Thursday, August 26, 2010

All Things Beautiful

He has made everything beautiful in it's time. -Ecclesiastes 3:11

This past week I have struggled on and off with feeling content in this place that God has me in right now. It has been a roller coaster of emotions and poor Derek (who takes the brunt of good witch / bad witch Lindsey) I think is probably running low on his reserve of patience with me. Yesterday I came across a story on (In)Courage's blog called "Keep Growing" that really spoke to me. It's about this desert plant that is ugly, spiky, and doesn't produce fruit or flowers for over 20 years. Then suddenly in a matter of only 3 days it shoots up and produces beautiful scented flowers.

It's a simple story but it spoke to me in so many ways. After all those years of persevering through the desert weather and bareness it suddenly, out of no where, blooms. It's such a great analogy for life. Many times I can associate my life with either a time of blooming or a time of ugly waiting or weathering trials. I feel as though I have been going back and forth between blooming and feeling the ugly prickle of waiting almost each day of this week.

Each day God does give me such an amazing peace about it that I do feel like I am blooming in that sense, but then there are moments where there are prickles of impatience. It is a constant choice and I am choosing to trust God's plan and timing. And in that trust, the blooming is so refreshing and sweet.

I know that in so many ways in life we must endure periods of waiting, trials of labor, and times of brokenness. But in all those things God brings us out the other side stronger, more patient, and more vibrant if we let Him work in us during those times. He truly does make all things and all situations beautiful in His perfect timing.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fertility Update

Although fertility testing can be somewhat of a personal subject, I have decided to bare all to share my journey through this period in my life. Or rather I guess I should say bare Derek's all since this includes him and his swimmers as well.

About 3 weeks ago I went to the doctor for an annual women's check up to make sure everything looked okay with me. He said I exhibit some signs of having endometriosis but not definitely. He then told me to start charting (what I've done for the past years in order NOT to get pregnant! Ironic) to make sure that I'm ovulating. He also suggested getting Derek tested since he's had a varacosile twice in one of his testicles, the first time as a young boy, which he had to have operated on. Then he said if all that came back positive we would do blood tests on me to check for any hormonal imbalances.

I called the fertility clinic to set up an appointment for Derek in the next few months and they told me they had an appointment the following day! I slightly freaked out that it was happening so fast and that we would possibly know bad news (but hopefully good) within 24 to 48 hours. My precious dear friend reminded me that this way was better and it was just like ripping a band aid off. Otherwise I would have agonized over it for months. This way it would be quick and painless....just like a band aid.

Two mornings later before I called for the results I sat down to have some quiet time with the Lord. I read my bible and spent a long time praying about the results and my heart no matter what the doctor said. I prayed that God would make the test have a positive outcome and that through it I would know this is all in his timing and that we have just been in a waiting period. I was nervous that the test would come back that there were no swimmers but I felt God's peace that no matter what the test said I just needed to trust Him. I also felt his peace that He is in control and that all of this is part of His great plan for our lives.

A little while later I called for the results. The receptionist took down all the information said yes he saw that Derek was there yesterday and then asked if he could put me on hold. I said yes calmly and then totally freaked out. Why was he putting me on hold? How come he didn't just read me what it said on the screen? Maybe he was getting the "bad news doctor" to be the one to tell the crazy lady on the phone that she'll never have a baby! My heart was racing, I felt as though I would puke or faint or both at the same time. Then abruptly I felt God's peace wash over me like a gentle breeze. My breathing relaxed, my stomach unclenched, and I suddenly felt completely and utterly in God's calming presence. I just knew at that moment that no matter what, God loves me and has a great plan for my life. That no matter what the outcome of this test or the outcome of the rest of my life is, I serve an awesome God who has created the heavens and the earth and is still concerned with my life. He still works in the small details of my life including even giving me an overwhelming sense of peace and relief as I sat on the floor next to our couch waiting for Derek's results.

The receptionist came back on the phone and told me that I would have to call my OB doctor because the results had been sent over there. Comical. I of course called there where I experienced a similar being put on hold situation, only to then be told I would be called with the results later that day. God is so good though and continued to give me an amazing peace throughout the morning. It was an awesome day and I didn't even have to wait very long for the results. A nurse called me only about an hour later to let me know that everything looked completely normal with his test. Amazing, and so awesome. I was thrilled.

Now I will be charting and we will continue to wait on God's perfect timing. Because it is just that - perfect. I completely trust in God's plan and His timing. He is so real in my life and I feel so blessed to have his peace in my life. I don't know how I could go through life and all it's struggles and obstacles that come with it without having God to cling to. He makes life so much more worth living and so much more wonderful.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spiritual Attacks

Recently I had a situation arise involving a BIG mis-communication and I was hurt by a close friend. Very hurt. I agonized over it all day long to the point of stomach aches and crying. I wanted to talk to a mutual close friend about it but didn't want to influence her to be upset with this person as well, so I kept to myself and cried out to God all day long trying to make sense of what had happened. I literally spent the entire day cleaning my house and praying constantly, asking God to help me understand why this situation had happened.

I kept thinking it was so confusing and didn't seem like my friend at all to do something like this. I was hurt and genuinely confused. I prayed all day not to have an offend-able heart but to instead try to be open to the situation and think of what I needed to learn from her instead of be hurt but nothing changed. I still felt upset, confused, and very alone. What was also bizarre was that I had been feeling so close and comforted by God lately but when praying about this situation I felt nothing. Empty nothingness.

By the time Derek got home I was a wreck and emotionally vomited the entire story on him. He told me I should just call this friend and talk to her but I didn't feel like I could. I had emailed her that morning and she had never responded so I just thought I would wait. It also took every ounce of me not to talk to my other friend about the situation but since she was also close friends with my "offender" I felt like I would suck her into a negative situation and didn't want to do that.

Right before bed that night I checked my email one last time to see an email from her. I was so nervous to open it but did and saw that she wasn't the person involved in the situation! It was a total mis-communication! Something that I thought had happened because of her was actually someone I didn't even know. I felt euphoric. I called her immediately and we laughed hysterically over how confused she had been over my email and didn't know what I was talking about. I told her how confused I had been by what I thought were her actions. Even weirder was the fact that that conclusion had never even crossed my mind. How could I not have even thought of that possibility!?

The following day I told the entire story to our mutual friend who also immediatly upon hearing the offense said there's no way that could be our friend. Had I told her the story the day before I could have been saved from all that agonizing.

That's the crazy thing about spiritual attacks. They happen when you least expect them and you don't even notice them. Looking back on the situation now I think it is absolutely crazy and comical that I never even thought for a second that maybe there was a mix up involved. I immediately felt crushed and hurt. How I prayed all day and felt no comfort from God was another red flag I somehow missed.

The awesome thing about all this is how God still used this spiritual attack for His glory and revealed so much to me about His goodness. It also reminded me to be more aware of my feelings and happenings. To make sure what is happening is real and not an emotional attack or being blind sighted over a total mix up. I was also able to see another blessing in my life through my friendships and how large a part they play in my life and spiritual walk. Each of my friends play a different role in my life, and I in theirs. It's important to reach out to others in those times of need and share what we're going through. Often times God uses others to help us see things we can't see for ourselves.

It's easy to feel like responding with anger or emotion when we feel we've been wronged or hurt in life. I thank God for giving me the wisdom in this situation, even through my agony, to wait to hear from my friend and not jump down her throat for something she ended up not even being responsible for. I also thank God for giving me the faith to still cling tightly to Him even when I was under attack and felt no comfort from Him. I didn't realize what was going on but knew that the only way to get through it was to keep close to God and keep praying no matter what.

It's so easy to see now, looking back on the whole situation, how much I was under a spiritual attack all day yesterday. It was as if I had a blanket thrown over my eyes and heart. It was devastating and I felt as though I were treading water all alone. I knew God would carry me through it, I just needed to trust and keep praying. And He did, as He always does. It's so euphoric being on the other side now. Having gotten through that little valley, the view is amazing. It was another little test in life and no matter what that test may be, big or small, God is always there carrying us through, and I'm so thankful for that.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, August 16, 2010

When God says Wait, or even No.

The word "no" or even "wait" can be two of the hardest words to hear.

When Derek first applied to medical school over 7 years ago and didn't get in, that was a hard "no" to hear. Then again the second time the following year. The third time he applied he got wait-listed. We didn't get a definitive "yes" until 6 weeks before school started. That "wait" lasted from November until June and it was painful. Even the "yes" we got wasn't the one we were planning on or hoping for. We had planned and prayed to stay in California or at least on the West Coast. Landing in West Virginia was not something we had even considered. But it was God's plan, and He knows best. We can say that now in retrospect. It truly was for the best. We both grew so much in our marriage and met some truly amazing friends that we wouldn't have changed it now for the world. But during those months of waiting, and during those months of not knowing anyone within hundreds of miles, it was HARD. I used to ask God, "WHY?" all the time. It's very hard to trust in His plans at times, especially when you are having to wait or are answered "no."

Wanting to be transparent, as well as give God his due glory I have decided to open up about a subject that I have been having to be patient in and trust Him in no matter what the answer is. As many people know I have wanted to have a baby since I was practically a baby myself. We got Gracie (our dog) 9 months after getting married because the "baby bug" was getting to me so badly. We thought about trying after 2 years of marriage but then decided to wait and see what happened with Derek's medical school. Once he got accepted to WV we decided we should wait again because we didn't know what to expect. Again the "baby bug" reared it's head strongly in West Virginia three years ago and we actually tried to get pregnant for about 5 months before deciding to wait AGAIN since we found out we would be moving to Charleston for Derek's third and fourth years. We then got Bear (our second dog) to help comfort me in all the waiting.

Finally after the end of Derek's third year of medical school, many crying break downs on my part, and tons of prayer - we decided just over a year ago to really go ahead and try to get pregnant. (We didn't tell anyone because I really wanted to surprise people and not have anyone expecting it) I really thought that God had put the month June on my heart and it really helped me through the months of not being pregnant over the past year. I really felt that we would be pregnant in June once we got to Portland. Well, we got here, June came and left, and I am still not pregnant. I was crushed when June passed and very shocked. I never imagined it wouldn't happen easily for me, considering so many of my closest friends and family are all very fertile myrtles!

Wanting children has been a desire in me for as long as I can remember and the waiting has been one of the most excruciating experiences of my life. But whether my not being pregnant is a "wait" from God, or even a "no," I am trusting that God has the best in mind for me. Even the June thing was a blessing in that it got me through so many months and enabled me to have hope very easily. It allowed me to get through almost an entire year of trying and never feel too discouraged or defeated. This has really been an amazing experience of growing closer to God and knowing that whatever the outcome is, it will be for the best. I am hoping and praying that this time has simply been another "wait" period that will someday turn into a "yes." Each day is filled with it's own obstacles of not feeling down or defeated in not having a baby yet, but I know that God is good and He provides us with every good thing. I am so blessed with such an amazing husband, wonderful family, and great friends that I really can't complain. God has blessed me with more than I could have ever hoped for or imagined in so many ways and each day I try to choose to focus on those blessings and not on what I feel is missing. I do still hope and pray everyday that I will get pregnant, (and would appreciate anyone else's prayers as well!) but I do trust that it is all in God's plan and will work out for the best.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above." -James 1:17

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Our First Visitors in Portland

July and August have been awesomely filled with friends and family visiting us here in Portland. We have been very blessed with having so many people be able to come enjoy our new city with us and it has been filled with tons of fun outings. We are so thankful so many people could come out to see our new home so soon after getting settled in here.

Here are a few pictures and recaps of some of the memories!

One of my best friends from San Diego, Tiffany Sepp, came to visit in early July and we had a blast. It was a quick 24 hour trip but we crammed lots of great girl time in. I got to show her the city, we did some wine tasting in beautiful wine country (Argyle Winery & Erath Winery), had an amazing lunch at Dundee Bistro, and got great girl hang out time at our house that night.

Just about three weeks later my parents stopped by for a few nights with their close friends, Don and Patty Simons. They were doing their summer road trip in the motorhome and stopped off in Portland to spend a few days with us. They parked their motor home right out on the street and played like the "Clampets!" We really had a great time with them and did lots during the three days they were here. We went wine tasting at Willakenzie Estate, which is our favorite. (It's also the one I met my friend Mary at previously. Talked about it in previous BLOG) Then we went to Rex Hill Winery and loved that too.
Then we took a ride on the Portland Spirit Boat Cruise (same one Derek and I did when we first moved here) and they all loved it.
Derek was finally able to meet up with us for happy hour & appetizers at Departure, the restaurant on top of the Nine's Hotel. It had a beautiful view (15th floor) but it wasn't quite our scene. We still had a lovely time regardless. We then went to El Gaucho for dinner afterwards which was awfully hilarious seeing that we were all in shorts, tank tops, sandals, and had obviously been on a boat earlier. Everyone in the restaurant had tuxedos on. We were going to leave but they insisted we we decided to eat dinner off their happy hour menu in the bar area. After awhile we got over the fact that compared to our server we looked like a bunch of bums. When we left the hostess gave us a $25 gift certificate (since we were new to the area) to come back and have dinner in the restaurant. That was pretty awesome!
We also played a little Boche Ball on the lawn up the street from us in front of the new townhomes they are building. We brought the dogs and Bear had a blast running after the balls and moving them. It sure made the game more interesting!
Four days later the Clarks arrived! They stayed for a bit longer so we had time to do a few more things. There is so much to do here though, that we still didn't get to do even half of what we would love to show everyone. It really is an amazing city filled with tons of places to see and things to do.
The first night they were here we went to a cute little restaurant down the street from our house called Hall Street Grill. We had an amazing dinner followed by some amazing desserts that were all locally grown and handmade. Delicious!! The following day we met up with Derek and did a tour of the hospital and then had lunch with him in a cafe there. That night we had a spectacular dinner at Portland City Grill (30th floor!) and the view was absolutely stunning.
We also took them to encounter Voodoo donuts since Jane is such a donut lover. She was very pleased with the outcome. We even acted more like locals and ordered a dozen individually instead of having them pick the donuts out for us. We also found a wall outside of Voodoo that describes the theme of Portland very well!
I also took Jane and Jim on the Portland Spirit since it is now one of our staples to take people on. The water, the piano player, the ambiance - it's just really awesome.
We had dinner at our new favorite place called The Raccoon Lodge. They have a picnic area outside where we can bring the dogs with us AND they have sour beers. Our new love!
We also went to the Bite of Oregon Festival. There are tons of restaurants there with all the food and drinks to sample you could want. It was great fun!

We had such a great time with all of our visitors and look forward to many returning trips as well as new visitors!! We feel so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends and also to be able to share such an amazing city with them that we can finally call home.

Portland Festivals & Friends

(Hanging out with Craig & Mika McDougall! Great couple!)

Besides having many visitors come here, these past two months in Portland have also been filled with getting involved in ORFN (OHSU Resident Family Network) and other friends we have met here. ORFN is a network group that organizes events for spouses of doctors at OHSU that include bookclubs, interest nights, girls night out, family BBQ's, and much more. It has been an amazing way to meet other women going through this same stage of life and I have really been blessed to meet some great ones. We have also met some great couples through Derek's work and even one through a winery!

Portland is also known for it's amazing festivals. When we first moved here they had the Rose Festival. Then recently we went to the Portland Local Beer Festival (which turned out to be huge) with some guys from Derek's work and their wives and had such a great time we actually had them all over for dinner the following weekend! I didn't really like beer much before moving here but actually found quite a few I enjoyed! I am now a big fan of SOUR beers! If you haven't ever had one - you must come here to try them. DELICIOUS!

When Jane and Jim were here last weekend we went to the Bite of Oregon Festival with them and had a great time as well. There were so many different restaurants with food and drinks to sample. It was a great feast!
I have also been able to attend lots of events through ORFN including Book Club, Girls Night Out, Dessert Exchange Night, and last night for the first time a christian women's book club which was so awesome. I am really excited about the book we are going through called The Love Dare. It's based on 1 Corinthians 13 in the bible about love. Loving God and loving your husband in the same way God loves us. It has really been amazing so far.

1 Corinthians13: 4-8

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

I have met some really great women at all of these events and am looking forward to getting to know them even better in the future. Here is a picture from our first Girls Night Out a couple weeks ago at Bartini. I know there will be lots more events to attend and I just feel so blessed to have met such amazing women already in such a short period of time. God is so good!

San Diego in July

In the middle of July (between all our visitors) I was able to make a trip to San Diego to be in Jen Borba's (now Wallace's) wedding, see baby Henry Jones, and see my new niece Addison Lynn. It was a whirlwind weekend but so great to see so many people.

My first stop in San Diego (actually ended up being in Orange County) was Jen Borba / Wallace's wedding. After missing my flight the night before, I re-routed my flight to Orange County instead of San Diego and got on the first flight out the morning of the wedding. (Only slightly stressful...I didn't not tell Jen, however, until I walked into the hotel room so she didn't have to stress over being one bridesmaid short the day of the wedding!) Jane and Jim picked me up from the airport and dropped me off at the bridal hotel to get ready. It was a beautiful wedding and I was so blessed to be a part of it. It was so wonderful to see Jen get married and to such a great guy. I also had a ton of fun with her other bridesmaids hanging out before and during the wedding. They are a great group of girls.

My second stop was to the Jones' household in Fallbrook to see Lindsay and her boys. I drove down right after the wedding and got there pretty late. I spent the night but we only hung out for about a half hour before hitting the hay. We were both exhausted from long nights previously. Baby Henry had just turned 7 weeks old and it was so fun to see how much Harrison has taken on the role of the big brother. They are both so sweet. It was so fun to see Lindsay and have a relaxing breakfast together before continuing my drive down to Carmel Valley. Even though the trip was short it was oh-so-sweet.

Next stop was to Carmel Valley to Danica and Andrew's house where I got to meet my new niece Addison Lynn and play with my adorable nephew, Aidan. We had a blast and I got to take a million pictures of Addison. My parents and Grandma Law also came up for a visit so I really got to see the whole family.

Since my in-laws were so sweet to let me borrow Jane's car, I was able to drive back Wednesday morning to orange county before flying back up to Portland. I had a lovely lunch with Jim and G'pa Whittington before Jim drove me to the airport. It was a whirlwind very short visit but I managed to see just about as many people as you possibly could in that short of time. It was really wonderful to see everyone and I'm glad I could make the trip down. (I also wrote about my airport experience on the way back to Portland HERE. It was a good one!)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

House Hunt: Update

The house hunting last week was long and exhausting. We looked at fourteen houses in one day. It was long. By the end of the day there was really no house I loved that was within our price range and once I got home we actually decided to review our finances again to make sure we were even looking in the correct span of prices. It turns out we were not. Everything I was shown was what we thought was at the high end of what we could afford...but it turned out to be out of the range we could afford. So basically every house we looked at was wiped off the list. That was a bit overwhelming and disappointing to say the least.
So it looks like I am adding chihuahuas and "bowling ballers" (or stompers...I can't decide what to call them quite yet) to my list of Patience Opportunities! Regardless, I know that God is good and has provided for us in so many ways already, and has blessed us so much. I have so many things to be thankful for that I really cannot complain about living in a beautiful apartment, even being an apartment with loud neighbors. I am content and blessed to live here for now.