Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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Didn’t I Already Learn This?

I’m constantly amazed at my ability to falter in my faith.

Our house is officially under contract; we did come to terms agreeable for both us and the people who are planning to move into our house, and our closing date is set for September 29. In case anyone is wondering, yes, that is in 25 days. And no, we don’t have a house to move into (or even one we are seriously interested in looking at in the neighborhood in which we’d like to live).

We'll be saying goodbye to our little house

Throughout this process, I’ve been great at talking the talk. Whenever a person came to see the house and didn’t like it, it was easy to assure my husband that God had the perfect buyers for our house and that he knows where we are going. But now it’s time to walk by faith and trust that God has a place for us, and I find myself faltering.

I wonder why we put our house on the market in the first place (even though we had plenty of reasons, chief among them DH’s very long commute).

I find myself secretly (or not so secretly) hoping our buyers will decide to exercise their option and break the contract. We could sell the house at a more convenient time.

I worry: how are we going to get everything packed and moved? I have more than enough work to do for my classes with nothing else added on. DH is preparing to take the first CFA exam this winter and keeps reminding me that he’s terribly behind in his study timeline. Oh, and have I mentioned that I am really, really, really (and that’s not enough emphasis–seriously!) terrible at packing and moving? So, we will hire someone, but that means we need to find someone.

Did I also mention that DH is in a wedding in New Mexico the weekend before our closing date? One which we are both planning to attend (and for which I still don’t have a plane ticket.) Don’t worry: we’ll also be out of town the two weekends preceding that one. As in, this weekend is the only one that has us in town between now and closing.

And when DH’s car broke down on Tuesday morning, bringing the “someday we need to replace your car” to a more urgent “what car are we going to buy and how long can we hold out before we have to do it?”–well, I think that was a final straw for me. And I’m sorry to say I spent most of yesterday succumbing to fear and worry and unable to focus on my studies.

I like to think I was doing okay with the whole thing. That I was trusting God and expecting everything to go the way it should. But I think maybe it hadn’t all sunk in yet. I think I was in denial. And I was quite happy there.

The ridiculous thing about this whole situation is that I thought I had learned these lessons. In fact, just a few months ago, on this blog, I was asking God if I had learned enough yet. And here, too.  I was ready to move on from not being pregnant. So ready.

And here I am, still learning the same things: Trust me. Don’t fear. Don’t worry. Wait on me.

But my gracious God has changed my circumstances. Instead of battling infertility today, I’m dealing with doubts and questions over where we will live and how things can be done in the time that we have. And how our finances are going to work between moving out and (hopefully) moving in and buying a car and paying for movers and flying to New Mexico
and . . .

While I let myself get hung up on the circumstance, on the day-to-day, and on the things about which I have limited or no control, I haven’t been trusting like I should. Yet God is good. And he is calmly whispering to my heart: I’m still here. I’m still trustworthy. I still know. Remember the battles you’ve been through before? I carried you through those, and I’ll carry you through this.

So I’m glad for the wake-up call. This isn’t really a trial: it’s an opportunity to put my faith in practice. I’ve not done so well the past week, but by the grace of God, I can do better today. And tomorrow.


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Summer Storms

I came home this evening from a peaceful afternoon at the coffee shop. I exited my car to a thunderous soundtrack: a storm rolling in. There’s something so lovely about summer thunderstorms. I can’t quite place it, but it’s something to do with the thunder and the lightning and the smell of rain. And maybe to do with the car’s thermometer reading triple digits all day and a hope that rain will bring a respite from the heat.

I tried to let the dogs out before it started. They both cowered at the door to let me know they could hold it a little longer, thanks. They could sense the coming rainfall.

Now, it’s pouring. The rain hits the metal chimney vent like popcorn on the stove. The ground will take in what it can hold, and let the rest just run right away, filling ponds and bayous.

Melville, the two-year-old pup has decided now that he’ll go out after all, braving the storm to use the restroom. He spent a few minutes sitting on the porch, like he was watching the storm, before making his way to the grass. He’ll be back in a moment, frustrated about having wet feet and a wet coat. Happy to lay on the cool tiles and watch through the windows instead.

Rain painting our fences

Rain spilling off the roof

Puppy watching storm

Watching the storm from the windows

Today I’ve been thinking about the to-do list I want to get through before school starts. I’m nervous about going back to school. And as the summer quickly draws to a close, I realize that many of the items on that list–like making things for the baby, journaling and reading about pregnancy, relishing each moment of this dream-come-true–aren’t going to be finished before school starts.

And I have to be like the lawn, letting the things that can’t fit in just roll off and away. Because where the lawn fails to do that, the grass drowns and dies off. And where I fail to do that, maybe I lose a little, too. I stretch thinner and thinner in the places that should be growing.

Yes, I’ve journaled some. I’ve done some knitting. And I am relishing the moments I have. And I am finding out that God waters us and grows us in our circumstances, even if they aren’t always the circumstances we want to be in. And the rainstorm is slowing already, passing away as I watch it and type. Each moment is, afterall, only a moment. And we choose to find joy in the moments. Because I don’t know a better way.


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Falling Down, Getting Back Up

You know that feeling, when you just blink your eyes and realize a month has passed? I can’t believe my last post was February 25!

I wish I had super exciting news to report, and some good excuses for why I’ve been absent and where I’ve been. But I don’t. It’s just been a different season for me lately, and although I’ve been missing writing, I’ve also been knee-deep in those things of life that have to be dealt with. Maybe you’ve been there too? Or maybe you’re much more organized than I am and know how to line up guest posts and keep things going. Ha. Someday maybe I’ll be there.

I’ve had a tough couple of days. To be honest, I’ve been kind of frustrated about our infertility lately. I feel like it should be over already. As we keep waiting for that elusive BFP, this sense that we’re actually trying yet it still hasn’t worked has dredged up a lot of feelings I thought I’d addressed and moved through.

Apparently they were just buried.

For months now I’ve been “so well-adjusted” and happy. I’ve been self-assured and confident that I’ve learned all the lessons God could possibly be teaching me through this trial. As we’ve been studying Joseph’s story and all about suffering in I Peter for my Bible studies, I’ve read along, nodding. “Oh yes,” I’ve thought, “suffering does develop good character in us. Look what it’s done for me!”

But I’m ready to be done with infertility. I’m ready to move on. When will God agree? Can’t I graduate yet?

We went to the rodeo on Saturday. The Houston Livestock show and Rodeo is seriously amazing. And that’s coming from a yankee suburban girl. I went to the rodeo for the first time two years ago. I had no idea what to expect, and I fell in love. We missed the rodeo last year, so this was only my second trip, but it didn’t disappoint.

The Houston Rodeo has an event that, to my understanding, very few other rodeos still have. It’s called mutton busting. In this extreme sport, 5 and 6 year old boys and girls who weigh between 35 and 55 pounds are plopped onto full-grown sheep. They hold on tightly as the sheep (hopefully) runs across a pen.

Sometimes they fall off after a short distance. And other times, the adults waiting at the end struggle to get the children to release the sheep. When they fall off, they almost always bounce back up and wave to the audience.

This is the highlight of the rodeo for me. I’m a little sad I wasn’t given the opportunity to ride a sheep when I was a child, and I fully intend to sign my children up for a ride one day. They may or may not have any say in the matter…

As we sat in the outdoor tent watching the mutton busing prelims, I was feeling so emotional. I kept feeling like I was holding back tears. But there wasn’t anything to cry about.

Over the next few days, I tried to process these feelings. It came as something of a surprise to me, but I realized that I was feeling really frustrated and angry about our situation. I’ve been irritated by the injustice of infertility. Some little part of me keeps welling up and crying out, “not fair!” Like a child.

Where is this coming from? I thought I’d dealt with these feelings. I’ve been matured and made better in my trial, right? I know I’ve been blessed through infertility and yet I lost the ability, for a few days, to find joy in my trial.

I don’t have a moral to the story here. Or even a good metaphor to tie the sheep in (though I kind of wish I did). This is where I’ve been lately. Processing. Evaluating. Re-processing. Re-evaluating. And praying. And asking God to give me some clarity here, and to give me some joy.

It’s easy to blog all the good lessons I’m learning, and the amazing finds in God’s word that just make my heart leap. It’s easy, on a blog, to put on a good face and seem like everything’s fine. To play this, “look at me and how I’m blossoming” card. But I guess that’s just part of the picture.

And the other part, the part that’s easier to hide, is the “this is really hard” part. The part that whines, “are we there yet?” The part that still cries out, “It’s not fair!”

I don’t like that part. But it’s a good reminder that I still have a lot to learn. And I guess I always will.

But maybe, just maybe, I don’t have to keep learning it all through infertility? We’ll see where the next month takes us, I guess.


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Asking, and Still Asking

Do you ever feel a little bit phony?

I’ve been riding a bit of an infertility roller coaster lately. I guess it’s been for the past few weeks, maybe even over a month. I am just so ready to be on the other side of this. So ready.

I think I’ve also reached a place where I think I’ve learned my lessons. Yes, I’ve been blessed in a number of ways by infertility, not least of which is getting connected to some absolutely wonderful men and women who are sitting in this boat with me–or who have been. I’ve grown closer to God and to my husband. I’ve seen intimacy increase in both relationships in ways I never expected. I know I’ve gained a new appreciation for what I’m missing, that I’ll be more joyful and slower to complain when things are tough in pregnancy or after. And I’ve benefited in some tangible ways: I eat better (or at least know better and try to), I’ve eliminated some potentially and actually harmful substances from my skin care routine. I’ve begun some new habits that will hopefully help my house run a bit smoother once I get them all down. And these are all things that will be good for my coming children.

I wouldn’t take it all back. Really I wouldn’t. I’m grateful, honest-to-goodness grateful for the journey that has led me here. But have I learned enough yet? Because I really, really am so ready to move on.

And the phoniness? It comes out on here sometimes, when I want to look like I have things more together than I really do. Mea culpa. Seriously. And I feel it when I’m with the people who don’t know. The ones who ask me, at my Bible study, “How are you?” with that look that says, “I know there’s something hurting you” or “Are you really okay?” or “No really, tell me, how are you?”

And I’m so grateful to have these women who ask me with depth. They know. I know some of them know. I’m 29, I’ve been married almost six years, I live in Texas, and I’m a stay at home wife. They know. But they don’t pry, they just keep asking, “How are you?” and meaning it.

And I keep deflecting. Like today, when I told a dear friend that, well, I have to get my house cleaned for DH’s grandparents who are coming to visit. I do need to do that, by the way. My house is a complete disaster. And I’m not exaggerating (though I really wish I was!). And I know why I’m not telling them, why I’m not exposing myself in that way and why we’re waiting. And I think we have some valid reasons not to tell, beyond just protecting ourselves. So I’m not actually rethinking that decision. Just, I guess, coming to terms with the feeling of phoniness that likes to sneak in.

And then, there’s God’s word. And I read it and I so want some of these things to be true for me specifically, but I don’t know how to take the promises specific to one person, or to one tribe, or to one time and place, and call them mine. I don’t know if they’re mine. And truthfully, the only thing that makes me want to say they are mine is because they line up so well with my will. But in my head I know that God’s will is best.*

And I’ll keep asking. And keep seeking. But I’m not yet claiming. I don’t know if I can, or should. So here I am, God, still waiting. Waiting to hear what your promises are to me. Hoping that, like infertility, having a child is a good gift you have in store for me. And waiting for this trial to end. Please let it end.

Sigh.

Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.

Or what man is there of you, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will hand him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will hand him a serpent? If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking him!
(Matthew 7:7-11, AMP)

With family in town from now through Thanksgiving, I’m not sure how consistent I’ll be (they are staying with DH’s parents, or I know I wouldn’t be able to do much blogging). I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed lately–not by the blog, but by other things–and I am striving to find balance. So, if I’m quiet for oddly long periods, please don’t worry. I’ll be back. I might be back tomorrow. But I appreciate your patience.


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It’s a Ping-Pong Ball Season

Lately I’ve been feeling like the ball in a ping pong game. I’ve been vacillating between so many things: trust and self-reliance, optimism and pessimism, excitement and fear . . .

For the most part, I’m doing much (so much!) better today than I was 6 months ago. But since the school year started, bringing with it the renewal of my responsibilities in my Bible study and other activities, I’ve been having a difficult time making my schedule work. And I’m just so tired. I think this tiredness opens a door to let the peace I held so securely all summer just drift away. I know I can take it back: it’s been offered to me and I just need to re-acknowledge it. But I am too tired to reach out and grab it. Or that’s how I feel.

Instead of feeling secure and patient in our waiting, I’ve been starting to feel overwhelmed. I’m excited to start treatment–and eager to fast forward through to December/January when we’ll begin significant medical interventions. But I’m also okay with waiting, not wanting to have to do all the things I need to do between now and actually getting started. Things like finding a new doctor or getting our finances in order. And I don’t want to be caught up in all of it again and lose sight of today, of the crispness in the air right now or even enjoying dinner and my favorite TV shows–not to mention post-season Cardinals baseball!–with my dear and wonderful husband.

And then I find that I can’t even imagine myself pregnant. What will it be like? I used to picture a round belly growing under my shirt, but now when I try I just see me. I’ve begun to look forward to things other than parenting–to the possibility of seminary or even to writing more. I’ve entertained notions I never entertained, like being actually employed somewhere full-time as a teacher or even in an office and enjoying it. Like having a career. Stuff I never really thought about wanting. It’s weird. So weird.

And then I have complete opposite moments. Moments of denial. How is that still coming up? But yesterday I was sitting and thinking that maybe this whole IF thing was a dream. Or maybe it’s just temporary and I’m going to wake up tomorrow and get pregnant like a normal person from now on. Other moments spent daydreaming decorating a nursery, maybe for two.

And then pinching myself, reminding myself to be present, to be here and to do what God wants me to do today.

We got some disappointing news last week. DH’s company isn’t actually going to cover our infertility treatments. It’s okay. I mean, we are blessed to have savings that we can use. Praise God. We are so grateful that this doesn’t mean we aren’t able to move forward. But it is a disappointment. Apparently insurance premiums are going up 8 percent just to keep the coverage we already have and adding infertility would cost an additional 10 percent on top of that for DH’s company. When they ran the numbers they came to the conclusion that they couldn’t afford it. I was more worried, but DH–who has a better handle on our financial situation anyway–reassured me last night. We can afford our treatments. And it’s okay. And God already knew this would happen. But, well, like the other people in his office who probably could also benefit from IF coverage (if 1 in 8 couples are affected, I’m sure we’re not the only ones), I think I’d just prefer not to have been told we’d be receiving coverage only to find out we aren’t.

I made appointments on Monday for us to check out two different REs in Houston. We’ll meet with the first one this Monday. The second one isn’t until November–and I may cancel that if we like the first doctor. So, we’re making concrete steps.

And I’m mostly optimistic, mostly trusting, and mostly excited–but still feeling a bit tossed from one end of the table to the other.


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God Decided How Hard the Winds Should Blow

Ick. I hate infertility. I’m over it.

Yesterday, as my period came (figures it would come the day before my scheduled annual “women’s visit,” but whatever) I just felt done. I’m tired of this. Tired of the monthly reminder that we’re still not pregnant. Tired of still not being pregnant.

I’d been doing so well. And I can’t really put my finger on what’s changed. Maybe it’s been a slow descent into that nagging unsettledness, that feeling of discontent.

The peace I’ve talked about isn’t gone. But maybe it’s on vacation. Or getting ready to head out if I don’t stop it.

And it’s probably hormones talking. But the last few months I’d really been okay. My period came and went and I was largely unfazed. Yesterday was ennui. Today it’s cramps and no real respite from the general blues I’m feeling.

So that’s where I am everybody. Trying to remember that God is good. That he loves me. That he does have a plan and that he gave me the desire for children for a reason.

In the Old Testament part of my Bible reading today I’m in Job. Maybe it’s Job’s fault. It probably doesn’t help that my mornings have started out with a depressing story for the last several days. But I digress…

This verse stood out to me this morning (Job is speaking):

“[God] decided how hard the winds should blow and how much rain should fall.” (Job 28:25)

I’ve been feeling like I’m done with infertility. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown a lot. Aren’t I finished learning and growing through this trial yet?

But that’s for God. God decides how hard the winds should blow.

View from Maya Beach, Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand

View from Ko Phi Phi Don, Thailand

Boat anchored in Maya Bay, Thailand

Entering Maya Bay, Thailand

And he will decide when the winds will cease.

“Then [Jesus] got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’

He replied, ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?‘ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and waves obey him!'” (Matthew 8:23-27)

Surely the boat would have survived the storm if Jesus had done nothing. He had nothing to fear and was happy to sleep through the turmoil. But in his mercy, he calmed the storm so the disciples would be at peace.

God will not harm me. I can weather the storm because he won’t let the waves and the winds overpower me. But I can turn to him and lean on him and trust in him. And soon the storm of discontent will pass. And maybe one day, the storm of infertility will also be behind me.

One day. But maybe not today. Maybe today is a day for moping, a day for ibuprofen, a day for heating pads. Sigh.


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When Plans Change

There are things that are naturally hard for us. And we can go with the flow and get pushed backwards sometimes, or we can fight against those challenges to get where we need to go.

I took this video of salmon in a fish ladder last summer when we were vacationing in Oregon and Washington State. On our way from Oregon to Washington, we stopped at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River and got to see the fish swimming upstream. In the video, you can see that sometimes they seem to be making great progress, when all of a sudden the current overwhelms them and they are pushed backward, only to have to do it all again (see especially the little fish starting at about 00:12).

I think–and this may be wildly inaccurate–that we face certain tests in this life over and again until we can pass them.

For me, one of those tests I keep failing and retaking has to do with changing plans. 

For some reason, I am terrible at this. If I make a plan–even if it’s just in my mind–I intend to follow through on it. Now, I’m quite forgiving of myself. See, today I was planning on doing some little chores around the house–vacuuming and dusting and so forth–but I’m not doing them today because I had a headache earlier and I’m on my period and I can do them tomorrow. I’m so very flexible with myself.

But when my plans have to change because of other people, I am less forgiving. And if I know you well enough, like my poor DH, I may get angry or at least frustrated about the change in plan. I’m really terrible.

And the truth is, sometimes plans change. Definitely more often than I’d like.

Once, a few years ago, DH was really sick. Now, he is a boy, so “really sick” for him is maybe or maybe not the same as “really sick” for me. But anyway, he stayed home from work and was certainly not feeling well. We were living in Arlington, VA, and were supposed to go that evening to an event to see Elinor Ostrom speak. She won the Nobel prize in economics in 2009, so I suppose this was in the fall of 2010. I went to work and DH stayed in bed. And then, after work, I went to see Ms. Ostrom speak, as I’d planned. 

DH didn’t appreciate my going. He thought I should have come home and taken care of him instead. And maybe I should have.

I don’t like it when plans change.

I didn’t like it when our plans to get pregnant two years ago did not come to fruition. I was concerned something must be wrong within the first few months because things weren’t proceeding according to plan.

But I’ve noticed this problem I have. I’ve made enormous strides with all the plan-changng and rearranging we’ve dealt with in our IF treatments. And I’m trying to get over it. I handled our move to College Station and, shortly thereafter, to Katy quite well considering that both moves were not according to our plan. I’m evolving and maturing and getting good at this whole plan-changing thing!

And isn’t it funny that when you think you’ve mastered a new skill a little, tiny, insignificant test comes along and you fall flat on your face?

This morning, I was running a little behind what I had planned. I did my grocery shopping, albeit about 2 hours later than I’d wanted to leave the house. I’d created a to-do list that would have been completely doable if I’d not been behind but which would be tight now that I was late. I was sitting on the back patio reading my Bible study workbook for my small group tomorrow night, nodding right along as I read, “Complete obedience to God requires a commitment to modify and change our plans at a moment’s notice,”* when my phone rang.

Now, DH never calls me from work. But here it was, 12:07 p.m., and our conversation went like this:

ME: Is something wrong?

DH: No. I was wondering, could you take my car for an oil change this afternoon?

[He had switched cars with me this morning to avoid driving many more miles before getting the oil changed.]

ME: Oh. Really? I thought you were going to do it. I don’t know…

DH: I found a place. I can make an appointment. It’s right by the house and it’s much less expensive than anything I can find near the office. You can do it tomorrow. Or, well, any day this week. Does any time work for you?

ME: I wish you’d told me earlier. I mean, if I’d known, I would have taken it before I went to the store. Now I have other things I’ve planned to do . . . whine . . . whine . . . [You get the idea.]

DH: Never mind. I’ll do it myself tomorrow. Thanks anyway.

I turned back to my Bible study and reread the paragraph I’d been reading when he called me, “. . . a commitment to modify and change our plans at a moment’s notice,” and I knew I had failed this test . . . again.

I did end up getting the oil changed. But I was so whiny about it, and I made it such a chore. I suppose I should be glad I was able to redeem my failure and that this test was just a little thing.

I’m still learning.

And that evil, current still gets me backsliding when I least expect it.

*Quotation from Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks, member book (Nashvile, TN: LifeWay Press, 2006), 112.