God Does Not Waste Anything

My first job was in a church about a decade ago. I was young and inexperienced but still was trusted with this enormous task of leading worship most Sundays.

I fell in love with this line of work and all that came along with it because to me it did not feel like work, just an extension of my passions being poured out daily.

I changed my major in college from pre-med to theatre arts with a minor in religion so that I could add more arts experience to my arsenal of ways to worship God.

Coming close to graduation, I wanted to find another church to work in closer to home, but no one was hiring. Instead, I ended up back at my high school teaching both science and drama, two of things that I had studied in college. When taking this job, I was reminded of a phrase that a co-worker from a church I worked at in college told me. “God doesn’t waste anything.”

I had not wasted my time in college on one major only to switch to something completely different. I was able to use knowledge I had gained from both seasons of my life to complete a job that was in desperate need of being filled.

Now I look back on this year. This is the first year that I have not worked in a church in 10 years. I do believe that I will lead worship again somewhere down the road, but God has not wasted this year.

This year has been full of rest and healing for me.

Working in the ministry in any capacity is difficult, and if you think it is easy, you’re wrong. It’s full of war and conquest, responsibilities that weigh more than Jupiter, and expectations that will haunt your sleep. God is always faithful to help you through these difficulties and temptations, but even in trials He is teaching compassion and humility.

This year I’ve been able to heal from the fear of failing and being crushed by the strangling expectations that working in the church lassoed around my shoulders. I have learned that it is OK to not be perfect, that every last person messes up, that God can use absolutely anyone to advance His kingdom and that you are afforded the choice each and every morning to choose that day whom you will serve.

I am thankful for what God did for me this year by giving me time out of the church. I still attend regularly, and have a wonderful place that I call my church home, but it has been wonderful to know that God does not waste anything and to learn more about ministry in other arenas.

What do you feel like your ministry is? Are there instances where God has not wasted experiences in your life?

My baby’s an alien

You may have heard that pregnant women have crazy weird dreams, and until you’ve had one of these crazy pregnancy dreams you do not realize just how demented the human mind really is.

Early on in my pregnancy, I would dream every night that the Walking Dead was real life and I was stuck with the crew trying to survive on Hershel’s farm. If you’ve seen the show, you know how gory it is. Well, my dreams were far worse. I once dreamt that my baby was a “walker” and it was eating me from the inside out.

In another dream, I’m Captain Nemo’s prisoner on the Nautilus and I give birth to a giant octopus that wrecks the whole submarine.

It looked nothing like this.

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Last night, my horrific nightmares come to a pinnacle when I dreamt that I was like Elizabeth Shaw on the Prometheus having my giant alien baby ripped from my stomach. It comes out looking like a dinosaur tadpole with razor sharp gnawing teeth. Yeah, a real beauty.

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What crazy pregnancy dreams have you had?

Baby octopus picture:http://simplepimple.com/2012/02/baby-octopus-as-small-as-your-fingertip/

Prometheus Picture: http://www.prometheusforum.net/discussion/2045/a-whole-bunch-of-new-prometheus-stills-and-concept-art-updated

Pregnancy: 11 Weeks

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We made it through Christmas! It was such a blessed time that we were able to spend with our family.

I am so close to being out of this trimester, and I could not be happier. I don’t want to rush anything, but my nausea is starting to take an exit while my energy is slowly pouring onto center stage. This means I’m finally able to do some light workouts which I’ve been too exhausted to even think about doing.

In light of the holidays, you would think I would be gorging myself on all of the goodies, but I just haven’t wanted any of it. A nice piping hot bowl of soup has been my main staple this week. Which leads me to the fact that I still haven’t gained any weight, but I do feel bloated sometimes. I’ve read that this is normal. I feel like I should be putting on some weight, but I think I’m going to start focusing more on that in a couple of weeks.

When did you start to feel better in your pregnancy?

Healing Virtues

English: Christ healing a bleeding woman Photo...

English: Christ healing a bleeding woman Photo from Catacombes of Rome Source:    http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/CatPix/womanblood.jpg Over 1500 years old 2d art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over a year ago, I was sitting in my counselors office, weeping. I was telling her that I wanted to be better, that I needed healing.

I compared my struggle with the woman mentioned in the gospel of Mark that had a problem with hemorrhaging. I told her that if I could just reach Jesus, I knew that I could find healing. She looked at me and asked “Do you know what she did once she got there?” Ummm… She was healed, duh? She pointed out a line that is usually over looked. “She told him the whole truth.”

Mark 5:25-34

25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” [1]

OK, so what does this mean? I graduated with a degree in theatre arts, and in acting you of course learn how to portray a character but you first learn about truthfulness. How do you make a character true to you? You add substitutions for circumstances, you draw parallels from your own life. You don’t “act” but you let the realness of the situation bleed through your veins. You do not withhold anything.

This woman spoken about in the gospel of Mark was desperate. She had exhausted her resources. Her “issue of blood” would probably be called menorrhagia today. That’s just a big fancy word for prolonged menstrual bleeding, 12 years in her case. It can be caused by about 100 different things from a hormonal imbalance to fibroids, from dysfunctional parts to endometriosis, my arch nemesis.

Not only was the poor woman probably in constant discomfort, completely broke from suffering many things from the doctors, she would have been considered “unclean” according to Mosaic Law [2]. This means that no one could touch her and remain clean. She was not quite as bad off as the lepers of the time, but she would have had to endure bitter loneliness. She could not share a bed or even a chair with any other person. She could not even go to the temple to worship properly. And if she was at one time married, he probably kicked her to the curve because she was constantly unclean and unable to perform her wifely and motherly duties, completely awful I know.

When she touched Jesus, he felt power leave his body, he knew there was something different. People were flocking to him, but it was her minimal clutch at the tip of his robe that caused him to stop.

When she had stopped Jesus, she came forward in fear and was trembling. I can imagine her being caught like a kid with her hand in the cookie jar, immediately spouting out reasons as to why she had touched him. I can hear her saying all of the things she had suffered physically, emotionally, and spiritually all with tears streaming down her cheeks.

She was hopeless, but he was her hope. Not only did she move Jesus, his healing moved through her. She felt the change in her body. She was healed.

This story means so much to me on different levels. Truthfulness is something I have to work at. Not that I am a pathological liar, I was just bred to hide my feelings. If I was hurt, I was NOT. I was fine. I was not allowed to feel sad because that’s not the Christian way to deal with things, you must always appear joyful even when your heart is shattered into a million pieces. These are all lies that I had learned from parents and some other older, wiser influences in my life.

Now that I realize that you cannot heal without being truthful, I strive to find truth in different roles that arise in my life. When I was told that I probably could not bear children, I was devastated. I was heartbroken for about a week, then I took it to God, told him how I felt.

I determined in my mind that I wanted to move his heart. I wanted him to feel his healing virtue release into me.

Before I conceived my child, I went on a fast for healing. I fasted for about two weeks. Then about two weeks later, I found out that I was pregnant.

I had decided that whether I could conceive or not that I would not let my faith falter. I would still love God.

I know many women war with infertility, they have to endure rounds and rounds of IVF, they have to suffer many things from different doctors. I know some women beg God for children and are never able to conceive. My hope is to not come across as someone who seems insensitive to this or as someone who seems to lack compassion. I just want to share my journey and hope that you can find some encouragement along the way.

Have you had a similar experience?

[1] Mark 5:25-34 NIV

[2] Leviticus 15:19-30

 

Going Public About Baby

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Meet our little sprout!

With the cheer of Christmas in the air, we found it difficult to keep our little secret any further.

We found out on Halloween that we are expecting our first child, and I found out rather early…5 days early. We wanted to make sure that everything was OK, that we made it through my 1st trimester without any problems.

So mum was the word for about month until we couldn’t keep it from our parents any longer. We had our family over for Thanksgiving lunch. We told them that we wanted to show them a slide show of pictures from a flying excursion we had taken over our mountains, and at the end of it we hid this picture.

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Our parents read it, and looked at us in disbelief. Finally, when it sunk in, they were ecstatic. Tears and giggles were flowing freely.

They were not so happy, however, when we told them they could not tell anyone. We did not want the world to know, just those who we talk to on a regular basis.

I told a small handful of people at work to begin with, and so did my husband. Then we branched out and started telling our close friends. Finally we realized that most people knew so it was time to share it with the world.

I have been very thankful for all of the kindness and blessings we have received from people,and I look forward to drawing off of the support of friends and family as we venture through this amazing journey.

 

Endometriosis, the Proverbial Pain in My Side

Spoiler alert: if you have a Y chromosome or if you have a weak stomach, you may not want to read any further.

“Endometriosis is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding, and problems getting pregnant [1].”

This basic definition of endometriosis does not skim the surface of how painful and annoying this condition truly is.

For years I had suffered with strange pains in my pelvis, the feeling of being “full,” and with having periods straight from the pits of hell. My doctors would pass it off as gas, or ovulation since my pap smears always came back positive. As far as my period goes they would say, “Some women have heavier flows, use the appropriate hygiene products to accommodate your needs.” Or they would say “you can try a birth control pill which will make them lighter.”

OK ladies, listen here. If your period is so heavy that you soak through your pad or tampon within 2 hours on the 3rd or 4th day of your period, there is a problem. If you have to wear two jumbo tampons and change them in an hour, go to the doctor and demand they listen to you. If you pass clots the size of the palm of your hand, continuously throughout your period, well you can guess what I would tell you. And cramps? Did you know that most normal women do not have them the entire week of their period? Yeah, I didn’t realize that until my doctor told me.

Other symptoms of endometriosis include:

Very painful menstrual cramps; pain may get worse over time
Chronic pain in the lower back and pelvis
Pain during or after sex
Intestinal pain
Painful bowel movements or painful urination during menstrual periods
Spotting or bleeding between menstrual periods
Infertility or not being able to get pregnant
Fatigue
Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods

I was diagnosed with endometriosis in May of 2012 after having laparoscopic surgery to remove an 8 cm+ cyst from my left ovary. In the months preceding my surgery, there were several times I experienced the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. The last time I had this pain, I woke up in the middle of the night and I felt like the insides of my lower right side were about to explode. I feared it was my appendix, but although appendicitis has similar symptoms not all of my symptoms lined up with it. With appendicitis your pain can be closer to your naval and you may run a fever. I hate emergency rooms, so my husband drew a hot bath for me as he had done several times before and I got it and prayed I would be OK. The pain finally subsided, and I called my OB-GYN the next day. I was certain that I had a cyst.

While seeing my doctor, she asked me to describe my near constant pain. She tried to tell me that it was probably painful ovulation also known as mittelschmerz. I assured her that I do have slight pain when I ovulate and that this is not slight and it does not occur just around the time of ovulation.

So I went in for the internal ultrasound. As soon as it was inserted BAM, on the screen, not to my surprise, there was whopping cyst on my left ovary. My doctor thought that it was follicular and would decrease and subside on it’s own.

A follicular cyst is extremely common, virtually all women will have them at some point, they just usually disappear without a trace. Your ovaries produce these tiny cysts each month to transport your eggs to your fallopian tubes. Sometimes they just keep growing, and sometimes they must removed.

My doctor sent me home telling me to wait it out and take tylenol, like tylenol EVER relieves pain.  Weeks passed, and I was still in pain. I had a close friend tell me to have it removed because she had suffered for years with endometriosis and cysts aren’t something you mess around with. So I scheduled another appointment with my doctor demanding another ultrasound and asking about the possibility of removal. I went in to my ultrasound knowing the stupid thing had not shrunk, and not to my surprise, it had grown!

So I decided then and there I wanted it out. My doctor looking at the cyst said that it could be what is called a chocolate cyst. Yeah, delicious. These are formed from endometrial tissues that have collected blood, and old blood looks like chocolate, so yeah.

Here are some tasty photos of the visible difference between a follicular cyst and a chocolate cyst.

msdlatinamerica.com

Follicular Cyst : msdlatinamerica.com

Endometrioma "Chocolate Cyst" ultrasound-images.com

Endometrioma “Chocolate Cyst”: ultrasound-images.com

These are not photos of my cyst, but both times I had the ultrasound my cyst looked like the second one. How my doctor missed the fact that it did NOT look like a follicular cyst which is hollow and black, eludes me. Notice that the chocolate cyst is meatier. When an ultrasound is taken, black areas represent fluid. Chocolate cysts are layered with endometrial tissues and contain little fluid thus their thicker, gray appearance.

Endometriosis cannot be technically diagnosed unless you have surgery. I went in for surgery in May thinking that my surgery would take about 20 minutes tops, praying that I did not have endometriosis. Nearly 3 hours later, I came out. My doctor came in trying to talk to me even though I was still doped up. I managed to ask her if I in fact had endometriosis, and her answer was “Yes, you have a severe case of endometriosis. We had to remove many implants from your abdominal-pelvic cavity.” Although I was barely conscious, I had to choke back tears. I didn’t just have a cyst on my ovary, I had unnatural growths strangling my reproductive organs, and I would have to deal with this until menopause.

Here is a picture of a healthy reproductive system:

Healthy Uterus tatjana-mihaela.hubpages.com

Healthy Uterus tatjana-mihaela.hubpages.com

Notice how everything is pink and shiny, everything looks like it’s in place. This is not what my lady parts look like.

Endometriosis plagued parts:

Endometriosis on the uterussydneygec.com.au

Endometriosis on the uterus
sydneygec.com.au

Notice all of the black or dark purple spots found throughout. These are endometrial growths. Endometriosis can be different colors such as bright red, white, brown, or clear. My endometriosis is mostly black, and it spans through out my pelvic cavity up to my liver, hence the pain in my side. The doctor removed what she could, but there are still small patches that were imbedded too deeply into other tissues to be bothered with.

The surgery itself was not too bad. I was very sore for weeks, but I didn’t have any bruising, and my scars are tiny and barely noticeable. The biggest thing that concerned me was the 25% chance of ever being able to conceive a child that really got me down. I did not really want to have kids until I was told that there was a major likelihood that I would never be able to have them. My doctor told us that if we wanted them, to start trying in the next couple of years because it would probably take us a long time if ever.

In the meantime she prescribed me an oral contraceptive to slow the growth of my endometriosis. I first took seasonique which is supposed to make it so that you only have 4 periods a year. It made me retain nearly 8 pounds of water weight and made me feel terrible. Then I went on loestrin with a continuous dosage that would not allow me to menstruate. I lost all the weight from the previous pill, but I just did not feel right.

Doctors will typically want to suppress your ability to produce estrogen because estrogen is what fuels your body to ovulate as well as stimulates your endometrium (insides of your uterus) to become larger and engorged with blood. When you menstruate, your body evacuates your uterus of its lining. However, when you have endometriosis, you have implants of endometrial tissue outside your uterus. Therefore, while you have your period, these implants also shed blood and grow. Unfortunately this extra fluid has no where to go, so your body has to deal with absorbing it causing lots of discomfort and pain. It’s an endless cycle, so doctors will want to stop your period to slow the growth of these tissues.

After doing some research that I will share in another post, I decided to stop taking birth control pills, and pray for an alternative answer.

In the meantime, I have felt better. I haven’t had too many pains since then. My doctor was unable to remove all of the endometriosis so there are still some smaller growths in there that sometimes cause minimal pain.

And as far as my infertility worries go, I was able to conceive and I’m expecting our first child in July. I fully feel that had I not had my surgery that my chances for conception would have been nonexistent.

If you are reading this and are facing a similar situation or you know someone who is, I highly encourage you to have the surgery to have as much of it removed as possible. The cause for it is unknown as is the cure. Do not be too discouraged, just become informed. You know your body better than a doctor does, and if something seems wrong be persistent that they rule out all options. If they are stubborn and unwilling to listen, find another one. There are plenty of good doctors out there.

[1] Penn state medical research

http://healthmediconline.com/mittelschmerz.html 

10 Weeks Pregnant

10 Weeks Pregnant

10 Weeks Pregnant

10 weeks

10 weeks

On October 31, 2012, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive….

My thoughts have not quite been the same since. I was formally known as a person who never wanted children, ever. However, when I found out that I may not even be able to get pregnant due to my severe endometriosis, my feelings changed.

A few months ago, my husband and I had a little chat about trying to get pregnant, and we were certainly surprised that after one month of trying it actually worked.

I only have a few more weeks left in this trimester, but I’m already starting to feel a lot better.

My first pregnancy symptom was extreme exhaustion, then the nausea started. I haven’t had trouble with vomiting, but I did have a terrible battle with nausea. Some days all I could stomach were saltines and ginger ale.

I found this gum in CVS and it helped me tremendously on days that I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.

A few weeks ago I began experimenting with some clean foods to see if they would settle my nausea, and I found that eating an apple, drinking OJ, or sucking on a lemon helped me leaps and bounds.

As for being tired, my husband has been so very kind to make dinner almost every night these last 8 weeks or so. I usually have to crash at least three afternoons a week after coming home from teaching all day so dinner is not really a priority of mine right now. This past week, however, I’ve started to feel a pep in my step. I’m hoping this lasts because I’d actually like the energy to go for a jog or do some more active workouts.

If you’ve been pregnant, what helped you through your first trimester?