It is what it is.

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I’ve been doing some speaking lately, about our story.  I’m preparing tonight for a talk I’m giving to a MOPS group on Friday.  I’m looking forward to the intimacy.  The last speaking event I did was on a larger scale, and I gave my talk multiple times in one weekend.  Therefore, I had the details of our story in a video that one of my girlfriends shot for me.  Playing the video was not an option for Friday’s event, so tonight I am writing out the description of what happened.

The timeline is killing me.

I don’t think about it as much anymore…you know?  I can get through my days now without constantly thinking about what has happened to us.  Not like a year ago.  We found out we’d never be able to get pregnant just over a year ago- last March…so long ago, and just yesterday all at the same time.

Here is an excerpt of the talk I’ll be giving on Friday:

“I’ll never forget that day…  We had an appointment with our ob gyn earlier in the day.  We made a plan.  We ran some tests.  Joel and I had a conversation driving from the doctor’s office in to work.  “We could be pregnant as early as next month,” I said.

A few hours later, my cell phone rang.  I stepped out in the hallway to take the call.   When your caller ID says it’s your doctor’s office, your heart skips a beat.  Best case scenario- it’s a nurse or receptionist letting you know they need to reschedule an appointment.  When I heard our doctor’s voice on the other end of the line, I knew- something was terribly wrong.  He had just received the results of Joel’s sperm sample- a routine test for any couple facing infertility.  “I’m so sorry I have to tell you this,” he said “but there was no sperm in the sample.”  A specialist later confirmed that- for an unknown reason Joel was now sterile.

I’ll never forget getting that phone call from our doctor.  The one that forever changed our lives in the worst way.  I was shocked.  Heartbroken.  For many weeks after I simply could not get control of my emotions.  I would start crying at any given time.  I would have a breakdown in any location.  At home, at the grocery store, in my car, at work.  There were times that I was so very desperate that the only prayer I could pray was the word “Jesus.”  Over and over again.

At the worst of it, I would have to will my feet to move throughout my day…one foot in front of the other.  One foot in front of the other.  It became like a mantra, the only way I could move forward.  I learned that I couldn’t trust my mind- it was filled with discouragement.  Despair.  There were times I was desperate for scripture, any bible verse.  Times where I knew that if I didn’t get a Bible verse in my mind NOW, I would go to the place of despair and very likely not return.

One day, during a breakdown at work, I knew I needed a break, I needed air, I needed something.  I grabbed my cell phone and ran out of the building.  I’m not kidding.  I ran.  I ran across campus, right out on the campus green.  I’m sure I looked like a madwoman, running that way.  Luckily, it was the summer, so there were very few people on campus.  I knew of a trail through the woods on the west side of campus, a place where my husband does biology research with his students.

I had an urgent need to get into the wilderness…There is a trail head, but I just couldn’t take time to walk to it.  I had to get there NOW.  So I kept running across campus, and down through the thick of the woods.  It was ridiculous, I knew.  But I was functioning out of an irrational place.  I walked on the trail, praying, sobbing, yelling at God and desperate for freedom from my circumstances.  When I reached the end of the trail my soul had an urgent need for scripture- any scripture, to hold onto- I pulled out my cell phone- as it was all I had.  As I opened my Bible ap, I said to the Lord- whatever the verse of the day is, I’m clinging to.  No matter what it says- I need an anchor for my soul right this minute.

This is what came up and it changed everything:  “Go ahead and be angry.  You do well to be angry-but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge.  And don’t stay angry.  Don’t give the devil that kind of foothold in your life.”  Ephesians 4:26,27

God said to me that day, “Yes, you’re angry.  You have a right to be angry.  I’m angry about this too.  But do not stay angry.  You will get stuck there.  And that is not the life I had planned for you.”  

 I don’t even know what else to say tonight.  Yes, outlining the details of our situation is painful.  Of course it is, it is a PAIN FILLED situation.  So now I’m just sitting in my living room, typing away and working on that balance between leaning into the pain and putting the pain in its proper place on the shelf of my heart (because it could very likely take over my entire heart if left to run rampant).  And again I’m offering up this story to the Lord, hoping and trusting that He’s going to use our ashes to create something beautiful.  All I know to do is to be honest about it.  So- here we go…

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8th Caroline Project: 8 Months of Giving

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Well, the 8th Caroline Project has come and gone. I don’t think I’ve written an entry for a hundred years…because life has been so full of both good and overwhelming things.  (Good:  spring break, preparing for and delivering a talk at a women’s conference, lots of family time as well as time with “our people”.  Overwhelming: my computer crashed and our plumbing backed up.)  Consequently there has been very little time left for things like writing.  Such is live and the beauty of an informal blog – breaks are totally okay.

Here’s the scoop on this month’s Caroline Project:  A friend needed some money for something.  That’s it. There’s really nothing more to it than that.

So instead of any information about an organization, I want to unpack the things we’ve been gleaning from the past 8 months of giving.

It seemed so crazy/weird/dumb in the beginning…what a strange thing we were led to do.  It felt pointless even.  But now…I never want to stop.

You guys, I cannot even tell you how amazing it has been to know that we will be giving; to know that there is money available, set aside already, with only the intent to be given away.  That when we see a need (because they are THERE) we will be able to do something.

I can be so self-focused, you know?  When the crap hit the fan last year, one of my reactions was to hide in my bed with the covers pulled up over my face.  Definitely there have been times where I did that very thing.  But that only works for so long, really.  Five year olds don’t raise themselves.  Life goes on.  And I don’t want to miss out on even one moment of my life because I’m stuck in a place where I’m only able to see how things are not going my way.  The beauty in The Caroline Project is that it is constant.  It’s a way of life, really.  Month after month we are committed to thinking outside of ourselves.  In the beginning, it took that accountability, that promise we made to ourselves to do this, in order for us to give…when all we wanted to do was think about ourselves.

I know that we’re in the category of the wealthiest people in the world.  If you makeover $50,000 a year, that applies to you as well.  That being said,  Joel and I are not wealthy people.  We have jobs.  We get paid.  But we are not rolling in the dough, you know?  So to add a serious financial donation to our budget every single month for a year seemed downright insane.  Like, CRAZY AND DUMB AND COMPLETELY POINTLESS.  

But I have to tell you something about that, the financial piece.  If we were in the same room, I’d make you lean in just a little closer so you were paying attention.  And then I’d lift my hand up to the side of my mouth and I’d whisper:  “Here’s the crazy thing: It’s working.  Like, financially…  It’s working.”  It’s as if God is filling in the gaps or something (duh, I’ve only heard 200 sermons in my life about this very topic ).  For real, our budget is stretching.  Plus, we have had many extra opportunities to earn more money each month.  Yes, there have been months where we have had to go without extra stuff so that we can maintain our promise to The Caroline Project (think:  sorry friends, we can’t go out to eat with you because we have no extra funds after The Caroline Project).  Big whoop.  Shouldn’t it be like that sometimes?!?  But overall, it hasn’t  been like that.  More often than not, we’ve kept up our usual lifestyle.  We’ve never been big spenders and we’re always pretty budget conscious.  But we’ve done things like buy new (new to us) living room furniture and a truck.  We’ve gone on our regular small vacations.  We’ve done things like eat out and go to movies pretty much the same amount as usual.  The point is:  I’m surprised that our lifestyle hasn’t really needed to change that much.  Like, really surprised.  Like, if that’s the case than I ALWAYS want to give more than I think I can give.  Because, apparently I CAN give more than I think I can give…

I’m not so naive that I think our small financial contribution really makes any difference in the bottom lines of the organizations and individuals we’ve given to.  Not really.  No, this is being done for us; to bring us to a different place than when we started.  You see, The Caroline Project has created room.  Room to grieve.  Room to heal.  Through it we have been allowed to pause…to take time.  We’ve been able to somewhat remove the pressure to have it all figured out. And we’ve been allowed to reassess what we thought we needed to be true, that we could make our own plans, that we had control over the details of our lives…

I think part of why it took me so long to write this post is because I didn’t know what words to use to fully express what The Caroline Project has done for us…and I still don’t.  All I can say is…that it’s just really good…