The Club

Are you in The Club?

the club

If nothing else, you at least know someone in The Club. They hold gatherings in houses, coffee shops, churches, and schools. They exchange advice, share stories, and swap resources. They shop at exclusive stores, receive exclusive magazines and memberships, and benefit from frequent exclusive promotional materials that are hung on refrigerators across the country. Members of The Club are recognized daily, though they may sometimes still feel under-appreciated for their contributions.

And it’s true — they sacrifice body, mind, and soul. They put in long hours without pay. They worry about their performance and lose sleep over the effects it might have on The Club’s beneficiaries. And while eventually members’ responsibilities lessen with seniority, membership is a life-long commitment.

It’s stressful to be in The Club. And there are some members who even got drafted to it without ever volunteering their participation.

If you haven’t caught on by now, “The Club” I’m referring to is Motherhood.

In spite of it’s requirements, five years ago all I wanted was to be in The Club. We had settled down in a house in our ideal community and school district. We’d been married for 3 years and were ready to introduce a new tiny member to our family.

But in spite of our frequent *ahem* “application“, The Club just kept rejecting us.

It was a painful roller coaster of hope and disappointment. And while my greatest desire was to be in The Club, I couldn’t help resenting their exclusivity and the painful reminder it was of the experience I thought we might never have.

“Just wait till you have children,” and “When you’re a mom, you’ll understand,” were among the biting phrases members of The Club frequently offered me.

Nowhere was it more prominent of a reminder than at church.

Being fairly new to the community, we were visiting different churches, hoping to find one that had a similar style and feel as the church we grew up in. After visiting a few, it became apparent that the easiest way to connect with church-people… is to have kids. 

Them: “Good morning, I’m Chad and this is my wife Andrea. What are your names?”

Us: “I’m Cheyenne and this is Tyler.”

Them: “Welcome! So do you guys have kids?”

Us: “No…”

*insert awkward pause*

Them: “Well, we’re glad to have you here!”

In my insecurity, I imagined their drive home going something like this:

Andrea: “You know those new people today? What were their names?”

Chad: “I think it was Cheyler and Tyanne.”

Andrea: “Oh, right. Did you notice how awkward it got when you asked if they had kids?”

Chad: “Yeah, I noticed that too.”

Andrea: “Do you think they don’t like kids? Do you think they were annoyed by our kids?”

Chad: “Who knows. And if that is the case, they will just have to deal with it. They’ll understand someday when they become parents.”

I’m sure that’s not what really happened. And I truly believe people had the best intentions and were sincerely trying to create a hospitable place for us to worship. But when the parenthood-connection couldn’t be established, it felt difficult to connect at all. Even the ministries and events offered were mostly for moms, children, and families. And the conversations around us always seemed to be centered on other people’s kids. Infertility is just not a good opening-liner to explain childlessness. We knew we would just have to get past the initial awkwardness of being “three-to-five-years-married-without-children” and focus on the point of church – worship.

It was five years ago – on Mother’s Day – that I got another negative pregnancy test. I was tired and frustrated and crushed with disappointment again. Why did I do that to myself? I should have waited one more day.

Not pregnant

The last thing I wanted to do was go to church and get by-passed for a Mother’s-Day-daisy. But we went anyway.

I put on a skirt and feebly attempted a happy face as we found our seats in the row. But when we closed our eyes and bowed our heads in prayer, the pastor’s words wrung my heart like it was nothing but a soggy sponge. I couldn’t hold back the tears that flowed down my face.

“Father God, on this day we recognize all the mothers who have cared for us and who care for our children. For them, we are so grateful. And be near to the mothers who are still waiting for children. Help them to see Your goodness and love for them, even as they wait.”

I am in “The Club” now. But that pastor’s words made a lasting an impact on me – to feel included. Remembered. Honored for the important role I would someday play in my children’s lives. I know don’t want my “membership” to alienate anyone – at least as far as I can control.

So for those hurting today on Mother’s Day: Please know you are cared for more than you realize. I may not see your pain or know which of you is struggling, but I stand with you as one who cannot forget my own struggle. And although I am on the other side of infertility, I will always remember that I am entitled to nothing on Mother’s Day. The greatest gift I could have is my children.

Hang in there, dear friends. And when your time finally comes, don’t forget the journey it took to get there and the ones still struggling down the long, hard road.

Lamentations 3

Advertisements

My Growing Girl

Our baby turns two tomorrow, and it has me feeling equal parts nostalgia and excitement.

When I first wrapped her tiny body in my arms, I expected to feel like we were finally being united – like pen-pals meeting for the first time.

But when I beheld her squishy little face, I was surprised to realize that I didn’t recognize her. In fact, I felt like I was staring into the face of the smallest, sweetest stranger I had ever met.

I wanted to ask her a million questions…

100_3397Do you know who I am?

Do you like me?

Do you like my cooking?

Do you promise not to move too far away when you grow up? 

What’s your favorite color?

What do you like to do for fun? 

Are you an extrovert or an introvert?

Do you like volleyball? 

Do you like to cook? 

Do you like roller coasters? Because I really don’t. Will you hang out at the waterpark with me instead?

I felt like a child myself:

Baby? What are you doing, Baby? Wake up! What are you thinking? I just want to play with you.

I loved the newborn stage. But it was so hard to wait for her personality to shine through. Like holding a present in your hands, but having to wait for Christmas to open it. Except they say not to shake a baby.

And instead of Christmas once a year, she surprises us with something new every single day. It’s like Christmas for eternity!

(Or maybe not eternity. From what I hear, 11 to 15 years old can be a bit more like Ground-hogs Day. The perpetual verdict is: Winter is never going to end. Or at least it feels that way.)

I could tell you a million funny stories from this past year…

Like how she tried to put her one-piece skirted-swimsuit on over her head came crying out to me when her face was stuck in the leg-hole like a lion’s mane.

Or how she startled me when she suddenly poked me in the booty whilst getting ready because my polka-dotted underwear reminded her of the “Press This” book.

Or how, when we’re on a mission and I’m feeling overwhelmed, I subconsciously mutter “We’ve got this,” and she enthusiastically (and clumsily) leaps into the air and loudly squeaks “GO GOT THIS!!!”

 

It scares me how fast 2 years went by. In another 2 years and she’ll be starting preschool. That terrifies me. I’m not ready! What if I just audit her classes?

Alas… I can only make the most of each day. Good-gravy, I just love this girl.

Big Girl

Alright, “Terrible Two’s”… I’m ready!

 

 

 

 

 

No Heroes

One of the most common words of encouragement people give when they hear that we are adopting is, “That’s awesome. It takes a special person. I could never do that.” As if we’re either crazy or we’re heroes.

While I know the sentiment is well-meaning, I cringe a little each time I hear it.

Because aside from my aptitude for stacking cheerios, I’m no more special than you are.

wpid-wp-1435223530621.jpeg

In all honesty, adoption is not something that we felt called to 7 years ago when we got married. And there is nothing that sets us apart from any other loving couple, except for the fact that God has called us to it now.

I get it… I have also often thought “I could never go through what she’s going through,” or “Wow, they are special people to live so sacrificially.” 

But actually, it’s God’s M.O. to take our circumstances and ask us to simply yield to His plan for redemption through them. No matter how weak and unqualified we feel.

In fact, sometimes our weakness brings even greater glory to the Lord, because in our weakness, He is strong.

I read a banner on facebook recently that said something to the effect of, “God puts you through hard situations to make you stronger.”

But I’m not so sure that’s actually the case. Over and over in the Bible it says, “The Lord is our strength.” Strength is not about us growing, but about us trusting. Trusting that God is working out redemption from our circumstances and will give us enough strength to face each day.

So if anything, our strength comes from being weak.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in your weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

“Fear not, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, because I am your God. I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10

So please… don’t exalt our calling to adopt as any more important than your own. You may feel like life is easy right now and you aren’t living any sort of “calling.” Or, you may feel your weakness has somehow immobilized your ability to serve the Lord. But whatever your circumstances are, they are important to God. And no future plans are more important than every single “today.”

 

P.S. Our Fundraising dinner is this Saturday from 5:00-6:30 pm at Peace Church (6950 Cherry Valley, Middleville, MI 49333). Come grill-out with us!

The Final Count / A New Song

I think back to where God has taken us since our struggle with infertility. I felt so broken them. And so weak for my inability to persevere with faith in God’s goodness. I knew He would give us a child one way or another eventually, but didn’t understand why He was making it so difficult. People would say things like “It will happen when you’re ready” and “God’s just preparing you to be an even better parent.”

It was crushing to hear those things actually.

When we finally got pregnant I was so excited. Yet, my heart was weighed down with guilt because it was at a time when my doubts were the greatest. I knew there were others struggling with infertility whose faith was much deeper than my own. Couples who were much more deserving and had been waiting even longer than we had.

For the first few months of my pregnancy, I wrestled with this, “Why did we have to wait so long? Why  did God answer our prayers when I was at my weakest? Was it because He gave up on me?

These answers have come since then:

Because God’s timing for our daughter’s life to begin was not all about ME. Much of our future in this world hinges on timing, and Elise’s birth has a purpose too.

Because Christians must endure hardship just like the rest of the world. How else can we be relevant to a hurting world that doesn’t know Jesus? It gives us an opportunity to stand by someone else when they face the same struggles and to remind them that God cares, even when the answer to our prayers seem so far off.

Because God wanted to teach me – who always wants to be perfect and please everyone – that I can’t earn His favor. He loves me just.as.I.am. While I was broken and worn out on faith, He stepped in and showed me Grace.

Let me repeat that: While I was BROKEN and WORN OUT on faith, HE stepped in and showed me GRACE.

And finally, because God was preparing us for our next child. We never would have considered adoption before because of the cost. But once we were met with so many obstacles to conceive, we began feeling God calling us to adopt. And ever since deciding to start the process, we have been overwhelmed with our growing, synchronized excitement for adopting our second baby.

*********

Our garage sale was these past three days, and I’ve been a little emotional, to say the least.

Friends and family running over to drop off baked goods before a vacation.

Strangers coming to the sale and just slipping us $10 and $20 bills without even giving us a chance to properly thank them.

So many people telling us to “keep the change.”

One woman even coming to share her story and introduce us to her newborn baby… that SHE just adopted.

Lots of encouragement from adoptive and foster parents as well as adoptees.

And so, so many donations of money, garage/bake sale items, and time.

On our own, we would have had our sale on our dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Instead, our father-in-law opened his house in town up to us for the community-wide garage sales in our home town.

On our own, we would have sold a few books, my pre-pregnancy clothes, and a some odds-and-ends home decorations that I don’t know how to decorate with. Instead, OVER 30 people donated items for us to sell.

On our own, I would have had to take a whole week of vacation time to prepare. And taken anti-anxiety medication. Because of a dear friend and our father in law, most everything was sorted and priced by the time I came to help set up on Wednesday.

On our own, we would have sold 3 types of cookies. Because of 12 different people, we had zucchini bread, apple pies, cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, muffins, dog treats, peanut brittle, and *drum roll please* 12.types.of.cookies!!!

On our own we would have been lucky to raise $200. But because of our family, friends, and community, we raised…

Are you sitting down?

Are your tissues ready?

Might as well forget tissues. Grab a sponge.

$5,079

Bringing our Adoption Fund up to $10,614.Fundraising Thermometer

God has taken us from brokenness to the most overwhelming joy and gratefulness. We thankful for our hardship, because it has put a “new song” in our hearts. These last 3 days we were met with gifts and encouragement every time we turned around. We have never felt more loved and can’t wait to share news of this baby with the many people who are helping us bring our next child home.

“I waited patiently for the Lord;

He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, an hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and revere and put their trust in the Lord.

Many O Lord,  my God, are the wonders you have done.

The things you planned for us no one can recount to you.

Were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare…

I cannot conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.”

Psalm 40:1-3, 5, 10

Matters of Justice

You will be shocked at the story I have for you today. And I’m not being facetious. I was shocked. Just stay with me here. You’ll see.

Remember how I told the story of my “Adoption Physical?” Well Tyler had his also around the same time as mine mine.

When I asked him how it had gone he said, “Fine. The doctor was kind of weird.” He wasn’t thrilled that the only opening they had was with a female doctor. I wasn’t surprised at his summation.

“Weird?” I asked.  I giggled a little inside as I asked, “Did you have to–”

“No.” he said. He knew what I was going to ask. We both were hopeful our physicals would be nice and simple: Blood pressure, pulse, lungs, done. None of that socks-off-foot-assessment or any other *ahem* uncomfortable examinations.

He said matter-of-factly, more amused than offended, “She did ask me ‘Why don’t you want to just have kids the normal way?'”

Why-don’t-you-want-to-just-have-kids-the-normal-way????

I was incited. How could a physician — a physician — ask such a question?

I try to be understanding of people who ask this question out of ignorance that 1 out of every 8 couples will struggle with infertility.

I try to pretend I can empathize with someone who says “I am so done having kids.” or “When he looks at me, I get pregnant.” or “I cried when I saw the positive pregnancy test.”

I know they love their kids and they don’t realize the sting I feel. I know that I am probably ignorant of their life circumstances, and how another child will add to the level of stress or chaos in their household.

But a physician? A physician likely will have had patients suffering from infertility in the 25+ years experience this lady had. Justice must be served!!!

Now before you think that was the shocker of the story and move on to the “Which Modern Rock Star Should I Date?” Buzzfeed Quiz, take a quick sip of  coffee and keep reading.

So when Tyler told me this, I made up my mind that when I went back in to get my TB test read I would see if there was anyway to give some anonymous feedback to this particular doctor. I knew Tyler wouldn’t do it and would probably try to talk me out of it, so I was just going to not make a big deal out of it.

I stopped by the front window on my way out and asked the receptionist, “Do you guys have comment cards?” She seemed a little surprised by my question. Oh boy, I thought, maybe I should just drop it. 

“We have these ‘Rockstar’ badges.” she said as she held out a star-shaped paper with lines to write words of affirmation.

“Does that go on a wall somewhere, like publicly? I asked.

“Yeah” she smiled.

“Oh…” I said. This was getting uncomfortable. Why can’t I just be chill like Tyler? (“Chill”? Can’t I think of a better, more age-appropriate word? Apparently not…)

“Well…. that’s not quite what I was thinking. I guess it’s not a big deal. I just wanted to give some anonymous constructive feedback to a specific individual.”

I could tell it clicked with her, so she offered me the office manager’s business card.

I accepted it and thanked her and went on my way. The card has been sitting on my coffee table for 2 weeks now. I should have just thrown it away and let it go (Please resist the urge to break into song.) It’s not like she is our regular doctor.

Then yesterday Tyler got a letter in the mail. “Dear Tyler: It is with great sadness that we are writing to inform you of the sudden death of Dr. M. N.”

Little did I know that the day after I took that business card to email her manager about being more sensitive, she passed away.

I was shocked. I felt awful. But was so glad I hadn’t passed along my feedback.

I guess what I learned from that is to have a little more grace with people. Before I go picking out the speck in someone else’s eye, I need to think about the log in my own (Matthew 7:3). Because I am sure not perfect and have said ignorant or offensive things myself that I truly didn’t mean. And I’m sure Dr. N did not ask her question for it to sound like “What’s wrong with you?” or “Why would you want to adopt?” Or maybe she didn’t realize what a great gift adoption is, both for us and for this baby that will be ours.

Regardless, all that really matters is that matters of true justice are given supreme priority. Like caring for orphans, feeding the hungry, supporting the shut-ins, and giving aid to victims of disaster.

And as for other matters, a humorous approach is probably the best: