Grown-up words

The appropriateness of sharing with the entire Internet news about things like babies, or lack thereof, is unclear. For a minute (well, for 14 months) we have cocooned ourselves in a comforting and necessary privacy to navigate this strange experience together- the experience of not being pregnant. But in my own heart, which knows no interpersonal boundaries, which shares anything and everything with most everyone, a strange combination of fear/denial/uncertainty kept taking my words away. Taking my words away. This never happens! There are 190 posts over a span of 4 years on this blog. Part of the problem is that things like infertility aren’t so funny. I have a blackbelt in crafting hilarity out of awful and/or inappropriate things. Except this one time.

Then an old friend went and posted her journey in a space where I (on the comfort of my own porch swing) sat straight up and yelled inside my head, ME TOO!  Not just the part about grief and sadness, but the part about overwhelming blessings and God’s presence in the middle of an awful experience. In my head I thought: GOD HAS SUSTAINED US! I HAVE TO TELL HER!

Which brings me to my own space: God has sustained us. I have to tell you.

After several rounds of blood draws, a laparoscopy, surgery to remove endo, an HSG (pray this procedure never happens to you), and several hours/days in a Reproductive Endocrinologist office, here is the punchline: I do not make mature eggs (yes, I will be using grown-up words like “ovary” and “egg”). I imagine my ovaries like that Cheeze-It commercial: A guy with a clipboard is evaluating the maturity of my eggs, who are just hanging around throwing paper airplanes and telling knock-knock jokes.

(Get it together, eggs!)

Throughout this process, we have experienced bottom of the barrel questions and thoughts that can be summed up nicely by my pal Anne Lamott: I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish (Bird by Bird). Here is an example: Why do some people have to pay $20k for a baby, and other people get to have one for free?

We have crumpled in shame immediately after those thoughts, because we have more blessings than we could ever list. If our lives remained exactly as they are today for the rest of our time on earth, we would be happy and thankful.

In those exact same moments, we have lived within the peacefulness and certainty of the answers to these questions: Are we enough for each other? Is God enough for each of us? Yes. And Yes. If He asks this of us, do we trust God to do something meaningful with our lives that doesn’t include a house in Carmel with a couple of kids? Would we be able to live with joy and purpose? Yes. And Yes.

Do you believe both the questions and the certainty of the answers can happen simultaneously? I do. I think that’s what makes it faith.

In the same vein, we have sincerely and wholeheartedly celebrated new birth and pregnancies of at least 4 friends within this period of time. Do you believe God can split a heart in half in such a way it’s able to feel such sorrow in its own loss, and such excitement in someone else’s joy? He can. He can do anything.

We have been 90% calm and confident in God’s goodness in our lives (J) and 10% loony and fit-throwy (Me). We have grief-eaten popcorn in bed and grief-watched International House Hunters and/or The Office for several hours on at least one occasion. J might deny this.

I have taken daily hour-long walks with Sara Groves on the iPod, creating a time and space for God to walk with me. Ask how many years its been since I carved out a time and space to be with God. Not to pray or ask or serve or showcase: but to exist with him in an unfilled space. A deep, peaceful breath began to flow through me during those walks. Don’t mistake this for resolved feelings, or unshed tears- the mention of this circumstance will bring up an emotional reaction in 10 seconds flat. But within 2 days, smiles returned, unexplained joy and gratitude filled us up, and life moved forward.

I have practiced yoga, and during my hour-long class, found myself commenting to God how amazing the body is, instead of how defective it is. How spectacular the circulatory system is, and the digestive system, and the liver. The miracle, I have realized—the exception, not the rule—is that we are alive. That our skin comes together and holds everything in. That our blood flows and our hearts beat. That we breathe in and out and are given a certain number of days to complete a certain task in the world, and that we think somehow our lives belong to us. We are created, and we exist so long as our creator continues to breathe life into our pile of bones and skin and muscle. Each time we breathe in and out, we are experiencing a tremendous, fantastic, unbelievable miracle. I believe that’s called worship. Worship in my yoga practice.

We have eaten the required amounts of fruits and vegetables (almost) every single day for 4 months. We have replaced coffee with tea. We have limited red meat, sugar and dairy. In February, after an entire Fall season of immune issues and blood draws, my doctor asked, “Do you eat fruits and vegetables?” I said, “No. As a matter of fact, I eat cookies and bread and lots of cheese.” She prescribed me several vitamins, a probiotic, and a regimen of fruits and vegetables. Would you believe I fed my body cookies and bread and cheese for 31 years, and then got mad at it for not functioning with precision? If body were not connected to brain, it would have punched me in the face. Would you believe I asked God why my body isn’t working properly while eating a chocolate torte for breakfast?  For 4 months, I have made salad jars on Sunday nights to eat throughout the week for lunch. Each morning I make a fruit smoothie with greens in it. Rest assured that even if I choose to eat Snickers for the entire rest of the day past 1pm, I will have already consumed my minimal daily required amounts of vitamins and minerals, and can now answer the previous question with a little bit of self-respect: Yes, I eat fruits and vegetables. I had never before taken the time or energy to feed myself adequately.

We have regained control of our budget. This is important because we never really knew we lost control until we needed something. Poor planning, a tiny bit of greed and self-indulgence, and some unavoidable life events (don’t wait 5 years to go to the dentist) forced us to re-evaluate our habits and values.

Those are the things we have done.  Here are the things God has done.

First off, He didn’t drink gin straight out of the cat dish. He put his arm around me in my car when I was thinking those awful thoughts about how life couldn’t get any worse, and sent this song to me on the radio, demonstrating that God even provides words for the prayer when you can’t think of any (skip the ad):

He did hold on to me. He didn’t let me lose my way. And He may have broken my iPhone, too, I’m not sure. My iPhone shattered that day, and it pushed me to the cusp of sanity.

I called J on my shattered screen, and before I could say anything negative, the sound of his voice offered truth and perspective in these things:

For unknown reasons except grace and goodness, God has given me Jeff: a wholly undeserved shower of God’s own love, faithfulness, creativity, humor and compassion on a daily basis. A person somewhere is longing for this. For unknown and undeserved reasons, we are cared for by others.  A person somewhere cannot identify one single support person in his or her life. For unknown and undeserved reasons, we live in a privileged place. A person right this very second is standing in a refugee camp somewhere waiting to live to any place. For no reason but the grace of God, we have too much food. Somebody very close to me is hungry right now. We have joy in our lives, not fear. A person right now is living in fear of bombs, or dictators, or ownership. And for unknown reasons but our privileged lot in life, we have one viable medical option, and while the money appears to be a significant setback, we are able to budget. Someone right now doesn’t have a single dime to his or her name, nor do they live in a place that offers a “Reproductive Endocrinologist”. For someone right now, even three months of injections with a 25% success rate isn’t an option. Lord, have mercy. Our cups runneth over.

God brought to the surface things in our lives that needed healing: our health, our diet, our finances, our faith, although all seemed fine before this crisis. And God has provided us with the warmest community of support and compassion in women/couples who “understand this most intimate pain” (Kim’s words) before we even had to ask for it.

The awareness of God in our lives, our communication with and total reliance on Him, our awareness of our lifestyle in regards to the foods we’re eating and the money we spend on things, and our thankfulness for other gifts- like eachother- have increased dramatically.

I heard a quote at the Global Leadership Conference last year about a missionary guy who was fleeing for his life due to the practice of his faith. When someone from the US told him we would be praying for him, the missionary said to the US guy: “WE will be praying for YOU! I hear there are people in America who can go an entire day without praying because they have found a way to be sufficient without God.”

I do not lie when I say this: I prayed that day God would make me more reliant on Him. I felt like a pansy over here, forgetting about God because I was accidentally meeting my own needs. And then we saw the Endocrinologist who said, Welp. You don’t make mature eggs, sorry.

I can’t fix my own eggs, obviously. And I don’t think God ordained my eggs to be immature. In fact, I belive God sits next to me on the porch swing with more empathy than I could fathom, heartbroken over the disaster his earth and population and creation have become. There are lots of things that can be traced back to the exact moment they went awry- BPA, antibiotics and hormones in chickens, melanoma. And there are lots of things that just don’t make any sense.

I don’t understand the theology of infertility, not even a little. But I don’t think God creates disorder. He creates perfect things, and the depravity of human nature disrupts them. This is not the way He designed it. And I just read in Crazy Love (Francis Chan) that God has as much right to ask us- Why are your bodies defective? Why are my people starving? Why is there cancer? As we have to ask him- Why is my body defective? Why are people starving? Why is there cancer? Humans create disorder, and God doesn’t always save us from it. I don’t know why.  But what God promises is that He will use the disorder to draw us closer, and to make something beautiful out of what darkness tried to steal.

In a tiny whisper, I tell you: I am content in this circumstance.

(Thanks K, for helping me find some words.)


49 thoughts on “Grown-up words”

  1. Brooke, your faith is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings so that we may share them with others. You and Jeff are in my prayers.


  2. Beautiful, Brooke. Amazing, inspiring words. Thank you for sharing and I echo Ali when I say that you will be in our prayers.


  3. Brooke, this is awesome! Praise God that you have been able to seek Him during such a hard time. Thank you for being brave enough to share! You and ur hubby are in my prayers!


  4. I thank God for the gift of expression and communication that He gave to you so that others may feel more deeply His heart through yours. You are very courageous to acknowledge and grieve the pain out loud; so wise to recognize and celebrate the truth for us all to be reminded; faithful to choose where you set your mind, where you plant your feet, where you choose to fix your eyes. I love you. And I love you more. Mom.


  5. Brooke I don’t know you, but your story is very enlivening. I thank our Almight God to give you courage to witness what he has done in your life. I believe God has bigger plans for you and J, for his promises are real and his so faithful. Above all things Brooke Our heavenly Father Loves us so much. Have courage knowing his is there for you. Keep you in my prayers.


  6. Thank you for sharing your heart, Brooke ! These have been words that touch me deeply & make me realize all over again just what a wonderful, caring, loving God we serve, & how very much we do take for granted ! I want to forever remember the words that missionary said to that American, & too, want to share that !

    Love you Brooke ! May the Lord use you & Jeff to fulfill His perfect purpose for your life together ! :)


  7. a friend posted this on facebook. so i came and read. while my words probably wouldn’t have flowed so elegantly, this is very much what God taught us (and is still teaching us) through infertility and adopting two amazing little girls.
    if i had chosen our path it would have been much different, but not nearly as amazing as when God exchanged our ashes for beauty!


  8. My dearest one,
    While reading “Grown Up Words” my heart ached. After reading “Grown Up Words”, I thought my heart would bust from being so proud of you and J. Grateful and thankful to God for leading you to evalulate the importance of life and … you get it! What a blessing to see God working in your lives. I pray you continue to keep your eyes on Him. He will not mislead you. I wish I could lighten your heart, but I see that God has taken care of that. My door is always open. Love, G-Ma


  9. Hi, a friend shared this with me and all I can say is wow. We are in the same boat in some regards. Thanks for sharing your story and making me feel like I am not alone, and that my life still has meaning and that God is in control. Faith is a hard thing to have when you don’t get your way. But it’s a HUGE relief to finally realize that God has plans for you and they may not be what you think they should be. Give it to Him. The rest will take care of itself. Good luck on your journey. And feel free to follow my bolog as we journey towards adoption.


  10. Brooke,
    Thank you for your vulnerability. You inspire me and reflect a maturity that is beyond your young years. Your words that now have been shared are returning to you many times over – that is for sure! Thank you for growing me …and all your world.
    This chapter of your life story sits on the bench at the Greyhound bus station with a ticket in hand. Destination? Who knows? But like you said….it’s all about the journey and the living that happens along the way, including detours, freeways, hard benches and soft friends.
    Grateful to be a friend…in the softest way possible.
    Gretty (and John)


  11. Beautiful Brooke. Our brokenness may be one the most sacred places on earth. No matter what the struggle or the cause of the brokenness your words are certainly a great reminder of God’s true sovereignty and love.
    May 7 at 12:43pm · Unlike · 5


    1. Trish, ten-thousand hugs from my family to yours. Your faith has been so evident & I’ve thought of you daily in the last couple of weeks.


  12. OK, that was the most precise expression of two huge topics dear to my heart. Thank you for crafting it so beautifully, Brooke. OK to share?
    May 7 at 1:35pm


  13. To click “like” is so insufficient…. You will always be someone who is dear to my heart. (also someone who might be geographically in the same spot. We’re moving back to the north side. Just need to find a job first.)
    May 7 at 2:07pm via mobile · Unlike · 2


    1. Marc, you will always be… someone I snuck into the dorm! I cannot wait to share a meal with you on the northside, ole buddy ole pal.


  14. Brooke, you have such a gift with your writing. Thank you for sharing your heart. I have been praying for you since that small group when we divided up couples, this helps me to know how to pray more specifically… praying alongside of you
    May 7 at 3:40pm


  15. Now would be a great time to hug you. So, consider yourself hugged. Oh, and that was exceptional. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Seriously. I couldn’t.
    May 7 at 4:50pm · Like · 1


  16. I was just thinking the other day of several friends who have fertility struggles…my heart is blessed by your well spoken words…beautiful….touching….thanks.
    May 7 at 5:22pm via mobile


  17. Made me cry…u have a gift of words and a strong faith that is so very impressive…love and prayers to both u and Jeff…
    May 7 at 5:41pm via mobile · Like · 1


  18. Wow – wow….love you and love how you so beautifully and lovingly shared what has to be amazingly crazy. I’m with Sprinky – exceptionally said. I miss you, and would really, really like to catch up with you in person soon – when is a good time.
    May 7 at 9:50pm · Unlike · 1


  19. That was beautiful Brooke. God is using you and you are a very special person. Love you.
    May 7 at 10:00pm via mobile


  20. Love! That was a beautiful way to express the grace and goodness the Lord has shown in your life. We never know what our brothers and sisters are truly dealing with, but it was inspiring to be reminded, He will comfort us through it all. I pray supernatural healing and a healthy journey for you both.
    May 7 at 10:27pm


  21. you are amazing. thank you for sharing. i still cannot put into words our reproduction pain. I JUST had an HSG test done on thursday and bawled the whole time. Love you and love that you can write about this. thanks for having a voice when i cannot.
    May 7 at 10:37pm


  22. This is absolutely beautiful. How strong you are. How beautiful and faithful and reverent. May peace be with you.
    May 7 at 10:54pm · Unlike · 1


  23. I want to cry, laugh, and sing praises all at the same time. Thank you for sharing, Brooke. Big hugs!!!
    May 8 at 10:48am via mobile


    1. Stefanie- we ALMOST called you guys last night for a drink. But then we decided to visit my grandma instead. She keeps offering us this 50-inch TV and all. Just kidding! (about the TV)
      May 8 at 10:50am


  24. Well, you did it…made your Daddy cry while he’s sitting on the beach in the middle of vacation. Proud of you, and if I ever wondered for one second that your writing and sharing was used by God to touch the lives of others, I don’t any more. See you when we get back.
    May 8 at 10:50am via mobile · Like · 2


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