friday favorites – april 24.

So today is Friday, which means TOMORROW I board a plane and head off to Hawaii with 2 of my close girlfriends and one of their hubby’s. AHHHH! This trip snuck up so fast, granted I know we only booked it 2 weeks ago. All of that being said, I have a suitcase that still needs packing, toes that need painting, and a whole lot of planning that needs to happen in 24 hours, so this Friday Favorites will be a little different! Today I want to ask YOU to share with ME your Friday Favorites! I have had a list going for too long of things that I would love to hear that other’s love, so please, take this week to go through this list and pick an item or two (or all!!) and comment below with what your favorite is! (Or as always, you are welcome to email me at trialsbringjoy (at) gmail (dot) com.) I can’t wait to hear what you have to share!

  • Favorite Mascara – I feeling like I can never find something that doesn’t flake too quickly but still adds volume. Whatcha got!?
  • Favorite Book (fiction) – What’s a great book that you have read recently? I need some new authors!
  • Favorite Book (non-fiction) – What are you reading that is teaching you a lot? I love Christian growth books and am starting to wind down on my to-read list. Build it back up!
  • Favorite TV Show to Netflix – I am planning on starting on season 1 of Scandal on the plane tomorrow, as I have heard so many things about how good this show is. That being said, I know there have to be other network tv shows that I have completely missed out on. Share what’s good! (And nothing too racy or profane please!)
  • Favorite Grilling Recipe – We just pulled our grill out for the season and I can’t WAIT to cook on it every night! What’s a favorite recipe you have where you just need the grill? A side? A main dish? Send anything over!
  • Favorite Essential Oil Combo – I know there are a lot of you out there who use Young Living Oils (or another brand). I adore diffusing mine and am always looking for a great, refreshing mix. I have been mixing orange + peppermint all week and am crushing on that big time. What do you like to mix!?
  • Favorite Meme – I am always looking for new funnies to include! Be sure to email me hilarious ones you come across!
  • Favorite Game – Josh and I like to play games at night and we are a little Yam-Slammed, Phase 10, and Golf-ed out. What’s another easy and fun card game we could learn?

SOOOO excited to hear what you guys come up with and share!

On a celebratory note …. guess who turned NINE on Monday!? Our sweet little Cali girl! NINE! I know. *faints*. I was feeling nervous as that number continues to creep up and took her in to the vet this week for an annual check-up, just to make sure things are looking good. GREAT NEWS! She’s a rock star and beyond healthy, so this Mama (and Dad!) are feeling super relieved to know she’s “in her prime” and has a long long life ahead of her still.

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Okay and I can’t leave you without some funnies!!

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Other than a Guest Blog post next week, I won’t be around too much on here which on vacation, however, I can’t wait to check back with you when I return! Until then, this girl is about to get her beach on in the gorgeous island of Kauai.

Me ka aloha pumehana! (Yeah, no I have no clue what this means, Google just told me it’s appropriate for a goodbye statement.)

you are not alone.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week – a week focused on creating awareness that 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. You guys, that’s a lot. And I have to say, I am proud at how far we have come in the last few years. “Infertility” seems a little more talked about, people are responding with a lot more grace than discomfort, and more often than not, it invites others to say “me too”.

This year, RESOLVE is urging the infertility community to help spread the message “You are not alone.” Dealing with infertility can be isolating. So many people who struggle wonder why. We feel broken as we see our Newsfeed filling up with pregnancy announcements, gender reveal pictures, photo after photo of child-filled outings. The thing is though, there are others who understand how you are feeling. No one should have to walk through this alone.

If you are reading this today and are struggling, let me assure you of the fact that you are not alone.

You are not alone if you have never seen 2 pinks lines.

You are not alone if you have seen two pink lines but your arms are still empty.

You are not alone if you have to give yourself shots.

You are not alone if going to see the doctor (again) drains you of all your energy.

You are not alone if you are hopeful during a 2 week wait.

You are not alone if the thought of another 2 week wait makes your heart anxious.

You are not alone if you have ever laid in bed crying and wondering When? and Why?

You are not alone if you have felt like the only one who really feels like this.

You are not alone if you feel like you just can’t act like you have it all together one more day.

You are not alone if you are scared and confused.

You are not alone if you are questioning everything from trying to have your own child to learning about surrogates and gestational carriers.

You are not alone if you have heard that you are dealing with bad eggs.

You are not alone if you have heard that your partner has male infertility factors.

You are not alone if you are just giving it one more month.

You are not alone if you are afraid to say something to anyone because you anticipate a hurtful comment.

You are not alone if you need to seek a support group, find a counselor, take a break.

You are not alone if you engage in social media for support. (Instagram is the BEST group of ladies out there!)

You are not alone if you can’t remember the “pre-trying to conceive” you.

You are not alone if you aren’t sure when to seek help or talk to a specialist.

You are not alone if you are dealing with secondary infertility.

You are not alone if you are lead down a path to adoption.

You are not alone if you need to use donor eggs or donor sperm.

You are not alone if you feel like you can’t plan your life because you don’t know what the next 4 weeks will look like.

You are not alone if you have cut out gluten, dairy, sugar, red meat, vegetables that rhyme with “bale”, caffeine, anything with red dye …. all in hopes that this could be the thing that helps you get pregnant.

I could go on and on and on.

The point is, you are not alone. There are others out there with a similar story as you, feeling similar emotions, running down similar paths and wondering the same questions. Can I encourage you today to share your story? No, maybe it’s not going to be “coming out” on Facebook, but perhaps it’s telling a friend or a family member. Perhaps it’s starting the conversation with something like “What I am about to tell you is really hard for me because this is such a vulnerable and sensitive subject and I am just asking you to listen and be supportive …” I have a feeling that there will be many domino effects created as a result of your bravery to break the silence surrounding infertility.

Can I share one more thing?

I think that the greatest thing in the message You Are Not Alone is that you really aren’t ever alone because there is a God who loves you so much who is on the road with you, day in and day out. There are times and seasons where He seems so quiet. The silence of God is only temporary and I find it’s in the seasons of silence where I learn the most about Him and about myself. But apart from the seasons of silence, there are seasons of rich fellowship and community that is built by bringing our requests to His feet and trusting Him to walk with us down a path that is so hard, a path where we feel so weary.

God doesn’t always do exactly what we want Him to do, when we want Him to do it. I do believe though that even in the waiting and in the struggle of infertility, He is with us and because of that, we are never ever alone. We are never alone in the wee small hours of the morning when you’re hunched on the bathroom floor staring at another blank test. We are never alone when the ultrasound tech whispers “I am so sorry … let me get the doctor.” We are never alone when the emotions are bubbling.

I pray that during this week of Infertility Awareness, that others find deep, meaningful, rich relationships with other who are struggling so that they are reminded that they are not the outcasts, and even more so, I pray that others find the precious, peace-giving life that God has to offer in the midst of this battle.

Keep your chins up ladies, infertility does NOT get to beat us. We are not alone.

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Here are some resources for those wanting to learn a basic understanding of the disease of infertility, for those who want to learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week, or that wants to read more facts from my NIAW blog last year or the year before.

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friday favorites – april 17.

Whoa what a week! A fun week, but a busy week! It’s so hard to pick favorites when EVERYTHING was so much fun! I will do my best to filter best I can and save some other highlights for more stories another time. Love weeks like this. Perhaps it’s just that it is sunny and beautiful outside too? I swear everyday feels like a happy day when you don’t have to brush snow off your car.

Let’s go!

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Favorite Moment: Josh and I had a date night this week to see Damien Rice in concert and let’s just say it was amazing. I have been a fan of his music for ages and his concert didn’t disappoint. The whole show was him + his guitar + pedals. It was super scaled down, just the basics of music and his voice and he crushed it. I leaned over to Josh after the first song started and whispered “I’m going to cry!” to which he replied “Yeah? So what’s that now? 8 concerts in a row?” (I always get super emotional and cry at concerts. This doesn’t phase him.) Ha! But really it just goes to show you that music touches my heart in a crazy way. I know those who don’t have that kind of relationship with music might be shrugging right now and think I’m crazy and that’s totally okay. But really, the whole show was like being in a spiritual emotional bubble. Loved every minute.

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Favorite Lyric Line: The opening act for Damien Rice was a duo and truthfully I don’t know too much about them other than they were called Galagalactic and European, with rich, beautiful, heavy accent. It was all about the music and it was haunting and memorizing. Many of the songs didn’t have lyrics but one did and I love what I caught “The spiral goes both ways – should I climb or should I fall?” I loved the analogy of a spiral. To go higher, you have to crawl upwards, uphill, often feeling like you are moving in a repetitive motion, but you are going higher. The other option is walking down, deeper, easier on your legs as you let gravity help your decline, but when you go downwards, it gets darker, deeper, further from the top. I love the question posed – should I climb or should I fall? I think we all have this question to answer every day as we battle in our own lives – should we climb or should we fall? Life can go two ways, the spiral gives us options. What will we chose? (I wish I could find anything on this band because I would love for you to hear them but they barely seem to exist even on the internet.)

Favorite Surprise: My Grandpa Tedd surprised me with this travel guide for my Hawaii trip (8 days!!!). I had been doing research on good guide books and was shocked when he pulled it out! He was so thoughtful to go and pick it up and it has been a gigantic help to us in planning on stay. Thank you Grandpa Tedd for this kind and thoughtful gesture!

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Favorite Celebration: SO MANY CELEBRATIONS, I can’t just pick one! On Friday we celebrated my Nana’s 76th birthday with a big elaborate dinner at my mom’s house (which was amazing, as always!). We are so thankful that we were able to celebrate her life around the table, sharing how special she is to us. The dinner table held lots of laughs as well as we shared favorite birthday memories or confessions from our childhoods. Even Cali wanted to get in on the celebration fun.

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On Saturday I popped over to one of my best friends daughter’s 6th birthday parties and had so much fun celebrating with the kiddos and their moms. Can I just say everyone in life should watch a bunch of kids under 10 try to hit a pinata? It made my month. Hysterical!!!!!

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Cali's friends Mallory and Chloe even made sure she had some goodies from the party - a new collar (made from pipe cleaners HA!) and a felt chew toy. :) She felt loved.

Cali’s friends Mallory and Chloe even made sure she had some goodies from the party – a new collar (made from pipe cleaners HA!) and a felt chew toy. :) She felt loved.

Sunday brought in the Master’s, of which I only watch in order to eat our burger bar (a tradition set in honor of my golf and burger loving Grandpa) and for the chance to win the Masters pool, haha! In general, watching golf drives me bonkers but I actually enjoyed myself and had a blast hosting! Since Phil Mickelson was in my pool and the only one who had a chance really, I turned my house into a Go Phil! party, which I don’t think my guests were on board with. Ha! My Nana made the best oven fries and Josh grilled some killer burgers. My sister ended up winning with Jordan Spieth on her team, but Phil came in second place and that was fun. It’s not at all about the money though as much as it is having lots of laughs and cheering and egging each other on.

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I mean, come on, if you walk in under this banner, you HAVE to attend a "go phil" party. :)

I mean, come on, if you walk in under this banner, you HAVE to attend a “go phil” party. :)

And lastly, one more celebration I am looking forward to later tonight – celebrating my youngest niece Kinsley’s 3rd birthday together with a pre-birthday party! Josh and I are having our nieces over for a fun night of making homemade pizzas, dragging blankets and pillows out into the living room, picking a movie and spending time together. Kins is such a sweet and special little girl and we can’t wait to celebrate her. Love that munchkin so much!

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Favorite Recipe: In attempts to clean some half-used fridge items this week, I whipped together a yummy ham salad! Just have to share:

1/2 lb thin cut black forest ham (I love the Columbus brand as it’s gluten free with 0% MSG …. and also because you can get it at the Target deli counter)

1/2 cup (or so, start with less) mayonnaise

1-2 hard boiled eggs

1/2 – 3/4 cup sweet pickles (I ADORE the organic bread and butter pickles from Costco!)

a few green onions (optional)

Cut your ham into small chunks and throw it in a food processor. Chop it up finely and then add it to your bowl. In the same food processor, toss in your hard boiled eggs, cut into smaller pieces so it goes faster and your pickles (drained). Chop till similar size as ham. Add to your ham and then mix with mayonnaise. You may want more/less mayo so add in small amounts. Serve on a lettuce wrap or on crackers, also delicious on rye bread. Top with green onion rounds if you’d like! Delish!

Favorite Snap: Can I just say that Cali doesn’t always want to take pictures? This snap chat pic from earlier this week cracks me up. She was not interested in taking a picture with her mom. Glare city! HA!

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Favorite Funnies:

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Alright friends, hope you have an awesome weekend! I’ll leave you with this reminder I read in my notes from Storyline: “Stop stalking Jesus. It’s time to stop observing Him and His life and start interacting.” I pray that this weekend is more than just another set of busy days. I pray that this weekend brings you the chance to meet Jesus even closer, spend some time with Him and continue to live a life of interaction. Jesus isn’t just a Facebook acquaintance we watch from a distance. His ways, His words and His character should be far more known to us. So let’s go and seize the day and see what He has to show us! Sound good? XOXO!

broken bones.

Last night I was lying in bed, wired from way too many iced teas and coming off an invigorating fellowship with my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) small group. I watched the clock pass by, minute after minute, quietly listening to the breathy snores of Josh and Cali next to me. They were sighing in unison, sounding so similar I couldn’t tell which one was a person and which one was an 8 pound dog. I replayed the events of the day and evening, of which I decided that I definitely talked too much and used up about 4 days worth of words. I tend not to realize how chatty I am until I am laying in bed and thinking “Oh my gosh, I said that didn’t I? And that? And that. Oh boy.”

(The thing about being a chatty extrovert is that I typically forget very quickly all of the “oh my gosh”’ moments but unfortunately then it doesn’t stop me from much next time. Which is why I am doing a Bible Study now called Keep It Shut. For real.)

Anyways, I digress.

The nighttime hour seemed like the perfect time to clean out the Notes section on my iPhone so I began clicking through grocery lists and meal plans, dating back to 2010. (Hey, that’s one way to make a girl sleepy!).  Then in one of my most recent notes, this quote was typed out:

There’s no glory in easy. No one remembers easy. They remember the blood and the broken bones and the long agonizing fight to the top. And that, that is how you become legendary.

That’s all my note said. I put my overactive brain to work, trying to figure out where this was from and why I wrote it down. A sermon? A podcast? Something on the radio? A song? A quote by one of those really deep authors? Well, my brain was shutting down quickly so I turned to Google and guess who it credited this quote to?

(5 points if you know …)

Dr. Amelia Shepard from Grey’s Anatomy.

Oh goodness. So it wasn’t from a deeply spiritual source, no, instead God was using a fictional brain surgeons script line who works at a fake hospital with a imaginary board of directors. Eh, whatever it takes right?

But in thinking about that quote, I realized how true it is when we live out the story that God has called us to. Isn’t it the broken bones we tend to remember the most? The hard times in our life sort of act as defining time frames, chapters for the seasons. I don’t remember all of the easy, no-drama car oil changes but I sure do remember the ones when they tell me something is wrong with my car and needs a big repair. I don’t remember the doctor check-up’s where everything looks great, thanks for coming in! I remember the ones where they sit down next to you and say I am so sorry ….. We remember the fight, we are familiar with the scars, we hate the pain of dealing with the broken bones, but it’s the broken bones that give us a chance to do something.

What if we start using these broken bones we all have and start wearing them out loud a little more? What if instead of hating the broken bones with disgust, we start to respect them, viewing them as God’s fingerprint on our lives and knowing that we have a few beautiful, unwanted, but still present, life tattoos. What if we stop hiding these scars – no one needs to know we are struggling with money, with in-laws, with our marriage, with the kids, with a past mistake – and start to use them to create a story that gives Him glory and allows others to see His work as legendary? Because we can sure create a life where things look easy. We can sweep everything under the rug and post the Facebook pictures with smiles and empty sinks and vacuumed floors. We certainly can make it all look effortless, but why? People don’t remember easy and if people don’t remember easy, it’s a lot harder to allow Him to use your story to touch others.

I have had so many beautiful and unique stories shared with me over the years. And each time, I just want to hug the person (okay, I do) and tell them you aren’t alone. Others have broken those bones too. Others struggle. I struggle! Like, all the time! Yes, my struggles in my childfree season may look different than your struggles but I get the premise of struggling.

There a quote, which many attribute to Henry David Thoreau, but I just learned recently is misquoted (meaning I have no clue where it truly comes from) that says “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song (of life) still in them.” Gut punch. I don’t want to go to the grave with my story still in me.

I think far too often we are tempted to hide the broken bones and as a result, we lose us. We lose our story and our potential impact. No, I am not talking about you needing to write a book or start a blog or walk around Target shouting “I SHOULDN’T BE HERE! I AM IN SERIOUS DEBT!” No, I just am posing the question on what would it look like if we started having less of a filter between the broken bones and the relationships we are in.

Victor Frankl says “God did not create us to live in reaction, but to be co-creators of a meaningful life.” Yes, there are going to be amazing moments of easy in our life and they will include special, special memories. But none of us are exempt from the broken bones season either, so instead of negatively reacting to it, what if we ask God how He wants to use this injury to make it more meaningful?

I’m starting to ramble now, but I love where this quote got my mind going and am anxious to see what He does to sprout more thoughts from it. I just don’t want to lose years of my life living in crisis mode. I want to push forward when it hurts, I want the bones to heal correctly so that I can be functional again. I want to redefine hard seasons as opportunity seasons. I know, it’s easier said than done, but I know we can do it.

friday favorites – april 10.

It’s time for Friday Favorites! Can I just tell you, I go throughout my week thinking “This will be on Friday Favorites!” every other minute and then I sit down to type and think “Ummm, I’ve got nothing.” I need to start keeping a list. Let’s see how this goes. :)

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Favorite Thing I am Looking Forward to: Josh and I got tickets for Christmas to see Damien Rice at a smaller venue and I am pumped! I love his music and he hasn’t toured in almost a decade. Can’t wait to make a new memory with my guy.

Favorite Spontaneous-Super-Exciting-Thing: I made up this category, haha! Buttttt *drumroll*, I am going to Hawaii! I know, I know, what!?! So long story short, one of my best friends Jana and her husband are going for a work trip of his. Since he will be working all day, me and one of my other best friends, Julie, will tag along, staying in their 2-bedroom condo and doing girlie things together during the day. Then at night, we will send the lovebirds off to enjoy their time together and have each other to hang out with. I NEVER ever ever thought I would be going to Hawaii before Josh retired (seriously), so the fact that it worked out for us to go in such a cheap way is beyond amazing! The timing couldn’t be better and I know this trip will provide an insane amount of laughter and soul-restoration. So, with all that being said, I just booked my ticket and now leave in 2 WEEKS for Kauai! Talk about last minute and spontaneous! If you have been before, please leave some fun things to do (keeping in mind our budget is small). Oh I am so excited!!!

Who'd have thought I would ever be able to actually GO to the place of my mug!?!?!

Who’d have thought I would ever be able to actually GO to the place of my mug!?!?!

Favorite Addition: My new Ohio mug! My friend Margaret thoughtfully sent this over to me to add to my collection. Few things make me as excited as a new Starbucks mug – so thoughtful and SO fun! I love the red!!! Thanks again Margaret for your incredibly kind heart and gift. (Hug)

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Favorite Pens: These pens were gifted to me from my friend Amanda a few weeks ago and they have changed my journaling, Bible reading and page noting life! THE BEST! They write super fine and are shaded like a highlighter but don’t bleed through the page. The colors are great and the thin tip is perfect for underlining. Amanda – you hit the nail on the head with this thoughtful gift! LOVE THEM!

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Favorite Appetizer: This corn dip is one of my favorites to bring out for a party or get together. My Bible study girls enjoyed it last night and it makes a TON which means leftovers! You can make adjust it to your spice taste (I like it milder) or throw it in a crock pot if you like it warm. I will serve it with Fritos or tortilla scoops and it’s always a hit! (Also gluten free!)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 can (11 ounces) yellow and white whole kernel corn, drained
  • 2 cans (11 ounces) Mexicorn, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (optional because I forgot)
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  • 1 tbsp of hot jalapeños in a can (add more to taste if you like it spicy!)
  • Heaping 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Heaping 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Tortilla or corn chips

Directions

In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise and sour cream. Add the other ingredients, cover and refrigerate overnight. (Not required but it develops flavor as it sits). Serve with chips. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Favorite Tote: Shout out to Karen for sending this hilariously perfect tote my way! I adore it and can toss a couple books in and head off to a coffee shop. Winning!

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Favorite Quote:

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My friend Beth runs From Pallets to Parents, where she builds and creates beautiful pallet art for a purpose. They are working to raise money for their infertility journey and she blessed me greatly with this gorgeous piece this week! You have to check out their Facebook page and place a custom order!

But this message – Be You, Bravely – is one I love. We all have the chance each day to be us. Fully us. So often our insecurities or life distractions sneak in and suddenly we forget to be ourselves. Not only that, but we can forget to tackle each day with confidence, embracing the day and live ready to handle what life has in store. Ask yourself, how can I be brave today? What does that look like? How can I be true to myself while being brave? This pallet is a great reminder for me each day. Thanks Beth!

Favorite Cali Photo: Remember that time I made Cali wear my fuzzy socks as leg warmers? HA! I do!

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Favorite Easter Memories: Josh and I got to spend Easter with both of our families and really, as always, enjoyed our times together. We had a delicious brunch at Acqua with his parents, which included GLUTEN FREE French toast and Eggs Benedict (served family style, so don’t worry, I didn’t eat all of this.). Then, after a brief afternoon nap, had a relaxing late-brunch with my family, full of prime rib and shrimp cocktails. It was a special day to stop and reflect on Easter and why we celebrate. I love holidays!

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Favorite Funnies:

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Alright, that’s it for me this week! I am off to continue hanging out with my grandparents who are in town. (Happy birthday to my beautiful Nana!) See you all next week! In the meantime, send over some Kauai ideas AND some book suggestions! I love to read beachy-reads on vacation!

Me and Nana <3

impact.

Every time we cycle I think “God, you have the platform to show everyone Your power!”. I wait expectantly for Him to show up, for Him to show that prayer does pay off, that He does hear us, that my faith isn’t resting in someone incapable. I often get discouraged afterwards, thinking “God!! You aren’t looking too good here! This was Your moment!” It isn’t a pride thing, I just genuinely want each and every person reading this to see the power of God at play, as well as the tender heart that He has.

That being said, with each failed cycle and with every miscarriage I wonder how it’s going to impact the people surrounding us. Is this going to cause someone to lose faith? Is this going to cause someone to doubt Him? I struggle with this battle of feeling pain from our own sadness but then also feeling like God is letting you down, those investing and trusting with us. I continue to pray that despite the failures and the pain that we are feeling, that you would still be comforted in whatever you are going through, that you stay hopeful that God can intercede in whatever your struggle is.

A week after we found out our March pregnancy wasn’t viable, I was doing some hardcore searching for how He was going to use this to impact others positively. That’s when I ran across a quote in a book that said “Looking back, my disappointment may have been the best gift I could have given (you). (You) need a God who is not just equated with blessings. (You) need a God who can walk with you in your pain.”

Reading that was like a healthy slap in the face. It was God’s way of saying Chelsea, the people around you don’t just need to see a God that always gives blessings, even though I can and do. These people around you right now need to see that I am also a God that walks with His children when they are hurting.

Friends, I ache for the day our prayers are answered and we can stand here and celebrate His incredible goodness, blessings and answered prayers. But I also am gripped to convey to you that until that day comes, and even if it never does, that our God is so much bigger than our unanswered prayer request. God is so faithful to meet us in our pain, our sorrow and our tears. I know how your heart is strangled with anxiety, with wondering if your time with ever come, if this painful season you are dealing with will ever go away. I understand that the thoughts that keep you up at night, whether they are about illness, finances, relationship struggles or job concerns, make you wonder why God is not stepping in. Why doesn’t He just make this all better? We are praying, aren’t we? We are doing everything we can to move in a positive direction and yet nothing is happening.

This doesn’t mean He isn’t in it. As hard as that is to believe, as hard as it is to understand, it doesn’t mean that He has abandoned you, me, us. Even when God isn’t doing exactly what we want Him to do, He is still God! It seems unfair, He seems silent, it feels hopeless. As I was driving away from the doctor’s office yesterday, I felt like an old truck with rusty, flat, crooked tires.

Kacha, kacha, thud, kacha. Rust falling off, age showing, no air to be found, thudding over and over and over again.

But it was then I realized that in order to see God sometimes, instead of just looking in the same place, we have to zoom out. We may feel worn, but then we have to pull back, widen our gaze, look for Him in the unexpected places, which is exactly where He was hidden to remind me that He is in this, if not simply for you. Maybe today He wants to remind YOU that He is in the hard moments and that while He can be a God of miracles, He also meets you in your pain, questions and sorrows.

In Finding Faith in the Dark, author Laurie Short writes “God not only shouts to us in our pain; He often shouts to others through it. In some mysterious way, pain moves through our lives to touch others.” 

This last week I have changed my prayer from that of “Let them see Your miraculous hand!” to one that prays “Let them find You in their pain.” I don’t want to be so focused on where I want God to be and how I want Him to act that I miss where He actually is. Today, this month, this week, He is waiting for me with arms of comfort, with a lap of peace and crawling next to me and reminding me to breathe.

He is faithful, even when He seems so unfaithful. I pray that our story, even in its hardships, refills your heart with the recognition that He is good, present, faithful and comforts us when we turn to Him. We can truly keep going, knowing that He has our backs.

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friday favorites – april 3.

FRIDAY FAVORITES! Oh goodness, it seems like it’s been ages since I have done this! Let’s not wait, here we go!

Favorite Devotional Reminder: Today is Good Friday, a day that overwhelms me with its meaning and reminds me deeply of my need for Him. Last year I wrote this post and can’t try to do today justice with words, but I do want to share this one reminder that I read this week. Proverbs 31 Ministries had a special devotional this week called ‘Moving from Grief to Grace’ and reading it just tore through my heart is such a good way. This part in particular was that major ah-ha moment:

At one of my lowest moments, realization and remembrance flooded my heart and mind: God lost His Son too, His only Son. The Father knew my loss, pain and brokenness oh so well.

That revelation was like supernatural glue applied to bind my wounded soul. The lost, dark, broken part receded as God proceeded to heal my broken heart with His love and light.

How about your lost plans, hopes and dreams? Are you bitter? Do you want to be better?

Are you ready to lay your heavy cares at the foot of the cross … and leave that burden there, so you can step into God’s plans for you? Jesus promised, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” (Matthew 11:30, NKJV).

God’s plan for His Son was not what the people hoped for and expected as they celebrated the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, then experienced His death on the cross by week’s end. They did not know Easter Sunday — His Son’s day — was coming.

Remember, friend … Sunday’s coming! Jesus arose from the grave by the grace of God to save and redeem us. He has plans for us that include a hope and a future, even when our plans are dashed and we can’t see beyond the overwhelming loss of now.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

When I ache for my babies, this week especially, I will cling to the fact that God lost His Son too. God understands what grief feels like, what brokenness looks like, the intense feeling of agony. He also knows that Sunday comes … and I believe that Sunday WILL come for each of us in its own way. It may be how we think it will look or perhaps so much more than we could imagine.

This Easter let’s be comforted by the fact that He is in control and that His burden is light. Oh thank you Jesus.

Favorite Robe: I know this seems like a silly one, but I have always searched for the perfect robe. Not too long, not too short, not to bulky, not to thin. And, sound the alarm, I found it! I actually bought it several months ago at the Gap Outlet and tucked it away and completely forgot about it until a few weeks ago. Now that I have pulled it out, I am completely attached. If it was appropriate and acceptable to wear a robe in public, I would. The fabric is SO soft, it’s the perfect length and a great get-ready robe.

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Favorite Surprise: Remember how I told you guys about my Shoulders on Wednesday? Well, my amazing instagram friends put together the best surprise package for me that arrived yesterday and totally blew my socks off. It was filled with notes and spring goodies, insanely generous gift cards and so many treats for Cali (which she adored!!!), candies and things I love. They even thought of including some fun things for me to do with my nieces. I mean seriously, how amazing are they!? Gestures like this BLOW ME AWAY. I am so humbled to be a recipient of goodness and feel so much love. I just want to burst.

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Favorite Ministry: My friend Lynn from Sweet Birdie Blessings sent me this gorgeous necklace a month or two ago from her Etsy store and not only do I love the message it says, I love the ministry she has created! Her mission is supporting mom’s who have lost their baby due to miscarriage or stillbirth. She sends them a comfort package that contains tangible items to help them in the grieving processing as well as items to honor the loss of their child. She is in the beginning stages of creating these and sends them out as fast as she gets the items in. If you have any interest in donating any items, I know she would love it. (Items like Kleenex packs/travel tissues, lidded glass candles, pens, journals, ornaments, etc.). If you are interested in learning more, you can contact her at georgiaoates4 (at) gmail (dot) com. Her goal is to stock local OB offices with a container of these packages since many women learn about their loss at the doctor’s office. How wonderful is she!? Plus, this necklace is just such a blessing.

Favorite Night Out: My girlfriends Julie, Jana and myself checked out a new local restaurant, Bricks, this week and it was DELICIOUS! One thing I loved – everything on the menu can be made gluten free at no additional charge. Winning! Also, the fries are heavenly. Of course the best part was the conversation and the laughs that arose. So thankful for my girlfriends!

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Favorite Bracelet: My friend Abby sent me the sweetest gift this week – this Alex and Ani ‘scared dove’ bracelet (along with the softest pair of socks ever!!!). I absolutely love these bracelets and never justify buying them myself, so this blessed me in a big way! Thanks so much Abby for your thoughtfulness. I will always think of you when I see it, as well as the reminders of peace and faith.

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Favorite Thing I am Looking Forward to: My grandparents are coming up to Minnesota from Illinois next week and we are excited to spend some time with them! We will get the chance to celebrate my Nana’s birthday and play games, watch the Masters (okay, I might inadvertently nap) and enjoy their company. Watch out Minnesota, Nana and Grandpa Tedd are coming soon! :)

Favorite Devotional: I know I have shared this already on my Facebook and Instagram accounts but if you are looking for a new devotional, you have to check out Savor by Shauna Niequist. It’s a small page a day and offers a verse and portions of her previous books + new material. Worth checking out if you are looking for a quick daily read!

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Favorite Funnies:

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Oh and guess what else came this week!?! My #TTCLuckySocks exchange! My amazing partner Nikol went above and beyond and showered me with such amazing goodies! She blogs over at www.notjustabeautyblogger.com and just went through her 2nd failed IVF cycle. If you could, send some thoughts and prayers her way. She’s such a positive gal and gearing up for a SUCCESSFUL 3rd cycle. I know it’ll happen! She has been a total blast to get to know through this exchange and I just adore this whole box. Thanks new friend!

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I hope you all have a wonderful and BLESSED Easter! We are excited to celebrate with two brunches this year (wish our bellies luck!) and enjoy time with both of our families. I will see you next week for another post! XO!