Friday, April 28, 2006

queen of indecision and obsession

How is it possible that if you ask me about my week, I'd say it flew by, but the two week wait seems unbearably slow and arduous?!

I'm thinking about babies non-stop. It's a total baby stream of consciousness. I'm even dreaming about babies. Call it baby OCD.

My dear husband, who knows my tendencies toward obsession and indecision, said to me tonight at dinner, "Why don't we pick a day to take a pregnancy test so we (read: YOU) don't stress (read: OBSESS) about it? Then we can stick to the date and feel okay about it."

Pretty good idea. I've already thought about it like 58 times in the past three days. And I waffle, of course, between just a little bit early (day 26 or 27) and waiting until day 29 (when Aunt Flow is expected).

So I told Ben that I already picked a day, day 29, and we could plan on that. It made the most sense because that is when the doctors recommend.

Good. Done.

About five minutes later, I said "But I can always take one early if I change my mind."

And he laughed. Sweet husband.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

like a middle school dance, in a strange way

As of 10:30 this morning, 416 million swimmers are making their way toward the most beautiful girl at the dance. Only it's like a middle school dance because she happens to be way bigger (and probably more mature) than any of them. She's made it pretty hard for them to ever get up the courage to walk on over and ask for a dance. Many of them will try, but few will ever succeed.

I only hope that at least one of them gets to tango with her.

Let the two week wait begin!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

1.9 cm and counting

You'd think that if I could wait for over a year to get pregnant, I could wait a few days for my follicles to mature. So why am I so impatient?

laying our weapons down

Our church started a Katrina response project a few months back. Over the last two weeks, we sent over 300 people to Macomb, Mississippi to build houses for those displaced by the storms. On Saturday I sat listening, covered in goosebumps, while some of the workers shared their stories.

The most powerful stories emphasized the racial reconciliation that is beginning to happen in this little town in Mississippi--because a bunch of "white folk" from California decided to get involved in the lives of some displaced black folk.

A local preacher, probably in his 60s, shared with the group that he remembered the riots and fires of the 1960s, a time when race wars were at their worst in the South. He decided long ago that it would be impossible for whites and blacks to get along in the small Southern towns like Macomb. He had seen the worst possible treatment of his people and his culture that he felt he needed to fight. He used the metaphor of picking up his weapons, fighting and fighting for decades against the mistreatment of his brothers and sisters.

When the nice white folk from CA came to town, looking for ways to help out, he thought to himself "well, here's another group of whites promising something they'll never deliver." Imagine his surprise when we showed up with over 300 volunteers. He grew teary and emotional at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, sharing with his new friends that as of that day, he was laying his weapons down. He was giving up on fighting. He shared his willingness to embrace what he had been resisting for years, because he had seen the power of the Holy Spirit to bring reconciliation where it was so desperately needed.

I think I'll never quite understand the intense battle that my black brothers and sisters have endured for hundreds of years. I'll never grasp the pain and hurt and abuse inflicted by those who share my skin tone, my European roots.

But I can certainly relate to his metaphor. Don't we all need to lay our weapons down? To let go of the struggles inside, the battles we fight with our hearts and our intellect and our hands? To forgive those who have wronged us and embrace them with open arms? To start making a difference today, this minute, dedicating ourselves to being more open, less closed off, more available to others? To imagine a life characterized by love and acceptance?

On a Wednesday night a large group of our church volunteers attended a mid-week church service. They sat in the small clapboard church, interspersed among the local members. Looking out from the pulpit, the black preacher became moved to tears. He shared with the congregation that for his entire life as a pastor, he'd prayed for the chance to preach to an integrated group, prayed for the time when he would see blacks and whites worshiping together in his church. And that night, for one man, a prayer was answered.

The weapons were laid down. Hearts were opened. Lives changed. Oh, it is so rich.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

this is precisely why I didn't want double coverage

I really shouldn't complain.

Double insurance coverage is twice as much as many people have. But it is truly a pain in my backside.

In August of last year, my gastroenterolgist ordered a bunch of tests, everything from blood work to an endoscopy to a colonoscopy. Being the good patient that I am, I fulfilled all his requests, had all the tests done, only to be stuck with a lot of bills. A lot.

Unfortunately, the labs in this area don't bill secondary insurance. So any time I have work done I have to call them up afterwards, ask for a copy of the report, and wait for them to send it to me. I've been calling at least once a month since August trying to get this matter straightened out. Not that I can't afford to pay what's left of the bill after primary. But it's a matter of principle. We have double coverage; why should I pay more money than I have to?

Well, I had to call like, 3 times this month in order to get the lab to send ME a copy of MY record so I could send it MYSELF to the secondary insurance company. Supposedly they faxed it like 3 times, but guess what? It never got there. I also asked them to make a note on the account that due to THEIR mistakes, the bill was still pending (not outstanding).

Finally, on Saturday, I got a copy of the record. But I also got a notice from a collection agency with my past due amount for the work done in August. I called the lab. "Oops." They messed up. But there's no way to get it back now.



searching but not finding
seeking but not knowing
did my feelings deceive me?

how I long for a word, a whisper, a touch...
to dip even a toe in the Spirit's burning fire
I want to be ignited, emblazoned, impassioned

not to linger here in the desert, waiting for the fulfillment of a promise

a spirit of complacency to be shaken
one of rebellion to be left behind
grumbling no more

but dancing into the glory of a child fully alive

wholly trusting
always hoping
grateful again

to feel in my fingers, my heart, my core

the warmth of your presence
the love of your Son
life renewed

Joshua 21:45
Not one word failed from all the good words God spoke to the house of Israel. Everything came out right.

Friday, April 14, 2006

a few good educators

This morning I went to a site meeting at one of my schools, where I met with the Principal, one of my (3) supervisors and a co-therapist who also works at the school. In the course of 30 minutes, the principal had me moved to tears at least 3 times.

The woman is so incredibly in love with and passionate about her job. She puts in looooong hours at the school, mind you, but she is so refreshingly optimistic and caring and full of compassion. It is no wonder that the kids in her continuation school are doing amazingly well.

The way it works is that the kids at the big school (4200 students) who get in gang fights, get pregnant, flunk out, or altogether mess up get sent to this school, with continuation and independent study programs (355 students). It's a brand-new school this year, with a staff that is over 50% new. The principal, however, has been in the business for years. And it shows--in all the good ways, I mean.

She brought in one student who last year was at the big school--getting in fights, hanging out with a rough crowd, failing school. Two nights ago she was given a college scholarship at a major district awards ceremony. The principal, with the student in the room, acknowledged that she was messing up pretty bad last year, but that she is "brilliant" and "going places" and "the star of the school" for being the only student from her school to receive a scholarship.

Then she told us the story (I'd heard it before, but it still made me tear up) about Halloween this year. There was a scheduled costume contest at lunchtime in the gym. No students really dressed up, but when the teen moms walked their babies down from the on-site daycare, all the students (300+ that day) started clapping and cheering and applauding. All the awards quickly changed from "best student costume" to "best baby costume" and "cutest baby costume" and "most original baby costume." She remarked how at the other school, a lot of these girls had been called bad names, ridiculed for being teen moms, or just treated badly. But at her school, these kids were accepted and supported.

And another kid who kept messing up, she told him he lost his privilege to be there at lunch. Every day a teacher or administrator escorted him off campus before the start of lunch. He came to the principal, at first saying, "you guys all are on my case." Soon it changed to, "you all know my name but you know I'm not supposed to be here," and then, "If I can show you all that I'm improving, will you let me stay at lunch?" For this kid, once he learned that the staff was going to be consistent with him, his guard went down and he allowed them to love him back to campus. He improved his behavior and is back on campus at lunch, rubbing elbows with the staff who once shooed him away.

The principal kept talking about how the students feel so loved and supported by their teachers, and I know in my heart it is because she is at the top of the chain. She loves and supports and encourages these students unlike any educator I've ever seen. She know them by name. She throws her arm around big, tough kids with a side-hug. She sets students up with health services and college information and drug treatment and counseling. And she never judges. She sees each kid for the potential they have within.

Just what I needed to finish up my week. Somebody else who cares so much about these kids she still chokes up when talking about how easy it is for them to change with a little love.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

turn on the light and reveal the glory

Jennifer Knapp sings a song called Martyrs and Thieves (lyrics below) that totally resonates with where I find myself today. In this journey of infertility, at times I feel that it is easier to cling to the darkness, to believe the lies of the thieves, to feel angst instead of peace.

There is a part of me that would rather keep safe to myself the thoughts and struggles and darkness than share my soul with others. There is a tendency within to believe that others, even those closest to me (even my Savior?!), cannot bear my fear and shame. I try to handle things on my own, to be strong and brave and in control. But denying the help of others for a lonely and dark journey is not how it is supposed to be.

I want to reveal the light of Christ in what I do. But I cannot reveal his glory without the help of others, without their assistance in trudging through the mucky swamp waters of angst and struggle and fear and shame. I cannot always make it to the light without people to help me get there.

At our girls retreat last October, I used a photograph to explain how I felt at the time, and it looked something like the one above. A path through the forest, shaded but with spots of sunshine pouring through. Every month of infertility is like walking down this path--with hints of light along the shady path, knowing the full sunlight is just always ahead of me, but only if I continue moving forward.

If I want to reflect the light and glory of God, I must move into the light. I cannot stay in the shadows and expect to be unafraid and peaceful. Yet the shadows are an inevitable part of walking down this particular path I'm on. Fear and angst are what keep me walking, looking for the light and peace that surpasses understanding.

I don't want to understand. I want to feel peace. I want to reflect the light. I want to be in the light. And I need people to help me do that. I need to admit I need the help and accept it when offered. And I need to, no I want to, turn my soul toward God, revealing all the darkness and fear and frustration, allowing his light to shine into the dark places.

Only then can I reveal the glory of Christ, when I can follow this path with trust and obedience. God, turn on the light and reveal all the glory. I am not afraid. Use my weakness to bring me to a place of peace and love and trust.

Martyrs and Thieves by Jennifer Knapp

There's a place in the darkness that I used to cling to
That presses harsh hope against time.
In the absence of martyrs there's a presence of thieves
Who only want to rob you blind.
They steal away any sense of peace.
Tho' I'm a king I'm a king on my knees.
And I know they are wrong when they say I am strong
As the darkness covers me.

So turn on the light and reveal all the glory.
I am not afraid.
To bear all my weakness, knowing in meekness,
I have a kingdom to gain.
Where there is peace and love in the light
In the light , I am not afraid
To let your light shine bright in my life, in my life

There are ghosts from my past who've owned more of my soul
Than I thought I had given away.
They linger in closets and under my bed
And in pictures less proudly displayed.
A great fool in my life I have been
Have squandered 'til pallid and thin.
Hung my head in shame and refused to take blame
For the darkness I know I've let win.

So turn on the light and reveal all the glory.
I am not afraid
To bear all my weakness, knowing in meekness,
I have a kingdom to gain.
Where there is peace and love in the light
In the light , I am not afraid
To let your light shine bright in my life, in my life

Can you hear me?
Can you hear me? (5x)

I've never been much for the bearing of soul
In the presence of any man.
I'd rather keep to myself all safe and secure
In the arms of a sinner I am.
Could it be that my worth should defend
By the crimson stained grace on a hand?
And like a lamp on a hill Lord I pray in your will
To reveal all of you that I can.

So turn on the light and reveal all the glory.
I am not afraid.
To bear all my weakness, knowing in meekness,
I have a kingdom to gain.
Where there is peace and love in the light
In the light , I am not afraid
To let your light shine bright in my life, in my life

Sunday, April 09, 2006

my deliverer is coming

Yesterday at an Easter Egg Hunt, an acquaintance said to me "Well, I always hated being asked this question, but I'm going to ask it anyway." You can guess what was coming. I wanted to say "if you hated it so much, maybe you shouldn't ask it of someone else." But I didn't. She said, "So when are you planning to have kids? Are they in your future?"

I wish I could have told her what I was thinking, "Well, it's not for lack of trying or hoping or praying, if you must know. As a matter of fact, I'd love to be able to tell you that our 'plan' is working. I'd love to say that kids are in our future. But for now, I'm stuck in the lovely desert of infertility, so I can't really answer that question. Aren't you glad you asked?"

Instead, being the passive-aggressive I am, I said "We'd love to have kids someday, when the timing is right." She then made some comments about my good planning and putting my career first and being responsible and yada, yada, yada. The rest of the morning was great. I love being around kids. I love being around my friends and their kids. I just don't like people asking questions that made them uncomfortable once, you know?

SO...After some unusual symptoms the past few days, I took a pregnancy test this morning, day 28.


Of course.

I didn't take it very bad at first, as I'm pretty used to the "not pregnant" outcome. I usually have a Pollyanna, "there's always next month!" type of response. And this morning I just tossed the stick in the trash and casually informed Ben that we won't be having a baby in January 2007.

I got ready for church, drove to town, plopped in my seat next to Ben, and closed my eyes to listen to the prelude. The choir had barely started to sing and the tears started flowing.

I managed to keep myself pretty composed (read: silent, controllable tears) until the children came in, waving their palms, singing, "My deliver is coming, My deliverer is standing by. My deliverer is coming, My deliverer is standing by."

I couldn't bear the sounds of their angelic voices, singing those words of promise, as their Hebrew ancestors must have sung in preparation for Christ's coming. The promise of a deliverer, of a hope and a future. The tears were streaming by this point, and I found myself wet and sloppy, without any tissues, in the front row of the church.

The poor kids probably wondered why this crazy weeping lady continued to sing the words, her hands lifted in the air in submission.

All I have to cling to these days is a promise. Not that Christ himself has ever promised me a child, not that I have any assurance that this is what he has for me. But I cling to the promise of Jeremiah, for a hope and a future, and the words of that song, for my deliverer to come and relieve me of my sorrow.

After the service Ben did baptisms for two of our friends and a neighbor. All babies, all beautiful and intrigued and amazed and precious. No crying, no fussing, just staring with wonderment at the font as the water streamed from Ben's hand. And the congregation of family and friends drew in a collective "aahh" as we witnessed the promises of God poured out on the lives of these babies.

For infant baptism is really about promises. A promise the family makes; a promise to raise their child in a home that fears God and believes in Christ the Savior. It is the promise of the congregation to shelter and care for these children, to raise them up in the knowledge of their belovedness and value in the eyes of the Lord.

For once, I didn't cry at an infant baptism. I smiled. I laughed. I cooed at little Wyatt in front of us before he went up for his big moment. I rested in the promises of the morning. And I left with the song still fresh upon my lips "my deliverer is coming. my deliverer is standing by," prayers lifted to the source of hope and promise.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

some interesting statistics

Today I came across some interesting statistics about one of the schools I work at. I've always wondered how the student body was represented, culturally and ethnically. Look at the breakdown of students! Amazing!

Further, our 4200 students represent 60 different countries and speak 58 different languages. Around 30% of the students are recent immigrants.

I love diversity.

babies babies everywhere

Is anyone else just totally sick of hearing about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' coming attraction? I know I am. And Brangelina's, too. As if following the love lives of the rich and famous isn't bad enough, but we also have to hear every detail about their unborn babies. Is it a girl? A boy? Oooh, they bought a pink blanket for $400. But, wait! Now they're purchasing a blue outfit with matching blue uggs for only $275! What the heck?! We must know the sex of Tomkitten/brangelinita!

You are probably wondering how I know so much about the "most beautiful unborn people in the world." I'll admit that I do read an occasional People magazine, but only on vacation. And I will visit every once in a while, but more to read the witty celebrity-bashing humor than to get the dirt. Yeah.

One of my dear friends, who is also trying to get pregnant, told me when Britney conceived that she was pissed. Mostly mad that silly Britney could get pregnant at the drop of the hat (and then make poor safety decisions, to boot, as evidenced by driving with baby on lap). Meanwhile there are those of us who have waited and waited, each month looking for the two pink lines.

Sometimes it feels like others' joy is thrown in your face, to the tune of the paparazzi who chronicle every little news blip about the hollywood babes' babies. Enough. For the time being I am going to boycott entertainment news.

At least until katie thomasina or angela bradini is born.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

all the originals in the house say "Heeyy!" (or a weighty issue, part 2)

Monday night I was talking with my girls about body image, and I shared the story about the time I revealed to Ben how deeply self-conscious I was. I told him that every time I walked into a room, met a group of people, browsed the mall, sat in a waiting room or (insert any other public activity here), I instantly went into comparing-mode.

"Dang. That girl is so beautiful." (jealousy)
"Well at least I have prettier hair than her." (pride)
"But her legs are so long and skinny and beautiful." (envy)
"But I could have teeth like those ones. Ew." (ego-inflating)
"Why did she have to enter? Miss Perfect Body, Perfect Teeth, Perfect Skin, Perfect Purse? Now we all look like sacks of potatoes." (self-loathing)

Ben had a hard time believing that it was this way ALL the time. But I told him, no really honey, it is like this no matter where I go. I'm constantly comparing myself to other women. And it's sinful and it's yucky and it makes me feel awful. But I can't stop.

My girlfriends totally understood. They do the same exact thing. Why??? Why must we constantly compare ourselves to others, why can't we learn to love and accept ourselves just as we are?

Once again, the Word had a word to speak to me today, and it cut straight to my heart. In Galatians 5, Paul is talking about living life on our terms versus living life God's way. He describes the life we have when trying to always be in control, and it is characterized by: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community.

Sound familiar?

And a life lived God's way? A life characterized by good fruit, such as: affection for others; exuberance for life; serenity; focus; compassion; respect for others; loyal friendships and authentic community.

He goes on to finish the chapter like this:

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with others as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

Can I get an "AMEN!"? My prayer today is that I will learn to embrace myself as an original, learn to love my body and my self for the unique way it was created, and most of all, that I will let go of the comparison game. Because Galatians is all about freedom, and true freedom as I see it is finding my own worth and the worth of others solely in our relationship to Christ, as holy and beloved children and heirs to the kingdom.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

a Word for me

In a previous post I mentioned that I've been really behind in my quiet times with the Lord, that I've been feeling a lot of spiritual disconnect. That, and I've been complaining a lot about the weather. So I found it to be no coincidence that my daily devotional had this to say today:

Who maketh the clouds His chariot; who walketh upon the wings of the wind.
Psalm 104:3

Clouds and storms are also part of My way. The sunshine of My grace is hidden from view as they do their necessary
work. See how in My natural world these things play their necessary role to the ongoing of life, and be aware, My child,
of their beneficial role in your spiritual life. Clouds and storms are also part of My way."

My mind is so temporal, His ways are so eternal. For me, the two-week wait between ovulation and pregnancy test seems like years. To Him, it is but a blip on the radar screen of my life. The rain seems endless, but even the storms are a part of His plan and purpose.

I don't want to be a fair-weather believer. I want to trust through the storms and clouds and fire and flame and flood, as the Psalmist does in the passage. This is why I need to be in the Word. Because there is always a word for me.

triathlon training, part 2

I find it difficult to train for a triathlon when the rain just won't let up. I can't spend 5 days a week in the pool and expect to do well in the running and biking legs of the race.

But, complaining aside, I do have some improvement to report:
-I used to hate running. Hate. Last week I ran 35 minutes and enjoyed myself the entire time. The longest I'll have to run in training is 39 minutes, so I'm feeling rather proud.
-On Sunday, I did a brick workout including 22 minutes of swimming sprints and a hilly bike ride. Ben said at the beginning of the ride that our goal was 45 minutes, and then we clocked in at 41, which he called "impressive."
-I totally enjoy swimming, and can easily freestyle for 35 minutes or more, completing upwards of 3/4 of a mile.
-I haven't missed a workout in weeks. I've been following my training plan almost to a T, and the workouts continue to be enjoyable.
-Back pain? What back pain? Haven't had problems with my lower back in months, and I know it has to do with 1) losing weight, 2) exercising regularly, 3) excellent chiropractic care.

All in all, I shouldn't really be complaining. It was raining hard at 6am this morning, but by the time I'd laced up my shoes and leashed the pooch, it was clear for a good thirty minutes.

I'm looking forward to picking another race to train for after this triathlon is over. :)

Monday, April 03, 2006

vacation goooood, work baaaad

After a five-day weekend, I'd really like to be back at home, on the couch, taking a post-lunch nap. Instead I'm ingesting diet soda (not good at all for me) to keep myself awake through the Monday afternoon slump. Why is it that even with a five-day weekend, I don't feel like I got enough rest?

Spring Forward (aka Daylight Savings) really stinks. I mean, it's one of the worst days of the year, losing an hour of sleep, then waking up to a dark morning instead of sunbeams and chirping birds. I think the effects of that one day have carried well into my week.

And what is it with the rain? The forecasters predict 2 more weeks of rain, and already we've had over seven inches in the past month! We're beating the Pacific Northwest in rainfall. What's up with that?

Let's see, what else can I be grumpy about today?

6 month evaluations coming up at work, a supervisor who keeps reminding me, and a stack of referrals so big I wonder how I'll see all the kids within a month!

Eating too much junk on vacation and now getting back into the swing of triathlon training/diet.

The fact that since we started a new small group study series, my time with the Lord has totally suffered, and the fact that I blame it on not having the daily workbook exercises to help me "look forward" to these times.

Trying to sell our other car and having it not pass smog and then putting another $800 into it in order to sell the stupid thing.

Having secondary insurance but then no providers actually bill secondary which means I have to spend at least two hours on the phone every week getting people to pay for things. Oh, and my primary insurance which keep denying coverage on infertility treatments, though I have called a few times, and they keep saying "oops! You're right, we shouldn't be denying, we should be paying!" Argh.

I apologize to all of you out there who know me as an optimistic, Pollyanna-type person. Today's a rough day, and I can't exactly vent to my teen clients. So you out in cyberland get to act as my empathic listener for a day. Lucky you.