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Count It All as Pure Joy: A Tale of Heartache and the Gift of Adoption

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Espressos of Faith welcomes another guest blogger today. I don’t know Joan. I was sitting at breakfast the other day with a very dear friend sharing my vision for this blog site, which was to feature stories of hope, faith, healing, and endurance in tough trials—at the end of them, or even in the middle. From time to time, this involves bringing in guest bloggers/writers, or even just courageous non-writers willing to send me sketches of their personal stories to share God’s hope with the world. Upon hearing this, my sweet friend shared Joan’s story with me, and I knew, if she was willing, it could touch others who have walked, or are walking, a similar path. We live all the way around the world from each other; I will likely never meet Joan in person. But, I am honored to meet her in this space and share a piece of her inspiration with you. I think you will find her heartfelt honesty refreshing. She begins with a poem she wrote during her struggles with infertility. Without any further introduction, here is Joan…

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Treasure

Treasure the flutters of first life
For those whose wombs will ever be empty.

Treasure your bump
For those whose bellies will never swell.

Treasure that sleepy 3 AM hug
For those whose sleep will never be disturbed.

Treasure every “Mommy, I love you!”
For those who will never hear the words “Mommy” or “Daddy.”

Treasure your mad and cluttered house
For those whose house will ever be tidy.

Treasure your children
For those who dream of having children every day.

 

With celebrating Nicole’s adoption day on Monday, I wanted to write about our adoption story and what I learnt about God along the way.

Our journey began Oct 1, 2001. That seems so long ago. We decided as young married couples do, we would start trying for a baby. So full of optimism and hope, we started trying. In December, I was convinced I was pregnant, so off to the doctor I went. The result was negative. I remember thinking, oh this was not how it was supposed to be. But, it was it how was going to be.

Many months of negative results, wondering, hoping just maybe this month will see me pregnant. The niggling thought: What if I never do? In the end, I was diagnosed with unexplained infertility. In other words, there was nothing wrong with me; I just could not fall pregnant. And so began a journey of tears, heartache, and shattered dreams.

We began fertility treatment. Every cycle I would pack up my broken heart, put it a box, go for the treatment. For two weeks, we would hope. Then, my heart would break, I would be angry with God, cry and pick up myself up again.

And we would try again.

It was one of the most difficult times of my life. I know some people wonder why infertility is so hard. If you are a parent, close your eyes. Imagine your child comes running to you calling you “Mommy” and gives the biggest hugs. Every couple dealing with infertility dreams that dream, but in their world, it’s just a dream. Never becoming reality. You have a monthly reminder you are not pregnant. Everyone around you is falling pregnant, and your body is not doing the one thing you were designed to do: carry life. It is heart-wrenching and devastating.

For many, it is a silent pain. What I learnt about God is: God knows our pain. It might feel as if He is far away, distant, but He is right there holding us in our darkest hours. His plan is not our plan, but He holds us in the unfolding of His plan as a mother eagle holds her babies. He sends His angels to watch over us. I count several dear ones as our angels during this time. They cried with us, prayed and ultimately celebrated with us.

Two turning points occurred. One was that I suffered a miscarriage. During that hard time God gave me a glimpse of eternity. And the second was my final treatment. After it was negative, I was broken and empty. I let go and let God. When we can longer carry on ourselves, God can. We get in our own way, and when we let go of holding on with our own strength and let Him carry some of the weight, we can rest and just breathe. When James mentioned the option of adoption, for me it wasn’t a second choice; I knew it was God’s choice. I knew this was the way it was supposed to be.

After several months, we were matched with a little girl. When we held her for the first time, it felt as if our hearts were lit up from the inside. I am the picture of the girl standing in front of the Cross holding her suitcase full of her hopes and dreams for her King, not knowing that what He has in store for me is far more than I could ever have imagined!

At Nicole’s dedication, I stated that if God had given me a choice, one road with happiness and biological children and a road with suffering and Nicole at the end, I would choose the road with suffering and Nicole.

Because God’s plan is perfect. And because He loves us.

Psalm 121, King David speaking

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

 

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Freeze, or Burn?

So, the other day I finally got fed up with a painful growth at the tip of my middle finger, that, because of it being my tallest finger, ended up bumping into everything with force, no matter how cautious I was about it. I was sure it wasn’t a wart. I didn’t think there had been a splinter or sliver of glass in there, but I also knew it had been there for two months with no improvement, but also no infection. I figured they’d send me to the dermatologist to get it sliced off and studied like so many other parts of me that lived near the equator for a few years. But I was wrong.

I went in early in the AM and had to quell my own laughter about my middle finger going up all of the time to protect it from getting knocked by accident. The PA who helped me was not amused, but I find I have to laugh in moments like these. Maybe it’s a nervous habit, like when the dermatologist is cutting something from somewhere normally clothed for a reason. I have to crack jokes or else I cry from the lack of dignity of the moment, and sadly, there are way too many of these moments. I am a dermatologist’s bread and butter! And I find dermatologists to categorically be a humorless bunch (if you’re a derm peep, I’m probably not talking about you). Maybe I provide some comic relief from staring at skin lesions all day, or maybe they are so narrowly focused, my stand-up comedy show is really unwanted. I’m socially awkward anyway, so I walk out of these situations at least having made myself laugh and completely unaware of the extremity of how awkward I really was.

Anyway, it hurt like a son of a gun every time it was bumped. She really had no clue what it was initially. She sliced off the top of the bump, saw no signs of wart “roots,” and decided it might be a hemangioma. So she said I could have it frozen or cauterized, and it would dry up and fall off, and maybe then the vascular bump at the end of my finger would be no more.

Um, okay.

Given the choice, I thought some medically induced frostbite would be the better way to go. And I’ve never been fond of smelling my own flesh burning with medical welding tools. No thanks. If we were going to go that direction, why not just hot-glue-gun my finger at home without the copay? Not my favorite thing. Since I’m a wimp, I assumed a needle of anesthetic would be presented. Nope. She barely asked me if I was ready (doesn’t she know I’d love an epidural just to have a mole removed?) and blast that arctic burn right at my finger for what felt like a full minute. I’m admittedly a real wimp with pain, so it was about two minutes before I could breathe again. I was so incredulous she wasn’t turning that thing off after 10 seconds. Really. I kept looking at her with complete disbelief in my eyes as if any second now she was going to turn that puppy off. Finally, between choking down some oxygen (told you I was a wimp), I declared: “Okay, then. I think I’m all set.” She was having way too much fun with her freeze-blast tool, and she looked like a superhero being told to go back to her secret identity when her services were proven no longer necessary.

And you know what? I got over it. I claimed a little social media sympathy over my little experience, sucked it up, and moved on. But it got me thinking how I wish my sin, insecurities, relational hurts, feelings of betrayal could all be heroically blasted like that. That a full minute of holding my breath and twinging would make it be over.

Oh, wait.

They already were. Over, that is. Those of us with faith in Christ believe they hung on Jesus for several hours. It wasn’t quick or painless or pretty, but “it is finished.” It is finished indeed!

John 19:30, Apostle John speaking
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

So when I’m tempted to dwell on those things, I need to remember that I can live in restored, redeemed relationship with Christ, and therefore with others. My thoughts, my fears, my temptations, my hurts…all taken care of on that cross. Grace covering me like a blanket I never have to take off. I need to look at my finger (it’s tall and the middle one, after all, so hard to miss) and remember He took that all on for me so that I don’t have to dwell in a lack of peace. I can dwell in Him. And there’s truly no place I’d rather be.

What does “It is finished” mean to you?

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Far-Sighted Savior, Short-Sighted Me

Sometimes something stops us completely in our tracks, shutting out all other sound around us, demanding our focus and blurring everything else from our sight. Sometimes those moments define everything from that point forward, setting a new timeline, somehow starting a new chapter we never intended to write—or even read. And then weeks, months, a season or two later, we look back and see the road we went down in that moment that brought both panic and fear as well as blessings. We might even be able to finally bring into focus the things that were blurred for a while, mourning what we missed along the way as a “new normal” invaded our lives. I didn’t want our “new normal,” as I’m sure others didn’t always want theirs, whatever trial stopped them in their tracks. I would rather wake back up to September 2013 and restart, beating against the anxiety/OCD battle that was coming against one of our children. But while we walk this road, not only is there a Savior walking it with us, but He has eyes to see the other side of it. He can see us adapted, adjusted, accepting, dealing, coping, persevering in this new chapter. He can see the fog cleared on the other side: the answers, the new people we are shaped into from being tested in the trials of life. I trust His eyes because mine can’t see that far. How about you? His power is made perfect in our weakness. If you find yourself mourning an old chapter today, wanting the new one to disappear, this verse is also for you today and always, if you place trust in Him. Your Savior deeply loves you— enough to die on a cross for you and me.

2 Corinthians 12:9, Apostle Paul speaking of Jesus

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 

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