Monday, February 22, 2010

The Bible and the Pain of Infertility

I could identify with so many of the things I read in this article, The Bible and the Pain of Infertility. The most profound thing I've been learning lately is mentioned in Part II. Philip Monroe asks, "What does godly living look like when I am angry?" Then, he answers, "Without violating the fruit of the Spirit, Godly anger is directed at the real problem--the results of the Fall. Sin has destroyed the peace we have with God and the peace we have in our world. It's okay to be angry about that." This article gives Christians permission to feel sad or angry about the infertility they're experiencing (or have experienced), and really helped me to understand why I grieved so deeply. Please take the time to read it. It will bring you a great deal of encouragement.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Your Hands

For all my friends who are still waiting...someone danced to this song on So You Think You Can Dance tonight. I had never heard it. Maybe that's because I don't listen to the radio. But, I'm glad I heard it tonight! I hope it will encourage you.

Your Hands
BY KATIE HERZIG, JJ AND DAVID HELLER

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn’t there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

When you walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will set all things right
Yeah, one day you will set all things right

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still

Friday, July 03, 2009

Strength in the Lyrics

Our first year in Guatemala, when I was at my lowest point with infertility, we went to a missionary's church service where we sang this song. We had sung it before at church, but it had never hit me like it did that day. Since then, it has been such a challenge and encouragement to me. I hope it will be to you too.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Reading Rainbow

During the day, while I'm working around the house, I like to have to TV on for company. But, as you can imagine, there's usually a bunch of junk on. So, around lunch time I usually turn it to Reading Rainbow. I can remember sitting in our library in Elementary School singing the theme song and watching episodes at least once a week. I loved it!

This week, the episode I saw (on PBS) was "Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies" about adoption! It was a great episode. They interviewed adults who have adopted and children who have been adopted. They portrayed adoption as a great way of growing a family, but didn't try to ignore the challenges by painting a perfect picture. One adoptive mom said something to the effect of, "No matter how great their life is now, they will still have to face their past at some point."

These are the books they reviewed. You can find the descriptions of each book by clicking on the episode link.



Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies by Ann Turner







Horace by Holly Keller






Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers: A Collection of Family Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman






Free to be...A Family: A Book About All Kinds of Belonging by Marlo Thomas & Friends

In Another's Words

So, I have been going through 31 years worth of pictures that I've been wanting to put into albums for the last 8 years. I figure, if I don't do it now, I'll never do it! Anyway, today I came across this poem that someone gave me. I don't know who or when, and there is no author listed, but I thought it was pretty crazy how much it mirrors my previous post, "Grace". This poem just shows that what I experienced reflects the process of sanctification that many (if not most) believers go through. Even if our initial motives are immature, by God's Grace, He reveals Truth to us anyway.

God's Grace

I did not know His love before,
the way I know it now.
I could not see my need for Him,
my pride would not allow.
I had it all, without a care,
the "Self-sufficient" lie.
My path was smooth, my sea was still,
not a cloud was in my sky.

I thought I knew His love for me,
I thought I'd seen His grace,
I thought I did not need to grow,
I thought I'd found my place.
But then the way grew rough and dark,
the storm clouds quickly rolled;
The waves began to rock my ship,
I found I had no hold.

The ship that I had built myself
was made of foolish pride.
It feel apart and left me bare,
with nowhere else to hide.
I had no strength or faith to face
the trials that lay ahead,
And so I simply spoke His name
and bowed my weary head.

His loving arms enveloped me,
and then He helped me stand.
He said, "You still must face this storm,
but I will hold your hand."
So through the dark and lonely night
He guided me through pain.
I could not see the light of day
or when I'd smile again.

Yet through the pain and endless tears,
my faith began to grow.
I could not see it at the time,
but my light began to glow.
I saw God's love in brand new light,
His grace and mercy, too.
For only when all self was gone could
Jesus' love shine through.

It was not easy in the storm,
I sometimes wondered why.
At times I thought, "I can't go on."
I'd hurt, and doubt, and cry.
But Jesus never left my side
He guided me each day.
Through pain and strife,
through fire and flood,
He helped me all the way.

And now I see as ne'er before
how great His love can be
How in my weakness He is strong,
how Jesus cares for me!
He worked it all out for my good,
although the way was rough.
He only sent what I could bear,
and then He said, "Enough!"

He raised His hand and said, "Be still!"
He made the storm clouds cease.
He opened up the gates of joy
and flooded me with peace.
I saw His face now clearer still,
I felt His presence strong,
I found anew His faithfulness,
He never did me wrong.

And now I know more storms will come,
but only for my good,
For pain and tears have helped me grow
as nothing ever could.
I still have so much more to learn
as Jesus works in me;
If in the storm I'll love Him more,
that's where I want to be!

Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Grace

I have written this post a million times in my head. But, lately it’s really been pressing on my heart, so I decided there’s probably a reason and I should put it down on paper and post it a.s.a.p.

At the end of college, as I was beginning my adult life, I realized that I had no foundation on which to base the major decisions I was making for my future. So, God initiated a debate about whether or not I should commit my life to Him, during which I remember telling Him that I didn’t want to be a Christian because I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I was pretty sure I would have to change a lot about myself if I were a Christian, and essentially I wanted to be lord of my own life. God responded to this concern of mine by saying (clearly to my heart, not audibly), “I will make you want what I want.” To which I said, “OK then. As long as I’ll want it, I’m cool with that.” At that moment, sitting on the bed in my apartment, I gave God “permission” to be MY LORD.

Growing up, when things went wrong in my life, I can recall people saying, “You just need to get right with the LORD.” Not knowing exactly how to do that, the message I got was, “If you ‘get right with the LORD’ your life will be better and you will be happy.” In other words, if you try your best not to sin, things will go your way. I grew up in church and it seemed true that those who were “on the straight and narrow” didn’t experience the heartache that others (including me) did. I have to admit, the main reason I wanted to become a Christian was because things weren’t going right in my life and I wanted to be happy. It had nothing to do with being humbled by the realization of what Christ had done for me. It was much more selfish than that. Fortunately, God had mercy on me and took over my heart despite my impure motivations.

Early on, God was gracious enough to answer all of my prayers and I found what I thought to be true happiness. He quickly removed the desire and temptation to sin and replaced it with a hunger to get to know Him better by reading His Word and praying. Admittedly, the fact that I had “gotten right with the Lord” and things had started to go well for me created a sense of pride in me. I could easily look at others and see that their life was in shambles because they hadn’t made the effort to “get their life right.”

After two to three years of God answering nearly all my prayers, one of my prayers was met with silence: my prayer to conceive. Why was God not giving me what I wanted? I had done my part. I tried to read my Bible and pray everyday, serve my church, invest in people, etc. Where’s my reward? Didn’t I deserve it? As a Christian, aren’t I entitled to this? I mean, I wasn’t asking for anything sinful. This is NOT how things were supposed to go!

After that, Sunday morning worship was dead to me. I didn’t feel I had anything to worship Him for. He hadn’t given me what I wanted! Wasn’t worship supposed to be about thanking Him for what He has given us? Not only was worship dead, I was also finding that some scriptures seemed to be untrue as well (e.g. Psalm 37:4, John 14:14, John 16:24). But, I had experienced such a change in my heart in the few years I had been a Christian and so many “mysteries of God” had been revealed to me, that instead of grappling with the verses I couldn’t reconcile, I chose to ignore them.

I began to ask myself: Why? Why is this happening? Is God punishing us for past sins? Hadn’t He forgiven me? At that point I was faced with the realization that I was now on level ground with all the people I had been judging, the ones who were suffering. Could it be that their suffering wasn’t related to their sin? After deeply searching my heart and seeking the LORD, He continually brought the passage about the blind man in John 9:1-3 to my mind. Verse 3 says, “‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’” This had huge implications not only for my own circumstance, but also for my attitude towards others over the past several years. Thus began the process of breaking ME down.

As I was faced with the ugliness of my pride, I prayed that God would remove it, cut it out of my life. I knew it would probably hurt, but I didn’t care. It was UGLY! But, instead of pointing out all of my faults and allowing me to be guilt-ridden, God, in His mercy, began to show me the depth of His love for me. My “spiritual eyes” were opened to an understanding of God (and suffering) that replaced my pride with humility.

I began to listen to the words of the songs during worship, and realized that the writers weren’t praising God for what He had given them; they were praising Him for who He is and what He did for them on the Cross. The songs talked about His love and sacrifice for us. It seemed that the writers had a deep grasp of their depravity without Christ and the significance of their salvation, something I hadn’t fully considered before because I thought my life had gotten better out of my own efforts. But, God showed me that it was Him that made the changes in me (2 Corinthians 5:17). And, now that He had made it clear that I was no better than anyone else, I began to meditate on my salvation.

I remembered who I was before Christ, my selfish motivation for becoming a Christian, and was humbled by the thought that He would have chosen me anyway. Regardless of who I was then, He still loved me enough to save me (Romans 5:8). He opened my eyes to specific instances where He had pursued me. What I deserved was wrath, but He gave me life and love instead. What kind of God would do that? The world began to expand right before my eyes and I realized that I was not at the center of it. God was. I was humbled yet again.

Finally, I understood grace and my worship was transformed. I came alive and began to praise Him for who He is. I realized that even if nothing else goes right in my life, I’ve been SAVED, and that’s enough! He said to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect in weakness.” I now knew what the Apostle Paul meant when he said he could find contentment in any circumstance (Philippians 4:11-13). I began to understand James when he said, “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” (James 1:2-7)

My new understanding of God’s grace redefined “true happiness” for me. Previously, my happiness was based on whether or not God gave me what I wanted. But, when he removed the things I wanted, the things that stood between me & Him, I could see that He had already given me the greatest gift possible: life and victory over sin and death. Nothing else on earth could compare to that!

I’ve realized that God does not demonstrate His love for us by giving us what we want. That may be how we operate as humans, but God can see the whole universe from beginning to end; He created it! We are his children (John 1:12-13). Children don’t always understand why their parents withhold things from them, but the parents know what’s best. God, our Father, knows what’s best for us. Sometimes He doesn’t give us what we want to protect us. Sometimes He has something He wants to reveal to us through our suffering. We can’t understand God’s ways, but we can trust that He has our best interest at heart (Jeremiah 29:11-18). He doesn’t demonstrate His love by giving us what we want, He demonstrated His love for us on the cross, once and for all (Romans 5:8). No matter what we face in life, we know that God loves us.

Likewise, our love for Him can’t be based on whether or not He gives us what we want. He knows the desires of our heart; He created us. He placed within us a desire to be loved and feel complete. We may think that can be accomplished by getting the things we want. But, God knows that those things are just a distraction from the one who can truly fulfill those desires—Him. So, when we read Psalm 37:4, John 14:14, and John 16:24, we must remember that He is our Father and His Will is perfect (Romans 12:2). When we’re reading scriptures that we have not experienced to be true, we can still believe them by remembering that He is sovereign and we can trust Him with our lives.

Recently, a friend asked me if I felt “complete” when I got pregnant (when I got what I wanted). I could honestly say, no. I didn’t feel any different about God after I got pregnant than I did before. I didn’t feel like He was finally showing me that He loved me by giving me what I wanted. He gave me that sense of love and completion when He revealed to me the gravity of what He did for me on the cross and showed me what He had saved me from.

Through infertility, I have learned to praise God for my suffering. God has a special message for those who suffer. When you suffer, you can be sure that God wants to go deeper with you. He loves you. Your suffering is not in vain. Had we not suffered, I may have never come to these realizations. This experience has given me the courage to face future suffering with joy, knowing that He has a reason.

Andy preached a message on December 28, 2008 at Eternal titled Suffering and the Comfort of God. It brought to light many of the beautiful reasons we don’t have to be afraid of suffering. You can listen to it by clicking on the link or download it on iTunes.

Ephesians 3:16-21
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Blog

I didn't think it would be wise or appropriate to blog about the pregnancy on a site called "Infertility and Adoption."  So, I've started a new blog to document the pregnancy.  If you're interested, please visit Psalm 113.  If you're more interested in the adoption conversation, there are still some things I've left unsaid on this site, so I will continue the infertility and adoption conversation at this venue.  Thanks for your sweet comments and the joy you have expressed on our behalf.  We are so blessed!

Most Popular Question Answered

So, are you still planning to adopt?

Answer:  Yes.  Two days before we found out we were pregnant we were awarded a grant from Steven Curtis Chapman's foundation Shaohanna's Hope.  It will not cover the full amount, but will certainly help.  The grant will be awarded at placement and they will hold it until we are ready.

Interestingly enough, we were in our eighth month of waiting for adoption when we found out we were pregnant, and the same week we got our first call from the agency.  In fact, they called about two different children that week.  Needless to say, we were a little overwhelmed.  We didn't want to just say "no", but we were...distracted.  I hadn't even been to the doctor yet to find out about the baby that is growing inside of me or how many are already in there!  We prayerfully considered both children and didn't feel a peace about either situation.  And, after counseling and praying with people we trust very much, we've asked the agency to pull our portfolio until we feel is it time to start the process again, which will probably be after the baby is born.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sit Back, Relax, Grab a Cup of Coffee

…or hot chocolate if you prefer.  I want to tell you a story about our recent trip to Guatemala.

Andy was asked to do the Sunday morning devotional for our team.  He chose to speak about adoption since our trip to Guatemala last year was the motivating factor for us seriously pursuing adoption.  It was appropriate, too, because this July marked our sixth year of waiting for a baby.  So, he shared a little of our story simply to help illustrate the message.  He talked about the fact that all believers are adopted into God’s family (Ephesians 1:5).  And, our adoption makes us children of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).  Now, that’s good stuff!

Afterwards, one of the missionaries currently living in Guatemala, Luis, told us that he felt that he and Ron, the director of the mission organization, should pray for us.  He said they’ve prayed for many women who weren’t able to conceive who later conceived.   He said that in Hebrews 11:11 it says that God gave Sarah the “strength” to conceive (NKJ), he then cross referenced that with Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” 

Andy said later that when Luis proposed this, his first thought was, “Were you not listening to what I just said?  I said we’re adopting.”  But, he knew this guy hadn’t walked through the whole process with us over the past six years, and we knew God would get His way no matter what.

About two minutes later, Ron, who had not heard our conversation with Luis, said that the Lord showed him he needed to pray for us.  Last year he said that to our pastor’s wife who had been suffering from debilitating migraines for 15 years and she was healed!  So, we said, “OK.”

A couple of days passed and they hadn’t prayed for us yet, so as they were leaving one night a lady from our team said, “Ron, are you going to pray for Andy and Michelle?”  He said, “Oh, I’ve already pronounced her pregnant, but I’ll pray if you want me to.”

WHAT?  What in the world?  How can that be?  I started my period the day before we left for Guatemala and we’d been in separate rooms ever since!  (TMI—I know.)

So, the group laid hands on us and Ron hovered his hand over my womb and began to pray.  It wasn’t a weird emotional thing, just a simple prayer that went something like this:  “Lord, we come to you asking that you bless this couple with a child.  We ask you to open Michelle’s womb and allow her to conceive.  I come against the spirit of infidelity…wait, that’s not right…what’s the word?”  The group said collectively, “INFERTILITY!”  Ron said, “Oh yeah.  I come against the spirit of infertility in the name of Jesus.  So many people see children as a burden, but Michelle and Andy have been waiting for a child for a long time, Lord.  They want to be parents.  I pray that you would not allow them to be negative about this, but that you would bless them by allowing her to conceive.  I pray believing that you have done it already.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.”

After our group concluded, I went up to get a shower and cried, a lot.  I was scared to open my heart to the possibility again.  I had prayed and believed before and it didn’t happen, so I had closed that part of my heart off in defense.  I asked God if I should believe, if I should open my heart to hope for pregnancy again.  I knew that if it was of Him that it would happen, but if it was just people who wanted good things for us, my heart would be broken again.

Then I started to think about all the people who were in the room during the prayer and how the result of this prayer would affect their faith too.  I knew at the end of the month if I wasn’t pregnant that it wouldn’t rock my world so much that I would lose faith in God.  He’s taught me that my faith can’t be dependent on whether He gives me what I want or not.  But, what about them?  How would this affect their faith?  That thought was too much for me.  I knew it was out of my control.  So, finally I said, “God, all I can do is trust you.  I trust you with our hearts and with the faith of all of those who were there.  This is your deal.  I trust you.”

For the remainder of the trip, Ron made comments to me as if I had already gotten a positive pregnancy test.  One time he said, “the next time I hug you I won’t be able to get this close to you because you’ll have a big belly!”  I didn’t really know how to respond to those kinds of comments.  He said, “You’ve got to start talking like that now.”

At the Guatemala City airport, a second team of missionaries from Eternal flew in on the same plane we were to fly home on.  So, we got to hang out with them in the airport for a few minutes as our week of service was ending and theirs was beginning.  The pastor and his wife were on team 2, so I went to her right away and told her that Ron had prayed for me.  She immediately started crying.  She knew that when Ron prayed, he wasn’t messin’ around!  After all, God healed her last year and she had complete faith that God could heal me too.  So, she looked me in the eyes and said, “Live in it.” (Mark 11:24)

We were home for a week before we went down to FL for two weeks to visit Andy’s family.  As we were packing, I calculated the days and figured out that I should expect my next period while we were gone.  But, all I could think was “live in it,” so I didn’t pack any tampons.  Instead, I packed two pregnancy tests and the Willow Tree statue, “New Dad”, that I had bought years before and planned to give Andy to let him know our first child was on the way!  At this point I had decided to live in full faith that God was going to answer the prayers for me to conceive and trusted that He would be there for me if it wasn’t His will.  I had more than the faith of a mustard seed that God could do this (Matthew 17:20).

While in FL, I took care of my body as if I were pregnant.  I didn’t get in the hot tub at Andy’s parents house, which was very strange to everyone else who knows how much I love the hot tub.  I wouldn’t eat certain foods like soft cheeses, and I just kind of took it easy.  I even said to myself secretly in my head sometimes, “I’m pregnant!”  Andy on the other hand struggled to believe it.  He felt so strongly that God had clearly shown us the path to adoption that it just wasn’t His plan for me to be pregnant.

Three days before my expected period, I woke up before Andy with the intention of taking a pregnancy test.  I went into the bathroom and peed on the stick.  It was the calmest I’ve ever been taking a pregnancy test.  As I waited for the results, I prayed that God would guard my heart.  I had such a peace that He would be there to comfort me if I looked over and saw a negative. 

Now, put down your hot beverage.

I’m pregnant!  Yep, you heard me right, I’M PREGNANT!!!!  Now, stop reading for a moment and let this miracle of God sink in.  Praise the Lord!!!!

It was the most surreal moment.  It was like a movie scene where I was flying through a tunnel of pictures from the last six years of infertility at lightening speed and it all stopped on that positive sign.  My plan was to go back in the room and give Andy the statue of the man holding the baby and let him figure it out, but...that’s not what happened.  J

I SO needed another human being to confirm that what I was seeing was real, I mean, I’ve never seen a positive pregnancy test before.  So, I ran in the room (I had to wake Andy up) and grabbed the paper in the test box that tells you what to look for.  I held it in front of his face with a shaking hand.  Once I felt sure his eyes had focused enough to know what he was looking at, I held the stick up next to the paper.  I watched his eyes move from the stick to the paper, from the stick to the paper, from the stick to the paper…and then he gasped.  We looked at each other with eyes and mouths wide open like, “Are you serious?!!”  And, I just smiled and nodded.  We hugged and cried and I shook like Chihuahua.  It was a magical moment!

If you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning, you know how important it was for me to tell everyone on person.  Well, listen to how much God cares about the details.  We were in Orlando visiting Andy’s sister when I took the test, so we got to tell her family.  Then, we stopped off and told my brother in Palm Coast on our way to tell Andy’s parents in Orange Park.  We stayed a couple more days with his parents and got to tell his grandparents and cousins.  One the way home, we stopped off at my parent’s house in GA.  When we got home we got to tell almost everyone in person.  The reactions were SIX times greater because of how long we’ve waited.  I will treasure their faces, hugs, and words of praise to God for the rest of my life.

Sometimes when I tell people, they say things like “See, all you needed to do was relax and not be under so much stress.” Or “That’s how it happens, you start the adoption process and BOOM!”  All I can say to that is, no.  Don’t give credit to anything other than who it was, a blatant MIRACLE from God.  And I ask that you don’t leave that part of the story out when you tell it to others.

I am eight weeks along, due April 9th.  The doctor said everything looks good!

Thank you all for your faithful prayers over the past six years.  We know that God heard your prayers too.  He is faithful and good, even when we don’t understand his timing.

These verses have comforted and encouraged me over the past six years.

Psalm 113

1 Praise the LORD.  Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD

2 Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore.

3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.

4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,

6 who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

7 He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap;

8 he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people.

9 He settles the barren woman in her home as the happy mother of children.  Praise the LORD.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

OK, I'll Say It...

…no we haven’t heard anything from the agency.  No, we don’t have a match yet.  There.  I said it.  Now I can move on.

I have avoided blogging for the past couple of months because I SO wanted my next post to be news about our baby.  But, now too much time has passed, and people are going to stop checking if I don’t write something.

I’ve heard so many adoptive moms talk about what they call “emotional labor”.  Adoptive moms don’t have the physical pain of carrying and delivering a child, but our hearts ache deeply as we wait for the child we have prayed for for so long.  I’ve definitely been experiencing that.  Even though we KNOW that God is going to give us the child He has chosen for us at the perfect time, we still long for our child in such a real way that we can almost feel him/her in our arms at times.  We stand and look at our nursery stocked with all the things we need to care for a baby and imagine what life will be like when he/she is here.  It’s both exciting and excruciating.

For some women, infertility is the hardest experience of their lives.  For me, waiting for our adopted child is much harder than all of my years of infertility combined.  I think it’s because having a child biologically is not ULTIMATE for me.  What IS ultimate for me is being a mom.  Honestly, at this point I don’t think I would feel a tremendous loss if I never birthed a child.  As my friend (who is also an adoptive mom with no biological children) says, “God just had a different plan for how I would get my children.  They are no less mine than if I gave birth to them.  And, if I had given birth to children, I think it would have been these exact two children.” 

For many women, giving birth is ultimate.  I can usually tell who they are because when I talk to them about our adoption the conversations inevitably end with their encouraging me to keep the faith that I’ll have a baby “of my own” one day.  I can’t explain why God has made me OK with infertility, but I’m thankful He has.

The pain of waiting for our child is magnified with Mother’s Day approaching.  If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you have heard me say how hard Mother’s Day is for “infertile” women.  It is especially hard for women who go to church on Mother’s Day.  Typically churches have a ceremony or some kind of treat for mothers—and they should!  Mothers need to be recognized for what they do.  It is a rewarding and beautiful thing to sacrifice and serve others on a daily basis.  I can’t wait to be included in that!

This year, Andy offered to take me away somewhere for Mother’s Day.  But, I thank God that I don’t feel that is necessary this year.  Three or four of our close friends are having their new babies baptized on Mother’s Day, and I want to be there for that.  I dream of the day we have our little one baptized as a symbol of our recognition that this child belongs to God, not us, and we are committed to raising him/her with that in mind.  Part of infant baptism is a charge to the congregation to support the parents and help raise the child(ren) in a covenant community of believers.  I want to be there to make that promise to my friends.

One of the most beautiful things about our church family is that they long for this child to join the family almost as intensely as we do!  I could mention our pending adoption to almost any woman at church at any given moment and the water works begin.   They hurt for us and are excited for us.  It is such a beautiful picture of 1 Corinthians 12:26.  I know that if I’m having a hard time on Mother’s Day, church is where I want to be!  If I cry, it’s OK because I know they are going to love on me so hard that I will be comforted and reminded of God’s love and promises.  And I know Andy will love on me too.  I told him that it would help me this year (as we’re closer to getting our baby than we’ve been in the past six years) that it would help if he treated me like a mother and reminded me throughout the day that I AM going to be a mother soon.  Thinking of it that way makes me a little excited about Mother’s Day.  Who knows…I may be eight months “pregnant” right now and just don’t know it yet!

iVoy a Guatemala!

Translation:  I’m going to Guatemala!!  I am so excited I can hardly stand it!  I’ve wanted to go again all along, but my number one priority this year is getting my baby.  So, I put myself on the alternate list so that I could avoid having to contact my supporters (in the case that we got our baby and I couldn’t go) and say, “Oh, well…I’m not going now.  I’m going to give your money to the other missionaries.  I hope you don’t mind.”  Well, two weeks ago a team member had to drop out, so I got moved from the alternate list to the official list of team members!  Of course, we could still get our baby before July 5th, in which case I wouldn’t be going to Guatemala, but at this point I’m planning on going.

Guatemala is significant to me for many reasons.  Most notably, it is where we were last year when we decided we were going to step out on faith and pursue this dream of adoption.  You can read about my life changing experiences there last year in my August 2007 post titled, “Get In My Belly!”

There’s a new Cuban restaurant in Rock Hill called Carlos CafĂ©.  Andy and I went there a couple of months before I knew I’d be going to Guatemala this year.  Plantains and rice with black beans, two very common sides in Guatemala, were served with the entrees.  As I was eating, I got so emotional I almost lost my appetite (but it was too good to stop eating!).  I wanted to go to Guatemala so badly!  I avoided Carlos for a while because I didn’t want to think about it.  Now I can go enjoy it again!

This year, our team will be staying in an orphanage that Pray America (aka Manos de Jesus) recently purchased.  Our church has been asked to build the chapel that will overlook the orphanage, which is nestled in a mountainside in Chichicastenango, Guatemala.  (See details of the plan on their website, http://www.prayamerica.org.)  Are you kidding me?  I get to stay in an orphanage where God will work to bring families together?!  What an incredible blessing!  I know it’s going to make my heart overflow and tear it out all at the same time.  I pray that one day soon Guatemalan adoptions stabilize so that, if it’s God’s plan, we can adopt from Guatemala too.

Andy and I, along with thirteen other team members, will be leaving July 5th and returning July 12th.  A second team of 16 will be going the following week.  We will be building one-room houses for widows (most are single moms), building the chapel, and participating in feeding programs.  The cost of the houses has gone up (as you might expect with the economy) to $1250 each.  (Yeah…I know…think of what we pay for houses in America!  It’s incredibly humbling.)  Each team member is responsible for raising the funds to pay for the plane ticket, food, lodging, and transportation while in Chichi (about $1300 each).  On top of that, we raise as much as we can to pay for the houses we will build.  Last year our teams built 10 houses in one week!

If you would like to participate by making a tax-deductible donation to support the mission, please send checks made out to:

Eternal Presbyterian Church

P.O. Box 1509

Fort Mill, SC  29716

Please write “Guatemala Mission Trip:  Crissinger” in the memo line.

I’ll definitely post pictures!  Here is one from last year.

Curtain Call

I have been dancing since I was three years old.  I have had around a hundred curtain calls in my life.  But, this one will be the hardest.

I broke the news to my faculty last week that I will not be returning next year.  After eight years of teaching dance in public elementary schools, it is time for a change.  Next year, I plan to spend every possible moment with our baby.  I want to cherish every second with this precious child God will entrust to us.  And, everybody says it goes SO fast!

Andy and I have talked about this for years.  When he was struggling through teaching high school, we used to joke that he would be a stay at home dad.  At that time, I couldn’t imagine leaving my job.  I loved it!  Over the past several years, God has changed our situation and our hearts.  Andy now loves his job.  And, while I still love mine too, I love the idea of being with my baby more.

I have been in an ideal teaching situation for the past five years.  Many dance teachers have to travel between multiple schools or teach in less than satisfactory facilities.  I have my own dance studio at one school with a sprung floor.  I work with an AMAZING staff who will do whatever it takes to help children learn.  On top of that, I absolutely LOVE and adore my students.  All of them.  Every last one of them.  Thinking of leaving them hurts me.  Over the years, I have proven to them that I love them no matter what, so they love me too.  There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a troubled and distant kid start to respond to you and even go out of his/her way to please you.  It’s even better when that positive attitude starts to spread to other areas and relationships in his/her life.  We all respond to love.  1 John 4:19.  I want to love my child like that.

Since the beginning of this school year, we’ve been talking about whether or not I should sign another contract for next year.  The only thing that ever gave us a moment’s hesitation was fear; fear of change.  While I wrestled with certain aspects of not teaching next year, there was never really a doubt in my mind what I would do.

When I told my principal that I wouldn’t be back next year, she said the most wonderful thing.  “If all parents invested in their children as much and you and Andy will invest in yours, our job would be easy.  You are going to be wonderful parents.”  Her words, and the encouraging words of so many others who stayed home with their young children, confirmed that our decision was right for us.  They said things like, “This is the best decision you will ever make.  You will never regret it.”  Besides that, it’s a good year for me to leave and a new dance teacher to come in because half of our students are being rezoned to a new elementary school next year and our school is getting a new principal.  This will make it much easier for a new teacher.  Hopefully she won’t hear things like “The other dance teacher did it like this…” and she will be free to create her own program.

Will it be hard?  Yes, of course.  I will miss seeing the kids and staff everyday, and I will need to find some way to supplement our income.  But, it would also be hard to keep doing what I’m doing and try to be a mom.  The thought of that kills me!  I already get up at 5 am and don’t go to bed until at least 11 pm.  Trying to get ready for school, take care of a baby, drop him/her off at daycare, exhausting myself physically and emotionally through teaching, getting home at 5ish with nothing left to give, dealing with dinner and dishes, putting the baby down, doing whatever work I need to for school or life and then dying at the end of the night does not sound appealing or healthy to me AT ALL!  At the end of the day, I would feel like someone else is raising my kid and I only got to spend a couple of hours with him/her, all while trying to tend to other family business, exhausted!  I know that the benefits of being with my child will far outweigh the challenges.

Something about a simpler life appeals to us so much.  For those of you who don’t know, Andy is the cook at our house.  He is forever cleaning or fixing something (reminds me of my dad).  He does so much around here.  I have certain things that I take care of at home, but I always feel like he does more than me.  I am definitely spoiled!  I look forward to being able to help Andy more around the house.  If he didn’t have to do so much after he gets off work each day, he would have much less stress and be able to spend more time with me and our kids.  I know it’s not as easy as it sounds, but we’re willing to work at it.

Andy and I are no strangers to cutting corners.  Granted, it’s been a while and God has blessed us, our first year of marriage I was a first year teacher and Andy was in graduate school.  In case you’re into math, you’ll find there was not a lot left at the end of the month.  I didn’t buy myself a single article of clothing for the first two years of our marriage.  We wouldn’t even buy gum because that was something we didn’t NEED.  But, God provided in amazing ways, and we grew as a result of that time.  We may be going back to our days of Ramen and peanut butter sandwiches, but we feel it will be worth it, and we know that God is our ultimate provider. 

We’ve looked at the numbers, and if I worked, the majority of my paycheck would go to daycare.  In that case, I’m not only missing time with my child(ren) while someone else is influencing them, I’m also not saving enough money to make a difference in our quality of life.  I don’t want to work just to pay the daycare bills!  It might be different if we had family close by, but his family lives in FL and mine is in GA.  We can’t really just take the kids to grandmas whenever we want.  So, if other family can’t be with them, we would like one of us to be with them.

I feel like God has been preparing me for this for the past couple of years.  In this area of the country, there aren’t many outlets for “older” dancers.  To take classes, I have to drive to Charlotte and pay $10 per class as well as gas, not exactly feasible or worth it for only one class a week.  Whatever your talent or trade, when you don’t have regular opportunities to practice it, you start to lose it.  And, when you don’t take in, you have nothing to give out.  It’s hard to stay current and relevant and insecurity builds.

While I have loved my job, the farther I get away from college, where I was able to take several classes a day from people in “the know”, the more I see dance evolve and leave me behind.  Strangely, I feel OK about it.  Even though I’ve been doing it since I was three, I don’t feel a great loss.  Dance has served me well throughout my life.  It has given me confidence and a very satisfying career.  But, change is inevitable, and I’m not fighting it.  In fact, I’m excited about it and look forward to my next career as mommy.  :)

I’m not ready to say this is my final curtain call.  But, on June 6th, I will be bowing out, at least for a while.