossy lips... ready.

Today I'm a little pudgier, my nails are atrocious, my eyebrows are wacky... but I'm content.
I have just finished attending church, eating 10,000 calories of Mexican food, walking for an hour to try to compensate, and getting ready to spend an evening at backyard (where we were wed) bonfire with friends and family. T-shirt, bare feet, chapped lips, white little Zeus hairs all over my clothes... content.

A year ago I was inviting family and friends to my parent's yard to witness a life-long commitment being made. Today I'm sitting on the couch in my parent's house making sure our giant dog doesn't destroy it, football streaming on the television, my dad picking apples outside, my mom cooking food, my husband on a coach-- one eye on the tv and the other on his phone.

A year ago I was preparing for one for the biggest life-changes I'll ever know.
Today life is pretty normal, but I'm still wondering when and what the next life-change will be (knowing that life is full of the unpredictable).

One year ago.
We've been reminiscing a lot this week. It helps that we're back in the same place where our wedding went down. It helps that there are wedding remains all over: Aspen candle holders, giant logs, CAKE (which we're excited to finally try, regardless of the commentary that cake a year later is disgusting).
It helps that it was all just one year ago.

We have survived.
And marriage is still awesome. You might even say that it's been a piece of cake.
We're less patient, less romantic, less careful with our words, less concerned about appearances and privacy. But we laugh a lot, dream a lot, talk a lot, sing a lot (I think I'm rubbing off on him).

We aren't perfect, but it's okay.
We could be kinder, more loving, more selfless, more aware, more Christ-centered, more prayerful.

But I don't know if I could be more thankful.
Because one year ago, I stood before the Lord and a host of witnesses and was tied forever to a man who exceeded my wildest dreams. I'm still not sure how it happened. We were in a church worship service a week ago, music playing, people singing... and I thought to myself all over again, how did I get here? How is it possible that the Lord is so good and so faithful when I'm just not. I'm still in awe.

I've learned a lot.
I've learned a lot in the waiting, in the stillness, in the unknown. To trust. To live. To open up my mind to even the most unlikely things (long-haired younger men with sea turtle tattoos, in this instance), and to see what the Lord does with it. I think He's continuing to reinforce those things into my heart.

Trust.
Live.
Be open-minded.
You never know what I have in store for you.

They're necessary life lessons.
Can I continue to allow Him to surprise me? To allure me?
Can I respond to the bouts of waiting with grace and joy? Can I respond to the unknown with steadfast faithfulness?
Can I believe that He is good, no matter what?
Can I believe that He has a bigger plan in mind?

I think our anniversary will always serve as a reminder of the Lord's faithfulness.
The Lord's faithfulness--even when it means waiting a long time, even when I feel like I want to give up and that there's no more hope to be had. The Lord knows. His timing is perfect. His plan is perfect.

And it's always been about much more than Debbie finally finding love.
To me, it's been a journey of finding out more about who Jesus is and what He has done... and what He continues to do. It's truly life-changing.

How can I not love Him more?

...you were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God;
besides Him there is no other.


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Sunday, September 20, 2015

At Least I Can...

I'm sure you're all holding your breath and wondering, "Could this be the month for the Beals...?"

Well, it's not (for those of you who were actually wondering).

And before you think I'm devastated or crushed or heartbroken- please know that I'm okay. Really, truly okay. Not just saying I'm okay to appease the masses, but really okay.

We're in month 8 of this and I couldn't help but think the other day that if we had gotten pregnant when we had started trying, our lives would look really different right now. I'm thankful for the Lord's timing. It's better than ours. It's like He knows what He's doing or something...

I think my biggest thing with our inability to get pregnant right away is that it makes me somewhat worried that there's something is wrong with me/us. That maybe we'll never be able to get pregnant. I also think the assumption was that as soon as we started trying, we'd get pregnant. And it's all okay- I just know the "never" is a lot different to cope with than the "not right now". We'll cross that bridge if we get there.

The responses I've gotten have been so encouraging.
Thanks for the prayers.
For the honesty.
Thanks to those who have shared your continued struggles with infertility and how you're learning/growing and still seeking to trust the Lord. For reminding me, yet again, that God is faithful, even when it doesn't turn out the way that we might think we desire.

It is good.

Thanks for the many of you who have admitted that you may have also struggled with trying to get pregnant. For reminding me that not everyone gets pregnant immediately after starting to try. For reminding me that real people are going through this thing and we aren't just statistics. It's been incredibly freeing to be open about where we are at in the process.
"Debbie- when are you guys going have a baby?"
"No idea- but we're trying!"
It's usually pretty fun to see the shock on people's face when I invite them in, instead of readily denying or avoiding the questions. I don't want people to ever feel like they can't ask, especially now that we've declared our efforts. It seems like people are often scared or don't want to invade. It's always okay to ask how it's going/how we're doing. I won't melt into a puddle of tears. Yet.

When I was single, I wrote a lot of blogs about living in the tension of wanting but not having. I wanted to be married. Desperately (I'm sure you may remember...). And it felt like it would never happen. I remember one of my married friends writing to me around that time, relating to my blog posts about this tension in their attempts to get pregnant. Wanting but not having. Learning to be content and trust the Lord, no matter the circumstances.

I don't usually think I'm even fully ready to have kids yet, because every month, even in the midst of disappointment, there's a large part of me that's relieved for one reason or another. But I've wondered if that's some weird sort of defense mechanism in order to better cope. Instead of dwelling in the shadows of disappointment, I jump into the world of, "Well, at least I can...." (this month, its look forward to more travel with my husband).

I remember doing this a lot when I was single, too.
Oh, another guy didn't work out?
Well, at least I can... go wherever I want, whenever I want.... talk to whomever I want, whenever I want... spend money on whatever I want, whenever I want...

You get the idea.
We cope.
And if this plan we have for ourselves doesn't work out exactly the way we might have hoped... at least I can... do, try, think, hope for something different. At least I can find some positives in the midst of this cyclical disappointment I can't ever seem to escape.

I'm not convinced it's the best way of dealing.
I know it's not the worst.
I suppose, more than anything, I just want to fully trust the Lord and do away with the feeble attempts to make myself feel better. To admit that I want a baby, to admit that there's disappointment and often shame, fear, worry, and feelings of "this is never going to happen" that accompany the monthly routines... but to just trust the Lord. To trust that He is good.

I don't want to live my life so consumed with what I don't have, that I forget all that I do have. I have a lot.

I don't want to live in such a way that I'm consumed by anything that isn't directly related to the Lord who He he is asking me to be (whether that be marriage, babies, job things, people, body-image, etc.). And while all of these things can have traces of that,  I can't let it be defining of who I am or who I want to be.

There's always more.
There's always eternity to think about.
There's always something bigger, greater, deeper than I can ever possibly imagine.
Something that isn't so limited by my narrow perspective and way of living.
There's more important things-- more important things that He is calling me to, asking of me, reminding me of. More important things like knowing Jesus and considering everything else a loss compared to that.

And, if all things in life, no matter how hard or how good, enable me to gain more of Him...
Then I am blessed.

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Over Sharing

When you go on this journey and share it and support others in it, as you are doing, remember you are healing other's hearts through your broken one. Really there is nothing much more beautiful than that.” 

A dear friend wrote me that recently, in response to my sharing about our unsuccessful attempts in having a baby.

Perhaps I’m an over-sharer.
As soon as I hit publish, I cringe, thinking about all the souls who must be thinking, “I can’t believe she would write about that and share it on social media. Where’s the sense of privacy these days?”

I might have thought the same thing.
No one has told me that outright (in fact, the comments I have gotten are quite the opposite), but I still can’t help but think that the thoughts  do cross people’s minds. And, even if they don’t, those are the very thoughts that keep me from continuing to want to share.

Maybe they’re lies.
But, I think they may be the very things that cause us to keep our mouths shut.
The very fears, assumptions, worries, that cause us to go on living in the privacy of our own homes and, even worse, our own heads. Because, if people knew… what would they think?

I want you to know that I share because I don’t think enough people do.
I want you to know that I share because, especially in this instance, I think it’s too easy to think you’re the only one struggling. It’s too easy to think that there’s something wrong with only you. It’s too easy to believe the lies.

But I can’t escape the truth of Scripture—where Jesus talks about bringing light to darkness, where it’s said that there’s nothing hidden that won’t be disclosed. I can’t help but feel that true healing can’t come about until we’ve confronted every aspect of it—until we’ve admitted, confessed, surrendered.

I can’t desire true community with others and then fail to tell the people that I’m trying to share my life with that we’re trying to have a baby. Trying, and failing. Because that affects me. It affects me emotionally, spiritually, physically. I can’t grin through my teeth and tell people I’m fine, if I’m not actually fine. It won’t get us anywhere. If anything, it sets us back because now I’m just a liar.

I share because I want you to do the same.
I suppose some part of me hopes that by me sharing too much, that you might be prompted to share even a little. Not with me… but with those around you (and not anonymously). That you might be willing to face the hard things in your life head-on. That you might even be willing to truly take them to the Lord. To sit in your car and weep, crying aloud to the Lord that it hurts, that you need Him, that you need something…and that you might allow true healing to come through Christ.  

To stop grinning through your teeth and saying that you’re fine…
But to let others know what’s really going on.
To admit to yourself what’s really going on. (because, sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do…)

I shared, in part, because I felt like a liar.
I shared, in part, because I wanted people to know how to really be praying for us.
But, I keep sharing for all of those other reasons.

I want you to know you’re not alone.
There’s hope.
Second chances.
Freedom.
People.
Love.
Jesus.

I pray for boldness as you hurt, ponder, question, feel alone (or even rejoice)
I hope you share with someone today.
I hope you let someone in.
And I hope you can at least take a minute to be honest with yourself about whatever is going on, wherever you’re at… .that you can ask yourself some hard questions.

I think you might be surprised what happens when you take a risk.
When you hit “submit”.
When you walk boldly into the light.
May the Lord bless you and keep you;
may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
may He lift His countenance upon you and give you peace.
 I support you.


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Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Trying

We try like crazy to not get pregnant.
Pills, timing, uterine devices, condoms, diaphragms.
We try it all.
Anything for us to be able to have sex without the consequence of a life.

And then we try like crazy to get pregnant.

Pills, timing, tests, vitamins, herbal teas, cervical mucous.
We try it all.
Anything for us to be able to hold a little life in our arms.

It’s never really up to us, is it?
You can’t always get what you want.
And, depending on which side of the pendulum you’re on- life can quickly seem cruel and unfair.

I sat on that last blog entry for a while before finding the cajones to publish it.
It felt too personal to invite others into.
And, to be honest, after this last round of late periods and thoughts of possibilities, I walked in our house and told my husband, “I don’t want to try anymore.”

The cycle feels a little masochistic sometimes.
Trying.
Failing.
Disappointment.
Surrender.
Those two weeks of waiting sometimes feel agonizing and unbearable as I over-analyze every possibility. What do my temperatures mean? Am I nauseous?  Could it be…? 

And other times I can’t wait to have my life back again.
Suddenly I’m thrilled to have the freedom to drink copious amounts of caffeine, relieved to live without fear of the inability to sleep for 8 consecutive hour in a row, and thankful to not have to think about the amount of maternity clothes that will need to come out of our budget.

I can’t decide if it’s a coping mechanism or if I’m just not actually ready to have kids.
And, it’s always in these moments that I’m yet again grateful that it’s not up to me. Life isn’t mine to create.
Try as I may to prevent or create, I am merely human. Too human. Inexplicably human. Hot, cold. Wanting, not wanting. Happy, sad. Crazy, sane. I’m a woman with five thousand different emotions, thoughts, desires (my poor husband).

So I’ve invited you into this journey with us.
I thought about letting that be it, but if there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over again since posting, it’s that people were thankful for my willingness to share. Thankful that I’m admitting that it’s not as simple as “have sex,  get pregnant”. Oh, and I’m a real person with a real name/face not hiding behind anonymity (which is mostly terrifying for me). 

So, with the invitation, I’ll try to be as vulnerable as I can muster. Sorry if it’s too much or if you didn’t want to know (you can choose to stop reading at any time).

Here’s where we’re at:
We’re about to enter into our “fertile days”.
This means a lot of things.
It means sex.
It means temperatures.
It means cervical mucous.
It means no coffee.
It means praying and asking that the Lord would continue to teach me, teach me, teach me, that I have to trust Him.

It means that another two week wait is just around the corner, and right now, the thought of that feels like more than I want to handle. Right now it just feels like another round of disappointments, wondering if something is wrong with me, and the realization that I’m a woman with little faith.

So here we go.
Us mere mortals, thinking we can or can’t.
But this time, I think we must surrender before we move forward.

It’s not up to us.
Never has been. Never will be.
Lord, have mercy.


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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Secrets Unveiled

**this was written one month ago**

I don't know if I'll publish this yet. Or ever.

It's July 12, 2015 and we've officially been "trying" to get pregnant since the end of January.

A whole slew of things led us to start (for those of you who have already put on your "You just got married: WAIT!!!" hats).  For one, we were both excited about the possibility of having kids that were similar in age to their cousins. So, when my last brother to have any children announced their pregnancy at Christmas, our timeline sped up. Also, I'm old-ish. Oh, and my husband LOVES kids (you can testify to this if you've ever seen him interacting with them). And, for you nay-sayers of quick pregnancies in marriage, by the time we would actually give birth, it would have been at least a year of marriage (that's something... right?!). The list continues...

And so we started trying.
And I've humbly realized every four weeks how I can't just decide to create a life. It's not up to me.
There's been a lot of freedom in that realization, but I can't deny that there's also been disappointment.

The thing about "trying" is that people don't really announce it. I don't know why (despite the intimacy of it), but it seems more socially acceptable to just tell all your family and friends AFTER you're pregnant. There were a few times early on when I thought about asking my family and close friends to journey alongside us in prayer about the whole process... but I think my pride prevented me from actually doing so. It seemed more fun to spring a pregnancy announcement on them than a "we're TRYING to get pregnant" announcement. And it seemed pretty contrary to anything "most" people do. And so we've kept mostly quiet-- dodging pregnancy accusations right and left while secretly hoping and talking and praying in the privacy of our own home. I've been a little surprised at how isolating it can feel.

But fortunately there's this thing called the Internet. In the process of trying, I've discovered a whole world of women who are also, anonymously, trying. I've discovered a world of acronyms that stand for things that I've had to Google many times: TTC, DPO, AF, BFN, BFP, HPT, etc. etc. etc. (I actually didn't know how to read many forums because they were so littered with letters that I didn't understand).  So many questions, so many women hoping, so many women waiting and wondering if their symptoms might actually result in a BFP (Big Fat Positive.... I don't know who came up with these). So many stories...

I've discovered that it's absolutely normal for women to sit anxiously every month in the "Two Week Wait" as they twiddle their thumbs hoping that they timed/charted/planned ovulation right and that it led to conception so that "Aunt Flo" won't appear on its normal due date.

Trying.
Hoping.
Waiting.
Only to do it all over again, praying that this time, it might be different. And then still trying being okay when it's not. Most days I feel like I'm hiding, only really divulging my roller coaster of thoughts and feelings to my husband because of this secret path we've chosen for ourselves.

There were lots of things I didn't know.
I didn't know how expensive pregnancy tests were.
I didn't know ovulation predictor tests were a thing.
I didn't even know you're not supposed to drink coffee if you are trying.
I did, however, find out that pregnancy tests should not be left in the glove compartment of your car for many months. I also found out that my husband has no problem buying pregnancy tests at Walgreens (while I bolt to the car ahead of him to avoid any possibility of judgmental or curious eyes from the cashier).

I still sometimes think I can control a LOT of things.
But I cannot create life, and I most certainly cannot dictate when it shall spring forth.
Most of the time I'm glad it's not up to me. I'm glad that the Lord's timing is perfect and that He is Sovereign in all of this. In fact, our prayer each time has been to continuously trust the Lord and His will for us, whether or not that ever includes biological children. His timing is greater, and I must remind myself of that daily.

There's a little bit of shame attached to this feeling of being unable to conceive. A little a bit of feeling like something is wrong with me and how could I ever admit to others that we've tried and seemingly failed (especially when it SEEMS like everyone on Facebook is pregnant or has kids). I've read enough to know that we fall under a category where it's perfectly normal to not conceive right away and you should only go to a specialist if you try for a year and there's no pregnancy. I've also discovered that every month, I really only have a 15% chance of getting pregnant.

Pregnancy is a miracle.
I'm learning that more and more.
My brother and sister-in-law taught me several years ago that children are a blessing-- not something that we deserve and not something that we've been promised. Something that we are uncommonly blessed with. It's a beautiful reminder for me, even still. Especially now.

My life now, just as it is, is great.
I can't complain.
I can't want.
I can only trust.
And ask that He might sustain me.
And ask that He might continually remind me that the Gospel is sufficient. In all things.

I have already been given incredibly more than I could have ever thought possible.

So today, even as I write... knowing that I am in fact, NOT pregnant... I am content. Satisfied. Maybe still slightly disappointed from time to time, but learning to trust in a new way.

Maybe some day there will be reports of BFPs, ultrasounds, doctor's appointments, baby rooms and gender reveals...

But, for now, we live fully in our present circumstances, seeking opportunities to be obedient to Jesus no matter the cost. Because my purpose will forevermore be greater than being a wife, a mother, an employee... and right now we get the seize the moments more quickly than we ever might if we had children.

There's our secret.
Baby-making.
Apparently we aren't too good at it...but we're trying.
Instead of journeying through this life-altering thing alone, we're deciding to invite others in. We don't want this to be a sensitive, hidden thing that we're going through any longer. We're asking you to pray for us, to ask us about it, to be excited for us, to remind us of the Lord's goodness and faithfulness in all things.

Let's rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.
Love in action.

(Don't worry, we've told a lot of our family/friends before posting this. We both, on the same day, thought to ourselves: Why are we keeping this a secret? It's sort of felt like people either get pregnant immediately after starting to try or they get pregnant without even wanting to. I know that's not really always how it works out, but that's more of how it feels based on when things get revealed. So we're breaking the mold a bit. We're going public. We need people to walk with us through the good, the hard, the disappointing, the waiting, the trusting, and the hoping. We need people to know what's really going on with us. We also need you to know that if you're pregnant or if you have kids, we are thrilled for you. Truly. Don't feel like you can't talk to us about it because you feel like you have something we don't. We're okay. Excited still... and completely at peace with whatever may come.)


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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Crazy Good

The Comment: 

How has your relationship with the Lord changed since you entered married life? How has your relationship with your husband impacted your relationship with Jesus, and vice versa?

It's a big question.
A question that I'm sure is answered differently by married folk all over the world. Because, getting married changes everything...but it also doesn't really feel that crazy at all. By crazy, I mean different. It doesn’t feel that different.

Because, at the end of the day (regardless of my marital status), I’m still a person who is very much in need of God’s grace. So while I have a man beside me who continually reminds me of Jesus, who continually challenges me toward obedience, who shows me the beauty of serving others… I have a man who also draws out my flesh. Around him I am quickly impatient, selfish and self-righteous.

It’s as good of a paradox as any. Constant refinement and continual awareness of my sinful nature as I press on toward Jesus (recognizing again and again how desperate I am for that saving grace).

The thing about my husband, specifically, is that we don’t get to rest in our depravity. We don’t get to sit around all day and wallow in the fact that we are broken. He, instead, wants to live out of his inheritance. He constantly wants to be better. He wants to grow. He wants what is good. He wants to seize truth, claiming it over his life in such a way that his life is defined by Jesus… from the depths of his soul to the words out of his mouth.

I don’t know how that can’t impact a person.
Life feels more hopeful, more joyful. I have to laugh a lot, let go of a lot. There’s this freedom to be fully me, to ask all the questions, to act like a crazy, to vent my frustrations, to admit that I am actually terribly ugly inside. And still, somehow, he loves me.

And if he can love me…?
What does that say about the Father’s love for me?

I think I have a better understanding of the Lord these days (even though most days I still feel like I don’t know anything). It’s probably a combination of a million things, but I think marriage lends itself to that. I don’t see as many traces of the insecure girl who was always questioning God’s love for her. I don’t see the same person who doubted His goodness.

Instead, I know He is faithful.

I don’t know if that answers your question.
In some ways I feel more whole than I ever have. Not that marriage completed me, but there’s this element of recognizing that there’s a person beside me who reminds me of all the things I have the tendency to forget. A person who reminds me who Jesus is and what He has done and what that means for me. A person whose strengths complement my weaknesses and vice versa. A person who doesn’t let me get by with easy. A person who helps me in this endeavor to be more like Jesus.

© Catherine Rhodes Photography 2014
It’s good.
It’s crazy.
Good crazy.
Crazy Good.

We’re both a far cry from perfect, but we’re now in this together.
I couldn’t have imagined anything or anyone better.

And I love that the Lord uses all of this, including my many years of singleness, to remind me of who He is and remind me of who I am called to be.
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