Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Today

It was the faintest of lines. I admit I sat staring waiting those grueling few minutes, barely blinking in anticipation of a second line showing up. For any woman who has ever taken a pregnancy test you understand the range of emotions during those pain-staking minutes. For any woman who has taken test after test after test, you can empathize with the racing thoughts coupled with hopeful prayers. For any woman who has been longing for that line to show up, you can understand the heartache when it doesn't. The knot in your stomach, the lump in your throat, those minutes that feel like an eternity. The wave of disappointment that floods over you when nothing appears. The checking and double checking then checking once more...just in case. For any woman who's experienced the pain of loss, you understand the highs and lows in the almost bipolar unsettledness of your heart hoping that it's positive, yet gripped with fear by the reality of it being so.

And there it was. Two years ago today I got that sign. The faintest of lines. The sign that would confirm that I was in fact carrying another child. My heart had been aching, grieving the loss I had experienced months before. In a split second a sign of hope filled with overwhelming fear. 

We know the story now. That sign was our beautiful Violet Hope, the picture of hope and joy, the hope we held onto during loss. The hope I have believed in through all of the trials I've faced. The hope that I have clung to in the midst of despair. I did not know if that line meant I was carrying a boy or a girl but on this day two years ago I knew that God had placed a life inside me and he was giving yet another sign of continued hope.

Even as I type this I am well aware of the fact that there are women reading who will not be able to move forward. There are some whose hearts are still aching, gripped with pain and fear. There are some who are simply too grieved to even finish reading. There are some with such a deep longing they're wondering why it's worked out this way for me and not them. When will it be her turn? When will she experience this Hope fulfilled?

If you've been around me for any length of time then you understand that I can completely empathize with all of these emotions. Two years of infertility. Multiple failed adoption placements. Nerve-wracking interviews with birthmothers. Waiting to be chosen then the grief when you're not. Another year of questions and not knowing. The joy of pregnancy. The pain and grief of a miscarriage. I have walked through this journey navigating each twist and turn that has left a scar of remembrance upon my heart. No matter how far removed or how my cup runneth over, I am not too far from the memory of each and every step it has taken to get to this point.

Today represents one of those altars I mark as a testament of God's faithfulness. It would be easy to think I'm in a position to proclaim His goodness because of where I sit now, but it is because of the journey I've traveled and the fact that He's carried me through. He allowed me to carry a baby, but during the years of tears, heart-wrenching pain, empty arms, failed placements and aching loss, He drew my heart to His and became the source of my comfort and hope. I know the longing, emptiness, loneliness. I know the questions, stinging tears, dreaded doctor visits, and sitting unrecognized on Mother's Day. I also know the comfort of His embrace, the depth of His lavish love. I know He heard my heart's cry and answered not always with a yes or in the way I prayed, but He always answered. And for that I will stop today and give praise as I remember how far He's brought us. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Red Pants

It was the Sunday before Valentine's Day and I was determined to don a celebratory outfit. You all know this about me. I've written about it before. I have a love-hate relationship with Valentine's Day. It falls just five days before my birthday. I think it's over patronized as a holiday designed for us to spend money simply to say that we love another. It seems futile. At the same time I don't miss an opportunity to celebrate. There are often times when I wonder if I should have been a kindergarten teacher and then I could have appropriately worn my valentine heart leggings. But you all know that I would have never made it in a classroom with five-year-olds. All. Day. Long.

So there I was. Staring at my closet. Looking through all of the red. Then I spotted them. My skinny red pants. I felt certain they were the perfect complement to show my celebratory mood in honor of this day of worship before the day of love. Oh, but there was one problem. My post-partum body was not meant to fit in these skinny red pants anymore. Sure, there had been a time when they fit me like a glove. But this was not that time. It was more like the scene from O.J. Simpson's trial trying to squeeze his hand into a shrunken piece of fabric that simply wasn't going to work. I felt the same as I did the jig, jumped up and down, squatted, and bent over trying to get the pants to stretch and fit. If anyone had witnessed this episode they would have been in for a real treat. And not the sugary sweet Valentine kind of treat. More like the kind where your eyes bug out of your head and then you roll over laughing because you can't believe what you're seeing.

Thankfully, my jig worked at least enough for me to get them buttoned. Never mind the muffin top. We'll blame all that extra skin on my sweet little Violet even though I would do it all again. So much for the simply fit board I got for Christmas. I guess I should have used it more than a dozen times in the last six weeks. Oh well, I didn't have time for that now. I would find a long tunic that would cover up all the problems. No one would be aware. A cute pair of heels and some jewelry and I was all set. 

I have to laugh. As intended no one suspected that underneath that long flowing top that I was poured into my red pants. I'm sure if they did know they would wonder how I was breathing.

In true confession style I come before you to share all the gory details. It seems only fitting. After all, I was the one who fatefully chose to wear flashy red pants that didn't actually fit. And yet those bright red pants were not easily missed! Oh the irony...

It makes me wonder how much we are truly covering up. How much we would reveal about ourselves if we were truly honest. If we were actually exposed for who we are deep down, Would it reveal the case of the too tight red pants? Would we see the blemishes and flaws? Would it reveal something that's desperately trying to be hidden? It could be a wound. It could be shame, hurt, pain. Whatever it is, there are some things worth covering. And then there's also other things worth revealing.

In this case I would like you all to give me a huge amount of gratitude for what I spared you from. It was certainly not worth revealing. But I have to tell you, my heart has been in that place where I've hidden the wounds with a painted on smile, covered up the scars with empty words, all the while wishing I could just let it all hang out and reveal the depths of my heart and mind. If I would have been gut-level honest it would have revealed the gut-wrenching truth of me just needing someone to share with. (Thank goodness that's the only gut I'm willing to expose...)

Today I'm challenged. Determined to take some things at surface level and praying for discernment to know when I should look deeper.  Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go change into a nice soft stretchy pair of leggings!!