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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Who am I? Part 3

If you haven't yet read Part 1, click here...
If you haven't yet read Part 2, click here...

Well, with 2 parts already written, I cannot even begin to imagine how long my life story will be 10 years from now. In the meantime, though, this has been the most life-changing part so far...

After the flurry of activity surrounding my treatment was over, and the reality of my diagnosis set in, the time came for us to make some decisions.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend for others to take the same path that we were about to choose, but looking back, I can see how God's hand of protection and guidance followed us through the coming years, even though we made a choice He did not tell us to make...

What did we do? We moved home to Pennsylvania.

Why did we do it? Mostly, I was scared, and it seemed like the logical thing to do at the time.

Years gone by and a little bit more maturity have taught me that neither was the best reasoning, but nonetheless, that is what we did. My body was so tired, my mind was so overwhelmed, and my spirit was, well... crushed. I couldn't see how I could continue to do all the things I was doing ~ school, work, marriage. All I could see was an unknown future looming somewhere out in the distance. Really, the reality of MS has not been nearly as bad as my fear of the unknown.

So, to Pennsylvania we went, where we spent the next nearly 6 years living with my Gram and growing up a little bit. It is so neat how God took a decision that we didn't even really consult Him about and turned it into the best time of my life. We had family, old friends, and soon-to-be new friends.

For the first year, I didn't really do much at all. Life kind of just stopped as I tried to figure out what things were going to be like. I stopped taking classes, which by the way, was really stupid. In fact, I was thoroughly convinced, at the time, that I would NEVER finish the degree I was so close to. I saw no point in finishing a degree I figured I would never use. In fact, I saw no point in doing anything. Isn't it amazing how we let Satan use FEAR to absolutely PARALYZE us!

Slowly, though, life moved forward and it wasn't so bad. For the most part, my body adjusted, and the MS remained fairly silent. I had my moments and I was tired a lot, but I learned to live with it.

Then, I went back to work... just part-time, but still, it was something. I was the secretary at the church I grew up in, and working for the new pastor. That was... well... interesting. Let's just say that our two strong-willed, dominant personalities didn't always get along. :-)

We did have a good time, though. If you don't believe me, check out this picture of our singing group having a little fun with the microphone covers and notice the "rolling-of-his-eyes-at-me" look on the pastor's face (he's the one sitting in the chair) ...


That was pretty typical. Oh, the stories I could tell... but I won't... at least right now! :-) D.T. was also volunteering as the music leader for the church, so between work, practices, services, and special events like VBS, it seemed like we lived there.

Looking back, it wasn't really a bad place to "live." In fact, it was the right place at the right time with the right people to make the changes I needed in my life. God really used that pastor (when I allowed HIM to move my pride out of the way) to stretch me to be more than just a "Sunday morning" Christian, and to learn to allow God to be my LORD and not just my Savior. He used that pastor to show D.T. what it was really like to experience God and to be willing to follow God's call for his life. And, He used that Pastor's wife to love me in Christ, to mentor me, and to become one of my closest friends ever. You know, God really does work ALL things together ~ even our mistakes and our hurts ~ for His GOOD! The part I had to learn was that I needed to love HIM and that I needed to be willing to be called according to HIS purposes... not my own. The lessons haven't been easy... and I'm still learning them, but it's been good, and it's been worth it.

Then, in 2003, we made our move back to the place we left in the first place. It was so hard to leave the people we loved, but this time, it was a step of faith because we were following God's direction for D.T. to go to seminary. Wow, that was an adventure! They don't tell you that the wife gets a seminary degree too for all the proofreading she does late at night!! :-) And, somehow, I even managed to finish that degree I started so long ago and to begin my master's degree in counseling.

You know, before we came back to Virginia, the LORD had showed me over and over again that I was to "put my foot in the water" and that this was going to be my "promised land." Since then, there have been many times that I have questioned the LORD's idea of what a "promised land" is supposed to be. It certainly hasn't always lined up with my vision of utopia. From time to time, though, the big picture has become more clear for a moment, and God's light has shown through all the holes I have made.

I didn't really understand when I was younger, and still don't fully comprehend it all today, but I can see God's hand in everything that has occurred in my life. Our early marriage. My diagnosis with MS. Our move to PA. Our move back to VA. Our infertility. The fact that we are still here, even though we told God ahead of time that we wouldn't be like all the other people who get stuck here.

Isn't it so amazing and utterly arrogant that we should tell HIM what OUR plans are?!?! I am so grateful for a God who must just shake His head at all my futile efforts and gently remind me that He has it all under control... yes, even the details.... no, ESPECIALLY the details. And the timing. Like when He told me to "follow Him" and He ushered me right into a new job.

Or when He took away my false sense of security over this disease and showed me that I needed to start taking medication. Oh, how I fought that one. You see, that was symbolic for me. For 10 years, I had refused medication in the name of "trying to get pregnant." After all, if I took medication, I wouldn't have the option of becoming pregnant. Picture this visit with my neurologist which replayed itself in my life every three months...

DOCTOR: How are you feeling? Any problems?
ME: I'm feeling OK. Nothing major. A little numbness here and there. Kind of tired.

***Brief examination of my walking, reflexes, other neurological stuff I don't understand, etc...***

DOCTOR: Are you pregnant yet?
ME: No.
DOCTOR: Are you ready to take the Avonex yet?
ME: No.
DOCTOR: OK, well everything looks good. I'll see you in three months.

I might as well have recorded it once and just hit play.

I have always wanted to be a mother. My idea of how my life would play out was that we would get married and then a year or two later, we would start having children. By now, we would have at least 3 or 4, and our family would be well-established. But that must not be what God had in mind because it just didn't happen. All along, I wondered when it would happen. And then, I began to wonder if it would happen. One year went by. A few years went by. 10 years went by. Still nothing. Along the way, we looked into our different medical options, but somehow, we never really took any steps to make things happen. I don't necessarily believe that it is wrong to use some of the available medical technologies, but for us, there was just not a peace about moving in that direction. We didn't want to force God's hand. And so, the years went by... and we waited...

And now, when I realized that I NEEDED to take medication? Well, in my mind, that slammed all my doors tightly shut. Or, so I thought. I had asked God so many times how long I had to wait. He had even promised me through His word that I would have a child. So, we waited. We had always said that we would would rather put any money that we could have spent for infertility treatments toward adopting a child, if the time ever came. Still, we waited...

I don't know if you have ever experienced the restraint of the Holy Spirit, but all these years, I have sensed God telling me that it was not time. I have had to rely on the fact that God promised, and He does not lie. I have had to trust that His timing, while I don't understand it, is perfect. His nature does not allow it to be anything but perfect. I have had to wait for Him to speak instruction to my heart.

And then, the time came. By now, you must realize that I was "on the edge of my seat" in anticipation. And then I heard Him whisper "get moving." So, we have. Our application to adopt a baby has been submitted, and our homestudy is about to begin. Obviously, I do not know the end of the story, but right now, at this very moment, we are living it out. He is writing every day of our life story and I am eager to experience each and every word!

Well, I guess that's it in a nutshell. Um... well maybe more like a bag of nutshells. My apologies for the length of this final part of who I am. I just couldn't bring myself to write four parts.

And now that the introductions are over, welcome (or welcome back) to my blog. I would love to have you visit our virtual home every day to take this journey with us. And please... if there is ever anything that I can do to minister to you or to pray for you, please let me know. I am always only a click away.

Living to love HIM and You...

1 comment:

Jenna Marie Howard said...

Hello
I just wanted to stop by and tell you I enjoy reading your blog. I am adopted and find such encouragement knowing you a adoptive parent. Obviously I'm commenting on you "Who Am I?" because your words spoke to me and I am so grateful that there are people like you who even in hard times still persevere and are bless because of it. I am the Director of Public Relations for a non-profit organization called World Orphans. We build family style church based orphan homes all over the world and our mission is simple E3 to reach each church…each child…each community. I would love for you to take a look at our website and let me know if you have any questions. (www.worldorphans.com) I hope you will have a glorious blessed day!

Jenna M. Howard
-Director of Public Relations
www.Worldorphans.org
Jennah@worldorphans.org
www.JennaMarieHoward.com

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