Monday, October 29, 2012

My Journey from Infertility to Incredibly Grateful


"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."  Romans 8:28

My Family--I am so grateful...incredibly grateful!
 I hated everyone who was pregnant.  Experiencing infertility was one of the most difficult, challenging, frustrating, depressing and life-changing times of my life, but because God is so good, He used what satan intended to end my life to forever change and greatly bless my life. 
Growing up, I was taught that I could accomplish anything—all I had to do was set a goal and work hard to accomplish that goal.  I feel very blessed for all of the opportunities that I have had through prayer and hard work.  In my eyes, though, my worth to God and to my family was through my accomplishments.  My view of God was that I had to be good to be loved by Him.  My relationship with God was very close in grade school, junior high and high school, because I was “good.”  I made good choices, so God loved me---- at least that’s what I thought.  Once I got to college and starting making bad choices, I believed that I wasn’t good in God’s eyes anymore, and, therefore, did not deserve God's love.  I felt full of shame and guilt and began to let that create a distance between me and God, and when that happened, everything in life seemed so impossible.  I let that distance last for more than 17 years, and it is no surprise that those 17 years were the darkest of my life.  I still prayed and talked to God, but I always felt that I wasn’t good enough to receive His blessings.  I felt that He had much better people to spend His time on, and so the distance grew.   I let satan lie to me, and I listened.  I believed everything he told me.  I believed that God didn't love me anymore.  I believed that I was alone in all my struggles.  This was a very dangerous place to live.  It wasn't until my husband and I started trying for a family that I realized just how dangerous...
It was early January of 2003, and I was 29 years old. Brad was 30.  We had been married for three years at the time.  We weren't very enthusiastic about having kids but we figured that we should at least start trying since we weren't getting any younger.  That's why it was so easy at first to have the mind set that if it was meant to happen, it will happen when it’s supposed to happen.  We had no idea how long it would take nor how difficult it would be!  Soon we had been trying unsuccessfully for one whole I started tracking my cycle...then two I started taking my temperature every morning ...then three years. And let me tell you, all the tracking, temping and timing was really sexy, I'm sure.  lol!  

 What was happening?  I was so confused.  In those 3 years, I quickly became bitter and hateful and depressed.  We had gone through all of the medical tests and nothing was wrong, so in my mind, it was so obvious that God was punishing me and that I just simply was not good enough to be blessed with a child.  I was used to accomplishing the goals that I set for myself, so I wasn’t prepared to handle this.  I felt like a total failure.  I felt lost and completely alone.  I did pray about it, but I felt that God didn’t care about me and that He wasn’t listening.  I had no one to talk to who understood.  Brad didn't know what to tell me anymore.  My mom couldn't relate and none of my friends could relate because they all got pregnant the second they tried.  Everyone around me was getting pregnant, and I hated them all!  Everywhere I looked were pregnant women, baby strollers, minivans, diaper bags, and babies, babies, babies!  I couldn't get away from it!  AAAAAHHHHH!  It was just too much to take.  Why was everyone around me more deserving of this than me?  What was so wrong with me that I couldn't get pregnant?  I was consumed by this.  It was all I could think about or talk about.  Soon, I was so low that I couldn’t even get out of bed.  I would literally sleep the entire day because I didn't want to even see another pregnant person.  I cut myself off from many friends and family because I couldn't handle another person telling me she was pregnant.  I had so many friends who had 2 babies before I was even able to get pregnant with one.  It felt so unfair.  I was so angry!
In fact, I was a teacher at the time and 11 women in my school were pregnant…11!!!! They were all around me with their fat bellies and their complaints about being pregnant, and I hated all of them for complaining about something that I would gladly take on.  Once a very positive person, I became hateful and resentful and I didn’t even recognize myself.   I hated myself for feeling the way I felt and I hated anyone who was pregnant.  Satan had me, and I didn’t even see it!  I was trapped in a pit of self-pity and self-loathing, and it was one that I felt I couldn't escape.  The thought that I would never get to be a mother was unbearable.  The thought that Brad would regret marrying me because I couldn’t provide him with a child was unbearable.  The thought that I couldn’t even be happy for ANYONE who was pregnant was just unbearable.  The thought that I made my whole family feel uncomfortable because I was such a wreck was just unbearable.  And so I thought that everyone would just be better off without me.  WHOA!  That’s when I knew that I needed some serious help. 
As soon as those thoughts entered my mind, God began to intervene in big ways by putting it in my heart that I needed to go to counseling, and so He led me to my counselor, Dr. Dan.  And because I didn’t believe that fertility treatments were right for me, He also led me to my acupuncturist, Dr. Joy.  I decided to get serious about this, and I told my acupuncturist to tell me what I needed to do.  She said I needed to quit drinking alcohol---done, what else?  She said I needed to change my diet and take herbs---done, what else?  She said I couldn’t drink any caffeine or carbonated beverages---done and done, what else?  She said I needed to eat meat---which was difficult for me to take because I had been a vegetarian for about 5 ½ years at that point, so that one took me a while, but I did it and I haven’t looked back (dang--meat is so good)---so done, what else?  She said I needed to exercise and do yoga---easy-- done, what else?   She said, I needed to give up chocolate----I have to do WHAT?  But I did it, and I actually ended up giving up chocolate for 5 years.  (I eat it now and I’m loving it, so don't worry! J)   But that’s not all God wanted me to clean out of my life.  He also highlighted other junk that I needed to get rid of…my hatefulness, my resentfulness, my stubbornness, my ungratefulness.  God worked on these things through my counselor.  Dr. Dan helped save my life.  He was able to help me make sense out of my feelings; remove the guilt and shame I felt; and refocus my negative thinking to be more positive about life, about others, about God and about myself.  He helped me to get me back!  I'll never forget the very eye-opening assignment Dr. Dan once gave me.  He asked me to write down what I thought about myself—when I look back at the words I wrote, it terrifies me.  Here was my list:  old, dried up, loser, alone, old hag, depressed, fearful, barren, hateful, resentful, useless, worthless, I have no purpose.  Oh how satan loved this. Oh how saddened God must have felt that His daughter saw herself this way, and so I know that God worked through my acupuncturist and my counselor to make me a healthier person; a better person both inside and out.

Every week for over a year, I would drive 2 hours round trip to first go to my counselor where I would leave emotionally exhausted and then go to my acupuncturist where I would leave physically drained because I would lie face down on the table and count 42 needles being stuck various places all over my body including 6 inch long ones stuck in the back of my knees and in the sides of my butt.  It makes me cringe just thinking about it.  And every week for over 52 weeks, I would lie there crying...pleading to God..."Please, God, let this be worth it!!!"  All the while doubting that He was listening or even cared. 

And in May of 2007, after 8 months of acupuncture and counseling, after 8 months of not eating chocolate, after hours in the car, after exhausting counseling appointments, after over a thousand needles poking into my body, I thought it was all worth it when I finally got pregnant!  I couldn't believe it.   I was shocked and excited.  Unfortunately though, the excitement was very short-lived.  At 6 weeks along which was only 2 days after I found out I was pregnant, I miscarried.  It was awful.  I didn't get out of bed for days and days.  My husband didn't know what to do or say anymore.  I thought I couldn't ever feel worse.  Oh, I could.  In August, my 10 year old miniature schnauzer, Sophie, who I always called "my baby", unexpectedly passed away. 

 I couldn’t believe that God would take away 2 babies from me in just a couple of months!   Why would He want to see me suffer like this?  Why is He continuing to punish me? Oh, Father, forgive me for ever thinking this about You! 

I now know that it was only through the grace of God and the love and support of my family that I made it through.  After that summer, I continued to go to counseling.  I continued to go to acupuncture.  I started to get out of bed.  I started to spend more time with my husband, my family and my friends.  I began enjoying life more.   I began to find happiness and laughter that I hadn't felt in a long time, and I began to feel God’s presence and peace.  I began to feel that my life would be ok.  I began to feel hopeful.  Hopeful that I may still become a mom someday.  Hopeful that even if I was not able to conceive again that God would give me a baby another way.  God gave me the strength to get through the pain and the losses and He also gave me the courage to open up to my family, my husband and my friends and make those relationships even closer!  I sought forgiveness from those who I hurt during that dark time.  I began to heal, and I began to focus my energy on appreciating and being grateful for all that I did have instead of focusing so much on what I didn't.    Brad and I even started talking more seriously about adoption, and I began to trust God with whatever He had planned for my life.  And wouldn't you know as soon as I gave it all up to our Father, it was then that God blessed me with another pregnancy.  It was October of 2007--nearly 5 years after we first starting trying.  And this was it!   This was my baby!  Although I had some underlying fear that I would lose this pregnancy too, I still enjoyed every second of being pregnant! 

I loved everything that went along with it...EVERYTHING!  I seriously loved it all, and I was so incredibly thankful the entire time, and on July 21st, 2008, after 27 hours of labor and an emergency C-Section, I gave birth to my beautiful boy, Benjamin Alan!  It was the greatest moment of my life!

I tell Ben every day what a special gift from God that he is, and that before he came along, I thought I would never be a mommy.  I tell him what an amazing surprise that he was, and that I love that God chose to give him to me!  I love my boy so much.  I am so grateful to be a mom!  It has been the most rewarding, wonderful (though challenging too), beautiful part of my life!  I know that God didn't give me infertility, but He sure used that experience to change my life.  God really does make all things GOOD, and so not only did He bless me with my sweet baby boy, but He also gave me my precious little girl, Abigail, three years later.   He gave me a family that I thought I would never have, but He gave me even more than that. 

He made me more appreciative; more content; more giving; more loving; more forgiving of myself and of others, and he made me more grateful...incredibly grateful!  He made me more than I ever thought I could be. Praise God! But He also taught me more.  He taught me that His love is unconditional; He taught me about His grace and forgiveness; He taught me about who He really is; He taught me about trusting Him with my life's path; He taught me how to be more of the person that He created me to be; He taught me His love is not about my accomplishments; He taught me that His timing is perfect; and He taught me that everything that I went through was all worth it!  Whew!  Did I have a lot to learn or what?  And the best part is that I'm still learning.  

I know that this may sound weird, but I am so thankful for infertility.  Without that darkness, I wouldn't be the person I am today living in the Light I'm living in today.  God pulled out every ounce of good during those years to make me a better mom, wife, friend and human being!  I know that God is not done with me yet and I praise Him for loving me so much and putting gratefulness back into my heart! 


This week, I want to pray for you!  If you're going through infertility, I want to encourage you.  In Genesis 1:28, God said "Be fruitful and multiply." so we know that God wants to bless us with children.  Keep believing.  Keep being hopeful.  No matter what challenge that you're going through right now, I want to remind you that God is always good!  The bible tells us, "The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." Nahum 1:7  It's really that simple.   We must trust God and press in to Him and His truth and be completely deaf to the lies of satan.  Satan nearly caused me to take my life and I quiver at the thought of all that I would have missed out on, so I beg you to listen to God's voice.  Follow God's direction.  If you need to get help, ask.  If you need counseling, go.  If you need prayer, pray!  God’s goodness will always prevail!  God will always give us more, teach us more and grow us more than we ever expected.  I would like to leave you with three helpful and profound questions from the book, Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke, that God showed me to encourage a very dear friend that God has a wider purpose for anything that we are going through in our lives. 

1.  What is it that God wants to be for me now that He could not be at any other time?

2.  What is God doing in me to make me more like Jesus?

3.  What else is God doing through me to the people around me as I go through these circumstances?

 I pray you can ask yourself these questions about your situation and God will show you His bigger picture for you too!  May God bless you, protect you, and show you how much He loves you and help you to be incredibly grateful every day!

What has God taught you through a struggle you have gone through or are going through?

**Dedicated to all of the women who have struggled with infertility or who are struggling.  To those who have struggled, please share your story.  To those who are in the midst of the struggle, please don't give up.  Even now, God continues to give me more from this struggle.  He has blessed me with opportunities to share my story with others and even pray for and encourage other couples and women struggling with infertility.   I praise God for continuing to allow me to bless others and I give God ALL of the glory!   Please allow me to pray for you too.  You can contact me at**

Here is my crazy family now.  What a blessing!  What miracles.  God is so good!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

See the Train Coming

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” Proverbs 13:4

~ Sunday Fadiya is a name that I will never forget.  He was an older gentleman from Nigeria who was in many of my education classes in college.  He was an interesting man who had a lot of unique and creative ideas.  Even though he was sometimes difficult to understand with his heavy Nigerian accent, I learned to understand him, and I grew to adore him and his accent.  Little did I know that this man would impart so much wisdom on me.  This is just one of many Sunday Fadiya stories...
Sunday and I were assigned to do our practicum teaching in Champaign which was a 45 minute drive or more from Eastern Illinois University.  When I learned that he didn’t have a car and wasn’t sure how he was going to get there,  I immediately offered him a ride.  He was so grateful.  A few days a week, I would pick him up at 6:45am, and he would be waiting outside for me.   One morning, he was waiting outside in the snow and was freezing cold and covered with snow by the time I got there. 
So, I asked him, “Sunday, how long have you been waiting for me?” 
He said, “Oh, I wait about a half an hour or so.” 
I said, “Why?  I told you that I’m not going to be here to pick you up until 6:45am.  Why do you start waiting so early?” 
He told me in his strong Nigerian accent which somehow just sounds wiser, “In Nigeria I was always taught that it is better to see the train coming at you than it is to see the train pass you by.”  
At the time, I didn't know just how valuable that simple sentence would be to me someday, but at the time, my only concern was to try to keep him warm and dry a little longer, so I knew what I had to do.  I would have to tell him that I was going to pick him up later than I actually was.  One time I decided to tell him I wasn’t going to pick him up until about 7:15am knowing that he would start waiting for me at 6:45am which was really the time that I needed to pick him up.   That way he would just be getting out there as I would arrive saving him from waiting out in the cold for so long.  Oh, you should have seen that panicked look on his face.   He was so mad at me.  I explained my reasoning for doing that, but he didn’t understand at all. 
~I wish that I could be more like Sunday.  Do you?  Do you struggle with being on time?  Punctuality is not my strength.  It seems that I am always running late---or as Sunday would put it---I am always seeing the train pass me by.  Sometimes I can be so late that the train isn’t even in sight, not even nearby, and probably already moved on to the next train station.  This is an issue in my life that God has pointed out to me.  It’s something that I am working on and getting better at, and in fact, not only am I challenging myself to be on time, but my goal now is to be early!  What a concept? Honestly, the world around me just feels different when I'm not rushing around or rushing my kids around.  I get to see things I don't normally see.  I get to meet people I wouldn't normally meet.  I get to take time to enjoy my kids a little longer.  I get to stare at the sunset for a little longer.  It's amazing what allowing just a little bit more time can do. 
I love this quote by Lord Chesterfield "Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no delay, no procrastination; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today."  
This week, I pray that you will see many trains coming at you and not so many passing you by.

Monday, October 8, 2012

God is Good!

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting!" Psalm 107:1
Sophie suffered from major separation anxiety.  She was my first puppy that I got to live with, train, and raise all on my own.  She and I shared a very special bond, and after being together every day for over a month in our new apartment together, it was time for me to go back to work.  I was an 8th grade science teacher at the time, and although I enjoyed my summers off, I also really enjoyed going back to school.  I loved teaching.  I loved my students.  I actually really enjoyed a routine.  But Sophie didn’t understand all of that.   All she knew was that her mommy was going to be gone!  She was so upset that she literally freaked out.  I came home one time to all of the linoleum ripped up in my bathroom.  On another occasion, I came home to the carpet in the hallway ripped up.  She had also ripped the bed skirt off of the bed, ripped my bed spread to pieces and tore my pillow into little pieces.  I couldn’t believe it when I walked in the door and saw stuffing and foam everywhere!   It was a good thing my landlord was very understanding.  My landlord was my brother.  I did have to pay for the repairs, but luckily, I didn’t get kicked out of the apartment.  I never knew what I was going to find when I walked in the door after a long day of teaching.  I will never forget the day I came home to shiny pieces of pastel foil all over the floor.  I panicked when I realized that she had gotten into the Easter candy.  I immediately called the veterinarian to find out if or when I should be worried because my 20 pound miniature schnauzer had just eaten 18 bite-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter cups—yes, I counted.  The vet said not to worry even though Sophie was breathing heavy and panting and her heart was racing.  I waited it out and once she had calmed down and was back to her normal fiesty self, I could laugh at the fact that not only did she eat all 18 of those chocolates, but then throughout the next several days, my yard started filling up with shiny, shimmery colorful bits in the piles of poop (from the foil wrappers if you didn’t figure that out).  It was quite lovely.  J
~Isn’t that how life is sometimes?  Sometimes in the midst of all of the crap we are going through, there will be tiny bits of glimmering hope!  There will be small moments of beauty or tidbits of laughter.  There will be small pieces of happiness or brief glimpses of joy.  The hope, beauty, laughter, happiness and joy all are coming from God.  The bible tells us in James 1:17 “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”  This week, I pray that you will be overwhelmed by the goodness of God no matter what you’re going through right now.  No matter how difficult something is; no matter how long you’ve been struggling; no matter how hopeless, joyless, pointless, or confusing something is; no matter how much satan wants to lie to you to keep you down,  I pray that you will feel God’s love and know that God is good…all the time…period.  God is shining through in the midst of all the crap to show you that it’s never hopeless.  Praise God!  Thank you for always being good.  Please help us all to believe it!

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Fab 5

“A friend loves at all times…”  Proverbs 17:17

EIU Fab 5--"The Girls"
  They called us the Fab 5.  Well, no one really ever called us that.  Well, come to think of it, we never even called ourselves that.  Regardless, there were five of us—Elissa, Erin, Val, Stacey and myself.  Although some of us met in different ways and at different points in our lives, we all ended up going to the same college (Eastern Illinois University), living in the same dorm (Andrews Hall) and living on the same floor (3rd), and that’s where all five of us became friends. 

Good 'Ole EIU

That was in 1992, so now we’ve all known each other for over 20 years!  Wow, I don’t feel that old.  Since graduating from college, we each went our own ways pursuing our own paths in life, and yet we’ve made it a priority to keep in touch--just the 5 of us.  In order to stay close and nurture our friendships, we decided that we were going to get together at least once a year.   With bachelorette parties, weddings, baby showers, girls’ weekends and our "just because" gatherings, we’ve done really well.  Sometimes we see each other more, sometimes less, but we always make it a point to see each other.  Why?  Because we value our friendships and we know how rare these types of friendships can be!

My Bachelorette Party

Elissa's Wedding

Four Aunts were born--Our first baby
When I'm with these girls, it's like time has stood still.  We have shared everything together!  I have never laughed so hard and I've never cried so hard from laughing so hard!  In the 20 years we’ve known each other, we have made some amazing memories and done some really crazy things---especially while in college.  My apologies if you knew us in college---I promise that we are all relatively normal today.  Some of my favorite memories from college with “the girls” are:  living at 1075 7th Street,

1075---"If jerks could fly, 1075 would be an airport!"

“We’re stirring!  We’re stirring!”, watching Aladdin, ordering Jimmy Johns, ordering Dominoes, skipping class to watch 90210, just skipping class, going to class in pajamas, wearing slippers to class, having a guy on a horse at our 4th of July party and Erin riding it down Lincoln Avenue (the busiest street in Charleston), making macaroni and cheese and forgetting to turn on the water to cook the noodles—“why are these noodles so crunchy?”, our couch, “George”, and our blanket, “Alfred”,  that stupid bunny poster, sitting on our porch swing,

"George" and "Alfred"--the best napping combo!

Yes, our porch swing was that high was awesome!
late night partying--I mean studying, roommate night outs, our spontaneous trip to Memphis, our quote wall, all the inside jokes, and I could go on and on.  I love each of these girls.  I love that they have seen me at my best and at my worst and love me anyway. In fact, I love this quote by Elbert Hubbard that says, “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”  I love that each of them has moved on to do some incredible things with their lives.  I love that I have a special and different relationship with each of them.  I love that we have chosen to be a part of each other’s lives and that we are intentional about getting together no matter what obstacles are in the way. 
I am so grateful for these 5 friends as well as many amazing friends I’ve met along the way.  I am so thankful that God puts friends in our lives to encourage and to be encouraged by, to love and to be loved by, to grow with, to change with, to cry with, to be with, to laugh with.  God blesses our lives with friendships.  I love that in John 15:12-13 Jesus says,
 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” 
 Jesus values friendships.  Friendships have purpose.  Friendships have meaning.  Jesus tells us that friendships are important, so we need to nurture those friendships that are significant to us.
Who are your closest friends?  How do you let your friends know that you value them?  Do you take time out of your busy schedule to let your friends know how important they are to you?  This week, I pray that you will take the time to let a friend or two know what a blessing that they are in your life.  In this day of instant communication, there is no reason not to be able to accomplish this.  God puts these friends in our lives on purpose, for a purpose and for His purpose, so please take a minute right now to send them a note, a card, a phone call, a text, an email, a facebook message, a tweet, or all of the above and tell them how important they are to you and how thankful that you are that God has placed them in your life!  Thank God for friends!

Dedicated to my EIU girls!  Thank you for being my forever friends!  Thank you for the hilarious memories.  Thank you for loving me and being there for me no matter what.  I love you, girls!