My Journey to Joy

February 28, 2015

Evelyn Puerto on Acceptance

Filed under: Notable Quotables — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“By accepting their trials as from God’s hand, in trusting Him fully, in surrendering to His will, their faith was strengthened, and they were given peace and joy and a profound sense of God’s love.”  Beyond the Rapids, Evelyn Puerto

January 7, 2015

Praise

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 4:11 PM
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For so much of my life I’ve offered “cheap” praise to God.  You know the kind that just slides off your tongue in bright, happy moments.  Gratitude that comes easily in the midst of blessing and plenty.  Pat phrases and clichés, offered casually with very little thought.  I’ve tossed a happy “thank you” and breezed by a glib “wow, that’s awesome, God!”  And this is good.  And it’s right.

But I’m learning another praise.  One that comes from so deep inside it almost hurts to offer.  One that is gathered intentionally, by force of will.  Sometimes it takes a moment to tug it to the surface.  Then with jaw set, and often tears streaming, I give praise.  And I say “thank you, God…no matter what.”  And I say “you are good and faithful…even if.”  I don’t think this praise can come from a heart that hasn’t been broken; but it shines through and makes the brokenness so worthwhile.

“Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,  yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds’ feet, he makes me tread upon my high places.”  Habakkuk 3:17-19

The waiting in adoption is impossible for me to describe.  Moment by moment I go from hope (we’re going to get another baby!) to despair (this will never really happen).  Both sides have validity.  And the not knowing can just eat at your soul.  But what is faith, but not knowing and choosing to trust?! 

I have a beautiful quote from Oswald Chambers hanging on the nursery door:  “Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One Who is leading”  And I do know the ONE, so much better than I did before this journey.  He has revealed Himself to me in such peace and comfort that defies my circumstances.

And so, again and again, maybe hundreds or thousands of times, I remind myself and God: “You are good.  You are working on our behalf.  You will be with us I trust you.”

And I choose to praise.  The awesome, loving God who walks by my side while I’m waiting.  And when I’m hurting.  And always.  Amen.

April 30, 2014

Filed under: Shared Findings — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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“We stand on the edge of our cliff-like emotions looking into the deep cavern of our grief, and we’re sure that the jump will kill us.  For those of us who entrust our feeble selves to our faithful Creator, in way I can neither explain nor describe, it doesn’t.  In Jesus, when death of some kind comes and we are willing to take it to the cross, remain nearby, and suffer its grief, we will also experience the resurrection.
We say, ‘But part of me has died with it.’  And indeed it has.  Hear the words of Christ echo from the grave: ‘I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’ (John 12:24)  As a child bearing the name of Christ, if a part of you has died, in time it was meant to produce many seeds…Oh, Beloved, don’t give up!”
The Beloved Disciple, Beth Moore

April 26, 2014

Just Adopt

It seems that I tend to write most when I hurt most.  That’s when thoughts swirl in my head, demanding release.  And so I click away at the keyboard.

I’ve been talking about infertility this week, in a larger venue than I ever have before.  It’s been intimidating.  Scary.  I’ve felt vulnerable, and revisited old feelings and hurts.  It’s been worth it.  I’ve had messages, connections…and I hope and pray someone has been helped to know that they are not alone.

And now it’s the middle of the night.  My husband is snoring, and a thunderstorm is rumbling outside, washing away the flower seeds I planted a few hours ago.  And I’m going to “pull back the curtain” on our adoption journey…

This is our second, and let me immediately say it has been easier.  We started at such a different place emotionally; happy, not wrecked by years of disappointment.  We have our son, who is a near-constant delight and joy.  Easier.  Not easy.

We were sure that the homestudy process would go more quickly this time.  Our application for our first adoption was received February 15th, 2011.  We were approved August 26th, and received our first birthmother profile on August 31st!  (6 months for homestudy)  After that, we were shown more than 15 times.  For our second adoption, our application was received on August 19th, 2013.   By November, we had completed everything… and we were approved February 7th, 2014.  (6 months, again!)  We received our first birthmother profile 45 minutes later.  That was the start of being constantly shown/about to be shown/waiting to hear, that lasted April 2nd.  I don’t know how to describe how that feels; I would if I could.  Tense.  Alert.  Tense.  Of the five possibilities, three of the babies had already been born (a set of twins and a single birth), one birthmother was in labor, and two others were due in the very near future.  Sometimes our social worker asked for our answer by the next week…or the next day…or in one case, in the next two hours!

And we’ve been riding an emotional rollercoaster of epic proportions.  Imagine how it feels, waiting…  Knowing we could be parents tomorrow, today, right now… or not.  We’ve sat poised to buy plane tickets or embark on a road trip to go and get our baby.  We made lists for last minute purchases.  We checked our schedules, noting the arrangements we’d need to make if chosen.  We began to imagine our family with a precious new member.  (He/she will be here by Easter/Mother’s Day/Camp Meeting.)  And then, jarringly, abruptly, it’s over.  And it wasn’t our baby after all.  And we try to gather our hopes and dreams, repacking them until the next round.

Sometimes a placement seems so perfect, the fulfillment of dreams I’ve hardly admitted to having– then receiving the dreaded e-mail: “I’m sorry.  She chose another family.”  As decisions stretched out, sometimes for weeks, I began to check my mailbox again and again, just so it will be over.  And I carried my phone everywhere, so I wouldn’t miss “the call.”

And then, everything stopped.  Silence.  No new e-mails.  And there is relief, a respite.  But it’s so quiet.  And now I’m checking my e-mail again, hoping to see a profile, a chance, a hope.  This may go on for years.

And God is in control.  And we are powerless.  Time passes, life continues, and we wait.

And a friend sends a message that reads: “…we seem to have been chosen to walk parallel paths of uncertainty. While I lay no claim on understanding the pain of infertility, I can relate to waiting for the phone to ring, to checking email almost minutely for news….any news. We all know that Gods time is perfect, that His plan is best….but that doesn’t mean that questions don’t arise, that doubts don’t stay a little longer than they should. In the darkness, remember the verse that was brought to my mind tonight by someone also walking this path, several years ago Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”  And tears fill my eyes as God once again takes something painful and makes something good.

I couldn’t tell you how many people told us we could “just adopt.”  Some of those same people have since walked this journey with us, and would now be the first to defend and educate.  There is no such thing as “just adopting.”  Not every family is meant to adopt.  Some are unable, for a myriad of very personal reasons.  (I won’t even begin a list; those are their stories to tell, if they wish.)  And for those who do, the process is more often than not grueling, requiring everything you’ve got, then more.

So here we are again.  God obviously has more to teach us through this process.  Our hearts are open, and broken.  And we wait.

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.    

February 26, 2013

Songs for the Journey- I Will Carry You

Filed under: Songs for the Journey — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8Esw-HeSXA

February 12, 2013

Songs for the Journey- Who You Are

Filed under: Songs for the Journey — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLnz2vo5Z40&feature=player_embedded#at=213

January 31, 2013

Trust

Filed under: Contemplations — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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God’s persistent, isn’t he?  I’ve always liked CS Lewis’ description of him as “the hound of heaven.”  Faithful, determined, unrelenting grace shaping me into His vision for me. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…  Proverbs 3:5

He’s been nudging me for a while about this trust thing.  A couple of years ago we even wrote it into our family’s creed: Trust Completely, Live Joyfully, Serve Authentically.  It looks really good on the wall, but “trust completely” is a pretty tall order in day-to-day life.  Like I said, He’s been nudging, so when I read a few posts about selecting a word for 2013, “Trust” seemed like an obvious choice.

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.  Psalm 9:10

Well, He’s been digging around deep in my heart.  Turns out some of the trust issues tie in with the control issues.  Which tie in with fear.  Which is not how I want to live my life.  Something is going to motivated me to do and be, and I don’t want fear to be that force!

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.  Psalm 62:8

At this point, the awareness has gone from uncomfortable to actually painful.  My wimpy self says that I should just shove that big mess back under the rug and pretend it isn’t there.  Weren’t we doing just fine?  And there’s the rub.  I want more than “fine.”  (Which it really wasn’t…)  I want to live God’s big, scary, wonderful plan for my life.  For my future.  For my family.  I’ve had a taste through our infertility and adoption of how He can redeem tremendous pain into a most beautiful thing.  It makes safe seem sort of second class now.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

 

*This post got us thinking about a family motto: http://simplemom.net/back-to-the-basics-create-a-family-mission-statement/

January 29, 2013

Songs for the Journey- Hope Now

Filed under: Songs for the Journey — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwdXqDYfBYQ

January 12, 2013

Cathy Parker on Trust

Filed under: Notable Quotables,Uncategorized — aunthoddy @ 5:00 AM
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We must give God the chance to earn our trust by obeying Him before we understand why.  ~Cathy Parker

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