Wednesday, November 30, 2011

While I'm Waiting: Hoping

I was listening to the radio tonight as I washed and dried the dishes. Husband had to work through the supper hour tonight at the nursing home, so I was alone. Often, for me, doing the dishes alone affords some time for reflection that I might not otherwise take.

Husband and I are going to trim the Christmas tree when he gets home from work, and I was trying to muscle up some excitement for the project. We had all of our children’s programs at the library today, which always leaves me feeling happy and yet slightly bruised on the inside at the same time.

One of the songs that came on while I was drying dishes was a song I’ve heard many times before, but I didn’t even know who it was by: “While I’m Waiting,” by John Waller. The song seemed to fit what I want to be right perfectly:

The word ‘waiting’ is obviously used multiple times in the song, but the word ‘hope’ came up too. Hearing about waiting and hoping in the same breath started me musing on the Spanish word esperar. Esperar translates to the infinitive verb form of the English phrase ‘to hope.’ But, strangely enough, esperar also means ‘to wait.’ In Spanish, to wait and to hope are one in the same.

I was reminded again tonight that this is also true in my dealings with God: to wait on Him is also to hope in Him. I am waiting for something I want, but I can be hopeful because I know that whatever He gives me now and will give me in the future is good.

The other phrase in the song that really got me thinking was: “I’ll be running the race, even while I wait.”

I absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, want this to be true of me. I do not want to sit in front of my computer and write blog lament after blog lament over all the painful things that remind me that I’m not a mother yet but want to be (and who would want to sit and read a whole bunch of laments anyway? The authors of Lamentations get special treatment. Their laments are still read because they ended up in the Bible. I have no such trump card to play.)


That being said, I am going to try to get back to the purpose of this blog: being content with what God has given me while I wait. You will probably continue to hear about our child-longing periodically, but I will not allow that to take over the blog.

On that front, I do have some news to share, however: Though Husband and I are not closing the door on fertility treatments completely, we are starting to take baby steps (no pun intended) into the world of adoption as well.

As a child and a teenager, I had always said I wanted to adopt, but since getting married, I had set the idea aside temporarily because I was intimidated by the substantial cost of adoption. Husband and I independently came to the decision that, despite the cost, now is the time to look into adoption. We’re starting with research, so when you hear about our baby-longing, it will most likely be in the context of our responses to what we have researched.

In any case, with the goal being contentment where we are now, other topics besides adoption that you can expect to be reading about in the coming months are:

  • Projects, current and future (gift ideas, food, home improvement, and so forth)
  • Experiences in my daily life that inspire thankfulness
  • Experiences in my daily life that inspire laughter (you all remember my coworker exchanging Satan for Santa—I’m expecting her to step it up, if only for the purpose of this blog)
  • Ways that God is teaching me and speaking to me
  • Book reviews (because despite my slip up I am going to read through our personal library and also because I just love to read that much)
I’m looking forward to this month leading up to Christ’s birth, and I hope that you will join me in learning to be content right where each one of us is.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful

I have a lot to be thankful for.

I am especially thankful for this surprise on our doorstep a few days ago:

A family friend put this basket together out of branches and pinecones that she found at the gigantic branch pile outside of town. I am impressed at her resourcefulness, as well as delighted to be the recipient of such a beautiful gift.

I have many things that I am seriously thankful for, but I also have a lot of things that I am laughingly thankful for as well.

In the context of many serious things happening in my life right now, I have been especially savoring laughter. As you know by now, my husband has wit and exercises it frequently. I appreciate that.

I am also very thankful that at both of the jobs I hold I can laugh regularly with my coworkers. An incident that pops to mind immediately happened just Tuesday.

My fellow children’s librarian, whom I will call Ms. J, often mixes up words. She has often called me Valerie instead of Hillary, and many of the children who come to our programs are repeatedly called by names other than their own. Her natural warmth and friendliness make up for this, thankfully, and hardly anyone seems bothered by these frequent lapses. Working with her sometimes reminds me of a book I read as a child, The Vicar of Nibblewick, by Roald Dahl. It’s a short book, and if you can get your hands on it, I urge you to read it.

On Tuesday, my cohort and I were leading a story hour for kids ages 4-5. Ms. J was reading a story to the kids about a Christmas elf. I had never realized how close the names ‘Santa’ and ‘Satan’ are until this particular story was read, but when Ms. J read aloud that the elf was going to go and report on the children to the latter… well. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only adult in the room laughing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Resuts of a Doctor's Appointment

I saw a little quip in a picture today:

“It’s not happy people who are thankful. It’s thankful people who are happy.”

I’ve thought about it off and on throughout the day because my mind is often tempted back to the thought, “Oh, if only I was pregnant right now, then I would be happy!” Part of me—a less realistic part of me—really feels that this is true.

But I know it’s not. Even if I were to find out I was pregnant tomorrow, something else would creep in that would ‘steal happiness.’ Worry about the baby. Worry about where we were going to move after the baby was born. Job conflicts. And so forth. As a worry-prone person, there are plenty of things that can steal my happiness.

Since it’s obviously true that having a baby will not be the thing to make me happy, then it follows that I can be happy without having a baby. And that is why the phrase above has held so much of my attention today.

I did not hear better news at the doctor yesterday. This doctor made me feel much more welcome and comfortable than the first doctor I visited, which was a blessing, but she told me in essence the same things as the first doctor I met with.

I may have polycystic ovary syndrome. However, from what I understand from my doctor, that’s sort of a catch-all term for hormone malfunction. Some hormone (or group of hormones) somewhere is not doing exactly what it should be doing. (As a side note, from the little bit my doctor explained to me about all of the hormones that are involved in a normal woman’s cycle happening monthly the way it does, I am amazed that there are any children in the world. Such complexity! Obviously God is at work.)

So, the doctor ordered a few more blood tests, for which I had samples drawn this morning. But the end result will be much the same, as far as wanting to conceive a baby is concerned, whether the tests come back normal or otherwise.

If my body refuses to cycle normally, which has been the trend over the last year, then we have a few options if our goal right now is to pursue pregnancy:

1) We continue to try to conceive without help. In this scenario we have no idea if or when I am ovulating.

2) I take glycophage, a medication that is normally given to people with diabetes. People with PCOS often have a similar intolerance to insulin as diabetics do. This might right the problem, if the problem has to do with insulin to begin with.

3) I take clomid, a widely used fertility drug.

I feel less woeful today than I did one day after my appointment in October, but I do feel tired. Husband and I will have some big decisions to make in the coming months. And we definitely have a lot of reading to do. We intend to be well-informed before we make any major decisions about medications.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Second Doctor's Appointment

I watched a BBC mini-series over a few nights last week called The Buccaneers. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Edith Wharton. Husband watched the first of five hours with me and then gracefully exempted himself from the remaining four hours.

The Buccaneers is more depressing than Pride and Prejudice, which I love. I was telling Husband about this the night after finishing the movie.

“It’s just so much more depressing. The adultery and unhappy marriages… and the Duke was under so much pressure to produce an heir.”

Husband looked at me, shrugged, and smiled. “Well, I can relate. I’m under tremendous pressure to produce and heir too!”

If you think of it today, and if you’re the praying type, please say a prayer for us! I’m off this afternoon to get a second opinion after my doctor’s appointment of over a month ago (which you can read about here). Please pray that the doctor will be able to accurately assess my physical state and please pray that we will accept whatever news we get with contentment and peace.

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Blew It

I was hugging Husband and looking up at his face, but he wasn’t looking back at me. His eyes were trained on my desk. His eyebrows raised incredulously. “What is that?”

“Oh,” I giggled embarrassedly. “A… book.”

I blew it. I blew it intentionally, even with a six-foot-two conscience raining meaningful glances on me.

You may have guessed what I did. I read a book that wasn’t mine. A friend did loan it to me, which is kind of within my rules, but I asked her for it. That’s definitely not within my rules. What’s worse, I stayed up really late reading it. And what’s worse still is that when I finished it, I promptly went to the library to check out the second book (on CD though, this time). And I’m fairly sure I’m going to finish the series (a total of four books) before I go back to my own collection.

I’m irritated with myself. And yet I still want to finish the series. I was thinking to myself this morning, why in the world did I have such a strong desire to read this book, right now, when I’m supposed to be reading through my own collection?

The answer that I came up with—and I’m pretty sure it’s close to the mark, if not dead on—is that I wanted to read something that didn’t matter.

I don’t buy books willy-nilly. Mostly I buy books that think will have some significance for my life, books that I will want to reference later. And for that reason, I have been reading only books that matter in the last two months.

This time, I wanted something that didn’t matter. I wanted an escape.

And because I’ve come to that conclusion and I’m pretty sure it’s accurate, I realize I have some soul-searching to do. The last month and a half have been pretty stressful. But if I feel an almost overwhelming desire to escape into a novel, then I have obviously not handled the challenges gracefully. Or rather, grace-filled-ly.

I read in Matthew 17:21 just a few days ago, “… I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Of course, Jesus isn’t giving his disciples a blank check to go spend on whatever they want, but he is saying to them, With Me, nothing I ask you to do will be impossible.

I have the Holy Spirit living inside me. Nothing God asks of me should feel impossible or drain my reserves. I shouldn’t even be using my reserves. I should be using God’s. It’s time for me to soul-search and try to relearn how to tap into God’s resources to do what He asks me to do without trying to do it myself.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Project Updates

Natural Hair Care Update

As many of you know, I haven’t been using shampoo or conditioner on my hair for the last two months. You can read about my plan here.

I feel it necessary to offer a quick update of my hair care because some things have changed:

1) I have gone back to the apple cider vinegar hair clarifier. The honey didn’t seem to make much of a difference on my hair, and honey is more expensive. Plus, for a reason that I still have not figured out, my bottle of honey conditioner began to smell absolutely terrible after about two weeks of sitting in the shower. Honey doesn’t go bad in my cupboard; so why in my shower? I still don’t know. But in any case, that was enough. I’m using vinegar again.

2) I have started conditioning with coconut oil occasionally. My hair continued to be pretty frizzy most days, to the point where I was almost ready to give up on the whole business and go back to traditional conditioners. However, I’m glad that I did give coconut oil a try because it has worked wonderfully. A very little bit goes a very long way, which leads me to believe the large jar I bought is going to last me probably for the rest of my life. I had been using coconut oil after every wash (so, every four days), but now I’m using it every other wash or every three washes, depending on how my hair is feeling.

Facial Cleaning Method Update

As you may know, I don’t use a traditional face wash. I clean my face with oil.

In general, I’m not sure anymore what I think of this method of washing my face. I love how I only have to wash my face once a day with this method. And in general, my face is much less oily than it was with traditional face washes. And I still love that this is better for my body and better for the environment. Those are the trump cards. I do, however, have a few concerns and/or complaints:

1) Some nasty breakouts in the last month, more so than I’ve seen since junior high. Face-wash-induced? Hormone-induced? Hard to say. I’m going to give it another month and see what happens. I have read that adding essential tea tree oil can be helpful for acne-prone skin. However, I haven’t wanted to spend the money on that yet. Adding tea tree oil might push this face wash method out of the realm of economical.

2) I have to wash more washcloths now because I didn’t use to use washcloths to wash my face.

3) This method is more time consuming than a traditional face wash, so when I’m especially tired or in a hurry, I get a little impatient with the time this takes.

Book-Reading Challenge Update

Two months ago, I decided that I wanted to read through all of the books on our bookshelves. We have a lot of books and, embarrassingly, I haven’t read nearly all of them. I decided that it was high time I remedied that.

I challenged myself to read all of those books, and to refresh your memories and mine, these are the guidelines I’m following:

1) I may not check out any library books or read any library books while completing the challenge.*

2) I will update with my progress every two months.

3) I may, however,  read book our book club selected each month.

*Exceptions will be made if a friend or family members wishes to loan me a book. I may, in that situation, except the book and read it.

My progress has been so dismal over the last two months that I didn’t even want to report. And I certainly felt no need to update the pictures of my bookcases.

This is my progress. Besides one book club book, I have read two books. Two. That’s it. I normally consider myself an avid reader (and I’m a librarian, for crying out loud), but this just goes to show how incredibly busy the last two months have been for Husband and me.

From my bookshelves, I have read:

Closing the Achievement Gap: How to Reach Limited Formal-Schooling and Long-Term English Learners, by Yvonne Freeman and David E. Freeman

I bought this book a while back because of the adult ESL class Husband and I teach. Although this was an interesting read, it was actually geared toward teachers who teach school-age English Language Learners.

This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti

This really was an excellent read. I didn’t think it was necessarily well-written, but the subject matter was just what I needed (more on that another time, perhaps). In the U.S. we’re pretty quick to shrug off the possibility of spiritual warfare in our lives. After all, there has to be some natural and logical reason for everything, right? Although Peretti’s story is fictionalized and imaginative, the theme rings true: there is spiritual warfare, and prayer does make a difference.

I am also in the middle of two other books: One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp and Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder. Both of these are very, very good books, but I’ll withhold any reviews or opinions until I’ve finished them.

Favorite Husband Quote of the Day and Something Learned

Time has gotten away from me again. This is actually my favorite Husband quote from a few days ago, but I still thought it was worth sharing.

I have just finished blow-drying my hair with a diffuser with my head tilted upside-down. I am excited because, in my opinion, the technique had the desired effect of making my wavy-curly hair look more wavy-curly than usual.

I say, “Honey, do you notice anything different about my hair today?”

Husband pauses to carefully consider my appearance. He’s been put in this situation before, poor guy.

“You didn’t have your clippie pin* and… go back!” Husband says, while pantomiming me clipping something at the top of my head and then waving one hand back over his head and down one shoulder.

Translation note:
  • four bobby pins

In Husband’s defense, he was right. I usually do use bobby pins to hold back some of my hair. On this particular day I had left my hair entirely down. But he had not noticed the beautiful extra-curliness of my hair that I was so very proud of.

Husband’s interpretation of what I do to my hair on a normal day tickled my funny bone and deflated some of my excitement over my hair, but it also taught me something. Or rather, it reminded me of something that I have learned before and have had to relearn over and over again.

Nobody—and I mean nobody—scrutinizes my physical appearance with as much fervor as I do. I know this is true, and yet I still spend time and energy thinking about and trying to improve my appearance.

I have long been disappointed with myself because of this importance I place on my appearance, and it has proven difficult for me to moderate that down to a healthy desire to look presentable.

I’ve prayed about it. I’ve memorized Bible verses and then taped them up next to my mirror:

“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” (1 Peter 3:3-5a)

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Prov. 31:30)

I’ve studied abroad in a country where it was neigh impossible to spend time and energy on physical appearance.

And yet.

Still I concern myself with my appearance much, much more than I ought.

But Husband’s words were a good reminder for me.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Family Road Trip

This past weekend Husband and I took a loooooooong road trip to celebrate Husband’s grandma’s 90th birthday.

It just so happened that we were all able to travel with Husband’s whole family: parents, siblings and their spouses. This was wonderful because Husband and I don’t get to see family nearly enough for my liking, living hours away from all of them in a small Iowan town.

Right now, Husband and I have one nephew. No nieces. My nephew is absolutely adorable, and even though he is a year and a half old, the first time I met him was three months ago when his new adoptive parents, Husband’s sister and brother-in-law, brought him back from Ethiopia.

This was only my second time seeing him, and if my previous blogs here and here are any indication, I love children. And, apparently, I am especially enamored when they are family.

I begged to be allowed to sit next to this little munchkin, and his mom graciously agreed with something to this effect: “As long as you don’t mind having every car on the interstate pointed out to you and don’t mind finding cheerios in places you didn’t know you had, you can claim a seat by him!”

Because his mommy has called him Li’l Dude on her blog, I will adopt the same name for my blog.

I bought our camera along specifically because I was excited to get to sit next to him, and I was determined to get some fun and adorable pictures. Of course, I know that when Husband and I are blessed with children of our own, we will not just be looking for the happy smiling poses, but when we’re just an Aunt and an Uncle, our relationship with Li’l Dude is a little one-sided.

This is the first picture that Husband was able to snap of Li’l Dude:

He was aiming for a smiling shot.

This is shot number four:

By shot number nine, I felt like we were getting the timing right:

This is my absolutely favorite shot of the whole trip, even though it’s blurry:

Doesn’t this picture just make you want to laugh too?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Favorite Husband Quote of the Day

Setting: I am trying to decide what earrings to wear with the necklace I have on over a turquoise turtleneck in the morning before leaving the house. I have one earring in one ear and a different earring in the other ear. I walk into the kitchen where Husband is cutting up potatoes.

Hillary: Which earrings do you think I should wear with this necklace, honey? I cover my left ear with a hand and let him look. Then I cover the right ear for a few seconds.

Husband: Well, I think they both look nice…. But I would pick the one in your left ear.

Hillary: Thanks. I think that’s what I was going to choose too. I start to walk away and I hear behind me…

Husband: Of course, I really have no idea, but I figured it was safe to give an opinion. By this point, I’m sure you’d have weeded out any ones that would be damaging.

Oh, how I love this man.