Saturday, June 28, 2008

Living with no skin

It's been ages since I posted! Mostly because I have been struggling for equilibrium. It's been so frustrating as I find that this journey is like a yo-yo. I go from being pain free and dancing among the daisies to a place where it hurts to breathe. And seemingly in the blink of an eye.

We have had a rough couple of weeks and last Sunday was the worst. We went to the opening of my Fertility Clinic, which I designed (a long amazing story for another time)- Lord Robert Winston was there who did Child of our Time series on TV. As we were the only part of the project team invited, we went. It was awful- they had invited lots of IVF babies who romped around the room. Their IVF success only highlighted our IVF failure. We had no idea all the children and happy Mommy's would be there..... we went home, got into our PJs, into bed and wept in each others arms.

Hence my extreme frustration! I thought having emotional breakthrough would mean that I live pain free! That this would never bother me again and I would be able to live a life as if this wait and journey to Motherhood didn't bother me at all. I long to please Him and "do this journey well"!

God very gently started challenging some of my expectations and understanding of Him this week and although it hasn't made it less painful, it's really helped me free myself from my own expectations. I love how gentle He is with this mad A-type personality of mine, as I just need to think He's rebuked me and I say "hold on God, I'll whip my back for you and double my own load in repentance...!" Like he's ever like that..!

Here's my thinking;
"Is God as pleased with me when I am not "doing well" as when I am? And should I even call my times of heartache and pain "not doing well?"
In my head doing well is being able to live this time in trust and acceptance and joy. Not doing well is living in pain, frustration and tears and not being able to be around babies and pregnancy without pain. The question is, is doing well and not doing well as description from God or from me?

So what about pleasing God? Do I please Him only when I live up to my expectations? It seems that that would be works based and not grace based. The only way I can not please God is by sinning. So am I sinning when I an "not doing well"? I am in pain but I still trust Him and accept this journey... and being in pain is not sinning. So I have to say that I am not sinning.
So maybe I please God in times of good and times of pain. When my heart breaks is God still near? Do I still love and trust Him? Yes- it just hurts a lot!

So at the moment we are in pain. Life really hurts. It feels like we have no skin on and every touch and encounter with a baby related situation hurts. Are we pleasing God? Well, I am still here seeking Him, my heart is not bitter and I am trying to stay open and trusting.... so I have to say that I am pleasing Him.

Maybe there is no "doing well" and "not doing well". Maybe there is just living life with it's ups and downs. Maybe I please Him just because I am. Because He loves me, didn't have one of me and so created one of me.

My revelation this week is that I please Him in times of good and in times of heartache. And it's ok to hurt because we are people with hearts and emotion. We long for the desires of our hearts, which are good God given desires. And I know that this little season will pass and there will be a pain free season to follow- and that's ok.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Threshing Floor

I was reading one of my favourite blogs and I saw a post that touched my heart so deeply that tears started rolling down my face, at 8.30am on a Saturday morning...! Not sad tears just "overwhelmed and touched by God" tears. It was all about the threshing floor...

Threshing floors are open flat areas, like barns without walls, that are used to process the grain that is brought in from the fields. The grain is tossed into the air and the lighter chaff which is useless is blown away. The heavier grain separates and falls to the floor, then is gathered for grinding. Threshing floors are usually on high ground where the wind is stronger as the wind assists in the winnowing and separating of grain from chaff.

The threshing floor is a simile for a place of testing or trials from God and was a very important place throughout history. Incredible God encounters happened for people like Joseph's brothers (Genesis 50:10) and Ruth/ Boaz (Ruth) on threshing floors. But the encounter that captured my attention was between David and God in 1 Chronicles 21.

David found Himself on the threshing floor owned by Araunah. He was there because He had sinned and God told him to go to the threshing floor. Now we are not where we are because of sin- infertility is NOT a punishment but the thing to note is that David went to the threshing floor willingly. I am sure you are the same as us with hearts that long to be used by God. We have surrendered ourselves and our hearts willingly and so by following Him in obedience we have found ourselves here, on the threshing floor of our lives.
I think its also important that threshing floors are high up. God is found in high places and that fact that the threshing floors are high means that we have had to walk up to them. We make a choice to seek Him.

David was in pain. In fact his heart was breaking. But he did an incredible thing. He built an alter to God on the threshing floor, at the place of his testing and in the middle of his pain. David had bought the threshing floor from Araunah for full price because he would not build an alter to God that had not cost him something. And we know what it costs to build an alter to God in the middle of our threshing floor- the trial and struggle of infertility. Sometimes it costs almost more than I have to lift up my hands and worship Him. The struggle to surrender when I know that He could rescue me and for the moment chooses not to, is intense. But I know that I need to.
Building an alter during times of suffering is of incredible beauty. Suffering and surrender are the most bittersweet partners. Together they give us access to the heart of God. We gain a picture of God that we couldn't otherwise. When we worship from this place we do it from a new depth that is created by our surrender.

But it was the next part of this blog that touched my heart so deeply. I felt redemption and hope. In Chronicles 3: 1, Solomon built the temple of God on the threshing floor of Aruanah. The very place that David had built his alter and was the place of his testing and ordeal would now be the site for the most amazing building to ever be built. The building that represented God, the one that He designed to reflect His Glory and His beauty.

For me this was confirmation and promise. On the threshing floor of infertility God promises to build a temple. A temple so beautiful that people will marvel at what He has done.
Our shabby little threshing floor with it's bloodstained and tear soaked alter where we have laid down our dreams again and again as burnt offerings, will be redeemed. Will be restored and made into something beautiful. I am redeemed.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Jubilee night!

God told us that this year was our year of Jubilee (see Leviticus 25) Well, it's been pretty poor so far in the natural so I am inclined to make in your face faith statements anyway that defy the natural. A bit like the fact that when its obvious that I am not pregnant each month, at the time when my body is obviously not (read between the lines) I go and buy something for my babies.
Jubilee was about parties and celebration among other things and so tonight was a "Husband Jubilee night"! I took my darling to the All Blacks vs England rugby match. We travelled into the city on the bus (yes I went on a BUS) as the buses are free if you going to the match and had a macho dinner at...Tony's Steakhouse" and then caught another bus out to the match. Very bus orientated night!

The match was great! We won, of course, and I was very loud, of course. The funniest thing was during the second half when the All Blacks were thumping the English, the terrace (cheapo seats where people get thrown out from and generally play up- lots of attention from the police officers) got bored and started a giant Mexican wave. But... a Mexican wave with bottles and food thrown up in the air as the wave passes. I could see it coming and as it got closer could see sprays of liquid in the air and bits of food flying as people tossed whatever in the air. Nice.... all you could do was duck and luckily I only got hit by a few stray chips (sans the tomato sauce thank goodness). You can understand why all the bottles allowed in to the grounds are plastic now!

We then caught - wait for it- the bus back home. It was hilarious as Kiwi's are very proud winners and not so gracious losers. So the bus trip was filled with a bit of singing and many loud jokes and comments about the poor defeated English bus travellers.

Anyway, it was great to just have fun and celebrate life. To celebrate God and His goodness and just have fun. We had fun together and toasted our life here and now. Jubilee everyone!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Making sense

There's something in us that wants our lives to make sense to others. Especially in a Christian world we want to be "normal" and serving God and ok. But what is normal? Normal is certainly not my life. Normal is not walking through infertility as sometimes I feel like I have two heads. I used to think it was me, until I got onto Hannah's Prayer and saw that many, many others are "not normal" either. This journey often makes no sense to us and so our lives seem to make no sense to others either.

This journey makes a mockery of normal and sensible as we would like to understand it. We can be fine spiritually and emotionally and then take a hit to the stomach and be down flat for a day or two. It's an every day, lived in trial, that is a constant. But the way to move forward is to spend less time on your face, and get up quicker after each knock. To always trust God even through the tough days and to keep your hand in His constantly.

I found this in a blog I read occasionally and it expresses what I think and feel:

Oh, the great creeping notion of normalcy. It slinks around us and encircles itself about our feet and convinces us our calling is to fit into a category, or a box, or a statistic, or a quota. We love the idea of being corporate. And not that we shouldn't. But it's usually about following a crowd so that we can be loved instead of folding in just as we are because we are loved. We've bought into the idea that if we don't make sense to everyone else we must not make sense at all.

I know that this journey is not a punishment or a curse but part of God's plan for us. Not looking normal is part of His plan for us. I know that. He is fine with us and where we are at and I think quite likes us with two heads!

So today I caught up with my pastor and friend and it was so good to sit with her and talk. She really saw my heart in the midst of my conversation and I am so grateful. I should not care what anyone thinks but I somehow do. So I grateful that my friend saw beyond my two heads into my life and saw that yes, we are ok. Thank you God.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Our Living Revelation

This month I thought I had my miracle. The signs were so good, unlike any other month I can remember. But this morning I found that this month would be like any other. I was in traffic on the way home behind my amazing friend Sarah who knew what my day had brought. She jumped out of her car at a red light, ran back to my car and handed me a CD and said the words "track 5". I found this incredible song that spoke to my circumstance and it exhorted me. As I played it over and over on the way home my whole vision, heart, mind and soul filled with Jesus.
The song was an exhortation to me that this time it's not a time to give into the disappointment and hurt. Not this time. This time it's time to exhort my soul to lift up and see Jesus.
"You are our living revelation
You found my lock and turned your key
Opened up every dream in me……You are eternal salvation"
He holds my dreams and they are safe. He opens them up in me so I can trust Him with my life, its twists and turns. And He found me, just ordinary me, and saved me. He picked me to love.
So beloved, I exhort you with the gentleness of someone who is walking alongside you through this journey. Lift up your soul, like David in the Psalms, who exhorted his soul to lift up and see God.
"We give you all the honour all the glory all the praise
The name of Jesus saves"

Yes there is a time to give into the pain, but there is also a time to just see Jesus. Not overcome or fight or struggle, but let His Grace wash over you and lift you up. Just see Him, He picked you to love as he picked me.
So this time for me "No one could steal away this light inside of me" The hurt can wait until tomorrow or next week but this is my moment to "cry Jesus" just like this incredible song says and let His Grace fix the brokenness.

Song by C3 "Eternal Salvation" from the album "for Your Glory" "

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Practical 101: Having bloods done

More practical tips as if I can save someone pain and frustration through stuff I have learned, it makes my pain and frustration worthwhile!
Having blood taken is a very regular part of fertility treatment and can be awful. If you have veins as wide as a highway and this is no sweat for you- don't bother reading on. God has blessed you incredibly!
But... if you have deep and skinny veins and this is a real trial, or through repeated bloods your veins have packed up and gone south, these tips are for you.
They are gold to me as both the above apply to me and I break out into a cold sweat at the thought of having blood taken and have been known to beg for mercy in the blood room...
  1. Keep warm- wrap up like an Eskimo on the way to your bloods. Especially keep your hands warm. You want blood pumping around all your extremities and not drawn away from your hands trying to keep your core warm.
  2. Drink at least a litre of water in the hour/ hour 1/2 before your bloods. I drink a litre and a half. As bloods are first thing in the morning you are dehydrated when you wake up and don't have any further water from your brekkie. Yes you will need to wee 300 times but it's worth it. Rather the discomfort of a full bladder than the pain of pokes in the left arm, right arm, then left arm again! The water makes your veins dilate and they are easier to find.
  3. Ask for a little rubber glove filled with hot water and put in in the crook of your arm. This draws the blood closer to the surface.
  4. Know your arms. I know (after many painful pokes) that my right arms has no veins that are unscarred so my left arms is the only option. Forgetting this means many trails and unnecessary pokes!
  5. Breath- try to stay calm. I do big deep breaths and try to focus on something else. Almost impossible I know.

Hope these help :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

All I have

The prognoses for our loved one is worse than we thought. They need to have 6 months (6 months!) of chemo starting in two weeks. 8 cycles of 21 days each. I have typically reacted in a "what can I do" way and am currently in the throes of a soup making frenzy. Good hearty soup is needed for recovery and so the freezer is rapidly filling with neat little containers with a variety of flavours. Honestly like soup is going to help...

I think I am quietly trying not to freak out. But here's the thing. Do I trust Him or not? I have learnt enough to know that my love and trust needs to be unconditional. Do I trust Him or not? That's the still quiet question in my heart. When I put the soup ladle down long enough to think, the answer is yes. Yes I do trust Him. I trust that He knows what He is doing with the life of this incredibly precious person.

So what now? Pray and lay my burden down. And leave it down at the foot of the cross. That's all I have because He is all I have.
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