My Journey to Joy

June 12, 2013

Esther on Being Real

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Being Real

Remember that post I wrote last year called The Ugly Truth?  The one where I shared how hard it is to be infertile year after year after year?  This is a similarly truthful post — although hopefully not quite as ugly — about how hard it is to be “pregnant,” but not really, month after month after month.
The truth is this:  I feel like a fraud.  For months I’ve been putting on a happy face trying to be strong, but in doing so I feel like I’m not being honest.  Most people see the smile on my face and think that I’m bouncing off the walls, overflowing with joy and excitement that we’re finally expecting a baby, when in reality I haven’t enjoyed much about this journey since it started.
Let me be clear.  
I am excited…  but it is not overflowing.  I am filled with joy…  but only because joy is a choice.  And I am thankful to be expecting this amazing, undeserved gift.  I don’t know that I would go so far as to say that I’m happy.  Why?
Because surrogacy is HARD.
Try to imagine for just a moment what it would be like to  know you’re “pregnant” but not get to feel or see any evidence of that.  Not a kick, not a flip, not a hiccup.
Now try to  imagine that you’re not only unable to experience anything yourself, but you  have very, very limited access to the person who is carrying your baby  because she lives over 300 miles away (which might as well be the moon since gas prices are so high!).  You can’t even touch the belly where your child is growing or even have the chance to feel a kick from the outside.
Next try imagining what it would be like if, due to the difficulty of coordinating busy schedules, your primary method of  communication with the woman carrying your child was text messaging  (where one’s “tone” can be so easily misread and misinterpreted).  You  rarely hear her voice on the phone, and seeing her in person is even  rarer still, which only accentuates how disconnected, isolated and uninvolved you feel.
Now imagine living like that day after day… week after week… and month after excruciating month.
Trust me.  It’s brutal.
I am emotionally exhausted, so forgive me if I don’t have any energy left for excitement.  I often feel as though everyone around me is more excited  than I am.  Which of course is ridiculous since I’m the one who will  have a baby in my arms at the end, Lord willing.  
The problem is that I’m on a road that doesn’t feel like it has an end.  Time doesn’t go fast.  It doesn’t fly by.  It’s not going to be here “before I know it” because Every. Single. Day. up to this point has been agonizing and there’s no reason for me to think that the next 80-something days will be any different.
Every surrogacy story is going to be unique and different because every surrogacy story has unique and different people in it.  The one thing every story has in common is hormones and emotions, and throwing those into the mix can make things oh-so-complex — especially when dealing with a first-time mom and a first-time surrogate at the same time.
Needless to say, our story is turning out way different than how I imagined it would.  And maybe that’s the problem.  Maybe I shouldn’t have gone into this with any expectations at all, but how could I not?  It’s human nature to paint a picture in our head of how a situation is “supposed” to play out.

The beginning was full of hopeful excitement,  and I know the ending will be amazing…  but this stuff in the middle?  Messy.  Uncomfortable.  Torture.
In the end all that will matter is the baby in my arms.  All the crazy emotions…  the anxiety attacks…  the sobbing meltdowns in the shower… they will all be a distant memory.  I don’t think I’ll ever completely forget the hell I’ve lived through these past several months, but the bad stuff will fade with time as all bad stuff does.
In the meantime I’ll just keep moving forward, making it through each day as best as I can.  And remember that even though time feels like it’s dragging, now is not forever.  

I will see the goodness of the Lord.  

Joy is coming.    

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May 22, 2013

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child…

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Dear Mom of an Adopted Child,

I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.

It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.

Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.

Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.

Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?

I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.

I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.

I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.

I know about the match call, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.

Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Maybe you shouted it to the world. Maybe you allowed yourself to decorate a baby’s room, buy a car seat. Maybe you bought a soft blanket, just that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.

I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying to fix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.

And I know about the followup visits, when you hadn’t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic. I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.

And I’ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand what’s being promised and what’s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.

I’ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene that’s emerging. I’ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesn’t have to go through with this. I’ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those moments—while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.

I’ve seen you look down into a newborn infant’s eyes, wondering if he’s really yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.

And then, to have the child in your arms, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.

I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.

I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the judge, the formality, the relief, the joy. The letting out of a breath maybe you didn’t even know you were holding for months. Months.

I’ve seen you meet your child’s birthparents and grandparents weeks or years down the road. I’ve seen you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile … people who love him because he’s one of them. I’ve seen you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when he’s shaken and confused and really just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.

I’ve seen you worry when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his dad, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you worry, because you can protect your child from a lot of things — but you can’t protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.

I’ve seen you at the doctor’s office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks don’t turn into big problems later on.

I’ve seen you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?

I’ve seen you wonder how you’ll react the first time you hear the dreaded, “You’re not my real mom.” And I’ve seen you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining calm and loving, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft cries with the sound of the shower.

I’ve seen you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.

But most of all, I want you to know that I’ve seen you look into your child’s eyes. And while you will never see a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something that’s just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.

http://www.kathylynnharris.com/dear-moms-of-adopted-children/

 

April 24, 2013

Russell Moore on Adoption

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“…adoption is contested, both in its cosmic and missional aspects.  The Scriptures tell us there are unseen beings in the air around us who would rather we not think about what it means to be who we are in Christ.  These rulers of this age would rather we ignore both the eternal identity, our inheritance, and our mission according to what we can see and verify as ours-according to what the Bible calls “the flesh”-rather than according to the veiled rhythms of the Spirit of life.  That’s why adoption isn’t charity- it’s war.”

Russell Moore, Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches

March 2, 2013

Francis Chan on Joy

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“Joy is something that we have to choose and then work for…It needs cultivation.

When life gets painful or doesn’t go as we hoped, it’s okay if a little of our joy seeps away.  The Bible teaches that true joy is formed in the midst of the difficult seasons of life…

…true joy doesn’t depend on circumstances or environment; it is a gift that must be chosen and cultivated, a gift that ultimately comes from God.”

~Francis Chan

November 15, 2012

Sweet

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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In December 2009, my sister & brother-in-law asked if they could speak to us.  We sat down in my parents’ basement, and they told us they were expecting.  I smiled, said congratulations, then went home and cried.  We had just received definite confirmation that we would not be able to have biological children.

A few months later, the ultrasound pictures were shown around.  A girl.  Again I cried.  She got three beautiful, healthy children, and the girl that she wanted…I got what?  I’m not proud of my feelings, but they were part of my journey.  I was perilously close to missing something precious.

Proverbs 14:30 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

The day my niece arrived, I packed up her brothers, gathered up my courage, and headed to the maternity ward.  A year before we had eagerly toured the same rooms, as we planned our family.  Now I knew that would never be.  Little Miss was being cared for by a nurse, and we weren’t able to hold her.  Back at home, the boys begged to go see their sister again.  I barely got out of their sight before breaking down.  I sobbed to my husband, “I just can’t go back up there!  I can’t do it!  I just can’t.”

But I did.  I walked into the  room full of nerves and emotions, trying to hide my distress from my very observant sister.  My brother-in-law gently handed me a tightly wrapped bundle, and I melted.  Sweetness.  Utter sweetness.  This time I cried for a different reason.  My niece has held a piece of my heart ever since.

It’s frightening when I look back to think what I could have missed.  What I could have so easily allowed infertility to steal from me.  I’m not trying to speak for everyone; I can only tell my story.  And the bitter has enhanced the sweet.

She looks so much like I did at her age.  And bless her, she acts a lot like me, too!  And when she says “I wub oo too, Aunt Hoddy” and plants a sticky kiss on my cheek…sweetness.

Psalm 127:3 “Children are a blessing from the Lord…”

I now have two nephews, two beautiful nieces, another on the way, and a precious son God gave us last May.  So many blessings to celebrate! 

October 25, 2012

Tell

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Last week I spoke publicly, sharing our story with a group of ladies.  Most of what I said was taken off this blog.  It was a willpower vs. emotions decision.  I determined to do it, but worried and dreaded it.  I knew that I would certainly lose my composure.  I knew that I would be making myself extremely vulnerable to people who would be talking about my life; some details would be recounted correctly, some not. 

The day I was to speak, I began to worry even more.  I became convinced that no one was interested, this wouldn’t be helpful in the least, and everyone would just wish I would stop talking so they could move on the next thing.  I doubted that I could speak loudly and clearly enough, and that anyone would understand what I was trying to say.  I regretted intensely having agreed, but at the same time stubbornly hung onto the thought that God might use this to help someone.  I asked Him again to get glory from my fumbling attempt to relate just a piece of what He’s done.  My friends prayed for me, and supported me as they have always done.

And I spoke.  Most of what I anticipated was accurate.  I fell absolutely to pieces- sobbing, sniffling, and even snorting!  I’m sure some of the audience didn’t have a clue why I was so upset over something they’d never even worried about.  I stumbled through with a wet face, unnaturally high-pitched voice, and frequent pauses.  It was horribly presented.

But some “got it” anyway. Ladies came up to me and shared stories.  Stories of theirs, of their families, and of their friends.  And they asked questions.  And they wanted to know how to support someone going through the same struggle.  And infertility has a face.  And adoption isn’t just a word.  I’d do it again…

September 12, 2012

The Truth about Adoption: One Year Later ~Jen Hatmaker

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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Our kids have been in our family for one year.

 
I get asked all the time: “What is adoption really like?” Well, sit down, my curious friends, because I’m going to walk you through the first year of adoption with absolutely no only a moderate amount of hyperbole.

Of course, our story is not everyone’s story – we adopted unrelated, older kids from Ethiopia with no major health issues, and we already had three bios at home. This might look very different with babies or foster kids or domestic adoptions or kids from other countries or kids with severe physical needs or families with no other kiddos. But some stages will be identical, no matter. Adopters, if you are in the waiting part (WE HATE YOU, WAITING PART), or the early days, or the later days, or maybe you’ve got an adoption itch you can’t shake, let me share the fairly common stages to expect:

Pre-Stage: Waiting for Your Kiddo

I just want to touch on this stage, as it bears virtually no resemblance to every single phase that follows. This is the hungry, manic process of paperwork, dossiers, referrals, court dates, in-country travel, Embassy appointments, and deferred hope. Maybe 5% of my adoption friends sailed through this stage. For the other 95% of us, expect delays, frustrations, snags, unforeseen interruptions, bottlenecks, slow-downs, obstructions, and an obliterated “timeline.” (Dear People Who Give Us Timelines, please stop doing that.)

Here is the upside: This is the stage you realize God can put a vicious fight in you for a kid without your blood coursing through his veins. Those early doubts about loving a child without the helpful instincts of biology are put to rest. Of course, you don’t know this kid yet, but you love him in your heart, in your bones. You’ll fight like hell to get to him. You can’t think of anything else. You are obsessed. You dream about him like you did when you were pregnant. You realize that when God said He sets the lonely in families, He meant it, and He doesn’t just transform the “lonely” but also the “families.” He changes us for one another. God can create a family across countries, beyond genetics, through impossible circumstances, and past reason.

Stage 1: The First 4-6 Weeks (Honeymoon)

She is home. You can’t believe it. It’s been 18 months or two or three-and-a-half years since you started this process, and here she is, sitting at your dining room table. Look at her sitting at the table! Look at her eating eggs! Look at her in her pajamas! Your bio kids are treating her like a pet. All outside life has stopped. People are dropping food off on your porch. You are in lockdown, circling the wagons around your treasured one and spending more time with your kids than you have in the last three years combined.

This is Fake Life, and everyone is smiling. Your bios are more helpful than they will ever be again ever, and it’s like you are at Weird Family Camp. Nothing is normal. Everything is fragile and bizarre and unfamiliar. Your new one appears compliant and easy-going and obedient, and dear ones, this is because she is about to have the Most Epic Freak Out in the History of Life.

For her, this is like the part of the sleepover when you just get there, and the games and toys are awesome…but then all of a sudden it’s bedtime, and you’re like: wait a minute. This is not my bed. That is not my mom. This is not my space. Good feelings are gone.

Stage 2: Spaz Out (4-6 Weeks – 3-4 Months)

Who knows what the straw on the camel’s back will be – maybe one more food he hates, maybe one final conversation he can’t decode, a moment of discipline, just a smell might trigger it – but something will happen, and your little one will finally lose it. Honeymoon is over. Once the damn has broken, it will flood for months.

There is screaming, kicking, hysterical hysterics. There is wailing and tantrums and full-out meltdowns. You may chase your beefy 8-year-old down the street where he ran screaming barefoot into traffic, throw him over your shoulder and lug him back home where the two of you hunker down for the next two hours, drenched in sweat, while you hold him tight and whisper love into his ears and he thrashes and yells and finally passes out. It is so helpful that your husband is out of town on this day.

Your sweet one is grieving. This is sorrow and loss and fear and trauma; it is visceral. It is devastating. You and your spouse are haunted, unshowered, unhinged, unmoored. You stare into each other’s eyes, begging the other one to fix this: What have we done? What are we doing? What are we going to do?

The house is a disaster. Your bios are huddled up in the corner, begging grandparents to come rescue them. You can’t talk to anyone. Everyone is still beaming at you, asking: “Isn’t this the best thing?? Is this just the happiest time of your life?” You are starving for truth-tellers in adoption. You scour blogs and Yahoo groups, desperate for one morsel of truth, one brave person to say how hard this in and give you a shred of hope. You only find adorable pictures and cute stories, and you despair. You feel so alone. You’ve ruined your life. You’ve ruined your kids’ lives. Your marriage is doomed. Your adopted child hates you. You want to go back to that person pining away in the Pre-Stage and punch her in the liver.

Stage 3: Triage (4 Months – 8 Months)

Somewhere around the 4th or 5th month, you realize the fits are under ten minutes and only happening every fourth day. This alone is reason to live. You’re out of the weeds. Your little one has been pulled from the burning building and subsequent terror and spaz-o-rama, and she is now in triage. You are definitely not out of the woods – the assessments, the precision surgery, the rehab is still to come – but she is out of immediate danger and stabilizing.

Evidence of her preciousness keeps peeking out. You see her real self more and more frequently. She is feeling a teeny bit safer, just beginning to trust your love. Some of those tricks Dr. Purvis taught us are working. (Except for those bitterly frustrating “scenarios” in The Connected Child when the kid follows the script to a tee, auto-corrects immediately, and goes back to playing blocks, nodding his head like, “Lesson learned, Mom. You do indeed know best.”)

As for you, you’re coming out of the fog. You start returning phone calls. You brave a Date Night. You look at your bio kids and ask, “Oh, hi there. So how have you been the last seven months?” Maybe your new role as Trauma Counselor won’t be permanent after all. You color your two inches of gray and get a haircut. You step on the scale and realize you’ve either lost or gained ten pounds from stress. Okay, it’s gained. I’m just trying to give you hope.

Stage 4: Rehab (8-12 Months)

The meltdowns are over. You wave praise banners and start speaking in tongues over this. Your new son is telling jokes in English. He is reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid by himself. He is a soccer phenom. You start grooming him for the Olympics. (No you don’t.) (Yes I do.)

You start dealing. You engage Life Books and play therapy and creative ways to honor his birth parents and birth country. You get serious about addressing his brooding and manipulations or whatever coping skills he’s trotting out. He is giving you more amazing reasons to praise him, and you’re no longer resorting to things like, “Um, I really like the way you buckle your seatbelt. You, uh, click that thing right in place every time. Totally nail it.”

 
 
While typing this very blog, I was serenaded with happy “music.”
This is only slightly better than Stage 2.

You remember how your dear social worker told you on your 3-month visit, as she looked into your bloodshot eyes and you burst into tears, that attachment takes time…for everyone. Adoption is not the normal way, biology is, which helps us love that screaming, no-sleeping baby just madly, irrationally. But in adoption, it takes everyone time to fall in love.

And that’s okay.

So in those first few stages, you might feel like you are raising someone else’s hysterical kid. You might be chockfull of resentment, anger, disappointment, and regret. Love may feel elusive, even impossible for awhile. You might wonder if God called you to something then left you.

Normal, dear ones. So very normal. You are not a terrible person, nor is your new son or daughter a lemon. There is so much hope for everyone.

I read this paragraph by Melissa Fay Greene on the first year of adoption, and I’ve never forgotten it:

“Put Feelings on a back-burner. This is not the time for Feelings. If you could express your feelings right now, you’d be saying things like, “Oh my God, I must have lost my mind to think that I can handle this, to think that I wanted a child like this. I’ll never manage to raise this child; I’m way way way way over my head. I’ll never spend time with my spouse or friends again; my older children are going to waste away in profound neglect; my career is finished. I am completely and utterly trapped.” You see? What’s the point of expressing all that right now? Put Feelings in the deep freeze. Live a material life instead: wake, dress, eat, walk. Let your hands and words mother the new child, don’t pause to look back, to reflect, or to experience emotions. “Shut up, Emotions,” you’ll say. “I’ll check back with you in six months to see if you’ve pulled yourselves together. But no whining meanwhile!”

Here is the good news: eventually, you can pull Feelings from the deep freeze, and you’ll discover surges of genuine love sneaking up on you for this kid. You’ll find out: Oh! He’s funny! She’s sassy! He’s good at science! She is compassionate! I had no idea! You’ve mothered with your hands and words, and God did the heavy lifting, just like He promised. You don’t have to be a miracle worker; that has always been God’s territory. You just have to be the ordinary disciple who says yes.

Is adoption easy? No it is not. Is this simple? Nope. Complicated and long-term. Will bonding be immediate and seamless? Maybe, but probably not. Will you struggle with guilt and fear that first year? Yes, but you shouldn’t. You’ve agreed to partner with God in some difficult, heart-wrenching work, and it’s no kum-by-yah party. Give grace to yourself; God already has.

Anything worth fighting for is worth fighting through, and adoption is one of them. I can hardly think of something closer to God’s character, who is the “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy.” Certainly, we are his difficult children who spaz out and pull away and manipulate and struggle. We distrust His good love and sabotage our blessings, imagining our shame disqualifies us or that God couldn’t possibly be faithful to such orphans.

But He is. We are loved with an everlasting love, and it is enough to overwhelm our own fear and shame and humanity. In adoption, God is enough for us all. He can overcome our children’s grief. He can overshadow our own inadequacies. He can sweep up our families in a beautiful story of redemption and hope and healing. If you are afraid of adoption, trying to stiff-arm the call, God is the courage you don’t have. If you are waiting, suffering with longing for your child, God is the determination you need. If you are in the early days of chaos, God is the peace you and your child hunger for. If your family feels lost, He is the stability everyone is looking for. If you are working hard on healing, digging deep with your child, God is every ounce of the hope and restoration and safety and grace.

In Him, you can do this.

He is enough for us all.  ~Jen

 
And then, my insightful husband’s remarks after reading:
…I also realized that this is also likely very similar to what happens to someone when they are “adopted” into the family of God. Most people are so happy when they first get saved and they have been seeking this experience for some time. However, the life of a Christian is completely different than the lost. Nothing is familiar, everything is different. God’s family acts and does everything differently than what a non-christian has been raised to do and act like. Suddenly, they have second thoughts and a lot of things just don’t “feel right.” They feel like they don’t fit in and have made a mistake. Now I understand why the discipleship phase is so important. New Christians need that “big brother or sister” to run and haul them “back home” when they “run out into traffic.” They need someone to remind them that they are now part of the “family” and that the family loves them dearly. It’s not about “training” or “mentoring” as much as affirming a new christian that they are ok and that this is still the right choice. The “training” part really comes naturally just like babies learn to walk and talk and eat on their own if they just spend time with their family.
 
Wow.  He just amazes me sometimes!

August 29, 2012

Sheila on Choosing to Walk toward Joy

Filed under: Shared Findings,Uncategorized — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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…Perhaps one of the reasons that so many of us feel perennially dissatisfied and out of sorts is that we have failed to learn the lesson that this woman embraced: we need to make choices to fill our lives with good things, rather than bad things. And why don’t we do that? Because we’re essentially lazy. I feel so much better when I cook a good meal than when we order take out. We eat better. We sit around the table. And I get to cook—which I actually enjoy doing. But when I’m busy, and I don’t have time to grocery shop, I take the lazy way out. And I never feel good about it.

When I knit everyday for at least half an hour, and have a creative outlet, I feel better. When I veg in front of movies because I’m tired and don’t have time to hunt around for needles, I don’t.

The things that bring us a sense of accomplishment, purpose and joy tend not the easy things in life. They’re not the flashy things, or the trendy things, or the default things. They’re things that require effort and planning. And that’s why we often avoid them.

Everyday we make little choices of what we will do and how we will spend our time. Those choices define who we are and what our priorities are. That once spurned woman chose joy, and it changed her perspective on everything. I wonder if we, as a culture, will ever turn our backs on the things that rob us of purpose and even humanity, and again choose the things that feed our souls. Perhaps then we’d stop feeling so melancholy, and start feeling alive again.

http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2012/08/choosing-joy/

August 2, 2012

Easy

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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I can’t remember when I’ve been so happy.  I laugh, many times each day, at my son’s adorable antics.  I smile when I see people succumbing to his charm.  My heart ( and my eyes!) well up with thankfulness just looking at him.  It’s easy to be joyful.

Our family has a creed: Trust Completely, Live Joyfully, Serve Authentically.  Right now those first two are easier to follow than ever before.  We wrote it when they weren’t.  I remember the hard joy.  Years of reminding myself that I had my God and my salvation, and that was reason enough to be joyful. 

 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls-
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  Habakkuk 3:17-18

Nathan’s birthmom will not hear him giggle today.  She won’t hear him snore while he naps, or feel his velvety cheek as he snuggles in for cuddles.  She won’t smell his delicious baby smell or see his dimple when he smiles.  I pray she finds Jesus, and the hard joy.

I pray the hard joy for my friend Mandy today.  She’s burying a child this week for the fourth time.  Her precious daughter only had half the time she needed in the womb.  So wanted, so loved, and gone so soon.  I pray she remembers her joy, even while she grieves. 

 Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. — Henri Nouwen

I am so thankful for this happy time in our lives.  I have felt so much relief as prayers have been answered and dreams have come true.  My emotions feel great, but I realize part of what makes this all so special is what we came through to get  here.  It won’t always feel this way.  I plan to enjoy it to the max, but I won’t give up my joy when things get tough.  As Jon Piper says, I will fight for joy!  Be it easy or hard, I choose joy!

I choose joy… I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.  ~Max Lucado

March 10, 2012

Ann Voskamp on the Gift of Losing our Comfort

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

When God moves us out of our comfort zone —- into places that are way bigger than us, places that are difficult, hard, painful —- that even hurt — this is a gift.

We are being given a gift.

These hard places give us the gift of intimately knowing God — in ways that would never be possible in our comfort zones.”

That the greatest gift we can ever receive is the gift of losing our earthly security and comfort? So that we can unwrap the intimacy of the Savior and His Heavenly Comfort.  ~Ann Voskamp

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