Strength from Our Struggles

When you first think about that statement, it seems crazy.  But when you really think about it, it makes perfect sense.

Weightlifters have to struggle through resistance to gain strength.  Kids have to struggle through falling off their bikes to gain the strength to get back on and try again.

Sometimes, facing our fears and weaknesses can become not only our biggest strength but a great testimony.

I’ve been through a LOT in my life.  A LOT.  A lot of struggles.  A lot of pain.  A lot of junk that I remember thinking “WHY ME?!”  And in the midst of those struggles, I used to hear from people “Someday, you will be able to use this to help someone else.”  **Cue the eye roll and whiny voice**  ” But whyyyyyy do I have to go through it at ALLLL?!”

temper tantrum

It’s a great sentiment to tell people that their struggles will be someone else’s strength some day.  I guess I just didn’t really stop to think about how it could actually be MY strength too.

I’ve been able to speak with young women who are in abusive relationships.  I’ve been able to talk to young women who struggle with being let down by someone who they’d placed on a pedestal.  I’ve been able to talk to women who are battling with the emotions that come with empty arms.

I’m still affected by all of those things.  Some days, it feels like the blind leading the blind.  But other days…  Oh, other days it feels like all the pain and tears and struggling were worth it just to feel that connection with someone who needed to not just hear the words “I know how you feel” but needed to actually FEEL that I know how they feel.

Tonight, I was sent a link to a sermon by an old friend of mine.  It’s from Elevation Church and a series called “How to be Brave”.  The one I listened to tonight was called “See It Through” and in it he says:

“What if God wants to show you your purpose, but He wants you to see it through your pain?”

Maybe I’m starting to see my purpose through my pain.

Do I still wish that I didn’t have to struggle?  Sure.  Do I still wish that God would lighten up with the trials already?  Of course.  Do I still wish that I didn’t have to feel the pain?  Absolutely.

But I am grateful for them.  My past has helped me create my present. 

If I’d not dealt with a LOT of the things I dealt with all those years ago, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am now.  If I’d not dealt with cowering from a raised hand, I wouldn’t have learned how to defend myself.  If I’d not dealt with constant comparisons, I wouldn’t have learned how to place more worth in my opinion of myself.  If I’d not dealt with the pain of knowing what empty arms feel like, I may never have appreciated how the crook of my elbow might be the perfect pillow.

We grow through our pain.  We gain strength in our struggles.  We gain faith through fear.  And God knew that we would before we even dipped our toes in the pool of uncertainty.

Even now, J and I are facing a situation that we may be able to use to help others further down the road.  Oh, how I wish we weren’t facing it.  How I wish we knew what the outcome would be.  How I wish it didn’t hurt so much.

But oh, how it’s making us stronger.  How it’s making us dig in, dig deep and hold tightly.  To each other and to our faith.

Oh, how we are gaining strength from our struggle.

FroYo, Pancakes & Puzzles! Oh My!

Wow.

It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything.  Time sure does fly!

It’s been a combination of crazy busyness from the adoption process and all that’s going on with that and a lot of other things that are going on in our lives right now!

We are excited to be moving along pretty quickly in the process!  There is really SO MUCH to do!  But I wouldn’t change any of it, since it puts us one step closer to being parents!!!

We’ve done most of the required background checks.  Thank goodness they didn’t find that one thing from that one time!  (Totally just kidding.  You should know that by now.)  FBI fingerprinting, state background checks, home study.  Still LOTS more to do!!

Now, we are into the fun part…  FUNDRAISING!!

We had a fundraiser today at Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt here in our town and the response that we got from it was absolutely humbling.  Orange Leaf has a program in place that allows people who are raising money for causes to choose a certain day, create a flyer and then when friends and family and whoever else comes in and shows the flyer, 25% of all the sales will go to that cause!!  Which is seriously generous considering most of the other places that I’d contacted were only allowing 10%!

People at work rallied together to make sure that every one knew about it and had access to a flyer.  Friends and family shared it repeatedly on their Facebook pages.  People made multiple trips to get FroYo!

Seriously.  Humbled.  A SINCERE THANK YOU to those of you that went today!  Your support means the WORLD!

We have a few more fundraisers in the planning stages at this time (like Yard Sales, Pancake Breakfasts, etc), buuuuuuuut – here’s the next one!

I’ve seen all kinds of awesome ideas on the internet about ways to raise money for adoption, but one really caught my eye!

I’ve always felt like a piece of our family is missing…  SO!  In an attempt to raise money to FIND our missing piece, I have created a puzzle, had it printed and shipped and it’s just WAITING to be put together!!

The puzzle is 500 pieces and we are going to sell each piece for $5 – for you math whizzes like me, that’s $2,500.  When you purchase a piece, we will write your name on the back of the piece and then when all the pieces have been purchased, we will glue it together, frame it and hang it in the nursery!!  You can purchase just one piece, more than one piece or even just throw a little extra in for good measure!

You can either go to our YouCaring account and donate, or you can email me at munchkinmcnabb@gmail.com and I will give you an address to mail your payment to! (Just make sure if you do it through YouCaring, to mention ‘puzzle’ in the comments!)

Just like we don’t know yet what our child is going to look like, we are going to leave it a mystery as to what the finished puzzle will look like!!

Puzzle 1

Has your curiosity been peaked yet?  Are you excited to see what the end result is?!

SO ARE WE!!!!!!

Possibilities and Prayers

The last blog I wrote was before we had our first meeting with an adoption agent…  And then I left you all hanging.  I’m SORRY!!

I was VERY emotional for about a week afterwards.  It’s a whole new set of emotions that accompany this journey…

There is SO much involved in the process of adoption.  Paperwork, background checks, home study.

But it will all be so worth it in the end.

born not of our flesh

Adoption is one of those things a lot of people talk about, but I don’t think everyone actually understands.

Some people adopt because they can never have children.  Some people adopt because they feel like God is putting it on their hearts to do so.

And then there’s the birth mother.

What a painful, heartbreaking, emotional decision.

Yet one that is so completely selfless that it just astounds me.

It takes a strong woman to realize that they may not be capable of giving their child the life that they deserve and then trusting – often total strangers – to raise that child.

For us to be chosen by one of those women would be simply amazing.

Our faith is completely in God through all of this.

He knows the ending.  And He knows everything in between.

Awhile ago I wrote about how God Never Wastes a Hurt and it still holds so true.

There are some VERY exciting possibilities happening in the next few months and we are fully aware that this process can be frustrating and often heartbreaking.  But just like every thing else that we’ve done on this journey, we are trusting it to God.

We are praying for our child, wherever they are and whatever stage in life they may be.  We are praying for their biological parents that will entrust them to our care – for comfort and peace.  We will be forever thankful to them whenever they choose us.

thank-you

And we will take any and all prayers and good thoughts that you want to send our way!!

God Knows

Last week, I wrote a blog about how J & I feel like God is leading us down the path of adoption. The amount of support, encouragement and love I got from that post was overwhelming! As tough of a decision as it was, we feel peaceful about it.  Which is a sure sign that we are doing what God wants us to do… Lately, I’ve felt the need to clarify that through this entire journey, J & I have trusted God to work things out to His will.  We know that God’s ways are not our ways and that sometimes, He doesn’t answer our prayers the way that we ask Him to, but that doesn’t mean our prayers have gone unanswered. God's Plans A couple of years ago we went to a church when we lived in Louisville that we always felt so comfortable at.  We’ve been searching for a church home for a while and now that we are back in Louisville, decided to go back. The preacher that was there before is no longer there, but we still very much enjoyed it.  A very friendly man came and introduced himself to us.  He’d only been with the church for about 3 weeks but was a new ministry partner and was trying to meet as many new people as possible. The gentleman that usually does the music ministry for the church was the guest preacher on Sunday.  He spoke of avoiding distractions and using interruptions as opportunities to grow closer to God. And then…  he began to speak about how him and his wife are in the process of adopting a child.  They have grown children of their own, but they feel that God is leading them to be a miracle to a child that needs it. **Cue the waterworks** I feel that God knew we needed to be there and hear what this man had to say as a way of encouraging us. I filled out a “Visitor Card” and dropped it in the offering plate, and received the pleasant surprise of an email today from the man who introduced himself to us on Sunday.  He spoke of finding time to get together to speak of connection opportunities, learning more about the church and possibly finding a church home.  He even mentioned coming and having dinner with his family!  It was really nice to have someone reach out to us so warmly and quickly! On the adoption front…  I was disappointed to learn that the agency we’d chosen to pursue adoption with wasn’t accepting adoptive families at the time. It was hard to not be discouraged and feel completely deflated.  But I’m no quitter! I asked the woman at that agency if she had any suggestions of other agencies in the area and she gave me about 6 or 7 names.  I went online and perused through a few of them and one kind of stood out. I sent an email and received a VERY prompt reply!  I was able to talk to a woman from the agency today and we have a consultation on Thursday night!!! She works in a city that is about an hour away and is even driving here to Louisville to meet us and talk with us!  I was very impressed with her as she was so patient and personable with me as I was asking questions.  She made me feel very comfortable and I am VERY excited to meet with her and learn more! I asked her if she was ok with J’s mom joining us, because I know that we all have questions and I want to make sure that our bases are covered…  She seemed so truly excited that I had asked her that.  She said that she LOVES when whole families are involved in this process and feels like it’s so important. Today, I feel more at peace about all of this than I think I really have since we made the decision. I’m not going to get too excited, just because …  well, because I’m probably more of a realist than I should be and always feel the need to keep the “what-if’s” in mind so that my heart is protected. But at the same time, my heart is absolutely flip-flopping with joy, excitement and anticipation!! We are truly on our way to building our family!!! And it is so comforting to know that, above all else, GOD KNOWS. Blessed-By-Adoption

NOT the Best Day Ever

Well, the suspense was short-lived.

Patience not being my strong suit, I checked my email first thing upon waking up this morning only to find an email from the foundation we applied through. I found this…

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I know God knows. I know His plans are best. I know in my heart that we will be parents. I’m just not sure how.

Today will be hard – as will many days after – but thankfully I have an amazingly supportive husband and great friends that are feeling my pain with me and we will continue to be surrounded by encouragement and love.

I felt pretty peaceful after reading it. Then as I read my devotional this morning, I was reminded that God wants me to fully trust in Him. So, I’m going to do that. I just wish it didn’t so often feel like I’m being left behind…

So, it may not be the best day ever, but it’s not the worst either.

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Good Friday. Great Sunday.

Today is Good Friday.

The day that made Easter Sunday possible.

Without the pain and heartbreak, we wouldn’t have hope and expectation and excitement.

Christ knew what He was headed towards.  He knew that He would suffer unbearable pain and a brutal death.  He even pled for it not to happen.

But He knew.  He knew it was His Father’s Will.  He knew our eternal lives depended on it.  So He bore it.

He took the whips.  He took the crowns.  He took the nails.  He thirst.  He breathed his last painful breath, and then turned his Spirit over and died.

three crosses

His mother wept.  The soldiers mocked.  The criminals argued.  The earth shook.

And then they wrapped Him in clothes and placed Him in a guarded tomb.

For days, His followers and family mourned and grieved.  And then…

The tomb was empty.  He’d risen just like He said He would.

empty tomb

What a beautiful display of love.  That He thought of me as He hung on that cross and bore a pain that is unimaginable.

Unspeakable love.  Unthinkable mercy.  Unfathomable grace.

GRACEGod’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

We can’t earn it, it’s already ours.  Paid for by the sacrifice of a Son for the world.  Paid for by the blood of Someone that loved us so much that He suffered torture and death.

And then He rose again on that beautiful Sunday.

It’s the hope of Sunday that gives us strength to carry on.  To fight battles that we feel we are losing.  To trust our Father who loves us to bless us as He sees fit.  To give us a peace that passes understanding and a joy that comes in the morning.

It was Good Friday that gave us a Great Sunday.

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What am I gonna do?

faith quotes

Faith is such a tricky word.  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines faith as a “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”  A Bible verse that I remember learning as a child was Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for. The evidence of things not seen.”  That verse has been niggling at the back of my brain for awhile now.  When I looked it up on my handy-dandy Bible app on my phone, I read it in the New International Version and this is what it reads – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Wow.

When I hear stories about people who’ve had these big “ah-ha” moments about their faith, I find myself wondering if I’m doing something wrong.  Should I have had my “ah-ha” moment by now?  Will I ever?  Things have happened in my life that have made me SO angry with God.  I’ve questioned Him, yelled at Him, blamed it on Him, asked Him why.  I’ve never had a neon sign light up in front of my face that says “Here I am. I’m real. I not only know what you’re going through, but I planned it this way. I’m sorry it hurts, but TRUST ME.”  But there HAVE been days what I’ll get a random text from a friend asking how I am.  Or a phone call from someone I haven’t heard from in awhile just to check in.  Or a breeze on a hot day when I feel like there’s no relief in sight.  I know what that is.  Max Lucado says ” Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want.  It is the belief that God will do what is right.”  Man, that’s a hard pill to swallow sometimes!

Last month, we began the actual IUI process.  Simply put, it’s a 2 week process that involves stimulation hormones, ultrasounds, an at-home injection & the actual insemination.  The hormones weren’t as much of a nightmare as I’d heard (thank God for that!), but I did have some headaches, dizziness and hot flashes.  When we went up for the ultrasound that would tell us how my body was responding to the stimulation hormones, it revealed that I had 3 follicles that were mature & ready for the trigger injection that would make me ovulate. Our Dr also gently told us that some results of my blood tests he’d ordered weren’t good.  My AMH levels were pretty low.  (Remember, you can click on those little blue words and there’s secrets behind them!)  He said that he’d been expecting many more follicles, but that was likely contributed to my AMH levels.  Our chances of getting pregnant naturally were pretty much gone.  And if this IUI didn’t work, he would have to get much more aggresive with the treatments.  The next round of IUI would consist of at-home injections instead of oral hormones.  Then if that didn’t work, we would have to consider IVF.

We travelled to Cincinnati the night before our IUI, since we had to be there early the next morning and neither of us really wanted to drive.  In addition to that, there was a NASCAR race that weekend and our trip there took us right past the speedway – and we didn’t want to take ANY chances missing our appointment!   We made it to the lab that morning at 9am & they collected the sample from my husband.  My appointment wasn’t until 10:30am, to give the lab the time to “wash” the sample – separate the bad from the good & concentrate it.  After a wait in the lobby, we were led to the room where all the equipment for the insemination was laying out.  We knew that our Dr wasn’t working that weekend so we weren’t surprised when one of the partners from the institute came in the room.  What we were surprised by was what he said next.  “Mr & Mrs McNabb, unfortunately, we are not going to be able to perform the procedure today.”  I remember hearing the rest of his words, I just don’t recall how.  He told us that he would let our Dr know and that he was sorry.

hurting again

As we left the office and I crumbled against the wall in tears, Jon put his arm around me and led me out of the building.  I don’t really remember much of the walk to the car, or the ride home.  I do remember trying to call my mother in law and having to hand the phone to him so he could explain because I couldn’t talk.  I didn’t really talk to anyone for close to 2 days after we received that news.  I knew that all hope wasn’t gone, but it sure felt like it in that moment.  Our Doctor called us – personally – on Monday night.  After answering he asked, “How are you?” and then he did something I’ve never really experienced with a Doctor…  Aside from the fact that he sounded like he really MEANT it, he waited to hear my answer.  “Upset. Annoyed. Confused. Devastated.”  He went on to say that he was confused also, but that we would get to the bottom of this and he would ensure it.  He then ordered some other analyses and testing to be done.  I feel so blessed that we have the Dr that we do taking care of us.

I’ve always loved music.  It picks me up, soothes my soul, gives me energy.  Kerrie Roberts has a song called “No Matter What” that has spoken to me many times.  It says “Before a heartache can ever touch my life, it has to go through your hands… I know you can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not, I’ll trust you. No matter what.”  When I heard this song the other morning on my way to work, I remember thinking “What am I going to do? ”  Not in the “woe is me” kind of way but in the “Am I going to trust Him – no matter what?” kind of way?  You bet I am!