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Monica

"Let this [cup] pass from me"

Monica Skinner

 

I’ll go ahead and say, there isn’t a pretty bow on this. I don’t have a beautiful “God is all I need” moment, and am not looking for someone to give me one. These days I live in the disconnect between what I know to be true- and what feels true. I do want to share some of the things I have been wrestling with, and some of the faithfulness of God pulling me back to Him. But I have to acknowledge, that my journey is not finished, and that there is still a lot of growth and revelation to be had. 

A few months ago I was at a pretty low point in our journey to have a family. Even though we were “moving forward”, as we were on the path of becoming foster parents, I still felt emotionally troubled. After our last week of Foster Care classes, when we were close to being licensed, we felt a very clear word from God that we needed to stop. Foster Care wasn’t what we were supposed to do. Maybe one day I will write on what led us to this decision- but for now we will just leave it there. 

I had a serious emotional meltdown. Now we were moving backwards!?!?! Starting over with a new process- adoption. A journey that will no doubt be longer and more expensive. I was tired of our “story.” I remember being on a run one day- and my monologue (and I say monologue because conversation would mean that I was allowing God to get a word in- and I wasn’t) went a little like this.

“God. I am so tired of this. Please don’t let this be our story. Can’t you just fix this? I am tired of waiting and hoping. I am tired of longing. I am tired of asking.” Then a song came on my iPod that had the lyric “when I am overcome by fear, and I hate everything I know. If this waiting lasts forever, I’m afraid I might let go.” Repeat. That song played on repeat for weeks. I kept playing with the idea of just letting go. Just letting go of my dream. Never asking again. Just giving up. 

Weeks passed by, and the worst possible thing happened. Hope. That doesn't sound like a bad thing- but I have trained my heart to not hope- because hoping and then being disappointed is one of the worst tragedies I have ever felt. My heart just cannot handle it. Well, this particular month- hope got the best of me. (Men- excuse some of the following girly details). I was 5 days late. Then 10. Then 12. This is highly unusual for me, but we had been traveling a lot and my diet had changed, so I tried as hard as I could to not hope. While my heart was trying so hard to defend itself, my brain had already jumped to buying baby clothes and picking out names. 

I remember a conversation with Wesley where I said “If I am not pregnant- then God is just mean! Why allow me to hope like this? Why let me think it’s possible if it isn’t. I better be pregnant or I am going to be so pissed.” Then the song came back to me “If this waiting lasts forever, I’m afraid I might let go.” So I prayed “God. This is it. If I am not pregnant- I’m letting go. I’m done! I’m not asking anymore. I can’t keep asking. I can’t keep hoping. I’m done.”

Pastors, I hope you know how divine your messages can be. How you think you are just following the Lords leading, when actually God is really speaking through you to people, individually, where they are and what they need to hear. That’s where God met me. 

We were visiting a church out of town. The pastor was speaking on a passage where Jesus, who just had many followers leave him, asks his disciples if they would also like to leave. They reply with  “Where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” 

I came home and prayed- “ok God. I won’t let go. I wont give up. I’ll keep asking, because where else would I go. The next day, my body reminded me of my barrenness, and I kept my promise. I asked God for a baby. 

A few weeks later, we were out of town again and visiting a church. This pastor referenced Jesus in the garden, and his prayer to the Father. “God. With you all things are possible. Let this cup pass from be. But not my will, but yours be done.” So, then that became my prayer. God- I know you CAN do this. It’s possible. So please let this pass from us. Let our infertility pass, heal our bodies, and enable us to create a child in our image, in YOUR image. Allow us to be fruitful and multiply our lives. Most days, honestly, its difficult for me to muster up the courage to pray the rest. “But not my will- but yours be done”. I don’t want to utter those words. Because when I do- of course that would be the time God would answer my prayer- right? I struggle. I still want it my way. I want a baby. In my womb.  I want to feel it kick. I want to see parts of my wonderful husband in its character. 

I just cant seem to let go of this desire. It’s just doesn't seem possible to not want it anymore. So what else can I do? Ask. Seek. Knock. I keep at it. I pray. I sob. I rant. I pray more. I’m still not in a very great place emotionally. I watch the Twilight movies over and over again just to escape my reality. Live in someone else's world for a short period. {Wesley can’t possibly image how those terrible movies could possibly help- but they do.} But I will pray. I will continue to ask. And maybe one day, it will all make sense. Maybe it won’t. I’ll let you know when I figure it out. 

It's Time...

Wesley Skinner

It’s Time...


I honestly don’t even know where to begin. I was venting to my amazing husband the other night, and he simply said “Monica, you need to write this down. Others might feel the same way, and not know they share your feelings.” So while I know life is not meant to be led my emotions, the following comes from me wrestling with how I feel, specifically as it relates to our journey to become parents and have children.


Wesley and I have been going back and forth on when to make public where in our journey we are. Things can be so uncertain, and there is wisdom in not rushing into things too quickly. Like many people wait until a first trimester of pregnancy is over, we have had to try and sort out what our timeline looks like, and when to openly discuss things. 


Currently, we are in the process of becoming licensed Foster parents, with hopes of one day adopting. This process is different than getting pregnant with a biological child, and it’s different than going straight to adoption. It’s full of unknowns and can vary from a very quick process to a very long process. Our first placement could be God, in His sovereignty, bringing us a child whom He already knows will not be reunited with their family and we will be able to adopt them. We could have many come into our home for us to love and share Christ with before one comes who can join our family forever. We just cannot know for certain.


But I’m tired of feeling like it’s too soon to be excited. This forward motion has been 4 1/2 years in the making. Seriously. Wesley and I had a discussion in Fall 2010 about beginning to try and have kids. And it’s been 4 1/2 years of nothing. Absolutely nothing has changed. We have yearned for so, so, so long- it hurts. I have felt like I have been standing still watching everyone else's life progress and mine stand still.


Until this week. This week, we took a step forward. Seemingly small to most people, but to us- HUGE. It’s actually happening. In about 4-6 months we will be licensed, ready to welcome a little kiddo into our home. True, a wait for a placement can take anywhere from a short time to a very long time. Just like with pregnancy, babies come really early or sometimes really late. But if everything goes as it should we will be parents in about 6-8 months!


Here is where I really struggle. And I mean- really struggle. If I told people I was 3-4 months pregnant (also making us parents in about 6 months)- there would be soooooooo much excitement around us. Knowing our struggle- I expect there would be shrill screams and all kinds of wonderful, joyful noises. There would be baby showers planned, talk of baby names, people asking how I feel, if I’m nervous or excited, we would get to register for fun baby items. I remember last year in Tampa having 2 women on our team get pregnant over the course of the year. And almost every group setting- something about the pregnancy or upcoming baby was discussed. 


But I feel like we don’t get most of that. I feel like we get “oh wow! that’s exciting!” end of story. No oooohs. No ahhhhs. Will anyone think to throw us a shower? I mean- people realize we have nothing- right? What do you even buy for a couple who has no idea what gender or specific age they are getting? Does that mean we just have to buy everything ourself? Does that mean I don’t get the adorable nursery with a fun theme- but just whatever I can scrape up? What about all the churches I’ve been in where new parents get a meal train organized for them? Do we miss out on that simply because “who knows how long we will even get to keep the baby. And yes- I have heard people tell me that. Do people realize that even though our process is different- I’m still going to be a first time parent who has no clue what I am doing! If I was pregnant I would fully expect my mother to come help for the first little bit to make sure I don't let the little one’s head fall off or something. What happens when you are fostering? Why does it have to be so different? Can’t I share in any of the fun that pregnant moms get?


I know I am being a little materialistic- and ultimately when little baby is here I won’t care if the sheets match the decor on the wall- I will be way to sleep deprived to even notice. And I know I am enough of a learner that I will read about making sure the baby’s head doesn't fall off. And luckily I love Pizza Hut so we would never go hungry. So in some way- all these questions seem trivial and unimportant. 


But in my heart- after waiting so long, it matters. It really does. I have dreamt of becoming a mother for so long, and where I struggle most with the Lord is feeling like our path makes me less of a mother. That I miss out on the “real” stuff. That somehow- this is less exciting to everyone but me. I just feel so second class. This process has really shown me my sinful desire for fairness. I covet having what everyone gets. I struggle feeling different and left out. When I sit in a room with staff from Cru and realize I am the only woman in the room who isn’t a mother. While I watch girl after girl that I discipled years ago have baby after baby.  And while I know God loves me, I daily struggle with the feelings of neglect from Him. That He willed a lesser life for me. And while I choose to worship and love Him despite feeling like that, I get lost in the emotions of jealousy, self-pity, and despair. 


But while I work through all of this (and I am trying to work through it all)- today I am choosing excitement! We are pregnant with hope, joy, and love. We are trusting God with the process we are on to bring a sweet little one (or two, or however many he desires) into our life, and that somewhere along the way our family will grow on a permanent basis. Just yesterday it really starting to sink in- this is really happening. We will be parents! In order to get our license- there are things we need to do really soon! Praise the Lord we have so much to be thankful for right now- there is hope ahead! So why hide our good news and wait for a more “appropriate” time? We are choosing to share now- how excited we are. Wesley, Monica, and little baby are ready to meet you all!

Bunnies and Babies- What I learned this Easter

Monica Skinner

I read a quote several months ago (I’ve since forgotten where, I’m sorry) that said “Lord, help me to receive what you give, lack what you withhold, and relinquish what you take.” This quote has really helped me through some discouraging moments over the last several months. 

 

The road of infertility is a hard one. At least- that’s what all the books say. I’ve learned my way of processing is by reading and finding comfort in people who understand what I am going through. I’ve learned that while my journey is different than most people, it’s not completely unique. There are others who understand and can give encouraging words in the midst of all the (innocent yet) discouraging words. Most people just don’t realize the heartbreak that comes every time I see a pregnancy announcement on Facebook, or when I meet someone new and they ask “so do you plan on having children?”, or when I walk down the toilet paper aisle at Publix and accidentally see the brand with the cute smiley baby on the package (we buy Charmin because baby bears apparently don’t make me cry). For a girl who is known for not crying (seriously- people compare me to a robot because I hardly ever cry) it’s weird to walk around feeling so sensitive to everything around me. I also had to switch to waterproof mascara. 

 

So the last several months have been me working through what God is withholding- children. It has been a constant cycle of questions like “Would I not be a good mother?”, “Are you [God] punishing me for something?”, “Do you just really not want us to be parents?” and “Is this really supposed to be how you love me- because this doesn’t feel like love.” I’ve been honest with God that if His plan is for us to not have kids- I don’t like that plan- BUT I’m willing for him to change my heart. So the line in the quote “Help me to lack what you withhold.” has been a constant prayer. I want to desire whatever He desires- but for right now our wills/timing don’t seem to be aligning. 

 

But then, last week at church, the pastor said something that really made me think. He was talking about God being everything we would ever need. Sometimes that’s hard for me to hear- because what happens in my head is “yeah- I know that technically God is all I need- but that doesn’t really help me with how I’m feeling right now.” But then he said “God isn’t holding out on you. He isn’t withholding ANYTHING from you. He gave you his ONLY son- his only child- what else could he give you that would even come close to being as good?” As I was reflecting on this- God just softened my heart to understand that he isn’t withholding children from me. He already gave me a son- His Son- so that I can be a child of God. God owes me nothing. Not children, not an explanation. Nothing. 

 

Does that mean that it doesn’t hurt anymore? Absolutely not. My mind thinks about our present circumstances at least once every 15-30 minutes. Every baby, every child, every pregnant person is a reminder that I dont have a child- and may never have a child. And I have to learn how to work through that- because babies will not stop being born on my account. BUT what I can do is trust that God has already given me the best- and everything else is added bonus. A baby in my arms is not going to bring me happiness the way a relationship with God will- and he has already provided a way for that.