Back in May I posted Shelly Story 101 with the promise that one day soon you would get the current events. Here is some of it. If you want to get the whole perspective, go back and read the first post again. Or not. Whatever you want is cool. I am not sure how on earth to tell all the stories of my married years, the years that have most made me who I am in the Lord, and do them justice, but since God is God, and He usually gets His way with me, I am trusting that whatever He wants told shall be told.
To give the recap, I was born in Ohio, moved to Denver at age four, lived through a divorce, was blessed with a new Mom and instant sibs, grew into a quirky adolescent who loved youth group more than anything in her life, moved to Omaha, survived the rest of high school without that youth group, went to college at U of N, made a lot of mistakes, made a best friend for life, met the love of my life, graduated, got married, and moved to a farm. Phew! 23 years, done.
After getting married, I choked on a huge, heaping helping of culture shock, but my loving hubby never left my side. (Our magnificent Lord never did either, but I was not really paying Him much attention yet at that time.) I've never regretted marrying Dan, but let's just say, adjusting to the rural life was not the easiest thing I have ever done. I missed fast food, the smell of asphalt, the sounds of traffic, familiar radio stations, familiar faces, nice restaurants...pretty much all that I had ever known had "urban" stamped upon it, and my new digs were so very much the total opposite. I was not used to cooking every single meal, the smell of dirt and cow poop, the sound of cattle and hogs and bugs, new radio stations, the curious (but kind, nevetheless) gazes of everyone wondering who the new girl in town was, small-town cafes...and having no one but a farmer with a pliers holster on his belt for companionship. It was all very strange for me at first.
I found a job at a daycare 25 miles away and put my Early Childhood Ed degree to some use, although, admittedly, not as much use as I could have with a Bachelor's degree. But, it was something to do, it afforded me adult companionship, and I made some money. Some. A tiny bit. And I got to hug babies all day. Next, although I had not regularly attended church since high school, and Dan even less, we found a nice church home in town and committed to attending every week, cause, you know, that is what married folks do. It was ultra-comforting to return to the familiar routine of Sunday worship, and I quickly found the desire to get involved. I joined the choir and started helping with VBS. I then branched into civic volunteerism as well, and joined Community Club (kinda like a Chamber) and enrolled in an EMT class to be a volunteer EMT on our volunteer Fire Department. Job, church, volunteerism. Within six months of graduating college and becoming a farmer's wife, I was all growed up!
Somewhere in there, I started to realize how very much I missed a personal relationship with Christ, and yearned to know Him better. Too bad I was still so comfortable with being comfortable. I needed some wake-up calls.
Fast forward a couple of years, and we had started on the emotional roller coaster of infertility, in the attempts to overpower my defective ovaries and have a baby. (This would be a VERY long post if I give you every detail, so I won't. I'll try to nutshell it for you, and maybe I'll post on it again another time.) I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and needed injections in the thigh to ovulate. Since infertility is not an exact science, my ovaries went from barren to bursting quite quickly, and we conceived triplets on our second attempt. I'll never, ever forget the moment in the ultrasound room when that news came down. Ho.leeee.cats.
I had the privilege of carrying those three baby boys for 25 weeks, but then it was over. They came into the world rather suddenly, all weighing under two pounds, and today our two survivors are 12 years old. Joshua, our precious "Baby B", is the lucky Angel of our family, and we really look forward to meeting him someday. Tyler and Ben spent three and four months, respectively, in the NICU before being healthy enough to come home, and when when they finally did so, it was not without a little equipment. Both boys had apnea monitors, and Ben also had oxygen and a feeding tube. Praise the Lord, He spared both their intellects and physical function, but the next few years were not without a constant barrage of doctor's appointments, medical procedures, helmet therapies, surgeries, worries, anxieties, questions, stress, grief, rude stares, late nights, tube feedings, in-home therapies, and exhaustion.
It was all so totally worth it.
Through the triplets, the funeral, the NICU, the grief, the self-blame, the uncertainty, and the stress, I learned faster than I ever would have any other way to leave it all for God to carry. For example, I'll never forget being asked, as I lay flat on my back in the hospital on bed pan duty with a ruptured membrane, to decide if we should deliver only Baby A, whose membrane had ruptured, or do a C-section and take all three babies. In the human experience, one does not often have to make a literal life-and-death decision like that. Potentially sacrifice one child to buy the other two more womb time, or rip them all out of their comfy womb to fight the real world?? Choose one. Without our faith, no matter how weak by comparison to today it may have been, I have literally no idea how we could have decided that and ever lived with our decision. I mean, really, do you potentially martyr one baby or put all three in harm's way? I am not God. I could not play God. It took no more than a short time for Dan and I to decide, together, that those boys were conceived on the same day, and they should be born on the same day. It was totally and absolutely God's decision who would live or die, not ours. (If anyone reading this has ever experienced something similar and decided on an interval delivery, pleasepleaseplease know that I am not casting stones at you. I knew--and God knew--that I, Shelly Story, needed to leave it to Him so I could live with myself. That was the right decision for us, not anyone else.) As it turned out, we did lose one baby as a result of our decision, but we did not lose Baby A. And as badly as it all hurt, we know that we left the decision to God, He called home whom He meant to call home, and no one else, and I will always take comfort in that.
My friends, no matter how distant we get from God, no matter how far we run, no matter how many poor choices we make, no matter what we do...God does not lose anyone who belongs to Him and He never forgets His promises. I committed my life to Him in Jr. High...then I wandered in a desert of sin and a drought of worship for years...but as soon as the instant I realized something was missing, He began to work on me and in my life. He allowed trial and heartache, just to prove that He was truly in control. He comforted me and rallied an entire church family around us during the hardest thing I had ever faced. He stripped me to nothingness so that I would cling to Him. I had failed him 1000 times over, for most of a decade, and yet He stood tall as my Rock just when I needed Him most.
Our Lord is stunning. Don't you ever forget that.
I have so much more to say to effectively recap 15 years of marriage, but I am realizing as I compose this tonight that to condense it all into one post would be to completely diminish what and how God has worked in our lives. To breeze through car accidents, funerals, miscarriage, defeats, victories, births, hopes, dreams, and joys would be so "surface". And God does not work on the surface. He is a deep well of sustenance who has proven that apart from Him we are nothing. So, my dear readers, I shall stop here. In the timeline of my life, I have become a Mom the hard way, and 12 years later, I can honestly say, "to Him be the glory".