Saturday, August 26, 2017

The TV

"I need you to value me more."

The statement immediately made my eyes well uncontrollably with tears. Throughout our entire conversation I had maintained a level head... but this statement broke me. If my husband needed me to value him more, it implied that I had failed to show him how I actually felt about him.

I hate that.
The tears came and I disappeared into my head. How have I failed him this much? Because, in the depths of my soul I know how much I do value him, how much I do love him, how I continue to feel like the luckiest person that he chose me...

The TV.
It always comes back to the TV. Maybe not always directly, but this incident has taken center stage too many times, and as a result, always seems to be looming backstage in our marriage.

What about the TV? You may be wondering...

Before we got married, I owned a TV. A decent TV. A flatscreen Samsung that had done me no wrong in our time together. This TV was quickly relocated to our back bedroom when we returned from our honeymoon to the giant TV my entire family had given us as a wedding gift. And while my TV was used for nothing more than the occasional P90X workout (where there was room to move about), it was still a great TV.

In our first year of marriage, my husband loaned the TV out to a friend who was staying in the hotels on campus. I didn't know my TV had gone elsewhere... and normally, I wouldn't have cared. However, in the middle of summer at a summer camp, when you loan someone something, you generally don't remember that you did. It's pretty low on the priority-level. I get that. But it was also a great TV.
if anyone has seen my TV....

And soon, it was a missing TV.

"Hey, did you ever get our TV back from the hotel rooms?"
"No...but I will."

Weeks went by. Months. No TV.
I didn't bring it up all that often, but it became a point of bitterness for me.

It was our first year of marriage and I felt like if I asked about it too much, then I'd be nagging. I didn't want to be the nagging wife. But, I did want the TV back.

We went for a walk a few months later and when I thought about the TV, I began to think of all the other things that my husband had promised but not finished. The floor of our bathroom he said he'd fix after the dog destroyed it, the trash he said he'd take out, the dishes he said he'd wash, the freaking TV he said he'd get back. Suddenly I realized I was married to a man with no follow-through and no initiative. At least, those are the things you immediately believe when you recall the hundreds of instances he let you down (or 5) and forget the millions of instances he came through for you (literally millions).

We never got the TV back.
No one seems to have seen it. We both asked and looked and it's just gone.
Sometimes I'm still annoyed about it (and sometimes we just laugh about it).

So when my husband asks me to value him more, I can't help but think that it's because of these moments. These moments when I've convinced him that he's a disappointment because sometimes I've also convinced myself of the same thing. Because sometimes I expect perfection. It's a gross disease. And often in my expectations, I'm quickly reminded how broken and imperfect I am. Because while I might never lose a TV (knock on wood), I'm often selfish, demanding, insistent that my way is the best way and my timing is the most important.

These are the moments when I turn into a fleshy, witchy monster who exists to exalt herself and reign terror on the household, including our gentle giants (especially when their hair is everywhere). The moments when I lose sight of this desire to be gentle and kind and patient and selfless and good. Moments where I'm on a mission to make myself heard, to be right, to win.

And in an instant, my husband's words pierce through the darkness. They aren't demanding. They're just honest. "Debbie, I need you to see me. To love me. To be here, with me. I need to know that you think I'm worth something, even when I mess up. I need to know that I'm not the biggest disappointment of your life."

These are the moments that are ugly, but real. Moments in marriage that are hard, but refining. Moments that break me and remind me to come back. To come back to what is better. To come back to the a place where I choose good, where I choose Jesus, where I choose selflessness, where I choose to love. These are the places where there's no room for anonymity or hiding or running. The places where I must admit my flaws, my darkness and tell my husband that I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I want to do better.  These are places where we are often the most humbled, most raw, most real.

My gracious, kind husband takes me into his arms.
And this is why marriage is beautiful: neither of us get to walk away. We just have to press in. We have to do better. We have to love more, live more selflessly, live more Christ-centered. He chooses to love me every day, even when my sin prevails and I have to continually do the same. Because this is not who we want to be. And we have to remember that our intentions for each other are not bad, but good.

His mercy is new every morning.
Let's do better today.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Blessed Assurance

I feel like I owe you guys an update. Well, maybe I just want to give you an update.

Mostly because after my last post, I was pretty overwhelmed by the number of folks who (a) seem to care and (b) have had a similar journey in their attempts at having children. Also, a lot of you have asked how it went, which is also pretty humbling.

Thanks for caring.

Thanks for reaching out, for your kind words, for the stories you shared. I know we all handle this struggle differently and it's neat for me to be reminded that there are other people out there on a quest to have children and not just having it happen instantaneously. I also know that in the quest, there have been so many heartaches for so many of you. Losses, disappointments, despair. Lots of joy, after years of trying. I love what community can look like as we share our hearts and our stories with each other. I love how beautiful it can be, even if I don't really know you and even if you don't really know me. Because we're all just trying to figure this life out and doing the best we can with the hand we get dealt.

You guys are neat and I'm so blessed by the many of you who gave to me.

So here's where we're at.
I went to a Family Medicine doctor last week. Nothing special in the way of infertility, but because of my referral, I was confident that I could get at least a few more answers.

I wasn't sure if my nerves prior to the appointment were because of my fear of what the doctor might say or because of my heavy dislike of being poked and prodded, but I had that slightly queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach for a few hours leading up to the event.

It was fine.
Our options were laid out before us. After 2.5 years of trying with no pregnancies, we have a few decisons to make. It mostly just depends on how much time, money and effort we want to put into anything.

She told me that PCOS (poly-cystic ovary syndrome) is hard to diagnose, but it's likely that I have it. It used to be required that cysts on the ovaries were necessary for the diagnosis, but more recently there are other symptoms that also give way to it, infertility being one of them.

So, here are our choices moving forward:
  • Testing (me: pelvic ultrasound, husband: semen). She encouraged us to be tested to make sure we don't have anything we are unaware of. 
  • Medication. There are two known medications that can often help with PCOS: Clomid and Metformin. Both basically help regulate ovulation and help all the hormones do all the things they are supposed to do.  
  • IUI. Intrauterine insemination. This involved placing the sperm inside of the woman's uterus to hopefully facilitate fertilization. 
  • IVF. In Vitro Fertilization. A medical procedure where an egg is fertilized by a sperm in a test tube and then transferred to the uterus. 
  • Fertility clinic. She could refer us to the Fertility Clinic in Albuquerque and we do it all there, or we do a hodge podge of it in Santa Fe. 
We haven't spent a ton of time processing or talking through it all, but we did tell her then that trying one of the medications would be at least something. I'm now taking Metformin, so we'll see how it goes. There's a high chance we'll get tested as things settle down around camp a bit more. Maybe just so we know. There's still a deep part of my heart that just thinks it'll work out how it's supposed to and I don't need to worry and that I don't need to try so hard to make something happen. 

We had an end of summer celebration today with our full-time staff and families--filled with a lot of laughter and fun for me. We closed out the day with worship and one particular lyric struck my soul a bit profoundly even though I've heard it thousands of times. 

This is my story, this is my song... praising my Savior all the day long. 

It's from an old hymn called Blessed Assurance and something about this lyric was incredibly beautiful to me. 

Because my story, my song... it doesn't have to be about me. It doesn't have to be about how I had to wait "forever" to get married, or about how I can't have kids, or about my job and my passions and me me me. But my story and my song... to be praising the Lord all the day long. Because blessed assurance, Jesus is mine

Lyrics like that make me want to weep. 
The words are powerful. Even more powerful when lived. 
More than the cry of being single or childless, can the sound that echoes the loudest from me be a song of praise? A song of His goodness that dwells deep within me, despite what may surround me? 

I want to share this journey with you. I want to share it because it's real life and it can sometimes weigh heavy on my heart. But I never want to share it in a way that communicates that Jesus is anything less than good and perfect and gracious and kind and gentle. I never want to share in a way that overshadows or disregards His goodness. I never want to share it in a way that doesn't show how much I desire for Him to be at the center of everything. 

I love how the Lord covers my inadequacies. 
I love how I'm reminded, through an age-old song, of what matters above all else. 

These are the moments... the moments where I feel like I've been given something out-of-this-world. Moments where perspectives shift, where priorities align, where I get it. Moments that are indescribable. 

And as much as I wish I could change and fix all the things that are wrong in this world... there's a peace, a hope, a joy, a promise that this life isn't it. 
  1. Perfect submission, all is at rest,
    I in my Savior am happy and blest,
    Watching and waiting, looking above,
    Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
  2. This is my story, this is my song,
    Praising my Savior all the day long;
    This is my story, this is my song,
    Praising my Savior all the day long.
  3. Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rejoicing & Mourning

I wrote this blog over the last week and a half... editing it, subtracting from it, writing more as my heart and mind carried on. I wondered if I might just write it and keep it...but, I've decided to share it with you. It feels a bit more vulnerable this time, but maybe that's why you need to read it. Have at it.

"Debbie, can I talk to you?"
As we sat in her car, my mind mulled through the endless possibilities of what my friend was about to tell me. It seemed serious.

"I'm pregnant..."
Her words were shocking, because in all of my possible possibilities... this hadn't even occurred to me. I laughed and was about to congratulate her when I realized that her exclamation hadn't been one of excitement, but one of fear and sadness.

"Wait, are you not excited?"
She went on to tell me how this wasn't the plan. It wasn't what she wanted, not right now. They had actively been trying to prevent pregnancy. "Condom baby" is what she called it.

It made me laugh all the more.
Because as she explained to me the situation, all I saw was God, the Creator of life, with His hand all over it. I laughed because try as we may to have a child and try as we may to not have a child... He is in control. And to me, it's a really beautiful thing.

"But you need a baby. Not me. You deserve one."
She kept making me laugh in her irrational, I-just-found-out-my-whole-world-is-changing frame of mind.

And I know it must feel like that. I know it must be somewhat horrifying to tell your friend who has been trying to have a baby that you, who doesn't even want a baby, are pregnant. It must feel awful and agonizing - it must make one feel guilty, even if they have no reason to be.

But I loved that she told me.
I loved getting to be a tiny part of this newness and miracle- getting to see the Creator's fingerprint undeniably all over this new life.

I loved that she let me celebrate with her and pray for her and remind her that this is good instead of just trying to protect me. I felt really honored in that, actually.

In some ways, that's been the most painful part of this process. Feeling like people have to walk on eggshells around me or that I'm the last to know about exciting life events because no one wants to tell the infertile couple that they're pregnant. Sometimes it makes me rethink my life mantra that being open and transparent is always better than be closed-off and secretive. Being transparent is kind of the worst when it breeds pity or this overwhelming urge to protect through secrecy or "perfect timing".

I can handle it.
That's the thing about mourning with those who mourn and rejoicing with those who isn't contingent upon our circumstances. And as much as you might mourn with me when I express some confusion or sorrow about not being able to have children, I would hope that you would also allow me to rejoice with you when you find out that you can and are!

If there's anything the Lord has taught me in this journey it's that He's got this. He's in charge. He makes it happen. He breathes life. He takes it away. It seems to rarely be in our time or within our ability to understand, but it doesn't negate His goodness in the midst of a thousand questions and all the unknowns.

There's been a lot of freedom in this journey for me.
I hope you know that. I don't agonize every day over my infertility. SOME days, I do. But they're few and far between and generally just on the day I find out that I'm not pregnant, again. And then I move on. Because life is too short and the days are filled with laughter and tears and how I can be better at a million other things in life (maybe eventually I'll add being fertile to that list).

Ironically enough, today is one of those agonizing days. And tomorrow I'm sure I'll move on. Again.

I spent the last week thinking I was most likely pregnant. 
Like, actually pregnant. 

In our 2.5 years of trying, this has only happened a few times. And none of them have really ever felt like this. In fact, I've been so nonchalant about having a kid lately that the prospect of actually having one caused my thoughts to get a little crazy, a little futuristic (something I actually have felt like the Lord was protecting me from). 

But not this time. My sleep was fitful, my brain brimming with an endless amount of questions about life as a pregnant lady, as life with a baby. What would full-time child care look like if I wanted to keep working? What would the baby room look like? What types of maternity clothes would I have to get? Would we want to know the gender? 

These are questions normal people probably already know the answers to if they're trying to get pregnant. I guess, in our long stint of no pregnancies, I hadn't really taken the time to put much stock into figuring out the answers. Just peeing on a stick and seeing a "pregnant" was mostly my goal. As if that were the final success and that there wasn't much more to worry about beyond that. Crazy how a single occurrence on the porcelain throne can be life-changing. 

But then there's a week when you're out-of-nowhere nauseous and you're exhausted and sore and everything you know about pregnancy signs are happening and all you can do is wait. Wait until you can take a pregnancy test or start your period. Wait and pray. Wait and hope. Wait and freak out

Because as excited and hopeful as I got and the nearer to taking a pregnancy test that I mind became frantic when I, once again, thought about everything that changes the moment a new life comes into this world. Once again, the questions: do I want that? Can I do that?  

It wasn't long before the question was answered for me, even though it felt like an eternity. 
Not pregnant. 
And as much as I can feel relief in that, there's some incredible amount of sadness that still pervades my heart and soul. Like I've lost something that I never had. Maybe it was hope. 

I woke up this morning mad. 
Mad at my body for teasing me and causing me to think about all the possibilities. 
Mad at myself for not even knowing what I want. 
Mad at obsessing over 5000 websites all weekend, scrutinizing every story and wondering if that might be me. 
Mad at myself for holding onto hope.
Mad at the world for not relating to me.
Mad, because I feel alone. 

And, mostly just sad. 
Sad because this journey, while still freeing, is getting harder. Sad because this time I invested a little bit more. 

So here we are.
Mourning and rejoicing.
Trusting and releasing.
Living and hoping.
And recognizing that with the possibility of much joy, I'm also more susceptible to much pain. 

Let's cry and laugh in the Lord's goodness and weep in the unknowns.
But let's never stop trusting that His plan is infinitely greater, better, more beautiful. 

After all, haven't I seen His goodness evidenced over and over again in my life already?

So here's the deal.
Let me rejoice with you, and I'll let you mourn with me. It's the only way this works. And maybe tomorrow, I'll mourn with you and you'll rejoice with me. 

But please don't shield me from your good. Because even though it's not always mine, it still serves to remind me that there's hope, there's joy, there's life outside of me. 

And, we have a doctor's appointment next week. 
So cheers to all the things.

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