Monday, July 10, 2017

It's Not About Us

As you all know, we've been trying to grow our family for years.  (If you don't, you can read here and here).  It definitely hasn't been all rainbows and butterflies, but, to be completely honest, this journey also hasn't been the devastating one we thought it'd be.  For a while I really "blamed" that on just disconnecting myself emotionally from the process, especially during fertility treatments. Then I realized it wasn't anything I had done, but it was Jesus.

I've known many many women and couples who have struggled with fertility and growing their family.  One of the main themes I noticed when I listened to their stories was how heartbreaking it was month after month, cycle after cycle, to get a negative test.  The waiting. The disappointment.

And I knew I could never handle that.  I longed to be a Mama.  I still do.  But I knew I'd never survive the heartbreak over and over again. 

We prayed and leaned on Jesus before fertility treatments.  We watched Him do some major works in our marriage and He showed Himself in ways we'd never experienced before.  But, y'all, I have never leaned on Jesus or known Him like I have since beginning fertility treatments, and now, as we are pursuing adoption.  I've known Jesus personally since I was in the 7th grade.  He's been my strength and confidant through many a trial over the years.   But nothing like this. 

Jesus has become my all.  I'm honestly ashamed to admit this, but until this journey I wasn't in the Word every day. I didn't talk to Him every day.  But I knew I had to, needed to, if I was going to survive this.  We committed to lean on Jesus every day, through every decision. 

Literally not a step of our fertility treatments went by without us praying about it and digging in His Word.  There were times we took "breaks" because the Lord put on our hearts to pause.  We stopped fertility treatments altogether because He told us too.  We're now pursuing adoption because He led us here. 

Jesus took away our anxiety because we trusted Him.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you [1 Peter 5:7].  We didn't have to stress about making decisions because we knew He already had the answer, we just needed to be with Him and He'd tell us.  And He did.  And He does.

As we sit here, waiting to be matched and one day meet our child, we rest in the assurance that Jesus already knows that child.  He knows the expectant mom.  And He's chosen them specifically for us, and us for them. Our lives will be woven with theirs and we'll all be forever changed.  We won't be changed because of us, but because of Jesus.  

I could write pages and pages about the things, big and small, that the Lord has done.  He is able to do more than all we ask or imagine [Ephesians 3:20].  And He already has over and over again. Through every step of this journey, and our lives, we want to make much of Jesus.  He is the vine, we are the branches, and apart from Him we are nothing [John 15:5].

I don't write any of this as if it's just been an easy journey so far.  It's been far from it.  But we rest in this:  Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may me mature and complete, not lacking anything. [James 1:2-4].  He is making us complete through all of this.  He's making us complete in Jesus and He's making our family complete. 

Jesus gets all the glory, y'all.  To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. [Ephesians 3:21]

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Our Biggest Adventure Yet

Those of you who have known me closely for a long time probably know that I've always talked about adopting "one day."  For Neal it wasn't quite that easy.  Maybe down the road he'll share more of his journey through navigating his thoughts and feelings on adoption.  But for now I'll just say that while he was never against adoption, it just wasn't really on the radar for him...that was until I came along (as a serious girlfriend, fiance, and now, wife).  While I never pushed on the topic, I did talk about my desires openly and I just left that chapter of our story up to the Lord. 

I remember sometime early last year, while driving to Gloucester, crossing the bridge to be exact,  Neal said, COMPLETELY out of the blue, "I've been thinking about adoption a lot lately."  And I was completely caught off guard.  Pretty sure I just said "What?" Haaaa.  That sort of opened a conversation for us about what that may look like for us one day.  We just agreed to pray about it and what God had in store for our family.  Over time we'd gotten a bit more clarity and our hearts were certainly being changed, but we still didn't know what to do in regard to expanding our family. 

During this time we just continued with fertility treatments, of which not a single one has been successful.  We discussed adoption more and more but still weren't sure what to do.  Is it right for us? Are we right for it?  If we adopt do we do infant adoption? Foster care adoption? International adoption?  So. We did nothing. 

Then November (2016) came.  Did you know that November is "National Adoption Month"? Yeah. Us either.  Then it was suddenly, EVERYWHERE, and I mean EVERYWHERE, there were signs pointing to adoption.  Literal billboards, radio stations (Christian and secular alike), SEVERAL sermons our pastor gave, friends, devotions we read, the school I work at. OH MY GOSH.  Adoption was swirling around us.  But, what's crazy (hindsight is 20/20!) is that we still weren't "sure."  Sure, there were plenty of times where something would happen and we'd just look at each other like "Okay, there's another 'sign'."  But we just didn't "get it" yet. 

One day I was praying and I was asking God for clarity and I just stopped praying.  I just didn't even know what to ask for because it was evident in that moment that while we didn't know the details, God had already made it abundantly clear that we were to pursue adoption.  Neal and I talked about it and we started checking out agencies and we made plans on how to tell our families over the holidays.

Then we didn't.  We still had one more fertility treatment to go (we'd set up a plan for a series of a few treatments and timing was critical).  We decided we'd go through with this one last treatment and, ya know, in our wisdom (NOT!), give God time to say "just kidding, not yet guys!".  So we (I) took all the medications for this last fertility treatment and we went in for the ultrasound to see if we were ready to go through with this round.  Well, the doctor starts looking and there's not a single viable egg.  EVERY single other round, I've had 1-2 "good" eggs.  This time, none.  Then, on top of that, I had this really weird cyst form.  Meaning, even if I had a viable egg, we couldn't do this treatment anyway. 

Y'all. Our eyes were opened that afternoon.  We left and went for a walk at a local mall (we do this often after appointments to sort of "process" what just happened).  We didn't really say a whole lot because we both just knew.  There was so much peace.  We knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that it wasn't coincidence that my body was not responding this time and that, instead, this weird cyst formed.  It was God.  God knew we were doubting (not our finest moment) and He knew we needed a CLEAR sign (ya know, even more clear than literal BILLBOARDS).  He knew we'd never risk my health for me to bear a child.  The clarity He gave us was confirmed even more when I went back to the doctor to check on that cyst at the beginning of my next cycle a few weeks later, and it was gone. Completely gone. The cyst that doctors said would take at least 2-3 cycles (months) to go away was complete gone within a matter of a couple weeks.  The golf ball size cyst was GONE. G-O-N-E. 

That's our God.  Faithful.  And loving.  Maybe in ways I would never even imagine, but He provided for us and He's been loving us each step of this journey to growing our family.  And He's put us on a path which is leading us to the biggest adventure of our lives.  We're growing our family through adoption!

Heather Lynne Photography