Monday, November 25, 2013

"Sometimes trials of this life, are your mercies in disguise"

I'm trying harder this year to be thankful throughout this season. The holidays are always hard for me and to top it all off, my birthday, Christmas and New Years all fall within about 2 1/2 weeks of each other.  Each represent the passing of another year and another holiday season with no children to buy gifts for. But this year, while I may feel sad at times, I don't want to dwell on that. Instead I am choosing to be thankful for another year of life, health, marriage and time with family.

For those of you who don't know, I offer massage therapy at Brookside Senior Living Community and I love it! The conversations I am able to have with the residents there can be truly amazing. I was talking one day to a sweet woman who lost her husband a few years ago. She was telling me about how she and her husband started a family immediately after getting married and always planned to do their traveling, and just enjoy their time together, after they retired. Unfortunately, he got sick and they never had those years.

I can't help but think of my own marriage when I think of this conversation. This may sound depressing, but Elias and I have always know that I will most likely outlive him. It's not something I have thought a lot about until recently after reading a book written by a woman who lost her husband to cancer. She goes into detail about his disease, all he went through, and ultimately his death which was caused by tumors in his lungs. I couldn't help but think about how long Elias and I have together in this world. The average life span for a person with CF is mid-30's (he's 28). Thankfully, since Elias has a mild case, he has been told that he should easily live twice that long. However, as with any chronic illness, things can change quickly and really, none us know how long we have to live.

I say all of this to come back to my original point. This woman never had those years with just her husband. I however, already have. We have had 5 years of dating and 5 additional years of marriage to be just us. 10 total years of experiences, long car rides where we can just talk about anything and everything, movies and cuddling on the couch. 5 years of waking up next to each other and being able to just enjoy each other's company without having to make breakfast for hungry bellies. 10 years to grow stronger as a couple and learn how to have fun as a couple. We've experienced different towns, cities and countries and have had experiences that some can only dream of.

We don't know how long we have. We could easily be robbed of our retirement years as a couple, but we have had these amazing years to be thankful for. I have spent so much of our marriage pining for a child instead of being grateful for what we have and embracing every year of new experiences and stronger love. This year, I am choosing to be thankful for the time we have had and the time that is to come. I am choosing to be thankful for the times when we can sit on couch and just enjoy each other's company. These years are a gift not to be taken for granted.

There is a song by Laura Story called "Blessings", and the title of this post is a line from that song. I have had a really hard time understand the "mercies in disguise" during this "trial", but last night it came to me when I was thinking about the time that this woman didn't have with her husband and how we will always have had "our" time.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fear and faith

I have read a quote that says that "fear and faith cannot live in the same house." I have to be honest, this is a huge struggle for me and there have been many times that I want to disagree with this quote entirely. In all actually, I'm still working on how I feel about this topic and learning what God is teaching me in this time. I have 100% faith that God is good and that He will use this journey for something greater than we could ever do on our own. However, that doesn't mean that some of the things that He asks us to do aren't scary. I believe that you can be obedient and have faith that He wiIl be faithful, walk with you, and when needed, carry you, but I also think that you can still feel fear in the midst of that. Not really fear that He will fail you, but fear of the pain that you may face and how you may be tested. It's kind of like a trust fall. You clearly trust the people that are going to catch you, or else you wouldn't fall, but that doesn't mean that you are afraid to do so.

I feel like this journey is a constant battle of fear and faith. I have faith that if God placed the desire in our hearts to be parents, and that He called us to adopt, that He will bless us with that gift. This journey began with nearly no doubt that we would become parents to both biological and adopted children.

When we first got married, we avoided getting Elias tested to see if he would be one of 98% of men with CF that cannot have bio children without IVF. We prayed for a miracle and hoped that our faith, by not getting him tested, would be enough. After 2 1/2 years, we came to the realization that maybe our  limited idea of a miracle was not what God was planning for us.

At that time, as a couple we felt as though we needed to try IVF and that adoption would be in our future when we could afford to do so. We entered IVF having faith that since there was no reason for it to fail, that we would most certainly get pregnant. However after the first failed transfer, fear began to set in. I began to question whether or not we were right in trying IVF at that time and my faith began to waiver. I knew we didn't have the money to adopt and as a couple we weren't ready to walk that road. I battled with believing that if I had faith the size of a mustard seed, our dreams would come true. We tried again and I dreaded the result of the pregnancy test. I knew it would be negative and we cried before even getting the results. I entered into the darkest place I had ever been in and struggled to maintain any faith at all. I was consumed by fear. I wanted to have biological children, but I didn't want to try again. Faith vs. fear.

That's when we began fundraising for adoption. I had faith that if we were finally walking in God's will, that the money would come flooding in like so many stories I had read before. When that didn't happen, I began to battle the fear that a situation would come along and we wouldn't have the money to afford it. Prior to officially beginning the adoption process, when I realized that fundraising was going to be slower than anticipated, we tried to get pregnant one more time. Once again, I wanted to have faith that this would happen, but I was so scared that it would fail again...which it did. At that point, I put the brakes on trying to get pregnant. Faith vs. fear.

That was a year and a half ago, we have three embryos left and I let fear control my decision whether to use them or not because I feel like it may be our last shot to get pregnant, and I'm not ready to let go of that dream if it fails. I feel as though God has told us we will have a biological child, but I also felt for a long time that we were supposed to adopt first. If we tried to get pregnant and we are supposed to adopt first, does that mean that mean it is destined to fail? Or is God more merciful than that? Faith vs. fear.

We have fought the idea of foster care for this very same reason. I have felt as though God may be speaking to me that the very thing we fear the most is exactly what we are supposed to do. Foster care can be a huge blessing for all involved, but you never know if that child will stay with you or how long they will be in your life, which is so scary for those who have faced so much loss. We are stepping out in faith and are in the process of opening ourselves up to this option. That doesn't mean that we aren't scared for our hearts. I believe that there is a need for foster parents and that God wants to use us in this capacity, so I have faith that good will come from this, but I fear the day when the child that we have grown to love goes back to his/her birthparents. Faith vs. fear.

Please pray for us as we begin this portion of the journey. It could be many months before we welcome a child into our home (we aren't even done with the paperwork), but in the adoption and foster care world, things can happen very fast. Pray for our hearts and that God will prepare us to love and to surrender. Children are never our own, they are only lent to us for a period of time to help prepare them to become the adults that they are meant to be.