Friday, July 24, 2009

Wanna See My Uterus?

Well, mostly my uterus. But the important part is that little peanut in there. That's our baby! And the pink in the middle is the heartbeat. I had to show this one because the doppler image on the screen came out looking so much like an actual heart shape. Too cool, we thought. Dwayne got to see this one with me which was awesome since it's been 21 years since his son was born. Having a baby is a whole new ball game now, so it kind of feels like a first.

This week we had a little scare. Just a few days after I published our news, I had some spotting. Frightening indeed. I found that even though I just accepted this news, I certainly wasn't ready for this adventure to end that abruptly. I held my breath through another ultrasound until I saw that little heartbeat again, going as strong as ever. Thanks be to God.

I want my faith to be such that I can accept whatever is brought my way, be it blessing or loss. God's goodness certainly doesn't come and go with my circumstances. A hard place to be, however, when you anticipate a painful loss. I mean what do you say? Personally I've reached a point with God that I don't bother with platitudes. He already knows it all. So I get right to the point and tell Him what I want. Then I pray to be ready if what I want isn't what He has for me. "Thy will be done" is easy to say, not so easy to mean. For example, I came right out with "Please don't let this baby die. Please don't let me see an ultrasound with no heartbeat." I found it an interesting challenge of my faith over the last few days, to be in a place of knowing God may or may not take this child, and trying hard to keep myself honest, eventually having to admit that Him taking this baby was NOT ok with me. I guess we are all in that place always, whether we feel it or not. Loss comes often without warning, without giving us opportunity to pray for what we want to see happen. Believing that God is omnipotent places me at His mercy at all times. He can give or take away at any moment. I suppose He sometimes brings along moments like the ones I had this week to enable us to interact with Him. Little wake up calls, so to speak, or moments when He takes our faces in His hands and forces us to look at the condition of our belief in Him.

I'm grateful that my scary little blessing is alive and well in there, turning flips and growing into someone wonderful. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to walk with God, be it a smooth or rough road. What is abundantly clear to me right now is that He is way more capable of holding me than I am of holding onto Him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Scary Blessings

Last Friday, I fell in love again. This time with a baby.

The one that happens to be inside me right now.

Big news, I know. I’ve spent the last 10 days in utter shock and intermittent panic. I’m only 6 weeks and a few days along, and I know that’s pretty early to be blabbing such news. However, I figure I have shared almost every challenge in my life over the last few years on this blog, and truthfully when I don’t write about what I’m dealing with, I always regret it. I’m a writer at heart and I’m going to have to accept that. So regardless of what happens I might as well catalog this adventure here.

Anyway, as I mentioned, since discovering my pregnancy, I’ve been in shock, panic, fear, and a little bit of sadness I must admit. Dwayne and I have both shed our share of tears. This wasn’t something we were planning for. As a matter of fact we were planning AGAINST this. Because of the embolisms I had in 2007, pregnancy is a scary thing for me. So after two home tests and one doctor visit confirmed my fear, I ended up at a Perinatologist’s office on Friday, braced for the bad news about what this pregnancy might entail for me. I was still kind of hoping she’d somehow say “I don’t know what test you took, or what doctor you saw…you aren’t pregnant.” But she didn’t say that. The doctor plopped me up on a table and started squirting ultrasound stuff on my belly. She started poking around and I had a moment of more panic. Part of me hoped she found nothing, and part of me desperately hoped she found everything ok. Then I saw it. My baby’s heart beating away on the ultrasound screen… and there I went. That was all it took.

After that, two daily injections of blood thinner throughout the pregnancy weren’t quite so scary anymore, and the idea of an induced controlled labor wasn’t so horrifying. The swirling questions like “What if I get another clot? Or What if I bleed to death? And How will we afford this?” gave way to “Will it be a boy or a girl? And Will she be healthy? And Am I really going to get to meet the person produced by me and Dwayne?”

Scary blessings. That’s something God is into with me. Dwayne and I were laughing with Jim on Sunday after we told him, about how I’d been blogging lately about how my life is settling down….

Settling, schmettling. It’s evidently not in the plan for me. So… deep breath… I’ve trusted God for big things before, and this will be no exception. Me, my love, my kids, and the little heartbeat inside me will all be trusting Him for this one.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Giving What I Have

This morning my pastor reminded me of a passage in Acts 3 I hadn’t thought of for a while. It’s one of those well known Bible stories, a Sunday School staple, and so I was familiar with the words. I even had a picture in my mind from childhood, a concept of what the scene would have looked like. Peter and John on their way to the temple and as they go, they pass the beggar by the gate called Beautiful. The beggar had been crippled from birth and the people would bring him to the gate so he could beg for alms. Peter and John passed by and he begged them for money just as he begged everyone else. What they said to him always gets me. “Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

This morning those words had meaning to me in a different way than ever before. My husband and I were in a conversation the other day and he asked me what I was passionate about. (His passion for food makes him a great chef, a total joy to watch… not to mention the food I get to eat!) I didn’t want to talk about it. Though my main passions in life haven’t really changed, so much of my circumstance HAS changed that I’m not so sure these days that I have too many “passion outlets” so to speak. Call it adjusting to family life. Call it a lot of huge changes in a short time. Call it finally being realistic about what and who I am. I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m only saying that so much of my life has changed that I don’t express myself in the ways I always did before.

Here’s the kicker: God doesn’t always do things the way we expect. (ya THINK?) Here go Peter and John on the way to the temple, minding their own business. They get asked for some money. One would think they might consider just giving the money, and if they had none, which they stated was the case, then they might just say something like, “Sorry man, wish I could help, but I’m just as broke as you are.” But no. They were able to think outside the box. (At the suggestion of the Holy Spirit, I’m sure) They didn’t do what the man expected. They didn’t minister in the way most people would have. They had no money, and told the man so. What they did next was what really struck me this morning. Peter TOOK THE MAN BY THE HAND and he stood up and walked.

The weekend Dwayne and I eloped, I flew to New Orleans by way of Dallas, TX. I had to stop in Dallas to pick up my car. (Long story.) Anyway, I ended up on the plane next to a woman who appeared harmless at first glance, but the longer the plane ride, the more agitated and upset she became. At first, I thought I’d better leave her alone. I wanted to concentrate on my happy plans, after all. But the more upset she became, the stronger I felt I should reach out to her. So I went there. All it took was one glance over at her, one kind word and I was in. Come to find out, she was on her way to Dallas, having just learned the night before that her mother had been found dead in her home there. Upon hearing the news, my new friend had indulged a bit too much in some alcoholic beverage and so was completely clueless about where she was going and when she was supposed to get there. She was panicky, hung over, and completely in pieces. I held her hand and cried with her. Then when we finally landed, I took her arm, led her to the ladies room and then literally handed her to her brother who was waiting to pick her up.

That day I had no answers for that woman. To tell you the truth, I’m not sure I even remember her name. I had no counseling degree, no professional designation, no title of “women’s minister” or “Christian speaker,” the usual things I would expect to be called upon to give her. At this moment, I find it laughable that I would have ever thought any of those things was enough, but at one time I did. I felt completely ill-equipped, since I was (and still am) asking my own very hard questions about the terrible things in life and why God allows them. But what I had, I gave to this woman. I had a warm hand, a couple of tissues, an open heart and some of my own tears. Once she walked away with her brother, I had a long ride to New Orleans to contemplate the situation. This morning when Jim read the passage in Acts 3, God brought that woman to my mind. I didn’t have the usual “grade A” church stuff to give that woman. I even felt completely incapable of helping her at all, my level of belief was so low at the time. However, all God asked me to do was give her what I had. And it was worth it. I could picture this morning as Jim read the words, Peter’s hand extended to the beggar, and then my own hand daring to reach out and touch a lady who was drunk and crying. What I had, I gave her.

This is the part that brings me tears. It doesn’t matter if a church, or a group, or anyone thinks I’m good enough. It doesn’t matter that I was on a plane and not a stage. So many things I don’t know about anymore, but one bottom line I’m still sure of is that God loves me and He changed my life. I have no clue why He has asked me to walk in some of the places He has taken me. But I know He’s never left me, even when I’ve been angry with Him or ignored Him altogether. That bottom line was all I had to give her, and that was exactly what she needed right then. She needed somebody like me who has finally been through enough pain to understand completely how somebody could end up drunk on a plane at 7:00 in the morning. She needed somebody who was tired enough of churchy phrases not to even bother offering her any. She needed somebody who felt dirty enough herself not to be put off at the idea of reaching out to a stranger who hadn’t combed her hair and who smelled of alcohol. That day she needed what I had to give.

Just like on that day recorded in Acts, the beggar needed what Peter and John had to give. He didn’t really need money, which perhaps could be why they were in a situation where they had none. After all, it certainly would have been easier to just throw a coin to the beggar and keep on walking. What Peter and John had to give the man required that they take him by the hand and get at least a little bit involved in his life. Definitely the more difficult of the two options. Just like me that morning on the plane. I felt totally stripped of anything worth giving to that broken woman. I feel broken myself so much of the time. And yet because of my own heartache, I was able to give her exactly what she needed.

All this stuff is swirling around in my heart, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. I know my whole life is totally, radically different than what it was 2 years ago. I know I never expected the joy and the pain that I’ve had over the last months. I know in the middle of all this change, it’s difficult not to lose my purpose. But this morning’s thoughts helped me know it’s still there. I may not have the expected equipment, the stuff I used to take such pride in, but for some who will cross my path, I have exactly what is needed. My passion and purpose still lives. It lives in moments on airplanes, in unexpected phone calls, in opportunities to love unconditionally, at work when I listen to someone’s story for the hundredth time, or patiently answer the same question I answered five minutes ago. It’s a little of whatever I happen to have, given to whomever may need it, whenever that time happens to come along. That’s me. That’s what I do, and why I live. It’s why I lived 3 years ago when I rarely left the church grounds to accomplish such things, and it’s why I live now, when I rarely accomplish such things at church. Perhaps the purpose, just like the Purpose-Giver, doesn’t change. Perhaps our purpose and passion can remain intact and can take ever-evolving forms as our lives grow and change. Perhaps it’s about time I figured out that I can live His purpose for me in whatever circumstance I happen to be.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Building an Us

I've missed you, blog! Oh I've been wonderfully busy with the most magnificent things, but I've still missed you!

I'm thinking today how fun it is to be making an "us" out of a "him" and "me." I'm getting a blessed opportunity to build a life together with my new husband and now the kids are home, which makes for a more crazy and infinitely more interesting journey. It's not easy to blend a family. It can also be delightfully rewarding.

One thing I love is that we began our marriage with a very seasoned, very established him, and a pretty seasoned and established me. I had my own things, he had his. I had my own traditions, he had his. I had my own ideas about how to make love work, and he had his. So now, we begin blending his things, his traditions, his ideas with mine and a new "us" is born. I have to say this is so much different from the first time when I had nothing. I was so young, I had literally no idea what I was doing. This time, I'm well aware of the risks, the sacrifices, the potential pain, as is he. We decided it was worth the risk and we jumped! Now I have to say what we're "cooking up" is pretty yummy, with the ingredients each of us has to give.

I must also say it's been awkward at times. Ya see, I married outside my denomination. (GASP!!!) And I married rather quickly, much sooner than the prescribed mourning period or whatever an approved amount of time it is a person is supposed to wait around before they move on after a divorce. A surprising move for a denominational poster girl like me. Some people aren't quite sure what to make of it. But I must be honest with you. I can't think of a marriage (except possibly my own parents) in my denomination or among people who would advise me against my choice, that I envy. Not one. Nobody seems to be having the kind of deep love, laughter, joy, and even heartwrenching passion that would make me look at their marriage and say "Boy, I wish I had a marriage like that." Know whose marriage I envy? MINE! Oh yeah, I know we just started and all that and we're still honeymooning and all that. I'm all too aware of the challenges we will face and the fact that we will have to work very hard at maintaining what we have begun. We've had our disagreements and already the obstacles are great. I suppose I'm trying to simply voice the thought that though my new marriage has met with some disapproval here and there, I find it interesting that the kind of love and depth of passion and joy I always dreamed of is now mine, and though my man isn't a member of my denomination, he demonstrates the kind of love and care I rarely saw inside my denomination between a husband and wife. I'd always been told marriage should be like this, but never saw it lived until now... a man outside my denomination happens to be showing me... and maybe them... how it's done.

This brings me to a sobering thought about my own self. How often have I written off people, due to their differences, perhaps in beliefs or looks or whatever, and missed something spectacular? See the amazing guy I'm married to now, wasn't on what would once have been my list of approved individuals with which to associate. Yowie! I suppose it took going through the kind of humiliation that rotated me off of some people's approved lists to open my mind and heart to something different, something deeper that just what I found inside my own self. Boy am I glad it did.

I have much more to download from my mind and my heart.

For now, I close with a list of happy pleasures:

Giggles and smiles in our home, a big goofy dog that loves my boy, loaning one of my favorite books to my daughter, catching up over coffee, holding wrinkled hands at work, a husband who is a chef... how could I ask for more??, noisy laughter that happens when kids sock slide on the wood floor down the hallway, and quiet moments with my babies just settling in at home.