bookstores.

Bookstores are one of my favorite places on earth. Every Friday as a child we would hop into our Buick LeSabre and head over to the mall bookstore. Each week I got to pick out a new book, which typically would be a Baby Sitters Club book of some sort. In 1st grade it was the Little Sister version, of which I would burn through by the end of the night and then would have to patiently wait until the next week to get a new one. As I got older I graduated to the reading less about Karen, Nancy and Hannah and more about Kristy, Claudia and Stacey. I remember just walking the aisles, touching the pretty book bindings and crisp pages, always selecting my book from the back of the shelf, as it was likely more untouched than the others. I remember always asking for a new bookmark too, but being that I already had too many, the request typically got denied. (My go to bookmark was a Little Mermaid one in case you were wondering).

Anyways, I find bookstores to be a place of comfort now. I don’t know if it’s due to the years of hanging out among the shelves or sitting at Borders for hours on end on a Saturday, but regardless, I am convinced healing happens at bookstores. Even now, I typically will ask Josh at least a few times a month if he will just go sit at Barnes and Nobles with me. (Side note: I miss Borders, like a lot.) As I type this now, here I sit, among the cluttered tables of the café, awkwardly staring at the lady across from me on her iPad as she eats a scone. (Hey lady, you have some on your chin.) I am home. I wear headphones but have the Coffee Shop Pandora mix on low enough to still hear the conversations around me. (Airlines are so overpriced …. Hey mom, can I get this book …. What time is it? Oh wait, he is asking me that, one second….)

Books are an escape for me. I throw myself into the story, often judging a book by its cover. (I have an entire shelf of ugly covered books that I have yet to read.) One relatable line is like a balm to the day. There is beauty in the stories, even if they aren’t real. (Who am I kidding, I totally pretend like they are.)

The past month or so I have been praying for God to send me a sign, a tangible sign, that this whole journey will result in a happy ending. That this road will lead somewhere and that we will be one of those couples who looks back in 5 years and tells other couples “It is worth the wait. Hang in there.”

So I keep praying. Lord, a sign! One that even I can’t refute. Preferably one so obvious that I can’t question it. A message written in the sky would be acceptable. An anonymous letter posted marked from Heaven would also be okay. Okay maybe that all is a little extreme, but I just keep begging (literally, you should see my journal, it’s nearly embarrassing) that He would make Himself known without a shadow of a doubt.

Perhaps the sign has come. Perhaps He has answered my prayer and I have been too jaded to see it. There have been moments of quiet and brief reassurance over the last month, including a 41 day cycle for me, another first and shorter than my last one by 22 days. Many would say this was THE SIGN! A tangible response that things were improving, that the lifestyle changes and naturopathic doctor was working, but instead, I dismissed it as less powerful than it actually was.

And since enough isn’t enough, I found myself continuing to pray A sign! Lord, I need more signs! More signs! I need you to help me believe!

And then I came to this verse, in the greatest book of all times, the Bible. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet still believe.” (John 20:29b) It was the sign I had been searching for – the anti sign! The sign where He whispered to STOP LOOKING FOR A SIGN and keep looking at HIM! I had taken my eyes off of HIM and began searching upon Pinterest boards, interactions and puffs of cloud smoke for a sign and in it, lost my way.

Books are powerful. One verse, one line, changed my heart again. The power of His Word is greater than anything else. This journey isn’t about looking for signs but looking to Him. It’s about believing in His character, His goodness, His promises without knowing the future. That’s where the blessings lie. In fact, the whole story of the Bible is filled with people who believed without seeing and still moved forward out of an act of faith. It’s human to want to see what’s going to happen before we move, but we are only holding ourselves back from what He has to offer.

So, in the presence of my dear friends, the books, I pledge to stop obsessively asking for signs. I pledge to have faith without knowing how this story ends. I pledge to embrace the pain, the struggles, the unknowns and never give up. With His help, I can do this!

Oh my goodness, this woman a few tables down just stood up to leave and her purse strap caught under the table and she just flipped it. I can’t stop laughing. My blog concentration has officially just been broken. And I am pretty sure this guy is about to ask out the girl next to me. One more hair flip from her and it’s inevitable. Ahhhh, bookstore dramas ….

(Update: She casually threw into a story that she never wants to get married and isn’t like her friends, who wants a real relationship. This conversation is winding down quickly ….)

the olympics.

The Olympics have begun! I LOVE. IT. One of my favorite parts has always been the opening ceremony, particularly the moment when the Olympians come out by country and walk into the cheering arena for the first time. I get goosebumps as I think about how intense that moment must be for them. The noise. The colors. Their overwhelming sense of pride in representing their country. Sometimes its 4 people walking out, other times it’s 230. You can tell that it must feel surreal for them. I can imagine some of them reflect back on all that it has taken to get to that point. The training. The early hours. The bruises. The highs from winning competitions in the past and the sorrows from losing others. The things that they have missed in order to train, maybe a school dance or living close to home. But in that moment, every sacrifice has been worth it. As they gaze around, the broken bones are a distant memory. The early alarms set, a blur. This is their moment. They walk and take it all in. They have hope and excitement, perhaps a little fear, about what is to come and what is on the line. They have invested EVERYTHING and now it’s Go Time. If you look closely as they walk out, you can see all of this wrapped up in their eyes, it’s pretty incredible.

Fast forward to a month from now. The Olympics are over. They are back home, perhaps taking some time off, resting and recouping. Or maybe they still need to drag their weary bodies to and from practice, knowing that they will get another chance in 4 years. Perhaps they are on an adrenaline high, a medal or two around their neck and memories that few will ever fathom. Or maybe their heart has been broken, everything they worked so hard for gone in the blink of an eye. A slight slip, a bump in the ice, a turn taken too sharp. They carry the shame of disappointing those around them, even though they are being told they did great and had the chance to be in the Olympics. You gave it all you had. I can imagine the that the adrenaline they had while in Sochi has vanished, that rush of what they were a part of a distant memory.

I feel like I can relate. No, not in the sporting part of the Olympics, because we all know that I am just about the least coordinated, talented athlete around. (It’s actually a little frightening, but I can read a 300 page book in a few hours so I have something going for me.) Anyways, for us a cycle of IVF felt like the Olympics. We had the date set. We knew when it was coming up. We cleared all the competitions beforehand. Check! Check! Check! You qualify! You are infertile enough! There were early morning doctor’s appointments, driving to and from the clinic every other day. Things are looking great! Way to go! We had our checklists, take this pill at 8 am, shots at 9 am, wait 4 hours, rub this on your wrists, take this pill after lunch, but not too close to after lunch. Eat this pineapple, chew this brazil nut. Here, do these evening shots. Sit on a heating pad. Lather, rinse, repeat. Another day down, the anticipation building as THE event got closer. The bruises becoming more apparent on my stomach but with each one was pride at what I was accomplishing as a result. The calendar dates were set. The “Olympics” in view. And with each step closer to that big day, the excitement built, the hope mounted, the adrenaline crept up.

Then the Opening Ceremonies begin. You get to your egg retrieval day. You walk into your clinic, proudly holding your flag (aka your pair of lucky socks), in a terrified ecstatic march, taking in everything around you. You worked SO hard to get here. Now it’s go time. The failed cycles in the past seem distantly behind you. You barely remember the nights spent crying when you found out your IUI failed. You don’t even try to pull up the blurry memory of the pain you felt when the doctor told you that Clomid didn’t work on you. You made it! The day ends and you go back home knowing what’s ahead. The actual event is so close. A few days later, the transfer happens. If you’re lucky. Perhaps you are one of the unlucky few that falls during a practice run and is eliminated, your embryos didn’t make it. Just like that, it’s over. But if you are one of the lucky ones, the race is still on. All of your adrenaline has lead you to THIS moment. The emotions are almost overwhelming but you have to stay focused. Positive thinking. Remember what you have learned. Listen to your coach doctors and then embrace the moment.

And just like that your event is over. You find out if you won or not. There are only so many medals given out. Maybe you received one – a silver! One of your embryos implanted! Congratulations!! Or a gold – TWINS! You leave the Olympics and enter a whole new world of unknowns – embracing the new challenges to stay a medalist, training for the new life ahead of you and protecting what you have.

Or perhaps you fell short. One attached but your beta fell a few days later and you lost your precious baby. It feels like coming in fourth, so close but not enough. You are devastated. Or maybe you get the news that your results are simply negative. You are in 8th place, so far away from the medal stand that you ache. Everyone around you tells you It’s okay! Look at what you got to experience! I’m sure it will happen for you sometime. And yet, still, the energy and adrenaline has been sucked out of you.

You go home. You somehow have to figure out what is next. Do you take some time off? Do you just jump back into your life and forget that you ever went to the Olympics? Do you make the commitment to keep on training and try again in 4 years, investing all you have into your dream? You are tired but you miss the adrenaline, that moment of walking into the arena and being cheered for. Now it’s quiet. You are pushed aside as the new up and comers take center stage and the focus gradually moves on.

For the time being, Josh and I have made the choice to step back from IVF. After doing 4 cycles in 10 months, it only makes sense for us to take a break, give my body a rest and pray for continued direction.

But I have to be honest … I miss the rush of the Olympics.

I miss the date on my calendar. I miss knowing how to navigate my hopes depending on the cycles and medications I am on. I miss being able to be incredibly involved – giving myself the shots, driving to the appointments, receiving the update calls and knowing what’s going on. I still have to be proactive, changing my eating habits to try to manage my PCOS the best I can, yet there is no event ahead that I can focus on. I miss the adrenaline. And let me be clear, I still have incredible peace about where we are, but I still deal with sadness that I managed to bomb my events so miserably. I am a little wounded, feeling like I was on a slalom ski hill, tripped on a gate and just tumbled down the hill face first, hitting every gate, rock and tree on the way.

So I picked myself up and went back home. And I look around me at all the other Olympians IVF-ers around me that got a medal. Congratulating them with a sincere heart, yet still wishing I was standing next to them on that podium.

And then I remember:

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.  A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.  A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NLT)

There is a time and season for everything. A time for high adrenaline and a time for quiet. A time to train and compete and a time to rest. A time to collect the medal and a time to go home empty handed.

Here is what I cling to in the quiet season – God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. (v. 11) I may miss the Olympics, but God can and will make this after-math season beautiful. And until He changes our hearts about what we should be doing right now, all I can do is stop and embrace the day. Yes, perhaps fitting in IVF training sessions is not needed any more. Perhaps I won’t be meeting with my friend Wandy, the ultrasound probe, as often anymore. But that doesn’t mean that the aftermath of the Olympics should result in a life less lived. It means that right now, my work is to lay my petition, my request, and my heart before God.

My challenge for myself is to simply embrace this season. Because seasons do change. Winter doesn’t last forever (even though in Minnesota, it feels like it does, but that is besides the point.) In the words of Solomon, there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. Life a life close to Him, challenge yourself to deal with your emotions as they arise and embrace what’s in front of us. Our life goes by too fast to lose an entire season due to it not being what you want. We have everything we need to be present in today. So let’s live!

(And side note, I do realize how incredibly blessed we were to get the opportunity to go to the “Olympics”. Seriously, I know so many will never have the chance to do IVF and we feel incredibly grateful to have had the chance to do it.)

Anyways, off to go find and watch some Olympics events … let’s cheer these amazing athletes on, this is their moment!

sun

awards and randomness.

My thoughts have been scattered recently. I don’t have a full post with direction and after sitting on that fact for over 2 weeks, I realize that my posts don’t have to be perfect, nor do they have to have a lengthy point. So today I simply bring you some randomness and a TTC update – and with it I will hopefully break out of my no posting rut!!

While unintentionally away, I was nominated for 3 blogging awards, so fun! I gotta admit, I felt like dancing around like the dad from Christmas Story shouting “I won, I won, I won!” I mean, blogging love feels like I a warm hug, so thank you to these awesome ladies who thought of me.

My friend over at Tales of a Twin Mombie nominated me for the Liebster Award and instructed me to answer the ten questions she created as part of the nomination. Since I have a few other questions to answer with the other awards, I picked my favorite 5 questions – here you go!

liebsteraward

What led you to start your blog and how long have you been blogging?

I started blogging in the spring of 2012 (which seems like yesterday and an eternity ago, all at the same time) simply based on the fact that I felt called to share our story and struggle with others. It took a while, in fact I had the website registered for almost 6 months before taking the plunge, but am so glad I did. It has blessed my life SO much. In fact, in a few more posts, I will be celebrating my 100th entry! Whoa!

If you could recommend a MUST READ, what would it be and why?

I am a READER. Anyone who knows me can attest to that. My books are well loved, often dressed in crinkled pages as a result of being dropped in the bathtub or tossed into a purse. So to narrow it down to ONE must read!? I can’t image. But one of my favorite books to read is Blue Bistro by Elin Hildebrand. There is something about her writing that I love (her older work especially) and I am a foodie too, so this is a perfect blend of all things great. Another recommendation of a good book that you can laugh and cry (okay, bawl) to is Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. Oh and Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Actually anything by her is fantastic. For Christian books on infertility I highly recommend Hannah’s Hope by Jennifer Saake.

I better stop now. If you ever need a book recommendation though, just shoot me a message and I would love to make some suggestions.

When you are feeling stressed out, what is something that almost always works to calm you?

Quiet time. This most typically can be fulfilled in a coffee shop, bookstore, or bathtub. Introverted time to myself, preferably with a tea or latte, a journal and a Bible, refills my bucket and calms me down.

What do you admire the most about your husband?

I could go on and on! But simply put, I admire his cheerful attitude and his ability to see the glass even more half full than me. He rarely has a down day, is someone who just wakes up chipper and ready to embrace the day and will never let himself sulk into negativity. He reminds me of the positives and blessings on tough days and has such an optimistic spirit. He is the BEST. (Plus he is a stud, so win win!)

What is your guilty pleasure? Something you shouldn’t indulge but just have to sometimes?

French fries and real sugar lattes. Both of which don’t go with my eating habit changes so it’s been a little tough.

sunshinenina

The other award I was nominated for is the Sunshine Award which is an award granted by fellow bloggers to whom they feel bring sunshine to their lives. How sweet and special! These ladies at Team Ricci and Waiting for Baby Bird gave me this award and with it, several more questions to answer – here are a few!

What is one of your favorite quotes?

I have been finding myself scribbling down quotes and reminders lately and posting them around my kitchen. While I have many favorite quotes, here are two are my scribbles from last week!

IMG_6495

IMG_6502

Where is your favorite vacation spot?

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Every spring Josh and I are blessed to be able to vacation with his family and have fallen in love with our home away from home each year. This year will be our 10th year down there together (more for Josh) and its one of my favorite, relaxing spots! Plus they have a STARBUCKS so it’s pretty much perfection.

Provide 5 RANDOM facts about yourself. (Is it sad that I had to recruit Josh to help me with this? My mind drew a complete blank.)

  • I am becoming an awful text and email responder. I typically don’t love phone calls. The older I get, the more I value one-on-one, face to face time with people (preferably over a caffeinated beverage) and less and less the technology version of them.
  • I love coffee mugs. Each one tells a story of where you got it or who gave it to you. Josh on the other hand doesn’t love all my coffee mugs since our cabinet is out of room and he has had more than one come crashing down on him.
  • I am an introverted morning person. I don’t like to talk for at least an hour after waking up. In fact, Cali and I typically don’t acknowledge each other until we have both been awake for quite a while. I will wake up an hour earlier than Josh on the weekends simply to have my quiet time before his energy explodes.
  •  I don’t like to be spooked or startled intentionally and when scared, I will immediately begin crying. Josh has learned this the hard way as he loves a good “BOO!”. Please do not see this as an invitation to scare me either. It does not go over well.
  • Having fresh flowers in my house is a must. I love flowers.

Now I would love to pass along the love and nominate 3 girls whose blogs I just love and whom are creative and beautiful authors! Check them out!

Girls, all you have to do is mention who nominated you and answer these 5 questions to help your bloggers get to know you better!

  1. Do you have any furbabies? If so, share a picture and tell us about them!
  2. What is your favorite warm beverage to drink? Do you have a favorite coffee shop spot?
  3. What is your favorite Bible verse?
  4. Tell us about how you met your spouse.
  5. What would your perfect day look like?

I also wanted to say thanks to all those who remembered our should-have-been due date last Monday. I was so blessed by the amazing kindness of those who checked in. And thanks to a sweet somebody, we even received these beautiful flowers from our babies.

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

I also received some beautiful jewelry handcrafted by my friend Martha. One of my favorite things are these tokens she designed. They are filled with some of my favorite verses, words of encouragement and symbols of hope. She has an Etsy shop filled with gorgeous work and is currently saving towards her 5th IVF cycle, all while dealing with being the wife of a deployed husband and mother of a heaven-held daughter who left this world too soon. Here is the link to her shop – I urge you to check her out and support a great cause!

IMG_6532

Lastly, a small TTC update – I have been experiencing some weird pains and symptoms since stopping IVF and have been trying to track that and determine what may be normal, what may be from PCOS, what may be from my body working to try to heal itself, and what isn’t right. The other day I decided it would be best to check in with my OB just to check things out. We don’t have many answers yet but I was able to get in and have things looked at. We were able to, for the most part, rule out really scary things like cancer, fibroids, tumors and polyps and I was thankful that my labs and ultrasounds didn’t show anything of immediate concern. She did express a little unease that one of my ovaries was swollen up about 30% larger than it should be and that there’s a cyst that’s just a bit larger than normal. While we don’t know for sure if it’s what’s causing the pain, we will keep an eye on it for the next 4 weeks and rerun some tests then. It has all been placed it in His hands and we are feeling comfortable with the game plan. We haven’t really talked about it with anyone simply because we really don’t know much and it’s just a small web of unknowns. I share this with you simply to ask for prayers for healing and wisdom and still, would prefer not to talk about it.

Well, for not having a lot to say, I certainly filled up the page! How about I don’t wait 2 and a half weeks to post again. Mkay, I’ll work on that. Until next time!