Monday, November 30, 2009

Where to start?

So, I've been back for three days now. I think I've caught you all up on the pretty major things that have happened. I'm not entirely sure where to go from here. Let's see...

Something that I am always dealing with, of course, is our infertility. I could share about that. Is there anyone out there who is dealing with this? I don't know if there is any way to really be able to help someone understand this if they've never dealt with it themselves. There are SO many different facets to it that to try to explain everything about it never does justice to what is actually going on inside of the person experiencing it. But I can try, at least a little bit, to help you understand. Because, let's face it, infertility touches almost everybody (whether you're the person dealing with it or someone you know is).

The technical definition of the term "infertility" refers to a couple who has been trying to conceive for over a year with no contraceptive. That's us. Nathan and I have been struggling with infertility for over 3 years now.

Infertility affects each couple differently. Each couple would like to grow their family for slightly different reasons, and has different dreams and hopes for their futures. But most couples who call infertility a struggle go through a similar time-line in terms of pain. I read a book about a year ago, Hannah's Hope by Jennifer Saake, in which the 6th to 18th month of trying were described as the most tough months. I found that to be true for me, as at month 6 I was deep into questioning what was wrong (if, in fact, anything) and coming to terms with the idea that it might not happen. At month 18, I had processed alot of it and it was a reality in our life that things weren't happening. After months 18-24, things got progressively easier to handle. Near the end of the second year of trying and into the third year, things were probably the easiest they had been for me throughout this whole process. At that point, I felt that I had dealt with many of the emotions and thoughts that go along with infertility, and was feeling like there was a bright and hopeful future for us, whether we had children or not. It was such a wonderful place to be.

And then it got harder again. About two months ago it got REALLY hard. On a scale of 1-10, months 6-18 were a 9.5-10, months 24-36 were only at about 5-8, and lately I have been back up as high as a 9-10. I seem to have lost hope that it will ever happen for us. I continually see people around us getting pregnant and having their firsts and seconds and thirds, all since the time we started trying, and it hurts. But the pain is slightly different this time...

The difference at this point, is that the pain comes more in the form of questioning God. Earlier, I would be moved to tears when I saw babies and young children, especially with their mothers. It is still a bit difficult to see, but now it is far more...I don't know...personal? I guess at first I felt like I was a random statistic...we just happened to be a couple who struggled with infertility but eventually it would probably happen. But now it sometimes feels like maybe God has something against us. It feels unfair. It feels wrong. I often feel like if God really cared, he would help us grow our family already. After all, doesn't he see how much we are suffering? Doesn't he hear our desperate prayers???

There are many days when I just don't understand why this is happening or how God works. But I do know that I just need to hold tightly to my faith, even when it doesn't feel like it's doing any good. There's merit in not just giving up on what I've always believed, even when it doesn't feel real or when it feels like it's hurting more because I believe than it would if I just gave up on it all. My dad once used an illustration in one of his sermons when I was little that I remember now only because it didn't make any sense to me at the time. It was, "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on." It makes sense now. I'm about at the end of my rope these days. I've tied a knot and am holding on. Because one day I'll get my footing again and I'll be grateful for that rope like never before.

If/when you think of us, could you pray? Pray that we'll keep a firm grip on that rope. Pray that each day will get easier again. And please pray that God will grow our family. Thanks.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Picture Update!

I have accomplished alot of things in the past month/month and a half. These pictures are in no particular order, because that just takes too much time on blogger, but at least I got them up and know how to upload pictures to blogger from a mac! Apparently the larger the picture file, the more trouble it is up upload. Logical, right? Totally didn't think of that before. So that's why some people have no problem uploading from a mac to blogger and others (like me) have so much trouble! So anyway, here are some pictures for everyone's enjoyment...


I decided I needed a change as far as my hair goes. I decided this at 11pm on night. I thought bangs would be the way to go. I decided I would get out the scissors first thing in the morning. So I got out the scissors first thing in the morning and started cutting. It only took about 5 minutes. That is not enough time to thoroughly think through what you are about to do. I believe my first word when I looked in the mirror was either "Oops" or "Shoot". It's grown on me though (no pun intended) and now I'm kinda enjoying the new look. And don't worry, it's been trimmed up a bit since that picture was taken, and it is much straighter now. : )


I finished sewing my quilt together shortly into my internet fast. It was so much fun that I wanted the project to last and yet I couldn't get myself to leave it alone. Once I finished cutting all the squares (hundreds), I figured out a pattern on graph paper for how I wanted the quilt to look. Then, I had to put all the squares together into "sandwiches" and then lay them in rows in the pattern I wanted. I sewed the squares into rows. Then I lay the rows together and started sewing rows together. I had almost finished sewing all the rows together when my sewing machine needle broke. I had to run out and buy more needles and not even three stitches into a new needle and it broke too. Luckily sewing machine needles come in packs of 5, so I could go right on sewing.

I am using my mom's old sewing machine, the machine I learned to sew on when I was about 14 or so.

Sidenote from the quilt project. At the beginning of the year I found an old journal in a pile of books that were being given away here at the school. It was terribly ugly, covered with floral fabric. I grabbed it though because I love to journal and figured it wouldn't be hard to recover. I ended up sewing together strips of ribbon to make a cover and then slipped the cover over the old fabric. Voila! New journal for 2010!

Back to quilting...this (above) is a picture of my rows of squares sewn together and waiting to be attached to each other.

I was most worried about my corners lining up when I started to sew the rows of squares together, but I'd say I did a pretty good job. There are a few places where they don't line up exactly, but when you look at the quilt as a whole, you can't even tell! Whoo-hoo! Point for Niki.

This is the finished can kinda see what the other side of the quilt looks like. Eventually it will all look beautifully and cozily frayed, instead of just like open seams.

And this is the step I am stuck on. If you look closely at the seam, you can see that there are small cuts made into the fabric. This is to help the seams fray well when I wash the quilt. What I'm working on now is cutting little notches into each of the about time consuming. At this point I just want the quilt to be done!


On Thursday was Thanksgiving for the American population of the world. And this year that included us. We had a wonderful potluck, turkey dinner style. I got the job of cooking the turkey (which was actually two smaller chickens). I was the only one who had ever cooked that before, so, unbeknown to my fellow court-dwellers, I actually got the easiest job of them all. Buy bird. Take bird out of bag. Put bird into roaster. Pour lots of yummy butter over bird. Put bird in pre-heated oven. Take out in a few hours. Done.

But anyway, what does that have to do with a picture of my husband on a motorbike? Well, this was his highlight of Thanksgiving day. He got to learn to ride motorbike. Our friend, M, was gracious enough to lend "Charis" to Nathan so that he could learn to ride. He also gave him some instruction, which was probably more for the safety of his brand new bike, than for Nathan. hehe. Nah, M is quite willing to teach Nathan to ride.


For anyone who knows American traditions, Black Friday is a big one. It is America's biggest shopping day. You know how Canadians go out on Boxing Day because all the stores have huge sales? Well, there is no Boxing Day down here. Instead they have Black Friday. It is the day, legend has it, when all the stores, after being financially in the "red" all year, finally get back into the "black" or positive again. This is a picture of the 6 of us who partook in the Black Friday tradition. And yes, we are all Canadian. The American's were smart enough not to join us.

Here we are all smiling and happy at midnight shortly after arriving in line outside Target (above).

Nathan looks quite thrilled to be waiting in line. Heidi on the other hand is reveling in the experience. This is at about 4:30am, half an hour before the doors opened.

Our "I'm-so-excited-to-have-pulled-an-all-nighter-so-that-we-can-be-standing-outside-in-the-cold-at-4:30am-for-a-chance-at-a-tv" faces. And yes, it was cold. California does get down to 3 degrees at night.

Our Target line was much more relaxed than the Best Buy line just down the parking lot. We sat and played cards and talked for 4 hours before the line started compressing. The Best Buy line was pushing and shoving and standing the entire night. Our line was actually pretty fun. And I didn't get tired at all. Must have been all the nice, fresh, cool air. Well, maybe not "fresh"...the central valley has ALOT of smog. It's pretty disgusting, actually.

In the end, we did get our tv, as I mentioned in yesterday's post. It was a fun that I don't feel the need to ever repeat though...

Friday, November 27, 2009

I'm Back!

Hey Everyone! How's it going? I must say, it feels entirely strange to be typing this into the New Post window. I just spent 10 minutes on Facebook and that felt really weird too. It has been a really good 40 days being away from Facebook and blogging. I'm really glad I did it, and that said, I'm really glad I'm back too!

It has been a very eventful 40 days. It seems like everything is new and different! Of course, not everything is, but there has been a big decision that has changed my life (and will change my life) quite a bit. So where do I start? This is so difficult. Hmm...

Ok, 40 days ago I was really feeling like I needed to take a break from the internet. It was taking up WAY too much of my time and I found that my "default" thing to do when I was bored was to pick up the laptop and go online. I weighed the options and decided that a 40 day fast was in order. The first few days were the most refreshing. I felt like I had SO much time in my day. I was so productive...making great meals, keeping the house super-clean, spending lots of time reading and crocheting and sewing. Then that became the new normal. It was still great and I didn't really even notice most days that I was missing anything. A couple times stuff would happen and my first thought was "ooh, I should write about that on my blog!" but of course I couldn't. But for the most part, no biggie. I'm pretty sure I won't be back to facebook very much. It was fun to see what people were up to, but for the most part it just took/takes the infertility thing from an 8 to a 10 on the "painful" scale. So why not just avoid it, right? The hardest part has been the last couple days. It's been so close and it's felt like such a long time and I just felt like coming back early. But I'm glad I'm not.

So what's happened since October 19? Wow. Well, I won't keep you in suspense the whole post. The big decision that was made is that I'm going to become a full-time student next semester. I never finished my full undergrad degree, so that limited my options for studies, but I have decided to go for a Diploma in Congregational Care. It has a good mix of theology courses and counseling courses. I'm hoping this will be a good addition to my schooling for the next time that I'm a pastor's wife or professor's wife or whatever. And, if I really enjoy any lay-counseling that I do, to become a licensed counselor would only require me finishing my BA (two years) and then only one more year of seminary. And because Nathan is a full-time student, I get 50% off of my tuition. Can't argue with that! So my next semester will be quite a bit busier than this semester, but I am really looking forward to this next step. : )

Let's see, what else? I've put up my Christmas tree! I found a 4' tree in a storage room here on campus, so I snagged it and we bought a few decorations and lights and decorated for Christmas. Here in the States, it is kinda taboo to decorate before Thanksgiving (which was yesterday), but once I had the tree in our apartment, I couldn't help but put it up. It did feel kinda early, especially with no snow and mostly beautiful daytime weather, but I just had to. It gives our little apartment such a cozy feeling to have the Christmas lights on.

Speaking of Christmas, Nathan and I bought our Christmas present for each other this morning. Is anyone out there familiar with Black Friday? It is the Friday after Thanksgiving where all the stores put out crazy sales and people line up outside the store for hours before it opens in hope of getting that certain tv or ipod or whatever. Almost every year, somewhere in the States someone dies on Black Friday from being trampled as people rush in to grab that special thing that they were waiting for. Well, I'd always thought these people were absolutely insane, but this year Nathan found a GREAT deal on a 32" Westinghouse tv that Target had. A few of the other people in the court (all Canadians) wanted to experience Black Friday as well so we bundled up (it gets down to 3 degrees at night here) and left our cozy, warm apartments at 11:30pm to line up outside of Target, which was set to open at 5am. We joined the line at midnight and settled in for our 5 hour wait. Time went surprisingly quickly. We played some President (Scum) with names changed to suit the Thanksgiving theme (Turkey, Fruitcake, etc). It's also amazing the sense of community that develops with the people next to you in line in a situation like that. We knew what the people in front of us and behind us were waiting for and had one of them ask us in the store if we'd gotten what we'd hoped for. So fun. So yeah, the doors opened at 5am sharp and we were in and out in 9 minutes with a brand new tv. Merry Christmas!

I can't think of what else is new. I'm sure there is lots and it will probably come to me all day, but I think I'll leave it at that for now. I am dying to check out what all of you have been up to in these last 40 days! Hope you all made it back. I'm looking forward to seeing who's still around and checking and who didn't last through the 40 days, so if you could leave me a little comment and let me know that you're still reading, that would be great. (you can let me know here in the comment box, or on facebook or email...just to make it the most convenient for you)

Hope you're all doing well!