Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Closing Chapters

Anyone who has experienced fertility issues will be able to relate to this post. Anyone who has struggled in any area only to have it come so easy to a close friend will be able to relate, for that matter.

One of my very best friends, Mariana, just moved away. She and her family have relocated to Texas because of her husband's job. The sad story started about a year ago.

Mariana and her husband moved to Mississippi in 2010. She was hired at school as the new kindergarten teacher (I was also teaching kindergarten at the time). After school had started and everyone found their routine, we hit it off as co-workers and friends. We had a lot of the same ideas, and she had a lot a good ideas to bring to the team. We loved teaching together that year. However, at the end of that year (my 3rd year in kindergarten) I was ready for a change and was moved to 2nd grade. Somewhere during this time they moved from the apartment they were renting to a house one street up from us in the same neighborhood!

My first year in 2nd grade was going great and Mariana and I were still finding time to catch up with each other and share ideas when we could. In October she shared that she and her husband were expecting their first baby! At this time, I could absolutely be so excited for them. Brad and I hadn't even starting trying to have a baby at this point. Then in January, Brad's accident happened. Mariana would come up to the hospital during our rehab stay (her husband would bring coffee because he also worked at the hospital) and visit with us once we got home. At this point, Brad and I understood a little more of what it would take to have a baby of our own, but we were still excited for them.  

Mariana had the baby on June 1st and we were so happy to be there at the hospital! For a friend to let you share in that with them was so special for us!

Time passes, we do two full rounds of IVF, and Mariana is such a great friend through all of this. Even though it was so easy for them to get pregnant the first time, she wasn't pregnant while we were doing our fertility treatments and that made it easier.

Last summer (2014) Brad and I were thinking that we were ready to do our 3rd round of IVF when Mariana tells me that they are pregnant for the 2nd time. This time, hearing the news absolutely crushed me. I know that she was not doing this to me, to hurt me. However, when you have struggled with something and are still in the struggle, this is what it can feel like at times.

Early on it wasn't so hard because she wasn't showing yet, but as time went on it became harder and harder. We didn't talk at school, and I didn't share with them what was going on in our lives. I didn't know what to do with my feelings. The only thing I knew to do was to withdraw for the time being. I would talk to Brad everyday about how hard that was, how much I missed her friendship, but how that was the only thing I knew to do. She was very understanding during this time, we talked about how this was hard, and she was very patient.

Then another bombshell hits. She tells me they are moving to TX in the summer. I cried the rest of the day at school after hearing this news. (This describes my emotions toward her during her pregnancy... mad, envious, sad, crying a lot, confused...) The whole time she is pregnant I'm thinking that after she has the baby it won't be so hard and we will go back to how things were before. I will fall in love with her new baby, and one day she may have the opportunity to be happy for us. Everything will be fine...

Well, now she is gone and we will never have the time I was counting on. I was able to spend time with her the last few days they were here. I was able to help out with the kids while they were trying to get the last things packed in the cars. I pulled out of the driveway with them. Me going to my house; she moving away.

Yes, we can stay in touch through texts, calls, and social media, but it will never be the same. I completely missed out on such an exciting time in a best friend's life. I have learned through this time, though, and from other people that sometimes we have to withdraw from certain people during certain times in our lives just to take care of us and what we need at that time. This seems completely selfish and I wish I could have pushed through, believe me I tried. Now, it is like there is a hole because she is not here. I look at her backyard every time I leave the neighborhood. It's weird to think that they are never coming back. The day they left I cried thinking about the regrets, but also about the hardships Brad and I have endured to lead to these feelings.

It is so great, though, to have such a great friend who doesn't get angry when you have those feelings. Who stands by you and loves you even when you don't feel so friendly towards them. That's who she is. I am so sad that they are gone, but maybe through the distance we can find our way back together and share the closeness we once had.
In the last few crazy minutes before they left!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Graduation and Girlfriends

So, my little brother (BJ)graduated from  high school last Saturday! We are so proud of all of his accomplishments in the classroom and on the soccer field! He is so much fun to be around and always has something funny to say. Whenever we need something he is eager to help. He calls and just wants to come over and hang out. I am so thankful that God blessed us with him 18 years ago! Very much a surprise, but one that I prayed for nightly!

With it being graduation, this time also reminds me of conversations mom and I had years ago. There are almost 12 years between BJ so I guess once I realized what this meant in timing with his graduation and how my life was "supposed" to look, mom and I would talk about the fact that I would "probably have a child or two" by his graduation. I also had thoughts that he is going to make such a great uncle one day and wouldn't it make more sense for us to have a baby while he is still living at home before moving to college? That way he could be an active part in something so great! But the day came and went and there were no children... Other people had lots of kids... crying during the service, running wild, looking super cute in their Sunday best... but not for us.

On a positive note, I want to take the time to say how thankful I am (in a weird, I am not alone kind of way) that my best friend Claire is going through some of the same things I am going through. Our friendship is unique because we were friends long before marriage and infertility. We met in middle school, had sleepovers, celebrated birthdays, bridesmaids in weddings, have taken trips together, and now teach at the same school! But because life is crazy and unpredictable, we have grown that much closer. She was so great to bring meals to us at least once a week when we were in rehab. And since then with different procedures Brad and I have had she has done the same. We love to walk after school which turns into our therapy sessions a lot of days. In our situation, though, God has opened up different doors for both of us. Claire and her husband have felt led to adopt and have recently had their name added to the adoption list! They are so excited about this next step and to see where God leads them. Brad and I are going to continue on the "crazy train" of fertility treatments and options as we feel God is leading us!

I also have another friend (Jill) whom I have met through our blogs who is going through the same thing. They have been on the infertility journey now for years and are still pursuing options. It is so good to have someone to relate to so closely and know that they have been through everything we have. This journey brings so many questions, with very little answers, and having a sounding board keeps you sane. We share our questions about God's goodness through this journey and build one another up when the other is feeling lost and hopeless.

Having these 2 friends has definitely been a God-thing through this part of our life. Even though it is a sad situation that has helped us find common ground, it has been such a relief as well. One should never have to face troubles alone!

On a spiritual journey note...

I have spent the last few weeks feeling that God has been extremely silent. We have had doors open, only to close it seems just as quickly. There are still so many "unknowns" and "uncontrollables" and it feels like we are standing still, but want so badly to move forward and feel closer to God and His will for our lives. I have heard from others that they have experienced these times as well. But when God is being silent, how are we supposed to respond? I feel that I should continue having my "quiet time" but a lot of these times feel more obligatory than out of desire. This is not a good feeling and I just feel crazy and unsettled on the inside. But again, I didn't know what to do with the silence...

Today I have taken the time to sit outside and catch up on devotions from Proverbs 31 Ministries. This has helped tremendously in finding a new perspective on where we are at this moment. (Below are prayers and thoughts from their daily devotions that have spoken volumes to me... Italics are my thoughts)

Dear Lord,
I want to process everything I face in life through the filter of Your love. I  know You love me. But sometimes it's just hard to understand the circumstances that come my way. I find myself consumed with trying to figure things out rather than looking for Your perspective and trusting You.

Control is a deceptive emotion. We think we are in control, but we really are not. 

"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things."  -Philippians 4:8

This verse reminded me that when I begin to think God is silent, out to get us, trying to make things harder... This is not where we need to let our minds rest. In our core, we know these thoughts to be false and from satan. It's because we are human that it's easy to have these thoughts. But they are not helpful in any way and only drive us further from Him. 

"When I open a door, no one can close it. And when I close a door, no one can open it. Listen to what I say."   Revelation 3:7b

God is in COMPLETE control. No amount of planning, researching, stressing, or worrying can change this time we are facing. If God opens it, then it's because He loves us and it's for our best at that time. If God closes it, He loves us just the same, but has something BETTER in mind. How hard it is to think that the disappointments will only lead to something better...!

There have been times when I felt like God was getting in the way of my plans. It seems as if I'd take one step forward and three steps backward.

This completely describes our life over the past 3 years. Pain, fertility, medical complications, you name it.

If God opens a door or calls us to do something/pray for something, shouldn't it be easier?

This thought consumes me most days. Why does everything have to be SO hard? But at the same time, it leads to bitterness, confusion, and anger which get us nowhere. 

Not all of the answers come right away, but I refuse to give up. I keep reading my Bible and asking God the tough questions. I continue to trust Him and follow His lead even when things don't make sense.

After reading this, my answer to God's silence became clear. We have to persevere even when it's hard and quiet. We have to trust because our lives were never promised make sense. This is the essence of faith.

A closed door is not God's objection toward me; it's His sovereign protection over me.

God loves me too much and knows me too well to give me everything I ask for. His protection for me will always override my earthly wants and desires. Even when I have the best intentions in mind, His plan is always better.

Let me see the potential of a closed door as a divine detour that will lead me closer to You as I wait for something better...

These last thoughts are the hardest to understand, let alone apply daily. We will always have some form of difficulty, but God knows what He is doing. My goal is to push into Him even more, even when it doesn't make sense, even when it's hard, even when I don't want to. I don't want all of this pain and heartache to be in vain. I want to see, when we get to the other side of some of these difficulties, my growth in Him. I want our journey to inspire and help others. I want others to feel they are not alone. Jesus is with us EVERY step of the way... even when He is silent.

At our church graduation brunch!

At graduation!

At Iron Horse Grill afterwards!