Friday, May 8, 2015

A New Mother's Day

Over the past many years, Mother's Day has previously been an incredibly difficult and complicated day for me for the simple reason that I was not a mother myself...yet I was blessed with a wonderful mother and mother to my husband, wonderful grandmothers, as well as many amazing friends who were mothers. It's not that I didn't appreciate the day itself or those it honored, it's that in the past this day brought up the stark reality of my then painful situation and lonely sadness.

One of the hardest and most memorable was 3 years ago. It was one of the worst years emotionally for me where I rarely went more than a few days without crying in between. I came home emotionally exhausted from working at the winery on Mother's Day (having a million people ask me if I was a mother yet or planned to have children) to find that Derek had arranged a surprise "Mother's Day Sucks" party for me! It was one of the sweetest things he's ever done. He decorated the entire back yard with balloons, flowers, streamers, and chocolate covered strawberries. My favorite was that on each mylar ballon that said "Happy Mother's Day!" he wrote in black sharpie underneath "sucks." In that moment I connected with my husband in a way that I couldn't have if I hadn't experienced the terrible hurt of infertility. To see that he understood my pain and acknowledged it while also putting such a thoughtful and humorous spin on it was a turning point for me in healing and in not feeling completely alone in my situation. As crazy or weird as it may sound, it was exactly what I needed and somehow made me feel better in the midst of a terribly painful and lonely time.

This Mother's Day, however, marks the first one that I have not dreaded in as long as I can remember. To say I have been healed and changed is an understatement and I am so incredibly thankful. I have so many reasons to be thankful for and especially for all the children I do have in my life. My sweet goddaughters whose mom, Tif, so sweetly sent me Mother's Day flowers that are filling my whole house with such a beautiful fragrance right now. It's a reminder of the love that I get to share with so many amazing children and that I do get to experience moments of motherhood through my friends and family and all their children. It's such a blessing to me now that I get to have a different perspective and love on them in ways that I wouldn't be able to if I were taking care of my own. It's a beautiful thing and only made possible by God. I'm so thankful. I'm thankful that this is who God made me to be and I wouldn't be without having gone through infertility or experiencing all those painful Mother's Days.

However, I know that this day still causes much pain for many people. Whether it is waiting to have a child of their own, mourning the loss of a child or children, or missing their mother - Mother's Day can be an extremely difficult and heart wrenching day. Having a very close friend who just lost her baby and will mourn this day, I feel an empathetic sadness about this day for her. I feel for her, I hurt for her, I dread this day for her...and I pray that it will pass quickly for her and that she will not have to endure another Mother's Day like this. As easy as it is to remember all the mother's in our lives, I want to make a conscious effort to remember all those who find this day difficult instead of filled with joy. There have been so many people in my life that reached out to me on Mother's Day and the days leading up to it to check in on me and I can't express how thankful I was for that. How just being acknowledged meant the world to me and that I wasn't forgotten just because I didn't have a baby bouncing on my lap. Let's make it a point to reach out to those who may be finding this day difficult. It may be uncomfortable and you don't know what to say and that's ok. Just tell them you love them. You're praying for them. You're thinking about them. Just let them know they are not forgotten on this day.

This Mother's Day I am truly thankful. I'm thankful that I have a wonderful mother. I'm thankful for my mother in law and the amazing man she created. I'm thankful that I have many friends and family members that are mothers. I'm thankful for all the amazing children in my life because of those mothers. I'm thankful for the future children who will be in my life because of those mothers and other mothers I may have yet to even meet. All I know is that God didn't leave me out of Mother's Day, He just had a different role for me in it. It's a beautiful day and I'm so thankful to be included in the lives of those who are. And to those who aren't able to find this day beautiful yet...just wait, you will. It may not be how you envisioned, but someday the pain will subside and you too will feel joy again.

"God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain..." -Revelation 21:4

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fear Of The Future...Here We Go Again

I feel like for over the past 10 years my life has been a series of changing living locations and preparing for the next move in Derek's career path. Having been settled in Portland now for just about 5 years and even living in our current home for just under 5 years, it's a thought that thankfully hasn't been on my mind in a long time. Moving or changing or relocating just hasn't even been on the horizon. We barely know what Derek's schedule will look like 4 weeks from now let alone in over a year from when he finishes his fellowship. I haven't really thought of changing places....and I have thouroughly enjoyed the emotional and mental break from it.

However, it's come up in conversation recently and now I can't get it out of my brain. The stress, the wonder, the trying to play reverse psychology on God (as Andrew put it the other night at bible study! Haha!), the fear...ugh how I don't miss these feelings. But I am also SO thankful for the past 5 years of mental break from it having been rooted here. Having a break from all the up in the air changes and moves and not knowing what was next or where Derek would get accepted for medical school, then residency, then fellowship....ahhhh it has been a lovely break. And now, it's back. In one year and one month Derek will finish fellowship and will start a "real" job somewhere. Where? We don't know. Do we have hopes? Expectations? Wishes? Of course!! But, all we can do right now is wait for time to pass and trust. There isn't even anything to do or look for yet. It's WAY too early to even really think about this yet! My brain, however, didn't get that memo apparently.

I will confess that I have a fear of change. I love stability and I also confess I sometimes envy those who have it. Who have nothing on the horizon of shifting change of possible locations or knowing that everything about the plan they are on will definitely change in one year and one month from right now. I forgot what this feeling was like of not knowing what the future will hold for not just small things but huge things such as what city or state we will be living in. The possibility of not knowing a single person for thousands of miles surrounding you. Of starting ALL over. It's exhausting really. Granted I also know that nothing could change. We could stay right here and all this thinking could be for nothing...but my brain again, didn't get that memo. :)

Sorry for the venting....and I don't even know if anyone is reading this, but someday in the future I want to look back on this and read and remember what I felt, because I know I don't always share it in the moment. But I am right now. This is the moment. And I don't want to forget this...all of this. Because it's really been a beautiful ride and I want to remember not only the great, but also the trying parts of it too.

I truly do trust that God has a plan and this morning in my Jesus Calling devo (by Sarah Young) the message was absolutely spot on for me:

"If you learn to trust Me - really trust Me - with your whole being, then nothing can separate you from My Peace. Everything you endure can be put to good use by allowing it to train you in trusting Me. . . Do not fear what this day, or any day, may bring your way. Concentrate on trusting Me and on doing what needs to be done. Relax in My sovereignty, remembering that I go before you, as well as with you, into each day. Fear no evil, for I can bring good out of every situation you will ever encounter."

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." -Psalm 23:4

I know it and I believe it....sometimes it's just getting your heart to feel it and follow along. :) And if anyone is reading this I, of course, always appreciate the prayers for not only our future but also for my heart! :)


An amazing thing about having gone through infertility is that it gives you an empathy for other people's struggles like no other. Before having gone through it, I always felt for people. I really did. I've always been an over empathetic, feel-y, and super emotional person. But having experienced what felt like a loss every month for YEARS upon YEARS really changed my empathy relation into a full blown experience with others. Especially when that experience is along side a very close friend. It's interesting to me how things can affect me in ways like it's my own personal experience...even though it's not anymore. It has made me so much more aware of the effect people's words can have on others and how often people don't realize the severity of their words. I know most people aren't out to purposely hurt others, it's just that they can't relate because they haven't experienced a similar hurt. And I'm glad that many people have that innocence that they can't relate, because otherwise life would be very very sad. It's just that sometimes we need to look at situations and know that we are not in control, we don't know what the outcome will be like, and that's ok. We don't have to fill the silence with meaningless words that we don't mean or don't truly know. We can simply say we are sorry and don't know what in the world to say...because really there aren't any words.

I recently read in a bible study the story about Jesus telling His disciples what was going to happen to Him and Peter not knowing what to say did the same thing as we do all the time...

'From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You." But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."' -Matthew 16:21-23

Even Peter, who walked alongside Jesus, couldn't handle life going differently than what the normal constituted or from what was "expected," and tried to say he knew differently how things would go. But sometimes things are going to go differently than what is expected or even desired. That still doesn't mean that God isn't in control.

I can't count the amount of people and times that I have been told over the past 9 plus years that I would get pregnant and/or have a child. Sometimes people even told me specific time frames (all of which have long ago passed). I don't blame them or hold any grudges. I understand. Just like Peter, we all sometimes can't handle a situation going differently than what we desire for ourselves or even for someone else. Walking through the loss of a child with my dear friend, I have unfortunately witnessed many similar situations of people not knowing what to say and filling the void with telling her the "positive future" in many different forms. Again, nothing against them. I know I used to do the exact same thing before my experience with infertility.

Hopefully we can move forward and try to remember that God is in control and is the only one that truly knows the future. Only He can tell us the plan. We just need to support one another, be there for each other, and love on one another....through all the bad but also all the good. Because God does say that there WILL be good...we just don't know what it will look like exactly.

'Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that."' -James 4:14-15