Monday, December 31, 2007

Day #365 of 365

the sun is setting on the last day of this year.
i am not sad to see this year go.
if i'm really honest with myself - this year has undeniably been defined by struggle.
nonstop struggle.
my heart swells to think of all that this year was supposed to bring, yet....i'm facing a new year with most of the same wants i had 365 days ago.
a full circle....
a full year....
infinitely more jaded, all while....
waking up and realizing i'm not the same person i was a year ago.
jaded AND different.
who would have guessed.

is jaded the right word?
i almost just deleted and backspaced and started over.
i think i wasn't jaded. then i was jaded. and then i wasn't jaded again.
that's exactly what this entire year has been about....

i can say, i'd do anything to live the last 6 weeks all over again.
even though i would be hardpressed to face the first 46 weeks of this year.
fully aware that i am only able to enjoy all that i have, over the recent 6 weeks DUE TO the pain that i was asked to endure for those first 46 weeks of 2007.

all of this year, was a lesson.
all of it.
every moment, every step, every tear, every war within my heart.
this entire year was meant to lead up to the past 6 weeks.

we are born rebels.
with a cause.
the cause is ME.
as infants and toddlers, we're slowly broken each day of the ME. we kick, we scream, we have tantrums, but we evolve into children who are aware that ME doesn't get served first all the time.
by the time we're adults, it's no longer acceptable to throw down a hissy fit and pound on the floor as we protest that we should always get our way.

it doesn't mean our war doesn't rage real as ever.
that we haven't daily taken up our weapon to violently defend our rights.
as human beings.
as ME. for ME.

i sifted through my blog entries from this year.
many of you never read was a private blog with a very VERY short list of readers.
it was tough to actually recall the pain as i endured it the first go around...
then to read that...i endured it again.
and again.
and bad news again.

entry from MAY:

i never wanted all of my energy to be turned inward. all of my ambitions to become about me ...and my pursuits. actually verbalizing some of my worst fears and dwelling on the nightmares that could become a reality only causes continual self-absorption for me. i've spiraled into this place of panic. i feel that i'm in a vortex and out of control.

ME suffered a massive blow this year.
the first 27 years of my life, were determined by me.
i've never waited for life to happen. to unfold.
i wasn't necessarily given the best set of playing cards when i set out to make my life what i desired for it to be.
but i overcame.
i created.
i dreamed.
i completed.

but each Christ follower (if you'd consider me that all along) has the day when they experience the depth and agony found during a crisis of faith. a crossroads. a decision.

will i hinge my devotion...on winning my way?
can i say thank you...while losing everything?
will i believe what i cannot feel?

will i surrender...
even though, only a fool would go on fighting a war
...when all of his weapons have been stripped of him.

it took 46 months for me to realize, surrender isn't really a choice.
take away my swords and shields and strength...

...and my options are pretty limited.
i had met my match.
to say i had lost control puts it too simply. it sounds so elementary.
but control is all i've ever had.
and so my loss is infinite. bottomless. consuming.

almost as deep as my loss of fertility.

...though at first glance, the two seemed intertwined. cyclical. inseparable.

my fight had become a cosmic battle of control.
the baby was secondary.
though the baby was the catalyst.

46 weeks of:
blood drawings
conference calls
dietary adjustments
timed interourse
ovulation predictor kits.
pregnancy tests
ovulation watches
ovulation monitors
saliva strips
holistic practitioners
artificial insemination

....only to end up exactly...where i would be...had i never lifted a finger....
2007 was tumultuous. exhausting. and all vanity.
seeking to force the very thing that was never meant to be.

i will never forget it.
the death of ME.
the idea dawning upon me that there are just some things in can't have.

ME had a rough ride processing those notions.

i don't know how...or why...or when it exactly occurred, but one death was exchanged for life in a new sense.

you can give devotion...even when the game is a shut out and you've lost.
you can say thank you...even though you've lost everything.
you can believe what you cannot feel.

and you can in a miraculous way, when you cannot even find the words to even express it, know when looking back across the plain of 2007, embrace that my life this year was no Plan B to God enthroned over all things.

this was His perfect will for my life -- these were His plans for me to prosper.
this was His divine way for caring for me.
this was His best interest for me.

the last 6 weeks have been an evolution of sorts...though surrender is humanly devastating...and crushing to the point of choosing death over it...we are all given perseverance in Christ Jesus.

we cannot manipulate or create a false encounter with Christ.
we each say we have experienced Christ....
but pain brings you to your knees in a way that nothing else can...

submission is wholly unappetizing. undesirable.
ME simply would never have chosen it, had there been any other way.
without fail, we humans attend immediately to our pain.
i think that goes for the entire human race.
as CS Lewis states it, "the created one's illusion of self-sufficiency must, for the Creator's sake, be shattered."

welcome 2007.

CS Lewis continues...
"And perhaps by God's grace, I succeed, and for a day become a creature dependent on God...but the moment the threat of pain is withdrawn, my entire nature leaps back to toys; I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat because it is associated with the misery of those days of pain."

i am a captive audience to nobody....unless i'm in agony.

my questions regarding pain, the cause of pain, the purposes of pain, the initiator of pain, the executor of pain, the author of pain have only deepened this year. i have more questions than i have answers.
i've asked alot of questions i'd even be embarrassed to admit.

questions that again, seem so elementary, yet...more complex than previously thought possible with my simplistic notions of God and Faith and Will and....all that stuff you learn in Sunday School.

and so 2007 closes out...with ME more fully alert and desperate than i can ever remember being.
but my doubt has dissolved.
because i've finally learned to reach out and grasp all that He has wanted to give.

i may never have my own biological children.
i may never have alot of things i grew up dreaming of....
...and i'll inevitably cry a lifetime of tears as i possibly put to final rest some of deepest desires...regardless of what they are.
my threshold of pain was tested this year, and the windows to a world of deepening pain were opened and steep agony realized.

...i am now aware.
i am changed.
pain has more dimensions than i have senses to handle it.

and i hunger for heaven...a little bit more than i ever have.
i experience pain with eternity in my periphery...
and you realize that maybe the things of this world do grow strangely dim....
and that my soul's first Him.

C.S Lewis continues:
"All that you are -- sins apart -- is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction....
God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love.
Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for heaven alone -- made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand...."

i wasn't made for ME.
the brains of ME.
the heart of ME.
the desires of ME.
the world of ME.
those lessons are excruciating.
and if it weren't for 2007, i'd never have been able to say it. mean it. much less every stand to live it.
i am not giving off false holiness...
i am broken.
and even when you believe the fracture is so deep, you are fully, irreparably broken.... break even more.

and as you constantly attempt to separate earthly pain from God's infinite goodness, as though one is completely independant of the other....
you slowly realize that they are fettered together eternally.
and God is somehow good not only despite my pain but because of my pain....

i pulled out my journal this morning and at the top, as i do every morning, wrote the date.
December 31, 2007
day #365 of 365.
praise the LORD, i exhaled.

but the devotional led me to I Peter 5:10 --
And the God of all grace,
who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have
suffered a little while,
will himself
restore you
and make you
firm and

....though we suffer....
He is all grace.
He is all glory. a sense can this not be acknowledged as the best year of my life....

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

last minute gift ideas.

i'm going to start writing about things i LOVE and things i HATE.
how's that.
a personal little REVIEW of my latest purchases and whether i feel they're worthy of EVER being purchased again....or if you should run out and BUY THEM IN DROVES!!!!!!

i just don't have the brain power to come up with anything original at this point.
i'm busted in the brain lately.
running on empty and trying to simply keep up.

so here we go!!!!!
i've had to buy ALOT of stuff because we're doing california-christmas this year, so the pressure was on to buy and ship gifts and it seems that every year there's ONE MORE PERSON to buy for....and the malls have been a NIGHTMARE!!!

but...without further's to all the wicked cool things that are worth every penny:

alot of the following will involve makeup.
the FIRST best thing of december DEFINITELY is:

Cargo's BeachBlush in "Echo Beach" from Sephora. $26

this stuff is TO DIE FOR!!!
i've been using some other high end bronzers and blushes and none have EVER made me as happy as this one. and to think - it's TWO IN ONE!!! that's a money saver right??
RUN, don't walk to sephora, and pick up this's potent, too. a little GOES SO FAR!!!

ok, i'm a little late to the Stila party, i know.
but i finally jumped on the bandwagon and CANT STOP GUSHING...
so next on the list is:
Stila's Plumping Lip Glaze in Vanilla Mint: $24

again, i was a skeptic for the last 5 years that my friends have been using it.
but i'm reformed now and forever regarding Stila. it also doesnt burn like other plumping just makes your lips feel fresh, tingly, and minty!!!! and it REALLY DOES LAST!!! which was my beef all along with glazes and glosses. AH-mazing. the end.

ok, a true unexpected winner:
Lorac's Lip/Cheek Sheer Wash, $17

i wasn't expecting to be swooning so easily over something SO not my type.
this is a clear gloss-type-thing, with a rollerball, but it's the consistency of water.
if you're not careful, it'll drip a little out of place.
but it leaves your lips stained for hours.....and you can use gloss to make it look fresh throughout the day, but it's GUARANTEED COLOR for most of the day!! this above color isn't what i bought, but it's close, and i don't even believe i'm a fan. but i am!!!! i was so easily converted, it's sick. THUMBS UP!!!!

Headlines Salon Chemical Peel Facial

wow. wow. wow.
i've never had a facial in my LIFE. ever. never even WANTED a facial. ever. in my life.
but last week, my skin threw a rebellion of the century and i broke out like crazy and freaked. and temporarily lost my mind and signed up for a facial. but not any facial.
i wasn't scared at all...until the technician lady told me what to expect.
and she.
people, it burned like the dickens....for 5 minutes when they let the goo sit on your face....and it burns worse...and worse...and worse....before it gets better.
that's the bad news.
the GOOD NEWS is....i walked out of there with baby-butt skin. it looked like i had a little bit of wind-burn...or a tinge of sunburn for the next few days...but even now, my skin feels SO SOFT and it exfoliated some of the ugly zits away.
will i do it again?
it'll be hard to turn down.
will i have to hide it from my husband?
only time will tell.
but with a price tag of $100, (it was an hour and a half long!), it sorta makes up for the fact that i don't spend ANY money on facial wash. i use good ole' dial soap in the shower for my face...THEREFOR, i justified it.
you lie on a heated the dark....with beach noise playing....and walk out with glowing skin. a little piece of heaven if you ask me :)

on a final note, another MUST HAVE is:
Clarins Lait Auto-Bronzant = Self Tanning Milk with SPF 6

i really needed something that didnt SMELL like tanner, to put on my body before slipping into party attire to shoot last Saturday's wedding. i am WHITE WHITE WHITE, see previous posts for my whiteness.
at any rate....this little puppy IS AMAZING. it looks like i've come back from VACATION!!! it's for BODY only, not FACE, but regardless, you can wear a party dress and feel confident that you're not searing anybody's retina's with your flourescent winter skin.
it goes on as a thick, luxurious lotion....and you walk around nude for 10 minutes to let it dry, and the results are ALMOST instant. and it lasts 3 days. you can't beat it!!!!!

now for a list of all the things your friends will RETURN without telling you, because they weren't worth the money and store credit seems more attractive :)

Sadly, Clarins Tinted Self Tanning Face Cream with SPF 15
$29 back in my wallet

this is a truly sad story.
it had all the promise behind it due to it's body cream's success.
it's oily.
it's heavy.
it smells TERRIBLE -- hello -- it's near my NOSE, too.
and it's overpriced. it's everything that we don't like? :)
it went back.
my powder bronzer is a nice replacement and all is well with the world.

Lorac "Co-Stars" in Kissing Scene color:
$19 back in my wallet

it's a wonderful concept.
just try another brand...or something.
every color offerred SUCKED.
i bought TWO, hoping to return the one i didn't like.
both went back.
did they stain for 12 hours?
did the gloss work wonders!!??
but when the gloss wears away, you're dealing with some flaky lips, fading and spotty color, and STICKY wax feeling all over. so you MUST stay on top of the gloss...for sure!!!!
i'd deal with the side-effects if ALL of their colors didn't make me look dead.
if they updated their color selection, i'm all IN!
so i guess that leaves me on the fence?
maybe you'd like their colors?
it's a crap shoot...but at least at sephora = you can RETURN ANYTHING!!!!

actually, i have to run.
i'll discuss the worst place to get a haircut in DC, the worst place to buy glasses in DC, the worst place to get a manicure in DC, the worst way to ship gifts to another state.....and the worst place to park your car if you're registration is expired, on another day.

this now concludes the most shallow post i've ever written.
i may make this a weekly thing on my blog....the best and worst of the week :)

have a wonderful day and i'm off to pick up my new glasses!!!! woo hoooo...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 it stings every once in a while.....

i felt really strong this morning.
i have been feeling pretty strong for a few weeks now.
God has been strength for me in miraculous ways this month.
He has submerged fully me in His protective grace and I have once again been reminded of His providential love for me.

and i have reveled in this and felt more at peace over the last few weeks than i have in a long time.
i was even telling my mom this morning that i'm not sure how i'll re-engage with fertility treatments again in a few months.
everything in me shudders at the notion of once again...
or ever again...enduring something so tumultuous, voluntarily choosing the havoc that nearly destroyed me.

and i meant every word of it.
i even called
that friend who is due any day now, to shriek with her in anticipation, and ramble about labor, fears, anxieties, life changing precious moments....and felt the truest of joy for her.
i am
really happy for her.
i am still really happy for her. for her joy. for her new family. for her blessings and for her exhilarating season of life.

...but i was 100% caught off guard -- out of nowhere -- when i felt my voice catch.
i had to focus to form a sentence without studdering my words.
the daggar slid so effortlessly into my heart, sucking my breath away.
i remembered that this does hurt. this is fresh hurt.
it was momentary...
but i felt my eyes get hot when she spoke of meeting this brand new person who will be with her for the rest of her life....
...deep breath...

i hung up with her, realizing the next time i see her, she'll be a mother.
strangely enough - i feel the abyss that separates us is shrinking - even as the very thing that divides us is moments from materializing.
God is so good to do a revolutionary work of healing in my heart, even while steeping me in a season of pain.

we got off the phone because my doorbell rang....
it was fedex.
some of my online orders are flowing in and it's so fun to rip open the boxes and see what presents have arrived for who and all that jazz.
i destroy the box of the first package and realize....'s newborn clothes i bought for my best friend.

i sat on my dining room floor...and pulled out the teeny baby clothes...and the teeny baby shoes that were so small they fit on the tips of my fingers....
...i blinked.
...i swallowed.
...i stared at them and realized these would actually have been the perfect size for my baby, had i gotten pregnant within the first few month of trying - like all my friends did.

it is possible to miss somebody you never knew....
to feel a hollow place in your heart where you had carved out ample room for hope...for joy...for a precious addition.
i've lived through and imagined this christmas season a million times this year ...and the scenario had only played out
one way in my mind.
last Christmas, chad and i exchanged knowing smiles anytime somebody talked about "next Christmas..."
the Christmas reel ran through my mind in February when we started charting...
and Christmas was a warm joy to think of when i started fertility drugs in April.
and Christmas was still a strong possibility when we underwent our first insemination in August.
....and making Christmas "announcements" are what kept us going when we shot up with hormone injections in October.

i've lived through every annual holiday, wondering, envisioning, agonizing, and imagining what my turn will be like...

unlike an unplanned pregnancy, where the mother is caught off-guard by her life-altering news:

do you understand --
...i've already had a baby for Christmas.
and mothers day.
and fathers day.
and easter.
and summer bbqs.
and halloween.
and thanksgiving....
....and Christmas again.
i have carried him/her with me through all of 2007.
he/she has been with me every day....every moment....of this whole year....a ghost.
...filling my mind with a million memories that simply do not exist.

so while i don't necessarily mourn God's plan and His perfect love for us....
i realized that i still fully mourn the loss of human hope and expectation.

if that can ever make sense.

i blink back tears...wanting to fully embrace and accept all that is REAL and good and FULL about life as God has detailed it out for me...yet wondering if that means letting go of the

Ecclesiastes 3
"There is a time for everything...and a season for every activity..."
"...a time to weep...and a time to laugh..."
"...a time to search...
and a time to give up...."

i so anxiously await -- my
...God knows exactly when it will come...

John 14
Let not your heart be troubled...believe in God...peace I leave with you...

Monday, December 10, 2007

"America's Most Popular Preacher"

i don't know what i'm about to say...or how i'm really going to begin heart feels like it's going to explode with an outpouring that i hope is articulated in a manner well-received, by my brothers and sisters in Christ. i have no expectation whatsoever for any unbelievers to take this very well, however.

i've approached this topic before -- and it didn't go over very well -- so since then i decided to keep some of my more controversial thoughts to myself.

...this week's
People Magazine.

full knowing how i would respond, my husband jokingly left the magazine open to THE ARTICLE at hand, on the stair case, so i'd run into it as i returned to the house. he simply refused to even read it. period.

that was yesterday.
i feel my anger has subsided somewhat, toward the contents, and after pulling together whatever coherent thoughts i have on this, and after brushing up on WHY i feel so strongly - it's only fair to vomit it all out for my readers. :)

besides -- what better reason to have a discussion! ...welcomed by none other than People Magazine. if it's in the public arena -- it's fair game -- i assume.

oh dear...this is gonna be a doozy-long blog....this is coming all the way up from my toes...

December 17, 2007

Page 94

Title: "Joel Osteen: Counts His Blessings"
"He lives in a mansion, travels by private jet, and with his latest bestseller, has already earned $13 million. How does America's Most Popular Pastor keep it real?"

(italics inserted by me...which should more or less give an oversight of today's blog -- so close out of this screen right now if this topic isn't for you. you know who you are :))

I read the article while squinting through my fingers.
It was painful.
I can start by telling you why it's NOT painful.
It's not painful that he's wealthy.
It's not painful to me that he's wildly successful.
It's not painful for me that he's got a beautiful family.
It's not even necessarily painful for me that he only flies in private jets.

It's excruciating for me because he is "shepherding" a flock of 47,000 people with alot of good intentions that will only prove empty in the end.
It's heartbreaking for me because Mr. Osteen is going to stand before Jesus Christ one day and give an account to Him on why the 'narrow path' wasn't interesting enough for him. Mr. Osteen needed a path wide enough for nearly 50K people to be pleased with. we know where that leads.

I mean, you can read the article yourself -- many of you are People Mag fanatics with me -- and pull his deceit right from the pages.

here are a few of the worst tidbits:

"He is pastor of Lakewood Church, with attendance at 47K (twice as big as his nearest competitor); of two bestselling books (his first, 2006, outsold Billy Graham's latest); the headliner of touring motivational-meets-worship shows that sell out venues like NYC's Madison Square Garden."

....twice as big as his nearest competitor? outsold Billy Graham? motivational-meets-worship show?

"At one of his many booksignings, a retired teacher, the first in line, calls out from behind her big sunglasses, "Thank you for making religion a pleasure...""

...thank Mr. Osteen?! ...religion...a simple pleasure!?...

"That notion -- the positive, feel-good aspects of Christianity -- is the core of Osteen's appeal." sad that People either deducted that from Osteen's message OR that Osteen would verbalize that himself....

"Osteen describes his calling as this: to give hope. "Most people are beaten down by life already, he says in his soothing southern accent. "They don't come to hear me say, 'You know what? You're all sinners.....I'd rather say, 'You know what? God's on your side.' "

double cringe.

"....spent less than a year at Oral Roberts University - before dropping out." what exactly is he teaching them? you don't let surgeon's without a medical license operate on you. you don't allow a lawyer without a degree represent you.....don't get me wrong, being Holy-Spirit led is necessary for ALL teachers of the gospel....but i question how fully equipped you can be, to lead thousands of people, in the WORD without some formal education IN IT.

As a Christian, Osteen believes sin lives in every man and woman. He just doesn't like to dwell on it. "There is an awful lot of doom and gloom and uncertainty in the world...So if you have someone out there saying, 'Look on the bright side, God wants things to go well,' that's attractive."

...attractive to who? and when? ....doesn't like to dwell on it!?

"He was paid $13 million for his latest book. He lives in a 5000 sq ft house...Staff help Victoria (his wife) with the cooking, cleaning and driving and the kids (all two of them) all have private tutors. Does it bother him to see people less fortunate? "I don't know if it bothers me, but my whole to help people and empower them to rise higher...I do think God wants us all to be blessed."

we will come back to this statement later....

"His lesson to his kids is this: Love God, Love Yourself, Love Others - in that order. 'I feel like you have to feel good about what God has made you - your looks, so on. You can't show compassion if you don't love yourself. Everything else falls into place.' "

.....your LOOKS? that's his first example?! ...can't show compassion if you don't LOVE YOURSELF? ....omg.

"And a lesson in living with fame, he adds, 'When you're in the public eye, it's a different story...You become a target." you're a target because of your fame...not your message? hmm..interesting....

"The nation's largest church offers more than a prayer: a Disney-styled daycare center; worship areas for people spread over 4 floors, a cafe, a video arcade; a state-of-the-art recording studio; and a suite where Osteen's services, captured by eight cameras, are edited..."

....did the Bride of Christ and DISNEY just get put in the same sentence? nuff said.

i'll stop there.
if you're Osteen fans, please just hear me out.
this is hard for me.
really hard.
because the unbelievers closest to me, thrive on this man.
they won't come to church with me.
....because they prefer the "nicer" message they find from this man on TV.
besides, "i'd rather watch it on's just like going to church...less effort."
and what should i say to them?
how should i respond?
can the good in his message outweigh the bad?
can salvation be a process that starts with loving ourselves and can redemption do a work in our hearts by us empowering ourselves and trying to "Become a Better You," and by striving for "Your Best Life Now."

i wonder how Jesus, bleeding from Calvary for my transgressions and those of this entire world, responds when He hears His mission being boiled down to something so simplistic and....malleable.

and this is exactly why i feel so strongly, and i'll try to stick with my main grievances above:

"He is pastor of Lakewood Church, with attendance at 47K (twice as big as his nearest competitor); of two bestselling books (his first, 2006, outsold Billy Graham's latest); the headliner of touring motivational-meets-worship shows that sell out venues like NYC's Madison Square Garden."

gosh. attendance of 47,000 people. let's start there. i'm not certain what your definition of church is...but the Bible says the church is not a spiritual service provider, it's a people - a new covanent, blood-bought people of God. That's why Paul said, "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." The universal 'church' are a people group who have been purchased by the blood of the eternal Son, King of kings and Lord of lords. Entering into a local community church setting should involve entering into a "spiritual family."

let's say johnny was adopted by the SMITH family. he would take on the smith name. he would sleep with the other smith children. the smith parents would teach, admonish, encourage, spend time with and help grow all of their children. mr and mrs smith are responsible for their children. and the children are certainly responsible to their elders.

my question is: how does mr. osteen oversee the spiritual guidance of 47,000 people? does he know his sheep by name? does he understand the depth of his eternal responsibility for the people who claim him as their shepherd?
if not -- wouldn't that make for a rather dysfunctional family?
the adopted children come and go as they please, never answering to any authority above them, no accountability or constant fellowship.

all of scripture refers to "one another" just as, love, service, encouragement...and should be encapsulated in the healthy church family. this is uncomfortable and counter-cultural -- but Biblical nonetheless.

no, church membership, per se, was never overtly mentioned in the New Testament - but, the churches in the NT apparently kept lists (such as of all their widows - I Tim 5) and a number of passages in the NT suggest that churches did delineate their members. they definitely KNEW who belonged to their assembly and who did not.

2) motivational-meets-worship shows that sell out NYC theaters:

definition of MOTIVATE: stimulate...provoke to move.
definition of worship: to feel an adoring reverence.

stimulate...and feeling....
he's selling out theaters by catering to the emotional needs of a desperate world, while withholding the truth about their spiritual death and offering SCRIPTURE.
(why on earth do you think his books outsell Billy Grahams? the truth is often times no fun to hear.)
we'll hit on this later.

3) "thank you for making religion a pleasure."

"'re welcome...anytime..."


is that what osteen is offerring? a pleasurable religion?
and they're thanking him for it. thanking him - a fallen human being - for twisting the salvation message enough, so that it's ...a pleasure? whoa.

a Christian is somebody who has reached the end of themselves and his OWN MORAL RESOURCES. he recognizes that he, in defiance of God's revealed law, has given his life over to worshiping and loving things other than GOD -- things like career, family, the stuff money can buy, the opinions of others, the honor of his family and community, even his own goods. a true Christian who died RIGHT NOW would stand before God and say, "You shouldn't let me in, I owe a debt I cannot repay, but because of YOUR great promise and mercy, I depend ONLY on the blood of Christ shed as my substitutionary death, moving your wrath away from me."

a non-Christian who died right now would stand before God and say, "but i was good enough, i'm a good person. i loved myself and everybody around me. i was motivated by all the feel good blessings God wants to give me and by emotional worship services...and told God loves me despite my sin...."

do you understand the responsibility osteen has to speak DIVINE TRUTH to these lost souls? they are desperately searching for ETERNAL DIRECTION and being filled up with all the logic this earthly world can provide and appealing to their senses of pride and positivity in their fallen state.

"Osteen describes his calling as this: to give hope. "Most people are beaten down by life already, he says in his soothing southern accent. "They don't come to hear me say, 'You know what? You're all sinners.....I'd rather say, 'You know what? God's on your side.' "

God is NOT on your side BECAUSE OF YOUR SIN. how can you disconnect them? the difference between Christians and non-Christians is NOT that non-Christians sin and Christians don't...but it's their RESPONSE TO SIN. the side we take in the battle. a healthy church strives to take God's side in the war against sin. the Bride of Christ must conform continually to the example set in God's Word. Jesus took sin so seriously and the fact that some pastors want to brush it under the rug to spare the emotionally exhausted is terrifying.

Blessed are those who HEAR the word of God...and OBEY IT....(they have to HEAR IT, though)
Paul taught the Corinthians the MESSAGE of the CROSS in the power of God unto SALVATION....he later told the same church to NOT "distort the word of God, but to set forth the truth plainly for their eternal benefit." 2 Cor 2.
not for their temporal emotional stability ...or personal motivation...but as though their eternal destiny is weighing in the balance.

a CORRECT view of conversion will show up in a church's willingness to view and handle known sin seriously. accountability, encouragement, and occasional rebuke are ordinary, not extraordinary.

churches that increasingly reflect the character of God as it's revealed in his Word, are not always the easiest places to be. expectations may be high, talk of sin may be feel overdone to many, fellowship may feel somewhat intrusive -- but the point is to increasingly reflect GOD'S character.

"His lesson to his kids is this: Love God, Love Yourself, Love Others - in that order. 'I feel like you have to feel good about what God has made you - your looks, so on. You can't show compassion if you don't love yourself. Everything else falls into place.' "

i thought the lesson read like this:
Matt 22:34
All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments: love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.

osteen wants us to love ourselves right before we love others. as if law #2 was forgotten and he needed to put it in there between law #1 and law #3.

as christians, we are to ESTEEM OURSELVES as last among men. washing other people's feet. service to others, sacrificing ourselves. i think it's this thread in his thinking that REALLY throws off his entire ministry.
the me factor.
what is going on here? i don't think the church was ever meant to become moralistic and me-centered, with the gospel recast as little more than spiritual "self-help." how will we ever distinguish the culture of the church from the secular culture around it -- when we follow THE WORLD'S theology to put OURSELVES before others? how will LOVING OURSELVES ever result in us loving others well? it devastates God's plan and turns His desire completely upsidedown.

6) finally...and i'll stop here because i need to cook dinner:
As a Christian, Osteen believes sin lives in every man and woman. He just doesn't like to dwell on it. "There is an awful lot of doom and gloom and uncertainty in the world...So if you have someone out there saying, 'Look on the bright side, God wants things to go well,' that's attractive."

doesn't...wanna...dwell on it. wow.
get this.
God is a Judge.
The Judge will become our Father ONLY if we repent and believe.

sometimes it's really tempting to present some of salvation's benefits AS the gospel itself. these benefits tend to be things that non-believers naturally want. joy, peace, happiness, fulfillment, self-esteem, love. presenting them AS THE GOSPEL is presenting partial truth. and as J.I. Packer says, "half truth masquerading as whole truth becomes complete untruth."

fundamentally, we don't need a pep rally. we don't need JUST joy...or peace...or PURPOSE. we need GOD HIMSELF. we need FORGIVENESS above all else. we need spiritual rebirth. if you present the gospel as anything else -- you end up with half-converts, meaningless church stats -- only serving to make world evangelism all the more difficult.

Mr. Osteen:
The gospel is NOT news that we're ok.
it's not news that God is love.
it's not news that Jesus wants to be our friend.
it's not news that he has a wonderful plan or purpose for our BEST LIFE NOW.
the gospel IS the good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross as a sacrificial substitute for sinners and rose again, making a way for us to be reconciled to God.
that's it.

you know -- unless i'm way off here -- Mr Osteen is not fully drinking from the comprehensive Word of God. Nor is he washing his congregation - The Bride - with the cleansing (and sometimes painful) Word of God.

i read this article and it only confirms the lack of deep conviction of guilt. no notation of danger in human helplessness. where is the contrition? confession? supplication for mercy?

but we have arcades.
and we have cafes.
and we have 47,000 attendees.

and it's for those forty seven thousand souls that i ache.
we all will face Christ one day.
all of Christendom is headed somewhere.
but we are not all equal in our graves.
we have an account we will all give.
it's not Mr Osteen i feel anguish for....'s for the forty seven thousand sheep who are following a misguided shepherd.

"Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God." 1 Peter 2:12

Peter adds:
"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise you??! (Matt 5:16)

"...and praise your Father in heaven."

when the world applauses a preacher and places him on a pedestal -- praising him for making religion a simply have to wonder....

"Wide are the gates...."

If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."
John 15:19

.....i wonder if America's Most Popular Preacher ever thinks about that....

(all thanks to yesterday's sermon and references/thoughts pulled from "What is a Healthy Church?")

Friday, December 7, 2007

what about this picture...

...screams a peaceful night's sleep?!

holy crap.
only wonder girl would withstand looking at that everyday and NOT grind her teeth in her sleep.
this calendar is very, sadly, very real and sitting right next to my desk.
just looking at it sends me into neurotic convulsions.
why did i have to use so many loud colors? black would have done JUST fine.
i think the heavy scribble across the month of august is so revealing....

....of my psychosis.
(in iiiittty bitttty scribble you'll see "IUI" in the august 17th spot. bad. bad. bad...)

good thing the year is almost over....

now before we close out the weekend, i'd like to finally reveal the hair cut.
people, it got uglier before it got better.
i still have a "mom" hair cut, BUT it is boat-loads cuter than it was 72 hours ago.

this is puffy's version of a good picture -- aaaand, this is why we don't let him in the Allison Morgan Photography play group:

"sweetie...i'm not SURE THE PEOPLE CAN SEE ALL OF OUR CRAP WE HIDE AND PRETEND DOESNT EXIST....why don't you ZOOM OUT a little bit more and maybe include my MESSY DESK in the mix...."

uhm. yeah. THAT, kids, is why we hella need a new house. this is our:
1) guest bedroom.
2) office for 2.
3) gift wrapping station.
4) folding laundry station.
5) and model-posing station.

i taught him "zooom" today on the big bad camera...he's a work in progress....
but here you have it.
new hair.
a little red.
alot of brown.
alot of layers.
a pinch of "mom" which is nothing but another way the universe plans evil schemes against me....

and to think....
....this picture was taken after TWO sessions of self-tanner.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

my plug of the day

i know many of you will not listen to this link...or have time...or really care.
but i would be remiss if i did not AT LEAST direct you to if -- in the case that you are suffering hardship and need to know why.

does it seem like too much?
does the burden seem too heavy?
how can God in his goodness...still be good, and allow you to endure your trial?
how can He be worth your trust?

if you have found yourself asking these questions...please listen to this sermon.
if you haven't found yourself asking these will, one day.
and if you're not currently undergoing a trial that can bring you to the end of definitely know somebody who is.

i've listened to is twice this morning...while wrapping presents...and found myself frozen and nearly in tears by full and unbiased Truth.

i urge you to be encouraged by this message.

Capitol Hill Baptist Church
Pastor Mark Dever
"The Message of Job: Wisdom for Losers"
June 29, 1997
Cut and Paste this into your browser or upload to your iPod:


The danger we face is this: because we have, at some events in our past life, been able to figure out the reasons God causes us to struggle...Because we can AT SOME TIMES see the way God weaves our good and His will together through our sufferings -- we then insist that we must be able to always do so....and we grow a counterfeit trust in our feable reasoning, finding consolation only when we can justify His work in our life by seeing a finished product.

...just because God at some times allows us to see his purposes, with which we comfort ourselves --- we start to only trust in our own ability to figure it all out, rather than a trust in God himself and his character alone, as He revealed to us on the Cross.

our counterfeit trust will not work, we cannot trust in our cleverness to piece His puzzle together...
HE is the only being worth our trust.

Jesus responded to his disciples in John, Chapter 9, when asked, "what caused this man to be blind? his sin...or the sin of his parents?"

.....His response being: "niether this man's sin NOR his parents causes this -- but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

if we can't trust -- how then can we be believers?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

...can i keep 'em?

i'm sure you've all been on birth control at some point in your life.

so if that's the case -- why did NOBODY tell me the POSITIVE side effects of going back on the pill?!

my BOOBS have NEVER looked better.

cheers to hoping they stick around for a while, considering i was only on the pill for a month and now...i'm not.

i mean, i've read that the pill boosts some girls up a cup size or two (dear heavens, i just realized that all my readers may not be women), but that NEVER happened for me when i started on the pill 10 years ago.

anyhoo -- that's the upswing people. take it or leave it.

it's 11pm and i'm not sure why i'm here online talking up my breasts.
chad's dead to the world, snuggled in bed with the only thing that matters to him right now: nyquil. i could dance around the house with my glorious knockers and he'd never bat an eye. even rudy is out cold.

there is 3 inches of snow on my car right now. crazy. i feel like it became winter overnight.

i think it's time to start a new list.
this afternoon i was thinking to myself, "why don't i make a permanent will and testament of all the things you just should NEVER do. like. ever. and so when i'm tempted to do them...i can double check to make sure i haven't sworn in blood that it's a tragic mistake to do so."

like the 4th time i cut my own bangs.
18 months earlier i had made the same stupid mistake and SWORE to myself, NO MATTER WHAT, no matter WHO fed me a bottle of wine and put a VOGUE magazine in front of me at 2am and told me i'd look just like heidi klum (you know who you are), i would NEVER ever cut my bangs again.

where was "The List" when i needed it to remind me? it's SO EASY to desperately love the IDEA of something until it's on your forehead, in your eyes, not looking as sexy as envisioned, like a mop. and i now have a twitch from jerking my head to the left to brush the bangs out of my LINE OF VISION.

so for all the moments i am stupid, (please contribute as well), here's my working list:

1) no matter HOW careful you intend to be, no matter how QUICK you think the project can be, no matter HOW LITTLE bleach you actually use....get out of your work clothes before mopping the floors (or handling it at all) with bleach and water. period. just do it. it'll take 5 minutes to change and you won't ruin the brand new tweed pants you splurged on.

2) allison, don't cut your bangs. period. ever. the end.

3) do not go to Google University to learn more about your raspy cough, or your weird tickle in your through, or your throbbing headache, with your fever. just don't. before you know it, you'll be calling your boyfriend and your roommate to drive you IMMEDIATELY to the ER due to your acute case of menningitis, on valentines day. (thanks E and C :) i was planning my funeral by the time his car was in 3rd gear....(it was however a case of i guess...i ....could...have died...?)

4) don't buy weird food. i know how easy it is to get inspired by that leek and melon salad with all the fixings, but before you know it -- you're headed out to dinner for the 3rd night in a row and by the time you pull the lettuce out of the fridge, it resembles chunky snot and smells like death. allison, leave the foods that can't be canned, frozen, or nuked, to the real cooks. just stoppit.

5) it's frosty...and pink...and so shiny....and it DOES NOT BELONG ON MY LIPS. for the love...i can't stop buying pink lip gloss and no matter WHAT, i won't wear it, i will hate it, and i will never learn my lesson. i have enough to ship off to NYC Fashion Week...and steals my money EVERY SINGLE TIME i go to CVS. ENOUGH!

6) resist the temptation - AT ALL COSTS - to ever be persuaded to bad-mouth your husband to his mother. (which, in my case, is his father...but work with me). they're fired up...i'm fired could chad EVER DO SUCH A THING....and EVERY single time i start to feel a sense of camaraderie as though they understand my frustration...and believe they'll support my emotions...WHAM! that's me over there in the corner wearing the pointy dunce cap. it was a set up. they'll turn on you, allison...JUST DON'T DO IT.

7) along those lines -- RESIST the unbearable desire to check your email first thing in the morning before brushing teeth, showering, making coffee, walking dog, reading, getting dressed, you know...stuff that normal people do. before you know it - it's 230PM and you've been sucked into some sort of quantum leap and your husband is coming home from a full (and productive) day of work. just dont do it. you can't, allison. once the inbox is open - it's all over.

8) just FILL THE TANK UP ALREADY. goshdarnitall. i know you think that you still have 1/8th of a tank left and therefore can make it last till next week, but the inevitable is lurking and WHADDYA KNOW, you are ten minutes late walking out the door for a meeting and you hate your life. same with the bank. same with the cleaners. same with the dishes. just DO IT, allison.

9) and...don't cut your bangs...ever freaking again.

10) if you didn't try it on...don't buy it. just don't. the trip back to return it just ain't quite the same fun as buying it was.

11) make an effort to come back with more stuff for others than for yourself, after a day of Christmas shopping. i'm sorry, but there are some ADORABLE retro Via Spiga wedge suede boots (just in case santa is reading...) out there these days (where have i BEEN) and urge is just about to overtake me....don't do it allison...WILLPOWER.....'tis the season to giiiiiive....

12) if we're on a shoe topic, may as well share this juicy nugget of info with you = when visiting NYC, leave the heels at home. you will never, at any moment, be sarah jessica parker, flittering around under the Big Apple's twinkling city lights with wind blown hair, drinking cosmos while discussing high-fashion and the evil webs we weave....and FYI, you will undoubtedly freeze your rear off. so stop pretending. make a VOW allison that you will NOT desperately need to hunt down a GAP and a NINE WEST for a puffy (and unattractive) down coat which serves only to have me resemble a walking cotton ball, and flats ("and do you happen to have band-aids in the back?"), while shlepping around my original outfit in my bag, for the rest of the night. learn the lesson already. learn it.

so that's a start.
i want additions and suggestions :)
i'm sure you all have your own "NEVER DO IT AGAIN" list and i wanna hear from you!!!!!


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

blank slate...

every morning i sit and stare at a blank screen and wonder what i am going to talk about.
i wonder if anybody cares.
but more importantly (i don't really care if you care...haha), i know that no matter what i start with -- this blog always gets so long-winded and ends up somewhere in an alternate universe from where it started.

i'd blog everyday, but i am so exhausted by each post that it becomes overwhelming and i need a few days in between to spend the hour or so elsewhere!!

but the beginnings of the week are really good for me -- and therefore -- it's time!

for starters -- just like clockwork -- it is day three of my cycle. (period) and i never called the clinic. so -- it's officially an unmedicated, unregulated cycle this month. and i'm really excited that i have released that. it's one thing to SAY that's what you'll do -- but quite the opposite to actually do it and...i feel a release, as though this holiday season is going to be alot smoother because i'm not paranoid about any ADDITIONAL thing. so to celebrate -- i downloaded a few christmas albums to my iTunes and have been working on my Christmas cards and have been ok. i feel stressed about other things, horrible efforts to even THINK about Christmas shopping, and my HORRIBLE haircut i just got, and the pile of laundry sitting in the hallway, and the Part TWO of my root canal yesterday, the "friendly fire" that chad and i went through this morning determining if today's stamps are REALLY 41 cents or 43 cents, and the list goes on.

actually speaking of chad -- he's got SO MUCH work going on over the next 24 hours that i should be able to knock off a LARGE portion of my checklist. CROSSING FINGERS!'s entry is actually pretty boring.

i have no segue into this, so this is a rather abrupt transition...but i have to tell you...that i love my church. out of nowhere -- i needed to say that. maybe that is why i feel so much better at the start of each week. my lenses are refocuses, life is about the RIGHT things and not the WRONG things and i'm again reminded of everything that matters. which is painful and glorious all at the same time.

chad and i always have a saying, "if change is
really necessary - don't use bandaids - use a scalpel."
we apply it to really retarded things, in every arena of life. like. when our car goes into the shop and they come back with bad news. chad's response..."do surgery. do it right. fix it permanently, rather than buying us time with a bunch of short term fixes and bandaids."

or when we have a leak in our apartment.
"Rip out the ceiling, find the pipes, resolve the PROBLEM, not the symptoms. No bandaids."

or with my teeth. hello. no explanation needed.

or with my photography business -- "No short-cuts, no quick it right, now....despite the frustration...and you won't have to do it again later..."

bandaids simply buy you time to be frustrated again in the future. surgery guts the problem and hopefully resolves it forever.

so you can imagine how this "concept" took on a very striking and emotional message to me when i was reading through my blogroll and realized another woman struggling with infertility was quoting C.S. Lewis from his book "A Grief Observed."

The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist.
The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness...Suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are
wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting.
If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless.

now let me just start by saying -- i've read this book years ago and swore it off forever. i cried through the ENTIRE book and found it incredibly depressing. probably because a GIANT like C.S. Lewis isn't supposed to question God. he's on the inside track with God so therefore -- to read his anguish and his questionings of God's will...was a bit bleak for me....when i was GOING to C.S. Lewis for all of his theology on how to better deal with loss and grief.

do you realize he never recovered from his broken heart? he never got over the loss of his truest earthly love - his wife. he had only been married to her for a few years, later on in life, and she died of cancer. her name was "joy." after penning the words of "A Grief Observed," lewis died from what many believe were symptoms of a broken heart.

even cs lewis could not escape the unavoidable disappointments of this fallen, evil world. he does however conclude in his book that his faith in God's providence was restored fully -- but it's poignant to note that that is quite different from deliverance of earthly pain. the two are mutually exclusive. purely capable of co-existing in our hearts for all of our lives. pain and Providence.

the magnificent conclusion to all of this is:
with Christ -- the pain will one day end.
without Christ -- the pain will never be over.

Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, James McDonald always says, "In 1000 years, think of where you and every single person you've ever met, will be. There will only be two camps of people left. Those with Christ. And those without. Whatever it is that divides people now on earth, wealth, prosperity, position, titles, possessions.....will all be burned away. The division will be boiled down to one, singular, fear-filled line in the sand. You have Christ. Or you do not."

obviously, earth pain (aka., C.S. Lewis' loss, etc) is universal and very, very real. my pain in infertility is just one facet of pain that plagues humanity. but everybody experiences "the test" that brings them to a crossroads in their faith.

but at least, despite it all, i'm promised a pain-free eternity. it seems sometimes that all bets are off, in this life. very few things are sure...are certain...are concrete. earthly reason isn't expansive enough to make sense of an upsidedown life. and the sooner you welcome the scalpel of a fully good Surgeon -- with the END as the prize, the less treacherous the process seems.

yesterday in church -- we continued our series in Luke. "The Facts about Jesus."
yesterdays message title was "He had a criminal record."
Luke 22.

Luke 22:41:
And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and prayed, saying, "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done...and being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground...Then they seized him and led him away...

however it's possible -- for however short the moment -- Jesus wanted out. he wanted this ordeal to be removed from him, though he voices the desire for his father's will to trump his. and then he was arrested.

i had never thought much about "remove this cup" from me.
interestingly, we learn it's a cup of God's wrath. full to the brim with judgement meant to fall upon every sinner for eternity. the cup had my name on it -- fully deserved -- fully just -- deep enough to punish my fallen nature and every shortcoming, for eternity future.

Jesus drank it in my place.
all of it.

...leaving none left...for me to drink.

he acquired a criminal record that night -- he was arrested by the most powerful Roman empire....

and the criminal record -- was mine.

most humbling however is the fact that he wasn't arrested by chance, he wasn't a victim of the system, he wasn't just martyred by the government during Passover to quiet the unrest among the Jews during their holiday....

it was all intentional. "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer....this is my body, which is given for you..."

He did it all for me...

and now, He's on a holy mission, to not condemn and force me to drink any of his wrath, but to remove the cancer in my heart, which left untreated would spread, and overcome, and kill. to beg him to stop, or to make sure he does it painlessly -- would be to care more about my short-term comfort than my long-term race to the finish.

no, as believers, that doesn't make us doormats, or martyrs without a cause, or victims to our circumstances....or hopeless.

when compared to the depth of eternal agony that was my just sentence, that i have been spared of -- the temporary agony of this world hurts a little less, the gain is a little more, the vision is better understood.

and though the scalpel is sharp enough to cut to the core...sharper than any two-edged sword...
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart...

through it all....His healing is eternal.

Lewis was right...He hurts in order to heal....

...and He used his only child as his primary example...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

was that 30 min, 30 days, or 30 years...?

it's officially been 30 days since the miscarriage.
i'm sorry, but....that flew by.

the only reason i even though of it today was because i finished my birth control pack -- the only source of "time-keeping" i've dealt with this past month. i had a vague idea of how my cycle was going to be due to the BCPs, and my period should commence this weekend to kick-start a new cycle.

i'm feeling a bit torn about how to address the mighty period.
normally, i call the clinic and they see me on the 3rd day of my period. (CD3)
they run the normal hormone tests to ensure all's in check and in my case -- they'll be super-interested to see how those pesky ovarian cysts look. obviously, since we're NOT trying for another 3 mths, my interest lies only in checking out the scene with the VaggieCam (aka., Oracle, if you will).

then again -- they said it would take "one to TWO" months for the cysts to dissolve and i'm gonna go out on a limb here and suggest they used the SPREAD of one to two months as a way to make me stop crying. it's probably going to be two mths. i bet there are some remnants still in the ovaries, and the false hope they gave me regarding ONE month was to offset the fact that my newly discovered pregnancy had just expired. with that said -- maybe it's best to not break our stride and to continue to hold our distance from said clinic as was our previous plan.

i will be picking up my charting again, i've decided. just because i've been on the insulin meds now for OVER TWO MTHS and i'd like to see if my ovulation patterns have improved. my lil' experiment -- as if we need an even MORE mad scientist under this roof....

i wish i had something exciting to report -- but it feels REALLY nice to say -- I DONT. ;)
i think i mentioned we sold a car.
well, tomorrow at 9am, a friend is coming over to test drive our 2nd car (we have 3) and hopefully buy it on the spot. it'll be weird to be left with only one car temporarily, but -- it won't be for long and i actually don't have another LOCAL wedding until the first weekend in January. granted, i have one in DALLAS on december 15th -- but chad's comin' with me -- so we'll both drive in the car together to the airport. therefore -- it'll be slightly inconvenient in our 1-car-interim but, not the end of the world.

i'm trying to figure out what i want to drive once the red rice rocket trades hands and is no longer mine. i honestly am not into cars. i can't even THINK of something i'd like to look at. i feel my brain shrugging when asked to think of a preference. it's just a set of wheels and i couldn't care less.

i know i'm going to regret jinxing myself by EVEN SAYING THIS, but i'm about to enter "THE SEASON" of the year i've been waaaaaiting for. and no...i'm not refering to Christmas, though i'm thrilled for the holidays.

i'm talking about the NO-WEDDING-SEASON. i intentionally blocked off three months (jan - march) in 2008 for no weddings. clearly, it was done b/c i had expected i'd be undergoing IVF and didn't want the extra stress of weekends being tied up. that flew right out the window...and now i'm left with three months of a bright, clean, EMPTY calendar. and i've been REALLY intentional about keeping it that way. the possibilities are endless....i could do so many things....but i already have a list of internal house-keeping things to take care of. it's been a YEAR coming and it's time to get some stuff done.

see, i went from one job to this job.....without much planning. i never drafted a business plan. i never "branded" myself. i never did any advertising. i never set up an accounting system. i had no idea what my niche would be...or NOT be...i never invested in an organizational concept for my home office. my equipment is hodge-podge. i never figured out how to USE the blackberry i bought 6mths ago. i never built a fresh website. i've just been scraping by....trying to keep up....wondering what the HECK i'm doing.'s not as exciting as IVF, but these months will be JUST as productive in other ways.
we're going back to the drawing board.
we're building from the ground up all over again.

i'm always inspired by a story i heard once about tiger woods. my inlaws are fanatic fans of his and i get sucked into watch golf tournaments. on one particular tourney, he was doing pretty terribly, which is SO out of character for him. even i know that. i made a comment that he's going to LOSE....and not win that game. my inlaws quickly "reminded me" (hello, LIKE I EVER KNEW in the first place....) that tiger had decided to "re-vamp" his swing to improve his game -- the entire year was going to be an evolution of his new golf swing....he INTENTIONALLY chose to hurt his game in the become better in the LONG-TERM. it was a long-term plan that seemed stupid to me when his swing OBVIOUSLY had been "good enough" all along......

it was clear that he was obviously struggling with his new swing....admitted even by him....but stuck with it and took a hit he could be the BEST later. good is the direct enemy of great.

and i want to be great. it will involve a higher, sleeker level of efficiency...and i'm ready!

oh! and be on the lookout for The Bethesda Magazine!! (Bethesda's version of the Washingtonian)
they called me last night to run some pics of the wedding i shot last saturday!!! woo hoo! that was a fun voicemail to get late last night...

i'm zonked...
and i'm feeling cramps.

that means i need to fall asleep now.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

fastest two weeks ever.

that was

i got all giddy about being able to "take care of biz," while biding my time on birth control....and BAM....i got knocked right over the very next day. i may still be down. i'm not sure.

aaaalot has transpired over the last 15 days.
i had another root canal.
i had a titanium drill bit screwed down into my jaw.
i had a breakdown.
i had a mouth guard fitting.
i ate only stuffing for Thanksgiving '07.
other than that, i've been drowning my sorrows in advil, drinking my meals, and having nightmares about teeth.

i had no idea it could be so consuming.
the grocery check list has been looking like this:
mac and cheese.
bananas...maaaaybe. if it's a good day.
ensure vitamin shakes.
odwalla organic fruit juice. (maaaajor culprit of the
and that about covers my diet over the last 4-6 weeks.

we DID have progress however, YESTERDAY! i ate a pita! and i managed GRAPES! and i went out to DINNER TONIGHT and ate PASTA! glorious creamy fettuccine and SHRIMP! the shrimp sorta went down in big pieces...but it was FANTASTIC!!!

here's the prognosis:
yours truly has a stress-management problem. and it manifests itself in a very bad way. i apparently clench my jaw so hard (while awake AND sleeping) that i snap all my teeth in two. now, we all knew that already...but there are now three medical professionals involved who are using me as a case-study for "THE WORST CASE SCENARIO."

heh. heh.

now...all of this is fine and good and we're making strides in the right direction, but....we have a ways to go. and the bad news is: no fertility treatments...or hopes...or thoughts...for at least another 3 mths. apparently the bone graft in my freaking jaw needs three months to heal before titanium screw #2 can be inserted. and that will require general anesthesia. therefore. i cannot be pregnant. and yes....i'd like to get THIS DONE AND OVER WITH already.

i felt my chest get tight as he relayed that oh-so-lovely news to me ...while sitting in that dreaded chair. "come back at the end of February, and we'll be ready for that next phase...."

good 'ole epiphany just got stretched alot further than i had hoped. my little "month or two" time out just became 4 mths total. i still flinch saying it...but then i remember HOW MUCH i've accomplished in the last 4 weeks of "forced break" from fertility treatments.

i have steered my energies in new directions and am again reminded of how WELL i get things done when i focus. how efficient i have the potential of being. how DRIVEN i become when i set my mind to things. and i've been able to check SO MUCH off of the "big picture" to do list. we've sold a car. we've organized all of our storage. we've basically hired a real estate agent. we've taken the crazy-wife out of the fertility ward and committed her into the dental ward and in a weird way -- that even feels amazing because it's PROGRESS. it's been weighing me down in the back of my mind for YEARS....and we're moving FORWARD now, tackling my fear of the dentist (and the endodontist and the oral surgeon...we're all on a first name basis now!), and getting things taken care of. i even went grocery shopping for the first time in 3 mths, last week! i'm almost a fully functioning HUMAN BEING again and i cannot stop breathing it in.....

and it makes me realize.....
4 mths off isn't a bad thing at all.
4 mths off to rebuild some systems that have been misfiring for years....isn't so bad.
4 mths to realign my priorities and take care of schedule over the CRAY-zeh holidays is not a bad thing.
4 mths to clear my leftover workload from the summer shooting schedule (yes, i still have 5 weddings on my hard drive, and a trip to dallas for another wedding upcoming) actually a great thing.

only over the last 4 weeks can i see how very sick some parts of my life are/were.
and i can say ...with God as my witness... that i am overwhelmingly and completely thankful that i am not pregnant yet. in some ways i was hoping i would be. but in MORE ways, i'm so relieved that God can see the bigger picture and could recognize i'm completely unprepared for motherhood right this second....and allow me the time to take care of some personal matters first....

in 4mths....i could become utterly psycho again, particularly when i start shooting up with crazy drugs. and in 4mths, i may try again. and it may turn to 5mths...and it may turn to 10 mths....and i may sob my eyes out....when it becomes 12mths and things aren't going my way.

and i will have to believe in my fully good. powerfully good. because whether i believe it or not -- He is.

i had lunch on sunday (i was able to devour some eggs and french onion soup!) with a powerfully courageous girl my age, who i was introduced to by a friend in my bible study after my bible study watched me mentally wander off the reservation THE DAY i found out i was miscarrying. i didn't stand a chance. of course i bawled my eyes out that night.

ANYWAYS....they were good friends to me and rallied and one of them KNEW of a girl in the church undergoing the same things....and set us up via email. given the VERY unfortunate chain of events with my angry teeth, we kept missing each other for coffee. she ran up to me in church that following sunday, having seen my picture in the members pictorial (hello! HOW did i ever survive church w/o such a thing!) and we chatted and discussed rescheduling coffee. it still didn't work the following week. so this SUNDAY she and her hubby ran up to us again....and invited us to lunch.

we had the most heartfelt three hour lunch i think i've ever had.
the four of us...perfect strangers...reaching out to each other in an effort to help.
she had undergone an IUI the very day before on Saturday, yet, she ended up ministering to me in ways she'll probably never understand. i was so amped on talking her through the her advice...pumping her up with stats...high-fiving her on giving herself shots...telling her all the ways she could better evaluate her physical condition...

....and it became painfully evident to me -- she simply didnt need it....
....her heart was as still, and crystal-clear as a placid lake at sunrise.
she had it.
she not only had it....she owned it.
His peace.
she had allowed herself to be captured by His everlasting peace...
...and i was captivated by her...or God in her...this freak thing that was going on with her...
she was a boisterous, energetic, fun, outgoing, adorable 29-year old girl....yet in the weirdest way i've ever seen...perfectly quiet at the same time. her brain....was quiet. her heart....was still. her

...and my heart ached instantly for all of it...

there was so much about her attitude, her outlook, her council, her everything...that dripped of Christ. her husband is in the military so, essentially, ALL of her fertility treatments are free. she was on her 4th round of clomid (first three rounds she was unresponsive) and had done her trigger shot for the first time this past week. it was her first IUI. the military will only allow you to do 6 rounds of clomid. PERIOD. if she's not pregnant in 6 rounds....they automatically force you into IVF territory. and after extensive counsel from our pastoral staff and Christian counseling force at church -- they've already decided to forgo IVF. so basically she was looking down the barrel of a gun....with two months left of Clomid after this IUI.....and she's done. she kisses her human child-bearing capabilities goodbye. she's been trying for 1.5 years. and is about to see it through and have closure in 2mths if this doesn't work.

....and the waters of her heart...are so perfectly calm.

of course my jaw dropped. i nearly crushed three more teeth in her name. GIVING UP!? WHAT!!?? FREE IVF (basically) AND YOU'LL STILL WALK AWAY!!?? WHAT DO YOU MEAN!!?? HOW DID YOU MAKE THIS DECISION!!? OOOMG!!??

that literally was me.
and she ways i don't remember exactly.....that reality is what it is. you can either allow life to pass you by while you live in denial....or you can embrace that God is perfect and make the best use of your time that you can. i believe there was an ethical discussion thrown in there, but from what i gather, my church has mixed views on IVF. some support...some dissent. but all of that aside, she said verbatim, "i just don't feel IVF is the best use of my time. it's so consuming and that just isn't what God wants for us. i want to use my time well...and i simply can't justify emotionally investing into in vitro....."

and i have no doubt she meant every word.
and it was beyond astonishing to me. at first i wondered if she was crazy.
for a women to be able to even utter these words in the depth of what has to be some of hardest moments of your life....being unable to BEAR only of God. his astonishing mercy poured out on her.....

it left me speechless.
and breathless.
and awe-struck.

she continued, "we've already signed up with an adoption agency and are probably looking at a 2-year waiting list...and we've just purchased a 5-bedroom house that we'd love to have children in...but if the IUIs don't work....i'll probably go back to work and make good use of my 2-year wait for a baby to be placed with us...."

not even a pinch of resentment. bitterness. eye-rolling. second-guessing. apprehension. discouragement. or disbelief.

....and i was fully dumb-founded. so deeply grateful for her witness....yet feeling so vile for the emotional freakshow i've put on over the last 9mths. my endless kicking and screaming and STRAIN and discontentment and finger-pointing at God. when i could have just as easily traded it all in....for what she has. what on earth was i thinking. it's MINE already...but i locked it out. i stiff-armed it all away. and i was left with the raging storm in my heart...and the endlessly choppy waters....and the black skies....

she had everything....everything that i didn't have.

and then she said, ".....and if i never have my own biological children....i have to believe that God is ...still good...."

i felt such shame in that very instant.
how as how did i get to a point in my faith where i fully believed that God is not good.
what does the path look like....that winds around the difficult seasons of our lives...and takes us to places darker than ever before....
at which "Y" in the road did i wander off in the wrong direction....
i wonder exactly which crossroad took me to the idols of self...and doubt and desperation...and fierce indignant anger....
when exactly did i sacrifice the bedrock of my beliefs for things so obviously outside of my control....

at what point did getting out of the boat in the middle of the storm to walk on water....sound like a great idea, without God....?

....when i believed that in my natural capabilities, i didn't need God to perform the supernatural....rather, i could do it all on my my own rules...all by my perfect, fallen, sinful, self.....

and i sank.
and i drowned.
and i died a million deaths this year.

i could have sworn each death was a piece of my faith...chipping away...proving fruitless...
but He used it for my good....

Gen 50:20
....but God meant it for my good...

... the death was actually mine...a painful dying of my will...i could have learned faster...i could have cried 'uncle' sooner...but my CONTROL just wouldn't give way. so some deaths are slower than others...and sometimes we choose our torture. but under His watch -- we will all eventually die to self.

....and that is always, ...always a good and glorious thing....

2 Cor 3: 18
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

i've had an epiphany.
i came really close to being pregnant.
i was even a little bit pregnant for a few days.
and i woke up on sunday....utterly and unmistakenly....terrified.

very jarred.
very aware of how close i came to my life changing forever.

(sure...maybe it was the baby shower i went to on saturday where the mother-to-be had ice on her wrists from pregnancy-induced carpel tunnel...and ok...maybe it was due in part to sleeping on julie's couch when her precious baby -- who is truly ADORABLE -- cried at midnight...cried at 3am....and then he proceeded to wake her up at 530am for the day....and she camped out with him in her office trying to stay quiet so the rest of us could 'sleep.' i'm sorry but that would be a wicked change of pace around the morgan motel.)

and as chad and i were eating lunch sunday afternoon, i looked across the room at him and heard myself proclaim, "i need a break...i need to take a break...i need an emotional break...i need a health break...i need some sanity relief...i need to get my life IN ORDER...i need to CHANGE some things in my life...i need to be more ready for the day it actually...does...happen...."

i thought he was going to fall over.
oh wait.
he did fall over.
i was a smidge disturbed by his if to suggest he had been secretly HATING the idea that we've been trying so hard...but i was capable of recognizing it was simply his relief that maybe he'd get his wife back...for now. a little reprieve from the daily hell of rants, tears, depression, tunnel vision, name it. he needs just as much of a break as i do. thing is - men know better than to suggest a break...

(...sorry, mom...this is gonna postpone the whole gramma stage for ya-as if i've had any control-but we'll be back in the saddle one day...)

i know. i can't believe it either.
i go away for one weekend and i'm instantly unrecognizable.

i feel SO inspired. life has snapped COMPLETELY into focus and i wake up with a new purpose.
a purpose which DOES NOT include blood tests, vaggiecams, train tickets to the clinic, and words like: E2, progesterone, chemical, gonal-f, follicular development, 'coasting,' cysts, and myriad of other things i can recite in my sleep in painful detail.

what REALLY made things clear, weirdly enough, health.
i've just....been....plain ole....negligent about myself.
i am not healthy. nor am i the domestic caretaker i ever expected i'd become.
i really feel disappointed in myself all of the sudden and have been simply put...irresponsible with everything relating to "taking care of biz" on the homefront.
my house is SO unorganized.
my kitchen.
my week.
my life.
and i've HAD IT.

also....this is going to sound teeth.
if ANY of you know me....i have some SEEEERIOUS teeth issues.
when i was younger, and poorer....and too intelligent to listen to the orthodontists....i would grind my teeth in my sleep and throw caution to wind when they'd advise me that i need a night guard to protect myself from breaking all my teeth.
so what did i go and do?
broke all my teeth.
my teeth hurt so bad.
all the time.

it started 5 years ago with my first molar extraction due to the tooth being LITERALLY split down the middle from all the blunt force. then 4 root canals to repair cracks in my teeth. then another extraction last month on another molar....oh wait...i forgot a 5th root canal in there along the way.....and needless to say....i still have a WAYS to go. i'm in alot BETTER condition than i was....say....5 years ago. but, have MONTHS AND MONTHS and THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of dollars of repairs to make....and you can't do ANY OF IT if you're pregnant. no laughing gas. no IV sedation. no nuthin.'

it'll never be a better time than NOW to take care of it all FOR ONCE AND FOR ALL.
i've put it off long enough ....chosen denial rather than....GETTING ON WITH IT ALREADY.
i was telling my dentist today that i haven't eaten cereal in 5 years.
it's too crunchy.
it hurts my back teeth too much.
it's just time to close the "mouth" chapter of my life....because FREAK THINGS can being stuck at the dentist today for 4 hours. HOW THE HECK would i DO THIS if i had a NEWBORN!? the CITY? without any FAMILY? the stress of THINKING about it was enough to make me just NEED to get it over with now.

our car situation is another.
we have too many cars.
2 of the 3 would be completely unsuitable for a car seat or peace of mind with a baby.
so, this past weekend, we sold one.
and we have a very prospective buyer for the other.
but we need to find a replacement for the 2 we're losing....and work needs to be done and alot of things need to be considered.

all to say:
we're movin' our booties into gear.
i spent 10 hours yesterday cleaning out "the closet" and gave away 4 MASSIVE trash bags of clothes. 20+ pairs of shoes. did some organizing in the office and already feel like a new person.
since we'll be staying put for a while in this house....we're turning it upsidedown. cleaning it OUT. getting organized. making it livable for us....for however an extended time.
i have actually moved forward with the oral surgery (i need 2 implants to replace the molars i have lost) and the first (of 4) legs of the surgeries is this thursday. i'm doing it. i'm actually doing it. i also spent 4 hours at the dentist today having him explain the new and improved mouth guard i need...and he reshaped a few teeth (OUCH...w/o NOVACAINE) in order to re-align my bite. hopefully that helps some of the pain. i was able to eat soup tonight which i couldn't do yesterday b/c there was certainly ONE WHEEL squeaking the loudest in my mouth. sigh.

i also need to clean, detail, organize the final sale of the cars. which could possibly take a month. i have a second closet in my trunk. when i worked in the office, i would literally keep a change of clothing for any occasion in my trunk. along with a zillion different bags. i know for a fact that chad has clothes in there too, and some boots, some winter coats, and ALOT of trash. snap snap already! move it or lose it.

carolyn bought me a recipe book and i could die.
i laughed at first.
but immediately felt inspired. a true FIRST.
which is interesting b/c i have a dozen of them getting dusty on my bookshelves, but it was a reminder that i need to do this. and i already feel better about the potential!

i wanna start running with chad.
i wanna start living...again.
completing projects.
finding closure.
opening up all the doors i chose to close when my brain needed the energy for fertility related attention.

i need to wake up and feel THANKFUL again, rather than....immediately desperate and short-changed. which is what i kept reminding myself of this morning on the way to the dentist...again. "sure, this sucks...but PRAISE GOD i have a great dentist who sees me whenever i call on a whim...who is amazing...kind...compassionate...and willing to help me. and praise God i'm in a position to actually RESOLVE this crap. it'll be expensive, but it'll be ok. and i will be thankful."

thing is...the first part of surgery will call for a 4mth healing period before the second part can begin. and both require an additional 4mths of healing before it can be completed.
will we put off proactively trying to get pregnant for a full 8-9 mths?
only God knows.
but do i wanna deal with this while i am pregnant or stressing over a new baby?
that would be a BIG fat no.

same with my current home.
not ideal.
not my dream come true.
but nevertheless -- amazing. a real, honest blessing.
it feels small, but it will grow ALOT once i am done organizing it and using it to it's FULLEST.
i could NOT have asked for a cooler or more interesting neighborhood and i will be thankful. and, frankly, it's not a debilitating mortgage.
i could fall RIGHT TO MY KNEES over the contract we pulled the plug on 6 weeks ago.
we'd be SO STRETCHED financially....WHAT WERE WE THINKING!?
our townhouse has allowed us to save alot of's allowed us to pay up front for alot of things w/o going into debt.
it's truly been the answer to a million prayers i have never had to pray.

how could i NOT be thankful.....

so with this new resolve...I FEEL SO FREE.
i feel SO unchained.
i feel SO renewed.
i feel SO inspired.
i feel SO SO SO blessed.

the whole NOT TRYING via fertility clinic crap has literally made me feel like i'm walking on air. EVEN after a day at the dentist. i can stretch my legs. i can breathe. i can relax. i have time.

and sure.
i've just totally begged to be a bullseye to satan by putting these words in black and white.
and sure...i'll have my hard moments when the dark clouds come rolling in again.
don't we all?

but for the immediate next 3-4 months -- no more fertility clinic.
if it happens (to which i honestly think i'd panic for a split moment)....but i'm not going to run my life by it until early next spring. i hope to be in a different place. a cleaner way of living. a better run home. without procrastination and chaos....

....and with alot more God....