Category Archives: Marriage

6 Years

Our 6th year anniversary is today.

I always get nostalgic whenever I think back to our days of dating and then engagement. Not that our days are particularly dull now, but life felt like such a wild roller coaster back then.

I always liked my hubby, from the very first time I met him at a Bible study with our church. He was 20 (and I was 23). He was super skinny with curly black hair and talked passionately about math (he was taking ultra hard math classes at the time). That same evening at the Bible study he was asked to share some of his experiences from a recent missions trip to Russia, and he told a hilarious story about how he broke his foot while en route back to the U.S. He was hopping up and down on one leg to get his point across, and the whole room was laughing. This guy is funny and smart, I thought. Although it was just a first impression, I thought he was something special.

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Back then I was a newer nurse and trying to figure out if nursing was what I wanted to do with my life, especially when it meant working nights for several years. I went from working full time to part time so that I could go to Bible college in Southern California. After that I took a leave of absence from work so I could work for 3 months overseas at a medical missions clinic. I would occasionally see him at church and events during the summers and Christmas vacations. To pursue an electrical engineering degree, he had transferred from the local junior college to about 4 hours away to attend Cal Poly. I still had a crush on him, but our life paths were not intertwining much.

A few summers went by and only my two sisters and my friend Nina knew that I liked him. I wasn’t a boy-crazy type of girl at all, but I hoped and prayed that maybe he would take notice of me. It was June of 2008, and after Bible college and living overseas, I was back working full time at the hospital. Life had settled down a bit for me. He was still in college with another year to go to finish his degree. While I happened to be gone one week back packing in Yosemite, my friend Nina prayed about talking to him about me and told the Lord, “If you give me an opportunity at church tonight, I will speak up.”

{Just a side note. If I had known that my friend was ever even thinking about doing this, I would have adamantly said no and begged her not to– because at the time it would have incredibly embarrassed me and because I wanted him to pursue me, not the other way around. I didn’t want our friendship to become awkward. But now that we’ve been married 6 years, I’m thankful to my friend and not embarrassed at all.} 😉

Sure enough, after church that night she was given the opportunity to talk with him alone and basically challenged my guy to consider and pray about me. That was it. He stared at her like a deer caught in the headlights and said he would. He went home, talked with his dad about it, and began to pray.

I’m not sure what exactly was going through my hubby’s head at this point, but I think that after praying about it, his thought was “Why not, and just see how it goes?” This was a big step for him as he hadn’t dated anyone before me.

The very next week I was back from Yosemite and at church with my little sister. A group of us went out afterward to dinner at Mimi’s. When we were done with dinner and Mimi’s had booted us out because it was late and they were closing, just he, my sister and I stood talking outside my car until it was really late. Again, he was hilarious. But from the years I had to observe him and to learn about his family, I knew that he was also a really solid guy. Most importantly he was following the Lord. I felt a twinge of hope, and frankly, surprise.

A few days later I went out on a limb and texted him, asking if he wanted to play ultimate frisbee with some friends that day at a nearby park. It would be an hour drive for him after he got off work from his summer engineering internship, so I figured he wouldn’t come. But he made me feel fabulous for even thinking to invite him. “Are you kidding? Heck yes! I would LOVE to come!!” he responded. He came after work, we played frisbee, and afterward the two of us sat talking with our legs dangling in my parents pool late into the evening once again. The more I got to know him, the better I liked him.

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Dating. Hanging out at hubby’s college bachelor pad (notice the pool table in the background).

We went on to ‘hang out’ (a term we laugh at now, since we weren’t officially dating and didn’t really know what else to call it) almost daily until the day before he left for school that fall. In the meantime, we had been over to each other’s parents for dinners, he had come to the Fair with my family, and he had even taken me out on a special fancy dinner date with flowers in tow. He took his time to consider and get to know me before asking me to date. I’ve since learned he’s not one to make quick decisions, but he makes good decisions once he’s made up his mind. We agreed to date the day before he left for school.

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The day we decided to date. I was headed into work for the night and he was packing up to leave for school the very next day.

We were engaged the following spring on March 30, 2009, and married that August. He loves to say that “I was out of his league” (which is totally bogus) but ultimately he compliments me in the many ways that I am lacking. (And he’s much smarter than me, which is awesome.)

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August, 2009. Married to my best friend.

Six years have flown by. What a gift this guy is to me. I’m looking forward to many more anniversaries!

 Happy Anniversary to my man. I love you!

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Thoughts on Our 5 Year Wedding Anniversary

Today I have been pondering my marriage, because today is our 5th year wedding anniversary.

I can’t believe how fast the past 5 years have gone by. Well, it’s been fast with the exception of our first year of marriage. It’s sort of like how I once heard J.D. Greear (a pastor in North Carolina) describe his 14 years of marriage to his wife Veronica, “We’ve had 13 wonderful years of marriage… and one other one.”

Yeah, that was us too, at least from my point of view. The first year was rough, ain’t way around it! I was total stress-case. I freaked out over every little thing. Even though I had lived away from home on several occasions (3 years in nursing school, 3 months overseas, and 1 year at Bible college) I packed up and moved away from all my friends and family, quit a job that I loved, began a new job, left my church, and started married life fresh in a new town just a day or two after our honeymoon. Looking back, it might have been a bit much for even an extroverted person like me. Change is always hard.

I know pulling up roots and replanting in a new town to begin married life is not that uncommon; actually people do it all the time. But that first year I struggled in a major way. I fought controlling tendencies and occasionally struggled depression. I quickly realized that, no matter how hard he tried, my guy could not make me happy. I began to see that the Lord was exposing hidden sin in me that I had been completely unaware of during my single days. Marriage has a way of sanctifying a person like no other humanly event, short of raising children. The Lord was doing a work in me–an excruciatingly painful work–during that first year. There was nothing easy or fun about it.

But something beautiful came out of that hard first year, something that doesn’t come naturally in this fallen life: Grace. God gave me grace for my guy and grace for myself.

I can write these things with ease today because our marriage is really wonderful now. I hate to be away from my guy. He has become my closest friend. He brings equilibrium and stability to our family. He is logical and analytical. He provides for our family without complaint. He searches me out with care when I am tough to read, and he pursues me tirelessly.  He makes me laugh, even when I’m grumpy.

In short, our marriage has become a thing of beauty.

Last night as we prayed together, I thanked God for our five years together. If the first one hadn’t been so hard, maybe the remaining four wouldn’t have been so lovely. I am grateful for all five years.

I then prayed over the next 5 years to come. I’m sure there will be hardships and I’m sure we will learn new lessons.

Best of all, I’m sure God will be faithful to bring to completion this good work He’s started in us (Phil. 1:6). And that gives me joy!

Happy anniversary sweetheart, I love you!

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The Husband-Father

I dearly love my husband.

I haven’t shared too much of what he’s been like throughout this unexpected pregnancy process, and I thought it might be fun to do so. These have been some of my favorite memories of my hubby since the day we found out I was pregnant:

~ The hospital bag. From about 8 weeks on, my husband began researching what we might be needing in the hospital bag for when our son is ready to be born. Although I assured him that he had many several more weeks to figure this one out, it sure warmed my heart to see his interest and excitement in the coming of the baby. I still don’t think he’s completely decided on what to the pack the bag with, but his engineer-method of researching such a topic was hilarious to me.

~Hospital (piggy-backing on the previous memory). Because my hubby was really wanting to get the hospital bag right, I reminded my husband that the hospital was only ten minutes away and that if he forgot something, he could just quickly run home and grab it. His response: “Oh no. There is no way I’ll be leaving you at the hospital. Not even a chance!”

~The workshop lesson. The very night we learned we were having a boy, my husband started talking loudly towards my belly and gave a lesson to our son on various kinds of saws and tools one might find in their garage. I rolled my eyes and laughed but delighted in knowing that he will be an excellent father and teacher to our son.

~Pregnant belly pictures. This was my husband’s idea, not mine. His idea was to keep track of this growing belly of mine every single week with our camera. I negotiated for once a month since once a week is a lot of pictures!

~Baby shower. My husband: “Wait, I’m not invited?!” (He was of course joking.)

~Nutrition. A few days after the IVF was completed, I was extremely nauseous one day with no relief. The only thing I could keep down were Ritz crackers and water. My husband, very concerned about my sad lack of nutrition for an entire day, said to me “But what about the baby?? Will everything be okay with the baby?” I explained how (if I was even pregnant– at the time it was too early to know) the baby would take whatever nutrition they needed from me, and that one day of eating Ritz crackers would be just fine. “Phew!” He said. “That’s really good to know.”

I hear bringing a new baby into your family, especially the first, can be a strain on your marriage. Just the sleep deprivation alone can cause friction, let alone the complete life-altering adjustment of caring for another totally dependent human being. And I don’t anticipate that my husband and I will be immune to these struggles. But for today, we are enjoying this process of another human being growing inside of me. Despite the chronic pain I am dealing with, there are so many things to cherish and be grateful for!

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As We Enter a New Year — Figuring out Changes in this Household

It’s the coming of another new year, and with that comes many changes in my life.

I decided to change up the design of my blog and cover picture. I got a new camera for Christmas (thank you hubby and all my family members!) and have been enjoying taking pictures whenever I get a moment. Taking pictures was a favorite past time of mine until about eight years ago, when my nice Nikon N65 camera got stolen out of the trunk of my car while I was at work. That being said, I am looking forward to beefing up my picture-taking skills once again! Here’s a shot from our backyard…

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The past nine weeks have been incredible. This endometriosis diet that I was initially skeptical of has really changed my life for the better. My gut rarely hurts anymore, and I’ve dropped about 7 pounds. I got off my all of my stomach meds.* I feel “good” all the time now, and it is a real treat to be feeling better after being miserable for so many months. Additionally, this diet has forced me to cook — A LOT. Every day I’m in the kitchen trying out new recipes and foods I’ve never cooked with before. I have found that my love of cooking is growing daily, which was a real surprise to me after feeling like I’d been stuck in a cooking rut for so long.

The diet has been a success and is something I believe I can live with long term. What’s not so easy to navigate are the other components that accompany the diet — essentially cutting out all forms of estrogen from sources other than just food. The idea is to cut out as much estrogen as possible because endometriosis is spread by estrogen. This involves xenoestrogens, which are industrially made chemicals that have estrogenics effects on people. They’re found in plastics and canned food, and if I’m to comply with this then this means no storing (or microwaving) food in plastic. Additionally, I’ve read that I should also be cutting out all parabens (found commonly in skin lotions, makeup, face wash and shampoo), because they also mimic estrogen in the body. Now I know that in general, chemicals are bad for our bodies, but it’s hard to know how extreme I need to be to stay ovarian “cyst-free.” If I don’t cut all these xenoestrogens and parabens out, will I need surgery again?

My husband and I have had numerous conversations about this. He is worried about me taking this to the extreme, and I don’t blame him. It comes down to the fact that he is paranoid about me becoming a “health freak” and I am just as paranoid about the idea of having to have another surgery and the possibility of losing my ovaries for good.

It’s funny — in life, we can make an idol out of just about anything. It can be as simple as wanting to be ultra-healthy in everything, or not wanting to give up your comforts. And so my husband and I have to work this out together, keeping in mind the interests of each other. What this means is that I will probably not be buying paraben-free makeup, and he will probably be eating more healthy that he prefers to be. We give and take, as any couple has to do to help their marriage flourish.

And so for this upcoming year, I’m praying for an unbroken gaze on Christ. I’m praying my marriage to be strengthened and for a surgery-free year. And no matter what happens, I will remember how Christ has held me through past trials and past surgeries. I may not know how to navigate through these issues right now, but I do know that I want to live for Christ and not for myself, whether this means having good health or not.

May the Lord bless and keep you as you enter into another year!

* I had to share what “meds” I was on because it is truly amazing to me that I was able to get off of all my meds within a month of being on this diet. Here’s what I was taking:

  • Protonix twice a day (Protonix is a proton-pump inhibitor that decreases the amount of acid released into your stomach over a 24 hour period. My MD told me that this is the same dosage and medication they would have had given to a patient hospitalized in the ICU with a bleeding stomach ulcer),
  • Ranitidine extra strength (Zantac) twice a day
  • Gas-X (simethicone) with every meal or else my gut would immediately blow up.
  • Tums
  • After several months of this, I still managed to get worse and was literally drinking Mylanta out of the bottle to help with the severe heartburn.

As you can tell, I went from being a complete mess to feeling great in less than a month!

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Don’t be Fearful!

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25

I’ve never really thought of myself as a fearful person– that is, until I got married. For the first time, my reactions to fear had a direct effect upon someone I loved very much. I was sickened by the way I responded to my fears, most of which were unworthy of any thought whatsoever. Often times, I didn’t even realize why I was behaving or acting the way I was. After some gentle prodding and inquiring from my husband, I learned that most of the time the cause of my behavior boiled down to deeply rooted fears, ones in which I felt I had little or no control of.

Marriage has taught me much. I realized early on in marriage that my husband had the power to utterly ruin my life. When you marry, you are trusting your spouse to be faithful to you, to not lie to you, or run off with your savings account. You are trusting him to take care of you whether you in are in perfect health or disabled in a wheelchair for many years. You are trusting him to love you whether you are skinny or fat. And you are trusting him to be wise about your family’s plans and future.  The level in which we trust and count on our spouses does not compare or even come close to any other earthly relationship, and once the vows are made and the license signed, it can be pretty overwhelming.

And it’s scary — knowing that someone you love and trust so deeply has the power to just about destroy you. When this realization hit, I had to take a deep breath and pray hard. If I couldn’t trust the Lord to carry me each day, whether or not my spouse proved to be faithful to the vows he made — then I knew we would both be miserable as I tried to control both of our lives.

Which brings me to adoption. A whole new can of uncertainties and fears has been quickly opened. We don’t have control over almost anything in this process. We don’t get to pick the birth mom or the baby. We don’t get to pick whether it’s a girl or boy. We don’t have any control over when or how the baby comes to us.  And once we get the baby, the birth mom will have the ability to revoke her adoption plan for up to ten days after the adoptive parents have the baby. So you see, this adoption thing is really quite frightening.

And yet, just like marriage, it’s also beautiful and wonderful. It’s another opportunity to completely step back and say, “Your will be done, Lord. I trust you to lead me through even the deepest waters. I know you will help me.” Learning to submit my fears to my Creator has taught me one of the greatest lessons in this life. I admit there are days when I have to re-learn that lessons. Days when I give into fear, and worry about the future. I have learned that being afraid is a miserable place to be. Trusting the Lord is a wonderful oasis compared to the dry deserts of fear.

If you struggle with being fearful, as I do, I encourage you to make a 3×5 card with verses of the Lord’s promises to you on them. Carry it with you everywhere you go. I did this during my first year of marriage and whenever I was afraid, I would pray those verses and ask the Lord to help me. Throughout this process, the Lord worked tremendous miracles in my life through that and grew my faith greatly! Pray together with a trustworthy friend addressing your fears. Make the choice to not live in fear. Wait and watch the Lord work miracles in your life too.

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I love it when my husband shares his heart with me. He’s not an overly-communicative kind of guy, so when he shares his thoughts with me, I stop and listen. While I had been out watching “October Baby” yesterday, he came home from work and watched the episode we were required to watch for our adoption agency, “16 and Pregnant.” Now, I know I already blogged about this TV show (read about it here), as it had a profound impact on me. I’m not trying to be redundant here, but it turned out that my hubby was pretty affected by the show as well.

“So what did you think?” I asked about the show as we worked on dinner together in the kitchen. He stopped what he was doing and looked at me. His expression became serious as he thought about it, almost pained. “You know,” he said, taking a deep breath, “I guess it really hit home that there are a lot of things we’re going to miss out on. We’re never going to go in for an ultrasound. We’re never going to be able to look at ultrasound pictures and guess who the baby looks more like. We’re never going to go through the birthing process… and I guess, well… I guess I’m just really sad about that.” He came over to me and gave me a tight hug as tears filled my eyes. I was finally hearing the words from him that I had inwardly thought so many times in the past months.

In that moment, something odd happened. I was tempted to apologize for who I was, for what was wrong with me, as I had done so in the past. But the Spirit caught me. A verse came to mind. “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” In the past I had always thought of an unborn baby when reading that verse. Someone else’s baby. But what about my mom’s baby– me? I’m not sure why I never thought of it that way. But I knew the Lord would not have me apologize for His creation, and I also knew it was the last thing my husband was looking to hear.

“Are you okay?” My husband asked me. I dried off my tears as I nodded. I was okay, and it surprised me. Usually I was a mess by this point. Sad beyond sad. Instead of falling apart, we ate dinner together and enjoyed the evening.

A shift happened yesterday. It was a very minute one, but an important one nonetheless. It was the first time I didn’t begrudge the fact that I had endometriosis. The first time I hadn’t wished with all my heart that things were different, that something could have been done to stop the damage inside me. Today as I was reading my Bible, another verse spoke to me, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” I see this process already happening. He’s doing it. I may have wept over my husband’s freshly realized sorrows yesterday. But I’m drying off those tears and moving on.

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You Just Never Know What’s Around the Next Corner — (Part Two)

(If you haven’t read part One and would like to do so, just click here.)

Part Two 

I recovered nicely from my surgery. It was actually a very social time, as my mom, sisters, and friends came over to help take care of me or just hang out while my husband was at work. Another wonderful aspect following my surgery was the fact that the pain (other than from the incision) was completely gone. I knew that I’d once again be able to go running and participate in other activities because I was no longer worried that the endometriomas may burst. I was excited to be pain-free again.

Five months later, with no positive pregnancy tests to show for it, I ended up going on a mission trip to Uganda with my church. Being a nurse, I was the “medical” person on the team who administered basic medical care to hundreds of school kids and many of their family members. Many people on our team jumped in there to help me out, whether they had experience or not. It was an exhausting but wonderful time.

One evening, after a long day of working in the make-shift clinic (i.e. a school office) there in Uganda, I was talking with another guy on our team who told me that he had met a Ugandan Christian man with the gift of healing. I had never met anyone with that gift before, but I did not believe it to be impossible. “Please,” I told my teammate, take me to him!” I longed desperately to be healed, and I figured it couldn’t hurt. This man, who’s name was David, happened to be nearby, and he and my teammate anointed my head with oil and prayed over me. And for the first time in my life, I was prophesied over when David said, “You will be healed, and you will conceive this year.” I gasped in amazement when his words sunk in. Had I been in America, I would have been skeptical about a prophecy like that. But this was Africa. I had gotten used to seeing the Lord work in different ways there, and I wasn’t about to discount David’s prophecy. I went back to my quarters where we were staying and journaled my experience, praying that night that God truly would heal me.

Fast forward 2 months. Still having been hopeful that God would allow me to conceive, I started to doubt the chances of that happening when my chronic pelvic pain returned. My hope turned to despair and worry as I wondered if I would need to have another surgery. “Two surgeries in one year?” I lamented to my husband. Thankful for the logical man I married, he encouraged me to schedule another appointment and “get the facts” before delving into despair. Oh, yes, that’s probably a better plan! Time for another ultrasound and trip to my ob/gyn’s office. This time, there was a 6cm endometrioma on my right ovary and a 2cm one on my left (I was getting good at identifying them on the ultrasound monitor by this time). Also, as it turned out, my left fallopian tube was blocked and it was strongly recommended that it be removed. A month later, I had laparoscopic surgery and the cysts (along with my fallopian tube) were removed. My diagnosis from “probable” endometriosis got bumped up several notches to the top of the list: Severe Endometriosis.

Take Two. Ready for surgery (again).

Given the diagnosis, we had a few options in front of us on the table. We could do nothing and I could keep having surgeries every 6-9 months. That didn’t sound like too much fun to me. Another option was to try IVF (in vitro fertilization). Lastly, I could go on birth control for a really, really long time (like until I either hit menopause or had a hysterectomy) and we could adopt. At first my husband and I went for the IVF option. But the more I researched it, the more I realized that even with IVF, my chances of getting pregnant were still pretty low. And because IVF’s so expensive, we would then have to wait even longer to adopt if it didn’t work. So after much prayer and discussion, (oh, and did I mention after many tears on my part?) we decided to adopt.

Well, we certainly didn’t pick the fastest route to having children, that’s for sure. Adoption takes a long time! We are hoping and praying to adopt a baby domestically at this point. Five years ago I never would have guessed that my husband and I would be in the adoption process right now. No one in either of our families is adopted (because they keep having a lot of kids!). But I know and look forward to this: The Lord has a massive blessing in it for us, and He will be glorified through it. What I also know is that His mercies are new every morning. They might not be what we expected, but if you look around enough you’ll find them. Yesterday may have been bleak, it may have hurt bone-deep. But you just never know what’s around the corner. His blessings may hit us square in the face.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his step.” Prov. 16:9 ESV

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The Tortoise and the Hare

The best way I can describe my husband and I going through life together is to mention the Tortoise and the Hare. He’s methodical, careful, and loves to research. We’re not talking the “I did a little bit of web surfing” kind of research. We’re talking the “I read 8 books on the subject” kind. He approaches life much like an engineer (oh, did I mention that he is an engineer?). Yep, he makes decisions slowly, but when they’re made, he’s got good reason and lots of literature to back him up.

I, on the other hand, work in a neonatal intensive care unit. I don’t have time to make slow decisions. I’m not saying I always make the best decisions, but I do make them quickly. Babies often need to be resuscitated, and nurses can’t wait around to administer oxygen, call in other people to help, or read a manual on resuscitation. I’m impulsive and I hate waiting. When it comes time to research something I bang it out right away. I read articles, order books, and talk with people about their experiences. I leap through the research process before my husband’s even left the starting line. Which is what brings me back to the Tortoise and the Hare.

Both the Tortoise and the Hare– my husband and I, respectively– got a taste of each other’s journey in life last week. It was a few days before my birthday, and my husband and I were going to drive to my parents for a little party with my family to celebrate. It was my 30th birthday, and it hit me pretty hard (unexpectedly), that I was turning 30 and still didn’t have any children. I was a mess of tears and just plain sadness that morning. The kind of tears that just keeps coming…until you have to force yourself to stop. Poor hubby. He loved me through it, and prayed me through it. After that, I silently and desperately prayed for patience as we waited to begin the adoption process. I prayed for peace and joy. But I was so anxious to begin a process that sounded like it was going to take months if not years to be completed.

I had begun researching adoption several months prior to last week. I had read books. I had met up with friends who were also adopting or had adopted. Adoption did not feel like a new subject to me. In fact, I already knew where I thought we should adopt from and all the reasons for it. I knew when we could start the process and how much it would cost. My husband, on the other hand, was totally wrapped up in the fact that we were in the middle of buying a house (completely understandable). He had done a little research on adoption, but was much more absorbed in the current house situation. That is, until the day of my little birthday party. While the Lord was helping me to be content in my child-less situation, the Lord prompted my hubby to start researching adoption – but this time it wasn’t Tortoise style, it was with Hare speed! By the end of the next day, he had come to the exact same conclusion as me in terms of what agency to adopt through and what country to adopt from. In fact, when he saw how long it took to adopt, he said that we should fill out the paperwork right away! I was floored. It was as if the Lord gave me peace to hold out a little longer while He spurred my husband on get the process going a little faster. It was amazing. The next day, we celebrated my birthday by filling out adoption paperwork together. It was the best birthday ever.

This is what I love about the Lord. He allows us to go through trials in life but He never leaves us hanging. He walks through them with us. Starting this adoption paperwork sooner than planned (about 6 months sooner) may seem like a small thing, but nothing that the Lord does is small. And so we continue our adoption process, one day at a time. Meanwhile, I’m trying to approach life with with a Tortoise shell on my back.

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