Thursday, August 30, 2012

Picture This...

You see this?  This could be me.  Okay, probably not.  But they did said if this stuff works, there's an 8% chance of twins.  'What stuff?' you might ask, since you care so very deeply about my fertility?  Clomid.

This stuff.  Right here.  It looks like headache medication, like it could alleviate some joint discomfort, or maybe dissolve in some water and take away my heartburn.  Instead, it could quite possibly help me do something I've been trying to do for eight years. 

Look, the truth is, the timing is better right now than it ever has been.  I can work from home if need be, since I'm not slinging coffee anymore and I have a laptop on which I can do my work.  We're financially in a better place than we ever have been.  Our house is big enough.  But the only thing that's going to make this happen is God.  Not us, not Clomid, not standing on my head.  (Seriously, I've tried it.)  It's God.

So, if you wouldn't mind, please do some of this for us:
And I'll keep you posted.

Thanks, you wonderful, wonderful people. 

Stephanie Jean

Saturday, August 25, 2012

What a Difference...

Two years ago at this time, we were gearing up for our trip to Italy for Steve's 40th birthday.  We had been (and have been) struggling financially, but I'd saved up all of my tip money for a little over three years because I wanted to make this trip happen for him.  He had no idea until I told him in February, because I wanted us to be able to plan this trip together and be sure it was everything he wanted it to be.  I wish we could go back right now.  It was beautiful, incredible, and nothing could possibly compare to such an experience.  My hope is that, someday, we'll be able to travel much more often and experience such things as this.  I never thought it would be on the horizon.

Now, I find myself in the midst of learning a new and more lucrative career, and I would describe myself as slightly overwhelmed but completely invested.  This week, there was an open house at the office for all of the writers, advertisers, and friends of The FAMILY Magazines.  I met quite a few people and could put faces to names that I'd been hearing and writing to for over a week already.  I received my business cards... BUSINESS CARDS!  *gasp* and put them in my business card holder that Steve Russell, one of our actors for "Into the Woods", got me as a cast gift.  For the first time in my life, I can foresee a light at the end of the tunnel.  We're no longer in debt, but this means that we can start saving for the future and moving up.  I know that, in the grand scheme of things, materialistic things in this world are not important.  I just want to be able to provide for our children, to educate ourselves more and more, and to be able to travel and see the world.  None of that is as important as helping others, and that's my biggest goal.

Last night, we attended the celebration for Rob and Michelle Wegner, one of our pastors at Granger Community Church, and his wife.  They have served our church together for 20 years now, have three children, a strong marriage, and a love for others that is unparalleled.  I was blown away by the outpouring of love not just from our church members, but from other communities as well.  The number of lives that Rob and Michelle have touched is nothing short of a miracle.  From Granger, Indiana to the country of India, they have been instrumental in the movement I wholeheartedly believe in -- loving people right where they are, and letting God do the changing.  They are humble in heart and demeanor, they are unconditionally loving, they are fun and friendly, and they are willing to do anything to get more people to Jesus.  I am in awe at how devoted they are in their Journey, and more than pleased that God brought them into our lives, and us into theirs.  We met Rob in 'real life' in the coffee shop, and he was so real and genuine, and exactly what a pastor -- or any person -- should be.  He brought Michelle in shortly thereafter and we got to meet her as well.  They both attended the open house on Thursday for FAMILY (as Michelle is one of our very talented writers) and we told them we were going to see them for their celebration, too.  We were almost unable to do so, since a conflict came up at Steve's job, but in the end, it happened, and MAN, were we glad it did.

It's a rare occasion that we feel full and inspired.  Attending the celebration for Rob and Michelle was something we wanted to do, but closing in on the actual time to go, when we thought we weren't going to be able to make it, I was very upset.  I wanted us to be there as a family.  I could have still attended without Steve, but I told him if he couldn't make it, I didn't want to go without him.  At the last minute, we were able to go, though it took some quick changing and driving.  The entire celebration itself was worth it, but the end of it was nothing short of miraculous.  I've rarely seen my husband as 'fired up' as he was when he saw John Schlitt from Petra walk out onto the stage.  I could see how excited Rob was, since he didn't know it was going to happen -- none of us did -- but my husband was just as thrilled as Rob was, nearly in the back row.  I could tell he needed the inspiration, and nothing makes me happier than seeing him inspired.  I'm so grateful for Granger Community Church.  God completely transformed the trajectory of our lives when we began attending there eight years ago, and I am so thankful every day of my life that He led us there and worked on us while we've been there.  More and more, good things are happening, and all the glory is His.

There are not many ways to express the joy in my heart.  Not just the new job, or being out of debt, but a settling peace and acceptance that will be there regardless of circumstances.  We have been through a lot lately, not all of which I'm able or willing to share, but the through-line always remains:

God is Good.  All the Time.

Stephanie Jean

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Finally in the Air

There are few things more tranquil and fulfilling to me than a crisp autumn morning, when the leaves aren't quite beginning to change, but you can feel them thinking about it.  You have that sense of urgency inside, like something incredible is about to happen, and it's coupled with a sense of nostalgia at the same time.  I love the air, the breeze, the sun shining but not boiling my skin, the birds twittering about, debating whether to start thinking about migration or to pull that worm up out of the soil.  I am filled with expectation and excitement for the upcoming season -- school starting, pumpkins ripening, neighbors raking, pies baking. 

This season, I have been blessed with so much already.  I'm transitioning from the job I've had for over six years into something I've always wanted.  I'm working with my husband two days a week and working with a different team the other three.  I'm saying goodbye to old habits and friends and embracing new routines and faces.  It sounds so cliche to say 'God is good all the time', but I've found nothing to be truer in life than these words.

For so long, I've been immersed in a depression that I couldn't quite put my finger on, always hoping and praying for something more, something new, something different.  I've known that He's had a plan, I've said it time and again, but just spouting platitudes has never done anything for me, or for anyone else.  I have been in torpor.  I have been numb.  I have been angry at God and I have doubted -- OH, how I have doubted.  But just as He loved Thomas the Doubting One, He loves Stephanie the Doubting One just the same.  His plans are greater than plans I could have dreamed or schemed.  His will for me encompasses ever-so-much more than I could have imagined or fantasized.  I know that this is just the beginning, and that He will be with me as I scale this new mountain.  He will be with me when I make it to the top, and He will be with me when I scale the next. 

He will be scaling them for me.

Life is not without its deep canyons, for certain.  I still have no idea whether or not I can or will get pregnant.  I don't know if a horrendous car crash will take my life tomorrow or the life of someone I love.  I haven't a clue as to whether I'll succeed or fail in the rat race that we call Earthly Life, but I have more than an inkling of how to get through it. 

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways, submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight." -- Proverbs 3:5-6

It's time I started living for His plan instead of my own.  It's never failed to be the best plan, and it never will.

Stephanie Jean

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Patience Pulls Through

My Dear Readers,

I first want to apologize for the unannounced hiatus over the last few days.  I know I was posting pretty regularly there for awhile, and I plan to start back up again, but I had some transitions to deal with and I needed to step back for a short time. 

As you know, our production of "Into the Woods" at South Bend Civic is finally over.  It was a great success, and we had a wonderful theatre experience with a few old friends, and a great deal of new ones.  It was an experience that we will remember forever, and think of often and fondly. 

In the midst of tying up the loose theatre ends, I received a letter from my editor from Family Magazine, a publication for which I've been writing the last two years.  She was stepping down, as she'd been out of town for a little over a year and working from home.  Very long story short, it is now two weeks later and I have been hired into her position.  It was a completely unexpected whirlwind, and this past week was my first week -- Steve and I had already planned to take a 'staycation' week from work, so we were scheduled for a few days off, and I was asked to start right away.  I will still be at the coffee shop for six more days, spread out over the course of the next four weeks to help facilitate the baking, ordering, etc., but for all intents and purposes,

I am the new Editor for Family Magazine!

This is a dream job for me, and a door that God opened for a reason.  I graduated thirteen years ago from college and, since, have not had an opportunity arise in my milieu for any sort of career.  I taught for a short time, but it was not for me.  This is the realm where I thrive, and to be able to jump right in and start is nothing short of fantastic.  It's part time for now, but it affords me the ability to no longer have to clean houses which I have done for seventeen years to help make ends meet.  I know this was not luck.  I know this was the product of patience and prayers, and God is, as always, Good.

On a side note, it's a little-known fact (and somewhat of a chuckle) that anyone who leaves the coffee shop gets pregnant, so perhaps all my fertility needed was a change of daily scenery?  Haha!

I want to thank you all for your outpouring of congratulations, prayers, and well-wishes on Facebook.  It's meant so much to me that you're all following my Journey, and that I can be a part of yours.

With Love,
Stephanie Jean

Friday, August 10, 2012

Out of the Woods

Crests and troughs.  That's what life is all about, crests and troughs.  Like waves on the ocean, things happen for a fleeting moment, then disappear, leaving behind them fragmented pieces, both good and bad.  Since before May, we've been working on building the show we have been directing, "Into the Woods".  Talking with the set designer, with the costumer, with our production staff of music director and choreographer, and finally, in mid-May, we held auditions.  Since then, we've spent 4-6 nights a week in rehearsal and in production once the show finally began and now it's coming to a close.

It's rare in the theatre realm that 20+ people with a 40-year age range, with different personalities and backgrounds, can get along swimmingly for three months.  It's even more rare that they enjoy being together so much they go out after almost every show, regardless of how late it is or how exhausted they are or what has to happen the next day.  Never have I been involved in a production where this has happened, especially on such a large scale.  We directed this show because it was something we were passionate about, and it turns out that every single other person involved was, or became, just as passionate about it -- and each other -- as well.

Now we're going out of the woods.  Three more performances, one more party, a set to strike, and we're off to our separate parts of the state, "Back to life, back to sense, back to child, back to husband, no one lives in the woods!" as the Baker's Wife says.  But what a wonderful place to have spent so much time. 

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." --C. S. Lewis

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Starry, Starry Nights

The annual meteor showers are coming up, culminating between August 11th-13th.  I have so many fond memories of laying on the ground and staring up to see and count the stars falling over the years, I can't even recollect every one of my stories.  With my mom, with my friends, with my daughter... there's something about a vast, unfathomable piece of beauty that just draws people together.  You can't stare up at the sky next to someone and watch something so incredible and feel hatred in your heart for anything at the same time.

God didn't need to create.  He didn't need to create us, or the planets, or the galaxy, or the universe.  We weren't some project He set out to do in His spare time.  Everything was planned, and created for a purpose.  Everyone is unique -- we share traits, but we don't share souls.  How you perceive things is singular to who you are, what emotions you're experiencing, what thoughts you're having, and what your past experiences have taught you.  For me, laying under the stars is one of the most humbling experiences of a lifetime. 

It puts my problems into place.  In the infinite wisdom of a Designer who created an infinite universe, my tensions and stress are fleeting.  Something better is to come.

It connects me with people I love, regardless of how far away they might be.  "And even though I know how very far apart we are, it helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star." (--Somewhere Out There from the movie An American Tail.)  I remember that they're really not that far, in the grand scheme of things, whether they're alive or dead.  I will see them again.

It puts me on an even playing field with people I do not like.  We're all under the same sky, under the same God, with an equal amount of love flowing from Him to us, whether we are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, whether we are White, Black, Asian, whether we are Rich, Poor, Middle Class, whether we are Preacher, Teacher, or Murderer.  We're not to judge.  We're not in charge.  We're no better or worse than anyone else under the sky.

Find the time to watch the stars this week.  You'll be amazed at what occurs to you in the silence, in the dark, in the midst of a moment of incredible, breathtaking beauty.

Stephanie Jean