A Lesson in Vulnerability- David’s Story

I am honored to have my husband write his story on my blog. The truths he shares are profound, and have moved me to tears- and given me red cheeks from embarrassment! 😉 But seriously though, not many men are willing to share their side of the story. Not publicly, anyway. I have always been in awe of David’s humility, transparency, and deep love for me. Sometimes I’m not sure I realize just how much. This story is no different. I am grateful to be able to share with you the perspective of my big-hearted, strong, and gentle man. I hope you are touched just as I have been.

-Katie

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed of being a father. But then, I’ve had a lot of dreams. Some of them I’ve lived, as I was fortunate enough to travel and play music for a living for the better part of five years, and others I will only ever play out in my dreams as I will never be a professional baseball player at this point in my life! One dream, however, that I wholeheartedly believe I will achieve one day is the aforementioned dream of fatherhood. I was so lucky to have grown up in a home where my parents truly loved each other and have happily been married for what will be 36 years in February. My father also set a wonderful example of how a man should love his children and in turn  has inspired me to grow up and be like him; a loving husband and a genuinely great dad. It seems as if it is one of the few things in my life that I was made for, that I believe that I have what it takes to face the challenge head on and excel, but haven’t quite been able to make it happen yet. For a 34 year old man like me…that’s scary! You see, I have always said that I wanted to have kids at a bit of a younger age because I didn’t want to be one of those dads that was 50 years old with a child in high school. My plan was to be a 50 year old dad who has since retired, sent his kids off to college and is setting off to travel the world with his beautiful wife, ready for the next adventure. If you do the math, plans have definitely changed…

If you read Katie’s post a few days ago about our fertility journey (and I highly recommend that you do if you haven’t already) then you know that our story is one of hope and healing. But the road has been long and it’s been a struggle. She was so brave as she gave you a glimpse into her heart and soul as we’ve been walking out our story. Around the time that she was writing her story for her blog, she asked me if I’d be willing to write out my perspective and experiences and share them with the world. Now, I’m not one to usually bat an eye at an opportunity like this as I love to write, but this assignment in particular has been one that I’ve been wrestling with for a few days. Why? Because it’s something that I have been extremely private about in personal and professional circles, and suddenly I’ve committed to sharing with the world my struggle and my experience and how I’ve grown during this process. Now, here I am, writing this out, because I believe that this road that I’m walking is one that a great deal of other men walk too. And most of the time, those guys are walking side by side with their wife, trying to be strong and longing to be understood and noticed just like their significant other. Guys, it’s a lonely place, and not for the faint of heart. It’s a place where you, as a man, often feel overlooked by your peers because most people think about infertility as being a problem with her, not you. Often times it can feel like nobody recognizes that you too are a part of this journey. But fellas, I see you, and this one’s for you! I hope you find encouragement and strength in the words that follow.

When Katie and I got married, our plan was to give ourselves about a year to just be us and experience life as a married couple before we started trying for a baby. It seemed like a great plan! We never sat down and mapped everything out so that we had something tangible to point to and say, “Today is the day! Let’s make a baby!” We believed that we would just know when it felt right that it was time to start trying. I’ll never forget the day! We were both in our friends’ wedding, literally almost a year to the day after our own, enjoying the reception, having a glass of wine, and taking a break from the greatness that was unfolding on the dance floor (the bride and groom are both phenomenal dancers, almost like a young Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers). Katie was looking extra fine this evening, and I just had this overwhelming urge to tell her that I was ready. So…I did. I don’t think she took me seriously at first, but I couldn’t have been more sincere in my sharing of how I felt. Thus begins the journey.

For the first couple of months, everything seemed perfectly normal. I figured that we were just missing the mark by the slightest of margins each month. When the next few months rolled around and we realized that she wasn’t pregnant yet, it became a bit more frustrating, but we both remained optimistic that it would happen soon. Six months passed and still nothing. A year passes and still…nothing! With each passing month, I see the stress and the weight of the situation starting to take it’s toll on Katie. “You need to be strong for her!” I thought with every tear she cried. “You’ve got to be her rock! You can’t allow her to carry this burden! You’ve got to remind her every day that our time is coming! It’s going to happen!” All of these thoughts began to creep in and control my emotions, and I began to internalize and suppress the sadness and the frustrations that I was feeling. I started to believe that it wasn’t okay for me to grieve because Katie was grieving, and I needed to be her shoulder to cry on. Little did I know that what I was doing was causing more harm than good.

One of the hardest lessons that I have ever had to learn in my entire life occurred about 8 months ago. You see, while I wasn’t allowing myself to show emotion because I felt like I had to be “strong” for my wife, she was beginning to believe that the struggle wasn’t real for me like it was for her. Because I wasn’t grieving with her, or crying with her, or even visually pissed off about the situation with her, in her mind, what was becoming real to her- because it was what she was seeing from me- was that I wasn’t in this like she was. She felt like it didn’t bother me like it bothered her, and our marriage began to suffer because of it! I was so worried about bearing a burden that wasn’t mine to bear, that I became numb to all the feelings and emotions that were being buried under this tough guy facade that I was putting on. My “strength” was becoming my demise! My “encouraging words” were becoming less and less meaningful to her. Thankfully, Katie is bold enough to call me out when she sees something that she feels is uncharacteristic of me. She began to recognize that this gentle dude that she married was trying to be a tough guy that didn’t seem to care too much about the process. I’m so glad that she did! The Lord uses Katie in so many ways to kick me in the butt and make me realize that I’m being dumb. This one particular night, about 8 months ago, was one that I’ll never forget. We had just gotten home from a day out, and I could tell that something had been on Katie’s mind. Before I could ask her what was troubling her, she looks at me and begins to pour her heart out about how she was viewing my actions and how it made her feel. As she began telling me that she felt so alone on this journey that we were supposed to be walking out together, and she didn’t understand how I could be so stoic in the midst of one of the hardest seasons of our lives, the Lord began to reveal to me a very important truth. He said, “You don’t have to be strong for her…I am her strength, just as I am yours! Katie needs you to meet her where she is, and walk with her. Let me carry the two of you, together, through this. It isn’t your burden to bear. Trust me!” In that moment, I lost it! Over a years worth of pinned up stress and sadness and pain and despair started pouring out, and I cried! Uncontrollably! I cried as if it were my job! And it hurt like hell, but at the same time it was so therapeutic. It was like I had suddenly become a real person again. I felt like myself for the first time in months. Prior to “the cry” I had become a bit of a zombie, hopelessly wandering through each day without any idea as to what I was doing. I felt human again! I felt connected with my wife again! And she felt like she had her husband back. The important takeaway from this is that we as humans, often try to carry things that are too heavy for us to handle. For a little while, we can usually remain strong and carry it a fair distance, but without the strength and endurance of the Father, we falter and break down all the while focusing on the burden, and not the prize. Katie is my prize, and I missed out on quality of life with her for so long, because I was focused on the burden. A burden that isn’t mine to bear.

Guys, if I can wish upon you one takeaway from this post, it’s this. Be okay with being real. Be okay with showing emotion. It isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of maturity! I referred to myself in the last paragraph as being a gentle dude, and I’m ok with that. Ya know why? Because the truth of gentleness is that it’s controlled strength. Picture a lion and it’s cub playing together. That lion is strong and powerful and in any moment could crush that little cub with one paw. But, it has the ability to control itself and be gentle, understanding what it’s capable of doing in an instant. Gentleness is attributed to real masculinity…don’t be afraid of it. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to be open and vulnerable with your wives. “Tough guy syndrome” will cause men to put up a front and act like they’ve got it all together. It’s important to understand that vulnerability with your wife breeds intimacy with her, and in times of adversity, relationship and intimacy are far more important to the longevity of your marriage that any amount of “being strong for her” will be. I trust that you understand what I’m saying.

It’s been two years this month since we started trying for a baby…two of the hardest years of my life. After reading Katie’s blog post the other day, a buddy of mine at work asked me how I was able to walk into work everyday with a smile on my face. That question challenged me to reflect on the last two years, and my conclusion is this. I find joy from the Lord in the midst of our circumstances because through this process, especially the last few months, I’ve realized that our relationship has deepened, our hope has been restored, and our little life is beautiful!

Psalm 30:1-5

“I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Psalm 147:11

“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”

Much Love to you all!

-DK

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The Season We Didn’t Expect

 

It was a chilly day in late November, almost two years ago. We were in the car, driving toward home. Out of the blue, my husband looked at me with a grin and said, “Hey, do you want to start trying to have a baby?” I thought about it for a second. It felt like a scary step, but exciting at the same time. “Sure,” I said. “Let’s go for it.” You see, when we got engaged we talked about how long we wanted to wait after we were married before starting a family. We both agreed we’d give ourselves a year for it to just be “us” and then we’d reevaluate after that. Well, here we were almost exactly a year after we got married, actually going for it.

I seriously thought I was pregnant the first month. After all, all of the women in my family are pretty dang fertile, and my body had never showed any signs of being “off” in that arena. I just always knew I’d get pregnant within the first month or two that we tried. Any other scenario was never on my radar. It was an experience I didn’t even have a grid for.

After the first month, I shrugged it off. “Alright,” I thought. “since it wasn’t this month, it’s probably gonna be next month.” Not being pregnant the first month made me realize for the first time how badly I actually wanted this. The twinge of disappointment that I felt when the test was negative, confirmed that yes, I was ready for a baby. Or so I thought.

By the time month 6 came and went with no growing baby inside, I felt like I’d been hit by a semi. Blindsided. Why was I not pregnant yet? When my mom got pregnant with both my brother and me, it was as if she and my dad snapped their fingers, and voila! We existed. I am my mother’s mini-me. I should be pregnant right now. What am I doing wrong?! That’s it. I must be doing something wrong. Fear began to creep up. The “what ifs” were debilitating. What if my body is messed up and I can’t have a baby? What if I’m not getting pregnant because I have unforgiveness in my heart? Maybe it’s stress. Maybe I’m not eating the right foods. I’ll take more vitamins. I’ll exercise. Oh but wait, what if exercise is keeping me from getting pregnant? Okay, I won’t exercise except for the two weeks of the month that I know I’m not pregnant. I’ll figure this out. I WILL FIX THIS. These are the kind of thoughts that would run through my head over and over and over. There must be something I can do that I haven’t tried yet that will be the “key” we need to get pregnant. I was so desperately trying to hold on to an illusion of control that I’d never been forced to give up before. The thought of being out of control of my own body was terrifying, and I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that I was the one who called the shots. In my head, I wasn’t trying to control the situation. I genuinely thought I was being responsible and a good steward of my body by changing my diet, taking supplements, exercising, etc. The problem was, the more I tried to fix and control and hold on, the more agonizing it became. As the months wore on, I realized I couldn’t hear God’s voice anymore. I was hurting badly. Confused. Alone. Embarrassed. This was not supposed to happen to me. This kind of stuff only happens to the people who don’t take care of themselves. Man, was I wrong. AND arrogant.

At this point, during the first year, we had told no one we were trying except for two very close friends. We started out deciding not to tell anyone because we thought it would be a fun surprise for our friends and family when we told them we were pregnant. Later, it became a matter of being too painful to risk telling someone who wouldn’t understand, and having to bear the agony of hearing the well-intentioned, yet heart-piercing words of a person who just hadn’t walked that road. My heart was too fragile. I just couldn’t risk it. For me, telling people who had never been in my shoes was the most vulnerable and scary thing during the first year and a half. Through the whole process though, I kept feeling the nudge that I would one day blog about our experience. There were many many months where the thought of putting it out there for the whole world to see and comment on made me sick to my stomach. Yet, so often I think about all the women and men out there who are struggling with the very same things and feel so many of the same things we have. My goal and my heart in sharing our story is that those who are experiencing delayed fertility, or really any hard season, would find comfort, peace, and truth in knowing that they are not alone and that God is faithful and good, even when our circumstances look bleak and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Over and over, I have had to fight to hold onto that truth. I have experienced those moments of complete hopelessness and despair, when you can’t see or feel or hear God, and you wonder if he’s abandoned you. I have had days when all I could do was just lay in bed and cry- the kind of cry that comes from deep deep down in the recesses of your soul- and wonder if this is all some kind of sick joke- that God would give us the desire to have a child, only to tease us with something that will always stay just out of our reach.

Through this whole process, I have journaled. Journaling keeps me sane, and helps me process my thoughts and feelings. It is a place where I connect so deeply with God. Some of the most powerful truths I have ever received have come through journaling. Below is an excerpt from my journal, dated 9/23/16. That day was a turning point for me. Up until this point, I had been working really hard to “fix” myself, and had not been able to hear God’s voice for almost a year. I had been able to feel him near me, but his voice felt silent. As I was reading a blog called “Barren to Beautiful,” something I read struck a chord within me and it was as if someone took cotton out of my ears and I could hear for the first time. It was like having blurry vision and putting on a pair of glasses. This is what God spoke to me through my journaling: “Even when you don’t have anything to offer me, I still give good gifts. You are free to be angry, to doubt me, to be sad, lonely, confused, and scared. You’re free to have worries and fears, because I am bigger than all of that. I can handle it. My love is greater than your fear. None of those things are going to thwart or sabotage my plan for you. My gifts are free, they cannot be earned. You could do all the “wrong” things, and I would still give, because that is my nature. I am an extravagant father. You don’t have “lessons to learn” before I’ll give you a baby. I’m not waiting for you to get rid of your bad habits or let go of your fears, or learn the things you need to learn so I can make you a mom. I want to give you a free gift. You can’t earn a baby. There’s no making yourself a worthy candidate of motherhood. You’re already worthy. I am the one who qualifies you. There’s nothing you could do to make it happen, and there is nothing you have or haven’t done that is preventing it from happening. I just want you to rest, and let me give you good gifts in my timing. I want to do a miracle in your heart while you’re waiting for a miracle in your body.” I’ve been trying to give God my “junk” all along in hopes that that’s what would entice him to give something to me that I so desperately want. And it’s not working. I’m realizing I have nothing to give him. He’s not asking for anything. He already has my heart, and I’ve already given him my life. That’s all he ever wanted from me. His love is strong enough to crowd out all of the stuff in my life that doesn’t need to be there. He’s just inviting me to rest with him and let him love me, and he will do the rest. When I didn’t get pregnant right away, I started thinking lies that I must have some work to do first. That there must be some things he wants me to change before he sees me as fit to be a mother. All along this has been the plan of the enemy to keep me looking inward, distracted. In God’s eyes, there are no requirements or prerequisites to motherhood. I get to be free to just love him and be myself, and trust that He knows what is needed and is working it out.

This was the release I needed. The permission to let myself be broken, because He is my healer. He cleans up my messes, He restores my soul. He brings beauty from nothing, and He gives good gifts. Free gifts. Gifts that He gives just because He loves us, not because we have earned it. In the beginning, I would have said that getting pregnant is the goal, and that would be the ultimate gift. Now, I can wholeheartedly say that while I do still so desperately long for and desire to be pregnant, the gift of new life I have received in my heart over and over again throughout these painful months is so priceless that I wouldn’t ever trade it for a baby. Even now, the fact that I can say that reminds me that God really is doing miracles in my heart while I wait for the miracle in my body.

“Though the fig tree does not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deers, he makes me tread on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

Lessons I’m learning in the in-between

I am in an in-between season. I am not where I was, but I am not yet where I want to be. I’m sure we can all identify with that at some point in our lives. These are the seasons where we wonder, “what the heck am I doing?!” and we sometimes feel like we’re floundering about, unable to make sense of why we are where we are, and what the meaning of all this is.

You see, the illusion here is that this time in our lives has no purpose. Or it’s purpose is eluding us. Or if you’re like me, you wonder from time to time if the purpose is to make you completely and utterly miserable. Ha… Just being real.

I find myself asking why way too much. Graham Cooke says that ‘why’ is a victim question. Ouch. He says that instead, we should ask God what He is doing and how we can partner with Him in the process. Instead of seeing ourselves as poor, powerless victims, those questions put us in a place of co-laboring with God. They’re relational questions. I like that.

So, in asking God those questions, these are some things I’m learning right now.

In every situation, it is always important to ask myself if I am valuing my heart. Recently I found myself in a situation where I was not valuing my heart. I thought I was “denying myself” and putting others before me and being a servant. This is a good thing to do, but NEVER at the expense of my own heart. What I mean by valuing my heart, is that I am making sure that I put myself in situations that are life-giving to me, not sucking the life out of me. I look at it this way- You know how they tell you on airplanes that in the event of an emergency where the oxygen masks are needed, ALWAYS put yours on first before helping the person next to you? It can seem selfish until you understand the reason why. If you’re gasping for air, you won’t be in a position to best serve the other person. You’ll be in panic mode, just trying to survive. Panic or survival mode is never life giving or beneficial. God’s heart for His children is always abundant life. This doesn’t mean He’ll never ask us to do things that are uncomfortable or hard or sacrificial, but when He does bring us into those situations, He always has the grace and joy that we need right there waiting for us. If we want it. So, I realized that it’s not selfish of me to step out of situations for a moment so I can put my “oxygen mask” on. It’s vital. It’s necessary for me to live the abundant, joy-filled life that God is offering me.

So, there you go. My lesson for the week. The in-between seasons are there so we can take time to discover new truths about God and ourselves. It’s vital that we engage in this process of asking God what He is doing and how we can partner with Him, because through our relational pursuit of Him, He wants to show us truth that we will need to carry into the next season.

Now that I’m learning all this new stuff I guess it means I have to stop whining.

The Beginning of the Journey

Ever since I could write, I’ve kept a journal. I think I still have every single one of them. It’s my way of getting out what’s inside; of decompressing, if you will. It’s the way I process what’s going on in my heart and life, and it almost always turns into me just talking to God. It’s been really freeing to realize that writing is the way that I pray and the way that I most clearly hear the Lord speaking to me.

About 2 months ago, I felt like the Lord suggested that I start a blog. I’d never really given much serious thought to writing a blog, mainly because everybody is writing a blog now, and it seems like the popular thing to do. I hate doing what’s popular just because it’s popular. And besides, who would really read it anyway? Doesn’t everyone already have enough blogs to read? But nonetheless, that’s what He said. So my next question is, why? Why would God think it’s a good idea for me to start a blog? Well, I decided to journal about it.

This is an excerpt from my journal back in September, after I asked myself the question, “why would I start a blog?” Here’s what came out. “To make Him known. To make His name great. To establish His Kingdom on the earth. To tear down strongholds of religion and false mindsets. To establish a spirit of unity, honor, love and grace in the world. To inspire hearts to freedom. To life. To worship. To break down walls and facades of isolation through transparency. This is why I know Him. He’s why I live. Truly live. To bring about a standard of thankfulness. To inspire others to not live by yesterday’s standards and ways of doing life. Today, there is new revelation. New wisdom, new grace, new life to grab onto- to violently take hold of and to root- to plant deep down in the soil of our hearts so that we can bring forth and bear new life. This makes me want to worship  Him. I don’t have any answers in and of myself, but I am intimately acquainted with the One who does. And I know that if I open up my heart, my mind, my spirit- and open up my mouth, He will come forth, and He will go forth and mend the broken places, restore what was lost, and make right what has been turned upside down. He’s faithful to do what He says He’ll do. I’m a vessel, and have been placed here for such a time as this.”

So here I am, writing my very first blog! My hope is that as I share my heart, your heart will encounter His heart, and experience love and grace and freedom like you’ve never known before.