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.

Monday, July 7, 2014

marriage & prevention

Marriage & Prevention

I love the idea of doing this because just the act of sitting and quieting myself to think back on life during a certain season that we have been through allows me to see how far we have grown. I am going to share today about what Hedge and I chose to do before we were married and once we started our journey into marriage. I might get a little vulnerable and share a bit because its apart of the story.

By the time I met Hedge I was a few months shy of turning 20. I was passionate about ministry, discipleship, and missions. I was far from being interested in a dating relationship. I established boundaries for myself that I wouldn't date to just date, I wanted any pursuit of a relationship to be headed towards marriage. I didn't have close guy friends and I didn't go on dates. I was focused on my heart and certain that dating was years in my future. Everything turned upside down when my heart was awakened to love Hedge.

That time of dating had to be one of the the hardest seasons of my life... (next to infertility.) I can remember the constant wonder, the crazy emotions, the overwhelming thought-life, the desire to be in a fairytale love. I was cared for and loved by this man that had not kissed any other woman. I was smitten by his character and his heart for God. He trusted God and said I wasn't damaged goods. He chose to love me through my broken past. Months and months didn't have to pass before my heart was so ready for us to become one.

A few months after we began dating we had the "marriage to one another" talk one day on a long drive to visit his family (the summer we were living in West Texas). We talked about what our wedding day might look like, about our future children and us overall together for good. We both agreed we should be married for awhile before we would start our family. Hedge always wanted a brother and I always wanted a sister so we said that if we had a boy we wanted him to have a brother and if we had a girl we wanted her to have a sister (obviously its not that simple) but to us the kids talk was pretty easy. I had one sibling, and he had two. So we both liked the idea of having three of our own children and adopting our fourth child in the future. I had brown orphaned eyes branded on my heart from my first missions trip to Peru in 1999. He shocked me when he said he was all for adopting a child someday. Four children seemed like a very large family to me, then.

When we married, we were young. I mean seriously young! We had some great mentors in our life, that really spoke into our relationship. We were encouraged to be wise and to get established by spending time growing as a couple before we had any children. Almost every married couple we knew in our lives at that time was focused and passionate about doing ministry as a couple. It is what we saw modeled and it inspired us. It was what we were going to do, pour our lives into ministry and then someday in the future start our family. We really didn't give it much thought. I started birth control a few months before we got married.

When I became a christian, I learned that sex before marriage was bad. But not because it wasn't honoring God but because I could get a disease or even worse have a child.  I had sex before marriage as a young girl and hated it.  So here I was, in this beautiful God-honoring dating relationship where we kept ourselves from each other until the night we said "I Do".  I wasn't aware of all that I would walk through in those first few months of marriage because of my physical choices in my past. Hedge couldn't wait to jump in that horse buggy after our wedding reception and high tail it to the hotel. I began to have shortness of breath! I was so afraid of our relationship moving towards physical intimacy. Can I just tell you, Hedge couldn't have been more of a gentlemen to me and my very overwhelmed heart the night we were married.

We had a great first six weeks of marriage intimacy. Then something in me shifted, I was tired of constantly being wanted, I began to believe lies that I was being used and that sex was dirty. I began to dread intimacy. Poor Hedge got his first taste of caring for me as a crazy woman with a bunch of baggage and a lot of hurt. We walked through it all as I sought counsel and God met me, He began to teach me how to be loved by my husband. I had such a broken view of what God had always intended for intimacy for a husband and wife. <--------- God can and will bring healing and restoration to every area in your marriage that you give Him permission to.

About half way through our first year of marriage, we were visiting his family out of state. We had a niece and a nephew and they were both about 15 months old. Hedge was playing with them one afternoon, and as I watched him throw those kids in the air and chase them around I saw him as a father. I had a flash of watching him throw our future son up in the air. In that moment, my heart came alive.

I instantly felt this overwhelming joy that "We got to make people together" and I was suddenly moved by the idea of our generation that God would give us. That wonder began to turn to desire. Over the course of that trip, we started to talk about why we were preventing God from conception. I remember questioning if it was even OK for us to prevent God from blessing us with a child. We began to be practical and talk about our life and the path we were on. We were not waiting for something to be accomplished (school) or to move somewhere, or pay debt off, or get this item or that item before we started our family. We knew we were encouraged by godly voices in our life to let time pass and for us grow in our time together as a couple, but so many variables about our future, we believed were in God's hands.

Through our talk we agreed that we wanted to live our life by faith and trust God with any lives He would give us. We held each other that evening and prayed and said "God we want to give you permission to bless us with life in your time". We were 22 and 23 at the time. The desire for a baby wasn't more than a sweet thought at that time of prayer. It didn't take too many lady cycles to come and go for the excitement of a surprise pregnancy to turn into a deep desire and a longing that brought aching disappointment every month.

To a newly married or engaged couple:

I don't think (now) that there is anything wrong with prevention, I had to take a journey to land upon that belief. I spent many years believing it was wrong to prevent a life. But it's easy to feel that way when you are eager to start a family and its take time. I don't think that anymore for many reasons, but that's for another post. So to all the young couple's out there,  If you decide to prevent in the first few years of your marriage, go for it. Just check your heart motives as to why you do. My biggest encouragement is for you to search your heart, search the scriptures and look at what God says about children. Children are an idea until you become one. Then it becomes a generation, your generation. Children are a blessing from God and I don't mean a "thank you for this food" kind of blessing. I mean they are going to make your life more full, more filled with purpose, more vulnerable, more filled with fear, more of every emotion because they will show you more about your capacity to love, they will help you grow through the selfishness that is innate in every human.

Children will grow you. If you allow God to have permission with your life decisions especially this one. You will be amazed at how much He will teach you about His love for you, and others through a teensy 8 lb baby, or through a toddler gazing up at you in the morning smiling with their eyes because you are their source in life at that time. You will grow in ways you have never been able to without the surrender and trust in God as you allow Him to lead you into your parenting.

I can say first hand, that you don't have to finish school to have a child. If you are allowing God to lead your heart as a family and He gives you a life, don't be afraid of what culture says you should do. Stand strong in the face of that fear and trust that God is the ONLY author of life so that child is meant to be. No child is a mistake.

I have some dear friends that were dating and married in less than ten months. They were intentional about every single step of their journey. As they were preparing through their engagement they asked for prayer over her womb. I loved their faith, it shined so bright. They were not afraid of what others thought, they were excited about how God had designed family. I love that they knew God was the author of their every step, through every child they will bring into this world. I have been inspired by their faith.

Hedge and I have grown into this kind of faith. It has taken us years to step out and believe that God is the giver of life and with that He fully equips us to care for and nurture them. I am not the person I was when it was just Hedge and I. Every single life God has blessed us with has miraculously enlarged my capacity of love.

To those on the other side of childbearing:

You may feel your family is complete. That's a gift to feel that way. Treasure that peace. I know many mama's that question that certainty. to come to that decision, it will affect your future forever don't take it lightly. To decide something that weighted you must consider the Lord. I believe God nudges us in the direction that brings Him glory. No matter what your family plans are keep your heart open to His ways. Remember the truth of His goodness and stay in an attitude of willingness. I know that their are many God fearing people out there that say "one is enough for me" or "I have my two, I am done!

As a mother who wept through the first portion of her 5th child's pregnancy, can I encourage you as one who once didn't think I was capable? My encouragement to you is this... "In your certainty and contentment have you given God the permission to give you another?" If you have, then when you communicate with us mama's of a lot of kids, you don't have to compare and tell us "that we have more patience than you" It's ok to be different, just express how God has led you and that you trust Him. "Have you said "God, I am good with my story, but you are ultimately the author". Because Mama, whether you have one child or nineteen,  your ability and patience is no different than mine, it is God alone who makes us able.

Some day I will write about my experience with getting tubal. yes, I had a tubal-ligation. I didn't look at that choice as the only one I had. My heart was leaning towards it as an act of surrender and not act of fear or control. I was led down that road based on prayer, and direction with where God was taking our future. I know who God has knit me to be, and He knows my heart towards babies and my love for them. I had to give that over to Him. Getting my tubes tied was a choice I made only a year ago and I think about it so often. I say that not to say I regret my choice, I say it because with that decision came a removal of a season forever. He knows my heart and that, I will always be open to His plans. I know what makes a woman a mama doesn't strictly entail her body. 

So that's it for now, Take care friends enjoy a few deep breaths as you inhale today, it's a gift because its right where you are, whether you are joy filled or pain filled or just doubt filled. We are to love Him in our strength and our weakness. That means loving Him with all of who we are. He is good to move us through those places and into places of hope.

 May the peace of God rest on us Mama's who are moving out of the childbearing years.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My life change

Hi friend...

I had a post written about what Hedge and I decided as a couple before marriage about our family and I realized that I needed to start from my beginning...

I was raised in an unchurched home, with the brokenness of a failed marriage that turned my life upside down at the age of five. For seven years, I spent countless hours in the car going back and forth from one home that established very few rules, to another home that had established boundaries around how much air I could breathe. I learned early in life that two worlds existed. I learned quick how to do what I needed to get what I wanted in life.

I had a very controlling father. He loved me, but his love was conditional with high expectations. That quickly taught me that looking for acceptance and love was going to be found in the relationships I built in my life. When I turned 12, I was given the choice to choose where I lived. I chose the roof that allowed much more freedom with my mom. I made new friends that introduced me to illegal and inappropriate uses of my time. I was living for the moment without any regard to consequences.

I don't fault either of my parents for their lack of parenting because 1) they didn't have Jesus, and 2) they were doing what they were taught, "behave, don't ask questions, do well in school, get a job and settle down...and if you aren't happy get divorced". By age 13, I turned boyfriend crazy and gave up my purity so young because it was asked for. I gave of myself over and over again through all of my young teenage years. I was a bubbly free spirit on the outside and on the inside I would have grieving moments where my heart would cry out for belonging, security, and unconditional love. I kept myself busy so I could ignore it all.

I encountered the truth and love of Jesus at the age of 17, and something in my heart and mind broke. I can't explain the understanding that overcame my mind, but all of a sudden, I got it. He loved me. He pursued me.  I was worth a love that sacrificed. For the first time in my life I felt unconditionally loved. I wasn't threatened into Christianity because I was afraid of death, I was beckoned into living a life for Jesus here on earth because of his relentless love in dying for me. His passion took the pain of my sin, of my selfishness, of my pride, all of my junk and physically bleed for me. I was not the smartest student in school, but I knew trusting Jesus had nothing to do with my head and everything to do with my heart.  I instantly became one of those zealots that carried their bible around in my senior year of high school and preached the gospel. I wanted everyone, everywhere to know the Jesus I had fallen in love with.

As a 17 year old new christian, I was cared for so well by real people who lived out what scripture said. I was discipled. I was shown the love of Jesus through teaching, love, and encouragement. I was challenged to stop giving my heart away. I learned so much about what love and marriage was supposed to look like during that period of time. I went to a discipleship program the following year, that was a no-dating program and I soared under those boundaries. For the first time in my life I was content. I loved my single time with Jesus. I had no intentions of dating again. I was young and I learned that until I was ready to date towards marriage then I wouldn't give my heart away.

I met Hedge a few months shy of turning 20. He was not on my radar, but I am so incredibly thankful that He was God's plan for me. Hedge was a godly man with strong character. He was a gentleman to women and He was intentional about who he befriended. He didn't woo my heart with empty promises, he prayed for us every step of the way in our early dating days. God used him to bring healing to my heart through his gentle leading and reliance on Jesus. His vulnerability in Christ and desire to pray together for direction and leading drew my heart towards a life with him.

To young girls & Single women:

I am passionate about seeing teenage girls guard their hearts. For them to know they are worth being loved in a real way, by a real guy who would someday pursue their heart towards marriage. My encouragement to young girls who are still growing in their knowledge of Christ, in their understanding of who they are in Him, I say "hold on honey, give that heart of yours to Jesus to hold, let him be the caretaker of your emotions and your desires. He knows what you long for. His desires for your future are good.

To single women, you may be at an age or in a season where people all around are dating or getting married. Do yourself the greatest favor. Stop comparing. Stop looking at the details that give others what you long for and start looking right at Jesus. It may be an hourly task, that you have to train your heart and mind to do, but eventually you can find contentment in Him. But the gift of contentment comes with great surrender. When you give your desires over and you hide your heart in Jesus, you are being given the gift of peace. I pray you trust He is good enough to surrender your heart. Your heart is worth that trust.


 

Friday, May 9, 2014

"Our Dear Life"

Welcome. Thank you for coming and checking out what has been stirred within me over what's really been a three year journey. I have shared a little more depth about that in the "My Courage" page.

This is a place I plan to store my written heart. I have spent the past five months preparing to begin this new journey of intentional blogging. I have believed with passion in my heart that I am to write out of obedience. For weeks on end, I would be excited to see this come to fruition, then waves of thought would grip me into being certain that this was a foolish idea.

An anthem for my 33rd year of life is to be brave. So here I am, writing our story. Which is really a lot of little stories. Nothing in our adult life has been done without spending time praying over it, seeking God for wisdom and running to Him during great times and broken times. I am far from getting it all, nor will I ever, but what I have learned, I am committed to share, to take the time to reflect on the faithfulness of Jesus in our life. I have walked through many variations into motherhood and through each child I have had, I have experienced a growth in my love for Jesus and passion for parenthood.

I plan to write topically for awhile. I am going to go back to the beginning (or close to it) and share shorter versions of how we have walked through things. I will share how we decided on things, prayed through choices, and how our specific life circumstances have evolved us into who we are as parents.

I hope to write weekly, maybe more but only if I can get a handle on my new spring schedule (<--- baseball might be the death of me!). I won't share too much rambling about our current life unless I feel moved to share. This may not be a blog you throw in your blog feed, because it may not pertain to your season of life, but you are always welcome to read because my desire is to not just shine lights on our big little family. I wanna shout about why and how we are where we are today, its because we serve a faithful God. 

As you take the time to pop around here, if you know me, you will quickly see names that may be unfamiliar to you. That is intentional. I plan to make this space public and because of that, through a tug in my heart to set boundaries around my family, I will refer to each of us by nicknames. I will go by Honey around here for a few reasons, 1. because My Mr. has called me "honey" since we said "I Do". 2. is because Honey means "abundance" and I am abundantly filled in my life. But even more is, what is to come in my future years? An overflowing abundance of grandchildren!!! I already tell my kids that their kids will call me Honey someday! They think its so funny! I refer to My Mr. as Hedge. Because he is our hedge. You can read about it more on those pages above. I will tell you most of those pages are not short writings.

Take a few minutes to read a bit, but let me preface you with this, I love taking the time to pour my heart out through a written medium but I am not all that great at grammar. So I ask please give me grace, I have the perpetual habit of leaving out little words and then my punctuation could use some (probably a lot of) help! Maybe in a few years once I get to that phase in our home-school, maybe then my writing will evolve, but I am not writing a paper here I am sharing my heart which happens to be many small accounts of our story.

If you know anybody that is walking through a season of life similar to what we have been through feel free to share this with them. My heart aches for those longing to become mothers. I love praying for friends to conceive and the joy in finding out that they have brings faith to my heart.  Either way, whether you find encouragement, laughter or hope, my biggest desire is that you would step away wanting to trust Jesus a little more with your one and only dear life.