Our two choices

“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘Alright then, have it your way.'” – C.S. Lewis

I misread this quote the first time I came across it.  I read it as there are two choices: telling God “Thy will be done” and telling God “Alright then, have it Your way.”

Even though it’s not true to the original quote, my version is much more reflective of my heart.  I have prayed honest prayers for the Lord to do His will, whatever that may be.  And yet, when His will is heartbreakingly the exact opposite of what I hoped for, I have cried out to Him in frustration, “Fine! Have it Your way!”

It’s forcing me to take an honest look at my heart and ask if I really want His will more than anything.  When He’s clearly leading us, even in a direction we don’t want to go, will we go joyfully?  Or will we go kicking and screaming?

I’m trying to find the balance of grieving a dream, yet not to the point that I’m grieving over what God has planned for me.  At some point I have to gently let go of my idea for our future and choose to believe that His promise is true and His plans are good.

Only part of the story

Our blog has been quiet for a few weeks, and it’s mainly because I feel like we’re in a waiting period.

Our most recent doctor appointments were pretty disappointing, and we’re waiting to have a conversation about what to do now.  I don’t know what our doctor will say or what path we’ll be on when we leave the office.  My mind cycles through the few options I can imagine and then begins to anxiously wonder about the options I can’t imagine.

So I’ve been trying to keep my heart quiet.  With nothing but a conversation on the horizon, I’ve tried to engage in the moment and not anticipate the next.  And wow, I realized I haven’t truly done this in two years.  There’s always been something fertility related to anticipate.  Even when we took a small break, we knew what was happening that next month.  I still had something to focus on.

But for these two weeks between appointments, I can’t anticipate anything fertility-wise.  There’s nothing known to focus on, so my mind has felt freed up.

I didn’t realize how much of my focus has been consumed by infertility in the last two years until now when I don’t have anything to focus on.  For a few days after our last appointment, I felt empty.  I felt like nothing was happening in my life that gave it any value.  But as my eyes widened and turned to the other people and stories in my life, I realized that there are important, worthwhile things happening.  I just hadn’t been tuning in as much to them.

I felt the Lord say, “Don’t give infertility 100% of your focus, because it’s not 100% of the story I’m writing for you, even now.”

Infertility has felt like the whole story of my life lately.  Don’t think I’m being hard on myself.  In the beginning when we were new to treatment and the drugs, doing research, and riding the rollercoaster of hope and disappointment, it required most of our hearts and could be overwhelming.  But now that we’re not making progress and don’t know how long we’ll be on this road, I see that I need to get on with other things in the midst of this.  If we can’t even glimpse the end, then I can’t just keep getting by in the other areas of my life.  Who knows how long that could go on.

So I’m learning to shift my focus.  I’ve put my mind to adapting small group lessons on dating for our high school girls.  It requires a couple of hours each week, but that time flies by.  I love organizing the thoughts and teachings that will help our girls date well with less hurt and more purpose.  I’ve been praying hard that they will listen better than I did and not have to end up learning these same things the hard way.

I was able to go home and spend a very short weekend with my parents and my brother.  What an awesome gift from the Lord — a wonderful reminder that we are deeply loved and connected, and also that we need to give our love just as much as we receive it.  We are not alone in stress, and the Lord wants to use us as ministers to our loved ones even though we struggle ourselves.

I don’t know what’s next on a lot of levels.  I keep wanting to “make progress” and feel like something is happening.  The whole waiting aspect of infertility has been really difficult.  But in this period where we literally can’t do anything on that front, there are other things to do.  Infertility is part of our lives, but it’s not the whole story.  Therefore, it doesn’t deserve the whole focus.

There are people I want to love better, things I want to be more purposefully engaged in, and a life I want to continue to build.  I can, and should, do those things regardless of our infertility.  As much as I’m scared to let go of this overwhelming focus on a baby (What if we don’t try hard enough?) I want to look around and see what else God wants to do in me and through me.

Because this isn’t His whole story for us, so it doesn’t deserve our whole focus.

100% of our focus should go only to the One who is writing 100% of our story.  And thank you, God, that infertility is only part of our story!

Learning to Run

“I’m not at my limit yet; I can take more.”

That’s what I found myself thinking when I learned I need a new medicine to resolve a small issue before I can get back to the medicine I need for another procedure.  18 months of hormone “uppers” and now a few weeks of “downers.”  I’m turning into a junkie!  Honestly, it’s been hard.  Hard on my body with side effects like headaches, fatigue, nausea and hot flashes.  And hard on my heart when a wonderful date night is interrupted by crazy mood swings.

But I’m not done.  We’re not done.

I have no idea how long this will last or if we will reach the point where we choose to stop without having a child.  But I do know that as fragile as my body feels on some days, I have been blown away by how strong my heart is.

I used to love running and strength training because it felt so good to push my body to its limit and see it respond.  I can’t do that anymore during this process, but I’m on a similar journey with my heart.  It’s being pushed all the time, and I’m constantly amazed at how it’s responding.

Sometimes we cry, sometimes we laugh, sometimes I get frustrated and scream (this never seems to happen to Charlie, of course!)  But our hearts haven’t quit.  Our God hasn’t quit.  Charlie and I can take more because He will give us more strength.  He will give us more grace.  He will give us more of what we need at each turn.

When I was learning to run, I would break up the distance by minutes.  If I could just run the next minute, I’d be fine.  Then if I could just focus on breathing through that next minute, I’d be halfway there.  It helped me go longer each time until I actually became a runner.  I couldn’t think about the whole 4 miles at the start because I’d want to quit.

That’s how we feel right now.  If we can be patient through the two weeks of this medicine, we’ll get to the next step.  We can’t think about how long or short a road we might have from there.  We will run each little part, strengthened by the Lord and giving each other grace, then look back later and celebrate how far we’ve come.

Abiding in 2015

I’ve never been one to make big New Years resolutions.  I know I’d forget about it and it would be more frustrating than helpful.  However, I do like the idea of choosing a focus word for the next year.  Something to keep coming back to, to prioritize, to be inspired by as the months go on.

I was reading John 15 last week and felt God put a focus word in my heart:  Abide

 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”  John 15:4

Abide. I looked up its original meaning and found “to remain, to continue to be present, to last, to endure.” That is what Charlie and I want this year.

We want to continue to be present with Jesus.  We want our life with Him to last beyond whatever this year holds for us.  We want to endure past our current struggle.

I’m going to abide in Him this year by being more aware of making my home with Jesus.  I want to be mindful of waking up each day with Him, talking to Him as often as if He lived in my home, going over my day with Him before I sleep.  I’m going to abide by not losing hope if He has us wait longer.  I’m going to abide by not turning down paths of worry and numbness, but remaining in His peace and continuing to be present in His hope.

He says in John that if I abide in Him, I will bear fruit.  If His words abide in me, He will answer my prayers.  If I keep His commandments, I will abide in His love.

That’s our focus this year.  It won’t be easy at times.  Last week, I had the feeling that we were gearing up for a long, hard journey in 2015.  And that may be so (or not! We can’t even plan a month in advance at this point).

When Jesus spoke these words in John 15 to His disciples, it was after the Last Supper where He talked at length about leaving them.  These 12 men had had such close contact with God and now the story was changing.  When He left so unexpectedly, they would surely have doubts.  They would wonder what His “good” plan was now.  They would have to stand on their faith that He is real and He is still here. 

Jesus knew this.  That’s why the first words after this discussion instructed them to stay connected to Him.  When things got scary, when doubt crept in, Jesus’ answer for them was to abide.

As I think about whatever comes next for us, I can easily get worried and lost in the unknown.  How sweet that the Lord showed us exactly what to focus on: remaining actively present with Him.

 

“When the time is right”

“My plan for your life is unfolding before you. Sometimes the road you are traveling seems blocked, or it opens up so painfully slowly that you must hold yourself back. Then, when time is right, the way before you suddenly clears—through no effort of your own. What you have longed for and worked for I present to you freely, as pure gift. You feel awed by the ease with which I operate in the world, and you glimpse My Power and My Glory.”

That is from yesterday’s Jesus Calling devotional.  Of course I read most things through an infertility lens these days, and so my thoughts went immediately there when I read “the road you are traveling seems blocked…it opens up so painfully slowly…”

But how amazing to be reminded that, when God’s timing is right, our way suddenly clears.  What we long for is suddenly ours through no effort of our own — a gift meant to renew our faith and understanding that He is powerful and good.

It’s easy to apply this devotion to where Charlie and I are right now.  But it’s also easy to apply it to Christmas.

Surely those living in the days leading up to Christ’s birth thought the road to a Savior must be blocked.  It certainly must have seemed to be opening at a painfully slow pace.  They were oppressed by godless people.  They were hungry for relief and peace.  They were waiting.  And I’m sure they were tired of it.

How easy to begin to wonder, “Where are you God?  Is there something more I should be doing to persuade You to act for us now?  Do you see us struggling here?”

Then, when the time was right, the way suddenly cleared.  The veil was suddenly torn.  Through no effort of man’s own, what we longed for was presented to us purely as a gift.  And we glimpsed His power and His glory.

Nothing had changed.  No one had prayed a magic prayer or done a magical good deed.  The time had simply come.

How grateful I am that He promises to strengthen us while we wait for His time to come!