tears and stillness.

Anyone else in shock that it’s Thanksgiving this week? Whoa! My plate has been a little fuller than normal, trying to balance in working full-time with my already busy calendar. I added in a high dose birth control pill a few weeks ago to prepare for our IUI cycle and wowza, there is definitely a learning curve getting back into the steady stream of hormones and reintroducing metformin to my system. EEEEEEK!

I wish I could tell you I was handling the to-do list’s and hormones like a champ, but the truth is that it’s gotten the best of me more often than not. I seasoned my salad on Sunday night with tears as I faced the possibility that I might not be able to do it all. The amount of pressure I put on myself to “KEEP UP!” and the acknowledgement that I might not be able to makes me feel like I am failing. I take pride in being able to get it all done, throw the party, drop off the meal, send that card, reply to that text, sneak in a coffee date, comment back to each loving comment left. And then this last week hit and it was like ….

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And a little of this:

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However, I have to note, today, I am more like this.

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So why am I telling you all this? Well, one, so you know I have the same rollercoasters as you do. Two, because I needed to vent that birth control pills and metformin sucks. Three, well, because I am learning a lot during all this.

My soul needs rest. In the midst of chaos and SO MANY LISTS, I have made the mistake of prioritizing everything else above my time with Him and then when the evening comes and my Bible stares at me, well, my eyes just can’t stay open. I need to learn the disciple of being still, of making HIM the priority instead of ensuring I have the green bean casserole made and the turkey purchased (okay, well those actually are two important things).

Psalm 46:10a reminds me “Be still, and know that I am God!”. The act of being still is one of the hardest things for me in this season, as I know it is for many of you too. Psalm 131 continues, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul…” Solitude, quiet time and rest in God is worth fighting for. It’s worth carving out, worth prioritizing, worth bumping all the way up to the most alert part of your day.

I know I need to work on slowing down and simply enjoying His presence, without asking for anything and without worrying about everything else to do. Simply being with Him. Pastor Craig Groeschel says “Stilling our heart doesn’t happen by accident” and this whole last week or two has been a gigantic validation of that statement. So with that, I ask that you offer me some grace as I perhaps write only once a week instead of twice over the next couple weeks, or take an extra day or two to reply to your comments (which I LOVE reading!!!!!), or skip a Friday Favorites (like I will this Friday to spend some Black Friday fun with the family.) I want to take the little extra time I have and savor it, stilling my heart so I can contemplate the goodness of our Great God.

A few last things to note and to be concise, bullet points it is!

  • Thanks to over 85 of you who purchased products through our fundraiser link, we were generously donated over $900 in commissions from our dear friends Annie and Jana. We are completely overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing generosity and sacrifice of so many of you who wanted to be a part of our journey in this way. Humbled doesn’t even begin to describe how grateful we feel. Thank you. So much. 
  • Our IUI cycle is set to start the first week of December if all goes as planned! We are still waiting for test results on the autoimmune testing I had done and I have a call scheduled for tomorrow afternoon to discuss all the fine tuned IUI details and hopefully will get those results then. I will be absolutely sure to keep you all in the detail loop as we move forward! YAHOO!
  • Starting next month, I will be writing for the website Fertility Authority and will be posting blogs with new content over there in addition to my posts here. (Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere!) Can I ask you all a favor in advance? I get paid by views so when I share a link, would you mind just taking a moment to click over and read? If you weren’t able to participate in the fundraiser, this is a great free way to support us! Another amazing thing is that I get to write about my faith on there too, which as you know is a huge part of who I am as a writer and person. I am pumped about this opportunity and honored that they would approach me with this opportunity. Stay tuned the first of week December and then click away!

That’s it! Hope all my USA readers have an amazing Thanksgiving and I will eat extra turkey and mashed potatoes keeping my international readers in mind XO!

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friday favorites – november 21st.

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Anyone else feel like this after this week? Man, it’s been one of those weeks where I have had the best things fill my time and then also a million things I didn’t want to do but had to do. (And about 90% are still on my list, completely overwhelming me.) Deadlines are quickly approaching and truthfully I am not sure how I am going to fit everything in that needs to be done, while enjoying the fun things scheduled.  I will manage though – it’s all good! I say all this because Friday Favorites are going to be short and sweet this week to allow for me to get some less fun but higher priorities taken care of. I know you’ll understand. :)

Here we go!

Favorite Tradition: Every year the women on Josh’s side of the family get together to make homemade rock candy. It’s a blast, as we all gather around the table with our scissors and molting sugar and gab and visit about life, while sneaking tastes of whatever batch we are making – peach, apple, coconut, cran-raspberry. I’ve been asked for the recipe a lot so here it is!

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A few tips, I have included below some “live” shots from the day to help you piece it together. A few suggestions too:

  • Plan a few hours to make it and have several sets of hands, as the sugar does cool/harden quickly and you need to cut fast!IMG_7162
  • Have good scissors to cut. Shattering it leaves sharp jagged pieces which aren’t any fun to eat.Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset
  • Cover your nearby surroundings with old sheets because the powdered sugar dust does travel.
  • Have fun with the flavorings and colors you choose to go along with it.IMG_7167
  • Put wax paper down on the area you are working on and then cover that table with powdered sugar. It makes it much easier!IMG_7163
  • Use old plates greased with butter to have the liquid sugar on and then pulled up from the sides small chunks to cut off, throw in the powdered sugar, and then have one of your cutters grab to make into smaller pieces.IMG_7170
  • Leave all your little pieces in the sugar until they cool and then using a strainer, shake off most of the access powdered sugar. (You can reshake it all off at the end when everything is cooled).IMG_7165
  • HAVE FUN! I am sure I have missed some tips (and perhaps my guru mother-in-law can comment anything I have forgotten), but I wanted to get this out to you since so many people have commented on Instagram and asked for the recipe. It’s a blast to do!IMG_7171

Favorite Thing I’m Looking Forward To: Mockingjay, Part 1 comes out this weekend! Who’s ready to get their Katniss Everdeen on!?

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Favorite Thoughtful Gesture: My sweet friend Jessica surprised me with this book and card this week. I had mentioned a while back in passing that this book was on my to-read list and was so graciously surprised when it showed up in my mailbox weeks later. Thank you Jessica! (And your card made me all teary – so special and encouraging!)

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Favorite Wallpaper: If you don’t utilize the She Reads Truth app/website for daily devotions and encouragement, get on it! SO GOOD! They offer tons of free wallpaper downloads too that correlate with their series and I just loved this one.

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Favorite Video: This video of a woman doing impressions of celebrities who are stuck in traffic is HILARIOUS! A couple minutes long and totally worth the laugh.

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Favorite Funnies:

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Enjoy! I am off to get things checked off this ever-growing list of mine. I can’t wait to check back in a few days and share the AMAZING results of our fundraiser with you. If I haven’t said it enough, THANK YOU for everything. We were overwhelmed by the kindness that our friends, family, and strangers bestowed on us. The simple act of your purchase signified much more than you wanting to buy a lipgloss, it signified that you were still standing behind us and supporting us as we move forward. It meant so much. And to those who weren’t able to make a purchase, we appreciated SO much your reaching out to commit your prayers to us. While the funds raised are amazing and helpful, the team we have behind us rallying behind us is what means the most to us. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!!

Oh and I can’t end it without sharing this ridiculously adorable picture of Cali at 4 months. I think she has gotten much more used to her mom taking pictures of her. Have a great weekend!

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Last day.

Okay this is the last time I’ll say anything about this but today’s the last day to make a purchase from Norwex or Younique by using our fundraiser link: Click Here!

Thanks to EVERYONE who has placed an order thus far, we have appreciated it greatly! Our hearts are full and humbled by the support of so many of you. I’ve been taking time to pray over each name and their families as confirmations come in and I can only hope and pray that your families are touched and blessed as a result of the kindness you’ve shown.

Thank you!

Lots of love, Josh and Chelsea

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“ThAnKs fOr hElPiNg mY fAmILy!!!” Love, Cali

friendship.

You know what is beautiful? Friendship. Community. People. More and more each day I become keenly aware of the gift I have been given of those that surround me. There is something special about being able to pick up the phone and call a friend, just to chat about the day or pass along a funny story. There is something beautiful about sitting over a cup of coffee in a living room or coffee shop and laughing (or crying) as you share what’s on your heart. Friendship takes time. It takes real investment, open hearts and the willingness to let others in.

Friendship takes vulnerability. It requires raw conversation with the ability to “go there” without doing permanent damage, which requires a deep trust. That trust is built over time, each trial and opportunity building another level to the foundation of friendship.

True friendship is sinking down into the depths of who we really are. Have you ever seen that quote that says “You, too? I thought I was the only one.” True friendship is giving someone something in which they can say that back to you. It’s opening up and being vulnerable, a word that is so hard to whisper these days since we aren’t sure what the response will be.

Shauna Niequist writes “We have to give something up in order to get friendship like that. We have to give up our need to be perceived as perfect. We have to give up our ability to control what people think of us. We have to overcome the fear that when they see the depths of who we are they’ll leave. But what we give up is nothing in comparison to what this kind of friendship gives to us. Friendship is about risk. Love is about risk.”

The thing about friendships though is that they aren’t one way. Many of us have been stung by someone we thought was a friend, that we shared with or supported in their own time of need, but left us abandoned and alone when we needed them. Or perhaps we put ourselves out there, shared that emotional vulnerable story, only to be met with silence, a little awkwardness and a significant absence of phone calls and texts returned. It burns. But it doesn’t mean we give up. Sure, when a “friend” begins to let you down routinely and consistently, with no remorse or causes you pain and makes you feel inferior, there is a time to leave that friendship alone and stop the pursuit. That is necessary because we need to have heart boundaries. However keep in mind that there are seasons where one will give more than they receive and vice versa. I call it the teeter tauter of friendship. We give support, we watch one rise, we cheer them on and help them when they are in need, and when the roles change and the weight of life shifts, the other gets to step up and lend a hand, provide more listening than talking, and stepping up as you did for them. It’s not about receiving all you give, but it’s about balance.

Community is a precious thing, one never to be taken for granted. Know who your people are. Invest in them, both ways, in the good times and in the bad. We can’t do it all and be it all to everyone, this lesson I am painfully learning. But with true friends, the walls fall down, the shyness fades, the conversation about REAL life happens and we talk through the hidden places.

Give it time. Take the risk. Give up the control of being perceived as perfectly as you have crafted. Make it a priority to let your people know how much they mean to you. “The closer you get to someone, the more that friendship gives you and the more force and power it has to make your life bigger and richer.” (Shauna Niequest)

I want my life to be rich. I want others to know how much I care about them in a tangible, heart-warming, comforting way.

My community around me has blessed me so significantly more than I can communicate. Between dropping off meals while I have been on bed-rest after treatments or surgeries, to covering my volunteer shifts at church, to placing an order through the fundraiser – to THROWING the fundraiser, to sending more cards and packages than my little heart can handle, to dropping off a coffee, making a phone call, liking a status … It’s helped me continue to open up, be vulnerable, and give me the strength to help reach others and remind them that God is there. Because of the support of my people, my friends, my world, I can keep pushing forward each day.

Are you in a place where your world feels empty and such community feels foreign to you? I invite you to begin the simple prayer of praying that the Lord brings someone into your life to fill that hole. I am a strong advocate of getting connected in a small group or Bible study as a first step! But I know personally how hard it can be to go through seasons of life without anyone there. I can remember times in my life when I was just praying for someone to connect with, who got me, who I could be ME with. And boy, has God answered those prayers through time and vulnerability. Perhaps you can begin praying over friendships that have slipped away due to negligence or pride. I know that God doesn’t want you to be alone and wants to offer you the richness that comes with friendship. If I can join you in praying for this, I would love to. Please comment below or send in a private email and I promise to be lifting you up in prayer this week.

Lastly, can I share a beautiful act of kindness that was bestowed to me a few weeks ago? I was meeting over coffee with Julie, a sweet friend of mine who I met through a high school friend (and connected with on Instagram – love that). She leaned over and handed me a small box. I carefully began opening its tender corners as she excitedly explained this gift and why she was passing it on to me. (I have to admit I was so touched and overwhelmed that I forgot to listen to it and had to have her email me details again, haha!).

She shared that a few years back, a dental patient of hers had found out that Julie and her husband were struggling with infertility and were trying to have a baby through surrogacy.  4 months later, this patient returned with the box that was now in my hands. The patient, L, told Julie she went back to China to visit her family and brought her back this baby gift, for the baby she was going to have eventually. L gifted Julie with these Chinese fertility statues which were made to help keep “the house full”. She had taken them from her Grandmother’s home while visiting, and that Grandmother had them for over 50 years. L passed these onto Julie, who a short 4 months later found out her surrogate was expecting their little son, Ethan, who is now 1, and Julie tucked them away in Ethan’s room, grateful for the kind gesture of L.

Julie handed these dolls over to me, sharing that while neither of us believes in the superstition behind the fertility dolls, the gesture and the thoughtfulness that rests in passing these down from woman to woman who struggles, is one of the sweetest things. These little statutes now sit out and remind me of the value of friends, hope, and prayers that one day, “our house will be full.” I love them.

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And as Josh Garrels so beautifully sings “Weave your heart into mine, my friend.”

XOXO!

Chelsea

friday favorites – november 14.

Somehow, and I don’t know how, another Friday is upon us! Here’s the Friday Favorites for the week!

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Favorite Moment: Spending some quality time with Josh’s grandma and mom over tea! We were able to check out a new tea room in the area and have meaningful catch-up-on-life conversation over some delicious tea, sandwiches and salads. Not only that, but we got to try on some hats when we were leaving … I mean, seriously, can we please bring back these classic looks? I think everyone should have to wear tulle and a feather on their head at least one day in their lives. Hehe!

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Favorite Product: At the moment I am SO grateful for Bliss body butter. My hands have been so dry as these new wintery months approach and I feel like this lotion is helping return my skin to a semi-hydrated state. Unfortunately my little sample size is running low and I will then be on the search for some more lotion samples in my drawers, but for this week, my hands are soft and its thanks to Bliss.

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Favorite Quote: “Joy results when we discover the presence, power and purpose of God in every circumstance.” -Beth Moore

I loved reading that reminder in my study for small group this week. There is that beautiful reminder that happiness is fleeting and circumstancial, while JOY is rooted deep in Him. I want true, deep, rich joy in every season of my life!

Oh yes, and also this Bible verse from Jeremiah 31…so thankful for a Lord that replenishes our weary souls!

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Favorite Kids Church Lesson: How perfect a lesson for our preschool program to learn at church this week! It was so cute to hear the kiddos answering their questions in their groups (“What did Hannah pray for? A BABY!”) and being reminded through this perfect story that God brings us joy. A perfect tie in to my Bible study this week too! (I know this font size is so small below – you may be able to click and zoom!)

Favorite Helper: Minnesota was hit with a snowstorm on Monday (meh, it’s only November) and with Josh out of town, I knew that the driveway had to be cleared somehow! After gratefully declining offers from some family and friends (thanks Joe, Scot and Chet!), I decided it was time to learn how to operate our snowblower and that I could certainly clear these 10″ inches off, no problem. Well, of course it’s never that easy and after running out of gas, flooding the, um, something, and getting stuck, I quickly made the SOS call … to my dad. Of course he came over and fixed everything with an ease that only dads can manage and helped me clear off my driveway while I shoveled. We got it done! (But not without a snow plow plowing into my dad’s car – no pun intended. Boo!) Thanks Dad for your help! Josh, you are never allowed out of town again!

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Favorite Accomplishment: Finishing my 1st One Line A Day book! I purchased this November 2009 and every day since then, have taken a moment each day to scribble down what I do that day – the memories or moments that summarized the day essentially. The book gives you a spot for each day of the year and then there are 5 paragraphs so that you can write in that day for five years. (Make sense?) Well, this week I finally wrote in my last day for the last year and got to start a new book! You can find these books on Amazon or Barnes and Nobles. I have even seen them at times at Targetin the notebook aisle. They are SO fun.

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Favorite Pinterest Pin: Look at all these fun ways to tie a belt!

Favorite Funnies: And last but not least ….

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There you go! Happy Friday friends! 7 tubes of blood work was given today so let’s pray for those results. (Not really sure what I am hoping to happen – answers or another thing checked off the list of things I don’t need to worry about ….) I will keep you updated! Day 4/28 of birth control pills is in the books and if all goes planned, it looks like we will have an IUI the week of Christmas, which is beautifully ironic considering we miscarried on Christmas 2 years ago. Anyways, I digress – just keep us in your prayers! And if you haven’t placed an order for the fundraiser and would like to, consider this a reminder! :) Party ends on Tuesday! XO!

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guest post.

Thank you so much for all the excitement over our last post! We have been overwhelmed with the kindness, support and prayers as we head into these new steps. It’s not too late to place an order for Norwex or Younique using the links found on this Fundraiser page if you are interested. Again, thank you for those who have generously blessed us and to everyone who is praying. It means so much to me and Josh!

In other news, my post for today is located over at Caroline’s page at In Due Time. Caroline reached out and asked me to do a Guest Post while her and her hubby are on vacation and I was honored to be able to write to her readers!

If you want to check it out, please click HERE!

I’ll even give you a sneak peek at what inspired my post today – these words below from Craig Groeschel about the difference between social media clicks and Godly compassion and caring. I hope you all head over and check it out.

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Hope you are all having a great week!

XOXO,

Chelsea

the new plan and how you can help.

There has been 387 days between the date of our last transfer and today. 387 long days. I remember typing this post about our 4th cycle failure like it was yesterday. I remember sharing with you all that we were being called into a season of putting a hold on fertility treatments and let me tell you, it’s been a long year. Between last October and today, I have seen a naturopathic doctor, an acupuncturist, had a laparoscopy surgery done and many tests run, drunk teas, sucked down pills and above all, prayed for wisdom, guidance and direction. This wait has been LONG. And yet even though it has felt unproductive compared to years past, both Josh and I felt incredible peace that this was exactly where we were supposed to be, even though it wasn’t easy.

Then a month or so ago both of our hearts started stirring, feeling like we were supposed to restart up treatments. I don’t think either of us were prepared to start thinking about it again and the thought of jumping back into things caught me a little off guard. We began to talk and pray and felt that gentle nudging to make some calls.

I reached out to 2 new clinics in the area. One thing Josh and I felt strongly about was the need for a second opinion, a new set of eyes, a fresh space. Doctor consults can often be booked out 6-8 weeks so I made a call, thinking that we would sit down with them towards the end of the year. Imagine my surprise when one of them shared that they had a cancellation just open up – for 3 days later. (The other being consistent with the longer timeline we were expecting.) With a swiftness that could only be God, charts were exchanged, papers were filled out, and there we were, walking into a new RE, waiting to hear his thoughts on our case. I instantly felt relief when he said that he still has hope for our case, even though I know that our hope is found in God. Still it was reassuring that he felt so positive for us. The hour we spent with him was incredibly educational and we loved how he explained his thoughts and our options.

For the sake of brevity, the plan he proposed is that we do a few IUI (artificial insemination) cycles using Femara and a trigger shot, which I have responded to well in the past, combined with estrogen and progesterone supplementation.. He also wants to put me back on Metformin to improve my egg quality and felt strongly about completing some more blood test to ensure that my reoccurring miscarriages haven’t been caused by any autoimmune disorders. We have done a few of these tests in the past and I am in full agreement that we need to complete the panels. Regardless of how the results come back, we will add in Lovenox injections which are useful for a whole slew of things. If this doesn’t work, the next step would be to do another IVF cycle. This clinic in particular only does cycles 4 times a year,  making the next one we would be eligible for at the end of March. After our appointment, we continued to pray. My prayers were that God would make it abundantly obvious if we were supposed to move forward. The nudging in our hearts that it was time to step out again seemed so clear, but still, I kept praying for two things – 1) that God would make it very evident that moving forward with IUI/IVF was His plan and 2) that the financial part of these medicated cycles would be provided for.

Within a DAY, and I mean a DAY, God answered both of these requests clearly. The first answer occurred while I was sitting in my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) meeting the next morning, where we were talking about Moses, specifically Exodus 14. Our lecturer was talking about how the Israelites were standing in front of the Red Sea while the Egyptians were chasing after them. My lesson picks up here:

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

What God spoke to me was that sometimes He brings us to the point where we are supposed to be waiting. (Like the Israelites did for 400+ years.) But then other times He brings us right before our answer to prayer and says “Why are you still standing still?? Stop talking. It’s time to move forward.” Had Moses not acted and lifted up his staff, had the Israelites not taken those scary steps into the parted Red Sea, the story would have ended there. But instead, it was time to move forward in faith. That day God affirmed “I will fight for you – it’s time to move forward.” Message heard, loud and clear. (This is one of many affirmations that have come my way since offering up that prayer!)

He then answered the financial part in a variety of ways. At the start of the week I was committed to a job share position, which ended up changing into a short-term, full-coverage opportunity, giving me more hours. I then was contacted by an Editor in Chief at a large online fertility resource website, who asked ME, little old me, to become a paid blogger for them starting in December. (I never reached out to them, this was completely God-initiated. And I said yes so more on that to come in another post!) And then I had 2 friends, within a few days of each other, reach out to me, offering to use their online businesses to throw a fundraising product party, both offering to donate 100% of the commission earned to our medical treatments, without any conversation about our future direction. Wow. God, you are so good!

So let me summarize – we are doing this again!!!! 

The plan is to get some blood work done this Friday and then start 28 days on birth control to reset things. Then after that, we are going to move forward with a Femara+trigger shot IUI cycle. I could see how to some of you, it feels like we are stepping backwards, since my IUI days are years behind me, however there is SO MUCH PEACE in this new plan and we are GIDDY to get things going. And of course, excited to see how God will act. We can’t do this without the prayers and support of those around us, so THANK YOU!

With all that said – now how can you help!?

  1. Continue to pray for us. This is the biggest way. Prayers, vibes, energy, whatever you can throw , we will take it. I know those prayers go from your mouth to His ears.
  2. Another way is to shop! For the next 10 days, there are 2 online parties being thrown by two generous friends to assist with the medical costs involved. Please do not feel ANY pressure to make a purchase, but if you are looking for any Norwex or Younique products, I would love and appreciate you using these parties to make your purchase! Being able to receive some assistance through these amazing women’s commission is nothing short of an answer to prayer.
  3. Feel free to share the event link with your friends/family. There will be an entirely separate link (www.trialsbringjoy.com/fundraiser/) that will give you information on where you can do this online shopping, complete with details on purchasing and without boring anyone with all these details above.
  4. Lastly, I ask that you pray a special blessing over the lives of Annie and Jana, both of the women who has made this offer and are allowing Him to answer our prayers through their generous kindness. God knows exactly what prayers are on their hearts and so I simply ask that you lift up a prayer of gratitude and blessing over them.

These online parties will run from today (November 9th) until November 18th (next Tuesday). Again, if you are not in a place to make a purchase, please don’t feel any pressure. But if you are and are looking to support these next steps of ours, Josh and I both would appreciate it more than you know. Plus YOU get some fun products from 2 great companies! I call that a win-win!

Thank you again for all of the prayers for wisdom and guidance over these last years. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 6 years of trying and waiting, but I am trusting that GREAT things are ahead! XOXO!

CLICK HERE FOR ALL FUNDRAISING DETAILS!