Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Houses and Babies and Very Good Things and Very Hard Things

So, it's kind of been a while since I have written.

Long enough that I had to stop and think about what website I use to blog when I sat down today.

Life has been moving really fast. In some areas, it has moved forward quickly, and there have been exciting things to plan for and to keep us busy. In some areas, it has moved backwards, quickly and painfully. These are things I cannot write much about, because it is not my information to share. But the pull between the very good and the very hard has been a challenge for me.

Our second biological baby is due in less than a month. I am so very excited to meet our little girl, and as the date approaches, I have been more able to fully experience the joy of anticipating her arrival. But this has been a hard thing for me. This pregnancy has not been an easy one. The fact that we were going through hard things with Baby S throughout did not mean we got to experience an easy pregnancy in exchange. I was sick a lot in the beginning... and the middle. I finally felt like I was hitting the second trimester "easy stage" with just a few weeks left to the second trimester. That was a good three weeks. And then I started to feel off and tired and just not right, with the occasional return of morning sickness. Yay. Shortly after that, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and that has been a constant challenge. Half my brain is devoted to counting carbs and proteins and how long until the next time I need to check my blood sugar. I have forgotten all math, science, psychology... every grown-up topic and all the smart things I used to have in my brain from college... because I have replaced that information with how many carbs are in a serving of green peppers or a slice of Wegman's White Whole Wheat Bread. The up side to this is that, for the first time in my pregnancy, I do feel some measure of control over how I feel. There are actual numbers that I can use to help myself feel better. It's a pretty big job to keep track of it.

It goes everywhere I go. And attacks my finger no matter where I am. Sorry, other people at Home Depot who don't like blood.

And through all the sickness and sometimes feeling weak and sometimes feeling discouraged, life keeps moving forward. We bought a house. That's super exciting, but we didn't know when we were moving in, so that was another holding pattern in my life that threatened to raise my anxiety levels. I saw myself losing energy with the pregnancy and losing time to pack and move and unpack, and I had to be very conscious of not letting myself spiral into a whole lot of worrying. I think I mostly did okay with not worrying, by God's amazing power, through a LOT of prayer and God's amazing ability to give me just what I need from whatever part of the Bible I happen to be going through in my reading plan. (By the way, being pregnant and not able to sleep at night is really awesome for helping me learn to pray more and WANT to pray more. I am actually not being sarcastic when I say that it has been totally worth the sleepless hours to be able to intimately wrestle through my hard things with God.)

And... there's my Baby S. He's been gone for almost half a year. He is not doing well. We have watched him spiral. It is very hard. It is hard for us, and for birth parent. We are still working together even though he is no longer technically involved with us as a foster care placement. In my high school and college years, the things we are witnessing now would have made me sick with worry. I still struggle to constantly re-decide to trust God with Baby S's future, and the weight of that struggle and that pain is very heavy, but I am thankful for my very-imperfect progress and continue to ask God to help me grow in this area. And I have seen him faithfully doing that, even though I don't deserve it and never could have grown even this much on my own. I'm not sure that I've learned not to worry, but I have learned to bring all of my worries to God, and the more I do this, the more I feel joy growing stronger in this struggle between the very-good and the very-hard.

When outside people ask about my life, I tell them that I'm expecting a baby any-time-ish, and that my family just moved into our first house, and that we have an almost-five-year-old who's super excited to be a big brother. Sometimes if they keep poking, we talk about foster care, and I give a polished answer and get the "oh wow that's so great!" and "now you have your own boy and girl so your family is complete even though you have babies who have left you!" type answers. I hear how awesome my life is right now, and how exciting my life is, and how happy I must be about the house and the baby.

And I'm going for transparency here, so I'm going to honestly tell you that this response causes me pain every time. I am excited. I am very thankful for these amazing good gifts that God has given to me.

But... I'm thankful because I have fought a spiritual battle this spring and summer, and wrestled with grief and weakness and pain, and because I am grasping at gratitude that God offers despite my tendency to focus on the hard over the good. And I'm filled with joy over these amazing gifts because I have wrestled through many hours of painful nighttime prayers, trying to grasp God's goodness and the brokenness of my Baby's situation, and choosing to believe that God is in control even when my heart wants me to be in control.

So it's a painful joy. A painful excitement. It is solemn more than jumping up and down. It is sometimes logical more than it is emotional.

I think this is okay. I think there are times we will wrestle deeply to claim joy. I know that God has been keeping my heart and my head open and aware of these issues in my life. He has taught me my patterns, and I now have a toolbox to go to when I start to feel anxious, depressed, or distant from God. I have great hope that God is making me more like him and I am praying that he will help my heart to want the things that he wants. It will be okay.

It will be okay because God, not because me. And so I want to acknowledge these struggles. I want to truthfully recognize that sometimes we can get good things that we have been waiting for a long time, and it can be hard. If you are there with me, I want you to know that I get it, and I'm praying for you. Thankfulness and pain and joy and hurt can live together, and they can be so overwhelming that it can be a fight not to shut down.

I'm making it, and my joy every day is real, and my trust is real, and they are more real for the fact that I can feel that they should not exist at all in broken me, and that they must therefore come from God, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift.

I'm thankful. I love my life. It's maybe a more grown-up and solemn kind of love than I expected, or the strangers in the grocery store expect. I'm praying that this grows me into a deeper person, a more passionate person, a more unmovable person with Jesus as my rock who doesn't move even in the very worst storms. I'm praying that cynicism stays far from me and that I would not allow bitterness to take root. (And good grief, that my pregnancy brain would let the spelling part wake back up, because I thought I knew how to spell these words and spellcheck keeps calling me out.)

And the house? It's amazing. It's beyond my comprehension that it's ours. I am so thankful for years of watching other people get houses while we worked through trying to do big things in a small space, because I would not have been as healthy in my new house if I hadn't had a chance to grow truly satisfied with apartment living and small spaces and a lack of permanency. I think this is such an amazing reminder of how God is going to use my current hurts to bring growth that I will be better for some day. God can use my present circumstances and my future to grow a deep joy and trust that goes far beyond what I could ever imagine.

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