I tell you. When you proclaim a theme, be ready for The Holy Spirit to grab that theme by the celestial wings and make a way.
2015 was filled with planned, unplanned, but ordained adventures.
I wanted 2016 to be filled with restoration.
A safe theme, right?
To be transparent, I really wanted that word to fall out of scripture somewhere, you know, heavenly appointed. I’m pretty sure I even did several Google searches looking to make a prophetic connection.
That just wasn’t the case. Restoration had been on the tip of my tongue. Restoration felt right. Restoration is what I truly prayed for.
When I told my friends and family about my theme. It just sounded right. Jason and I were now living in this meticulously restored home that had been customized to fit our lives, to be our forever home (even though my father-in-law still thinks 5 miles away is too far).
Jason and I both could focus 2016 on the restoration of turning this house into a home, finding rhythm and balance to our lives that turned catawampus during the chaos of 2015. It would also be a year to find restoration and peace with this season of life: this I’m-about-to-be-thirty-two, nine-years-married, and still-empty-wombed season of life.
And hopefully, prayerfully God would answer the desires of my heart and allow restoration to come to my body so that 2016 could be the year we finally create a family.
Every year began with those expectations. Every year began with the butterflies and the “what ifs” of the year to come.
Again, God’s sense of humor, timing, and perfect will laid out a year that not even James Joyce could not have constructed (shameless literary plug: if you haven’t read Finnegans Wake add it to your GoodReads. His magnum opus took 17 years to write and almost every sentence is painstakingly crafted to be a pun or double meaning. Sheer brilliance! And if you don’t know about GoodReads, Google that first!).
Anyways, I’m not going to dive into the hairy details of 2016 (I’m already working on that memoir, true story) but I am going to reveal the most vulnerable part to showcase God’s grace; God’s restoration.
Sometime around the New Year or maybe it was even at Christmas, God allowed Jason and I to finally conceive. Before the marathon in November, I had sworn off all hormones. That was best for my running partners and best for my life partner. People said it to me all along (in fact, there is nothing that people have not said to me regarding pregnancy and infertility, I’m sure that will be a post for another day), “the moment you stop trying, it will happen.” Well, it did.
So many things from this past year are crystal clear in my mind but for some reason this date evades me. I’m sure I wrote it down in my devotional and I have counseling appointments I could go back and reference but sometime in early February, I just knew. It was that, am-I-crazy-with-a-hysterical-pregnancy-or-is-this-really-real kind of knew.
When all you do is count your periods and hold your breath, you quickly stop talking about pregnancy. You’re pretty sure everyone else wants you to stop talking about it too, so the space in between gets larger and larger and isolation becomes lonelier and lonelier. I finally found the courage to open my mouth in mid February to my counselor.
Now, if you and I have ever had a heart-to-heart then you know that I love my counselor. I love counseling. I love everything about this holy space that God has provided for Jason and I. What began as insurance-reducing-required-premarital counseling in 2007, has turned into a friendship that Jason and I have been so richly blessed by. When Jason developed seizures in 2008, we went to this man. When we adopted a teenager in late 2009, we went to this man. When that teenager drove us crazy, she went to this man. When anxiety and perfectionism (and lots of hormones) took control of my life, I went back to this man (see a pattern here?). This Heavenly anointed man is so deeply woven into the story of our lives that I cannot begin to speak about my journey without including him.
So in this very sacred and safe place, I said the words that I had so longed to say; “I think I’m pregnant.” Even now, one year out, I cannot type those words without the sting of those ocean tears returning. I remember so clearly the light on his face, his smile, his joyous laughter that he could not contain. “Really? How do you know?,” he said.
I just knew. Every part of my flesh cried it out. It was the beginning of golf season at school and at first I thought the longer days were making my body ache, my spirit tired, but then I finally had a sign. Don’t laugh but Quigley was my sign. My rambunctious, at the time eight month old Australian Shepherd puppy had begun to dig inside my laundry hamper while I was in the shower every morning and eat my Victoria’s Secret seamless underwear. Yep, that’s right. It took six pair later for me to see what he so instinctively knew.
Sometimes for fun, even now I’ll wave a pair in front of him to see if he catches of whiff of anything I should know. Nothing. . . .
After leaving the session that day, my wise counseling friend gave me the courage to find the answer to what I felt like I already knew. Again, I won’t go into the details of how we found out, or the pounds of sweet potatoes I consumed that month or the heart break of appointments that lead to the final, inevitable conclusion of that pregnancy, this rambling is already long enough.
Instead I want to go back to restoration. By March 17th I had lost my long awaited pregnancy, resulting in two procedures, lots of confusion and even more unanswered questions.
While sitting on my couch in a haze of numbing emotions, my mom shared with me one more heartache. My beloved uncle, who had been so fearlessly battling colorectal cancer, was slowing losing that battle. In fact, hospice had already been called in and my aunt was just waiting.
Now these aren’t just any aunt and uncle, these are The Aunt and Uncle who have formed the most concrete identity-driven memories of my childhood. This is the aunt who made custom clothes for my childhood stuffed animals. The uncle who held such focus and compassion that every word spoken was met with full eye contact and sincerity. How had I not known this was happening? Well, in good mom fashion, she had kept his decline from me with so much already on my plate.
I had my procedure on Thursday. This news came to me on Friday. By Saturday, Jason and I headed over to see this turn of events first hand.
Everything my mother had said to me was true. Lying in the middle of his living room on a hospice bed was the man who gave such warm hugs that it was expected to linger a moment longer before pulling away. The numbness of my own pain began to slowly melt. My aunt and cousin were sitting nearby in a recliner and love seat fully accepting the fate they knew that awaited them. My uncle was already unresponsive. I held the shock together like any good southern woman and after a few minutes of polite conversation, I approached his bed. Earlier that morning I had read a Southern Living article about Knoxville, Tennessee, my uncle’s beloved hometown. I began relaying to him what he already knew about his birthplace, such as Knoxville being the home of Mountain Dew.
I ended my pointless rambling by choking out the only phrase that mattered, “I love you. I have always loved you.” There was so much more that I wanted to say but the cascade of tears prevented the eloquence that he deserved. That my aunt and my cousin also deserved to hear. Out of the stillness of the sobbing, my comatose uncle responded. “I love you too.”
What!? Had he really just responded to me?
What clearly was my uncle’s voice, were the words of my Heavenly Father. I needed those words. I needed to hear and feel loved so profoundly that God created that small miracle that I could not ignore. I’m not sure if my uncle spoke any more after those words. I’m almost afraid to ask if those were his last.
My brave uncle held on for one more long week allowing Easter to pass before taking his last breath. His funeral gave me permission to mourn. I mourned him. I mourned my own loss. I mourned the deep seeded feeling that maybe motherhood would always evade me.
But after mourning, came restoration. True restoration. And like the reconstruction of our home the year prior, it did not occur over night but over months. I spent the rest of 2016 in spiritual non-fiction overdrive seeking God’s plan, purpose, and power. For the first time in my entire life, I am in regular communion with my Father. I have always needed Him but now I yearn for Him. My soul aches for His wisdom, His guidance, His will.
Talk about restoration.
It took a flood in 2015, for true God ordained adventure to set in.
It took two great losses in 2016, for Holy Spirit ordained restoration to take hold.
Ready for 2017 to be verbally proclaimed? Come back next Friday to see.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation