Thursday, August 27, 2015

Becoming my friend...

I wrote this post back in May, and I haven't opened up my blog since that day. I do not remember why I didn't just post it back then, but this morning I woke up feeling compelled to get the happenings on the inside of me out into writings. So I planned to write a more current happening in my life, yet when I read the draft to this, I realized how much I wanted this post to be remembered for myself... so I am sharing it. I haven't given up on this commitment but I would be lying if I said I have remembered it in the past month or so... This was a great reminder to me today to stay the course and commit to my vulnerability and grow. Enjoy...

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I turned 34 in April  (how have this many months passed?) For the past four years as my birthday has approached I like to spend time in reflection over what has happened through out the past year.  Last year I was considerably excited to celebrate my birthday and even more excited to see where God would take me through out the next year.

Well last year came and went like Florida rain. It. Flew. By. In my time of reflection over my past year (back in April), I knew growth within me took place but it was hard to measure. One thing I have learned about me, is that when I spend a lot of time thinking, and I don't speak it out loud, or write it down, the thoughts move to emotions and the emotions get louder than truth. Not good. So I would like to share with you what I have begun to journey through...

At the end of March I had this thought run through my mind, it was sparked by reading a brief story about an older man in his late 70's early 80's. Now I couldn't tell you what in the world I read about this gentleman because this crazy thought bombarded my mind "Wow, when I am that old, I am going to have been with me, for a really long time!"

The thought kept going on, "Like, I will have been with me: all day, every day, for so long when I am that old! I will have been with me longer than with my kids, and possibly longer than with my hubs, (if he breaks the deal and dies before me!!)" "Man, I really hope like myself a lot by then, I should be my friend, I will be with me for the rest of my life."

This random tan-git going on in my head seemed silly at that moment, but as soon as the thoughts raced past, I knew they needed to be held on to. I pretty much pulled back the curtains to some serious subconscious thought patterns that I had no idea where inside of me. Its not like you grow up hearing "you should be a friend to you!" I mean you learn as early as you can to: share with others, forgive others, care for others... those are obviously good things! I wouldn't say that I dislike myself, but do I enjoy me? Encourage me? Believe in me? I could tell you without hesitation all my weaknesses but if I had to list my strengths about me, just the thought of doing that makes me squirm. I am my hardest critic. I expect so much of me but its all subconscious. Seriously I am so sick of living distracted. That's a huge part of it. If I wasn't so distracted in my crazy day to day life, then maybe I would be more self aware. So my time is now, this journey is before me...

That quick racing thought turned into my commitment for my 34th year of my life. I want to list with grace, my strengths and not feel as though I am being a prideful person. I want to see my worth fully in Jesus, yet like to be with me, when I am all by myself.  I want to acknowledge the places of distraction that need to change. I want to be still enough to listen when I need to encourage instead of critique. So within days of me laying this vulnerable reality out before God and asking Him to lead me down this road, I was quickly encouraged to read Brene' Brown's "The Gifts of Imperfection."

It is easy to read something and think its good. Its hard to tarry on it. To stay there and allow God to continue His work within you. I mean seriously a "self help, Oprah book club, that's how He has begun to speak into my spirit: waves of change.'

Here are just a few highlights so far:

"How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a Wholehearted Life: Loving ourselves"

"Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently towards what scares us."

"Belonging is the innate human desire to be apart of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self acceptance."

Until you read something like this you don't have to confront the statement and filter it within you and test it... Is this something I do well? Is this something I need to get better at? Do I live this out?  I am of the camp of thought, that until I die, I want to continue to rip myself open before God and let Him have his way with me, this round is not easy.

Self worth. I am on your journey, a journey I didn't know I needed to take. I am looking to become the friend that I offer to the world around me, to me. I mean of course I am not excluding Jesus... He is easy to love, now I desire to love the me that He recklessly loves. I know how to love me through scripture, I can cover me (my heart/thoughts) in truth, but I don't want to just cover bad subconscious thinking anymore. I want to take the time to thought by thought, struggle by struggle and strength by strength become more authentic.

Oh and I wrestle with blogging consistently because of all this junk: hardest critic & extremely distracted with daily life. I won't say sorry about it anymore, I just won't. No more being hard on me for inconsistency, or fearing my own voice.... I am just going to choose compassion towards me.

here is to #becomingmyfriend.

If any of these things sparked something in you, I would love to encourage you with two things... don't ignore it, but bathe it in prayer. And second... join me if you feel led to walk this road too.

***Something I am not advocating here is trying to live my life without a Jesus at the helm. I choose Him always. Sometimes I forget to choose him First, but I always turn around with my heart positioned before Him. There is no better place to be.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

just because...

Hi there my neglected little blog... you were a very tender commitment I was so excited and nervous to start a year ago. So much of my nervousness was wrapped up in my fear of failing, fear that I wouldn't be consistent to my vision: to go back and remember our stories and share them, to give testimony to Jesus for His goodness in our life. I had some great ideas that really gave me vision last spring. I think I posted about 4 or 5 times in 2014. #oops.

But can I just say, I love to write! And here I am it's almost 49 days into the New Year and I still haven't sat down to write once! I think my last post was over four months ago. I am so thankful that our livelihood doesn't rest on my performance to be a blogger. We would be homeless! So what keeps me from writing? My lame-o mind that says, "Once this and that are accomplished I will make time for it." And can I just point my finger and shake it at my own face for a moment... "The work will NEVER be done. Get over yourself, and schedule time for it." (Ouch). That’s hard for me. No matter how amazing or terrible you are at keeping a schedule I know that grace in seasons and situations must always triumph during mothering. So I have let that be what leads me, but I am entering into a season of needing to take more ownership of my hours. I haven’t finished Lysa Terkeurst’s “the Best Yes”, but dang it’s convicting.

Each night I continually think about this little neglected space, and even tonight I wanted to once again push aside the desire to write, I didn’t have any idea what to write about, plus it's not Monday or the weekend (and why those days seem like more "post-able" days, I have no clue...) Nor is it the beginning of a new month. And how do you bounce back to post something random?

In January, when our entire family decided to take the overwhelming plunge to do a Whole30 challenge all together, I would dream of sitting down and writing again. I kept saying, well once I can get out of this crazy kitchen then I will write, so I will start Feb 1st, I will write about our whole30 experience to start this year...

Hello Feb 18th (in a few hours!)... So these words I am about to say are not thought out or eloquent. I am a home school mom who will most likely have a lot of grammatical errors in this post... I don't remember any of those darn rules and I still love to write! So can I just say that I am so tired of my own unmeet-able standards. 

I am an external processor. I need to get what's happening on the inside outside of me, it’s actually like a deep breath once it happens. I need to share me. I was made to share the work that Jesus is continuing to do in and through me, and really, so were you. We just may have a different word number quota on a daily basis! So this post has no epic title, or deep uncovered truth. I would love to say this will be highly encouraging but I am just going to exercise my fingers tonight. You don't even have to keep reading!

I do want to share what I learned about whole30 and how God used it to do such a fresh work in our hearts. I want to share the practical lifestyle changes that came from it and how our entire health/whole food perception has changed. I want to share what we now choose to eat on a daily basis. I also want to share how it’s already created some not-so-good thought issues that I can't wait to kick to the curb! But not tonight... no, this is just a hello to you my dear blog, this space that I know with all my heart that God impressed on my heart almost four years ago that if I was faithful to this, He would bring blessing. I don't mean as a side business blessing... that's not my heart in this season. I do not have banners on my blog nor do I have links to old posts... and do you want to know why? Because I don't know how too! (IG has ruined my ability to express emotions without those ridiculous little faces ---> insert laughing crier face...)

So, my one little take away that I will share is this:

What I gained from whole30 and how I want to apply it here (to this on-again-off-again roller coaster writing trend) is that making a commitment that requires daily engagement in an unformed habit brings you painful but beautiful growth! I mean seriously, if I was a crazy faithful writer you would really know that I was a not-so-confident cook, and now I am SO different in my kitchen...like, forever changed from my 30-day experience! I didn't know how to do many things in my own kitchen 50 days ago... and now I cook numerous whole food meals multiple times a day. The kicker: conviction.

Once again I can't do a darn thing without the grace of God intervening. So here I am shouting from the mountaintops that willingness and weakness are an incredible offering to Jesus...even in good ol' practical places of life. Jesus wants to infiltrate all of us and to bubble up streams of living water in every detail of our life. I am thankful for some new springs and I hope I can get it together and share them soon.


I hope you have an awesome night. 



Friday, October 3, 2014

The time we stopped prevention...

In Early 2003, we had a special time of prayer together giving God the rights to bless us with a child in his time. I can remember saying to Hedge in a chuckling voice, “I mean what if it takes a few years”.  I had no idea what I was saying at that time. I didn’t want to give into the thought filled fears that my teenage years never brought me one pregnancy scare (and those years should have numerous times). I didn’t know anything about my body then or when I could conceive, but to say I led a foolish life is an understatement. I had no fear that getting pregnant as a teenager was in my cards. It didn’t happen as much as you would expect in the small community in the Midwest where I lived. There was so little for teenagers to do with two working parents just to make ends meet. I think the wild kids in my environment ended up as addicts or as dropouts more than as parents. I was graciously redeemed from that.

I lived a broken life until I was 17. I left it all and ran after Jesus. I ended up thousands of miles away from my former life. Five years later God was restoring my brokenness with His goodness. As a young married couple we were trusting God with every part of our life and now we handed over the timing of when He would bless us with a child. 

So that prayer time shifted us on a practical level. I stopped taking birth control. Can I tell you what a surreal feeling that was to be intimate the first time without a fear that conceiving a life on accident was considered irresponsible?  To be open to what God could do through us was amazing. To trust Him in our bedroom, was beautifully freeing.

I learned quick how to track my body. Who knew how small a window there was to conceive a child. It’s like 24 to 36 hours in a month! What? I mean you can try to conceive as much as you’d like but the actual release of a reproductive egg in a woman’s body is not an anytime thing. I can remember the excitement I felt in finding out when I was ovulating. It seemed so simple, I mean go online find an ovulation calculator and put the first day of your last period in the drop down box with the number of days between cycles. The ovulation calculator will tell you the best five days to conceive. And to top it off it will even give you the DUE DATE of your baby if you do indeed conceive. It’s a piece of cake.

I thought I could follow those steps and I was going to be handed a baby nine months later. I waited anxiously as the days of my next cycle approached. I couldn’t resist the temptation to take a pregnancy test. I had no idea how sad my heart would be when I saw that negative test.

I got a call a few days later that I was going to be an aunt again. Why do those calls that are worth all the rejoicing in the world cause such an agonizing pain? Comparison is a killer, and even though it seriously sucks to feel that way it is human. I shed many tears over friends announcing surprise pregnancies. I would in my heart fully rejoice for their news and simultaneously grieve for my longing.
The next few months were peppered with excitement and silence. I was excited even though it didn’t happen the first month, I was certain that it would happen soon. So I was excited to receive news each coming month. Now I didn’t want to talk about wanting a baby or hoping to get pregnant. I was 22 and we were not established. You get questioned with very earthly concerns when you say that you want a baby and you aren’t sure what the future looks like for you as a couple. Not having long terms plans in place makes you seem unprepared and foolish for talking about a family.  I learned to not open up and share my hopes and our intentions; it was clear that if a pregnancy were a surprise then people would gather around and say you can get through it. Accidental or unwanted pregnancies get so much more support in this world regardless of which view you take. Planned pregnancies are undervalued and overlooked, unless you walk through infertility.

You never think you would be the person to walk through the difficulty to conceive a child and you have no idea how painful that journey is until you are on it.

To mama’s to be:

I so deeply remember that disappointment, you are not alone. You are not less than because you aren’t carrying a life yet. Hold on Mama, He hears your heart and even better He knows your future children so intricately. He is the one that weaves them together.

I look back on this time and I can fully remember who I was. I had no idea I would someday be a mother to six children on this earth. It teaches me to know how to trust him beyond my emotions of the day. It teaches me that as I sit here typing and fully loving my alone time sitting in a coffee shop with headphones in that I am not just this person today. I am also a Grandmother. I am just not there yet, but God knows me there. He doesn’t operate in our time frame, but He can set eternity in our hearts, which includes my future. So have hope in the goodness of God and how He holds your future.

Have hope today mama, that you are indeed a mama, it just may not be today. I pray you would receive a touch in your heart that shakes you past your pain and gives you hope in Him.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

LOVE THAWS



Two years ago today, I received a life changing text message confirming the legal rights to two frozen embryos. We had five small children of our own and we were on a full speed pursuit to adopt those embryos. We were given the full rights that day and we began our sprint to have my body prepared to receive them. This story is not about us, or even the family that loved them enough to give them up. It’s about our daughter. She was born sixth in our family. We didn't need another child, we had five and our oldest was five. I share this tribute because the journey for us to begin our family is what led us to pursue adoption in this way. 

My husband and I are products of the plight of many Americans... infertility. We were married young with no clear medical reason as to why it had taken us over two years to conceive. We walked through the heartache of trying to start a family and experienced the repeated disappointment month after month which turned to years. As people of faith, we battled with the idea of seeking medical intervention to help us start our family. After a few years had passed, we decided to seek medical counsel to see what we would need to do. We did end up conceiving our first born on an oral medication that helps with ovulation. We conceived the second time in this way and experienced the loss of that pregnancy which led us into a fertility specialist office. After weighing our options and advice, we decided to walk the IVF road. Many people have walked this road, but not many people share their journey. It’s not something you announce or post about like taking a trip to Disney. If you are in that office, you have experienced the heartache and pain that only those that have been there understand. We were there. 

We had 15 embryos made in a petri dish. On the third day of their conception, two were implanted into my womb with the hopes that I would conceive one child. Both embryos grabbed onto my uterine wall and began to grow. I was graced with the gift of carrying two children at the same time. Days after our embryos were made; we were informed that our 13 other embryos were not strong enough to be frozen for future use. We painfully lost all those lives.  We were close to having a huge responsibility. We didn't take that lightly and we knew that going into our IVF cycle, we were responsible for the lives created, whatever the amount. We knew what we had planned to do, but none of those lives were growing well enough for us to be given that chance.

Our twins were put inside of me on the third day because they weren't doing well without my womb, but yet they made it. They are living breathing five year olds that I have a photo of as 7 & 8 cells. They were the reason that we felt moved to someday adopt an embryo. It’s not something you hear about everyday. We knew about it because we knew our potential choices based on our experiences. 

After our twins were born we decided we wouldn't use prevention but that we also wouldn't try to conceive anymore. We thought having three children was amazing and that it was a lot of kids (at that time). We were unexpectedly blessed with two more pregnancies, and our 4th and 5th children were born by the time our twins were 2.5 years old. Adoption is something we talked as a couple before marriage. Its something we both wanted to do, but it always seemed like something we would do in the future. 

When we celebrated our 5th baby's first birthday, we planned our first family get away. We didn't expect to have our life changed the way it did. We met a family that shared in the same IVF journey we had walked; yet they were on the other side... with embryo’s they had frozen that they couldn't use. They loved their embryo's enough to give them up for a chance to live. That's love folks. 

This isn't so much about our story or their story as it’s about the result of it. We have a beautiful healthy thriving daughter because two sets of couples decided to step out and choose love beyond themselves. Our daughter's other family chose to give. We chose to embrace. Our girl gets to learn her story someday and I hope she will know that her life changed the course of the lives of many other embryos...many other children.

As I have shared her story with friends and even strangers, almost anybody I tell looks at me with a blank stare most times, but then some ask "how? where? What do I have to do?" I have nowhere to point them to. It would have been great to have numerous organizations as resources when we did this, but we didn't. We did this on our own. Now, I have dreams of seeing an organization be developed that would raise awareness for these embryos. I see two groups of people that this organization would help. The thousands of families that have these embryos, deeply afraid to let go of their potential children. I long to see those people trust that giving them up is really giving them life. Living life is so much better than just sitting frozen. I also see this organization as a way to fulfill a need in the many families that would LOVE to adopt embryos. I am a living testimony of what a miracle it is to adopt a life and get the joy of carrying it to birth.

I want to see our girl's story shared. I want to see the parents of the thousands of frozen embryos that are afraid, be given hope. The options for them are so limited... pay the frozen storage fees, discard them, or donate them to research. The choices for all those people are so weighted. I want to help them. I want to see them connected with the numerous families out there just like ours who are willing to bring a frozen life into this beautiful and messy world. 

I have six small children and I am learning that I am dreamer, but I have no idea how to see this happen. Most people start foundations as a tribute to a life once lived, but I want to see a foundation started for a life that is living. I want to see all these forgotten embryos given the same chance to live, cry, love, and even just breathe. The numbers of frozen embryos in our country are astounding. They are in the hundred's of thousands. I am not going to quote numbers because I have no real evidence. I am sure I could get slammed for saying this, but how are the frozen storage facilities any different than an orphanage? I know science wants them to do research, I know the families who have them in storage carry a whole bunch of heart ache, but the general public no nothing about them. 

This confronts so many issues and one that is most significant is abortion. Our country wants us to believe that life isn't living until a child is what, born? But what is our daughter then? She just there frozen for five years until two years ago today, when we went full speed ahead for her. For her and another embryo that didn't implant and as sad as it was, it was natural. That other life was given a womb to make its entrance... that was either going to be here or heaven, those are the two places that they should all be given a chance to go to. Not research, not a frozen limbo and certainly not the trash.

I sit here today in awe of our almost 14 month old daughter. She is healthy and thriving, alive with opinions and preferences. She is here not because we couldn't conceive on our own but because we were aware of the hundreds and thousands like her and thought maybe we could impact one for the good. She is here because we decided to give life a chance by choosing her. Days after she was born a dear friend spoke this about her... "A person is a person no matter how small". 

This is true for every. one. waiting. frozen. 

#Love thaws. I want to see families all over this world experience what we have been blessed to experience. The beauty of a breathing living person in our family. Our daughter. She is fully alive because love thaws. Love carries. Love gives. Love chooses life.

Join us and share. This video is a glimpse of her life. #lovethaws





Love Thaws from James Dakin on Vimeo.