Friday, January 20, 2012


"I was certainly in a state! 'Clogged with wishes.' I was wishing that my wishes were what God wished, and if my wishes were not what God wished, I wished that I could wish that my wishes would go away, but the wishes were still there."

"If the yearnings went away, what would we have to offer up to the Lord?"

"My heart was saying, 'Lord, take away this longing, or give me that for which I long.' The Lord was answering, 'I must teach you to long for something better."

-Elisabeth Elliott, Passion and Purity

I'm wishing today that the deep longings in my heart would be subject to the One who longs for me. I'm wishing that my desire for Him would overshadow the other desires stirring inside of me. I'm wishing that the pain and the ache would fuel the fire of worship in my heart. Jesus, only You can truly satisfy my heart.

"Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart." (Psalm 37:4 Amplified)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To Wean or not to Wean?

It really was a big question. By the time we reached Benjamin's 2nd birthday (May 22, 2011), the question of how long I would continue to breastfeed began to surface more and more. As I've written previously, there were months and months that weaning was not an option since my son was not able to obtain and adequate amount of fluid intake from a cup. I loved nursing, but the desire for a second child was (and is) growing in me. I knew that I would probably be more likely to conceive once he was weaned and my hormones had the opportunity to re-align themselves again. Benjamin was well on the road to holding his cup independently, and we were already down to only two nursing sessions a day: first thing in the morning and right before bedtime. My sense was that these were more for comfort than anything, but it was still a difficult decision to make. The bond I had with Benjamin through breastfeeding was so precious, especially considering how hard I had to fight to be able to nurture him in this way. It wasn't something I wanted to relinquish until I felt sure of my decision, for once it was made, it would be final.

After Benjamin's birthday, we continued with our twice daily nursing sessions for the entire month of June. A little way into July, I decided I was ready to complete the weaning process. I thought the easiest session to cut first would be the evening one. So, one night, instead of nursing my son, I offered him a cup of milk in his highchair. Shawn and I wondered if he would be fussy when we put him to bed that night, but to our surprise and relief, he slept the whole night through. We continued our morning nursing sessions for two more days, but I knew that at this point he wasn't getting much milk from me anyway. On July 15 I decided to take the final step in the weaning process. Shawn got Benjamin up and changed his diaper, but instead of bringing him to me in the living room, he took our little boy straight to his highchair where I was waiting with a cup of milk. At first he cried and didn't want it. He is very much a creature of habit, and he did not appreciate this change in routine! However, when we offered him some cereal, he happily gobbled it up and then contentedly drank his milk. It was so much easier than I had anticipated! I knew my son was ready, and though there was some sadness, I was ready too. I wrote in my journal the next day "Benjamin was officially weaned yesterday. It was and is a bittersweet relief."

In the days and weeks that followed, I experienced some different emotions, but I always felt at peace with my decision. I missed the cuddle time that nursing afforded the most. For the majority of our two years of nursing, Benjamin would cuddle with me when he was done eating. I would make faces at him and give his kisses; he would make faces back and squeal with delight. However, during the last few months of nursing, this routine was already shifting. As soon as he was done, he was done, and he would begin pushing against me to get down on the floor where his toys were. He was already starting to gain a greater measure of independence, and he needed to. In fact, only 3 days after Benjamin was weaned, he started his own version of a belly crawl (more on that later)! He was quickly leaving his baby days behind him and venturing into the world of toddlerhood! I was relieved by the greater measure of freedom I had a well. If Shawn and I wanted to have someone babysit Benjamin while we enjoyed an evening out, I didn't have to be back at a specific time to nurse him. We could simply leave a cup of milk, and he was happy (most of the time)!

Benjamin continues to gain more independence in his behavior and personality. He is very much a little boy, and he is so much fun! He is still a Mommy's boy (much to Daddy's disappointment), but he is becoming more and more his own little person. I have to take advantage of what cuddle time I can get now, usually when he's sleepy, because he is a little ball of energy, eager to play and explore (as long as he knows I am close by). I'm so proud of him! He still enjoys his milk in the morning and evening, though we have since smoothly transitioned from cow's milk to soy milk, which has done wonders for his digestion. I look back with gratitude and affection for the two years of breastfeeding I enjoyed with my son as well as the good nutritional start I was able to give to him. I look forward with excitement and pride at the little boy he's growing up to be. And, to be perfectly honest, I look forward with eager anticipation to building a special bond with baby number two, whenever he or she graces our lives in the future!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Comparison Game

In the comparison game, no one ever really wins. If I come out feeling better than, it only feeds an unhealthy pride. If I come out feeling less than, discouragement and self-pity are right around the corner. Either outcome brings greater bondage, not greater freedom. Neither outcome brings me closer to the heart of Jesus. Knowing this first-hand, why am I so quick to slip into this deadly game again and again? This morning I found myself in the familiar struggle…
Shawn and I have been trying (unsuccessfully so far) to conceive a second child for a year’s time now. We tried two years for Benjamin. The disappointments of those two years were very painful. The disappointments of this last year have been as well. Then, a few days ago I had an unexpected and frightening attack of the same nature as the gall bladder attacks I was suffering from prior to my surgery last October. I didn’t think that was even possible, but there I was getting sick in the bathroom and screaming in agonizing pain on the floor while Shawn raced to get Benjamin ready so he could drive me to the ER. It also happened to be the day that my menstrual cycle was scheduled to start, so before I could be treated, they had to run a pregnancy test. I wrestled back and forth with my emotions as we waited for the results. I so long to be pregnant again, but I also wanted to be able to take some pain medicine and have the CT scan run on my stomach to find out what in the world was going on with my body. The results were negative, and the medical staff continued in treating me. The CT scan revealed no problems with my appendix (one of the initial fears) and no evidence of stones in the duct connecting my liver to my intestine. The ER doctor concluded that I must have a build-up of “sludge” (a highly medical term I know) in the duct from my liver to my intestines, which actually consists of several microscopic stones. So, I was instructed to continue a low-fat diet, take the pain medicine left over from my surgery as necessary, and call my surgeon on Monday (tomorrow). He can look at the results of my CT scan and decide what steps need to be taken next. Sigh…

This morning the disappointment of another false pregnancy test, coupled with the unexpected medical complications was really weighing on my heart. Before I knew it, I was playing the comparison game. Why do so many women, who may not even be trying to get pregnant, conceive so easily while we continue to try month after month? Why do so many women give birth to healthy baby after healthy baby when our son has had so many complications? Why am I fast approaching my 30th birthday with only one child when there are so many women younger than me who already have multiple children? Why am I having the medical complications I do when I’m living a healthier lifestyle than many of the people around me? It appears to be only another road block in my desire to conceive. What about the countless unborn lives that are murdered daily in the name of “convenience” and “freedom of choice?” I so want to bring a new life into the world and cherish that life as a precious treasure from God. I also long for the experience of raising a “typically developing” child who will naturally achieve new milestones without the intensity of intervention, work, and tears that we have and are walking through with Benjamin. What would it feel like to bring home a healthy baby after a safe delivery? Why is that the expected norm for so many and still only a distant dream for me?  Pretty soon I was in an emotional tailspin. I knew where I was going and that it wasn’t helping me at all, but it was a struggle to come up and out.
 During our worship at church this morning we sang about the cross of Jesus Christ and the immense love He demonstrated to us. As I sang and played my guitar, I pictured Jesus’ passion in my mind’s eye and thought, “How can the One who poured out His life blood in love for me, not be trusted with every aspect of my heart and life?” I reminded myself of something He gently spoke to my heart a few months ago, as I poured out my longing to Him for a second child:

Do not waste this time but fill your heart with the oil of intimacy. Cherish this time and be content in Me. It is My gift to you.
I know that when our second child comes, the busyness and demands on my time will significantly increase. I know that the one on one attention I’ve been able to give Benjamin has been so valuable, especially in light of his many delays. I know that the time I’ve already had to fight for to get alone with Jesus has been a gift.  He is inviting me to go deeper into His heart during this season of waiting. Even the uncertainty of my medical condition can be a place to lean into Him more. The comparison game robs me of these truths. In the comparison game the attitude of my heart accuses God, (though I may not say it with my mouth) instead of trusting Him. It lies to me that He is unjust, that He is withholding good from me, that He doesn’t care. I know these things are not true, but how quickly my emotions can be drawn in this direction if I do not take my thoughts captive and bring them back to Jesus.

Life’s trials and disappointments can come from many sources. There is an enemy of our souls who is out to steal, kill and destroy. There are the consequences of our own poor choices or the poor choices of people in our lives. There is the discipline of the Lord, which He uses to draw our hearts back to Him if we have strayed away or to mature us in our walk with Him. Whatever the source of the suffering, though, Jesus desires to use it all to bring us to a place of greater intimacy with Him. He always has the end in mind; He sees past the temporal and into eternity; surely He can be trusted with every facet of our lives!
Will I recognize the gifts of God in my life when they come packaged in a way I did not expect or request? Will I be thankful for and receive His gifts when they look different from what I wanted? Do I believe that I have a better handle on what my life should look like than my Creator, who knows all and loves me without reservation? Will I still hope in His promises when everything around me seems to be screaming the opposite? Will I genuinely trust the One who left heavenly glory to identify with my own weakness and brokenness and to pour out His life for me that I may be made whole?  

I’m so thankful that Jesus is not surprised by my emotional struggles. He is not offended by my weakness when I find myself slipping into the comparison game--again. He is patient and tender towards me in my brokenness, but He is not content to leave me there. He is inviting me to life and freedom, though I must choose to respond. Some scriptures went through my mind this morning as I wrestled through my emotions:
Shall the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ Or shall the handiwork say, ‘He has no hands?’ (Isaiah 45:9b NKJV)

After the risen Jesus prophesied to Peter about the martyr’s death he would face to glorify God, Peter looked at John…
Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me,” (John 21:21-22 NKJV).

Lord Jesus, give me grace, whatever the path may look like, to follow closely after You.

Before my surgery, unbeknownst to me, Shawn took several pictures of family and friends holding up similar signs. After my surgery he surprised me with a homemade slide show set to music. I loved it!