My Life

“…This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you’ve dreamed
That it would be when the world was younger,
And you had everything to lose?”
-This is Your Life by Switchfoot

When I was fourteen/fifteen, I listened to this song with hope that one day my life would be everything that I ever dreamed it would be. Because, I don’t know if you remember, but being a teenager isn’t as fun as they make it seem on TV. Your choices are pretty limited. You go to school, go to church, do your chores, do your homework, mind your manners, hang out with your friends, maybe get your driver’s permit, learn a life lesson or two. Sure, you have less responsibility and less to worry about, but that to me always meant being stuck in the same old routine.

I longed for the day when I’d be older because I couldn’t do any of the things I actually wanted to do until then. I figured if I finally finished school, published a book, got married, and started my own family, then I would have “arrived.” I would’ve been done with the farming and gaining XP part of this video game, and be leveled up enough to get to the good stuff. Do you know what has happened the older I’ve gotten? Nothing. I still feel exactly the same, like I’m waiting for the “good” part of my life to start.

Don’t get me wrong; I have A LOT to be thankful for. I have a good-paying job with incredible health insurance. I have a car that works (most of the time). I’m living in a rental house that’s in a good neighborhood. I have a husband that I don’t deserve. We have loving and supporting families, a nurturing church, great friends, and pets that are practically angels (when compared to the animals in all of those shaming memes). I’ve published three books and will be self-publishing a fourth in the next month or two (fingers crossed). I have a bouncing baby boy on the way.

According to the logic of Teenage Me, this should mean that I have “arrived,” right? My days of striving and waiting and working are over. I have everything that I’ve ever wanted, but nothing is at all like I thought it would be. I’ve always known that I’m something of a romantic, that I see life through rose-colored glasses. The truth is I don’t see life at all.

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I thought this meme only pertained to the fantasy worlds I wrote about. I was wrong. This is just how I view everything. Unrealistically. Positively. Naively. I set myself up for disappointment because I’ll always be waiting for my circumstances to align with my view of how things “ought to be” after all my years of “farming.” When in reality, life is hard and is always going to be. People tried to tell me this when I was younger. Sometimes I believed them. Most of the time I didn’t. Now, I think, I’m finally starting to see.

Because–shocker!–the things I’ve been looking forward to? They have their down sides too. For example:

  • I’m done with school (for now); that’s great. But trying to make writing my full time career or trying to get an internship at a publishing company is a drag. There’s always a better writer, a better candidate.
  • I’m published. Again, great! I’m super proud of the fact that I have books out there for people to enjoy! But book promotion and marketing are soul-crushing. There are so many articles and blog posts and YouTube videos chock full of information that has, so far, not helped me very much.
  • I’m married. Woohoo! But…actually, I have no complaints there. Being married to Devo Fox is pretty amazing. Sure, sometimes we confuse and frustrate each other, but we never go to bed angry. He’s still the first person I want to see when I wake up in the morning, the person I can’t wait to get home to. Moving right along…
  • I’m pregnant. Guess what. Feeling nauseous and exhausted all the time sucks. There are things I used to do with ease, things that I can’t do anymore because I literally don’t have the energy. I keep hearing that it’ll get better with time but it hasn’t. I’m thinking I’ll keep feeling sick and tired right up until I pop this kid out.

There is no giant scale where all my hours of farming go in and, after I’ve reached a certain point, I’ll have “earned” an easy-breezy end to my life. I’m always going to have to work for what I want. I’m never going to “arrive,” not until the second coming. If I get a little extra money to travel or purchase something big that I need, it’ll be a blessed miracle. If I ever look around and feel any measure of peace or contentment, I need to cherish that because those moments are so fleeting.

But nobody wants to hear about that, do they? Complainers and downers get nothing but eye-rolls and cricket noises. Plus, I don’t want to stay in this depressingly realistic place either. I want to continue seeing the bright side of things, to continue believing that my circumstances will get easier with time. Because if they don’t, then I might actually give up. What kind of life would that be?

There’s a not-so-subtle theme in The Andromeda Trilogy (cool name pending). It’s something along the lines of “do the best you can with what you have and try to find happiness no matter where you are in life.” It makes me sound wise but, as you can see, I’m still trying to figure out how to put that into practice. How to be content without getting complacent. How to see things as they are without giving in to depression and discouragement. How to explain to my kids the difference between living in the moment and being reckless. Because I can’t wait for the day my unrealistic expectations come true. Not anymore. This is my life. It’s happening right now. There is good and there is bad. There are things I can do and things I can’t. What am I going to do with this knowledge, this new outlook? Time will only tell.

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Hello, Peeta

Two blog posts ago, I shared the tragic loss of Bruce/Betsy (my husband’s white Mazda Ford pick up). For those of you who didn’t read that particular post, a red-light runner hit the truck on the driver’s side. My husband only sustained sever whiplash, thankfully, and the other driver was unharmed. But Bruce was totalled.

Anyway, it took three weeks for the policeman who was on the scene to file his report (which included testimonies from witnesses clearly stating that it was the other driver’s fault). It took four or five weeks for us to get an estimate of how much the truck was worth and how much the other driver’s insurance was willing to reimburse us for that rental car we had for two weeks. Even after we were sure we were going to get a certain amount for my husband’s truck, we still had to figure out what car we were going to by and from what kind of seller. This being our first big purchase (and by big I mean more than one thousand dollars), we knew we would need a loan and that the loan would come with a high insurance rate. My husband agonized over what to do for several days before he decided to play it safe and go with a dealership, Sanderson Ford to be exact. I have an uncle who works there, someone we were confident would get us the best possible deal, someone we knew we could trust.

(Not to say all car salesmen are tricksters; we just had a really bad experience with one two years ago when we almost bought a car from a Chevy dealership. That’s why we were so hesitant to go with a dealership this time.)

So my husband found a truck he liked that was reasonably priced, a used 2014 F150 with a crew cab and four wheel drive. He did a test drive with my uncle and loved it. My uncle said he could hold onto the truck for us for a little while, but we still didn’t know when those checks from insurance would come. As we drove home later that day, I said something like, “Should we check the mail? I know we just checked it yesterday and there’s probably nothing in there but…” My husband said it was worth a shot so we stopped by our mailbox. Out loud, as a joke, I prayed, “Jesus, it would be great if there was a check in that mailbox. If there isn’t, I’m sure we’ll be fine but it would still be REALLY great if there was.” And, praise God, both checks were in there! We turned the car around and went straight to the bank to deposit them. We went to Sanderson Ford the next morning. Two hours later, my husband drove his new truck home.

I know it looks red in the picture but its technically “sunset metallic” orange. I’m calling this new vehicular addition to our family Peeta, after Peeta Mellark. This mind-blowing blessing comes with a new payment every month and a spike in the amount we pay toward car insurance. But we’re still on cloud nine. We’ve been praying for this day since the accident happened back in October. God answered in a BIG way. We’re still humbled and in awe of His provision and His timing.

This year, as I’m looking back at everything my husband and I have been through individually and together, I’m calling 2018 the Year of Trust. We needed a new car, a dependable family car. We tried saving for it. Things happened that caused our car fund to slowly be depleted. Then the accident happened. I wouldn’t have thought to provide anyone with a car this way. But God did. Somehow, He knew this was the only way it could happen. Same with how our child came to be. Same with pretty much every aspect of our lives. Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I wonder why things happened the way that they did, why God couldn’t have made it a little easier. But that’s not for me to know, is it?

As I writer, I’ve put my characters through some pretty rough situations. They’ve experienced loss, heart-break, disappointment, injury, danger, and depression. But they always learn something in the end, maybe even become better people as a result. I’d like to think my husband and I are a little bit stronger now that this year is coming to an end, not only as a couple but as individuals. It wasn’t always fun, but I’m glad it happened.

Merry Christmas and happy New Year, readers. See you in 2019!

The Plan

In March of 2017, my husband dropped a bombshell on me. He said, “Whenever you’re ready to have kids, I’m ready.”

Up until that moment, we’d been focused on “the plan.” My husband was going to get into the police academy. We were going to raise enough money to replace one of our cars with a reliable family car. And then we would start our family. It seemed to me to be the smartest, most logical thing to do, the best way to guarantee a secure future for our children. But the more I thought and prayed about it, the more I realized that I was putting God in a corner. I was so focused on getting all of my ducks in a row that there was no room for God to work. So in April, I stopped taking birth control. I said, “Whenever You think we should have a baby, God, I will be ready.”

Toward the end of May, we found out I was pregnant. But then in July, an ultrasound revealed that our baby had no heartbeat. There was no obvious cause. I was healthy. There hadn’t been any complications that the doctor could see. He just assumed that something had gone wrong during the child’s development, which he said was common.

The doctor gave me two options: I could either wait to miscarry naturally, which could happen anywhere and at any time, or he could prescribe some medication to jump-start the miscarriage. I chose the medication and planned to miscarry over the weekend. But the process lasted much longer than that, approximately three months. And even then my body’s cycle was off. I saw the doctor again in February of 2018. He put me back on birth control to get my cycle regulated. He said it could take anywhere from four to six months before I would be physically ready to try again.

This was not something I ever expected. I knew a few of my coworkers had experienced miscarriages before giving birth to their children, but in my naivety, I believed it wouldn’t happen to me. I thought I’d conceive and give birth just as seamlessly as my mother and my sister-in-law had. Instead, this had happened. I felt hurt, confused, depressed, betrayed. I’d taken a chance. I’d gotten rid of my plan and put my trust in God. This wasn’t how things were supposed to turn out. Growing up in church, I’d always heard that “God is good all the time.” It was something I’d known as a fact for as long as I could remember, but it didn’t feel very true to me during those trying months.

In the midst of all this inner turmoil, I could almost hear my own words echoing back to me. “Whenever You think we should have a baby, God, I’ll be ready.” That’s what I’d said. But what I actually meant was, “I’m ready now.” That was my mistake; I thought I was giving up my control and surrendering to God’s will when, in reality, I was just coming up with a new plan. And, once again, shoving God into a corner.

I was reminded of Peter then. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples on the beach. Peter was the first to approach Him but not the first to speak. He’d denied his Lord three times and was probably feeling lower than dirt. While they were all sitting together, Jesus asked, “Peter, do you love me?” Only in my case, I felt like God was asking, “Becca, do you trust me? Do you trust that I know what’s best for you, I want what’s best for you, and I know exactly when to give it to you? Do you trust that I love you, despite what circumstances I put you through? Do you trust in my provision alone or are you still trying to be self-sufficient?”

I was. I am. Daily I struggle to surrender my illusion of control to the only one who is actually in control. My husband and I could have the best paying jobs this world has to offer, but circumstances can still snatch our money away in creative and unexpected ways. (We only have to look at my previous blog post to see proof of that.) Our security is not found in our bank account; our true and lasting security is found in Christ alone. He could’ve given us a baby at any time, whether I was on birth control or not. And He would’ve provided for that child whether my husband had a better paying job or not, whether we had a better family car or not. It only took losing my first baby for me to realize that.

When the time came to stop taking birth control and try again, I was still scared. I still dreaded the thought of another loss, another disappointment, another six months of recovery time. But I had a new confidence in my God’s goodness and in His perfect will. Whether we had a baby or not, I knew my husband and I would be just fine.

Last week, it was with humble and joyful hearts that we told our families that we’re expecting. Our baby is due to be born on June 11, 2019. And we look forward to whatever comes next.

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It seems this story is going to have a happy ending, but I know now more than ever that nothing is guaranteed. The end of this month will mark the end of my first trimester; the chances of miscarrying are lessened but it could still happen. Or the baby could come early and with complications. Or I could give birth to a stillborn child. There are so many hard possibilities, painful realities, things that have happened to countless mothers all around the world. My miscarriage experience was terrible but also wonderful because I feel like my eyes have been opened.

Losing a child is more common than I ever realized. The women and men who have gone through it suffer in silence because it’s painful to talk about, because they have family or friends who maybe haven’t been as supportive as they should’ve been, because they don’t want to burden other people with their problems. Or for a hundred other reasons. All I can say is: I see you, mother of angels. I know that feeling of helplessness, father of angels. I’ve felt that physical pain, that unbearable heartache.

I’m so sorry.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers for you, just a virtual hug and, hopefully, some encouragement. There is hope, joy, and comfort to be found in the arms of our Heavenly Father. No matter what your experience has been with people who claim to follow Christ or with church or with religion in general, I hope you find Him one day and come to realize how much He loves you, even when life seems to scream otherwise.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14 NIV

“But I will sing of Your strength; in the morning I will sing of Your love, for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” Psalm 59:16 NIV

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that He will lift you up in His own good time. Leave all your worries with Him, because He cares for you…But after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who calls you to share His eternal glory in union with Christ, will Himself perfect you and give you firmness, strength, and a sure foundation.” 1 Peter 5:8&10 GNT