Thursday, December 01, 2016

Fall Feels.

I took a back-to-school break from blogging, but had no intentions of not writing for so long. This fall has been very interesting with lots of changes at work and a lot of long days. As I might have mentioned way back in AUGUST (egads!), both Jake and I have new administrators at work, and anytime that happens, you can expect a season of change and adjustment as leadership norms as expectations are different. My school had, unfortunately, taken a negative turn and made a D on our school report card, and although I personally had good scores and good growth in my students, there were still LOTS of new expectations, a new room, a new schedule, new teammates, and new work to be done. Makinzy played two sports this fall, AND has joined the band (playing flute like Mama did!) and is doing the Junior League Cotillon (much needed - she is learning so much… we wanted her to learn how to socialize with boys with class and tact, and this has been a HUGE help. Crushes on boys aren’t inherently bad for a 6th grade girl, but how dramatic she is and the choices she makes in how she expresses that can be… but, mom digresses...). So many extra things on our plate this fall! Plus what crazy weather! I hate to “blog about the weather” but it’s been an integral part of the stress of the season. The flooding and fear from Hurricane Matthew (and worrying over my coastal friends), then the extreme months-long drought (what even is rain!?) and the heartbreaking wildfires in the mountains I adore - Lake Lure, Blowing Rock, South Mountain, and now, Gatlinburg. Places I know and love!  So… yeah, a difficult fall indeed.

Not to mentions the one thing everyone asks me about the most… the waiting. Y’all. I don’t know why I expected this not to be difficult. I mean, everything we do regarding having children is difficult. I said, “Oh, I’m not worried about the wait!” and legitamitely thought it would be a few months and we’d have some “hits” and it would just work out. And now it’s almost Christmas. After my last (and let’s hope, final) miscarriage last November, I was truly miserable. I almost considered going back to our grief therapist (no shame - #mentalhealthmatters #endthestigma) but I knew I was just realistically and rationally sad about the idea of losing the hope and possibility of carrying and birthing a child, not clinically depressed. I was just too sad to enjoy Christmas, and the new year brought the hope of a second adoption. We resolved to jump in full force. And I actually thought I would have a baby home in my arms at Christmas. A little chubby cheek to kiss. Oh, I can’t go imagining too much or I cry. I never thought I’d still be feeling so empty and incomplete at Christmastime. I have people daily ask, “Hey, where’s that baby?” or “Still no baby?” and I literally have to control my hands to keep from lunging at their throat. I mean, uh duh, he or she would be in my arms. We’d be at home, skin to skin, bonding. Bye, girl, bye. I know they mean nothing by it, but I still feel such things, every single time.

A notification from our adoption agency did finally come right before Thanksgiving, but it didn’t work out. It was for a baby in a situation that just wouldn’t have fit. Not that we were being “picky.” I can’t go into much detail, but let’s just say her extensive needs were more than we could financially and emotionally bear, considering the amount of money we earn, our previous losses and own emotional baggage, and keeping in mind Makinzy’s needs too. Saying “no” was so very hard. I wanted to hear God say “YES! THIS IS IT!” and feel the thump on my heart, the almost-audible voice, the same as I did when I heard about Mak… but I didn’t. So I do feel peace that we were being obedient to God’s direction… but it still hurts to say no to this precious child. And so, back to waiting… STILL.

A friend I have (we met a wedding a year ago) is has written a book (to be released TOMORROW 12/2!) called SanctiFly Chicks, and her faith-inspired posts online have been super inspirational to me. Recently, she asked if she could feature my testimony on her page as she has been profiling “SanctiFly Chicks” on her page. I was honored to be asked to share, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly uplifting. I have to constantly remind myself that God is weaving the tapestry that tells the story of my life… and this waiting… and the last five years of joy and heartbreak are part of that. I cannot dictate God’s plan for me. And right now, His plan is to wait. My one hope for the end of my life is that people will say I lived a life that pointed to Him. That He was the source of my strength in my trials, the One who received the glory of my blessings, and the one who I obeyed even in hard times.


So we wait. With expectation. With pain. With joy. With open hearts to share our story.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A Silver-lined Summer

Blogging for many years has enabled me to see certain patterns or seasons in my life over the course of time. It seems there are years or seasons when I pour out thoughts post after post, and other drier times when I am only posting the occasional life update for the sake of doing it. It seems 2016 is a dry year.


We finished school in June, my second year in KM, and Jake’s first as an assistant principal. We’ve both grown in our roles professionally, and it is good to know that, while we may change schools or positions and it might not be the same year-to-year, we are in a school district we like, in a community that we enjoy, and in a field we are thriving in. We ended the year knowing the 16-17 year will be different because we both have new bosses and very dynamically changing school cultures with new procedures and new expectations. We couldn’t be more happy about the positive changes that have already happened. I moved classrooms and had a minor freak out because the room was significantly smaller, but I got to have pretty paint color and I have a giant window that gives me a great view and so much natural light. Totally found the silver lining. I can’t believe school starts back so soon, and I am, of course, getting the August Angsts, complete with tummy aches.


This summer was a little less adventurous (in an effort to save money for the adoption) than most for us, all though we did stay busy. Jake and I chaperoned a youth trip in June, we went to Oak Island in July with my parents (and that was an adventure, indeed, thanks to a really bad first day… but all was good, especially the flounder I cooked and ate, haha) and then Jake and I went to the mountains for a cheap getaway full of hiking while Mak was at children’s camp. I also took a few days recently to visit Whitney in Georgetown and spent some much needed time on Pawleys Island.


We also threw ourselves into nesting and adoption preparation. We launched a new fundraiser (COFFEE BEANS!) and completed the nursery! That in itself was a huge task! All that’s left to do is get the comfy rocking chair where we will likely spend a lot of time.


I think this summer has a had a theme of waiting. There’s a song that says “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord,” and I do feel like that’s exactly what’s happening in our lives. We have completed everything and are in the “waiting” stage with the adoption, and we are waiting patiently (after a year+) for our house to sell. But these, too, have silver linings. The longer we wait on Baby Wilson to rock our world, the more time we have to fundraise and prep, and the longer we pay on our house, the more we can afford to spend on a new house. See, He is totally using this time to strengthen us. Each challenge has silver linings.


Mak is getting ready to start 6th grade and is everything middle school related - the attitude, interests, and all...  It’s SO much easier to deal with this as a teacher than a parent. Not to mention that her biomom (hi there, if you read this) has now been released from prison, and now we are navigating that relationship, setting expectations, and figuring it all out.  Mak is up in her feelings about it, and seems to be genuinely excited, but I know her well enough to know that if you scratch below, there’s anger/fear too. As parents, we want to just sever the ties just to prevent her from getting hurt again, as a form of protection from let-down and awkwardness and possibilities. But we know that’s not how to handle the situation. Sticking to our word and keeping her best interests (not just want we want as adults) will get us through, and a stronger relationship all around could be a silver lining. Stressful, yes. But nothing about adopting Mak was without stress or complication, so yolo. He’s got this handled, too.

My absence from blogging and limiting this post to just this little update goes to show just why I hold onto this little corner of the web. I don’t blog for readers or clicks. I blog for me and always have. It will be awesome to read about what we were going through in 2016, just as is is now to look back (and laugh) and newlywed life in 2008 and 2009… Or ha, the woes of 2011. It’s a peek into my mind during ups and downs of the last ten years. How amazing. I can’t help but wonder when the market will be over saturated with bloggers. I mean, anyone can be a lifestyle blogger. It takes commitment and time, an eye for design and photography, and a willingness to write. Wit and charm are pluses. I never want to be mistaken for a lifestyle blogger. No no. I am grateful to have a place to record and review all craziness of this adventure. And if you read along too, that’s pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

On breasts, babies, and the Blood.

So it’s been an interesting week.


  • I graduate May 14. All that stands between me and completing grad school is one final exam.


  • The EOGs are in just two weeks. Just a month or so stands between me and summer break (joy!) and telling my 8th grade babies goodbye (sadness!) and much, much more time for family and friends.


  • We’re almost done with adoption things (other than the obvious fundraising efforts…) and we’re just a few short meetings away from the waiting-to-be-matched stage. (EKK!)


  • We’re selling our house, and are just waiting for the right person to come along and make an offer (finally).


In other words, this, dear friends, is a very very busy, exciting time in our lives.


This week, specifically Tuesday, threw me a curveball, stopped me in my tracks, and threatened to put a rather large kink in our everything’s-crazy-but-chugging-right-along life...


I had been recommended by my ob/gyn after having my IUD put in (once we made peace with and decided to stop trying have successful pregnancy and pursue adoption fully) to have genetic counseling to see if I was a candidate for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing… those genes that cause cancer. I had been very familiar with this testing since I took a course on breast cancer studies in college and it has always been an interest of mine. I knew I had some family history (an aunt and great grandmother with breast cancer, a grandfather with prostate), but no first degree relative - not a mother or sister- so therefore, I might be a little higher than some, but not much. I mentioned an early mammogram, and my ob/gyn again mentioned the testing so I went. I had the counseling, and it was determined I had enough family history to warrant the blood test. It would cost a couple hundred dollars (doesn’t everything?) but it seemed worth it for the peace of mind that it wasn’t an issue, and I had plenty of time for a mammogram later like most folks. I was shown tons of little pie charts and graphs, and I left the cancer center convinced of two things. 1) There was such a statistically low chance I would have it, I wouldn’t loose sleep over it (and didn’t). And 2) If I did have it, seeing all those chemotherapy patients made me completely sure that if I by some chance did have it, I would do anything not to have to go through that horror.


Tuesday, my geneticist called and said I tested positive. I have a 60-87% chance of developing cancer. My mutation is the BRCA2 gene, which has a tendency to be lower risk than BRCA1 but tends to produce the more aggressive and less responsive variety of cancer.


The typical recommended treatment (from the most conservative to the most aggressive) for someone with a risk so high is -
  1. Close surveillance (meaning mammograms and breast MRIs done every 6 months)
  2. 5 years of pre-chemotherapy (tamoxifen) - meaning taking this cancer drug to prevent cancer (but enduring some pretty icky side effects for such a time)
  3. Prophylactic mastectomy (meaning removal of both breasts, with the option of reconstructive surgery… aggressive, but shown to have the best result in radical decrease in cancer risk.)


I am hoping to breastfeed the new baby (yes, it is possible, it’s a real thing adoption people do, and it really works), so I am also in the midst of working a way to manipulate my hormones to make that happen… while trying to prevent pregnancy (and another miscarriage). Now let’s throw in an oncologist into the party and try to prevent cancer at the same time. Sheesssh. Ain’t nothing easy. I have been so excited to try the adoptive breastfeeding method, and now it looks like it will be good for both me and the baby. Breastfeeding for more than 1-2 years can significantly lower risks for breast cancer, so sign me up, especially now. It’s made me that much more determined to try to make that happen.

As of now, the game plan is still largely the same. We’re moving (eventually), adopting (soon!), and enjoying the busy day by day of work and family life. But once I am done nursing my young (however many we do eventually have by whatever means), I will need to figure out what to do with my time-bombs (how, I will henceforth be referring to my breasts…). I don’t know what the next ten years holds, but I do know I will spend them very closely monitoring my breasts and ovaries as we raise the family God has planned. And in ten years or so, I will figure out if tamoxifen alone or with a mastectomy is right for me. Breasts and fertility are so intertwined in identity, feminism, and sexuality that I can’t help but feel emotionally rocked to have both parts of my sense of self damaged. I can’t bare children and now I can’t have breasts?  And yet, how much more I feel as a Christian feminist who believes God’s plan for me is so much more than can be defined by breasts and babies! Oh, how He loves me! What lifesaving power I have in knowing this information, and what life-affirming gospel power is in knowing that the only blood connection I need to solidify my identity is Christ’s blood shed on the cross. I can’t say this news wasn’t scary. It was. But at age 28, to know who and Whose you are, to know your risks and know what lies ahead - man… I am giving Him praise!


For more info on being young and BRCA positive: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22982855
http://www.facingourrisk.org/understanding-brca-and-hboc/information/hereditary-cancer/genetic-testing/basics/overview.php

Monday, April 25, 2016

National Infertility Awareness Week

It’s National Infertility Awareness Awareness Week.


I have often struggled to own or claim the word “infertility.” I am honest enough to tell you it comes back to pride, at least for me. I can get pregnant. I’ve been pregnant six times, and for about three months time each. Add all that up and I have more pregnancy experience than some moms! Yet, my inability to stay pregnant, means I am infertile. There, I said it. I own it. My hesitancy and avoidance to own the word (I still prefer to say I have RPL - recurrent pregnancy loss - rather than infertility) is a testament to the stigma that still exists around infertility. It demonstrates just how damaging of a disease it is. It cripples your sense of womanhood (or manhood, in the case of male factor infertility) and it leaves you with a hole, a gaping wound in your heart and identity.


I could write quite a lot on the pain and hurt of infertility.
Of medicines that make you sick, insane, and broke.
Of painful, expensive, fruitless procedures and surgeries.
Of sadness on holidays or special occasions.
Of being left out of conversations about birth and pregnancy experiences.
Of not seeing a mini version of yourself or your spouse.
Of not continuing the family name.
Of feeling like a failure, like you’re being punished, ignored, or forgotten by God.


The list could go on.


The heartache of infertility hard to imagine and comprehend if you’ve never walked that road. It can’t be comforted with platitudes about God’s timing or plans, and it can’t be lightened with comments or suggestions.


But for just a second, instead, let me share with you some of the joys that I personally have seen come out of infertility. Romans 8:28 tells us that God can and will use all things (even horrible things like disease and tragedy - not that He necessarily preordained such things, but that He foreknew them) for the good of His children and for His glory… and I’ve seen Him use infertility. I don't believe God would ever cause infertility for such purposes, but I do know that He is sovereign and sees so much more than we do.


I have seen Him use it…
To draw struggling couples into deeper relationships with Himself and with one another.
To strengthen our character and faith.
To teach us to become more sensitive to one another.
To teach us resilience.
To direct couples down the road of adoption. (This isn’t to say that adoption is right for all couples who battle infertility. In fact, it’s never okay to suggest adoption to an infertile couple, especially using the phrase “just adopt.” To just adopt isn’t possible because there’s no such thing as just adopting. There are many couples for whom adoption is not the right path, and it is never so easy. Suggesting adoption isn’t your job to do this - it’s a job of the Holy Spirit. Couples who are unable to resolve their infertility with medical treatment don't always want to adopt, nor should they, but I do fully believe that infertility can be used for God's glory through adoption.)


In working with Bethany for our own adoption (www.wilsonadoption.com), we’ve met several couples who came to adoption after infertility. For them, and us, adoption does not replace/fix/undo/negate infertility. Adoption does not cure the loss of the pregnancy and birth experience. It does not replace the desire to conceive a child in love who looks and acts like you and carries on your physical traits and characteristics. But, infertility can be used by God to steer people who otherwise might not have considered it into welcoming children into their homes. Infertility can be the vehicle to get people to a place where they can minister to birthparents and show them Christ.

Infertility can be used to bring Him glory. It can lead to joy. For us, there will always be an ache because of infertility. I can't say when or if we will ever try again to conceive, but I do know, that through this trial, and through this pain, He has brought immeasurable joy.

Weeping may endure for a nightbut joy comes in the morning. 

Psalm 30:5


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Big News! Adoption! (and race and other musings.)

Since my last post, there’s been lots of goings on in hearts and minds and lives of the Wilsons.
Perhaps biggest and most importantly, we’re full force into our second adoption. It’s happening! We launched a brand new website [www.WilsonAdoption.com] and with a blog. Yes, Shine From The Inside is going to become my secondary blog for the time being. We are working on fundraisers and paperwork and life is like WHOA!  More on that.


A couple of musings and thoughts, some not adoption related… I hope to continue to blog over here on things that pop into my brain not directly related to the adoption process. Things like the crazy journey of being Mak’s mama, teaching, and other observations and ponderings.


Here’s a few for example:
  1. I am BLOWN AWAY by how good my friends are. I have friends who show up to encourage, pray for, or support me - even if it’s been 9 years since they laid eyes on me. Also, I have friends who are always looking to make time to hang out, spend quality time together, and just be there for and have fun together. 2015 was THE year of friendship for me- a year spend making those special people a priority in my life. And I plan on continuing doing that. Examples: Coffee dates, dinner dates, baking together, going to the theater, road trips, planning sleep overs, camping trips, SnapChat and group texts… these have provided so much GOODNESS in my life, and I’ve come to realize that as a wife and a mom and even as a Christian, I cannot continue to grow without these amazing ladies along for the ride. I’m #blessed.
  2. I am so over teaching this year. It’s been a rough year, and I have the February itches when I start contemplating flying the coop and trying new things. I read an NPR article that said that that was a good thing - an aversion of complacency was healthier or more productive than a tend to stay in one familiar, comfortable spot.  I love my students more than life. I enjoy pretty much every moment from the bell rings to start class until the bell rings to dismiss. It’s the other junk. It’s adults. It is always adults. If I ever quit teaching, it will be because of adults and never because of students. I’ve taught the lowest and roughest as well as the highest, brightest, and most obedient, plus all the kids in between, and I will still tell you that I will never leave the profession because of kids. It’s always adults. It’s hostile colleagues, antagonistic parents (luckily, it’s been a long time since this has been an issue for me- I’m fortunate to have some really supportive parents), and of course, the sorry folks we call NC legislators… those people are who drive out teachers. Those kids who keep me in stitches and who give me so much joy keep me in the profession for now.
  3. The Superbowl! As a NC girl, obviously I cheered on the Panthers. We’re not “bandwagon” fans per se. We alway cheer for the home team. But, we are not big time fans. It’s sports ball. We don’t get into sports much period. We did, however, get caught up in the excitement. Makinzy was more diehard than any of us just because of the hype. I watched the half time show with mild interest, and I have to admit, I am pretty shocked people made such a big deal about Beyonce. I was all about Coldplay, but they’re much more my jam personally. After reading articles upon articles, I find I am looking at the situation through the eyes of a potential mom of a black child. I know (and even to a certain degree, hope) that there is a big possibility that our child will black or biracial. Even the very idea has changed how I look at the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and how I think about, pray about, and respond to racial issues. One of the performances at the halftime show, Beyonce’s, has elicited yet another dialogue about race. I struggle with the concept of racial pride. I do my best to own and then check my white privilege at the door, but I still know that being “proud” of being white carries a major negative weight, yet being proud of being black is to be celebrated. Why is it that we allow such a division when we try to teach that the outside makes no difference on the inside? Isn’t it okay to be proud of how God made you? Is it only okay to be proud of your heritage if you come from a persecuted people group? Are you doomed to feel a persistent sense of guilt of when you are descended from the persecutors? These are the things you ponder when you’re tentatively expecting a black child. I’m coming to the conclusion that we always say your skin tone makes no difference, but just maybe it really does. I think statistics show it. I am worried about the discrimination my child may face because of how he or she looks, and the assumptions people may make about him or her. I worry about the systematic racism set in place. Blame is often placed on African American culture when much of modern African American culture has developed the way it has in response to the societal structures we have imposed upon it. The only problem I have Beyonce’s lyrics is the profanity and materialism and the overt sexual nature (which are American HUMAN problems, nothing racial at all. Watch a Miley video, or gasp, a country video). The lyrics, to me, do not attack the police, but rather bring to light that generational oppression that has created the fight or flight responses in young black children in my class over the years. It celebrates natural hair and hot sauce and collard greens and black culture that get suppressed and is often unjustly looked down upon as ignorant or poor. That positivity is juxtaposed with reality- images from Katrina, where faulty leeves wiped out lower income predominately black neighborhoods and the little boy in the hood dancing (no doubt a reference to Trayvon) reminding you that when you’re black, you can’t afford to “look” suspicious. I don’t find Beyonce’s song to be offensive to those who aren’t black nor as an attack on law enforcement. Any homage to the Black Panther Party in her performance, however, is offensive. MLK Jr. moved mountains through nonviolent protest, civil disobedience, prayer, and mission work. He showed how a cultural revolution could be sparked without hate. Because hate on hate never solves anything. Anyways, the whole Beyonce situation, coinciding with Black History Month, and our possible trans/interracial adoption makes it one of the things I am mulling over.
  4. Last night, I dreamed Jake and I were pretending to be court-school detectives investigating an incident of underage drinking. Then, suddenly I was standing in front of a white closet full of baby clothes, crying. I was debating on throwing the clothes away. A 4th grader-sized version of the Chumbawumba baby in a tank top appeared, quoted scriptures about peace and hope, and he immediately comforted me.  Weird. I don’t know what to make of that one.
In closing, we’re really excited to be adopting again and from experience, I know to buckle up when you tell God yes. We are ready for an awesome ride. I’m worried, sure. I am worried about raising $25,000, nervous about the process, and it’s all overwhelming. Again, I will continue to blog here when the musings strike, but please follow us on our adoption journey on www.wilsonadoption.com. and please consider donating at www.gofund.me/wilsonadoption. Even if you can’t donate, pray for us and share our story to you church, family, friends, and on social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Blog about it, talk about it, and pray about it!