Monday, July 25, 2011

The Day I Gave Away the Diapers

I coupon. I love to coupon. I am not obsessive about it like those weirdos on TLC Extreme Couponing, but I love to save my little family money. Three years ago last week we started out on a journey, one that we thought wouldn't take very long, but surprisingly here we still are....waiting. Maybe I should explain.....

Three years ago in February Donnie and I felt God was laying it on our hearts to adopt. We did our research, mounds and mounds of paperwork, fingerprints, and criminal background checks. We paid our money and we waited....and waited....and waited. So the next year rolled around we did all our updated paperwork (maybe just one mound this time), fingerprints, criminal background checks, and paid our money. Again, we waited....and waited...and waited. So here we are at year number three. Getting ready to start the paperwork process all over again, not really expecting anything, but always praying for the best. So you are probably asking, how do coupons play into this?....Read on.

When we were first approved for adoption we decided that I would stay home with the baby (a must, by the standards of our adoption agency, for at least 6 months.) I knew staying home would mean one less salary, but really we could do it. Besides, what was the point in me working if it was just going to be to cover the cost of daycare?? We wouldn't be able to travel or shop like we did then, but we knew it would all be okay because we would finally have the one thing we really wanted in this life....a baby. So, with a new resolve, I set out to learn about coupons. The one thing I learned early on is, if you do it just right, you can save a lot of money. I asked questions, I looked at adds, I scoured the Internet for any kind of deal I could find. Again, not trying to store things up, but instead saving money on our bi-monthly grocery trip. During this process, and having been told by the agency that we would definitely be chosen sooner rather than later, I started asking questions about diapers. All my friends told me if I had really good coupons on diapers, then I should by them now. "Coupons expire, diapers don't" was a phrase that was echoed over and over to me by my friends. So I decided since we were going to be picked quickly (according to our social worker) that I would start buying, and putting away diapers. I bought in all sizes, friends told me what sizes to get the most of, and I put them away, knowing that we would be chosen soon. After a year of waiting, and not hearing anything, I quit buying as many diapers. As year two, then three rolled past, I didn't buy any. My hope, faith, and trust that we would be getting a baby started to fall away, and those diapers were a constant reminder of the "failure" I felt that I was, but I just couldn't let them go.

Most of you know about the tornadoes in Alabama this spring. One of the students in the program where I work was from a very hard hit town right outside of Tuscaloosa. She sent out an email describing the devastation, the lack of food, clothes, and water, and then told a story of how there were a lot of young families that didn't have diapers, food, or clothing for their babies. The story hit hard with me, I knew what I should do. I had all these diapers, unused, sitting in the top of my closet. The bible verse from Matthew 6 kept replaying in my head. If you don't know it, here it is:
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I came home from work that day, with a heavy, heavy heart, and went to the back bedroom where I started pulling all the diapers, and wipes out of the closet. I cried. Cried like I haven't in a long time. Cried for the people in Alabama who were hurting. Cried because I felt like I was "giving up" on the dream of ever becoming a mother. Cried because I had no words to express how sad my heart actually was at that time.

The next day I took most of the diapers and wipes that I had stored, to work, and gave them to the student that was headed home to Alabama that afternoon. It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done. I'm sure most of you are thinking that is insane, and that it was just diapers, but when you've wanted to be a Mommy for as long as you can remember, have done everything imaginable to your body, mind, and spirit to make it happen, when it never did... it indeed felt as if I was tearing away my hope for a future. Then God reminded me of this simple verse from Jeremiah 29:

11For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

While I still had some diapers left, it wasn't near the amount that I had originally put away for a sweet baby. The thought of being able to give them to multiple babies, babies that had lost everything, overflowed my heart with joy. Fast forward to this weekend when my friend Julianne sent out a need for a family she had met. When she said they had a 9 month old, I knew just how I could help meet part of their need. I took diapers, and wipes out of the closet, this time with no tears, but with a faith and confidence that I know that come from this verse out of Romans 8:

28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

When I bought those diapers, I never knew I would use them for a different purpose than what I had intended. While I don't understand it all, I do understand that God is still working on me. Showing me daily about His love, and letting me know little by little that the things He has in store for me.....I am just not suppose to understand.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Belated Happy Mother's Day

Last week was Mother's Day.

Profound thought, right? Well, if you have ever suffered with infertility, had a miscarriage, had to "allow" your children to live with the other parent until things get "worked out," basically had any reason that your child, or a child, was not with you on that day, it's a pretty hard day. I know, from experience.

Last week, was actually an exception for me. Typically I dread going to church on Mother's Day. Now, before you have any ideas it's because I'm jealous of all the other mom's, or don't want to celebrate my own mother, let me put your assumptions to rest by saying, no...jealousy is NOT the reason. The reason Mother's Day is hard, whether you are childless, or an older single that longs to be married and be a mom, or a newly married couple that isn't sure if your body is going to "work" with you when it you are ready to add to your family, or because others in your family have had problems you don't know if it will happen to you, honestly has nothing to do with jealousy. It's hard to explain it if you have never experienced it, but it's all about a feeling of inadequacy, not understanding why your body, your mind, your soul...your life, doesn't fit into the plan that you have for yourself. Yep, I realize what that last sentence said, and yes, I know it's absurd, but we all do it. We all have plans for ourselves that may or may not work out. Sure, we tell God we trust HIM to give us the desires of our heart, but we all, whether we admit it or not, try to take matters into our own hands. So, because of my human nature, I started to stress about going to church on Mother's Day about two weeks before it ever happened. The funny thing is, nothing could have ever prepared me more for the weekend I was about to have.

On Saturday, day before Mother's Day, Donnie and I went to Costco. Every single "sample giver" wished me a HMD, and told me to enjoy my day. The first few times it happened I laughed, but then as the day went on it became almost absurd how many people were wishing me a Happy Mothers Day. Never before, in our 5 1/2 years of trying to grow our family, has this ever happened! I could understand if I had a child with me, but Donnie and I were alone, nothing in our basket pointed to us having children, and seriously, for the life of us, could not figure out while all these people were giving me these well wishes!?! In years past I would've cried, or wanted to get out of the store ASAP, but this year, I just kept looking at Donnie laughing and bewildered at the same time. We left Costco, headed to Target and Kroger, where again, every.single. person. we ran into wished me a HMD. It was so bizarre!

Fast forward to Sunday morning. We went to church with my parents, to honor my mom and Mimi by sitting with them during church on Mothers Day. When we got there, that little voice, and anxious spirit started to come back, and I was trying to figure out how I could get out of the service when the "will all Mother's please stand" segment came around. To my surprise, Bro. Ashley, the pastor at RBC, asked for all WOMEN to stand, and said that no matter if you are a mom or not, you are a mother figure to someone and should be honored. I could've cried right there on the spot. I have never felt more appreciated in all my life. Bro. Ashley went on to talk about circumstances in life that caused women to not be mom's yet, and even preached on Hannah out of 1 Samuel. (Before you get offended thinking that the "real mom's" may have felt less appreciated since he had all women stand, I asked one, a younger "real mom" if it made her feel underappreciated, and she assured me that it did not, and that she loved standing with all the women in the church. ) It was a Mother's Day church service I will not soon forget.

After that weekend I got an email from my friend Kacey. Kacey is a friend I've had since my days at First Tennessee Bank. Time took us apart for a while, but 5 years ago, we were brought back together through Germantown Baptist Church. Kacey has three children, and is pregnant with her fourth, however Kacey knows the feeling of losing an unborn child. She herself experienced a miscarriage in between her second and third child. Kacey is a friend that, before she openly tells everyone she's pregnant, will send me an email in private so that I won't be taken off guard when she announces it to everyone else. Kacey is a friend that has such a tender spot in her heart for me, and what I'm going through, that anytime she hears or sees something that has to do with infertility or adoption, she will send it to me so that I can listen, read, or watch whatever has been impressed upon her heart to share with me. I don't think I can ever tell her thank you enough, and I don't know that she really knows how much she does, in fact, minister to me, but I do think she knows, and understands how much I love her, and her willingness to listen to the Holy Spirits sweet promptings. Kacey sent me an email about a Focus on the Family segment about infertility. I tuned in the next day, and started to weep as I listened. These two women, Sarah, and Marlo, spoke right to my heart. Sarah, especially said everything, I've never been able to say, out loud. Unless you've personally walked this road, you will never know that there are times that you just don't know how to put what you are going through into words. People, even family, assume you are jealous, callous, or even cold with your feelings. Some people even create unneccessary drama concerning how you will act, or react to their news of having a child, or seeing their newborn for the first time. Everyone always has the "perfect thing" to say to you, however they will never know how much that "perfect thing", or their assumptions on how you may handle something, hurts. Sometimes you just want to hide away and be done with it all because you can't possibly explain one.more.time what is going on inside your head, and your heart. Sometimes you would like to scream and say "I am not jealous of you" or, "I am not going to grab your child like a football and steal him or her," and even "yes, working the nursery is sometimes cathartic for me!" Well these women, in a two part series said everything I've ever wanted, or will ever want to say about Hope in the Midst of Infertility. If you know someone, even if it's just me, that is in this process, listen to these broadcasts. It will help you understand what's going on inside a womans head that is going through this struggle. As my friend Kacey said to me to me last week, "it helps me to understand what you are going through, and know how to better pray for you."

Here is the link for the broadcast:{0FFE6B5D-C70F-4156-AA9E-620A7B9E0E72}

As I said, it's a two part series, so make sure to catch both parts!

Again, to all my friends who are mom's...A Belated Happy Mother's Day....and to my friends who aren't at that place in their life thoughts, prayers, and heart are always with, and for you!

Monday, February 14, 2011

When God Answers Prayer (and you don't realize it until WAY after the fact!)

So let's just get this out there right now. I have been a BAD blogger. I know it, and I would promise to change, but seriously, that probably wouldn't happen, so I'm not going to even go there. Now, on to my real reason for posting today...

We've started a new study in our Sunday school class about Prayer (from the book Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybel) Yesterday in class we discussed why, how we know when God is answering a prayer. As I was sitting there, I realized that God answered a big prayer in a way I had never realized until just that moment. You see, about five years ago I started praying that God would lead me to another job. I started putting out resumes, filling out applications, and doing everything I needed to to get back to my first love, Corporate Training. At the time there weren't many jobs out there, and I ended up getting looked over many times for someone else already employed with the company. I kept working at MSHC, and decided I would take a sign language class while biding my time at this job. Sign language is something that came very natural to me, and I could use it somewhat fluently when needed. At the time, and again not until Sunday, did I realize that the answer to me finding another job was "wait." I honestly thought the answer was "no."

Fast forward a few years. At church I was working in the nursery when I met this fabulous girl name Mary Lynn. She stole my heart from the minute I first worked with her, and I couldn't wait to get a hug and huge smile anytime I saw her. Mary Lynn's mom and I went to the same high school, but because we graduated at different times I didn't know her as well as I knew her Mom (our high school librarian.) Eryn and I were in choir together and would talk and joke about stuff, but we really never talked about how much I loved her sweet daughter. Well, as time went on, and Mary Lynn started signing more, I was able to use my knowledge from that one semester of sign language to communicate with her. In class, if the other teacher didn't know what she wanted, she would crawl to me and sign it, and I could get up and get it immediately! Pretty soon, ML had figured out that I was her "go to woman!" I kept telling Eryn that Donnie and I would love to keep ML sometime, so pretty soon Eryn asked if we could keep her while the family went to Will and Ginny's (Mary Lynn's siblings) Christmas choir program at school. Both Donnie and I were elated that we got to keep Mary Lynn, and waited with anticipation for her to get to our house. One thing Donnie hadn't counted on is the fact that Mary Lynn and I could have a whole conversation, and he would have NO idea what we were saying. Soon enough though, Mary Lynn figured Donnie out, and knew she was wrapped around his little pinky. If I said no about something, she immediately went over to Donnie, smiled and signed please.....he was all but done! One day after keeping Mary Lynn, Eryn mentioned that Mary Lynn had never had a babysitter outside of family. To this day I don't think Eryn knows quite what that did to me. For her to trust her beautiful daughter to us, to take care of, never worrying about what was going on, absolutely spoke to my heart.

You see, had I not taken that class, at a job I wanted to leave, I would never have developed this relationship with my beautiful three year old friend. Because of that class, I also developed a deeper friendship with Mary Lynn's mom, who has been one of my biggest prayer warriors over the last few years. Because of that class, at that job, I saw the world through new eyes!

So yesterday, sitting in class, I realized when I thought God was saying no, he was really saying "wait." He wanted me to stay here, to learn sign language, and to be able to communicate with a little girl who has absolutely changed the way I look at children who are different than others. Mary Lynn made me realize that God's love is perfect, and that the way HE makes us is how we are suppose to be. We are made that way for a purpose, and I think in a small way Mary Lynn's purpose in life was to teach me that I have a gift to communicate with children, both verbal and not. :)