April 28, 2016

NAIW: The Quiet Side Of Infertility

My friend Caroline was putting together a post for National Infertility Awareness Week and she asked me to contribute a short little snippet describing what I wish more people knew about infertility. This got the wheels turning. I spent a long while thinking about this. Probably too long. I have never really participated in NIAW, but this year I felt like I had something to say.  I wanted to share something that would be impactful....both to the infertility community and to those who do not struggle with infertility. I wrote Caroline an email back so answer her question and I said:

"Sometimes infertility is quiet. It doesn't always look like hormones and injections, IVF, doctor appointments and charting your next steps. Sometimes it is just quiet prayers, faithful hope and a patient longsuffering."

After sending that over to her, I thought..."man, I could really expand on that. Maybe I'll just write a little post about what I mean. Maybe it would help someone else." The theme of NAIW this year is #startasking. So I thought I would start a dialogue for anyone who wants to start asking a questions about what the other, the less obvious side, of infertility looks like.

It's so easy to equate infertility with the endless striving for motherhood. From HSGs to charting and ultrasounds, negative pregnancy tests to Clomid and injections, IUIs and 2nd opinions...I've been on that side of infertility. I've been on the side on infertility where every moment of my life was consumed with how to get pregnant. "Maybe if we try this drug...maybe if we see this doctor...maybe if I memorize this verse or pray this prayer...maybe if my faith were just a little bit bigger..." I camped on that side of infertility for a long time. Years.

But now I'm on a different end of the infertility spectrum now. 

I don't mean that I am done with infertility. No. Infertility is still very much with me. I still have a uterine fibroid and poor egg quality. I still only have one fallopian tube, which is likely blocked now. I still have a cyst on my brain that affects hormone regulation. I still am not pregnant. Infertility may stick with me for many years to come. It's like a monkey on my back that won't jump off no matter how many bananas I tried to throw. So when I say that I'm on the "other side" of infertility, it doesn't mean that infertility is no longer a part of my life, my prayers or that it doesn't occupy any space in my heart.  

What I mean, is that I'm on the quieter side of infertility now. The side that is no longer striving, trying, planning or researching. The side where actively pursuing medical treatments is over and you're done trying to fix what is wrong, or maybe you realize you can't fix what is wrong, like in our case. Not many people ever make it to this side. Often, IVF, surrogacy, surprise pregnancies or adoption enter the scene and this side of infertility remains a dark unknown that people are glad to pass right by. 

Since many people avoid this place, either intentionally or because God supernaturally intervenes on their behalf, there are consequently very few people on this side of infertilityIt's like a secret land that no one really knows about. It's scary at first, you don't really know what's over on this side. Like.... what actually happens when you get off the infertility treatment crazy train? Is it so dark that you can't see? Is it just utterly hopeless? Do you feel stagnant since you're no longer actively pursuing something? Do you just wander around aimlessly hoping for a baby to drop out of the sky? Are you just forever lost at sea? I get it. I asked all of those questions too when we made the decision to stop actively pursuing medical treatment.

It's an interesting place to be, especially when there are so few who have gone before you. There's not exactly a guide for this stage. To my knowledge, there isn't a book or step-by-step directions on how to navigate these waters we have found ourselves in.  

To be honest, the quiet side of infertility is very peaceful. You can hear yourself think and the Lord speak. You're in a place with new views and horizons. You can travel and not worry about ruining a cycle. You can stop stabbing yourself with needles and taking crazy pills (looking at you, Clomid). Your head space is a little clearer because you're no longer obsessed with trying to fix what is wrong. You also have a little extra time and money since you're not blindly throwing them away into the pit of fertility treatments.

I'm here to tell you it's really not a scary place. It's just not. 

Are there still sad days and despairing nights? Yep. Do you still mourn the loss of a dream not yet realized? Yes. Are friendships strained because you don't fit in? Definitely. But this is also a place of opportunity for strength and incredible growth. It's a rich land that is full of potential, which I am just now beginning to lean into.

Ultimately, this is a place of deep dependence on Jesus. He helps keep me keep my head up when the world wants me to second guess the path I'm on. It's so easy to question this side of infertility. To wonder if we really continue to hear God correctly. To feel insecure and left behind. It's so easy to crumble under the pressure to conform to society's standards, the infertility community's common bonds, the Christian community's expectations.

It takes a lot of obedience, courage, strength, hope, faith, prayer, perspective, peace and humility to stay here. But knowing that we are firmly walking in alignment with God's will for our life is a beautiful thing. Even if it's hard and doesn't look like what everyone else is doing, both within and outside of the infertility community.

So, if you're thinking about stopping fertility treatments, or if you're not comfortable moving forward with more, or if the funds have run dry, or if you feel the Lord leading you to simply rest and trust in Him...I'm here to tell you, it's ok to do that. You don't have to dive head first into things you're not comfortable with or don't feel called to. You don't have to keep putting your body through hell. You don't have to justify your decision or explain yourself. You don't have to worry that you are "giving up." 

Being on the quiet side of infertility is perfectly fine. There aren't many of us on this side, and it takes a lot of guts and prayer to make it here and stay here. But if you do make it, you're in good company and you can rest assured that the Lord will never leave you or forsake you as you trust in Him for His perfect plan.

April 18, 2016

This & That

Really not much at all going on these days. Still living among boxes and I'm trying desperately to find my essential oils and flip-flops with no luck. School is good (4 weeks left!), David is healthy and alive (hooray!) and we have been loving the spring weather and I have been reading lots of great books about Jesus. The rest of it will follow in bullet-point fashion, per usual! Happy Spring y'all! :)

  • I have really good news to report regarding that awful Migraine Diet I've been on for 5 weeks now. It is working!!!! I have gone 3 weeks in a row without a single headache! Praise God for sweet relief. I've gone from a chronic low-grade headache 24/7 to absolutely NO headaches, even when the barometric pressure is changing! I miss coffee, pizza and wine something fierce, but it's totally worth it to have a little break from the pain. I will continue with the diet for 3 more months and then I can slowly start reintroducing foods back into my diet. July can't come soon enough...
  • House stuff has been progressing smoothly. Our inspection went really well, no major problems at all. Woo! With a house that was built almost 40 years ago, it's obviously not going to be in perfect condition. We have some siding to replace, landscape grading to redo, rewiring of electrical outlets and a host of other random things on our to-do list. But the house is structurally sound and safe and that's all we care about! Our appraisal is being done this afternoon, which is a make or break sort of thing. If it comes in 10k too low, our seller has the right to terminate the contract and we are back to square one. So we are crossing our fingers for a good appraisal!
  • Our obsession with Utah continues so we're planning our next desert getaway this spring and have settled on Capitol Reef National Park! I don't think much planning is going to go into this trip, we'll probably just wing most of it. I do think we'd like to spend some time in Cathedral Valley though, it looks pretty amazing!
  • Is it bad that I've already been dreaming about the things that I want to redo in our new house? Our appraisal may come in low and we could lose the house today, but I'm still scheming and dreaming. Can't help it. One of the first things I am dreaming of is changing up in the kitchen a little bit. Half of it is great and half of it needs a little help. It has new stainless steel appliances + new grey quartz countertops + new hardwood floors, so those things will definitely stay! But the cabinets are old and I'm not crazy at all about the backsplash the previous owners installed. I have a vision of white + grey + mint. A little something like this...
    It's just so bright and clean! We have great natural light in our kitchen and I think white cabinets would really keep things light and airy. I'm pretty obsessed with the sea glass tile backsplash. Another thing I've been thinking of is painting the fireplace or resurfacing it. I'm sure resurfacing with pretty stacked stone is going to be astronomically expensive, but it doesn't hurt to dream!

    Speaking of fireplaces, one interesting thing we discovered during our inspection was that our house is going to be 100% electric. There is no gas line into the house at all. This isn't a big deal except for the fact that we were intending on converting the wood-burning fireplace into gas. So now we're faced with either running a gas line outside to a propane tank or...going with a new eco-friendly fireplace that runs on bio-ethanol. Bio-ethanol fireplaces run on clean fuel made from corn, sugarcane and other food sources. You've probably seen them mounted on walls inside hotels or resorts. They looks fancy schmancy, but they're actually pretty affordable

April 15, 2016


For the first 3-4 years of our infertility journey, I happily joined baby showers, birthday parties and even regularly attended a weekly play dates where friends would bring their kiddos over to each other's homes. Babies would play, moms (and myself) would chat and drink coffee. Maybe those things just didn't bother me much back then, or maybe they did and I just denied the pain. I enjoyed celebrating with friends and immersing myself in a world that I believed I would soon join.

Somewhere along the way, the pain started to increase significantly. Maybe it was after we lost our baby. Maybe it was when we stopped having an "official" plan with fertility treatments and started to drift out into the wilderness of "no man's land."

Women's Bible studies began to equal tears. Baby showers meant an entire weekend of tears. Even lighthearted birthday parties, painting parties or happy hour meant tears. Any women's gathering I went to, my heart was assaulted by women who unintentionally spent 3 hours talking about babies, pregnancy, parenting, nap schedules and teething. No matter the context, I always felt like a girl on the outside looking in.

I'm not sure exactly when the boundaries started to go up, but they went up and they went up high. I intentionally had to distance myself from certain friends. I intentionally had to leave certain groups just to keep my heart from collapsing on a weekly basis (I'm looking at you, BSF!). My heart needed a little protecting and at the risk of losing friendships and isolating myself from certain people, I chose to protect it. In the process, I learned that boundaries are a really great thing.

Since these boundaries have been in place, I've been in a much healthier place emotionally. The boundaries have given me freedom. Freedom to say no, to do what I want, to excuse myself from unnecessary pain. The boundaries have promoted my well-being and helped me identify the relationships that I really want to invest in instead of feeling burdened to take part in everything I'm invited to.

While I think my boundaries will stay firmly in place for the foreseeable future in regards to things like play dates, all women Bible studies and baby showers. I do think it's wise to reevaluate boundaries as time goes on.

For instance, our new small group. It is a wonderfully diverse place that is life-giving, enjoyable and nurturing. We have been welcomed with open arms and I can't help but want to dive right into life with these people. The group is made up of singles, young couples, older married (ha! I love that David and I now fit into this category) couples, families with older kids....and a precious young couple who just invited us all over to their house for a gender reveal party next week.

            ..............long pause....blink....blink....lips pursed.....half smile....blink......blink............

This couple is very kind and sweet. They genuinely want to celebrate with their church family. It's not a "hey look at us" kind of thing. It's more like a "hey, would you all like to maybe come over to play some Monopoly, drink some decaf coffee and celebrate together?" sort of thing. And while I admit part of my heart had a knee-jerk reaction that wanted to say  "Ummm...yeah no... kthxbai!" and run out the door, there was another part of me that said "what if?" What if it was a fun night with our small group? What if it didn't hurt (or at least as badly as I think it could)? What if not going would be missing out on a big part of their life right now? What if I get to eat a delicious piece of cake with pink or blue frosting?  Mmmm cake.... ;)

I still haven't made up my mind. I have 6 more days to think it over. But I am realizing that the beautiful thing about self-generated boundaries is that you always have the ability to change the height and perimeter. They are dynamic and exist to serve you in whatever way you need at the time. And sometimes those needs change. Sometimes it's good to add a latch to the gate and let someone in, or leave for a day or two. Sometimes you need to lower the height of the hedge to get a better view of the territory that surrounds you. And one day, maybe you even dismantle the boundaries altogether when the coast is clear. But until then, boundaries are intended to be healthy form of self-protection, not iron walls that you can't get beyond.

April 3, 2016

Healing: 1 Year

Last year on Easter, I was sitting in the neuroICU at UCLA. My goodness time has gone by so fast! I can't believe it has been a full year since my surgery. During my final post-op with my neurosurgeons, they said, "expect to feel better in 8-12 weeks....expect a significant improvement at 6 months....and expect full healing to take 12 months." Here I am at 12 months!

SCDS is a degenerative syndrome. There is no cure for it. Surgery doesn't make everything all better. You can't just go back to normal again. Surgery isn't about fixing things and getting back to life as usual, it's about trying to make sure nothing gets worse. Big difference.

As I have gotten further into my recovery, I began to notice that it was hard to tell where my SCDS symptoms ended and brain surgery side-effects began or when healing ends and the "new normal" begins. Lines blur and all I know is that things are different now. Good, but different.

I write this as a person who is thankful to have received the help that I have from surgery, but who is also very much struggling to accept the idea that the "normal" I used to know will probably never return. There is a mourning over the loss of what used to be, and likely will never be again. That's a big deal. Anyone who has been sidelined with a chronic condition will resonate with this (fellow infertility sisters perhaps?).

After all the dust has settled, I have realized that a few things linger. These are things that have not changed much over the last 12 months. They're here, probably to stay. And I'm slowly making peace with that. Some of them are SCDS symptoms that just never fully resolved and some of them are probably due to the surgery itself.

-Barometric Pressure induced headaches, dizziness & cognitive disorientation. Bottom line, I never feel well when storms are approaching or leaving the area. In Colorado, this happens several times per week, if not several times per day haha!
-Cognitive disorientation in high stimulation environments
-Difficulty with short term memory, focus and concentration
-Nerve Pain and numbness
-Low-grade headaches 5-6 days/week

This list of things that remain is far better than what I was dealing with before surgery, so I will happily accept them as part of my new normal. And you never know, some things may improve in the future, like the headaches now that I am on the Migraine Diet (I've gone 7 days without a headache so far! May be coincidence...may be the diet actually working, too early to tell). And if we ever move to a place with no barometric pressure changes (Honolulu is #1 on the list haha!) then I will most certainly feel better. 
Recovering from this whole experience has had it's ups and downs. It's been a long year full of tears, slow walks, frustration, gratitude, struggle, relearning things and adopting to a new way of life. I don't have a story where I can say "Look at me! I'm 110% better now!" But I can say "I am grateful for the healing work God has done in my life and I am slowly learning to accept and embrace my limitations while praising God for bringing me this far, which is much further than I was a year ago. Amen and Amen!"

David and I took a quite trip to the mountains to celebrate this milestone and to also celebrate the fact that we finally have a house under contract! Wooo! We booked a last minute condo on the river just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. We spent our time lounging around, fishing, sitting in the sunshine, eating good food, hiking and looking at wildlife. It was a great way to get away and celebrate together all that God has done for us.

March 29, 2016

Under Contract

The housing market in our new town is not for the faint of heart! We have spent the last 5 months searching high and low for a good opportunity. We've watched houses sell for 50k over asking price, contracts get signed within 4 hours of listing and inspections & appraisals waived completely(what??). We've seen open houses that are too crowded to even step in the front door We've lost a house to cash buyers and we've seen first hand how nasty things can get in a bidding war .
But God (I LOVE when I get to say that!) stepped in an intervened miraculously and directly on our behalf this week by providing an adorable bungalow that wasn't even on the market! It was not easy to get, but we are finally under contract! Praise God!
The story as to how we got this house is so circuitous and random, it could only be a God thing. Last weekend David and I went out of town to hang out with friends at their ranch in the mountains. It was supposed to be a relaxing 3 day trip enjoying their family's log home and 5,000 acres of peaceful forest.
1 day into our trip, our friends randomly came down with the stomach flu. They begged us to leave so that we wouldn't get sick. We were so disheartened! We were looking forward to a weekend away with our wonderful friends and couldn't believe that less than 24 hours after arriving, we were driving back home.
We got home in time to stop by an open house that was going on. We really liked the neighborhood and the house itself was pretty cute too. As we were looking around, a neighbor walked over in his sweatpants and came up to us and introduced himself as Mark. He had mustard stains on his t-shirt and it looked like he hadn't shaved in a few days. But then he said some beautiful words: "hey guys, I'm thinking about selling my house in a little bit and it's in better shape than this house that you're looking at, would you like to come see it?" At first, I thought maybe this guy was an axe murderer and we should decline the offer. But we were desperate, so we agreed.
The second I stepped inside Mark's house, my eyes welled with tears and I fell in love. It's precious.
We spent 2 hours talking with him on his delightful back patio. The more we talked, the more we realized that there was actually potential for a deal happening. He told us there was another couple interested in the house as well(he also snagged them at the open house), so he needed to talk with them and gauge their level of interest. We went home, called our real estate agent and had an official offer submitted to him in less than 24 hours! That's when things started to get complicated. 
The other couple also submitted an offer, which was almost identical to ours. What ensued after that was a week of back-and-forth negotiations. Each day that went by, we became less and less confident that Mark would accept our offer. We knew the other couple had been looking for months for a home and they were dead set on getting this house. Eventually they submitted a counter-offer that we could not beat. 
But on Easter evening, we got an email from our agent saying that Mark had decided to go with us and wanted to move forward. What?!?! We had been expecting to hear the exact opposite. Why in the world did he go with our lesser offer?
Yesterday, after he had signed our contract and the deal was done, David and I had the chance to talk with Mark on the phone. He said, "I'll be honest Becky, the other couple had a much better offer. But you and David are caring people and I wanted this house to go to a good couple with kind hearts." I was speechless.
You see, Mark is sick. He has prostate cancer. A few days back I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to write him a quick email to see how he was feeling and to say just say we were praying for him. I can't help myself, these days my heart is drawn to anyone who has an illness, chronic ailment, pain or difficult health problem. I'm sure it's because of all the troubles we've had, but I can't stop myself from caring. He said that email is what made all the difference. Also, Mark said he's felling better. The doctors gave him a really good prognosis this week. I'm in awe.
God performed a miracle out of the stomach flu, prostate cancer and a nice email. What a bunch of random circumstances He used to bring about His plan for our next home. Almost as if to say "see Beck, I can do anything. I can bring you a home out of the stomach flu. I can make miracles happen, even if the odds are stacked against you and there is no logical reason why something should turn in your favor. I defy odds and I will never betray your trust."
To be perfectly honest, we needed a miracle. Our spirits have been low and discouragement has been running high lately. We have felt hopeless, disheartened, upended and very confused these days. Between David's health stuff, my health stuff and our nomadic lifestyle we have been quite weary. We were almost getting to the point of regretting the sale of our house, even though we clearly heard God tell us to sell it. Thankfully God stepped in at just the right time and we are left humbled and so very grateful.
So let's chat about the house, shall we?
It was built in 1978 and definitely has a quirky, funky feel to it. It's so different from the "traditional" homes David and I had been looking at. It has a bunch of different levels, unique angles and windows, an amazing loft (my favorite!) and a beautiful backyard that backs up to a big open greenbelt that makes my heart so happy. And it's right across the way from a private lake that we have access rights to. Wooop! 
The interior was updated by a previous owner who was a general contractor. He installed a new furnace + air conditioner, new windows, hardwood floors, updated all the bathrooms, poured new concrete, new landscaping, new appliances, backsplash in the kitchen and heated tile in the master bathroom (can't wait for that!). He worked so hard to put in all this new stuff and then he took a job in Denver and sold his house to Mark. 

It's smaller than our old house, which is perfect because we were looking to downsize! The neighborhood is older and very established. It's a quiet area with lots of big trees and bunnies hopping around. It's right in the heart of town and within walking distance of Trader Joe's, Starbuck's, Chick fil-a and Panera. Yassss! :)
The only downside is that we can't close until July. Mark needs to own it for 2 years in order to avoid capital gains tax. So we shall patiently wait and spend the next few months thanking God, saving our pennies and thinking about what kind of patio furniture we should get.

Cori and Tex, if you're reading this, we are so very sorry that you guys got the stomach flu...but we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sending us home and sparing us. You are welcome to stay with us anytime, we'll probably name a guest room after you for your involuntary participation in helping us get this house. And if would be helpful for us to get the stomach flu so that you can buy a house, we will gladly repay the favor ;)

March 13, 2016

This & That

  • We put an offer in on a house this week! We found the cutest little ranch house on the west side of town. It had an open kitchen, large deck (with a built in fire pit!) and spacious backyard. It is just the cutest. We knew the second we walked in that we loved it and wanted it. We wasted no time at all and had an offer submitted within 3 hours of seeing the house. We really wanted the house so we put in a really great offer of 15k over asking price + waiving inspection. Sadly, we still lost the house to another buyer. Turns out we were one of 5 offers (all over asking price) and the "winners" were cash buyers who also waived the appraisal, in addiction to the inspection. We were (still are...) incredibly disappointed.  
  • We have officially found a church that we loooooove! We made the tough decision a few months ago to head out in search of a new church. We didn't have to look very long before we stumbled upon a gem. On our 3rd Sunday, one of the pastors introduced himself to us and invited us to join his small group. Whoa, what a blessing! The teaching is solid and biblical, the worship is incredible, David is already involved with the men's ministry and we have made some new friends through our small group. I keep waiting for something bad to happen, but as time goes on I'm starting to realize that this is just a really wonderful godly church, no catch. 
  • David is doing much better these days. Still short of breath at times and gets tired easily if he's had a big day, but overall he is getting stronger and healthier as the weeks go on. He will be meeting with a hematologist in a month or two to have some blood tests done to see if he has a blood clotting disorder. We've been really impressed with the level of care from his new doctor too, it feels like everyone is really watching out for his best interest. It's crazy to think that just 6 short weeks ago we went through such a scary time. I'm so happy to have my smiling, strong, wonderful husband back!
  • I don't have the time or space to write out all my thoughts on approaching my 1-year mark for my craniotomy, maybe in the near future. My standard response to those who ask how I'm feeling these days has been: "I don't feel as good as I did in 2014 before SCDS started and I'm not sure I'll ever get back to 100% or normal, but I'm better than I was before surgery and I'm learning to let that be enough and rest in the healing that God has done." There are still areas were I desire more healing (balance, cognition, headaches) so I have been reading a lot of research on The Migraine Diet and it's relation to patients with SCDS and there seems to be enough positive correlation that I thought it would be worth trying to see if I can regain some things that I lost in SCDS and surgery. The Migraine Diet is not just for "standard" migraines. It's really for anyone who suffers from chronic (or even occasional) headaches, neck pain, vestibular migraines, brain fog or other certain neurologically related issues. The diet is incredibly restrictive, but thankfully it is only short term (6-12 weeks) to give your brain time to "reset." It calls for complete elimination of all: caffeine, alcohol (goodbye wine*sniff*sniff) yogurt, cheese, citrus, nuts, yeast breads, MSG, all artificial and natural flavoring, most preservatives and a variety of beans and lentils. There's quite a few other random items on the "do not eat" list like overly ripe bananas, avocados, marinated meat, onions and gelatin as well. Basically anything that is in a box, package, can or bag is going to be off limits unless it's a natural frozen food....so pretty much anything that is delicious is off limits. I already miss pizza haha! :) I sort of eased into it over the last week and have only been strictly adhering to it for 4 days so far. Time will tell if it's helpful at all!
  • Grad school has been nothing short of amazing. I don't think I've ever had an educational experience where I just can't get enough, where I wish my 3-hour class was an 8-hour class because I love it so much. Even my research papers get me excited. I love my professors, my books, my classes and I even (almost) love waking up at 4:45am so I can get to campus on time for class. Every week that goes by is further confirmation that I am walking in the right direction.

March 5, 2016

House Goals

Can we talk about the housing market real quick?  It's insane. I've never seen anything like it, honestly.

It's a seller's market in our area, there is virtually no inventory of homes so when a house goes on the market.... approximately 18,000 people all fight to buy it at the same time. It's nuts. In fact, it's the 2nd tightest housing market in the entire country (San Jose, CA is #1. Now you're up on your current real estate trivia!).

I've been to open houses where there were no less than 30 other people in the house at the same time. Most of the houses we have seen get multiple offers (many are cash offers) within 24 hours. Almost every time we are scheduled to see a house, there are 4 other families scheduled at the same time. There are often investors lurking around, I even saw one guy who brought his general contractor with him. Half of the houses have gone under contract before we even have a chance to see it. At any given house I go to, there are typically at least 10 people in the street talking with their realtors and half of them are writing up offers on the hoods of their BMWs (ok, I might be exaggerating on that piece haha!). I feel like I should be a reality show on HGTV or something.

I'm doing my best to stay hopeful despite a difficult market and I'm trying my hardest to have a discerning eye without being a brat and demanding I have a perfect house that checks off every item on our "must have" list. It's a fine line to walk and hopefully we will be rewarded for our persistence and hope that we can find a house suited perfectly for us.

At leat through the house-hunting process I am learning more and more about the things I like and the things I don't like....

I'm finding myself drawn to smaller homes with larger yards. East/west facing windows that provide beautiful natural light always makes my heart happy. I like large trees, interesting floorplans, quiet streets and a little bit of character woven throughout. 

As we have looked at several houses in the area, I am learning that I feel a particular attraction towards a certain style of home...often they were built in the 1970s-1990s and have multi-levels (but not necessarily a traditional tri-level), uniquely-shaped windows, little nooks and crannies and weird kitchens that need updating. They usually have vaulted ceilings, mature landscaping and give off a vibe that the architect and builder were "experimenting" with a new concept. Sometimes the concepts fail miserably and sometimes...they're pretty awesome.

I saw a house last week that was really cool. It needed a lot of work done so we passed on it. It went under contract 12 hours later. I'm still wondering if we should have put an offer in on it...
David and I saw another one a few days later that we both were intrigued by. It literally had 5 levels on the interior, but the exterior looked like your standard 2-story, the inside was like a maze where you kept discovering new rooms. It had 2 amazing porches on the backside of the house and a cute little tree swing. Sadly, the house had extensive structural problems from poor drainage issues which were causing the entire house to slope south 6 inches. The stairs were crooked and the walls were having upheaval problems. It was a bit too intimidating for us to undertake the kind of restoration it truly needed. Go figure, 1 day later it too went under contract.

There is a temptation to just buy the first house that we see that looks halfway decent. To just throw caution to the wind and overlook bad neighborhoods, no natural light, poor layouts, unfortunate lot placement and problematic structural issues just so we can get a foot in the door and have a place to live.

There's a lot of temptation to just settle for good enough. And there's a good chance we might do just that. Maybe God is preparing our hearts to live in a place we do not like. We may have more lessons to learn on being content no matter what our situation or surroundings are (Phil 4:11).

But. I think that I can hear God whispering that we should hang tight and trust Him. I hear subtle words that He may just have the perfect place picked out for us. And if we will just continue to trust His timing and direction, it will be ours. Yes, I am saying that I believe God has a home already picked out for us. Yes, I believe it is a specific place. I believe it will be a "I'll know it when I see it" sort of thing. And I believe if we get impatient and settle, the opportunity might pass us by.

Maybe my house-hunting theology is whack. But maybe...just maybe I'm discerning those whispers of God correctly. Maybe He really will fulfill that desire in our hearts. Maybe He really does have the perfect little home picked out for us with beautiful natural light and a brick fireplace or maybe even a porch in the backyard where we can watch the sunset. Maybe there is a house out there that is perfect for us. A place that we don't just like, but love. A place we are excited to call our home.

February 20, 2016

Right-Side Up

I do great in crisis situations. I am rarely rattled or scared. I usually know what to do, where to go and how to get there. I don't hesitate and I seldom panic. As long as that adrenaline is pumping through my veins, I'm level-headed and perfectly fine. It's usually after the crisis that I start to fall apart. Inevitably this is due to my poor adaptation to change which has been a lifelong challenge. Unfortunately, crisis and change go hand-in-hand.

When the change starts to settle in after the crisis.... the new routines, the new way of life, the memories and emotions that need to be processed...that is when I come unhinged. And believe me, the changes have come flooding through these past 2 weeks.

David's health of course is one of the biggest changes. My strong and resilient husband has been set back a few steps. I still wake up at 3am worried that he has stopped breathing. The blood thinners make him cold all the time. I am always looking for the next sign that suggests we need to rush back to the ER. It's going to take some time for the PTSD to wear off. I actually read a study recently that said the majority of pulmonary embolism survivors exhibit signs of PTSD. It makes sense...especially when you realize just how close we came to losing David. It's going to take time for our heightened levels of fear and paranoia to come down a notch.

Then comes the fact that we sold our house. The second I went in that hospital with David, I never returned to our home. Other people packed our boxes, moved our belongings and cleaned our house. We left home in a frantic hurry and by the time David was out of the hospital, the papers had been signed and the keys had been transferred to the new owners. I had Power of Attorney so David wasn't even at the closing, he has far less closure than myself on leaving our home. I blinked and suddenly our home wasn't our home anymore. I'm currently floating somewhere between denial and suppressed acknowledgement that we are never going back to that house. The vast majority of our stuff is in storage somewhere and we are almost always looking for missing shoes and hair gel. Side note, I did just find all of my shellac and gel polish, which I thought was lost and gone forever so occasionally there are happy surprises!! :)

Then comes grad school. I can't even begin to describe the changes that alone has set into motion. So yes, change. Lots of it.

If you know us at all, you know exactly what we do when life gets a little too hard. We do this...
 We headed south towards a little town in Colorado called South Fork. We drove through it in 2014 as we were coming home from Arizona and we were both intrigued by how quaint it was. We made some seriously last minute reservations at a little B&B on the river and headed down for a long weekend of reconnecting, reflecting and relaxing. It was exactly what we needed.

South Fork is about an hour from the Great Sand Dunes National Park (did you know Colorado has sand dunes?! They are so random but so so so very cool!) so we headed over to the Dunes to check things out. The wind was whipping at about 30mph and it was freezing cold but we both really enjoyed being here. Since it was so cold and cloudy, there weren't many people around and we more or less had the place to ourselves. Aside from the occasional sand grain blowing into our eyes, we had a great time soaking in all the natural beauty that this place offers.

Gooooosh I love this husband of mine! I will never stop being thankful for him and that he is alive!!!

 I got an absurd amount of sand in my hiking boots haha!
 I made a poor decision and attempted to do a long exposure of the water that flows in front of the Dunes. It was so cold and my exposures took so long that I was sure frostbite had gotten the best of my fingers by the time I got back to the car. The pictures turned out terribly too, oh well, live and learn!

 The next day we headed home and made a few quick stops along the way. One stop was in a tiny little town to say hi to my dad. He lives on 100 acres in the boonies and I rarely have a chance to see him due to problematic circumstances (ahem, my crazy step-mom). We ate lunch with him at the only restaurant open in his little town on a Monday, which was in the bowling alley. Ha! David hadn't seen my dad in over 2 years so it was good for them to catch up a little bit. I don't see my dad much and I have learned over time to lower my bar of expectations so that a simple lunch in a bowling alley where all we do is talk about the weather is enough to satisfy my heart.
Lunch with my dad was conveniently located within an hour of the very first town David and I lived in when we got married, Canon City. David got his first job out of college in Canon City. He was a reporter for the local newspaper and covered everything from city council meetings to local high school football games. He lived there for about 18 months and I would go down to visit on the weekends when I didn't have to work. I lived in Canon City for exactly 2 weeks after we got married before David took a job in a different town, where we live now.

Canon City is a quiet, small town that is full of a mixture of retirees who love the milder climate, blue collar workers, tourists and a smattering of folks who moved there for a job in the prison system.

There are 13 major prisons in the area, including "Supermax" which is a maximum security prison that houses criminals who are too-high a security risk or too much of a threat to national security for standard maximum security prisons. The high value of targets inside the prison makes it just as likely for someone wanting to break-in as break-out so they have set up the prison in an intentionally disorienting way that includes underground areas, no windows, "black holes" and sound-proof cells. Most people inside can't tell where they are within the prison or even which way is north. Supermax holds famous criminals like:

  • Ted Kaczynski aka The Unabomber 
  • the Underwear bomber 
  • the Shoe bomber
  • one of the Oklahoma City bombers
  • one of the 9/11 bombers
  • the 1993 World Trade Center bomber
  • the Atlanta Olympics bomber
  •  Boston Marathon bomber
  • several mobsters
  • many cartel leaders
  • a few FBI/CIA double agents 
  • quite a few al-queida members 

It's a little unsettling that all of these guys are housed under one roof together (think of the destruction they could plot!) but every prisoner is kept under solitary confinement at Supermax for 23 hours/day. Any time a prisoner is released from his cell, he has no less than 3 armed officers with him at all times. Not much plotting could happen under those conditions, right?! Ok, I'm done with prison trivia :)

We drove by our very first place where we lived for exactly 12 days before moving. The window on the right was ours! Our shower didn't drain and we had landlords that would walk in unannounced at all hours of the day, but it was a significant upgrade from where David lived before.

 This was David's first place in Canon City. His was the door on the left. It was right on Hwy 50 and he had a constant stream of semi-trucks whizzing by. His neighbor was about 98 years old and we were always worried about him dying. The worst was his other neighbor to the west...a taxidermist ::shudders:: The dumpster out back is a thing I fear to this very day.

I have fond memories of our brief time in Canon City. Good memories of eating Little Ceasar's pizza on that front porch, watching the trucks whir by and looking up at the stars. We would eat lunch at our favorite coffee shop and take walks along the Arkansas River. We went to the Blossom Festival and the rodeo in the summers and spent a lot of time people watching downtown and we even found a cute little church to attend. David and I spent the entirety of our engagement apart and these visits to Canon City were the highlights of each month that went by.

I am thankful we no longer live there, but I can't help but feel a strong sentimental attachment to this interesting little town. In many ways, it was a great foundational place for our marriage to begin. Our marriage started in very very humble beginnings, something I would never change. It doesn't get more humble than living next to a taxidermist haha! :)
We slowly made our way north and returned to the new life we have now. We are currently set up in David's parent's basement. Slowly, a new routine is being established and we are finding our bearings once again. House hunting has begun, David is back at work, I'm going to school and have finally responded to the 800 business emails I got while we were in the hospital. David's parents have graciously been feeding us and caring us over the past 3 weeks. I have yet to go to the grocery store or make dinner but I have done a few loads of laundry so I will call that progress. 

It's funny how in the midst of all this change, a little road trip to some big piles of sand in the middle of nowhere actually helped us feel a bit more stabilized and secure. I guess that goes to show how much being in the mountains and traveling centers us. God's creation has always been a tool for healing in our life. Now I also see it is a tool for grounding, stabilization and turning an upside-down life back to right-side up. 

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Hi friends, my name is Becky. I am a follower of Christ, wife, sister and friend. I own a photography business based in beautiful Colorado. I am an adventurer at heart and an explorer of God's creation. I'm obsessed with beauty products, simple living, traveling, hiking, camping and all things outdoors. I am learning more about myself, God, healing and my faith as I navigate the aftermath of 6+ years of infertility. I'm glad you're here, I'd love to connect with you! :)


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