Whew! I’m exhausted friends. Whoever coined the phrase, “I need a vacation from my vacation,” was so right. Having flown home late last night, I still feel like I’m on Vegas time. This morning my body couldn’t decided and I woke up at 5:30 am on Georgia time which would have been 2:30 am Vegas time. Regardless of lack of sleep, I am so glad to be home, to be back on my routine, to control my own meals, to sleep in my own bed, and to snuggle with my rowdy puppies.
Before I jump right in, I want to take a moment to sincerely express my gratitude for allowing me to share my heart and my story with you last week. I realize that is might have been too raw, too exposing but I have never felt such an incredible outpour of love and sympathy. I have a running list on my Notes app of those who have walked my shoes of miscarriage and infertility. During my prayer times, I pull out the list and just say their names aloud to our Father knowing that He knows their plot, their needs. When I began this journey of miscarriage, that list was small and intimate with just four names. With now months of writing about loss, grief, and hope, I now have 41 names on that list. How crazy is that?! Forty-one courageous women who have reached out to me letting me know that my words are their words. At times I wonder where this blog is going. What is my purpose? What is His plan? But every time I read that list, I know its purpose. It’s for those forty-one and whom else God calls to add to my list.
For those of you who have been following along, you know that not every week is so exposing. Sometimes we need a little whimsy mixed in with the heavy. So that’s what I aim to provide this week.
When my in-laws told me we were forgoing our traditional summer beach trip for a family adventure in Las Vegas, I thought, “Great, they’re taking a potentially pregnant (before I knew) woman to a densely populated city known for drinking, debauchery, and gambling with 100 degree temperatures. This will be great! (sarcasm).” But then the loss came and I thought, “Maybe I’ll just get drunk and will deal with the pain that way.” (No, I’m serious). Oddly enough I just didn’t want to. I drank once. I gambled once. And as a family, we took every tour, hit every show, and walked until my feet literally blistered in my adorable but not orthopedically sound Anthropologie sandals. I think the distraction was helpful, maybe even healing.
I still took my Bible and my Beth Moore devotional on David and sat on my 35th floor balcony every morning (minus the 5am Grand Canyon morning) and read aloud. If New York is the city that never sleeps, Las Vegas is the city that is never silent. Yet even over the blaring music, rowdy street goers, and consistent sirens, I knew that God could hear me. He always hears me. It is I that struggle to tune the rest of the world out to hear Him. I asked God to keep us all safe. I asked God to sanctify this time with my husband and my in-laws. I asked God to speak to me over the noise and the grandeur. He answered all my prayers and I’m sure a lot more.
So what did God say to me in the city that is never silent? Well, here are four things He not only said but proved.
1. Fear is not only a sin, but a blinder.
For those of you who know me, I’m a bit of a scardy-cat. I can be highly paranoid jumping to the very worst of scenarios. In my defense, I come about this genetically (on both sides). Need an example? I’m afraid of heights. Not flying-in-a-plane or standing-on-top-of-the-Empire-State-Building heights, more like Ferris wheels and roller coasters and any open-air death machine that is not an infrastructure. I trust architecture, not movable machinery.
But my mother-in-law making sure we were able to “do it all”, bought a discounted package of every attraction, so if it was paid for, I was going to do it. To test my commitment, she took me to the High Roller first. This 550-foot tall and 520-foot in diameter wheel of death, boasts as the World’s Tallest Ferris Wheel. With 28, five feet wide glass rooms, this wheel continually moves, never stopping (Praise the Lord!) taking twenty-eight minutes to orbit full circle. (They even offer Sunday morning yoga sessions, I kid you not!)
We hopped on. The glass doors shut. And I thought, I got this! Then I saw the countdown clocks of my death. (I know, I’m dramatic.) With tiny little flat screens mounted around the room, one screen counted up the minutes, the other counted up the feet ascended. We had barely begun to rise. Needless to say, at one point, this happened.
Yep, with shaky knees and hands, Jason was manning the camera and caught this precious moment in action. When we hit the apex of the wheel, I could hear the wind pounding on our glass room and felt my stomach hit my ankles. Jason gradually came over and coaxed me to my feet. “See what you’re missing,” he urged me. Standing in the middle of the room (because I wouldn’t dare go to the edge), I saw that he was right. Wow! You could literally see it all; the entire Las Vegas strip, the original downtown, the airport, the mountain range and then just dessert nothingness. It was truly remarkable. Terrifying. But remarkable.
All week I was anxious about the helicopter rider into the Grand Canyon. Would I get sick? Make a fool of myself? Freak out? I wouldn’t do either. This is not how God desires that we live: in fear. You cannot be afraid and be trusting at the same time. One will always trump the other. I chose to let trust trump my fear.
We exited the High Roller and headed toward the Eiffel Tour. With just 540 feel of a non-movable object, peace of French pastry. It was still a little intimidating to know that this was only a half scale replica of the Paris tower. I guess if I ever travel to Paris, I’ll have to think about that one.
2. We are miniscule yet the God of the universe knows us intimately. Better yet, He loves us intimately despite what He knows.
I knew the Grand Canyon was big. I’ve seen it in pictures. I’ve flown over it from 35,000 feet, I even stood 4,770 feet above it’s basin on the SkyWalk (I know! Fear of heights conquered!). But when you are standing on the edge or in the middle, or even over it, the word “grand” takes on new meaning. I have never felt so small in my life and yet so known. And right there in the midst of the crowded tourists with camera shutters clicking away, I knew that I didn’t simply want to know God, I desired to be known by God. Relationships are a two way street. Was I investing in Him as much as He is in me?
Out of the seven plus billion people on the planet at the very moment, I am intimately known by God. He knows my pain. He knows my plot. He knows my future, my intent, and my legacy. He could pick me out of a line up, no photos needed. And yet, how do I choose to honor Him? You know what else comes with being known by God? Conviction. Yeah, fair warning.
3. Our baggage never gets lighter until we choose to unpack it.
Jason and I laugh about this. As much as I’m an overly-anxious-worst-case-scenario-driven-planner, I am horrible packer. It never fails that when a White family vacation rolls around, I’m never prepared. True, my mother-in-law never discloses details. She loves a good surprise but for a detailed-orientated person such as myself that is often the cause of my anxiety, not excitement. When we go to the beach and I pack shorts, tank tops, and swimwear, it’ll rain, have a cold snap, or we’ll go out to fancy dinners where a cotton dress (that looks awfully like a cover-up) is the best I can do.
This trip and my finesse for packing didn’t fail to continue this trend. I mean, Las Vegas right?! Dresses, heels, glitz, and glamour. No! More like walking, and heat, and pavement, and wind (like 20 mile per hour winds), and more walking, and more heat. My sandals were a flop, my two pairs of shorts were one too loose the other too tight. And in a city where you’re not supposed to sweat because of the lack of humidity, I sweated every day (which only aggravated number four. Just wait for it.) Some nights we rushed off to a show right off the street from a tour so there was no time to change or even get fresh.
When Friday morning came around, I packed up six dresses that I never even wore and I just laughed to myself. You know, it’s not just my luggage that weights me down. It’s my baggage. Here lately, people keep saying how strong and courageous I am to share so openly my heart, my struggle, and my pain. It’s not bravery. I’m just tired. I’m tired of lugging around all this baggage, this insecurity about my life, my job, my weight, my hair, my actions. I dragged two yellow suitcases (of course yellow) across Las Vegas when I only needed one (maybe half of one). How much else am I needlessly dragging around in my life that I don’t need? What else is weighing me down? Clearly, a laundry list of insecurities. And while that will take a while to unpack (counselor, be ready!), I’m going to keep my eyes out for what else I don’t really need.
4. Lastly, there is never “a perfect time.” But all times are His time.
As I shared last week, I really thought this pregnancy was “the perfect time.” I hugged my kids goodbye at graduation knowing that my heart (and my home) wouldn’t be empty for long. I was excited to spend my first trimester at home on the couch, taking my morning sickness like a champ or at least in private. I was going to start my new career and a new adventure simultaneously.
Clearly that “perfect time” was only perfect to me. It takes a lot of faith to confess, “ Hey God, I don’t want my perfect time. I want Your time.” Some days that “time” is a lot easier to swallow, to wrap my faith around. Other times, I start calculating the math in my head (or on my phone) and realize that if I had a baby today, I’d be 51 when they’d graduate from high school, 55 when they’d graduate from college, maybe 60 when I had my first grandchild. Then I look at my parents and my in-laws who are even older and are not grandparents and my heart physically aches. That time, perfect, precious time feels like it’s slipping away. Will they be 70 when they hold their first grandchild? Will they see it graduate? See it walk down the aisle? Will they ever even be grandparents at all?
God knows I’m a visual learner. I told you I was known. Well, this week he once again reminded me that there is not such thing as a “perfect time.” You see, last Friday I was hustling around all day trying to get all my ducks-in-a-row before heading out of town. I wrote my article, posted my blog, cleaned the house, bought groceries for our house sitter, and did a little bit of yard work which I love to do. (What is it about cutting grass and country music that go hand-in-hand?). Anyways, when Saturday morning rolled around, Jason and I got up early, packed, headed out the door to my in-laws and we were off!
I knew that what happened in Vegas, stayed in Vegas. But apparently what you take to Vegas, you also bring home from Vegas. Like poison sumac . . . . Yep. That’s right. I not only contracted “skin dermatitis” from my friendly Friday yard work, but I took it and ran with it all the way to Nevada. The Vegas heat was not so kind to my new found friend and by the time our plane touched down in Atlanta Friday night I was on my way to QuickCare for much needed TLC and a steroid shot.
I’m going to spare you the pictures. Living with it is enough. But once again I can’t help but laugh. God is so profoundly witty. He truly knows me. Going to Vegas is never the “right” time to deal with poison sumac. Leaving a career, starting a new one, starting a family, or having a miscarriage are never the “right” time. Yet, I find comfort in knowing that He knows my outcome. He knows my plot. His time is perfect.
It has almost been twenty-hours on my steroids (shot and pills, sorry Spinners, you might get feisty Natalie come Monday) and I’m already starting to feel better. Maybe it’s mental. Maybe’s it’s the drugs. Maybe it’s being at home with the Georgia climate on Eastern Standard Time. Maybe it’s the magical healing of a Pooperson and Quigmeister. But I have a feeling it’s more than that. I have a feeling it’s Him.
This morning I read again in my devotional. I just finished up 1 Samuel and I started 2 Samuel, Chapter 1. Before I shut my Bible, I noticed the words that began Chapter 2. “In the course of time . . .” I smiled and huffed out loud. How fitting. David had just shared his grief over the death of Saul, his king, and Jonathan, his best friend (I can relate to grief). God shares that moment of grief with all of us and then we see these words: “In the course of time.”
Clearly, some things just take “the course of time.” My heart. My journey. This sumac.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation