Carry Camp Retreat – Part 1

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Over the next few posts I’ll be sharing about my experience at the Carry Camp Retreat, a retreat for women dealing with infertility. So today is part 1, which is day 1 of the retreat.

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It started on a Friday evening, and since it was outside Nashville, TN, I was able to drive there. It was only a four hour drive, which wasn’t bad at all. And the drive was just beautiful, just a sweet reminder of the majesty of God’s creation, all the mountains, hills, water, just everything.

I totally forgot that there was an hour time difference so I got there like an hour early, which for an introvert like me who was already incredibly nervous, showing up early was like the worst thing that could happen for me.

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Thankfully, there was already a couple of women who got there early, as well. They were all hanging out on the porch in the rocking chairs, waiting for the leaders to get back from running some errands in town.

Shortly after they returned, we helped one of the leaders put together the name tags. They were super creative. Since I was the last person to register, my name tag wasn’t created yet, so they had to quickly create it. After we were finished with that task, we were finally able to enter the cabin.

This cabin had four huge rooms with multiple beds in each room. Four of the women were on the left side of the cabin upstairs, and we were the only ones in this area, and were told that it was the nicest room of all, and boy were they right. Here’s some pictures of it.

Myself and several of the women made our way to one of the living room areas while we awaited dinner. We decided to go around the room and start sharing our infertility journeys, our family and where we were from. When it came to my turn, I shared my entire journey (pelvic condition, endometriosis and PCOS) and after I shared one of my roommates said, “Wow, you’re so brave.

Those words really threw me off. Because it was the second time in like a month, that I had heard that. About a month earlier, one of the women at my support group heard that after she heard about my pelvic condition and what I was going to have to do to work through that. Both times, I was thinking, “wait a second, you must be thinking of someone else. I’m not brave. In fact, I feel weak. I hide, I’m timid, I’m an introvert. Surely that can’t be me.” But then I’m hearing this again, and I know this can’t be a coincidence.

Shortly after that we transition to the kitchen/dining area for dinner. Here’s some pictures of what this beautiful area looked like.

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Beautiful right? Those decorations were done by hand by one of the leaders. She’s super talented So these two leaders got up and did a short introduction and then prayer over our event and dinner. I don’t remember most of what was said in that sweet prayer, but I do know I heard the word “brave” again. And I’m thinking, seriously? Brave again? Lord, what are you doing?

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After they were done praying, they talked about how they (the three leaders) randomly picked up various mugs, and we each got to pick one and take it home. So I got up and went to the table where all the mugs were held. The second mug was the one you see here (ignore the broken piece on the back of the mug, that’s a story for another day). Yes, that’s right “brave” again. I knew this cup was meant for me.

Are you sensing a theme here? I sure was. Brave was in my face, and the weekend had just barely begun. What was He up to?

We ate dinner, and I was able to sit with a few of the attendees and a few of the leaders. I enjoyed the conversation, and the food was amazing! They told us that we had a slip of paper under our plate that we needed to bring with us after dinner when we moved into the next room. Mine said, “Who’s your favorite Bible character and why?”. That was an easy one for me. It was Joseph. His story of what the enemy meant for evil, God turned around for good. A story of hope, visions, dreams and God’s faithfulness after all he went through.

Anyways, we move into the main living room and we went around the room sharing a short version of our infertility story, plus answering the question on our paper from dinner. It was both encouraging and heart wrenching. Heart wrenching to hear all the women and their stories, their heartbreak and everything they’ve gone through. After all, you don’t want anyone to have to go through this journey. But it was also so encouraging, I wasn’t alone, and so many women completely understand what I’ve been going through.

IMG_1231.JPGAfter this we go outside and are around a camp fire. We start this time with prayer and confessing how we have been feeling and repenting for any things we needed to. Wow. Such an impactful moment. Then one of the women who was there for the weekend to lead us in worship, let us in several worship songs around the campfire. What a neat way to worship, out in the midst of God’s creation. It truly was an amazing experience. For those of us that wanted to we could hang out and chat, so I did that for about 30 minutes before heading up to bed.

Stay tuned for day 2 of the retreat.

 

The 5 “W” ?’s

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Have you been in a circumstance in your life that leaves you questioning and you ask the 5 W’s? I know I sure have. For a long time, I thought I was the only one who did this. Or, more recently, I thought I was done with this stage in my life. I’m brave, I trust Him, I will conquer, so no more need for these questions, right?? Right??
Ha! Who was I kidding?!?!

It was two weeks ago, and a good friend respectfully and unexpectedly told me she was pregnant. Needless to say, I was shocked!! Here I was in the middle of a conversation with a friend who knew my story, so she knew and understood that this would be hard news for me because of infertility. And I’m seriously trying as hard as I can to hold back tears.

Here’s my friend knowing that this news was hard, and was nervous about telling me because as my friend she truly cared about my pain and wanted to honor me in how she delivered this news. And as she’s telling me this news, in the midst of my shock, all I can think about is that God had shown me in the past that I needed to be very careful in how I responded to this news with others.

He showed me that as hard as it is for me to hear this news, it’s either just as hard or pretty darn close to be the friend or family member on the other side delivering the news. They desperately don’t want to hurt me, but want my joy for them. So knowing that, holding back the tears, I say, “I’m so happy for you!! That’s great news.” And hear me when I say this, if you’re reading this and you haven’t dealt with infertility, know that we truly are happy for you or those we care about and their joy of pregnancy. We are just so sad for us, sad that again another person we care about is pregnant and we still aren’t, sad that it seems this will never happen for us, just sad.

So back to my story, we go on and talk for a few more minutes about her pregnancy, and I couldn’t tell you now what we talked about because it’s all a blur now. She ends up leaving. And I immediately fall apart. Like the hardest tears I’ve cried in a long time, and they last for hours. Tears carry into my entire weekend. I didn’t know that a pregnancy announcement even still set me off. I thought I was past this. So mostly, I’m irritated and frustrated that this is even an issue for me. Have I started all over in this journey of waiting?

And then my mind starts wondering, again. And the 5 W’s begin. Who else around me will get pregnant before I finally get to start my family? What in the world is going on with my life? Why am I still waiting? When will I experience pregnancy and starting my family and when will my wait end? Where am I even headed?

It had me feeling so worn in the midst of this wait. Have you felt that way in a wait? Just worn from it all? (Before I continue on, I highly recommend the song Worn, by Tenth Avenue North. Check the video of the song out here.)

Then that Monday evening I was attending my support group that I lead. (Get more info about my group here.) And we were watching this video by Wendy Pope from her Wait & See study. The video can be found here. She references Psalm 77 and a few of the verses from that scripture.

First she directs you to look at the following verses:

7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

She reminds you to look at the Psalmist here, he was asking some of those same questions. He had doubts, he had impatience in the wait, he felt forgotten and rejected. I don’t know about you, but for me, that was comforting. If the Psalmist was feeling that way, surely its understandable that I would, too, right?

She goes on to these few verses:

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out
his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 “Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.”

Do you see what the Psalmist is doing here? He’s remembering. What exactly is He remembering? He’s remembering who God is, and how God has been faithful. Wow. In the midst of this wait, instead of focusing on the 5 W’s, it’s time to start focusing on how God has been faithful.

I dare you to pull out a pen and paper and write down 3 things or areas where you’ve seen God faithful in your own life. It’s time to remember.

Brave

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2015-04-Banner_BeingBrave-620x330What does it mean to be brave? It’s a term we hear often in this day and age. But what does it really mean? Does it mean you have to be a superhero or accomplish really big things? Can anyone be brave?

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines brave this way…

having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty :  having or showing courage brave soldier brave smile

I asked many of my friends and family what being brave looked like to them and this was some of their feedback:

facing your fears boldly no matter how scared you are.

stepping out of what makes you comfortable even when you don’t feel like it.

choosing to look confidently toward the future even though I don’t know what it holds. And I choose to give my all event though I may fail.

doing what you hear God telling you to do even if it is against the grain, is at cost or doesn’t make sense.

doing things or going through obstacles that you might not like but you have to. It’s going places that no one else is daring to go. Sometimes it means being quiet and letting God tell you what you really need to do and to listen and obey.

For me, being brave means that I trust fully in Him to lead me through everything, even the very scary and uncertain things.

To me, brave is…the woman who raises her child alone, the couple who doesn’t know how there marriage will make it but doesn’t give up, the person terrified of speaking in front of people but makes that their norm, the woman that pushes forward in the midst of infertility and doesn’t give up, the husband that doesn’t know how to provide for his family but works the uncomfortable jobs to put food on the table, the person with the cancer diagnosis but chooses to trust in the healing power of God…these and so much more are the brave individuals I see all around me.

Does this change your view of bravery?

I never once thought of myself as brave. Being introverted and struggling with infertility made me feel very weak. A weak person couldn’t be brave, could they? And then all of a sudden I heard “You are brave.” I heard this not just once but several times, from several women. And it confused me and challenged me. How could I be brave? God, are you trying to tell me something here? Then He said, “You are brave.” And over the course of 30 minutes of praying and seeking, He showed me that He had made me brave, even if I didn’t think or feel like I was. That He would continue equipping me to be brave. And slowly I began to see myself in that light. And He began to challenge me to embrace the bravery He instilled in me.

Will you do the same?