Before the years are gone and I've lost my nerve...

'Cause this is what I've waited for..

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

To start again.....and again.

I am a college student.......again.  Shortly before the new year I made a last minute decision to enroll in classes and complete my nursing school application.  I have no idea if I'm qualified, if I took the right required courses, or if they'll even take a second glance at my application, but I had to throw out a "fleece" to see if it might just work out this time.

This is my fourth college, and not even my last.  I started this process oh, something like 16 years ago when I was a post-secondary student taking college courses while in high school.  I most likely will not master the chemistry course I'm taking now, as much as my pride would like to think I could, but I will not let it discourage me from continuing to walk down this road.

The last time I did this God surprised us with Jeremiah, so I'm walking forward fully aware that at any time something might come about that changes our circumstances.  But just as likely it won't and I'm determined to accomplish my degree.  It's an interesting thing to juggle- my commitment to pursuing this goal and my commitments at home.  I've been preoccupied for the last two weeks, the stress of deadlines completely consuming my free time.  My house is an absolute DIS.AS.TER,  Jeremiah has spent FAR too much time in front of the television, and I can't even remember the last time Lee and I went out on a date.  So it's easy to see the sacrifice we're all making as not worth the end goal, to think I'm being a horrible mom by leaving for a few hours each week, knowing that I'm not the greatest housekeeper (would I even want to be the woman that is? I don't know..) and being gone from the house only makes it worse.  But I've been waiting and sitting and doing some things with my time for the last several years, but I'm excited about challenging myself with a big life goal that is really just up to me to accomplish.

I need this for ME.  Lee's excited for me and fully supports this decision.  It's time for him to be the cheerleader and I think that's good for both of us.  So I will keep plugging away at it, one class at a time, and yet making sure that I am all that Jeremiah needs me to be.  Sounds like a piece of cake, right?  I'm going to do my best to exemplify determination without compromising priorities.

But look at that face.  There's no way that I could turn down an opportunity to make snowballs or go ice skating even if a test about electron configurations is breathing down my neck.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

When Zumba meets a rocket ship: a recipe for significance

"Oh...I never got to know you kids," she said, her eyes sad, standing what seemed like several feet below me with her hands on my cheeks.  I can still feel them, those silky fragile hands, aged beyond strength and form. 

They were crooked and frail yet so incredibly tender. 
I didn't want her to pull them away, but at the same time all I could think was, "Why not?  Why didn't you get to know me?"

I don't really know why the feeling of Norma's hands lingers with me.  But it has- for the last 5 days since Aunt Freddee's funeral.

I hardly knew my dad's mother, and my maternal grandmother passed away years before I was born. But my heart still mourns and yearns for a grandmother's touch. I almost can't learn enough about who they were, especially because I know both of them would've been more than just a card at Christmas and birthdays.  They would've been, oh I don't know, more.......significant than that.

Friday's events have lingered with Jeremiah as well, prompting a lot of conversations about where Freddee is now and whether or not there's a map to heaven. 

"I wanna go there!" he said to me but then the conversation led down a rabbit trail that eventually ended with him quoting something or other from the movie, Rio.  His questions about God and heaven are forming, and I feel a tad overwhelmed and yet excited about where Jeremiah's heart is. I know that I'll be answering questions about sin one minute and then giggling together the next about how funny it was when that one bird said, "I'm gonna pop this cage open like a sogey can!" Or so goes Jeremiah's recitation...

What's coming together for me right now is how unexpected things of significance can come about.  Yesterday I purchased a cheap plaster paint-it-yourself-rocket for Jeremiah since the days have been rainy and my patience short. :)  I fully intended for that to be something that would occupy his time so I could complete one task uninterrupted.  But I could absolutely not say no when he looked at me and said, "You can paint this WITH me........if you WANT to." 

Forget showering immediately after an hour's worth of Zumba.  I sat on the kitchen floor, sweaty and sore and not feeling remotely crafty, and grabbed a paint brush.

"I real like doing this with you, Mom."
"I like doing this with you, too, kiddo."

We were done in less than 10 minutes as the majority of the rocket was painted black, J's favorite color.  It was a few minutes out of my day, an interruption in my routine, but incredibly significant time spent in the life of an almost four-year-old. 

It makes me wonder how many of those kinds of moments have passed me by, when something could have been but wasn't. 

For years I wanted someone to step in and be the grandmother I never had- to take a moment with me and make it significant, but really how great of an expectation is that?  Yikes.  Too great for most.  Yet I wonder, perhaps there were far too many days of interrupted routines and the 'should've-called-so-and-so-like-I-thought-about-doing' happen and those potential moments of significance were gone forever.  Who knows if someone wanted to step in yet were sidetracked, like happens to every single one of us, like I almost was today.

I just don't want to see that look in my own eyes when it comes to opportunities to be significant in someone's life.  Because when it comes down to it, there are some people there's no replacement for.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So this is what it feels like......

Lee started his first day working in Rochester this morning.  We've settled into our new house a bit, labored like crazy in the front yard so when we drive up to this new place it might actually feel like ours.  I haven't finished hanging things on the walls- they're not quite familiar enough to me, these DRYWALL structures. We spent 6 years in a plaster and creaky wood built house longing for the ease of drywall and now that we have it, I can't figure out where to put stuff.  I want to walk these walls and have them speak of a settled life here, but we're not there yet. There is such an air of promise here that I am so excited to jump into, but I have to take the time to rest, to settle. ( Hence, the non-blogging for the entire summer) Land first, Tiffany.  Then start walking.

I have to tell you what happened about a month ago. Shortly before Lee moved down (he had to work in Duluth until the end of July) we began talking about how this move was an opportunity for a fresh start in our life.  Where is God leading us?   What things did we need to start being more intentional about? (DATE nights, for one!!!) Those sorts of things launched us into a conversation about how much the past 11 years of infertility have affected our relationship, our goals, etc.  We did some calculations.  91.6% of our entire marriage has been clouded by infertility.  Don't get me wrong- there have been AMAZING times in the last 12 years of our marriage, but never entirely free from that thing hovering in the background, sapping a teeny bit of joy from just about everything.  But along came Jeremiah, sweet thing, who might someday understand that his birth and membership of our family came right smack dab in the middle of the most difficult years of my life and that because of it, he became an incredible lifeline of God's love for me. 

When we started talking about how much time we've devoted to the process of just building our family, we realized how little time we've spent being the foundation of this family.  Who have we become?  We realized that it was due time to start altering course.  So when Lee came down for a visit we went for a motorcycle ride.

It was awesome.  My heart raced as we leaned through curves along the lakeshore, and my mind kept thinking, "YES!  THIS is who we are!"  Windblown and helmets covered with bug guts we grinned at each other. 

I spent the rest of that night thinking and praying about it all.  The next morning Lee had to return to work and I really felt the nudge to attend church.  I'm not a fan of doing that when Lee's not there with me, but I just really felt like I was supposed to go.  I loaded my purse with activities for Jeremiah and found a place in the sanctuary that would make an easy exit possible should he get rowdy.

The worship team began to sing a song that I just really don't care for, but I tried hard not to wince or sink my shoulders in annoyance.  At that very moment God spoke to me.  I've thought about how to write this next part in a way that doesn't make me look like a total fruit, and even as I'm typing this God's saying, "Just write it, Tiffany."  Okay.

Suddenly I saw the Lord's outstretched hand before me.  Darkness surrounded me except for the light glowing from his arm.  Instinctively I reached for it and as I grasped onto it, he began to pull me up.  I didn't even realize I was on my knees but as I stood the darkness I was wearing, and surrounded with, fell away.  Underneath was the most beautiful gown- glowing, fitted perfectly to my form.  The instant the darkness reached the ground he spoke, "Tiffany. I have restored you, and I have restored you to Lee." 

I was flooded with images of a dance.  In "real life" I grabbed a pen and paper and scribbled down the outline of what I saw.  Maybe someday it can actually be acted out- we'll see. The whole thing lasted maybe a minute and afterward I stood there, trembling, pen still poised on my paper. 

And just like that I knew my struggle with infertility was over. God will do whatever he wants with my children, however they come to me, but I don't NEED it to happen a certain way.  He does not need to make things "right" by me.  He called me out and now I just need to walk in obedience to what he did and said.  My daily choice is to remember the power of that moment and to live in it.  It's absolute freedom and I won't go back to the way I was before.   

Now there is even more reason to take time to settle in.  My heart was just completely made over and I need to let it marinate.  The excitement of what's to come will not cause me to skip this step of rest, especially when I wondered for so many years when rest would come.  Wondering what it would look like when it was finally over for me.

So this is what it feels like.

Friday, May 13, 2011

From How to Who

We move in one week.  I'm up to my eyeballs in boxes and more than anything else all I want to do is mop my floors.

Not kidding.  They're disgusting and the only reason I haven't busted out my mop & glow is that I know in a matter of hours there will be graham cracker crumbs and dust bunnies dislodged from underneath the abyss that is called my refrigerator. Not to mention muddy dog paws that seem to reappear after every potty break taken in the back yard.  All this is progress- boxes mean moving.  I hate it.  Chaos, even necessary chaos drives me absolutely insane.

So should it really surprise me that during all this necessary chaos we should get another phone call asking if we're interested in adopting again?  It shouldn't surprise me 'cause apparently that's how things get rolling in our family.

These past few months have been very interesting.  Who am I kidding?  My life is always.........interesting.  I don't think I'll be able to operate in the mundane, as refreshing as it might sound.  After meeting with our fertility specialist in February, months after pursuing what we expected to be a very 'simple' treatment for our infertility issues, we walked away seriously considering something we never thought we would. 
11 years of that blasted "I" word is staring us in the face come August and it's time for it to be over.  We're considering in-vitro fertilization to be our last ditch effort to carry a pregnancy to term.  I fight to try to figure out how much is left to me to pursue and decide and how much I need to just let go of.  11 years into it and I'm still baby steps away from square one.  Do we have to pursue in-vitro so I can say we exhausted all our options?  I'm still working that out, but I do know one thing:  I'm ready for infertility to stop controlling my life.

I've almost let Infertility take things away from me.  I say almost because God has given me a husband, who more than anything, has fought to keep ME.  ME, the woman he fell in love with and married, not the woman that infertility could have changed me into.  He would not allow me to lose myself to this process, would not allow me to stop fighting to salvage what was still left of that goofy 19 year-old girl he married. 

I say almost because God has given me a mother who has walked it before me, has lived her own perpetual grief and yet has CLUNG to her faith, who has shown me what it looks like to stay pliable in the midst of pain. 

I say almost because God has simplified the most complex of emotions into a simple statement of love for me in the form of my tulip garden.

So I'm not surprised when in the midst of making decisions about how I can end this process and choose when things get to be over, selling our house and buying one that has more bedrooms than we actually need and praying that God would fill them, that we get a phone call from a friend who has a friend who has a nephew who has 2 babies................and here we go. 

God is persistent in proving to me over and over again that He's got it all worked out.  The fact that it comes at the most ridiculous times for me just proves that it's Him.  The MOMENT I try to take charge, no kidding, He does something absurd.  Awesome, but absurd.  When I titled this blog post I was thinking about how my focus has shifted from how I was going to become a mother to who I was going to mother.  It's still true, but as I've been writing God's been saying, "Tiffany- your subject, Who, is ME." 
I keep hmm-ing while writing this post.  That's why I love it.  God works on me while I write.

I keep doing that.  I keep trying to figure out how I'm supposed to think, how I'm supposed to be and God keeps saying to me...........not HOW.  WHO?

So I will do my best to answer in the moment.

You are God of the universe - the loving creator of everything.  You, who set time and space into motion, and dreamed to fill it with man- a broken but beautiful creature you just can't help but love and consistently redeem.  You are the keeper and caregiver to my babies in Heaven, who you planned and carefully tended to for the days that they were with me and who get to see your face before I do.  You, who while I was in the midst of difficulty trusting, fighting you for what I wanted, set things into motion in MEXICO that eventually brought Jeremiah into my arms. You, who knows the amount of breaths I get to take and the number of hairs on my head- who takes the time to craft such beautiful tulips in my flower bed as a reminder of your faithfulness to me.  You, who gently tips my chin up saying, "Not how, Tiffany...........WHO.  Me."

I can't help but trust you. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Our house is officially on the market.  We've had a several showings over the last two weeks and I am more than anxious to progress to the next step.  I don't know when a buyer will come along, but that was the whole purpose of getting the house on the market early, to give us time before life in Rochester begins. 

I don't know how to say goodbye.  I've never been very good at it.  I don't know how to tie up loose ends with relationships that will forever be altered by distance.  It was difficult to paint over the growth chart Lee and I started for Jeremiah on the kitchen doorframe. Transferring that information over to paper seemed......well, less somehow.  But life happens.  Change is unavoidable.  There is only so much that we can pack up and take with us.

So how do you pack up and take along relationships?  Given, the age of social networking has enabled them to continue or re-engage, but what about old-fashioned living life together kind of relationships?  Wanting desperately to maintain what once was doesn't necessarily mean that's the healthy, natural progression of them.  Almost seven years in Duluth has given us TONS of memories, great friendships, many 'firsts' in our life.  It's the longest we've ever spent in one place and even though we've moved several times in our marriage, I feel like I'm learning how to leave and say goodbye all over again.  It is not my strength but I want to do it well. 
The storm seemed to have passed rather quickly; the ability to hold on, hunker down and wait for signs of calm is getting easier and easier. 

In hindsight I cannot minimize or discredit my hopes- they were pure, honest and real.  In hindsight I cannot take hopes unfulfilled and toss them.  I do not know what from my past means for my future but this one thing:  I will continue to stand, and if I fall it will not be for long.  I get no other say in the matter but that.  I do not get to say when this is done, I do not get to change what has already happened- the only shot I call is whether or not to keep standing.

I could not stop the onslought of memories that brought me back to kneeling on the bathroom floor, arms protectively wrapped around my womb, begging God to spare the life of my baby; the sound of my dad sobbing on the phone when I called to tell him the baby was gone; cleaning off my miscarried baby and sending it to heaven with this blessing-
Go rest with Jesus, my darling....

The waves of absolute brokenness come without warning at times.  I will not seek for truth in those moments- I will let them ride out, determined that they will not wash me away.  I will cling to the knowledge that it breaks, the tide of pain breaks, if but only for a while, and then there is rest.

I cannot stop those moments, but I will let them pass and they will not damage me.

It is true that I will be saddened and grieved about the pain of life.  This world is full of it, but if I cannot move beyond it, if I cannot recall the pain without being brought right back to the moment of injury and getting stuck there, then what victory have I really allowed Christ to have in my life? 

I will not leash the power of God.  Not for one minute.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All it took was one question.  I wasn't prepared for it and even though it wasn't directed at me, I couldn't react.  I just turned around and walked away.  'Quickly, find something else to think about.  Grab that plate, ask Jeremiah if he needs something else to eat.  Is there still pop left in that can?' Anything, think about anything but the answer to that question.

"Wait, don't you have two kids now?" she asked Lee.
"No, just Jeremiah."

A brief look of confusion flashed across her face before I escaped.  I spent the rest of last night trying to regain my equilibrium, hoping the conversation would not return to that topic, hoping she would wait until we were gone from the party to get an answer to her curiousity. 

It's been over a year and a half, the time spent doing my very best to move forward and I was suddenly back to crying myself to sleep, prayers mingled in the giant mess somewhere.

Today I'm surprised by my weakness, wishing it weren't so easy to cry, wondering if this will ever be over this side of heaven. 

I feel tethered to the pain.  The chain has lengthened these last 10 years, and sometimes I feel like it's not even there.  But then a question, one innocent well-meaning question asked, and I find myself staring up at the sky, backside smarting from the unexpected flop as I've been yanked back.  I'm crawling to my knees today, doing my best to clean up and start walking again.

It reminds me of one afternoon while Lee and I were waiting for the first birthmom to make her final decision about her baby.  Incredibly emotionally strung we spent some time along the St. Croix river in Stillwater hoping that distraction would help ease some of our tension.  Sitting along the cement retaining wall I held onto our dog's leash when suddenly he started running towards another dog throwing me off-balance.  My grip was strong, but still I found myself falling into the water scraping my arms and legs against the cement on my way down.  Lee's strong arms helped me out of the water and as I made it back to the grass I could only stare numbly at my scraped and bloodied skin.  I was dripping wet and still bleeding as Lee gently secured me in the truck.  I knew he was waiting.  I was waiting, waiting for it all to collapse. 

The scars from that day are gone, the pain only a memory.  My season of waiting for resolution and healing didn't last long, and there was finally a day when the memory of that time didn't make me weep.  The addition of Jeremiah brought tremendous healing for me-I remember that well.  I'm trying to hold onto that as hope for right now.   

I've spent years buffering myself against pain, toughening my "skin" against well-meant questions and comments and in the process created quite an untouchable shrine in my own heart.  My very private place of pain that no one could really touch.  But I am not impenetrable.  My pain does not belong there, and most certainly does not belong held selfishly in my heart.  So I will do with it what I feel God is asking me to do, offering it as my most sacred  and vulnerable possession as a form of offering.  Can pain be presented to God as an act of worship?

But it is what I will do, even if my hands are still bloody while I lift them upward.