i am enough
side note before i get started: my house is SO MUCH QUIETER with only one dog. poor bella is at the vet waiting to get her upper right canine extracted. because. she eats rocks and metal crates and such. jake is flying solo today and i'm enjoying the lack of double trouble. bina, however, misses her bella like crazy. she cried when we left her at the vet, "bew-boo! bew-boo!" we'll get her back tonight.
a couple weeks ago i had a bad week. it started with some digestive discomfort on a monday after eating some sketchy shrimp the night before. that passed, and then i over ate on that thursday at lunch and was uncomfortably full for the next two and a half days. then i did what i should never do: consult dr. google. my research findings revealed that i either had early signs of GERD or a peptic ulcer, or had pancreatic cancer. of course i jumped to pancreatic cancer. david and i took bina to the park in northville saturday after dinner. we walked along the creek and sat down to listen to the water. i thought to myself: this is it. bina is going to grow up not knowing who i am. we won't be able to adopt or have any more children by birth. i have months to live. we'll come back here as i'm wasting away from now until i die of cancer. shockingly, my growing anxiety culminated in a panic attack that night. i was in complete distress thinking i was right back where i started a year ago when i thought i had grown so much over the past year. that devastated me. i was terrified to feel like i was not myself and not the mom i want to be for bina for another month.
now, there were several things that happened to set up that perfect storm. first of all, it's right around the time when my anxiety was ramping up last year. i've been weaning down on my anxiety/depression meds from the lowest dose to half of that. i've been seeing a psychologist every other week but since she had been on vacation the week of my regular appointment, i had gone three weeks without seeing her. i had been looking forward to participating in a backyard bible club with some friends from our small group and their kids. but i found out i couldn't bring bina, which meant i couldn't come. i was feeling bummed about that and left out for having a younger child than my friends, and no one who could babysit bina for four days to allow me to participate. because i had this unexpected free week, i determined to make it a fun week for just me and bina. live it up before we are placed with an adopted baby. but then i started feeling crummy and didn't get to do all the things i wanted to do with bina. that bummed me out because i've been feeling like this summer is the one to redeem the last two, and there i was not feeling great and letting it impact our activities again. there were some other difficult situations and conversations surrounding that week as well. i weathered the storm all week, but the symptoms lasting into saturday pushed me over the edge. as did my google search. damn you, google, and all of your information at my fingertips.
sunday morning i decided to go back up to my regular full dose of medication. we went to church. though i had slept, i felt tired. i felt like a fraud. as if everyone around me had it together and i was the only one faking it. during the service i heard two things from god:
(1) i am enough.
(2) it's time to read the broken way.
i am enough. i look back on this and at the time i thought it meant me - i personally am enough. i am enough for bina. whatever my state, god has me and i am enough. even if i have another month of insomnia/anxiety/depression like i did last summer, we will make it. it will not damage bina for life. have grace for yourself, brittain. it's going to be ok. but as i'm thinking about it now, i think maybe god is saying HE is enough. he is enough for me, for bina, for david. when i am not enough, HE IS. he's got me. he's got this. all i have to do is show up and surrender to him. i am enough IN HIM. whatever he has in store, he will give me grace to face each step. one step at a time. and you know what? we DID do fun things that week. maybe not as much as i would have liked, but that's ok. we went raspberry picking. we went to the lake, just me and bina and then all three of us together. i may have needed to exhibit some more self care than usual that week, but that's ok. we were still able to enjoy ourselves.
i started reading ann voskamp's the broken way on sunday afternoon. it really spoke to my heart. the first two chapters made me feel so much less alone. ann voskamp has six children by birth and one by adoption. seven total. and she has dealt with crippling anxiety. in the second chapter she talks about one of her daughters sharing that she too struggles the same way as ann. it breaks ann's heart. heightens her anxiety. i look at ann voskamp and i see this quiet, powerful person who is so in tune with the lord. i want to be her when i grow up. follow her as she follows jesus. i decided i wanted to try to homeschool because of her. i absolutely love her example of grace upon grace. living the ugly beautiful. seeing god at work, finding thanks in all things and circumstances. knowing that we are all broken. and our wonderful savior was broken for us, that we might be restored to a right relationship with god. and that is all that there is. ann is so wonderfully honest and raw. to me, her story is like those of david and job in the bible. we are all the same kind of broken. these stories, these lives. they give me hope. like maybe i can do this too.
almost two weeks later i'm doing just fine. we even went up north last weekend and david reminded me via his facebook memories that we were up north that same weekend last year. that same weekend when my insomnia had just started. and then continued for a month. i had anxiety when he reminded me of that. but this year is not last year. and i slept just fine the night he told me. a bit interrupted by bina, and i awoke with back pain from sleeping with her on a twin mattress on the floor, but i slept. oh the grace of god.
i've been thinking back on that month last year. and all last summer, really. frustrated with bina's random hours up in the night. angry. tired. turns out it was teething. she's teething her two year molars this summer. and you know what? i'm not frustrated with the hours up in the night. i'm not angry. it just is what it is. she will not be teething forever. she's also still adjusting to sleeping in a toddler bed instead of a crib. so much change for her little body. it's made for an interesting summer of (lack of) sleep. and that's ok. i'm ok. she's ok. we're all ok. now THAT is a testament to the work god has done in me this last year. i am not the same as i was last summer, or the summer before that, or the summer before that. i AM growing, maturing, learning to let go and go with the flow more. not all the time, but a whole lot more than i was before.
the last few days as i've been pumping and hand expressing i allowed myself to dwell in the uncertainty of it all. our adoption specialist first said the earliest we would be approved was late august/september. the timeline has been revised to mid to late september now. i met with a lactation consultant in ann arbor to make a plan for a late august placement. but now it looks like we will have another month of time. i could be all bent out of shape about that. but i'm not. instead, i'm thankful for more time to work on building my milk supply. more time with just sabina. i don't know exactly when we will be placed. no one does, except god. assuming that he allows us to be placed with a baby. i'm pumping and hand expressing twice a day with the goal of working up to four or more times a day before baby arrives. i'm telling my boobs to produce more milk, putting in my order.
building up a milk supply, freezing any milk i produce now for supplementing later.
i'm doing this work in faith, anticipating that we will be placed. and even if we are, there is a 10% chance that the birth mama will ask that her child be returned to her. there is so much uncertainty in all this. so much unknown. so much that cannot be known until the time comes. and i have to live in that uncertainty. live by faith. and not faith that we will for sure be placed and get to legal placement. no. faith that god has a plan in all this. he has allowed me to nurse bina for more than two years and has placed this desire to prepare to breastfeed an adopted babe. and if we are not placed. and if we are, and the birth mama asks that her child be returned. is he not still good? he is always. always. always good. may my faith be strong enough to say, "lord, not my will but yours be done." i hold this life loosely. it is not mine, it is his. created by him, for his glory. for his purposes. purposes that i may not ever fully understand or comprehend. and that is ok.
on instagram i responded to a post asking for readers to comment what god has been teaching them to be considered to receive one of two free copies of a book. i was one of the two chosen to receive the book. and wouldn't you know, it was no coincidence that i was chosen to receive this book at this time. the book is called cultivate: a grace-filled guide to growing an intentional life.
of course i received it just last week. and of course it is speaking all the things i need to hear, that god has been speaking to me lately. i think grace is the word used most in the book. grace upon grace upon grace. i've been posting the title page of almost every chapter. just packed with good truth to combat the lies i've lived in the past, that still creep up and try to choke me again and again.
i've been feeling a pull to really cut back on my use of devices and addiction to social media (even though i'm down to just instagram). this book is giving me the motivation to finally follow through with my plans. the author writes of the decision she came to herself, "i'm willing to disappoint people, delay answering messages, fall behind on e-mail, and let go of perfection in favor of cultivating a lasting love and connection with my daughter" (p. 38). yes. all this. yes. she calls her readers to imagine our cultivated lives, "something that changes generations because we aren't afraid to live the unique paths we have been given" (p. 71). omg. she's just speaking my language. i can't even deal. all the things. flag all the pages. underline all the sentences. paragraphs. chapters. the whole book. oh the grace of god. also i just read how they struggled to conceive a second baby and then began a journey with adoption. and then got pregnant. before that she decided to quit her job as the editor in chief of southern weddings in order to - get this - homeschool her daughter. i was just like. jaw drop. girl, your story is my story (i mean not really, but the whole leaving your job to be with your kid and adoption journey after baby #1 general story line yes). her thoughts are all the things i have thought. OH THE GRACE OF GOD.
god is right. he is enough. i am enough in him. i don't have to strive. i don't have to do all the things. i can't do all the things. balance is an illusion. an unattainable goal. some days or weeks i focus on the house and the house is clean but i don't get out much. some days or weeks i focus on serving others and the house is a wreck. some days i focus on fun activities with bina and dinner is scrambled eggs every night. there's always something. i can't do all the things at once and that is ok. i am ok. i do what i can, taking turns prioritizing different things at different times. if god chooses to place us with a babe, our lives will look very different! and that is ok. i am ok. the house will be messy. the laundry will be a mountain range. the sink will overflow with dishes. and that is ok. i am ok. it's not forever, it is temporary. thank god babies aren't newborns forever. or toddlers forever. or teenagers forever. there are joys and challenges in each and every season. and that is ok. in all of it, god is enough. and i am enough in him.
i am enough. and i press on in him.