August 2013 archive

Joy Above Jealousy

“‘Tis the season for having babies… If only it were that simple for all of us.

From my earliest memories, I have longed to be a mother. I wanted children and figured by now I’d have already been pregnant and delivered healthy babies. I figured that we’d be knee-deep in diapers, pacifiers, cries, and poop. But as our life continues, we are still childless. Some days are easier than others, but we continue to grieve the loss of fertility.

Never did we imagine that our dreams of conceiving, carrying, and delivering would be erased. Never did we imagine that we wouldn’t be alongside our friends with kids in tow. Never did we imagine that we’d never see if our babies would have my blue eyes or Matt’s thick and luscious hair. Never did we imagine that I would get cancer. Clearly imagining doesn’t always produce results.

Being in our late twenties, nearly all of our peers are either pregnant or have newborns or toddlers. I can think of only a couple of our young and married friends who do not have children yet. Everyone else has a baby bump, a child in their arms, and/or kids running through their home.”

This past weekend, I began to think about this entry. This idea of writing about fertility, or rather, our loss of fertility. In fact, I’ve thought about this post for several months. I actually wrote the above section many weeks ago. Yet, for some reason, I didn’t feel ready to complete my thoughts, nor post them. This entry was originally titled, “Infertility Isolation,” however, as time has passed, my thoughts have transformed, developed, and grown. In no way do I want to come across as bitter, angry, or envious. And seeing my written words, I notice that if I were to finish my original idea, it may leave those whom I love feeling guilty for the blessing of pregnancy and children. Please know, that’s not what I want. That’s not my intention. I am genuinely and deeply happy for those blessed with such a miraculous gift(s). Therefore, as I sat in church yesterday (forgive me Pastor Doug!), I began to journal. The sermon was extremely fitting. In the midst of writing, listening to the Word, and reflecting, I heard our pastor say…”We cannot compare our overflow with anyone else’s overflow.” Meaning, our blessings are incomparable to the blessings of others. We must remember that we are given a special story, unlike anyone else’s. And, truthfully, that’s exciting. Below are my thoughts from yesterday and today…

Are we really happy for other people when they experience favor and blessings? Or do we look at them with a jealous spirit?

After cancer, an unwanted fog has seemed to linger in my life. I am abundantly thankful that I am currently cancer-free (for nearly 9 months now). I am grateful that my energy, health, and body are being restored. I am truly blessed to wake up every single morning with breath in my lungs. I am in no way minimizing any of those miracles, yet sometimes the after-effects from treatment don’t slough off as speedily as I’d prefer. The dust continues to settle, and I feel so far behind. I’m looking out from my eyes on a life that doesn’t appear to be my own. My life is not where I expected it to be.

I’m stating the obvious, right? I mean, I should know that by now. After all, my life forever changed on January 25, 2012 at my diagnosis. Duh. But some days, it hasn’t fully set in. I am a work in progress, and my life continually reflects that.

When we get stuck living life clinging to the past and what we “thought” things would be, bitterness, anger, and envy towards others can evolve. My husband and I both believed that by now we would own a home and have children running through it. Yet, here we are, still living in an apartment, with only “fur babies” to call our own. I am barren—incapable of creating and sustaining life within me. It would be easy to view everyone else with bitter jealousy after being dealt such a crappy hand. It would be simple to think, “Look at the abundant blessings that they have. Babies. Homes. Fabulous Jobs. Wealth.” However, like with most things in life, I am making the choice to not live in envy. No matter how natural those feelings may be, I am making the decision to choose joy. Joy in my own story, and joy for the stories that surround me.

Grief is an inexplicable thing. It ebbs and flows. I’ve spoken about it before HERE. Some days are easier than others. But through grief, wisdom is born. Grief can last for weeks, months, and even years. However, once we work through the sorrowful moments, wisdom, knowledge, and perspective mature.

Seeing my dearest friends with the cutest baby bumps warms my heart. They are adorable. Now that I have moved forward in my journey through grieving my infertility, I am genuinely elated for those with the miracle of life growing within them. I am astounded at the true miracle that occurs… astounded that a human being is developing within another. God never ceases to amaze me. I enjoy celebrating the pregnancies of my friends. I enjoy feeling their baby kick from the outside. I enjoy asking questions; Probably too many questions, in fact. “How does it feel when the baby moves?” “Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?” “Are you choosing natural labor or an epidural?” When I hear the news of another friend expecting a child, I am thrilled for them. Who am I to be angry that God chose to bless them? Blessings are gifts. No matter if the blessings are pouring over my life or onto another’s, we are to celebrate joyfully with those who surround us. My heart is healing, and my joy is overflowing. Now, for those few friends who have yet to be pregnant, I can’t help but ask, “When are you having kids?!” And if I haven’t harassed you yet, beware, your time will come!

God blessings on each of our lives are unique. Not one of His gifts are cloned for multiple people. Sure, the gifts of pregnancy and parenthood are gifted to many, yet the blessing is in the child whom is given to us. And no child is the same. Matt and I will be parents one day, of this I am certain. I am joyfully expectant for the journey in meeting our children for the first time. For now, I am choosing to be happy for those who are receiving their gifts today, for mine will soon come.

Today, I challenge you. Rather than envying those who surround us, take a step back and be thankful for what God has already blessed you with. His never-ending gifts are unique to each of us. If He has placed a dream in your heart, He wants to honor that. Don’t give up hope. Blessings are about to overflow!

Living in the overflow of blessings! (July 2013)

Living in the overflow of blessings! (July 2013)

Proverbs 14:30 (ESV)

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.”

Life List

It’s been a while since I’ve poured words into this blog. I suppose I’ve gotten swept up in the seemingly never-ending voyage of rediscovering what life looks like now. I feel like this process could take longer than I expected, and I’m ready to finally feel settled with where I’m at… my life, my role, my identity, my relationships, my environment. Cancer throws everything off.

As I continue to climb my way out of the fog of the aftermath of this disease, I am embracing a new determination for accomplishments. Life changes us… trials, traumas, and tribulations. They change us permanently. I am a different woman today because of my battle for survival. I am embracing it. I view life through a different pair of eyes now, and I’m using it to my advantage.

Lately I’ve been pondering what I’ve accomplished in my life, and at 26 I don’t feel as if I’ve accomplished as much as I want. We’ve all heard of the term “bucket list,” but I’ve never liked it. Don’t get me wrong, I have an affinity for lists. I adore them. They make me happy. But to me, a bucket list implies an impending death (“kicking the bucket”), and while we will all die someday, I’d rather focus on living. Why must I have a bucket list? I’d rather have a life list. What do I want to do in my life? What are my dreams, goals, desires, and aspirations?

Out of nowhere, a new dream has been birthed in me. I think it’s absolutely crazy. Seriously, crazy. Nonsense. Ridiculous. Even laughable. Yet, this dream has now transformed into a goal, and I can’t ignore it. I tried my hardest to disregard it, but it’s relentlessly nagging at me.

Okay, fine. I give in. I’ll start running.

Yes, running. As in physically moving my body at a pace faster than walking. Sounds horrendous, right?! Before I continue, let me share some background with you. I have always led a very active life. I played volleyball for nine years, both through school and at a club level. I have found that I enjoy working out, going to the gym, and exercising. It’s not always been easy, but it’s always been rewarding. I can walk, bike, lift weights, and swim, yet running has always been my arch nemesis. I loathe even the thought of running. It makes me uncomfortable. It pains me. It makes me want to cry. Yet somehow, I find myself with a deep burning desire to overcome that discomfort. To accomplish something I never thought I could do. Because really, when I dive deep into the animosity I harbor towards running, I find that my fear is failure.

I don’t want to set myself up to lose. Isn’t that common with all of us? We often don’t start things because we think we’ll fail miserably. New years resolutions for example. How many of us really create resolutions, let alone commit to them? Failure is scary, but I’m learning that not trying is even worse. I’d rather try with the possibility of success, than not attempt the feat at all. So, while I despise running, I am learning to embrace the discomfort for the reward of an accomplishment. Because in the end, I want to accomplish as much as I can, and in order to do that, I must allow myself to forge through discomfort.

I first learned of the “Couch to 5k” program a couple of years ago. Of course, I chuckled at the notion, and continued on my merry way. Yet, just as running popped into my mind, this specific running plan did as well. Thus began my adventure. This specific plan is extremely feasible. It functions on interval training, so you aren’t consistently running yourself into the dirt. I have left these runs feeling energized and accomplished, and that’s what helps me continue the program. Of course it is difficult to some degree, and I definitely leave with ample sweat profusely pouring from my face, but I can do it. That’s part of the workout… believing I can do it, and pushing through that discomfort to attain the accomplishment of reaching a goal I never thought possible.

Through the painful side effects from treatment, subsequent fatigue, and aches and pain across my body, I will push through. I refuse to let cancer take away my accomplishments. I’m continuing to kick cancer’s ass and look forward to the many accomplishments I achieve in the future… like running a 5k.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (MSG)

“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”