The Gift of Fear

Fear can be a gift if you can get to the roots and then grow some wings…

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Everybody is afraid of something.

Maybe you are a happily married mom whose husband travels frequently, and you find yourself checking his flight status constantly because you are secretly afraid that you will become a widow long before your time.

Perhaps you are like my husband, who works extremely hard because he subconsciously wonders whether or not we will have enough money when we eventually retire.

Or maybe you are like me and you fear major change.  Our family moved several months ago and I struggled with the fear of the unknown.

No matter how big and strong you are, everybody is afraid of something.

Many years ago I read an excellent book called the “Gift of Fear” by Gavin de Beker, a book that educates readers on how to trust their gut instincts in order to reduce their chances of becoming the victim of a violent crime.  Many of the principles I learned have stayed with me over the years and I have used the “if your gut thinks something is off, it probably is” concept many times.

In this post, I will highlight several fears I have struggled with throughout my life and how I have found freedom and healing from many of them. I can summarize my approach to handling fear using two simple words:

Roots and Wings

Roots: I had to learn to get to the root of the fear and be able to summarize it in simple terms, and then thrust that fear into the light. 

Wings: I imperfectly rise above the fear with God’s help and strength. 

Think of fear as being an indicator light in your car, letting you know that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.  The “gift” of fear is that sense of freedom and healing I received once the root was identified, brought into the light, and burned away.

I have struggled with many fears including a deep fear of rejection, the fear of moving (which is really the fear of the unknown), and the fear of missing out.  In the following post, I will dig deep into just a few of my fears and how I have found freedom and healing from almost all of them.

Fear of ghosts, demons, and bad guys:  

Many nights as Erik and I were trying to fall asleep, we would hear what sounded like many squirrels were up in the attic, scurrying around.  We were lazy and tired so we let it go for months (I’m embarrassed to admit this). One day, Erik’s brother Ed came for a visit and Erik and Ed ended up working in the attic.  While they were up there, I asked them to look for any evidence of squirrels (like nests, droppings, etc) and report back.  They came down later and said “nothing. No squirrels.”  

That night as we were in bed trying to fall asleep, the racket started up again.  I looked at Erik and said “those stupid squirrels!”  Right then a thought popped into my head: ‘those are not squirrels.”  Oh my!  At first, I was filled with fear as I thought: what can that possibly be?  Is that a demon up there? So in that moment, without even consciously realizing it, I figured out the roots (fear of the unknown, and fear of harm).  I had already learned about the authority I had through Jesus Christ to make demons go away. I looked up toward the attic and prayed (wings) that the demon(s) leave my attic in Jesus’ name. Right at the moment I finished praying, there was a very loud BOOM that filled up our entire bedroom!!  It was as if something was pissed and hit the side of the attic wall with angry force.  It was so loud that Erik and I jumped out of our bed in alarm!  After that huge boom there was complete and utter silence.  

And then the attic was as quiet as a mouse for the next nine years we lived there.

Fear of getting married: It’s not that I didn’t want to marry Erik (my husband) because I most certainly did! He was and still is a wonderful man. But I was extremely terrified that he would change after marriage.  I’m not sure where the root of that fear came from, but it may have been from my deep distrust of men and their potential to hurt me or reject me, or maybe I had watched too many LifeTime movies. Not sure.  🙂

Anyway, I remember listening to the old Elton John song “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” while I studied for Masters degree at his apartment.  I remember writing a school paper on Erik’s computer while quietly singing the famous lines of the song under my breath (because Erik was within ear-shot): 

“You nearly had me roped and tied.  Altar bound, hypnotized, sweet freedom whispered in my ear.  You’re a butterfly, and butterflies are free to fly.”   

I would then look over at Erik and secretly wonder if he was tricking me this whole time and secretly waiting to turn into a psycho after marriage.  Looking back, this fear was silly and irrational, but at the time, it had a hold on me.

Roots: Fear of death (maybe not physical death, but the death of a dream of a happy marriage), fear of being fooled, fear of rejection (of course), and finally, the worst one for me: the fear of being trapped in a bad marriage.  I am a very free-spirited person who likes to make very careful and wise decisions. I didn’t want to mess up the biggest decision of my life!

Wings: I turned to the Lord and prayed about it, and told Him all of my fears. I prayed that if Erik was not the man that God had intended for me, could God please communicate that to me in a way I could understand.  

But then here its the kicker, because God does not always shield us and protect us in every situation.  I prayed that God’s will would be done, and that, whatever He allowed for me, as good or as bad as it might be, that He would give me the strength and the wisdom to withstand the trial and be ok with whatever happened.  I trusted His plan for my life and trusted that He would bring good from it.  And I believed that He would never leave me or forsake me even if my husband did.  I basically prayed the Prayer of Relinquishment, which models Jesus’ prayer in the Garden, before He was led away to death.  He prayed several times that the Lord would find another way for Him to make atonement for the sins of mankind, but God said no, it had to be the cross.  Finally, Jesus ended up praying: “Nevertheless, not my will, but your will be done.”  Jesus went to the cross and died for the sins of the world, and was resurrected on the third day.  He accomplished what He came to do.

After I prayed God’s will for my life and marriage, I had a peace to go forward with the wedding.  It was like a burden lifted from my shoulders and I felt free!  Erik and I had a beautiful wedding day and (thank God) we still have a happy marriage to this day.

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Fear of moving.

Roots: The number one root was the fear of death of all of my carefully built up relationships, fear of not making good friends, fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear that my kids would not thrive, fear of making a huge mistake, and me not finding my purpose here in our new state.

Wings: I prayed to God to help me to find new friends, help my kids to adjust, help my Maryland friends to still love me and pursue me even if I moved away, and to trust that God was allowing or even orchestrating this move.  Update: it’s been seven months since we moved, and although our new neighborhood is super quiet (compared to the AWESOME hood we have just lived in) my neighbors are very nice, we’ve made a few friends, and my Alderman lives here and I received a part-time job working to help her reelection.  We found a great school for the kids, Khloe is thriving academically and socially, and the girls did great on their varsity basketball team.  Additionally, we remodeled our kitchen and I love it! My Maryland friends still love me. The local area is cool. The weather sucks.

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Logan loved playing on his new hockey team!  For this, I’m glad we moved.
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Another great thing about moving: exploring all the new and exciting this to do in our new city – Chicago!  I took our host kids there to see the awesome (and scary!) views this winter.  So fun!

In closing….I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I have my whole life put together in a neat bow…so here are two last fears that I am still working on: first, the fear of losing my husband and children. Second, fear of the “life’s little things” involving my family and my home (and my little job).  

First, losing my husband and kids: the only way I have personally developed a peace about this is to entrust my family and the timing of their life on earth into the hands of the Lord. The illustration I heard about this that helped to set me free is that on the back of every gift you have (in this case, my husband and children) exists an expiration date that the Lord himself put there. The expiration date is hidden to us.  The expiration date could be tomorrow, 5 years from now, or 100 years from now.  But, an expiration date exists indeed.  I don’t think this analogy completely eradicates this fear for me, but it puts it into perspective: my husband and children are a gift from God. He is in control of all aspects of life and death and it’s ultimately up to Him as to how long my greatest gifts exist on this earth.  And the root of this fear is being alone and lonely for the rest of my life and just simply enduring the loss of those I love the most in this world.

Fear of little things that cause me stress:  Stress, for me, is an indication of a small fear that I am not dealing with straight on.  Stress indicates that I am trying to control something that is too hard to completely control.  Lots of times it involves my kids: stress about how my son is doing in school, stress about my daughter’s constant headaches, or stress about getting behind with household or administrative tasks (dumb, but true).  I still need to bring these “smaller fears” into the light by using the roots and wings model. Sadly, I often let these little fears continue on, causing me to become cranky and more controlling with my husband and children.  Not good.

Even this morning my son (who is struggling a little bit in school) said to me: “mom, don’t stress, but my teacher said that we might have all of our tests today because so many people are leaving for Spring Break.”

Because I’m in the midst of writing this post, I calmly said to him: “It’s ok Logan. I trust God.”  But then I added, “but if you want, you can still study on the drive to school.”  🙂

Before I close, I need to reiterate a major qualifier.  God does not always promise us that our greatest fears will not come to pass. I know many people who have lost their battle with cancer, lost a husband or wife, lost a child, have never been married (yet), had to move to a different state or make a major life change, had a friendship change or die, or be trapped in a horrible marriage!  Many good men, women, and children had their greatest fears come to life.  So what do I do with that?

For me, there are two things about God that take the edge off this reality.

First, I know that no matter what I go through, God promises to go with me and will never leave me:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Second, God promises to make all things work together for good. 

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Romans 8:28.

To summarize this verse, to me it means that God promises to take any bad circumstance and bring good from it, and in the process, God will make me more like his Son, meaning I will have more peace and calm when facing whatever trial God allows for me.  He will also shave off sin and adjust other areas of my life that need major improvement. And, I need to add that God is a loving God who carefully considers every trial He sends my way.  There are no mistakes in God’s design.  Sometimes God will allow hard things for me, but He promises to be with me and help me and make something good come from it.  

In conclusion, it is only through God’s strength that I have been able to overcome my many fears.  Fear eventually turns into a gift of perspective and it no longer has control over me in the same way.  The true gift that fear can eventually give me is the gift of freedom and healing.  No longer will that fear have control or power over me.  

In summary, the gift of freedom and healing makes it worth facing down my greatest fears!

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

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Blue Collar Girl Trapped in a White Collar Marriage

I want to take you back to the 1970s and 80s and reminisce about what it was like to grow up somewhere on the spectrum between poor and blue-collar in Upstate, New York, where I grew up.  Back to the days when it was common to see a 1971 Plymouth Baracuda cruising down the streets of Syracuse, windows open, driven around by a guy in a dark blue uniform with a name-tag, blasting “Free Bird” or “Stairway to Heaven.” Maybe there’s a cigarette dangling from his dirty/greasy hands, hands that are hard to get completely clean.

Maybe there’s a little blonde-haired girl in the back seat with him, looking out the window, hoping the smoke will stop blowing into her face.

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Me, as a young girl.

That little girl was me, and I want to share with you my perspective of what it was like to grow up in a blue collar single-parent family — both the good and the bad— and what I have learned since then.  I will also share how I have changed (or not) since transitioning to a white collar marriage several years ago.

Here is my super quick back-story:

I grew up the child of a single working mom after my parents’ divorce at the age of four.  My dad worked at a local car manufacturing company and we didn’t see him very much because he was always working (overtime, double-time, and other terms his union negotiated for him), and did not consistently seek out a relationship with my sister and me. There were also some dysfunctional elements of my childhood in the mix as well.  My single mom was poor, and we (my sister, mom, and me) survived on her small secretary’s salary.  Child support was very low back then so I always noticed how hard she struggled.  Our small family of three drove around in a brown pinto and didn’t go out to eat much because we couldn’t “afford it.” On hot summer days, we would beg my mom to stop at Arctic Isle (the local ice cream stand) for a $1.00 soft serve ice cream cone and the answer was always “no, it’s too expensive, we have ice cream in the freezer at home.” My mom was very cheap and often said no to buying almost anything that wasn’t a necessary item.

Not having a lot of money growing up made me take a good, hard look around me and make some serious inner vows. Vows such as:

“I will work really hard, go to school, and make good money so I won’t have to struggle.”

“I will marry an awesome guy and we will NOT get a divorce.”

“And if don’t get married, fine.  I will do really well in my career.”

“I will show everyone that I am not a loser and will make something of myself.”  (Not sure exactly where that one came from, but I think it stemmed from some deep-seeded self-confidence issues.)

With those inner vows in the back of my mind, I started babysitting at 11, worked my way through high school and college (clocking in between 20 and 30 hours per week as a waitress during college), and then landed a professional job in my early 20’s.  I eventually got married and ended up in what I call a white-collar marriage. On a side note, I was also very picky about the guys I dated, making sure I wouldn’t end up with a “creep,” a “perv,” or a “loser.”  Bottom line?  I didn’t go on many dates.

Below is just a portion of the more difficult aspects of growing up in the poor/blue collar income bracket. Perhaps you can relate to some of these?

  • …First, I remember all the CIGARETTE SMOKE.  Smoke in the house.  Smoke in the car.  Smoke in a tree.  (How can that be?) I have so many memories of just sitting in front of a various TVs that sat perched on the green living room carpet, watching maybe Star Trek, Evel Knievel, or Scooby Doo while someone smoked behind me in an easy chair, reading a newspaper. Growing up in a smoke cloud gave me (subconscious) permission to begin smoking myself very part-time through high school and college.  I finally quit in my early 20s.
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I am a proud survivor of years of second hand smoke.  I began smoking part-time in high school but quit in my early 20s.
  • …We MOVED a lot.  I have many fond/not so fond memories of various apartment buildings, houses we shared with other friends, and yes….I even spent some time in the coveted trailer park.  I will never, ever forget how tiny those little trailer bedrooms were, and the trailer closets were ridiculous.  On an up note, I was able to share a house (different units) with my best friend Hillary, who was also in a single-parent home, which was awesome. We also lived in the same apartment building a couple of times.
  • …We had NO MONEY.  I heard “we can’t afford that” about 1000 times.  Want to stop at McDonalds?  Nope, not gonna happen.  If you want money, you had to get your butt off the couch and go earn it, all by yourself.  So that’s exactly what I did. I have never stopped working and to be honest, it’s so strange for me to not work in a way that earns an income to this day (more on that later). I am still so grateful that my grandparents were so generous with my sister and me — they provided everything from new Trapper Keepers for back to school (remember those?), to new clothes and shoes, to very generous Christmas gifts.
  • …As mentioned above, I didn’t see much of my DAD. Early in life, I developed some father-figure issues and ended up crushing a lot of older men, and men in positions of authority over me. However, I did appreciate his hard work ethic.  He even built our house from scratch and much later, my mom moved back into it and still lives there to this day. We now have a great relationship (as adults), but again, he wasn’t around much growing up and that was hard for me.
  • ….Finally, I struggled with some TOUGH EMOTIONS.  I often felt ashamed of my clothes, house, and cars.  I felt insecure and unworthy of love.  I feared rejection.  There were some things that happened that caused some deep wounds, that I have (thankfully) since healed from.  But they were very hard to go through at the time.
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Yes, friends, that is a beer in my hand 🙂

But growing up blue-collar was also a blessing in many ways.  Here are just a few of the positive elements of growing up in a blue-collar family:

  • First and foremost, I developed an amazing WORK ETHIC.  I have no problem with doing “real work,” “physical work,” and “working with my hands.”  Because my grandfather was in the farming business (he built silos) and also we lived near a farm, I actually have helped neighborhood kids with their farm chores.  I have also actually picked the following: rocks in a huge farm pasture/field, tomato horn worms off of tomato plants,  and weeds from my mom’s garden.  I mowed the lawn consistently (when not living in apartment complexes). In fact, I still happily mow my own yard here in Suburbia while my neighbors watch me curiously from their windows.  Bottom line?  I am not lazy and I’m not afraid of real work.
  • Secondly, I KEEP IT REAL with no BS.  You will always get the real deal from me. I will always shoot 100 percent straight with you.  I don’t like to lie; it makes me uncomfortable.  The only lie I will tell you is if you ask me directly if you look fat in that dress, and if you do, I will feel bad, and I will lie and say no.  You have been warned.  But that’s about the only lie I feel okay about.  Sorry not sorry.
  • Thirdly, I will never be pretentious. I will never think I’m better than you.  I will always treat everyone THE SAME.  And I will always be generous.  I will always over-tip waiters and waitresses, and I will always say “hi” and “thank you” to all the people who make my life easier.  Why would I be snooty with waitresses and maids?  I actually did both of those jobs for many years to earn a living.  Those are my peeps.
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Having fun at one of the restaurants (the Ground Round) I worked at during college.  I sometimes clocked up to 30 hours per week waitressing during school.  Growing up blue collar gave me a kick-butt work ethic.
  • Lastly, I developed an appreciation for the CLASSICS, and no I’m not talking about classical music or classical home-schooling eduction.  I’m talking about Classic cars and classic rock, baby.  Whenever I go back to Syracuse I still see folks driving around in a classic car blasting classic rock.  I just went to one the Eagles’ final concerts last summer before their lead singer passed away.  It was a blast!  (see photo below.)

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    My dad owns five classic (muscle) cars purchased in the last ten years.  These were the cars I grew up around.  I want one.
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His Plymouth Baracuda.  My appreciation for classic cars came from my dad.

So what have I learned since “moving on up” to a different income level?

First, I actually really appreciate money and where it came from.  It is a blessing to actually have some of it.  But here’s the deal: I never want to rely too heavily on money or grow accustomed to being upper middle class.  Why?  Because I developed a deep financial insecurity early on. I know deep in my heart that you can have money one moment, but then the next moment…POOF! It’s gone.  And then you are back to square one. So I decided to not even leave square one in the first place.

Secondly, I am still cheap (especially with myself) and don’t like to spend money.  I still clip coupons (if I feel like it, because coupons are really a pain), and try to limit my children’s material possessions so they don’t become “spoiled.”

Thirdly, I still feel weird about not working outside the home in a way that generates an income. I still feel a little bit like a “moocher” even though my husband assures me he is fine with me being a stay at home parent.  I do plan to work again when my kids are older and after our next adoption, but I would prefer to work part time.

And on that note, I think that’s one of the best things money will buy you: options.  I have the option of working part-time rather than full-time down the road. Our family has the option of spending our money on nice vacations (we have created memories for our kids and have taken them to some nice places). We have the option of buying my kids sneakers exactly when they need them, rather than waiting until the next paycheck comes in.

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There is one thing money can buy: precious time with your family!  We do spend money on making memories with our kids, for sure.  Above, Claire and Erik enjoy fishing in a back-country lake in Utah.

Fourthly, I have learned that money doesn’t buy happiness or inner peace.  However, it does buy time and convenience.  It’s either time or money.  Either you spend the time on something and save the money, or spend the money on something and get back some of your time.  So in that way, it’s a lot easier to exist in a white-collar world.

Finally, the number one reason I believe God has blessed us with a little bit of extra income is a. because God is good and He just chooses to bless us in this particular way, b. we both worked very hard to get here, c. to afford to adopt our children, because adoption is expensive, and d. so we can be generous with other people, and also with ministries and other worthy causes that need financial assistance.

Bottom line?  I believe money is a gift to help support and enhance human relationships and to support worthy causes.  If you have money, chances are, God wants you to help others in need.

So why did I choose the title of this blog?  Honestly, I’m not really “trapped”in a white-collar marriage per se, but I feel as though I really don’t belong some elements of this world, deep down.  One night we spent time with another couple who are also in our income bracket.  Both the husband and wife were very cultured and came from solid families, and they had lived all over the world.  Both of them had PhDs from prestigious universities.  As they shared about their childhoods and current successful careers, I felt like I just couldn’t relate to them.  I felt like I had to impress them with something about my life, but I just couldn’t think of anything to say.  I also didn’t feel like I could be completely myself around them.  (Qualifier: most white-collar folks are super, duper nice and not pretentious at all. Maybe they’re a lot like me and didn’t grow up that way. But if they did grow up with wealth, they seem to have a certain self-confidence about them that poor kids lack.  I think I sense this subconsciously and feel I cannot relate.)

In closing, Oprah Winfrey once said that obtaining money just makes you MORE of something.  So if you are kind, you become more kind.  If you are generous, you become more generous.  If you are an arse, you become more of an arse.  I agree with her assessment.

Since transitioning income brackets I have become the following:

More cheap (with myself)

More generous with others

More unpretentious

More hard working 

More efficient with my time 

More grateful for money, but knowing it’s limitations

I am grateful to be where I am today, but I will never forget where I came from.  My childhood made me into the person I am today, and I am grateful for all the lessons it taught me.  Blue-collar workers truly do make the world go round, and I am proud to be counted among them.

So if you see a suburban woman driving around a really nice convertible, blasting the Eagles, drinking coffee from a coffee mug from home because she didn’t want to stop at Starbucks because it’s too expensive, all the while thinking about how she needs to mow her lawn when she gets home, well…that would be me.

I’m teetering between the two worlds, not really fitting into either one at this point.

But that’s ok, because that old saying is true:

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

So while I may be in a white-collar marriage, I’ll always be the same blue-collar girl, deep inside.

Peace out.

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Off to the Eagles concert with my dear friend Ragan!

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PS: Stay tuned for a future post: Raising Blue Collar Kids in a White Collar family.

Thanks for reading!!

Infertility and Adoption – How I made peace with both

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My college girlfriends, at the start of their baby boom.  Me, in the back, with my career.

Many years ago I body-doubled as a full time student at Liberty University as well as an almost full-time lounge waitress at The Ground Round, serving beer and Long Island Ice Teas to mostly semi-drunk rednecks, err…people. I often joked to friends that I was a good Christian college student by day, and a wild cocktail waitress by night.  But that story is for another post.

When it was slow at the restaurant, I would often dream about my future. This is how my future would play out:

First, I was going to find my wonderful husband at Liberty because that’s what all the other girls were doing. Secondly, we would marry and proceed to have four healthy, biological children (two boys and two girls) two years apart, and stop having children when I turned 30 because after the age of 30 you ran the risk of having a child with medical issues.  Thirdly, I would start my career after my kids were in school and finally, we would all live happily ever after.

And that’s exactly how it all played out.

Not.

I can tell you with a smirk on my face that the opposite occurred in almost every way!

After college (in which I graduated very much a single young lady) I began an awesome, yet intense professional career (you can read about it here.) When I turned 25, I met a wonderful guy named Erik and we began dating.  He was an amazing guy and after a few months, I had a sneaking suspicion that he just might be ‘the one.’  But then one day he dropped a bomb on me: he told me that many years ago he had undergone chemotherapy treatment for cancer which had left him unable to have biological children.  He delivered this news right before Christmas because I had planned to bring him home to meet the family.

“I need you to know this now, in case you change your mind about bringing me home to meet your family and dating me. I really like you, but I would understand if you feel we need to break things off,” he said to me with sadness in his eyes.

I was devastated and moped around for a few days, wrestling with the decision to stay in a relationship with Erik. However, I had a strong feeling that if I broke things off with him, I would deeply, deeply regret it all the days of my life.  Again, that sneaking suspicion that he was the one kept coming back to me.  Erik was an incredible guy who was very deep, Godly, and intelligent.  That was my version of the Trifecta.  Plus, I knew that if we ever wanted kids, we could always adopt.  So with much prayer and tears, I said YES to Erik and thereby gave up the dream of ever getting pregnant, ever feeling the kick of a baby in my growing belly, and ever seeing our genetic traits come alive in a new human being that we both created.  In summary, I was choosing infertility.

After I prayed, I had a peace that I had done the right thing. Erik and I continued dating, he met my family, we got married, and the rest is history.  And I have never regretted my decision to marry Erik, not even for a second.

So you would think dealing with infertility would be “easier” because I knew about it beforehand rather than being surprised by it after marriage, right?

I think the answer (for me) is yes and no. Yes, in that I knew it all going in and therefore, wasn’t surprised.  And no, because I learned that even if you know about something beforehand, it doesn’t make it that much easier to deal with.  It just takes the edge off, really.

What also made it hard is that I did some research and discovered that in a few cases, men were able to gain their fertility after several years following their chemotherapy treatments. Somewhere deep inside a tiny seed of hope was planted.

So how did the sting of infertility manifest itself? I found myself jealous and comparison-prone when all of my college friends went through their “baby boom.”  I can’t remember the number of baby showers I attended to support my friends with forced (and sometimes real) smiles, gazing at their huge bellies while I looked down at my (mostly) flat one.  I also wrestled with the occasional “trigger.”  For me, a trigger is a “reminder” of what should have been or what could have been if only (fill in the blank).  Three common triggers for me came on Christmas (yet another Christmas and still no baby), my birthday (wow, I’m another year older and still no baby), and of course the mother of all triggers – Mother’s Day!!

Other triggers included finding out that a previously infertile couple was now expecting. Of course I was overjoyed for them but also painfully aware that they had indeed left The Club, while we were still active members of it.  As I mentioned, I also wrestled with comparison.  Many of my best friends started their families very young. While I was blazing through my career, they popped out multiple babies.  It was weird watching their children celebrating their fifth birthday while I had nothing cooking in my own personal oven.

People also accidentally say insensitive things to infertile couples. I heard things like:

“Slow down and just relax. It will happen!” … “All in God’s perfect timing!” and … “Oh, I understand what you are going through.  We tried for two whole months before we finally got pregnant.”

I could go on but you get the gist. In a nutshell, infertility is hard, it makes you feel “lesser than,” you tend to compare yourself with women that easily conceive, you might grow jealous and insecure quite frequently, people say insensitive things, it’s expensive to deal with, it causes lots of stress in the relationship, and you sit around wondering how you are ever going to build your family.

One last note about infertility: infertility is a very hidden, easily masked, very painful and private experience for one in eight married couples. Please be careful before you make comments to young (or not so young) married couples like: “when are you going to start a family?”  You have no idea what they may be going through!  Ok, on with the story.

Obviously, Erik and I were aware that adoption was the only option available for us to build our family. But here’s the problem. My heart wasn’t really “into” adoption for several reasons, mostly reasons that I am embarrassed to admit to you, so I am asking for your permission2speakfreely here, without judgment.  And so I will.  Below were my concerns about adoption (before we adopted):

  1. I won’t love the baby because it won’t be “my own.”
  2. What if the baby is ugly? I probably will not love an ugly baby.
  3. Adoption is second choice; a Plan B. It’s “not as good as” having a beautiful bio baby.
  4. Most people want to have their “own, biological” baby. People only adopt because “they have to” in order to have kids (similar to number three, but broadening it out to the general population).
  5. Adoption is scary because the babies might have to deal with potential drug and alcohol abuse while they are in utero, and the occasional brownie.
  6. Adoption is so much paperwork and it’s unfair because they make you go through so many hoops that other parents don’t have to go through.

To make a long story short, we ended up adopting three awesome kids (you can read their stories below), and now I can honestly say that numbers one through four are just plain WRONG and ignorant. There is some truth to numbers 5 and 6, however.  Especially number six.  Adoption is a LOT of work, you have to get “clearance” to adopt from a wide variety of sources, and each box you check off for your paperwork can have several hours of effort (and waiting) behind it.  You have to “prove” you are worthy to adopt (whereas folks who become pregnant the old fashioned way can just become parents, even if they are lousy parents).  It feels very unfair and intrusive at times.

(On a side note/rant, I also wrestled with how hard the process is to adopt children world-wide who need homes. For example, I have a friend whose parents live and work in Venezuela.  Her mother-in-law volunteers at a hospital and routinely sees babies as young as three months old abandoned at the hospital due to the on-going crisis in that country. There are thousands of good families all over the world who would be willing to take in these babies in (and others like them world-wide) but because so many governments stand in the way, it’s not possible.  And the children suffer.  Some countries even close their adoption programs because of the stigma of having other cultures care for their own children. Again, the children suffer.)

So on to the conclusion of my story. So…having dealt with infertility and adoption, you would think everything would wrap up with a neat little bow at this point, correct?

It would have except for something weird that has happened to us/me that very few people know about.

For almost two decades, I believe God has spoken to Erik and me about believing Him for a miracle pregnancy. What??  You ask.  I know!!  I’m in my 40s.  Nobody my age is even having babies anymore, many of my friends have kids in college and some of my friends are actually (gulp) grandparents!  I know it’s crazy.   But I could tell you story after story of God speaking to me and overall confirming to me to keep believing for this miracle.   We even felt directed to attempt two IVF cycles (which subsequently failed).  The Lord gave us many big and small signs along the way to encourage us to embark out on this faith limb, only to see the limb fall to the ground not once, but twice.  It was a very painful time for us, but Erik and I to this day both believe we were supposed to do both rounds of IVF for some mysterious reason.

The question I have been wrestling with for years is this: why would God keep asking us to believe Him for a miracle that He never delivers? It’s been eighteen long years that this has been going on and I’m still not pregnant.  Could it be that we need to adopt all the kids we are supposed to adopt first?  I think that is one plausible explanation.  There are others.  But it’s still a mystery with no closure (and I love closure).  I’ve prayed numerous times that God would please let me know if I have misunderstood Him or if it’s time to move on.  But as of right now I believe I am supposed to remain in a state of suspended animation and faith that it still could actually happen.

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My three beautiful kiddos.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In conclusion, I am thankful for the hard yet wonderful gift of infertility, which gave me three of my most valuable treasures. I wouldn’t have it any other way.  As for the mystery?  God is in that too.  And even if that never resolves in a way that makes sense, the Lord knows what He is doing and has a plan. I need only to look at the faces of my three beautiful children to know that the biggest mystery is solved: we couldn’t have our “own” kids because God had our “own” kids coming to us in a different way.

And that, my friends, is good enough for me.

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Thanks for reading!  For those who missed my kiddos’ adoption stories….

You can read Khloe’s Adoption story here

You can find Claire’s here

And Logan’s here

PS: A quick note to infertile women (who would love a family): I am now about 80% of the way across the “infertility bridge” and can look back with some hindsight.  I can honestly say to you that things will get better and everything will eventually will work itself out, I promise. Everything happens for a reason, to quote a man-made proverb, and for us, we were meant to adopt.  I don’t know what it will look like for you.  And as for all my friends who had kids ahead of me (for example my awesome college buddies pictured above) I love them because they give me such great intel on what to expect in just a few short years (plus some great hand-me-downs).  Many other friends and family ended having kids around the same time I did, and I found out that most older kids play with younger kids anyway, or babysit them later, which is also very cool.  I’m now in my 40s and guess what?  It’s really not that big of a deal to have kids when you’re older.  A lot of women are getting pregnant or adopting much later in life.  Having younger kids is keeping me young. I actually might adopt/host/foster more kids in the future.  I guess my point is – everything will eventually work itself out the way it’s supposed to.  I know it’s tough.  Hang in there.   God is with you.  He loves you and will help you. Infertility is unfair and hard and crushing and disappointing and a real pain, I know.  But it will get better!  I promise!

Thanks for reading!