Seeing Through the Insecurity

Blooming Infertile Soil - Seeing Through the Insecurity

Old feelings have crept in lately. Old thoughts that have turned into new thoughts. Feelings and thoughts that have been prayed against for so long. Insecurity is a vicious thing. It can strike at any moment, in any situation, and leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed and anxious. Insecurity had its time with me, and I am not about to let it come back for another round.

I spent years of my life struggling with my weight. Struggling with body image. It began long before I had a deep connection with my Father. It began before I believed that pray was something that could truly heal and change things. I would look in the mirror and look at other women and think about how awful I looked, especially compared to all those trim and glowing girls that I couldn’t seem to stop being jealous of. Every time I took a bite of food, I hated myself, but anytime I tried to stop eating or throw it up out of my body, I just couldn’t. Which made me that much angrier with myself. So I turned to something else, I turned to my working out, my running and lifting and anything that made me sweat really. I only ate extremely healthy and worked out sometimes 3+ hours a day. I was less insecure in my body, but I was exhausted, and working out had become my idol. I wasn’t thanking God for the body he gave me, I was killing myself trying to get the body I wanted. Thank goodness for my Jesus who came along and took me in his hands and told me to start praying and not stop. I prayed and people prayed over me for multiple years. Usually accompanied with loads of tears running down my face, crying out to my God that I knew had the power to heal me mentally. He gave me Cole, a sweet husband who helped me learn to love myself how I was and was patient with me when I couldn’t seem to figure it out. As pounds went back on, it was hard, but I had people and God to lean into this time. It was like I cried out to him for so long, and all of a sudden he was healing me. For so long I didn’t think it would happen, I had decided that the thoughts would always consume me, but he said no. He came, and he healed. So now I run because I want to, and I cycle because I want to, and I lift occasionally because I want to. They bring me joy now, but they are not idols. I eat well because I want to keep the Spirit’s temple holy and clean, and I want to feel healthy. Yeah, I’m not this tiny woman and yes, I do struggle here and there with it, but God is there in those moments. He lifts me up and brushes me off and says we have dealt with this, and I love you for you.

I never imagined those kind of insecurities creeping into this infertility journey that we are on. It’s like no matter what choice we make, people have something to say. When we began without drugs and attempted to heal ourselves naturally with herbs and changing of diet, people questioned why I thought that would work. When we began getting tests and found out that IVF was our only option, people began questioning why we would do IVF and why not try to let our bodies heal naturally. It’s exhausting and overwhelming when everyone is questioning what you are doing. That is the downside of being so open during this season of life about what we are facing and going through, but I pray that God’s light shines through because of it. I keep telling myself that we are doing exactly what God has told us to do, and that is all that matters. We have trusted him every step of the way, and we won’t stop now. HE is writing our story, not all the people out in this world that have opinions. Everyone has had their very own story written, and they are all different, and that is the beauty of God’s creation. Diversity and love all mingled together. I have to keep praying that he will be my wall against insecurity. I have to choose to keep my eyes on him because that is the sweetest place to be.

I have been reading this book by Ann Voskamp called One Thousand Gifts. It has been wonderful and challenging and sweet, so sweet. She talks about many things, but as insecurity has crept in lately, I have been reading about what our eyes choose to see and what we choose to do in situations of heartache. We must choose to see God through this world, like change it into this transparent place where our eyes can see God through it all. Oh, it is so easy to get caught up and lose sight. It is so easy to fall victim to this materialistic world. I have, and I do. But, I want to be thankful instead of angry, I want to see light instead of dark, I want to choose joy instead of sorrow, I want to be confident in my God instead of insecure.

“But if we don’t intentionally commit to the hard practice of seeing, don’t we die in barren wilderness? Anger, frustration, emptiness?”

Ann Voskamp – One Thousand Gifts (pg 136)

“Why do I reduce The Greatest to the lesser of instead of seeing the lesser, this mess, as reflecting The Greatest?”

Ann Voskamp – One Thousand Gifts (pg 128)

 

P.S. In this picture I’m repping a shirt from Funny Girls of Fertility. She is great, and you should go check out her shirts and follow her on Instagram! @funny_girls_of_fertility

 

#InfertilityAwareness

Blooming Infertile Soil - #InfertilityAwareness

I enjoy taking part in a Tuesday Night Fertility Chat the first and third week of the month via Instagram. This past week I was able to participate as a co-host with four other wonderful women. People get involved by answering the questions that the five of us ask. Hearing the many womens’ stories is encouraging and heartbreaking all at the same time. All I know is that none of us expected to be those women, the women chatting about their heartache of infertility.

It is so easy to be naïve, to think that it will never be you. You get married, maybe wait some months or years, then say okay it’s time to have kids. You think you just start trying and boom! There’s a baby. Quick, easy, and in sync with your perfect plan. I thought so, I was naïve. I had a perfect plan. MY perfect plan? Really? Why would I ever want to trust in my own perfect plan? I have a heavenly father who knows me better than I know myself, a God who knows my needs and meets them. THAT sounds like the kind of perfect plan I want to trust. That kind of plan is where I can find complete freedom.

Oh, how important awareness is, how important it is to make sure all those women out there that are dreaming of a family in their future are aware. Aware that it’s not always a piece of cake. Aware that our bodies don’t always do what we want them to do. Aware that this world is full of sin. But not just that. I want all those women to be aware that God works through the brokenness. He says I know this world is full of sin, so I will teach you goodness through it. I want them to know that he has his own perfect plan through the trials. And let me tell you, I have learned time and time again that his plan is the very best plan.

I find it so incredible that there is such an online presence of women who want to stand beside each other through the journey of infertility. Women who share faith and stories, who encourage and love, who mourn with you and celebrate with you. No woman or couple should stand alone in this. I hate to even think about someone out there sitting in this, drowning in it, thinking they have to do it alone. They deserve the support, especially from people who can walk right beside them through it. Especially people who can point them to Jesus. I know it has been completely refreshing and inspiring for me. So if you know someone struggling in the dark chaos of infertility, point them to this community; and most importantly, point them to Jesus.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

The Many Faces of Success

Blooming Infertile Soil - The Many Faces of Success

Hopefully this post isn’t too controversial. It’s a topic that swarms my Facebook newsfeed and the TV and, well let’s be honest, it’s everywhere. It’s the idea of success. Especially success for a female. The question of what does a successful woman look like?

Society today says that success looks like an independent woman. A woman that does not rely on or lean on a man. A woman that wears a business suit or owns her own company. A woman that goes to school for years and years to get the title “Dr.” in front of her name. A woman that makes all the money. I look at that and say shoot, that’s not me at all!

Don’t get me wrong at all. Doing any of those things is not wrong at all. That’s not what I’m getting at here. I have learned that success is what God has called you to and you taking the leap to follow it. If God is calling you to not be married then great, you rock the single life. If God is asking you to own your own company and wear a business suit everyday then please make that your passion and run after it. If God is calling you to learn for years and years to be a doctor and help people in that way then that is wonderful! But don’t do any of these things because society says they make you “successful” or “sexy” or whatever it is saying these days about women. Do it because that is the exact path God is calling you down, and you want to give him the glory through it. Do it for him and only him, and don’t look down on anyone else who is called to a different form of “success”.

I have really been struggling with this. I don’t have a career. I don’t wear a fancy business suit or make a ton of money.   I work part-time jobs, nothing glamorous. God has called me to serve my husband. To make dinner for us and to clean our house. To do the grocery shopping and the laundry. To push through this infertility journey to one day stay at home with our precious kiddos. A lot of that grates against societal views. It has made it hard sometimes for me to stand firm in it and trust that God knows me very best and knows what success looks like for me in my life.

This is one reason God gave me my sweet husband. Cole shows me truth when I doubt. Just last week I asked him if it made him look at me differently because I wasn’t a successful woman. He immediately told me that I was being swayed by society. He said that our success should be measured spiritually. Are we doing what God has called us to? Are we chasing after him and his plan for ours lives?

These past three or four years I have done just that, I have sacrificed and followed and listened but not with lack of doubt and fear. Thank goodness God has grace for me each time I doubt and each time I question. He has brought me so much joy in this journey, and when I think about it I love what he has called me to do. So, please stand firm in what God has called you to, and don’t look down on others for being called to a different form of “success.” Let him being glorified be the number one priority. The rest will fall into place.

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Hebrews 13:20-21

That Ugly Thing Called Fear

Blooming Infertile Soil - That Ugly Thing Called Fear

So I went to a concert last night. It was Casting Crowns, Danny Gokey, and Unspoken. Going into this concert, I was hoping in the depths of me that God would awaken my soul. That he would fill my cup that had become so dry. That he would speak life over me.

So there I am, mid-concert, eyes closed as Mark Hall started singing “Oh My Soul.” I was reaching for God, I wanted so badly to hear him. That’s when it washed over me, something that I hadn’t felt in such a way in weeks, his presence so strong. He spoke over me what I needed to write about this week. Fear. He reminded me of how real it is in my life and what it can do. But he also reminded me that fear is not from him, that he stands up against fear if I can only give it over to him.

So fear, what have you done in my life? What pain have you caused me so far? When God asked me to give up a career, fear showed its ugly face. Fear of what people would think, fear of what life would look like without a plan. Infertility has brought about a whole new level of fear. This kind of fear that puts me in a tiny box. This kind of fear that leads me to shrink away from relationships and conversations. A fear that does tell me to cry alone in private because, really, I didn’t see it coming. I never saw it coming

“ This was the one thing, you didn’t see coming

And no one would blame you, though

If you cried in private

If you tried to hide it away, so no one knows”

– Oh My Soul – Casting Crowns

But you know where this fear comes from? It comes from the enemy. He creates it and sneaks it into your life and then takes that foothold and tries so hard not to let go. He wants to squeeze the life out. It’s like reaching a fork in the road, and I can choose to let the enemy knock me down or I can choose to bring that fear before my Father. Because, honestly, fear has NO chance against my God. The enemy can get a strong hold, but God is stronger. He is always stronger.

God says he uses all things for our good, so why should I steal that opportunity from him by giving my life over to fear? He wants to make beauty out of the darkness. He wants to use this storm for his glory. If I close my eyes and really think about what he has shown me so far, I can’t help but get excited and throw out my arms and say “Oh, Jesus, use me for your glory. Use this story and this journey to bring you all the praise.” Because I know deep down that he has such a sweet plan for what our family will look like, diverse and full to the brim of love.

“And there will be dancing

There will be beauty where beauty was ash and stone

This much I know”

-Oh My Soul – Casting Crowns

So yes, fear will keep trying to take over. The fear of IVF being too expensive or not working. The fear of not having enough money to adopt that little African boy that God keeps giving me visions of. The fear of not having a career. The fear of peoples’ questions. The fear of tearing down the walls that so easily get built up around me. Fear is real, yes, but God is more real. If he calls us to it, he will bring us through it. One way or another. I am so thankful that I can reach that fork in the road and choose my Lord. That I can strap on that belt of truth and choose my Father. For fear wavers and changes and the enemy is fickle, but God is never-changing. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and I can build my life on that.

Living Infertile Amongst the Fertile

Blooming Infertile Soil - Living Infertile Amongst the Fertile

I write this after spending an afternoon doing yard work in February. That is the Midwest for you. But as I cut down old plants, I saw life budding.   It was like a perfect, tangible example right in God’s creation of the fertile living amongst the infertile. It showed new life coming as other stems sat only wishing to live.

To my dear mommas or especially soon-to-be mommas, know that I am happy for you and thankful for you, that I am so glad for your joy. I am thankful that I get to learn how I want to be a mom to our future kids as I watch you with yours. I know that you are excited and in love with those babies in your bellies. But please appreciate that I am sorry that I don’t ask a lot of questions. Sorry that I do feel a little sadness in my heart each time I see an announcement. Sorry that I can’t always fight the pain that creeps in when I see you with your bulging bellies. Know that I care how your journey is going but sometimes forming the words and asking the questions hurts. Sometimes I can’t push myself to do it. I pray for a heart that can be void of the hurt and instead full of joy for you mommas, but I’m still working on it.

Then I think of the words you offer up to try to take away that pain. It’s so sweet of you, and I know it’s from a heart of love. Sometimes, though, the hugs mean more than the phrases.   Sometimes the shoulder to lean on means more than the “it will happen, it will all work out.” Sometimes the ear to listen means more than the “you’re young, you have so much time.” I am so thankful for you trying, but sometimes that pain inside of me that I can’t seem to always control decides to hear your words and break through. Break through the carefully constructed veil of joy.

Maybe this is all just me. Maybe I can’t just throw this blanket over all the infertile living amongst the fertile. Maybe some of you out there don’t have that silly pain. Maybe some of you are able to control it better. So, if that’s the case, then this is just a narrative of my journey. But if you are sitting in this spot too, know you’re not alone. But also know that we have a Heavenly Father that hears us and has grace on us. A God that loves us through it and gives us a shoulder to cry on as he wipes away our tears. A God that is still SO good to us. A God that has a perfect plan.

So now as I look back at the beginning of this and those plants I was trimming back today, I think of a new perspective. There is growth coming out of the lifeless. That where there is stillness, there is also growth. Beautiful, green, budding growth. There is so much growth in this season. I know that. So when I choose to only see the lack of life, I pray that I can see the beauty of life currently blooming. The joy of a life going exactly as it is planned as I get to kneel before my Father and say, “I am yours.”

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:8

 

Under the Knife

Blooming Infertile Soil - Under the Knife

As I sit here writing this with a heating pad, my sweet doggies surrounding me, and my helpful husband doing anything I need, I can’t help but be thankful for what I do have. Yeah, no baby in my womb yet or sitting here in my lap, but God has blessed me and us with so much in the process. My mind gets so absorbed in the entire fertility struggle that I forget to look up and look around.   That looking around causes my heart to be so thankful, it reminds me of his unending love. It reminds me that he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It reminds me of the goodness he wants to give us.

My body has been in pain, and it was time to look around. Our amazing fertility doctor is always reassuring and helpful, and we couldn’t have asked for better. So there I sat, hair in a cap, thin gown tied around me, and an IV in my arm, ready to get the show started. It was laparoscopic, so luckily not too invasive. He needed to know if there was endometriosis and see if he needed to do anything to the cysts on my ovaries. Praise Jesus, he got rid of my endometriosis and said my ovaries will be okay. The dye even came through my tubes with no blockages.

As Cole and I watched the video today, our doctor kept saying how beautiful the parts of me are. You know how encouraging that is after feeling like my body was broken and way less than beautiful? He has faith in the ability of my body to carry a child. Hearing that from a doctor, a doctor that is trained to fix. Hearing that I am already beautiful, that there is healing in the midst of brokenness. By the grace of God, I am healable.

“For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Psalm 136:13-14

I have been sitting back and watching (because Cole won’t let me do anything else) as close friends and family and my dear husband come alongside me in this recovery and as they provide me with food that I can actually eat, I see the fruit. I see the fertile soil that I am planted in, that my life is planted in. This is proof that I am bearing fruit.

Now as I peel away darkness, I can see the light and grace. There is grace everywhere. It’s through these times of trouble that the Lord reveals his grace more and more.

Yes, I’m sore, and I’m sleepy and nauseous and a little crampy, but I am excited for what God has to come. This is the beginning of our in vitro process. It’s the beginning of quite a journey. But he was watching us this first step, he was there to encourage us and tell us it’s going to okay, going to be just how he planned it. It only gives me hope and assurance that the next steps will be full of joy if we can just lean into him.

The Broken Body Syndrome

Blooming Infertile Soil - The Broken Body Syndrome

Cole and I were as naïve as most couples that start trying to conceive. It just happens right? You go off that little pill and then things start flowing and boom, pregnant. Hmm, not so much. The realizations starting crashing into our life. You only have one chance a month? Some people don’t ovulate? You have to have A LOT of sperm that know where they are going? My mind got shocked into reality.

My body didn’t want to cooperate. No periods, no ovulating, no anything. I began feeling the pressure and anxiety of the possibility of not being able to conceive. It wasn’t something I had ever thought about. I began to feel like I had a broken body. A body that didn’t know what it was formed to do. A body that had been hurt by this world. A body that ached to be like others. I wanted to naturally rebound my body, detox it, jumpstart it. I went gluten-free, then dairy-free, added herbs (vitex, maca, peony root, etc) and vitamins. Nothing. I felt better, but my ovaries clearly didn’t. Then drugs and drugs and still no two little lines on that stick.

Cole felt that feeling months later. The broken body feeling. Low counts and not much movement, he felt the pressure. He had become great at the supporting role. He was loving me through the process, praying for me, not bringing it up unless I needed it. He had learned that role, he was comfortable with that role. This new role of being part of the problem, not part of the solution, was a hard transition for him. No guy wants to be stripped of that manhood. But I got a chance to switch my role. To stop focusing on my problem and love Cole through his processing. God knew I needed it. He knew I needed that time to get my mind away from the constant dwelling on my temperature and my symptoms and my confusion. The time to love Cole and to intentionally put my trust in God every single day.

What is this thing that creeps in? This idea that our bodies are broken. We twist it to think that we did something to ourselves, that we deserve this, that this is our judgement for all mistakes from the past. Let me tell you, this world is broken. It is full of bummers and oops’s and darn its, but I will keep my eyes turned to the sky. Through this process, I keep telling myself: thank goodness this is not my home. When I am home, my body will be healed and perfect and free of the pain. That home, my forever home, is where my eyes are focused.

There was a day I distinctly remember God telling us we would have children. The day I heard him tell me that I would stay at home with those children. The day I gave up the idea of a career and future plans in general. But those words from him became our truth, his promise to us. Through the ups and downs, I am holding onto that. The broken body syndrome will not grab a hold of me and pull me down as hard as it tries. I will trust in what I know, and I know that my Father fulfills his promises.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies.

1 Corinthians 15:43-44a

Seasons of Life

Blooming Infertile Soil - Seasons of Life

Sometimes seasons of life last years, sometimes just weeks. Regardless, each season comes with growth and lessons, hard and easy, and the sweetness of God’s grace.

I find myself amongst a season of struggle. One of those big road block signs to the life you thought you would be living. You have this internal wrestling of why is this happening. Why me? Why now? Why can’t my life go the way I planned? I have been right there, right in that spot. I had it all planned out then God said, “Let go.” That is one of the hardest things to do, to let go. To dive into the unknown and trust that you will be caught. Especially when getting caught is not what you pictured.

I gave God my career, but God promised me I would be a mom. I clearly remember that day, the day I definitely heard him speak over my life. I knew in that day what my Heavenly Father wanted for me, and I was at peace. Now, in the thick of this dark season, I’m wondering why God has plagued our life with infertility and me with a lack of feeling a purpose right now. But God, I gave it all up. And you promised. That’s me not understanding how big God is and how small I am. How perfect God is and how imperfect I am. But it’s a daily struggle. I have to wake up each morning and choose God instead of myself. This is the season I never expected, I never asked for, I never wanted. This is the season where tears are often and prayers are rawer than ever. This is the season where I bury myself in my own little shell and just hope no one asks how I’m doing, too vulnerable, too exposed. Where friendships become distant and marriage is tested.

But when I reach deep down and really think about it, I wouldn’t trade this season for anything. Seasons like these are the ones that God can do the most work. I don’t believe it’s true that he doesn’t give you more than you can handle. I think he definitely does. But I think he gets you to that point, the point where you literally cannot do it on your own, so that you can realize how much you need him. That’s quite the feeling. It’s almost like a blessing in disguise to be able to get to that point. To be able to feel such dependency on God, like to truly feel it, to know it. I have come to know that he will write the most beautiful story for us. I’m not trying to make it sound like I have this all figured out, there are good days and bad days, but I am thankful he is the author of my life and that I am no longer trying so hard to steal the pen.

Not feeling a baby inside of me and not holding a sweet child of my own in my arms is heartbreaking and just plain hard, but goodness is happening in this season too. He is teaching me oh so much. He is growing my marriage. He is maturing me, spiritually and emotionally. He is teaching me to be content and find joy even in the dark. And I will keep reminding myself that God catches all my tears and shares in all my sorrow. I will keep finding goodness.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

Psalm 27:13