My Husband is not the One for me.

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It’s true.

Now, before my friends and family start worrying about the future of the O’Briens, maybe I should back up.

When I came to college, I was determined to meet “the one.” I was on the lookout for the man God created for me. The man who would be my partner for life. The only one in the entire universe that I could be happy with. The one who had been formed and molded in his mother’s womb in order to someday be my husband.

But, after a few failed relationships I came crashing into the truth that there was one problem…

This man. This “one”…

Well, he didn’t exist.

I was dating Brandon at the time that I finally came to this realization. A few weeks after a very honest conversation with a professor, I said yes to Brandon’s proposal. And a breezy 11 months later (long engagements are the absolute WORST), we were married.

10 years later, I have never been more in love with my husband. I plan to be married to him for the rest of my life. I love the life we have created. I love our family. I love my partner.

But, I don’t believe that God created him just for me. I don’t think he is the one my whole life was leading to.

Brandon is just a man. He’s a very good man. A smart man. A creative and resourceful and caring and encouraging man. He’s loyal and honest and tender and compassionate. He is absolutely hilarious.

But he’s just a man.

I firmly believe that Brandon could have been happy with any woman he chose.

I believe I could have been happy with any man that I chose.

(assuming, of course, that they were equally committed to their faith)

We aren’t together because the universe wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re together, because we chose one another. We love God deeply, we are committed to serving Him our entire lives, and we see in one another the possibility of doing that together.

We fell in love and we love doing life together. God is active in our midst, in our home, in our family. But it’s not because this is the only way it could have been. No, it’s because this is just what God does. He takes two imperfect people who are committed to one another and he makes a family.

Okay, so now that I have that out of the way, I have something else I need to get off my chest.

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I do not believe that my children were created in order to be my children.

We weren’t destined for one another.

And I can’t even count how many times people have said this to me.

Here’s my beef…

I do not believe that my God caused my children and their birth families pain in order to give me a child. Similarly, I don’t believe that God gave me infertility in order to teach me a lesson.

Instead, I believe that God brought something beautiful out of the pain. What a world marred by sin meant for bad, God used for good.

What a body devastated by brokenness couldn’t do…God did in a way that only he could do.

And here’s my point in all of this. I believe the beauty of our God is that He brings beauty out of ashes. He brings victory out of failure. He brings wholeness out of brokenness.

Our family is whole. But not because we were always intended for one another from the beginning.

No, I think this whole thing could have worked out very differently and still just as sweet.

Our family is whole because that’s what God does.

 

 

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Finding Joy in New Ways

If you’ve read my blog at all this week, you know that I have had the opportunity to post on a devotional site encouraging.com

Well today is my final post on this site. YOu can also find my posts for Wednesday & thursday which I didn’t have time to post as we spent some great time with family.

Here’s a little bit of what I said,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

Over the past 4 years my husband and I have heard a variety of responses to our struggle first with infertility and then during our wait for an adoption. Some have bordered on awkward as individuals gave all too detailed advice to aid us in our quest. Some unintentionally disregarded our reality with comments like, “Don’t worry, God’s plan is better in the end,” or “Aren’t you glad you haven’t miscarried,” or even “You’re young, don’t worry about it.”

Mostly, in the midst of our most painful moments, we have been blessed with friends who have met us in our suffering and then pointed us forward. Not by denying our grief or our pain, but by exalting God.

During one of our recent disappointments I let some individuals close to us know that it had not worked out. 

To read the rest of the post, click here

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I look forward to some new posts next week as we enter the period of Advent.

Until then, enjoy the weekend!

Encouraging.com

Recently I was asked to join a team of women writing for a website called Encouraging.com. This week is my first week of posts, so I thought I would post them here. In a post entitled, “He is Good,” this is what I write…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Even before my husband and I decided to start our family, I knew that not having a child would be painful. However, I didn’t know that this pain was going to challenge my view of self.

And I didn’t know that giving this pain to God to be used for his purposes would require heart-wrenching sacrifice. But for the past 4 years, this has been my journey and this is where I have begun to find God in the pain, in the sacrifice, in my own weakness. And as I write for the first time for encouraging.com, I thought this was a good place to start.

One day a few years ago, I faced that all-too-familiar disappointing news… I was not pregnant…

Follow the rest of the post: http://encouraging.com/monday.htm

Fridays are for Favorites (even if written on Sunday)

I began a blog post on Thursday because I knew that Friday would be a very busy day. But I didn’t get to it. So now here I am at 10:30 on a Sunday and what’s on my mind?

Well I’m thanking God for the man I married. Yes, in an incredibly cheesy move, Brandon O’Brien is my favorite for today (and arguably every day!).

Brandon’s the type of man who loves me no matter what my hair looks like, patiently waits for me to take pictures of food (even if that means he must wait to eat), hugs me even when I’m in a bad mood, will drop whatever he’s doing to listen to my thoughts….

He loves his friends and family deeply, he is as loyal a friend as you can fine, he’s an honest and sincere spiritual leader in our home…

He is patient, kind, wise, silly, creative, fiercely intelligent, compassionate…

and he’s all mine. 😉

Falling in love with a letter writer…

Many of you may not know, but I married a very, very romantic man. There are lots of girls who dream of romance… I was not one of them. In high school I begged my prom dates to take me to McDonalds, or to the food court! I just wanted to eat.

So no one was more surprised than I when I met and very soon fell in love with a romantic man. And what was his preferred method of “winning” my heart? Letters… and lots of them.

These were all written before we even got married. And he took this letter writing to new levels. After only 3 dates I was surprised by a 4 series poem (given to me by different people throughout the day), written by Brandon. I was so impressed by the poetry, i was certain Brandon didn’t write it, so I showed it to one of my English professors (thanks, Dr. Wink) and we struggled together to find it… But it was not to be found because it was a Brandon O’Brien original.

After we had been dating for only a few months, Brandon went to Ireland with a friend. When he returned I received this. He wrote me little letters throughout his two weeks away… 13 total.

There was also a dried flower in the mix!

Brandon was very creative in his letter writing. Throughout our dating, I received these….

Yes, he did paint the one in the front...

And ultimately on the night he proposed, I received this…

The card says "31 Things I Love About You"

Being the “ruiner-of-moments” (that was was one of the 31 things) that I am, I asked him why there was only 31… he patiently explained it was for each day of the month, but of course he could have written more. 🙂

I am amazed by the man I get to live life with, and it all started with letters… lots and lots of letters.

Silence… it’s what’s for dinner.

Has anyone else felt the weight of silence recently? Particularly the weight of God’s silence in response to our prayers?

For as long as I can remember my father has been reading through My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (1874-1917). For those who don’t know, this is a daily devotional published by Chambers who was a Scottish minister and teacher. The book is actually a collection of his teachings compiled by his wife, after his death.

Well, back in October I decided it would be nice to start reading through these devotionals myself. Sure, I’ve read them off and on, but haven’t consistently read them through. So, I purchased a new copy, and have been reading them since October… the starts of a pretty good habit.

The first entry I read was on Oct 11 and was on the topic of silence. I presented this in our staff devotions this morning and thought I would share it with you here. Oswald writes,

“When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” John 11:6

Has God trusted you with His silence – a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible – with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him – He is bringing you into the mainstream of his purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, but today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious – it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy – silence.

 

Did you read that last paragraph? “He will give you the first sign of His intimacy – silence.” Back in October I was immediately struck by that line, and by this passage. I am even more struck by it today. The past several years have been a season of waiting for us for schooling, jobs and most of all the start of our family. While we have watched with amazement at God’s provision in so many ways, we’re still waiting for that child and that waiting has taken place largely in silence. Sure, God has led us at certain points in this journey towards very specific steps, but for the most part we have walked this road in silence.  And that silence at times can seem deafening. And today (in particular) I am feeling this silence.

Back in September we learned from a family member of a young woman in Texas who was considering adoption for her baby. We came to find out that she wasn’t very far along, so we didn’t put much hope in that opportunity. But we did continue to pray for her, for her boyfriend, for my Aunt, for everyone involved in the situation. Today we found out that she has chosen to keep her baby. And although we had not put much hope in this opportunity, it was at least tangible. And we can’t help but grieve this news.

Silence.

What I love about what Oswald Chambers writes is that he validates the silence for us. What do I mean? Brandon and I have lots of friends & family members who would say that if you just pray hard enough, God will do it. “Name it and claim it.” And I am a firm believer that God answers prayer. But when that prayer isn’t answered, what are we to do? Brandon and I both struggled with feelings of guilt that we hadn’t prayed hard enough for our child and I, in particular, struggled with doubts about the strength of my own faith. Surely if I was just a better Christian God would grant us this request…

But if what Chambers says is true, perhaps this extended time of silence is not because we have no faith, but because he feels that our faith (by the grace of His Spirit) can take it. Perhaps, this is His greatest sign of care for us.

Perhaps.

There are days when I think that I would take a baby over anything that God may be teaching us in this journey. Then the Spirit intervenes by His great grace and we make it another day, another week, another month, another semester, another year… in silence.

Perhaps God has trusted us with his silence as a sign of His intimacy. Perhaps. I think we are going to choose  to believe that this time of extended silence can be a time of great intimacy with the Father.

And that’s pretty great.

Now, what to have for dinner…

 

A New Year… A New Plan

I have a new plan for this new year and that is to update my blog at least everything other day…

In 2010 I published a total of 18 posts… I thought for sure I had published more. But what I am finding out is that blogging can be hard… because I don’t really feel like I what I have to say is terribly important or life-changing. So, therefore… why would I share it with the world? Well I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I am going to post more regardless…

Starting today.

Our drive up through Northwest Arkansas... definitely one of our favorites.

On December 22 we left for what we knew would be a busy but joyful time with family. After having had members of my family in town for roughly 3 weeks around Thanksgiving, we were hardly refreshed as we began our 10 hour drive to Arkansas. After 11 days, 6 different beds and more than 30 hours in the car we arrived back home on Sunday. We were exhausted, we were sick (Brandon on the upswing, me with the worst of it) and we were hardly refreshed for the New Year. Now don’t get me wrong, we had a WONDERFUL time with family. We spent time with extended family that we rarely get to see and we got especially good time with immediate family members. We even got to see college and high school friends and had a private lunch to celebrate our 5 year anniversary (which, in 5 years we have only officially celebrated once…) AND we got to spend a few days with some of our very best friends who recently moved from Wheaton… all in all it was such a good time. But it was exhausting. Absolutely exhausting.

And towards the end of the trip we vowed to not do this kind of trip again. It was hard for the two of us, it will be even harder when we have our baby.

Our Baby. It has a nice ring to, doesn’t it?

At every stop we made throughout the state of Arkansas and Oklahoma family members and friends asked for an update on our baby. And we gladly told them what we knew… which wasn’t much. You see there is really no adoption update until there is a baby. And that’s hard. And to be honest, celebrating the holidays without our boy or girl was hard. I felt as if a part of me was missing. But friends and family were so encouraging. Before leaving home and at each stop along the way we received baby items of various sorts… clothes, charms, gift cards, bottles, supples… and we were encouraged by the hope of those around us.

Hope.

I am starting this New Year exhausted, overwhelmed by all that needs to be done, a little sick but ultimately hopeful… joyful. Why? Because I feel confidant that 2011 is going to bring us Baby O’Brien. And I can’t wait to meet him or her.

And in the meantime, I’m going to try and get some rest while I can… in between blog posts, of course.