Thursday, April 28, 2016

1 in 8

This week is Infertility Awareness Week. Did you know that? Up until this year I didn't know that week even existed. I also didn't know that 1 in 8 US couples are affected by this disease.

Yes, I said disease.

The World Health Organization recognizes infertility (the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term in 12 months if under 35 and 6 months if over 35) as a disease. They, unlike the vast majority of health insurance companies out there, don't see it as something the man or woman chose. It's a disease, just like cancer or Alzheimers or Parkinson's. It effects not only the physical body, but also the mental and emotional state of a person. It rocks the person's world and shapes how they see and respond to situations. It can easily consume the person. According to Resolve, infertility effects 10% of the population. Chances are you know someone who has or is dealing with this.

I went back and forth about whether I should write a post about this. It hits close to home. I know multiple couples who have longed for a child of their own but for one reason or another they've found themselves on the road of infertility. I call it a journey- a long, difficult, tear filled journey that one is chosen to walk and can't choose when to get off. No one ever expects to be a part of that journey. I know I didn't and would do anything to get off. So many men and women are affected by this but few actually talk about it. And when they do talk about it many people don't understand and say things that actually hinder rather than help.

This hits close to home because I have walked this road almost 2 years now. Stefan and I didn't expect this. We expected to start a family quickly and smoothly. Six months in we wondered why nothing had happened yet, but we kept up our spirits. By the time one year had come, we were on the path lined with tests and infertility medicines but still felt hopeful. Eighteen months in and we have learned more than we ever thought we would and struggle daily with the emotional side effects. Hope is something we have to choose daily. Daily we have to remind ourselves that infertility is not God's choice. It's a part of the sinful world we live in. Way back in Genesis when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, consequences were introduced. Sin entered the world and Eve was told
 "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow though shalt bring forth children."
 I don't normally use the King James version, but when I read those words it makes me think that God wasn't just talking about labor.  I truly believe that when sin entered into the world so did infertility. But, I also believe that God is the ultimate Healer. He is our Great Physician, and he knew before the creation of this world that I, as well as all the other men and women, would be on this path. I believe He has a plan for each of us that is far better than ours. A friend of mine once sent me a quote that I have come to love,

"If you could see the size of the blessing that is coming, 
you would understand the magnitude of the battle you are fighting."

I have discovered more and more couples whose hearts are broken like ours. Hope is hard to maintain, especially when others around you are happily (and effortlessly) getting pregnant. You hear of babies being abandoned, you hear of people becoming pregnant unexpectedly and having to "become okay" with it, and you hear the doctor say "there is no reason for you not to be pregnant."

I want to educate. Only 15 states out of 50 have some kind of mandatory insurance to cover a small portion of infertility. Insurance companies don't see infertility as a disease. They categorize procedures to help increase the ability to get pregnant as elective even though the person didn't sign up for the inability to conceive. To them, plastic surgery and in vitro fertilization (IVF) or intrauterine insemination (IUI) are the same- unnecessary- and are therefore not covered. An IUI along with all the tests, shots, medication, and scans involved can cost upward of $1,200. IVF is almost always upward of $15,000! It breaks my heart that those of us who want a child but unable to conceive one naturally not only have to deal with the physical, emotional, and mental affects, but also have to bear a large financial burden. Adoption is even more costly which is absurd to me because so many children are alone and waiting for a forever family. I want people to know about infertility and its effects. I want people to be aware of what to and what not to say to people.

Things like:
"Be patient. It'll happen."
"Just stop worrying about it."
"Just relax." 
"You're young. You have plenty of time."
"Everything happens for a reason."
"Ever thought about adopting?"

Though they may seem like helpful things to say, they're really more detrimental. Everyone on this path has heard them before, and though they may be true,  they are essentially like pouring salt onto a wound. They sting and anger the individual waiting for their desire to have a child come true. If you truly want to help and encourage, a simple hug and I'm sorry is the best thing for anyone to do. It shows that you care and that you understand just how painful this journey is. Saying "I'm sorry" not only acknowledges the struggle but shows the person you have sympathy for them and you hurt with them.

I chose to be vulnerable in writing this. I have chosen to not sit and wallow, but use this as a platform to raise awareness. Our congressmen and senators need to be aware of this disease, and something needs to change. Our insurance companies need to acknowledge this as a disease and not something that is chosen. Our friends and neighbors and fellow colleagues need to be aware of this growing issue that is breaking the hearts of so many people.

"By asking the tough questions about infertility, 
we not only have an opportunity to raise awareness about this disease, 
but also to motivate all who are touched by infertility to commit to the cause."
-Barbara Collura, RESOLVE's President/CEO

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Reminder

I started reading some of my blog posts from the past and was reminded that my life along with everyone else's is full of ups and downs. It amazes me how easy it can be to forget that. 
I came across this post today, and it reminded me that even when life is hard and dark God is working. He is always at work in our lives whether we choose to believe it or not.
Today I am choosing to stand in his light and not let the darkness of life surround me. I am choosing to hold fast to the promise that he never leaves us or forsakes us. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Restored Hope

The other day I heard someone talking about perspective, and it really stuck with me. They mentioned a woman living day to day in constant pain and having such a terrible outlook on life. She got to the point where the pain was too much to bear, and she just wanted to die. Someone began to talk about things the woman had to be thankful for and then mentioned Jesus. The woman immediately smiled and said thank you. She had been so consumed by her pain and physical state that she forgot about her Lord and Savior. Simply hearing the name Jesus and thinking about him brought joy back into her life and took away the pain. No longer did she hate living or feel miserable. Jesus' name alone restored her hope.

I can't help but think of how often I lose sight of my Savior. My focus is so easily affected by what is in front of me, and my present condition takes precedence over my reason for living. I get so caught up in the day to day drama of my life that I begin to dwell on the the negative. I find myself thinking about the things I don't have and want rather than the things I do have. I have become wired by habit (a bad one at that) to complain and become upset about situations rather than give thanks. The bible is full of verses instructing us to give praise. The authors of those books gave praise to God in situations far worse than I have ever experienced. The Psalms written by David are full of praise and thanks to God (and for a good portion of his life he was running in fear). All throughout Psalms we read these words, "Give thanks to the Lord for his love continues forever."

Psalm 107:8 says to give thanks to the Lord for his faithful love and the miracles he does for his people.

Ephesians 5:20 says to give thanks to God our Father in everything-not in the good times, not when we get what we want, but in EVERY situation both good and bad.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to give thanks in all circumstances because it's God's will for us.

Colossians 3:17 says that whatever we do- in word or deed- to do it in the name of the Lord while giving thanks to God.

Romans 12:12 says to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. It doesn't say be faithful in prayer when things aren't going your way or when affliction is happening. It simply says to be faithful in prayer.

These are just a few verses that speak about thanks and joy. The bible is full of verses like these. Now, please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that we should plaster on a fake smile and pretend everything is just peachy all the time. Doing that would make us hypocrites which we should not be either. We are humans living imperfect lives. We would be naive to think all will go perfectly and problems won't arise whether we are faithful in prayer and praising God or not. But, the wonderful thing about being a child of God is that despite all the downsides of life , we have a hope worth clinging to. We know that in the end we will come out on top. We have a secure place with our Father in heaven. Jesus has made a way for us. This world is not the end for us!

Imagine our life if we lived focused on God and all he has done for us and given us rather than our negative situation. How much more enjoyable would our life be? How much more effective would we be for the Kingdom if we were faithful in prayer every day? We would be in communion with God and ready to face this life and all the ups and downs.

I want to be like that older woman every day. I want to be so focused on God and his word that life's pains and trials seem like nothing! I want to revel in his peace and restoration of my hope.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Back to the Beginning

I love to write.

I am unable to do it often, but I love it. I enjoy staring at my computer with the cursor ready and waiting for my fingers to begin tapping out words.

I love the challenge that comes with writing. But, I think what I love most about it is the ability to unload my mind. My thoughts become a creation. What once was blank becomes full of letters which form words which result in my thoughts. Clean. Organized. Present. I tend to hide my thoughts from others. I avoid confrontation and shake my head ("just smile and nod"), but that's not right nor is it fair to the other person.

So with all that being said, I am taking back my old blog from the cobwebbed corners of the internet not to voice my opinion on crucial matters or stand on my soapbox. Rather, I intend to continue writing about my day to day. My kid filled week, my still new to me marriage, a new dog, and other fun things along the way are just a few topics I'm sure to grace these pages. I love kids and love what I do. They show me more about myself than any self-aptitude test or Facebook quiz could ever reveal. They are tiny yet full of unmeasurable love, frustrating yet wise beyond their years, and not only do they reveal things about myself, but also about our Creator.

I am going back to the beginning- back to where I fell in love with writing. And, I hope that you enjoy what you read and are inspired to live more fully and love more deeply because of it.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

You never realize how much you miss something until it's no longer there. I'm sure you have all heard someone say something along those lines, and maybe you believe it, but you never really know just how much it's true until you experience it.
This holiday season has been a very different one for me. I work in retail which means this is crunch time for us. Between Black Friday sales to the returns that come after followed by the whole month of December, time just flies. There really isn't time to just sit and take the festivities in. Down time is spent sleeping and trying to play catch up on all the errands that were neglected the day before, and before you know it, you're sitting in your living room on Christmas morning thinking, "Whoa! Wasn't it just Thanksgiving?!" 
...Or at least that's what I'm thinking...
I didn't go home for Thanksgiving. Last time I was home was back in August, and I miss my family. I miss seeing my parents, grandparents, siblings, and nieces and nephews. I've had two nieces born this past year, and I have yet to meet them. Now, I realize that many people have family that they don't get to see often, but I have a close connection to my other niece and nephews so it's hard not to feel like I'm missing out. As I'm sure you can guess, I didn't make it home for Christmas either. {Oh the joys of retail...sighs} New Years is definitely out of the picture too. After all the sales comes all the returns. I am counting down the days til the end of January when I will get to see my family and friends for my cousin's wedding. I am far beyond excited. I cannot wait to scoop up my nieces in my arms and smother their chunky little cheeks with kisses, and I cannot wait to see my Lacie and catch up with her. I cannot believe that she is getting so big and grown up. And Alyx, he is growing so much that it's hard to keep up. Jacob and Micah are growing like weeds too, and I hate that I cannot be that fun aunt who comes to pick them up for the day to hang out. I miss those little moments. 
I miss laughing with them, and it's hard to fight back the tears when I think about all the time that has passed since the last time I was able to invest time in them.
So, that brings me back to my original statement...
...You never realize how much you miss something until it's no longer there...
Time is precious. I know this and have begun to fully grasp it's meaning over the past few years. I have come to accept that there is lapsed time that I cannot get back. I am trying to fully embrace the idea of moving forward and making the most of what I get each day. Today is a day that is typically enjoyed with family, but it's not what makes Christmas special. Family, that's the key ingredient. So, whether you are 15 minutes or 1500 miles from home, whether you are with your immediate family or a friend's (thank you, Britt), the important thing is that you are with people fully enjoying the moments that you are given. 
I intend to do just that. I may not be with my family in person on this day, but they know that my heart and mind is on them. They know that if I could, I would've been up there. They know that I love them and that's the important thing. 
So, on this Christmas day, remember that we are here only because we have been given the opportunity that is life. So, make the most of it. Be thankful for what you have and where you are (even if it is away from family), and choose to have a happy holiday. Choose to invest in the lives of others. We are only breathing because God chose to invest time into forming us. We are only able to feel the emotions that we have because God allowed us to have them.  
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Monster of the Season

I feel as though the holiday season has turned into this huge marketing monster that pushes sales and drives up debt and overshadows the important things that once surrounded this time of year. Thanksgiving should be a time of "thanks" and "giving," and I saw first hand just how little "thanks" there really is in this world. People were more concerned about the Black Friday deals (most occurred well before that day) and figuring out their plan of attack than being in the moment and enjoying their day off with friends and family. Even some of those who weren't planning on taking part in the crazy buzz of shopping were unhappy with having to be with family or friends.
Thanks to this crazy drive to sell, sell, sell on Black Friday, I didn't get to enjoy Thanksgiving the way I have in the past, and I found myself complaining about it in my head. On a day that should be used to purposefully think of what we are grateful for, I found myself grumbling about my work schedule.
Christmas  is officially 24 days away (yikes!), and though I am not able to make it home (very sad) I am still feeling the pressure to get my Christmas shopping done. There is no need for me to. In fact, I have an extra month or so to get mine done because I won't be able to be with family until February. So, why the need to get the shopping done? Good question. All I know is that the retail world does a tremendous job of convincing the buyer that time is running out so they better purchase now.
I was driving home from work a few nights ago, feeling exhausted from work, and I noticed that people had their Christmas lights out and the simplicity of the red, white, green, and blue lights just made me remember how much I do love this holiday season. Unfortunately, that simple joy is greatly defeated by the sense of urgency to get things done and set. Traditions have gone from setting up the tree, decorating the house, and baking Christmas cookies to scoping out the best deals, hassling with travel plans, and budgeting for the next 8 months as to how it's all going to be paid for.
What happened to the simple joy?
What happened to the feeling of anticipation for the simple things?
What happened to enjoying the day with family?
Since when did retail get to dictate how we celebrate?
Maybe this makes no sense to some who may be reading this, but these are all thoughts that have crossed my mind while folding the same sweater for the umpteenth time.
I love my job and am very thankful for it, and, if not for the holiday hubbub my paycheck would be less, but I hate to see the season slowly taking on a new meaning.
It makes me think...
What traditions are going to be preserved throughout the generations?
What are the kids of this generation going to pass down to their kids?
Will it be how to strategically budget and plan for Black Friday and get all the shopping out of the way or will it be how to make Grandma's sugar cookies and dancing to Christmas music while enjoying the Christmas light's glow?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I feel as though I haven't been able to just sit down and write. Thoughts pop into my mind, and I think about how I should write about them, but when I actually get home, time is ticking and the thoughts are gone. I miss writing. It was so relaxing to just sit and write while the kids were napping, but I no longer have those three hour time spans to think, process, and formulate.
I am now working in an environment that demands my full attention to every detail sometimes for 12 hours straight... details from how many necklaces are on a rack to how many boxes we got in to helping a customer to making sure each and every piece of clothing is in place, not to mention making sure everyone else is doing their job. It's demanding, but I love it. The part that I don't love is how mentally exhausted I am at the end of the day. I come home and just want to stare at the white walls in my apartment, and for those who know me, sitting still is not my "thing."
I want to write. I want to let the words flow and get out what's on my mind, but all that has been on my mind is when's the next floor set? and did we get that piece in yet? I sit down with ideas but those ideas don't come out.
I never realized just how much I enjoyed sharing what was on my mind. I guess it's a way that I felt connected. I don't is an outlet for me to process things, and I guess, until my life settles down into the routine of this crazy work life, I will be popping in and out. I don't consider myself a writer, but one could say that I have writer's block. I hope it will soon disappear, but until then, my posts will be rather sporadic so bear with me.