7/2/14

Burdens go East!

Remember this??  I hope you blacked it out. ;-)
I hate to bring it up, but... remember last winter? It was awful and eternal. In case you are one of those lucky people living in a state where your skin doesn't instantaneously freeze upon exiting a building half the year, just imagine sitting in a dark cellar for six months. In wet clothes. While a fan blows on you and depressing music plays in the background. That's almost what last winter was like. 

Anyway, back when we were all barely clinging to sanity in the midst of all that suffocating snowfall, John and I took little mental escape trips by dreaming about our 2014 summer: specifically our Great Canadian Road Trip! From Michigan over to Ontario, through Quebec and New Brunswick to the beautiful laid back island of Prince Edward and then home again via Maine, New York State, and Ontario again (as well as few "drive by" hours in a couple other states). Those summer dreams kept us slogging through the snow and now that the sun has warmed faces and browned our lawns our dreams are becoming a blissful reality! 

The Burdens are going on a road trip! 

We're squishing our tent and camping gear (and food and luggage and toys and lots of other crap) into the back of our Corolla, strapping our four-year-old into his carseat (don't hate us Arie!) and heading East! 

Things will be a little quiet on the blog for the next couple weeks, but you are invited to follow along via Instagram and I'm sure I'll slow down the internet by sharing way too many photos upon our return. 

If you're from or have visited Montreal, Quebec City, PEI, Portland, Bar Harbor or Lake George please leave me your "must sees/must dos/must eats" in the comments or on Facebook!  

Happy July and I will "see" you all in a few weeks!

xo

6/24/14

Three steps toward post-adoption support

I'm guest blogging about post-adoption support over at Give 1 Save 1 today! 

The best advice I can give someone about post-adoption support is to try find it before you adopt! Everyone’s post adoption journey is different, but readying yourself with post-adoption support is sort of like preparing to go on a trip: you’ll be far less stressed if you go prepared, you’ll have way more fun if you go with friends, and in case of emergency you’ll want to know who to call!

6/20/14

One million. Cheers to you!

If I had a dollar for every time someone viewed my blog I'd be rich!!!

No, seriously. I'd have a million dollars. The week, after 2 1/2 years of blogging, I hit the 1,000,000 all time page view mark! Crazy. 

People sometimes ask me if I make money blogging. The answer is: yes, but I would probably make more money each day if I went and collected pennies from the fountain at our park. It's cents per day. I'm not getting rich in dollars as I write but you, my incredible readers, have made me rich in far more important ways. 

You have been my encouragers and support. You have cried with me, rejoiced with me, and wrapped your metaphorical arms around me with your many comments and messages. I am not deserving of the love you have shown me and I consider you true gifts. 

Every week I come here to write with honesty in hopes that by sharing my experience one of you will feel less alone. Yet every week after I hit that "publish" button, I realize once again that I am the one made to feel less alone. I write to give and yet I receive far more than I ever offer. 

By sharing my story I have been made more aware of God and his redeeming power. My eyes have been opened to his movements in my life, in my story. I have also become aware of how true is it that he lives and breathes through his people. I ask God who is he and he shows me: 

He is in the woman whose been through my struggle before, cheering me on. 
He is in the commenter who is right there with me both in joy and in sorrow. 
He is in the tears in your eyes as you watched him put a family together, across oceans. 
He is in the friend I know only through words on a screen, but whose words comfort and encourage me. 
He is in the prayers, the thousand prayers, offered for me by friends, by family, by readers who give them so generously to a woman they have never met. 

I will be drinking champagne with my love tonight and cheersing with unspeakable gratitude for you, my friends. Thank you for allowing me to write, to share, and to journey with you. 

Cheers! 

xo

6/18/14

There is power in the name of Jesus


...but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
  they will walk and not be faint. 


Isaiah 40:31

About a month ago, on an unseasonable warm evening in May, John and I found ourselves inside a large church, worshiping God among a sea of thousands. John loves listening to worship music and when he learned that one of his favorite worship bands- Jesus Culture- was coming to our area he bought us tickets and called it an "early birthday present." Early indeed! His birthday is in July.

I accompanied John to the concert willingly but somewhat mechanically. We had recently come away from our final failed IUI and I was tired. I was tired not only in body, but in spirit and in soul. I knew I did not have the spiritual or physical reserves to worship with much enthusiasm, but I also hoped that if I went and offered whatever meager worship I had in me, God would meet me there.

As I anticipated, thousands of worshippers at this concert belted out the lyrics to each song and raised their hands to the heavens a physical exclamation of faith. Two rows ahead of us, an elderly couple stood slightly stopped and raised both hands and faces as far upward as their bodies would allow. Immediately before me stood a woman whose shirt bore a silhouetted battlefield cross and a few phrases testifying to the life of her son: loved and lost less then two years ago. She turned her hands up and open in surrender. By the smiles on their faces and earnest tears in their eyes, I knew my fellow believers felt their hearts leap and their souls soar as they worshipped the God we together love and serve.

I did not feel my heart leap or soul rise. Though I sought to put off my weariness and worship as impassioned as those around me, I could not summon the energy. Too strong was the heaviness of my injured heart. Though I wanted to, I could not raise my arms in earnest.

Quietly, I offered some feeble prayers to the God. I want to… but I can't. Show me how to worship. And he answered me.

You are standing on holy ground. 

It was a still small voice inside: God meeting me right where I stood. I could not go to the heavenly heights in that moment, but even in my weary state I know I could quietly acknowledge the holy ground on which I stood.

I took off my shoes.

I stood in bare feet on the cool tile floor and worshipped my savior. I felt that God was inviting me to worship even meekly, on holy ground.

As I stood there broken in the a sea of hands raised high, I joined with a thousand voices singing, "There is power in the name of Jesus / to break every chain / to break every chain / to break every chain." As we sang I started thinking about the chain of my infertility. I have been trying so hard to accept my infertility and find peace with it, yet none has come. Maybe I've been thinking about this the wrong way, I thought. Maybe I shouldn't be spending so much time trying to accept it. Maybe I should be invoking the power of Jesus' name to break it. 

An old memory came to mind: one from the earliest days when John and I became public with our infertility journey. A pastor friend had asked if I would like to come and be prayed over at his church. On the evening which he invited me, John and I another event to attend so I declined. As I sang and reflected on that memory I began to wonder: Had I made a mistake? Had I missed out on an opportunity to break the chains of infertility that had held me captive for so long? I began to envision a group of believers surrounding me and placing their hands over me in prayer. At first I felt sad, feeling as though I had ruined my chance when I declined that pastor's offer. Then I started wondering how I could make up for my mistake…. should I ask my friends to lay hands on me and pray over me? Should I initiate the prayer myself?

No. That would be weird. Like asking someone for a gift. I felt in my heart that kind of healing prayer had to be offered rather than requested. Especially since it was not something I had ever seen my friends do before or even heard them talk about. I come from a more "reserved" faith tradition… certainly I could- and had- ask them to pray for me, but laying on of hands and praying over was a  little more bold of a spiritual move than any of us were used to. More than I felt I could ask.

I stored up that desire in my heart and asked God to make it happen if that was will for me.

It gives me chills to tell you this:

One week later John came home and said, "So I called woman named Abby from church today to ask her about serving in a leadership position. She said she would think about... and then she asked me if anyone had ever prayed over you for healing."

"What did you say?"

"I said I didn't think so. She wanted me to ask you if you would be willing but I didn't think you'd be into that kind of thing. It's totally fine if you say no."

"Tell her yes."

"Really?"

"Tell her yes!"

The very next evening I was lying on the floor of Abby's living room with 9 sets of hands on my body: my head, my arms, my belly, legs and my hands. Some of the hands were from women I knew. Some I had met once or twice before. Some hands belonged to women I had never met, including Abby's. All belonged to women who simply believed in the power of Jesus' name to break every chain.

The words from scripture and the prayers they prayed over me were some of the boldest prayers I have ever heard. None of the prayers were that I would accept the bondage of my infertility. All were about breaking the chains in Jesus' name. All were for healing.

As I told the women after with emotion: I have been in that position- lying on my back- searching for healing so many times before. During tests, exams, X-rays, ultrasounds, surgery, and IUIs… and I have grieved because none has come. That night, however, I knew I was lying on holy ground. I truly believe the healing I've been searching for has begun. My tired spirit is being renewed.

….more to come.

xo
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