Monday, December 11, 2006

The Eleven Letter "Four Letter Word"

Infertility. To me it has always sounded like an unreal too far away for me to comprehend word. One of those things I "understood" but never "got." A word I was sure I would never really have to deal with except for maybe in offering a tad bit of support for loved ones in their journey through it. Now it sounds like a nasty four-letter word. Infertility. It sounds so final, so uncaring, so matter of fact and judgmental.

I've never been one to like labels, especially when people tried to push them on me. I like to be who I am, not what others think of and attribute to me. This label is certainly no different. Well, actually it is different... the pain it brings cuts much deeper than any other label thrown my way. It was only in the past week or so that it really occurred to me that this label has been slapped on me, no matter what I think about it. No matter how hard I try, I just can't swallow that huge bite of life sucks!

Is it even possible to be in the denial stage and anger stage of grieving all at once? That's where I am right now, possibility or not. I've found myself angry with myself, the world, God, the people who say all the wrong things... and even though I can't accept that I could be "infertile" neither can I fully accept that I might not be. I really don't know what to think anymore.

A lovely woman who has battled this demon for far longer than my frail heart can even begin to comprehend sent me to this website, Stepping Stones, a Christian organization that offers support to couples dealing with infertility and pregnancy loss. My first thought upon looking at the home page was, "I am not infertile!" Then the realization hit me, yet again like a semi, that according to the medical world definition of the word, I am. Then once I finally and carefully swallowed a tiny crumb of that huge bite of life sucks, I decided to read a few of the articles to see if I could find any comfort there. I'd do anything for comfort lately... to get back to the place where I was truly joyful and happy and in peace about things. To find rest in the arms of the Father who promised me that rest yet seems too far away to make good on it.

I stumbled upon an article on Infertility (there's that nasty word again!) and Anger, and there I was. I can identify with almost every bit of it. I found it almost funny (but not quite) that it compares the anger of infertility to the anger Moses felt towards God before Pharaoh freed His people. It struck me in such a way because I've compared myself to Moses before... not his good attributes, mind you... but his weak ones. His doubts of self, his strained belief in how God could truly use someone like him for great things... now I find myself facing yet another comparison to the man. I am angry at God much like He was, just for different reasons. (I'm obviously not trying to free thousands of people from the hands of a horrible, evil dictator... or, at least, that's not my day job.)

“O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all” (Exodus 5:22-23 NIV).

So many times I've heard my soul cry out, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon me? Is this really why you sent me here? I KNOW you sent me here in your name, yet I've had only trouble and you have not rescued me at all." It seems like a cruel joke to put such a deep desire in a person, push them out of their comfort zone in an attempt to fulfill that desire, then leave them standing there with empty arms. Why would God do that? Just what is He trying to do? Did He really lead me here just to leave me angry and hurting, empty and broken? Because that's where I am, and it's not like it came as a big surprise to Him.

I want to move past this... I want to be happy again. I want to spit out the big bite of life sucks and find true joy and peace and dance at the feet and rest in the arms of my Father again... but right now I'm stuck. When will I be set free from it? And if I am, will I have the courage and faith to face and walk through the parted Red Sea... or will it swallow me up and all my evil ways along with it? Will I be left to wander in the desert for years and years for my lack of faith?

Ah, Moses. So doubtful, so faltering, so angry. Much like me. Though unlike me, he still did what the Lord told him to do. He faced his demons, despite himself, and the people were freed. I guess only time will tell if I will be like him there too... but as of right now, my mouth is too full of this immense chunk of life sucks to tell God I surrender. Hopefully He'll slap me on the back hard enough to shake me to my senses before it chokes all the life out of me. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is too weak to even spit... so slap, dear God, slap away.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thursday Thirteen #4

Thirteen Skills I'd Love to Master in My Lifetime

1. Wire wrapping & other metal workings

2. Piano playing

3. Guitar playing (lead!)

4. Sewing

5. Photography

6. Photoshop

7. Managing my panic attacks

8. Keeping Molly from peeing on the carpet

9. Woodworking (no, I haven't started yet, but it looks so cool!)

10. Swirl, sniff, slurp, and spit (anyone up for a fine Pinot Noir?)

11. Keeping up with my house *groan*

12. Painting a wall and not making a mess

13. Procrastinating (hey, I had to list one that I've already mastered, you know...)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Christmas Letter

Just for grins, here's the Christmas letter we're sending out to our loved ones this year...

Dear family and friends,

Well, it’s that time of year again. The time to bundle up and button down as we hustle and bustle our way into the New Year, maybe even singing a carol or two along the way. 2006 has flown by so fast; I’m not quite sure where it all went. It has been an interesting year, to say the least.

Early on in the year, we started to embark on the exciting yet nerve wracking voyage of becoming first time home owners. This is something we had been praying about, saving for, and planning on for years. When the time finally arrived, except for a few minor bumps on the road, we were incredibly blessed from start to finish. We had wonderful Realtors who quickly became our friends (and neighbors too, interestingly enough) and we found a great house in a wonderful neighborhood for a spectacular price. We left the world of renting in March and haven’t looked back since. We actually have a little bit of space for visitors, so y’all come down now, ya hear?

Shortly after moving into our house I, like all good puppy moms having quickly forgotten how much work, blood, sweat and tears it takes to raise a puppy to proper house broken status, started deliriously thinking about how we could add just a little bit more insanity to our lives. Ignoring the warnings by the crazy dog-hating naysayers among us, we decided to make good use of our nice back yard and get a sister for our 2-yr old fun and energetic Shih-tzu mix, Trixie. Enter Molly, the fraidy cat miniature Schnauzer mix who is just so gosh darn cute you can’t stay mad at her for more than, oh, a week at a time. Even if I hadn’t forgotten the difficulties Trixie gave us the first year of her life, I would not have been prepared for the new challenge that is Molly. Let’s just say that I’m through raising dogs for a very long time... quite possibly the rest of my life (or at least until someone comes along and zaps me with that Men In Black flashy dealie and I forget, once again, what kind of crazy person you have to be to raise a puppy.)

Dustin has been staying extremely busy with his job. Since re-joining this company a few years ago, he has quickly accelerated from a simple data entry position to an IT Manager of sorts. Last month, he hired himself a very much needed assistant. They seem to be getting along well, and hopefully eventually this will lessen the demand on his time so he can work more normal hours again. Prayers for this area would be appreciated.

I have been keeping somewhat busy with my never ending supply of hobbies. My mom and I are in the process of developing our jewelry designing business. Two Belles & a Bead should be officially launching (along with a full fledged professionally designed retail website) soon after the New Year, and we are quite excited. Our customer base has been slowly but surely growing, and we are having a blast with it.

Both Dustin and I have recently taken a liking to photography. He’s always had a good eye for it, especially when it comes to nature. I didn’t pick up on it until, out of necessity, I started to photograph our jewelry items to showcase on the web. From there the monster grew, and I find myself wishing I had taken some photography courses when I was in college (along with writing, and music, and a host of other things I have fallen madly in love with as of late.) Our cheap little 5 MP camera has faithfully provided us with a lot of great use, but we can’t wait to replace it with something halfway between the consumer and professional realms. I’ve also become a certifiable Photoshop addict. I’m having a grand old time learning photo editing, so if you ever find yourself in need of, say, your head on a cow’s body, I’m the gal to call!

This fall, Dustin had a hearing before the Board of VA Appeals in hopes of getting the board to raise his disability percentage to the next level. This has been an uphill battle, but we believe he has a good case and have high hopes that it will go through so we can afford to seek better treatment on our own for his injury and hopefully find something that actually provides some relief for his pain. We should be receiving notice of their decision anytime now. Prayers for this would be greatly appreciated as well.

Something that most of you do not yet know, but we feel comfortable in sharing now, is that we have wanted to add to our family for quite some time (with a less furry two-legged member, that is.) A little over a year ago, we decided we were ready to fulfill a lifelong goal and become parents; however, God has not seen fit to bless us with children yet. It has been a long and hard road… especially for me. It truly feels like a test of my faith that I am failing miserably. We’re not sure when the journey will come to an end, or even if it ever will, but we do know that somehow God will get us through. We know He hasn’t failed us yet, and we know He won’t start now. We’ve depended on the prayers and support of a few of our loved ones to help us through this. If you would like to, we would love for you to join us in praying that the Lord’s will be done in this area of our lives; and for the strength to endure whatever lies ahead.

We pray that this letter finds each of you happy, healthy, and hopeful for a joyous holiday season. We wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and a happy and blessed New Year.

Lots of Love,
Dustin & Crystal