This is a real, live photo of what I saw earlier this week...
This time I'm not sure what to think.
Every other time I've been so excited. This time I'm anxious.
I don't know if I'm cut out for what it takes to raise 4 busy children.
I had always wanted two children - ever since I can remember. When I had surgery for endometriosis, the surgeon told me that my reproductive system was quite damaged. He said I may not be able to have any more (we only had Dylan at the time).
As soon as I heard those words, I wanted a whole houseful. We have been blessed by 2 more since then.
Zane (14 months) was born by c-section. I asked the ob/gyn to check out the endometriosis situation while he was in there. He did and said that one of my tubes was not functioning and that I would probably only ovulate from the other side. This would cut the chances of pregnancy to 50%. If we wanted more, we should get on it.
The thought of having another so close just scared me. We thought that maybe that was it. Three is good, right?!
Since then, we've waffled. I mean, really waffled. Our birth control techniques were lax to non-existant, depending on how my mothering day had gone. Some days I thought I would really enjoy having another. Other days were simply so very busy. Because of my damaged tube and our fertility history (I conceived Kobe finally on fertility drugs), I wasn't all that worried - or confident (depending on how I was looking at it that particular day).
In my mind, my family doesn't seem complete with three. The thought of having 4 older children causes my heart to dance. The problem is that to get to be older children you've got to raise 4 young children. That's hard work. That's busy. That's tiring
I have to say that we've prayed this should-we-try-again-or-not-thing through a million times. I'm so glad that God's in control and not me. I don't even know what I want, let alone know what's best. I also have to say that raising 4 small children can't be that bad. I mean, nothing a few tears and many prayers can't fix.
Proofreading this post, I realize how very ungrateful I sound. I considered scrapping the whole post. I'm not ungrateful - I am very thankful for the blessings the Lord has given us. I love my life. I love my children. I enjoy my days as stay-at-home-mom. I enjoy playing with my children, watching them grow, loving them. I want to be a great mom and that's why I waffle - I just want to do a great job.
Jackie - You are the single person in the world who is authorized to read my blog. I pulled it off-public so that I could be real and journal personal thoughts without feeling like someone may judge me by what I'm feeling on a particular day (like today) or without hurting someone. I know your struggles and I'm sorry. I'm sorry if you feel hurt by this post - by the fact that I'm pregnant or by the fact that I seem ungrateful. I want you to know that I am praying for you. I just know how you feel - even though it seems so bizarre now. I will pray for your fertility, for your peace, for you to curl up into His arms and sob when you need to. Bless you.
This is a real, live photo of what I saw earlier this week...
We went to the city on Sunday.
It was a fun day filled with meeting my brother's new baby, the McDonald's Playplace and swimming!
The next morning, I asked the children what the best thing about the day before was.
Dylan: "My favourite thing was jumping off the diving board!"
Kobe: "My favourite thing was not jumping off the diving board!"
In 2000, I started to get sick. They didn't know what was wrong with me. They did all sorts of tests, mostly of my digestive system, only to tell me that there was nothing wrong with me. I kept saying that it felt like my intestines were twisted. I was in much pain, but they insisted I was fine.
I got pregnant with Dylan in the fall of 2001. Once I got pregnant, I was fine. I felt great! When Dylan was 2 months old, it came back. Badly. There were many points when I could not stand up straight because something inside was pulling so hard. At first it was mostly during my period. By 2004, it was for about 3 1/2 weeks out of every month. Many days, I could not pick my precious boy up - it was simply too painful. I was on strong pain medication. I cried when I peed - it hurt. I cried when I ate - it hurt.
Finally, they decided it may be endometriosis. I had an exploratory surgery to see if that's what it was. It was! When the surgeon came to see me afterwards, he told me how bad of a case it was and said that he didn't know how I was even handling the pain. Finally, someone who understood that I was sick - and didn't think I was crazy!
He said that I had much scar tissue - I may not have more children. He said that there was damage inside my uterus, outside my uterus and along my fallopian tubes. He said that the scar tissue (lesions) had attached my organs together. Organs that were supposed to be free-moving were attached to each other. This explained the pain while eating and peeing.
After my surgery, he put me on hormone injections. The point was to put me through a pseudo-menopause to give my system a break from menstruating. The injections caused hot-flashes, strange food cravings and weight-gain (faster than when I was pregnant!)
I was on the injections for a few months before they did another surgery to clean up the mess that was inside me. They cauterized the endometrium and tried to repair a damaged tube. Then they started me on chlomid, which is a fertility drug. They said that my best chance of getting pregnant was right now, while everything was cleaned out.
I did get pregnant - and quickly miscarried. I was devastated! This may have been my one chance.
Three months later, I got pregnant again - with Kobe. The only cure the doctors know of for endometriosis is pregnancy. It doesn't always cure it, but it seems that Kobe's pregnancy did cure me. I have had no pain since.
This was such a tough time in my life. I felt alone - as nobody could find anything wrong with me (and at the time it all started, I wasn't a believer). I was in pain. I thought that if they couldn't find anything wrong with me, I would simply have to get used to living in pain - find a new normal. I was devastated that I may only have one child. It was a dark time for me.
I used to feel subconscious about the fact that I have struggled with my weight since the hormones. I never had to even try to be slender before - it just happened. I used to feel subconscious about my scars from the surgery. I used to feel subconscious about the two stretch marks I have on each thigh from the rapid weight gain (I didn't even get stretch marks from my pregnancies for cryingoutloud!)
I don't feel subconscious anymore. I feel like my body tells a story of what it and I have been through. I have come to be fond of my imperfect body because it's a reminder of some trying times that I've come through. God is good and He has brought me through all of this!
Since my endometriosis trials, I had another pregnancy - Zane's. This pregnancy was placenta previa so I needed a c-section. It has added to the story my body tells. Maybe the future will hold more chapters to my 'body story', I don't know. I do know that I intend to embrace this story and thank God the whole way.
Last night our care group had our best discussion yet. We are a relatively new group and it sometimes takes awhile to get things rolling - to be real with each other, vulnerable.
We were discussing two questions that asked 'Do you allow God to have every area of your life? If not, how would you justify it?' and 'What is the price for your obedience/disobedience to the will of God?'
There was much discussion that came from these questions, some unrelated. Here are some things that really struck me:
1. Areas are not simply 'activities' - building friendships, being a husband/wife, going to work. They include areas of the heart - pride, independence, greed, etc.
2. You need to be willing to hand over every area, every part of you. You should be seeking His will all the time. However, you should recognize that there are parameters around where His will lies. For example, from reading His Word we know that we are within His will if we are 'thankful in all circumstances' (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
This means that just because we are seeking His will, we won't necessarily feel His direction on every little facet of our life. If we aren't feeling His specific direction, that doesn't mean we stop doing anything and wait for Him. (He's not going to tell us that He wants us to get up at 7am, brush our teeth at 7:10am and eat scrambled eggs for breakfast at 7:30am.)
We need to have the freedom to keep living within His general will, while seeking specific direction.
3. One price of obedience may be persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Caution needs to be exercised, however, when applying this verse to your life. Don't fall into a trap of thinking that you're 'taking one for the team' when there is conflict in your life. Just because we can expect some persecution does not mean that we can chalk any and all conflict in our lives up to this expected persecution. It may well be that the conflict in our lives point to an area of our lives that could use some repentance.
4. When I have conflict, it is so easy for me to justify my actions or my thoughts. "She did this or he did that or I'm right because..." One thing I need to remember is that, someday, I'm going to be standing face to face with Jesus. He will ask me to account for my life. I cringe inside when I think of telling Him the justifications for my behaviour that I tell myself here on earth. "Well, Jesus, she wasn't very nice to me and she hurt my feelings. One time she was talking behind my back and it got back to me. I didn't want anything to do with her after that. That's why I didn't show her love. That's why I didn't tell her about You."
It's embarrassing to think of it. I really don't think He's going to care 'what others have done' to make me act the way I do.
The best care group discussions I've been involved in are always when people apply God's truths to their own life, instead of simply discussing how they were applied to Abraham's, Noah's, Job's, Paul's. Vulnerabilty breeds vulnerability. When we're real with each other, share our struggles, pray diligently for each other, His truths really shine through.
Part of my daily routine is exercising on my elliptical trainer. After lunch, I put Zane down for a nap and Dylan, Kobe and I head to the basement.
The children play while I watch a show on my laptop and give 'er all I've got on the elliptical. I don't want the children listening to the shows (you just never know what language they will use or what things they might say) so I hook up my earphones.
This last week, the power went off as I was making lunch. I was making grilled cheese, so I set the pan on the stove and turned it on. Right then, the power went off. I got distracted and forgot to turn the burner off. I made something else for lunch.
I took Zane upstairs for his nap, grabbed my laptop and water bottle and headed to the basement with the children. When I got down there, I realized I'd forgotten my earphones. As I was coming back up to get them, the power came back on.
Upstairs, I noticed that the stove light was on. When I checked it out, I realized that the burner was on with an empty pan on it. In that little time, the burner was already red-hot. I hate to think of what would have happened if I hadn't forgotten my earphones - with the baby upstairs, the stove on the main floor and me down in the basement with my earphones in!
I usually keep my earphones with my laptop, but Dwayne had had a stomach bug and didn't coach Dylan's hockey the night before. He sent Dylan to hockey with me. I watched Dylan's hockey practice from the gym upstairs at the rec centre, with my mp3 and my earphones.
I guess Dwayne's puking streak saved us from a house fire. Thank you, Lord, for Dwayne's stomach bug!
Dylan and I were reading Loonies And Toonies before bed. I was reading along, mindlessly, not paying a great deal of attention to the words.
I read, "The Fraser, Columbia and Yukon rivers all flow into the Atlantic."
Dylan stopped me and said, "What did that say?" So I read it again, still not paying much attention to what it actually said.
"That's not true, Mom. The Fraser flows into the Pacific." He was right. We looked up the Columbia and the Yukon - I skipped out of geography class often when I was in high school. (Shhhh...don't tell the children.) I had no idea where they went to!
Sure enough, they all headed into the Pacific Ocean.
We wrote the publisher. Dylan wrote a letter and I wrote a cover letter. We printed maps and highlighted the rivers from where they started to where they drained.
The publisher just wrote us back. She was super-friendly and congratulated Dylan on catching the error and on his letter-writing skills. Then she challenged him more...she asked him, "Is it more correct to say that the Yukon River flows into the Pacific Ocean or the Bering Sea?"
We did some more research. Yep, Bering Sea.
She's sending us the revised edition of the book.
It was a great experience for Dylan to see that not everything in print is fact. Just because it's in print or because an adult says it, doesn't always mean that it's true. Critical thinking skills in the making!
Our care group is working on a Bible study right now. We are using the book 'Christ For Real' to lead us along.
We've come to the part about counting the cost of being a Christian. What does it cost us? Here are some things that we tossed around:
- A life with Christ cannot be bought, but it's not free.
- You can't buy or earn salvation. You don't inherit it from your parents just because they are Christians. You don't get it because you're a good person or because you live in North America. Each person must reach out to Him.
- It's not free. You have to give up something in order to get it: your will. Daily you need to say, "I'm yours. I don't want what I want, but what You want."
- Matthew 13:44 (the parables of the hidden treaure and the pearl) speaks to me. The men in these parables found something of great value. One found hidden treasure and one found a pearl. Upon their discoveries, they didn't hesitate: They joyfully gave up everything to get that treasure. They didn't count the cost or dilly-dally because they weren't sure. They knew that there really was no cost to give it all up because what they were about to receive was far, far better.
- Why don't we respond to Christ like this? Why don't we joyfully follow him in whatever He wants? Why don't we hand over everything without thinking twice? Why do we fear? Why must we consider it a cost to follow Him?
I have an accounting degree. I used to be an accountant. I've worked in Finance at a hospital, then as Financial Controller at a mill, then into public practice. I loved it. I loved making sense of numbers, budgeting, forecasting, analyzing.
Then I earned the title of Full-Time Mom. Now I can't handle accounting. I dislike the tedium of it. I dislike that it's never 'finished' - you're into a new year before you've wrapped up the one before. Your desk is never cleared. You are always waiting on someone - Canada Revenue Agency, a client, an A/R clerk that hasn't yet corrected that invoice. I want to hire someone to do our books!
I received an email from EFCCM (our missions people) yesterday. Imagine the feelings I had when I read the words: "one of their largest needs at the moment is an accountant. Between their teams, building projects, and other ministries, they feel they are in a pit of despair of accounting sludge!"
Unbelievable! Accounting sludge?! My feelings exactly! Why me?!
It doesn't matter where in the world I go, it's following me.
Don't ever say, "Don't send me to Africa, Lord." It seems you'll be on the next flight there.
I pulled my blog offline today. I decided I needed some privacy. It's strange, really. I am mostly an open book - not many secrets or things that I mind sharing. It's not that I have any secrets now, I just long to journal, knowing that nobody else is reading.
At church today, I saw an update on the mission work that some people are doing in Mexico. They are trying to set their place up to host families that want to participate for a couple of weeks. The update had living costs on it. The living expenses (no travel, mission expenses, etc) is $20/family member/day. This would mean $100/day or $3000/month for our family! This seems pricey.
I don't understand why mission work needs to be so expensive to get involved. I am talking about countries where the cost of living is known to be very low. I can see that the actual ministries would take some cash to run, but not food and accomodations for my family. I'm going to have to pray about this some more. It's not making alot of sense to me at this stage and I want to be sure that this is the direction the Lord would have us take.
I am also going to email EFCCM for more details. Maybe this will help clear some of this up.