Friday, August 26, 2016

On Body Image in the Midst of Infertility

I tried on a dozen outfits this morning. There were several reasons I couldn't wear each one but here are the top three:
  1. This makes my head look bobble-y and weird (while wearing a dress). 
  2. My feet look so small I should tip over (dissatisfaction with my converse). 
  3. I'm not sure I like my shoulders anymore. So let's cover them (while wearing a t-shirt). 
These are critiques I don't often make of myself. Lack of abs, length of legs (freakishly short), and amount of boobs (particularly when I REALLY want to go without a bra) are common concerns. But it's rare that I allow my body to deter me from wearing something. If I bought it, I obviously felt good in it and since I'm not any different in size or shape now, I'm hating these clothes because of emotional circumstance.

Lately, the emotions are making the choice. Lately, I'm struggling with my body. I'm struggling with the way it looks, the creases that call it home, the faint stretch marks that grace the secret places -like on my hips and my chest. I'm struggling with it in a way that's new, frustrating, and unfamiliar. It's a foreign land that's hostile and unfriendly, land that's tiring and laden with emotional bombs.

I've been blaming my scale. I've been saying that the number there is my problem and promising to skip carbs, eat veggies, inhale protein. But I've weighed the same number since our first anniversary -since I dedicated myself to losing the newlywed pounds. I've been that weight, been happy, been proud of my running and working and painting and words.

Back Then, my one hundred thirty-five pound frame was feminine -with some curves and kindnesses- in a way that made me beautiful and proud. A way that was alluring to the man I call mine. A way that laid open with promises of pregnancy and parenthood and opportunity that always looked pretty. Back Then, I didn't expect my Right Now.

Because Right Now, my body is a point of contention, a reminder, a tool that's -at the same time- impressive and incapable. The wound of infertility doesn't lay in the empty nursery or our master bedroom. It's not raw and ragged like tears in public and unpredictable fits of rage. It's silent, secret, almost hidden from myself. It's this body that is apologetically incapable of achieving a life goal.

Body, it isn't you, it's me. It's me and the grief that is tied in to swollen pregnancy dreams. It's mourning and grieving and acknowledging that -YES- a miracle can happen, but it also cannot. And it is here between the news and the miracle, that I acknowledge the Even If. Even if I don't carry a child in my womb, I will call myself His with utter faith and blessed grace. It is here in the Land of Even If that I'm trying to find peace with my fate and love for my body -flaws and all. Because it's this body that is broken, that isn't producing, and I'm fighting to find love while making some semblance of peace with the truth.

I'm relearning to love. I'm learning to love the promises my body can make, even if it's not the promise I find myself desperate to hear. It's this body with its dimpled chin and blue eyes and pointed ears that can promise a resemblance to my Popsicle and to Mama Bird. It's this body with its breasts and belly and acne-scars that can promise another breath, another heart beat, another mile covered and, for now, that has to be enough.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

#Collaboreads: The Sellout

It's the day where the (sort of) book club comes back for all the book sharing and speaking! Rachel and I have been busy reading and talking about books... And then a few online friends asked what happened to the beloved #Collaboreads... We didn't have a great answer and, in fact, missed the community of book nerds that gathered here soooo, WE'RE BACK!

Rachel and I are thrilled you're here, but first:

If you missed what #Collaboreads is, you can familiarize yourself here.

Short version: Rachel and I pick a random criteria for the book (i.e. Takes Place in Summertime). You pick your book and read it. Then the last Wednesday of the month we meet up and talk about our choices.There's a R.E.A.D.S. review format that we've shared for suggestion's sake (shared in this post), but feel free to review however you're comfortable!

For August we asked you to read a book written by someone that's a different ethnicity than you. I struggled pinning this down to a single read because there were too many amazing options and HOW DO YOU CHOOSE JUST ONE? But I did.

By Paul Beatty
Well, I didn't LOVE and adore this one. I find myself hesitant to say that because I wanted to be thrilled and rave about the goodness that is Beatty's writing. But, the thing is, I DID love his writing. I loved his ability to craft gorgeous sentences that were rife with sarcasm. I treasured his ability to pointedly assess our country's current state of (racial) affairs with small chunks of words.

So why? Why less than love?

Because I adore plot. My favorite novels are plot driven cupcakes topped with the sweet frosting of diverse and developed characters. And, The Sellout falls short in terms of plot. It covers the trial of a black man who has a slave in modern day LA. I looked forward to the premise, was thankful for the conversation, and couldn't wait to eat up the humor. But the book hardly moved in terms of plot. And I found myself dragging along behind the beautiful words wishing for some peak or valley in the action.

I also want to be honest in saying: I was craving a convicting but swift read. I wanted to be swept up in the lives of the characters and ache alongside them, cheer for their victories, and think HARD about the issues at hand. That's not this book: it's a satirical slog requiring you to engage, to be ready for hundreds of thinking things, and, well, I wasn't.

Beatty's humor is what kept me picking up the book and repelled me from it. The prose is perfect; Beatty is a TALENTED wordsmith. I don't want to do a disservice to how honestly great he is at crafting gorgeous sentences. But there were honest to goodness moments after a long day where all I wanted was an easy read. I wanted to get lost in the story and end up 100 pages further along than I was in what seemed like jusst moments ago... And that's the wrong approach.

This book is filled with references to American racial history that spans from slavery days to modern day police brutality. You' d need an extensive understanding of hundreds of years of racial history to catch them all (I know there's more that I missed than I comprehended), but I don't want that to deter you. Google is your friend.


The Catcher in the Rye. Literally, all I could think of is the humor and dry wit of Holden throughout the course of the novel. I don't know that Holden and the narrator of this book (who never has a name) would get along as friends, BUT their perspective and attitude were ridiculously similar.

Also, Kurt Vonnegut. Anything by Vonnegut -with his satire and tight lines of wisdom- walks in close proximity to Beatty's writing.

And I couldn't leave this section without saying Dave Chappelle. His ability to comment on racial issues in post-racial America while making you laugh is RIGHT HERE in the same circle as Beatty. They're calling our understanding of race into question, pressing us to address the issues at hand, and requiring us to be honest about what's really going on here in America.


REALLY honest moment: I loved the pink details on the cover. I adored the way it looks like preppy printed lobster shorts, but instead it's (who I consider to be) Hominy Jenkins (the slave in the novel). 



While it deals with relevant (and important) conversations happening in our culture right now, it just doesn't go all the way for me. It falls short with the lack of plot and the narrator's humor starts to feel more like shtick than satire... I wish I could have watered it down with a few ounces of narrative movement and it'd easily run in a four-five start circle.

And now, it's your turn to talk about all the books that filled your month!

Next month's topic we'll see you on 
September 28th! 
And we're going to be reading... 

Banned books! 
(Because it's Banned Books week RIGHT NOW!) 

Here's one list and another of possibilities for you. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Let's Make a Miracle || A Marriage Letter

Dear Jason, 

We've had a month. A month of family trips, hot-as-hell days, and a funeral for my grandpa. I struggled with what to bring to you today, what part to grab hold of and make forever. Then the program that's laying on a counter in the garage nudged me.

I think about what people will say at my funeral more than is socially acceptable. I wonder what it is that I'll be remembered for and then I prioritize my life accordingly. But, after my grandpa's funeral, I've been thinking about what people will say about you. And I know it's what they said about him: he loved his wife good until the very end.

Sixty-nine years of marriage, ten kids, further generations that total more than 100, many professions to be spoken of and what people said about Grandpa Frank was how deep his love for his sweetheart Catherine ran. Truck driver, key maker, marine, father, and yet it was his devotion to her, his place at her side, his fingers entwined through hers that made the lasting impression.

On the drive home I asked what part impressed on you most and you said their love. I said the same. You looked at me with the coy smile that precedes sarcastic words and said, "don't you wish you someone loved you that way?" I didn't have to answer with anything but a hard, honest laugh because we both know: I've got it with you.

I know sixty-four years from now I'll love you more than I do today. I know sixty-four years from now I'll still hunger for your warmth, your strength, your patience. I know sixty-four years will hold kids, heart ache, and hope. I know sixty-four years is a dare to cling, to care, to love. And, it's a dare I'll take as long as it's with you.

I don't think everyone who marries can say -five years later- how every day is better than the day before. I don't think everyone gets to say they chose a winner for all the days of their life. I don't think they enjoy the feeling of a love that grows with each passing sunset.

I can only imagine the depths of a love that's outlived wars and cars and depressions and peaks. Sixty-nine years of marriage is miraculous. And I'm thrilled to be part of the next miracle with you.

How deep and wide my love for us,
- - - - - - - - - - -

This letter is one in a series of letters I write to remember mundane moments of my marriage that would otherwise slip away. I write with a dedication to hold tight to him and to remember how life looks right now at this very moment. The chance for these letters to shed light on our marriage before children for our children because they won't know us as newlyweds is a much loved and added bonus.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

On Making the Thomas Three in August of 2016

So, I promised to keep ya'll in the loop as we worked through the foster-to-adopt process. And I thought I'd post something that ten people would read (my six family members being the majority of them), but then a HUGE community swooped in to prayer beside and celebrate with us. What a joy.

I've spent more time thinking about how to share in our progress than I care to admit. But, I was reading through a bump-date post and realized we could do the same -without the bump and weight updates. So once a month (about the third week of the month) you'll run into an adoption update on these pages.

My Greatest Joy: 

The Parents-to-Be card we got in the mail from Jason's mom. Goodness it was blessed to see those words real and in reference to us. It's now on my nightstand.

The Biggest Fear: 

I want you to know, I'm terribly terrified of having a child placed in our care and then losing it. I am terribly terrified. But I do know that I won't break in two and pour out into a mess all over the place because of the loss. So, I'm throwing myself headlong into this process, praying hard, and acknowledging His plan.

The Verse of the Month: 

"Therefore I tell you, her sins, many [as they are], are forgiven her -because she has loved much. But he who is forgiven little loves little." -Luke 7:47

The Month's Anthem:

"No Longer Slaves"

How the Paperwork is Going:

We're waiting on my physical appointment. Jason's is done and once I go to mine, we're done -really, truly done. It seems impossible, but all three of our packets will be completed and we'll get to transition from doing all the work to waiting. I'm excited for a slower season.

Otherwise, we've finished the first two of our four classes and goodness. I wish every parent had to take a course like this one. It's rich and abundant and changing the way we do our lives -even without kids. The next two classes are more logistical -like talking about the laws and regulations we face- and in the evenings so they won't be the doozy the last two have been.

How my Heart Feels: 

Lucky. Honestly, so deeply and truly lucky. He's pressed the fact that these children are His on our hearts over and over again through this process. And, we believe it. We've set expectations low to allow for our hearts to be more willing to heal: we assume we will have one or two placements that end in reunification with the biological parents (rather than in adoption into our family).

We believe that a few of the sweet souls who enter our home will become part of the Thomas family by law, but all of our placements will reside in our hearts for the rest of our days. I'm thankful He's allowed us this opportunity, this blessing and this is just the beginning. 

What my Brain Held tight to: 

The way our feelings are choices. Or at least, the way we allow our feelings to make our choices for us. For foster parents, feelings are trumped by logistics and law. We might feel like we're the best parents for a child, but that isn't legal. So, I'll be learning to cherish the moments we have, the sureness He gives, and let go of my entitlement to have influence. This is equal parts terrifying and freeing (mostly freeing).

How this is changing Mr. Thomas and Me right now: 

We've had to talk about heartbreak. We've had to come to each other and consider the "what if"s that come with foster-to-adopt. We know the risks and have spent many dinners weighing them against each other. And then we come back to one thing: this is our Called Place. Remembering this keeps us confident, prepared, and clinging tight to one another.

How Hazel's transitioning: 

She is so insanely clingy. She sits under our feet at the dinner table. She naps between us on the couch. She's started falling asleep on the end of our bed again. She watches me get ready in the mornings. We've realized she feels something odd in the air.

Plus, her kennel will be moved from the room it's in because of it's slow conversion into the nursery.

What's Our Next Step: 

Turning in our completed paperwork will feel like finishing a marathon. And we'd like to get the nursery walls painted the airy mint green we've picked, so let's knock that out in August too.

How to Pray:

For one last push. We've finished the paperwork and now we need to prepare. We need to paint and finish our home updates. We've got to begin the process of filling drawers with clothes of a multitude of sizes and pulling together registries and thinking ahead. We're in the last miles of a serious sprint over the last few months. We're joyful, but we're tired and ready to relax. But first, that final kick before the finish line of our work. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

On Joy as a Writer's Block

I've struggled coming here and putting together words. I don't know if it's the sunshine or the impending life changes or better night's sleep or my rekindled love for reading -or all of it-, but I sit down to write and, instead, bite my nails. My hands are busy, but not in a productive way.

The thing about life right now is it's peacefully joyful.

My dad's passing birthed strength and faith which resulted in a peace we'd craved for the better part of a decade. The pain of learning about our infertility was stifled on the Monday after Father's Day when Jason said he wanted to be a dad sooner rather than later. It seemed the moments where sadness wanted to creep in and take residence, joy simply refused to make room.

But it's hard to write any prolific thoughts with joy holding space for me.

There's a weird sense of bragging when you claim that life is good. It's like good isn't allowed without the rest of us there at the same emotional bus stop. If we don't all ding the bell for the stop called Goodness, then we all stay seated and wait for it to come around some time in the next decade. But that's blasphemy. That's a disservice to your heart.

Sometimes, we're good when everything else seems bad.

My little brother started eighth grade last week. I texted him the evening after his first day to see how it went. I expected a little bit of back and forth about teachers, boring classes, and what he wishes was different in his schedule. Instead, I got one word: good. And I thought about the way we grow up and decide that using "good" in it's solo sense is avoiding the truth.

But sometimes, life is good.

Sometimes there isn't a lot more to say. Sometimes I feel this internal pressure to spend five minutes telling you all the emotions involved in being me at this very moment. But, if I'm honest, I feel genuinely good. For the first time in my life, I have utmost confidence I'm doing what He's set out for me, I have sureness in the Siri that's pushing me forward, and I have a deepest well of thanks in my heart.

So, I mean it when I tell you that things are good.

And, as your friend, I give you permission to feel different; to feel sad, mad, angry, sure, brave, fearful, and the like. Also, I give you greater permission to bask in life that's good -just plain good. More than that, I grant you space to break away, fall silent, and enjoy what's good. But, in the same sentence, I'll beg you to return to tell me about your joy, I'll promise to welcome you the moment you walk through the door, I'll sit piqued by your time spent away with Good.

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