perfect peace.

DEVO

Today I am reminded of the need for my continued desire to e*a*r*n*e*s*t*l*y seek God. “Oh God you are my God; earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you…” (Ps. 63:1) I often find myself seeking Him, not because I am thirsting for Him, but because it’s part of my routine, on my to-do list, or even worse, I need something from Him. (Can you imagine if your significant other only connected with you when they needed something? Ouch.)  And then Isaiah 26:3 reminds me “You will keep in P-E-R-F-E-C-T  P-E-A-C-E all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You.”

So here’s the formula I have figured out:

True, earnest desperation for God –> earnestly seeking Him –> trusting in Him and His character –> perfect peace –> continued desperation and longing for God.

The longing for Him can’t come out of needing something or be rushed because it’s “on the list”, it has to be genuine. And in order to build that genuine adoration, we have to take the intentional time to get to know Him. It takes authentic energy. What a reminder this is for me today! And what a perfect example of why seeking Him and staying grounded in Him for no reason other than I thirst for Him is so important. Side benefit: perfect peace.

My relationship with God, like any others, can hit nice easy strides. However, just as we have to be intentional to pursue our friendships and make sure that we are taking time for relationships in our life that are so important to us (and expressing that!), so we have to do with our Creator.

We are wrapping up 2014 this week. Whoa. Where has this year gone? In the past, I have had a word of the year – a word that drives my heart and intentions for personal growth. The word for 2014 was “contentment”, based off of Philippians 4, “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

How did I do? I would like to say I did good, but of course know there are always ways for significant improvements. I do feel like this verse and the prayerful intentions to find contentment whatever my circumstances has helped me to grow. I wrote in my journal a year ago today “To a year where trust goes ahead of trials and His work is accomplished through us an in us.” My prayer for this year repeats itself, as I pray for trust that goes ahead of anything that comes our way (or doesn’t) and that He would continue to be glorified in it all.

So what’s the 2015 word? I have it – I am praying on it and flushing it out and can’t wait to share it with you soon.

Thanks for all your continued prayers sent as we are midst our 2WW. Tick tock tick tock. We are trying not to think about it and I am ignoring it nearly completely which is actually pretty impressive. Typing this message is the most thought I have given it to it in a while. So when you text and ask how I am feeling and doing, know that my brief “good” isn’t trying to be rude, it’s keeping me from over-analyzing and stressing about something I have no control over. I am thankful for the distractions these holiday seasons give us.

Enjoy these last few days of 2014 – let’s strive forward with an earnest pursuit of Him because He is who He is, not because of what He can do for us. Amen?!

And while I type, Cali sleeps on MY new heated blanket. She thinks this is the best Christmas present her mom has ever gotten! Ha!

And while I type, Cali sleeps on MY new heated blanket. She thinks this is the best Christmas present her mom has ever gotten! Ha!

If you haven’t already entered the New Years Giveaway, take a minute to do so! You still have a few more days! 

new years giveaway.

Merry Day-After-Christmas! Hope has come and now we sit back and rest in His presence. I imagine today is the day Mary sat thinking about how much her life as changed as Jesus fussed and cried and needed to be fed. I love the fact that in His humanness, He was just as dependent on Mary as a baby as we are now on Him. I often feel disappointment once Christmas is over, but this year, I feel like the magic is sticking around a little longer.

 

Okay, and now the REALLY fun news! I am SO excited to be teaming up with some incredible friends for an amazing New Years Giveaway! As the New Year approaches, we realized what a blessing it would be to help others on their faith walk and journey with Jesus. I don’t know about you but there is something special about a new year, a new devotional or journal and a cup of coffee that screams productive quiet time! I just know the winners of this giveaway are going to be so blessed!  And instead of just having one winner, we thought it would be fun to have THREE, which means you have 3 chances to win some amazing prizes sponsored from the bloggers below! It’s SO easy to earn entries – simply click HERE Rafflecopter giveaway and earn drawing points by getting to know the sponsors better. There’s a free entry as well. It’s super easy – just use your name and email to sign up (so we know who is entering and how to contact you)! We all are praying that God blesses the winners in BIG ways with the goodies below! The contest is open to anyone which means you don’t need to be in any special season of life to enter. We really just want to bless others!

Without further ado, the fabulous prizes will be …

 Package One: 1st Winner – $75 Value

  • Journaling Bible
  • Blessings for a Woman’s Heart Devotional
  • Max Lucado Calendar
  • Jesus Today Book
  • Scripture Cards

Package Two: 2nd Winner – $45 Value

  • 2 CD’s
  • Starbucks Gift Card
  • Notepad
  • Women’s Devotional

Package Three: 3rd Winner – $25 Value

  • Itunes Gift Card
  • Journal
  • Scarf

It's A New Year Giveaway

In Due Time  ♦  The Lady Okie  ♦  A Touch of Grace  ♦  Trials Bring Joy  ♦ Jessi’s Design

Sage the Blog  ♦  Run to Radiance   ♦  The Artsy Cajun   ♦  Viva Good   ♦   Amateur Nester

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thanks to my friend Caroline for hosting!! I love being able to share some love with my wonderful readers and friends. The contest is open from now until January 2nd (one week!), so don’t delay in entering today. You will be contacted if (when! I’m feeling hopeful for my readers!) you win and your package will be sent out no later than January 7th.

Whooo hoooo! Sending you wish dust and lots of love!

XO,

Chelsea

Christmas hope.

Today is Christmas Eve! When did it sneak up? I have been sitting here for a while now, looking at my blank computer screen and trying to make sense of the beautiful emotions running through me. The end of the Advent season drawing near and the celebration of His arrival is approaching, Christmas is only a day away! December mixes in the emotions of longing and hoping and then celebrating the completion of our waiting. Jesus came, arriving to this earth as a helpless baby, demonstrating that the hope in Him was not displayed.

Hope. A frail word that creates emotions throughout so many of us. When we are disappointed and sorrows overwhelm us, our hope is dashed, stolen by tears and replaced with discouragement. When what we have hoped for comes true, we become advocates of optimism, losing our cynic routine and spouting happy words.

We’ve talked a lot in this blog about hope, keeping our hope in Him. (See past posts here and here and here and here) One of my favorite verses comes from Hebrews 6, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hope defined is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” I have related this to my infertility journey often times – expecting our prayers to be answered and hoping in Him for that. However this Christmas season, I am reminded that this word goes far beyond my wish list, it is much more than that.

Hope is believing and being certain that He has come and that He will come again. Hope is expecting His faithfulness to endure time, that His Word is true and that as a result, we don’t have to worry. HE is the anchor for our soul. His arrival to earth all those years ago secured our future, regardless of what that looks like. His arrival overrides all feelings of “God has forgotten about us” or “God doesn’t care about me.” His birth restores the Hope that we have in His Word and contains the answer to our future – the Hope that His word will prevail and that He will come again. Because of the miracle of Jesus’ virgin birth, our hope will never need to waver because He wins. In the end, He wins. So no matter what we go through, what we face, what trials or sorrows come our way, once you become a child of His, we can rest fully assured that our Hope in Him is never displaced.

As you walk into Christmas, pause and reflect about the JOY in this season. I know sometimes when we have struggles, the focus of those sorrows can displace the joy of the season. But Christmas is more than a season; it is celebrating something far more eternal than an empty home, empty arms, a worried heart. It’s celebrating His faithfulness to fulfill what He has promised. Christmas can carry with it emotional landmines for those struggling with infertility – questions asked, parties attended, children and families everywhere. There is a fine line of acknowledging your real emotions of sorrow and pain and not letting it override the beauty of Christmas. I pray today that each of you, in the heartache of today, can remember that this suffering will not last forever. That He has been born in the city of David, and came to save us because of His love for us. Keep the faith my friends. Grieve as needed but not as those without Hope. Because He came, He conquered and He will come again. Because He hears your prayers, sits with you as you cry, collects your tears, and loves you so much.

If you ever are in a place where you want to know more about what it looks like to take a step forward towards Him, begin a relationship with Him, invest back in this love He has for you, I am just an email away. Nothing would bring me more joy than to talk with you about what it is that He offers to us that allows me to rest confidently in Him.

This Christmas I get to celebrate as a PUPO. (Pregnant until proven otherwise). Our IUI was on Monday and went well. We had a small catheter/uterus collision which caused some pain and cramping and I know that I am not alone in having that have happened before. To those who have experienced that before, a collective ‘ouch’ on three would be great, 1 … 2…. 3…. OUCH! Thankfully Josh was there and I could squeeze his hand, hard. Otherwise I was able to go home and rest the remainder of the day and now am returning to life as planned. 2 week waits can be hard, but the great thing about this one is that the holidays are throughout them and I will be distracted enough. I feel like 2 week waits get easier the more times you go through them but ask me again in a week!

This Christmas we celebrate the HOPE we have. Not the hope we have in a possible pregnancy, although we do celebrate that too. No, we celebrate the Hope we have in eternal life because of what transpired on Christmas many years ago.

Merry Christmas my friends!

Want some more Christmas posts? Check out my notes to Santa in the past – 2012 and 2013 – and also my Christmas posts here and here. They are among my favorites!

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yay!

Who’s ready for some good news???

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Yeah, I couldn’t pick just one. That’s how ready for good news I am.

I digress.

So, my appointment today. As you may remember, our news on Monday was a little disappointing. I went into today’s appointment completely prepared for our cycle to be cancelled and for more time to pass before getting a chance to try again.

I was pleasantly surprised.

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My lining made an impressive leap over the past few days and for that I was grateful. I have never struggled with thin lining before yet going from a 4 to an 8 in only a few days made me thrilled (triple-lined nonetheless!). We then checked one ovary, the one that had measuring follicles last time – nada. She tried to find a follicle, she really did and came up completely empty handed. Ouch. I wasn’t surprised. Let’s just get this news over with.

Then the other ovary …. What are those!!? Follicles! Nice big juicy (ew) follicles. I think both the ultrasound tech and I were shocked to see them. She was so excited, clicking away and measuring them, announcing that we have 4 follicles between a 15-18 today. YAY! Clearly their growth and development was a result of answered prayers. YAY GOD! Yay prayers! Yay follicles!

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I got some blood work done and began the wait for the call … and hopefully a plan!

Driving away from my appointment, I was in total shock. I walked in expecting the cycle to get cancelled and quickly realized that I don’t know how to process good news very well. My heart was still guarded, anticipating the lab results to change everything. I told a friend the other day if I didn’t set my expectations so high then I didn’t have as far to fall. (Isn’t that sad? I know, ye of little faith.) The words from a Jesus Calling post earlier this month echoed in my mind: “I am taking care of you. Every detail of your life in under My control. If you could only see how close I am to you and how constantly I work on your behalf, you would never again doubt that I am wonderfully caring for you. This is why you must life by faith and not by sight; trusting in My mysterious, majestic Presence.”

If we could only see how close He is to us.

I have been reminded this week that is He is so close to us. I continue to struggle with allowing myself to get my hopes up and I think that there is an aspect of hopeful expectation combined with a guarded heart. But today we get to simply celebrate so many answered prayers. We have a chance and God loves to work for His children.

The nurse called back and they hoped my estrogen would be above 150 and it was 75.6, so tomorrow I start estrogen pills three times a day which will HOPEFULLY last through a first trimester. (Lord, please!) (Sidenote: estrogen pills three times a day … yes, Josh deserves some prayers. Buy stock in Kleenex now if you know what’s good for you.) They would like to give the follicles one more day before triggering so TOMORROW NIGHT at 6:30 pm, I have a date with an HCG trigger shot and then Monday morning at 10:30 am we will have our IUI (inter-uterine insemination) done. Oh my word, this is happening.

I get a little emotional when I think about the timing of it all. Christmas 2012 is when we were able to celebrate with our families my first pregnancy, later miscarrying that day, and to think that this Christmas, 2 years later, I will have the hope that God will be creating new life in me again. The sentimental side knows that even though our babies are celebrating Christmas with Jesus, that perhaps He will be lovingly creating their sibling to join us next year. Cautious excitement and gentle reminders that He is constantly working on our behalf.

Send all the baby dust, prayers, positive vibes and fertile juices my way. I wholeheartedly believe He is in this …. YAY!

(Oh my, this post is painfully scattered but I just don’t have the brain capacity to edit it. Thanks for bearing with me when some days the sentences just don’t flow and my love for GIFs are on overdrive.)

XOXO!

cookies.

You know what’s kinda fun? Posting something that has absolutely nothing to do with anything but cookies. Oh the rebel I am. Hehe! Today I’m bringing you my favorite gluten free cookie recipe. But I promise you, you don’t have to be gluten free to love these, they are delicious so enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups almond meal
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (Ghirardelli for the win! But you can use anything in your house, just chop it up)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt but any kind will do)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

(You can pick up all these ingredients from your local Trader Joe’s for cheap!)

Preheat your oven to 375º.

You’ll need 2 mixing bowls. In the first, mix together your dry ingredients (almond meal, chocolate chips, coconut, baking powder, salt and brown sugar). In the second, beat your egg until it becomes creamy in color and doubles in size. Then mix in your melted coconut oil and vanilla and stir until its mixed. Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and stir together until combined. Put your dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (that’s what the recipe says, I rarely am patient enough.) Then, on a greased cookie sheet (or silicone baking mat), scoop dough into one inch balls, placing them about an inch and a half apart from each other. Use the back of a spoon to press down on each one slightly to flatted. It will just even out your cook time. (Or you can forget to smush them like I usually do and end up with more of a gooey cookie, equally delicious.)

Bake until the edges begin to brown, about 10-13 minutes. If I don’t smush them it takes a little longer, closer to 17-18 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool on a baking rack.

Delicious! So many gluten free people miss Christmas cookies this time of year, so if you ever have to bring anything to a party, whip these bad boys up and surprise your friends and family! They will love you for it. Enjoy!

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road bump.

You know what’s a hard prayer to pray? This one. “Not my will but Yours be done.” After a disappointing cd10 (cycle day 10) ultrasound yesterday, I felt utterly defeated. Sometimes it can be really easy to trust when I anticipate things going according to my plans and then when they don’t, well, it gets a lot harder. But here’s what yesterday taught me – He is still in control and even when I’m upset at how much body is (or isn’t) working, He hasn’t failed me and He is still good. It can be really hard to hang in there when I can’t see the other side but isn’t that what faith is? Hebrews 11:1 is a verse I cling to often – “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” And so we continue to press on, acknowledging our disappointments and communicating them to Him while still believing in His power, goodness, compassion and love for us.

For those who are interested in the medical talk about what’s going on, let’s just say the letrozole didn’t really do its job creating follicles. I only have a few tiny ones, most measuring about a 6-7, one 10 and that’s a stretch. My lining was a 4 and typically it has been much closer to a 9-11. My estrogen is low, hence the tiny follicles and non-existent lining. Impossible to turn around? No, but given that we only have a few days to do so, it’s not incredibly likely. The doctor wants to do one more ultrasound on Friday before canceling the cycle and we are hoping that we can still salvage this cycle. Worst case scenario is we just wait it out and possibly use Provera to induce a period if I never ovulate naturally, so given true worst case scenarios, this is nothing comparatively. Best case scenario is things look perfect on Friday and we can trigger (hCg shot) that day and have our IUI on Sunday. I don’t want to waste money on the shot, ultrasounds, blood work and IUI if things aren’t as they should be though. This is my first cycle with this new RE and we are still building trust so I am not entirely sure what to think at this point. Stay tuned.

But like I was saying above, I HAVE to remember that He is in control and that even if I wasn’t expecting the news to be what it was, He wasn’t surprised. After all we have been through, I knew my heart was more guarded going into the appointment, anticipating what could be but also hopeful, as femara/letrozole has always worked on me in the past. Being prepared for disappointment and experiencing disappointment rarely is as easy as it seems. I feel a little lost as to what to expect from this cycle now. I can only lean back into the fact that God called us back into treatments, of that I am so certain, and so I can only wait for Him to provide for us in the ways He sees fit.

He can still work a miracle. And if not, there’s always the next cycle. My impatience is shining through though. How much longer is this going to take?

less of me.

When life gets busy, hormones get weird and my brain feels fuzzy, all my emotions seem a bit short circuited. I am a little more weepy, a little more reactive, a little less patient. Can anyone else relate? If I am being honest, an ugly version of me comes out. One that offers less grace, less mercy, and a whole lot less benefit of the doubt. I somehow feel privileged to feel that way (whatever it is) because I am tired/hormonal/hungry/busy/”working on it”.

Reasons I have cried in the last week:

Church was starting. My favorite coffee mug was clean. This video. Ellen gave away a hundred million things to her audience for 12-Days of Giveaways. Child actors did a great job at a play I saw. The 19-pound jar of pickles from Costco didn’t break when it fell from the fridge onto the floor. Getting tons of mail this week from friends, just because.

Okay, so having an extra dose of sappy tears added to my face isn’t the worst thing. But it’s the other side of the coin that I don’t like.

It’s the way I muttered “COME ON!” to the lady slowly merging into my lane on the highway. (Really though, at a snail’s pace.) It’s the way I gave an exasperated sigh to the child who kept cutting me off in the busy aisles of Target. It’s the way I nearly trampled a man to get to this coffee table I am sitting at now. Rushed. Busy. A lack of patience.

This season especially, if you are anything like me, you are finding yourself rushed and busy, hopping from place to place, commitment to commitment, trying to cram in time to stop at the mall to buy that one gift, wrap all the presents (cutely of course, because they may show up in a picture and they have to be Pinterest perfect), and cram packages in the mail for distant family. My brain is chalk full of DON’T FORGET!!!!!!’s, and as a result I am seeing people a lot less. Really seeing people. You know, the kind of seeing people that looks behind their physical presence and takes a minute to stop and make eye contact, smile. I was paused particularly long at a stop sign on the way over (Where are all these people coming from!?!) when I noticed a man caught in the mass of moving crosswalk people. He reminded me of my dad, an ordinary man in his 50’s, in his khaki pants with his button up shirt, work lanyard around his neck. He walked with purpose (likely to cross the street because he could feel my inpatient stop sign rage) and his eyes looked a million miles away.

What was his story?

I stopped at the stop sign a bit longer than needed, temporarily caught up in the realization that each of these pedestrians had delicately woven lives. They have financial burdens, maybe going through a death of a family member or the stress of dealing with a wild child. They may be facing a diagnosis or are worrying about what will happen if their furnace stops working before month’s end.  The thing is, every person we encounter is going through something. And yet, me with my self-absorbed head, just keeps running around completely oblivious that a little extra grace and patience might just be what this person needs.

Our worship leader at church prayed these words recently and they have stuck with me – “Let us show others unnecessary kindness.”

Maybe that sales lady at Gap didn’t mean to give me a look and even if she did, the returned look back isn’t going to help matters. A smile in return may be just what she needs. (And sometimes even if kind gestures backfire, I can’t say I didn’t try.) Perhaps the slow-merging driver is just a nervous driver or distracted by the racing thoughts of her mind. Slowing down long enough to let her over and then not trying to prove a point with a dramatic slowdown isn’t really going to impact my day significantly. In fact, it’s showing a lot less of His love and only steals my joy as I let circumstances dictate my emotions.

I want my eyes to be open to others this Christmas season. I don’t want to find excuses for my attitude or the busyness. I want to move more in slow motion and less in fast forward, even if it means embracing the random tears and exuding more patience that I feel.

Right before I began typing this post, I scribbled these words in my prayer journal (not with the intention to share so ignore my messy handwriting, hehe):

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Less of me. More of Him. Less busy, more intentionality. We can do this. 15 days till Christmas, let’s enjoy them.

PS – Day 3 of letrozole today! Oh come on Lord … do your thing! Next appointment to check in on things is Monday the 15th. Keep us in your prayers. 

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PPS – Have you had the time to check out my post on Fertility Authority yet? If not, help me out by clicking and reading today! Every click helps me reach my monthly goals :) Thanks!