Sunday, December 25, 2011

For Unto Us...

I have spent a lot of time thinking about Mary this holiday season. I think anyone who is pregnant at Christmas can't help but think of her. When I stop to consider that she was the age of my students and faced with a huge wall of rejection and shame, at a time when she was most vulnerable, she becomes more human to me. Mary has never been someone who stood out to me. She seemed meek, but she asked to do one of the most difficult things anyone has ever been asked to do. As a young Hebrew woman, she risked everything to be the mother of Christ. In a society where she had few resources, faced certain isolation and rejection, she took a step forward in faith and agreed to be a part of a miracle that we still don't understand today.

I wish I knew where Mary stumbled. What did she obsess over? Did she cry over her potential loss of Joseph? Did she worry if it all would work out? When she felt a strange pain or discomfort, did she wonder if her baby would be safe and delivered healthy? This was a time when almost 50% of women died while giving birth. Did she wonder if she would live to see her child? Were their moments when she regretted her faith? I think she must of struggled, she was human, but despite her struggles she kept moving forward.

When I think of Mary, I think of Sara. There is a stark difference between Sara and Mary. God blessed Sara and Abraham with Isaac, despite Sara's lack of faith. He blessed the world because of Mary's abundance of faith.  I am more of a Sara than a Mary. I was recently involved in an conversation with someone who reads my blog and they commented on how by giving up my desire, I was given my desire. I don't think it is as simple as that.

Over a period of years, I was forced to break down and give up little pieces of myself to God. I am still doing it. I clutch to my job and my marriage unwilling to let go and let God. My journey through infertility was my way back to God who never left me. He was always powerful and always miraculous, but I wasn't always willing to see that. Like Sara I put God in a box. He wouldn't love me, He couldn't forgive me, and I was on my own. My first step in letting go of my box led to other steps and slowly I saw that God was much bigger than my simple definition.

However, even while I grew I kept the box open. When the doctors felt like pregnancy wasn't an option and we had gone as far as we agreed to go in fertility treatments, I decided that pregnancy was impossible for me. In my prayers, I would ask God for his plan, but I was still pushing my plan. There were several times before Ashley came that I felt something was wrong, but I pushed the feeling away and pushed forward. When she came, there were moments that clear signs that God's plan was not for her to be part of our family, but I glossed over them and pushed forward. Honestly, if I wasn't pregnant, I am not sure that would have stopped pushing to make it work. Even when we first found out, I was still trying to work it out. At no point in the time that Ashley was here did I ask God for his plan.

I would pray, but I would avoid the "thy will be done" part. In my heart of hearts, I knew what God's will was and I didn't want to hear it. I put God in a box. This box said that only we could love Ashley and that God wasn't big enough to keep her safe, heal her, and provide us with a family. It seems sad and stupid now, but I held onto that box with all my heart. I was still holding onto pieces of it until a few days ago.

One summer, I was attending a chapel service at JH Ranch. The camp had chapel in a big tent that had a view of the Siskiyous. Sitting in a small prayer group, I had a moment where I looked up and saw that mountains covered in thousands of lightening strikes. It was a powerful, visceral and stunning picture of a God who can't be put in a box. For the first time, I realized that God was bigger than I thought. That was my last summer camp and it would take 16 years for me to think about that night again, but the memory was as powerful as the experience. I am loved by a great, wonderful, fearful, and awesome God. Not only has he planned the life growing in me, but he controls the very elements that surround me. Who am I to box that up?

Mary may have had a box, but she fought past it. Sara's box was ripped apart. Mine is slowly is being torn apart. I stumble and get stuck. I have millions of foibles and anxieties and yet each day I am being pushed to change. Each day I am pushed forward in faith, and each day I try not to resist.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Well, now, I am not sure what to say...

I have woefully ignored my blog the past few months. All I can say is that this Fall has been intense. I feel as if I just got off a crazy rollercoaster and can finally sleep. On the plus side, finally having time to slow down has given us a chance to revel in some baby joy. A friend recently asked me what pregnancy felt like, I told her I felt gassy. Not the most poetic of answers, but honest and true.

It also feels a bit as if I don't control my body and everyday is a little adventure. Oh, I never liked spicy food before, those pants don't fit, dark chocolate is suddenly gross,  I woke up with a new body shape, why am I crying at this picture of my neice and on and on. It is pretty wonderful and scary and thrilling all in one.

I have noticed that people will say anything to you once they know you are pregnant. "I miscarried three times before I had my child". "My labor involved me ripping open". "All your baby needs is your breast and your love". The last statement was uttered by a woman patting me down at PDX. She used the time that she was feeling me up for bombs, to explain the glory of her home birthing expirences and to challenge me not to "genderfy" my child. This is why Oregon is awesome people, you can't get that kind of airport security conversation just anywhere.

I am amazed at how freely people share their opinions about childbirth (home or hospital) drugs (evil or wonderful) finding out the gender (destroying nature or practical) and life post baby (a term spent in hell or a glorious awakening of womanhood).  I just wouldn't tell another person what to do with their body and their child. It isn't any of my business.

People I barely know have asked me about what type of birth I am going to have. I don't really want to discuss my birthing expierence with everyone. That seems private. The other day, a woman explained to me that if I didn't stay  home, my child would resent me for life. This seemed appalling. My Mom didn't stay home, my sisters and I are fine. Another person told me not to lose my career in being a Mom as "so many woman your age seem to"

Really? Wasn't the point of fighting for woman to have choices about just that? Choices! Whether or not someone stays home or goes to work seems to be a highly personal choice that each couple must consider. If my husband stays home and I work, or if we both work, or if I stay home. It is all up to us, and I am thankful to have so many options.

Don't get me wrong, I am happy to have people excited for me and interested in our lives, but sometimes that interest can cross a line. Is it because we live in such an open age? Or because people aren't taught basic manners? The expierence is teaching me to think before speaking and ask if it really is any of my business?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

No day but today

Do you ever feel as if you got it all together and planned out and then suddenly you are reminded that you don't control anything and it may not be worth planning? This would describe the fall for me. I keep thinking that I have it under control, that I know where I am going with work, life, home, etc and then boom, there is change. Tonight at church, I realized that a major lesson is being pounded into my stubborn head. God keeps saying, "let go and let me be in control" and I keep clutching at straws.

I am not implying that making plans is bad. To the contrary, it is the responsible thing to do. However, I tend to want to carve my plans into stone and that is not good. Being open to what God can bless you with is an amazing place to be. Me being pregnant is  a total and complete miracle. It throws all of my plans out of whack, it threw the plans I thought I had out whack, and yet I have never been so happy about having so little control.

At the moment, it often feels as if I don't even control my body. It is as if my very being has ceded control to this growing miracle. I like food I never liked before, I cry at things I never cried at, I want to sleep more, and on Wednesday I woke up with a totally different body shape. However, all of it feels like an amazing adventure. I will happy cede control if the end result is a healthy and happy baby.

This past week I was in Fresno for a training. I was the only classroom teacher in the room. Everyone else was curriculum director for their state, in charge of literacy for their large urban district,  and overall much more qualified, experienced and generally older than I am. It was beyond intimidating. I felt overwhelmed and out place. I had no idea why my district would send me or how I could possibly make it work, but I did. In fact, I held my own,  I had to work harder than I have since Dr. Sil's Philosophy of History class, but I held my own and received a certification. I also found a new mentor in the trainer, a woman who is at the top of curriculum and instruction field in the country. I left Fresno feeling like I have more options in my career than I ever thought possible.

I can rigidly grasp at my plan, but the past few months have shown me that I really should focus on today. I can think I know what is going to happen, but I need to remind myself that God's plan will always super cede mine. The past few months have been some of the most emotionally trying of my life, and yet my marriage is stronger, my faith is deeper, and our baby is on it's way. I am living proof of the power of Jeremiah 29:11. I am being prospered in spite of myself, not because of myself,  and I so thankful for the powerful love that has honored me with such undeserved blessing.