trusting, praying + puzzling.

Update: All of the pieces have been claimed! How amazing is God!? We are so incredibly grateful and humbled by all those who have joined us in this puzzle and will certainly share pictures as it is finished being assembled and marked on. We are watching Him put together a puzzle far bigger than we could ever ask for or imagine! Thank you all for your sacrifices, thoughts, prayers and love. We are overwhelmingly grateful.

Ah, the long awaited update. Friends, it goes without saying that our road to starting a family hasn’t been easy, yet it’s one we have been called to fight for. Fight for the promises God has written, fight for the desires He has put on our hearts, fight to stay obedient to Him throughout it all. The fight has led us through 7+ years of infertility, lots of medication and treatments, surgeries and tears. And through it all, the miscarriages, the tears, the fears, and the questions, still He whispered Hang onto Me. Don’t let go of Hope. I have not left you. Keep your eyes towards heaven and wait for Me.

The last year called us to do simply that, wait on Him. Wait for His timing, His direction, His guidance. Truthfully, we kept crying out that if starting an earthly family would not come to pass, that He would graciously change the desires of our hearts and lead us towards another road.

And yet, still He whispers, Wait on Me. I have something in store.

I shared with you all that He began stirring in our hearts at the beginning of this year, pointing us towards a new clinic, Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine – Minneapolis. (You can read more about that here.) Oh friends, it’s hard to put into words how much He showed up that day. Your prayers circled us in the days preceding, melting away anxious thoughts and ushered us into the appointment with complete peace, articulation and a God-given sense of calm.

That appointment went so well! We felt completely listened to and validated, the seasoning of cycles past able to lace the conversation with wisdom that I can only say was God-led. And so, after much continued prayer, Josh and I are excited to share that we are stepping into the waters of in vitro fertilization (IVF) one final time with this clinic and doctor!!

The timing and excitement stirring in our hearts isn’t a coincidence! The changes we are making to our cycle protocol are significant and we feel a lot of peace and confidence regarding the path that lies ahead for us. Our prayer is simply that He would use us and our story for His kingdom, regardless of the results. (If there is anything we have learned along the way, it’s that He is writing our story here and we are simply along for the ride!)

As we have been praying, we have felt a strong call to invite others in to help us bring our baby home in a tangible way. How so? We have designed this beautiful 1,000 piece puzzle and are humbly asking you to claim a piece. What does this mean!?

Our goal is to put together this puzzle, piece by piece, with the names of those who are committing to pray and support us as we jump into this again. After the puzzle is completed, we will frame it between two pieces of glass and hang it in our child’s room as a wonderful keepsake, visually representing the team of cheerleaders behind us. (Yes, we are claiming there will be a child as a result!)

We will be offering 2 types of puzzle pieces – prayer pieces and sponsored prayer pieces. Many of you have asked in the past if you can donate financially to our cycles, knowing that the cost of uncovered IVF is expensive. We continue to feel, as we always have, that the power of prayer is much stronger than the power of the dollar, however, this cycle, unlike cycles past, we feel led to open up the door to vulnerably allow people to support our journey in this way should they so choose. We don’t want this to be a big commitment, so the cost of the sponsored puzzle piece is simply $5. We do NOT want a dollar amount to stand in the way of you being part of our puzzle. If you cannot or simply don’t want to chip in $5, please, do not feel any obligation. Josh and I always try to be intentional stewards* of the money God has given us to manage and all puzzle donations will be specifically used to fund this cycle. We want to stress though that this is not about the money but about the prayer involved.    

Simply put, this puzzle is our way (and God’s way!) of organizing a team of prayer partners behind us and giving your name a tangible piece to our puzzle. We hope to be able to visually see the names of the army behind us!  If you have sent over any prayers, thoughts, positive vibes and support, in the past or currently, we sincerely thank you and hope you join us for this next adventure.

Here’s how it works:

  • If you want a piece of the puzzle, it’s all yours! We simply ask in return that you offer up a small prayer** for us over the next few months. If you have stumbled across this blog and find yourself still reading, YES! Please, we covet your prayers too! No prayer is too big or small! We mean it! (The thought of complete strangers being part of this story gives me goosebumps!)

To have your name put on the back of one of these puzzle pieces, simply click here and submit your first name (last name not required but welcomed!) or your family name. **LINK IS CLOSED AS THE PUZZLE IS FULL**That’s it! Josh and I will rejoice as we write your name into our story! Go do it right now before you forget!

  • If you want to purchase a puzzle piece and support us in this way, first of all, truly, thank you. We know $5 is a cup of fancy coffee, a car wash or lunch out. We don’t take your sacrifice lightly.

You can sponsor as many pieces as you would like! ($5 = 1 piece, $10 = 2 pieces, $20 = 4 pieces, etc…) With each additional piece you add, feel free to add a message to your portion of the puzzle scaled to size! We would love words from you etched into the puzzle!!! (This is optional.)

If you choose to donate, you can do so in one of these three ways:

  • 1 – Click on the Donate button below and pay securely through PayPal. Simply add the amount of pieces you are purchasing (Feel no need to purchase more than 1! Honestly, your $5 gift is so meaningful! The thought really does count.) You will see a spot available to “add special instructions to the recipient” during “checkout” where you can add your puzzle message. If you include anything else in that message, please make sure to note what is a personal message and what you’d like written on the puzzle.


  • 2 – Write a check or donate cash and hand deliver to Josh and/or Chelsea.
  • 3 – Mail a check to us (email us at trialsbringjoy @ for a mailing address).

Please don’t let the hesitation of not having talked to us in a while, not knowing us at all, or having been a quiet observer stop you from being a part of this road with us. We are so hopeful that God has great things ahead for our family!

We humbly thank you so much for caring about us so deeply. It’s only in Him and through Him!


Josh, Chelsea and of course, Cali

I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For were two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”  Matthew 18:19-20 (NLT)

*I feel it important to note that prior to knowing that we would be pursuing these costly medical treatments, Josh and I planned a small, half-week vacation for early May. Had we known we would be undertaking this IVF cycle and extensive testing, we would not have financially committed to that. However, His view is always bigger than ours and we are grateful now to have this short get-away to look forward to in between our egg retrieval and embryo transfer. We do not in any way want to make you uncomfortable if you choose to purchase a piece and leave you feeling that we were not clear about this pre-paid trip.

**Not a pray-er? We invite you to offer up simple words such as “Dear God, thank you for the chance to pray for Josh and Chelsea. We know that You and only You are the one who makes and sustains life. I pray right now for Josh and Chelsea and the medical journey they are about to step into. I simply ask that they would be blessed with a baby for their family! Amen”

PS – I know that many of you are interested in all of the fun details of IVF cycles! The blood tests! The medication protocol! The timeline and nitty gritty details about how this cycle will differ from others. We wouldn’t let you down! All of these details will be shared in the coming month as we proceed. I will share now that as I write this, I am already on medication to begin this final cycle! Our intentions are to enter into the egg stimulation phase at the end of March with a tentative and God-willing egg retrieval surgery early April. YAY!

photography: Gina Ziedler

Photo by: Gina Zeidler Photography

february crushes.

Whoop Whoop! February is here and with it comes another step closer to SPRING! 28 days people, we can do this!

Now it’s time for my February crushes:


1 – Loreal Mascara


(imagine not mine – thanks google!)

So many people have told me about this mascara, so when my old bottle dried up, this beaut made it into my cart at Target and can I just say, I totally get what the hype is all about! This mascara reminds me a lot of Younqiue’s 3D fiber lashes (which I love as well), but without the price tag. $7.99 full priced (and they always have coupons in the local paper) and you’re on your way to fabulous lashes. I haven’t dealt with any fiber flakes in my eyes either. Winning!

2 – Pink Blush 

I was joking with my friend the other day while watching the Bachelor that I just don’t know where these gals get all these unique and cute clothes! I feel like I only shop at the same few stores that everyone else shops at and we all match. So, when I came across this ADORABLE online women’s boutique, I fell in love! You guys, I mean really, when have you ever seen a sequined chevron shirt like this?? It’s so incredibly soft and can be easily dressed up or down. LOVE!


Pink Blush also has a whole maternity branch which is great for the mamas-to-be reading this! With free shipping on all US orders + so many sales happening all the time, you can’t go wrong. You have to check them out!

3 – Bible Journaling

For Christmas, my sweet friend Jimmye sent me a Salty Biscuit journaling Bible and with it, came a strong desire for me to use it to jump into an Illustrated Faith journey. The concept of Bible journaling like this is to use your creativity in whatever way it comes, to reflect on a certain verse or message statement. The ability to meditate on a passage while creating it has been incredibly life-giving for me. I love using a journaling Bible like this one because it gives me room to create. I have been able to date each one I do and it’ll be a fun way to look back at my walk with God in a unique way. It’s simply a way for me to bring His Word to life through color and doodles and already, has been such a gift!

I love having my main Bible that I use for studying, making notes in, highlighting and then supplement with this one. It’s a way to select a key verse or power statement from the day. While many people use watercolor and fancy stickers, right now I just use my Staedler pens. Every one is different!

Journaling Bibles can be found pretty reasonably on Amazon or fancy, engraved ones this mine with the tabs already inserted can be found on Etsy, at places like The Salty Biscuit. (They sell out fast but restock regularly.) Check out #illusratedfaith on social media for more info!

Here are just a few of my creations so far:


4 – This article.


Just all of it. I found so much comfort in the words “We don’t have to figure out the purpose for our pain, but we do follow a God who meets us in it.” and this paragraph:

“It’s exhausting enough to endure the dark hours here and not lose our religion, without the addition of a Maker who also makes us bleed. Instead, I prefer to understand God as One who bleeds along with us; Who sits with us in our agony and weeps, not causing us our distress but providing a steady, holy presence in it. This still leaves me with the nagging question of why this God can’t or won’t always remove these burdens from me, but it does allow me to better see the open opportunity provided in tragedy.”

Go read it all – it’s worth the time.

5 – “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin

This song has snuck up on me so many times over the last month or two, constantly reminding me of who my Father is. As I was driving home from our appointment last Thursday, it came on and I felt His presence so heavily in the car as I sang along. I’m sharing some of the lyrics below for those who like that visual encouragement.

(Repeat choruses and refrains removed. Bold emphasis mine.)

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories
Of what they think You’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper
Of love in the dead of night
And You tell me that You’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching
For answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only You provide
‘Cause You know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a good good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Cause You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways
You are perfect in all of Your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still
Into love, love, love

There you go! February Crushes! And a sincere thank you for all the prayers and excitement sent over for Josh and I regarding our consult appointment at CCRM last Thursday. It went really well and we are excited to provide you with an update next week! Stay tuned!



I recently got the chance to review Two Kids: An egg donor’s account of friendship, infertility & secrets by Alicia Young and enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the egg donation process. I recommend this book to anyone involved in or looking into using an egg donor to conceive – from the recipient, to the donor, to the support team! Alicia shares her story and experience being a donor in an honest, thorough, and easy to read way. Even though she herself does not struggle with infertility or desire children, it is evident that her heart is tender to those who do and her understanding of the pain involved is seen in her writing. The layout of the book makes it easy to read, first pulling the reader in with a compelling story of her experiences, and then provides questions and checklists for donors and recipients.

This was a whole new topic I hadn’t read about in the past and wanted to share this resource. Even better, Alicia has offered to give away TWO copies of the book! To enter to win one copy, click below to enter. The second copy is being given away on Instagram, @chels819, so you have two ways to enter or win! Both winners will be drawn and announced on Wednesday morning. (Contest ends at 11:59 pm CST Tuesday, February 23nd). Good luck!

Click here to enter using only your email:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

a plan.

Alright, who out there is wondering why I have a blog about “the pursuit of a baby” and yet, haven’t talked about our infertility journey in ages? Gulp. You’re not alone! Truthfully, after our last failed IUI cycle in June, I have been so burnt out on the thoughts of pursuing treatment, wondering what’s next and ultimately, questioning where God wants us to go. The words be still echoed in our heads and for the last several months, we did just that. Breaks and cycle detoxes are so necessary for us in this long journey, but at the same point, are hard because we feel so strongly about starting a family and helpless as to how to get from here to there.

So, we spent the last several months praying. Praying for a change of heart if that’s what God wanted, praying for direction, praying for peace, praying for healing, praying for wisdom. And after A LOT of praying, I am so excited to say …. WE HAVE A PLAN!

Boring information: The Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) is among the top 5 fertility clinics in the country and has been utilized by many with difficult unexplained infertility cases. Dr. William Schoolcraft (doctor to Bill and Giuliana Rancic if anyone followed their infertility story) opened the center back in the late 80’s and since then, their clinic has been recognized for clinical excellence and advanced research with infertility. Now, traveling to Colorado hasn’t really been an option for us but has always been in the back of my mind.

So that being said, long story short, Dr. Schoolcraft and a Minnesota doctor, Dr. April Batcheller, opened a satellite office of CCRM in Minneapolis late last year. (About 20-some miles away from home.) WHAT!? After many prayers, God really opened Josh and my hearts up to take a step towards this clinic for a final cycle using reproductive assistance.

This is it ladies and gents. Both of us have a lot of peace about consulting with CCRM for one last IVF cycle. One more egg retrieval and God-willing, an embryo transfer that will hopefully result in answered prayers for our family. We will be consulting with Dr. Batcheller in TWO WEEKS (February 18th) to discuss what this decision would look like and of course, get her medical opinion on our case given our history with reoccurring pregnancy loss and PCOS.

It’s hard to believe we haven’t been through an IVF cycle since 2013! Gasp! It seems painfully long ago and at the same time, like it was yesterday. We did medicated IUI cycles in 2014/2015 but used our last embryo in October of 2013. Wow. Time flies. And since then, I have been diagnosed with Factor V and now know how much this blood clotting disorder without treatment could prevent pregnancy. We feel blessed to know that potentially going into treatment again. We also know that technology and research has improved since 2013 and that a new set of eyes could be just what God has planned.

I want to be clear – in no way do we feel that utilizing IVF is limiting God. In fact, we feel very at peace that He has led us down this path (again) and will continue to offer up our hopes to Him for direction. Everyone’s paths are different and uniquely orchestrated by God. We believe that only God can create and sustain life and feel blessed by the ability to utilize the medicine wisdom of the physicians as He has provided us with.

Do I feel nervous about entering this world again? YES! Do I feel hopeful? YES! IVF is one of the most physically strenuous battles I’ve gone through but one that I will so gladly endure for the chance of a family. I am so grateful for the chance to try this one last time, again God-willingly.

We are unsure what the doctor will say to us on the 18th but we are offering up our hearts desires to the Father who not only understands all our hopes, but planted these dreams in our hearts. I have been challenged to face my fears in exchange for faith in His perfect plan, whatever that may be, whatever the outcomes are. God is so faithful in directing our hearts and guiding us in His perfect timing.

So now my dear friends, can I humbly ask you for prayers once more? Specifically:

  • For our consultation appointment on February 18th.
  • For continued wisdom, guidance and endurance as we (hopefully) walk towards this path again.
  • For God to open and shut doors as only He can.
  • For peace in our hearts and provision for the financial undertaking that could be ahead.

As I write this, Colossians 3:17 comes to mind: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” This is our prayer: that this journey, this battle, this fight, would be done in the name of Jesus. We wouldn’t be standing if it weren’t for Him. Our ultimate goal is not to have a family, but to honor Him in all we do and that He would be glorified in our story.

So, February 18th. The countdown is on. Lord, this plan is yours!



Yesterday, after a particularly slow morning of tedious tasks, I decided to venture out to Trader Joe’s to stock up our fridge. I eyed the clock, knowing that I would need to move quickly if I wanted to make it back home before the rush hour traffic began. The end result was me looking mildly homeless, relying heavily on dry shampoo and a sketchy bun that was a lot more tangle than faux mess. A dab of concealer under my eyes and a sweatshirt over my head and I was out the door, slightly concerned I would see someone I knew, but reassured by the fact that they may not in fact, recognize me.

My drive was short, a mere 11-miles, perfect for starting a podcast. With Craig Groeschel chatting in the background, I drove, feeling the weight of the gray, wintery dreary Minnesota day. As I rounded my exit, the sun popped through the clouds and I couldn’t help but smile. The warm rays felt so refreshing and the short-lived need for my sunglasses made me feel hopeful that spring is near.

I found a front row parking spot, which is a simple win while grocery shopping. Armed with my list, I busted through the few aisles of Trader Joe’s, only impulsively purchasing goat cheese and a new breed of apples. (Talk about another win!)

The registers were empty and I slide my cart forward, quickly meeting my cashier, J, who shared a remarkable resemblance to Santa.

J: Why hello!

C: Hi, how are you doing today?

J: I’m wonderful. And how’s your day going?

C: It’s going good, thanks!

Then without a pause, J asked: What about it has made it good?

(Sidenote: I LOVE THAT HE ASKED THAT QUESTION! I love that he prompted me to intentionally think about why my day was a good day. Love love love.)

C: You know, honestly, I got to use my sunglasses on the way over and saw the sun peeking through the clouds and that was just really refreshing. Plus, I got a front row spot, so that’s a bonus. (chuckle)

J: That’s so wonderful. Every day we wake up we are given a gift. I’m glad to hear you are looking for them in big and small ways.

C: So true. And also, I loved walking in and seeing the tulips on display. They remind me spring is coming.

J: Aren’t they beautiful? Tulips and daffodils, both are in season right now.

C: You know, I always see the daffodils but how do they work? They are just in a big crate over there with no water?

J: Daffodils have to be kept out of water because once their stems hit the water, they will blossom. Then they will bloom the most beautiful yellow blooms for about 2 days and then their purpose has been filled. It’s amazing how they will just come to life in a few hours with something as simple as water.

C: How about that!? That’s cool, thanks for sharing. Let’s add to my list that I learned something new today too.

J: Tell ya what, on your way out, stop by and grab 2 bouquets of daffodils, on me. I am going to mark it down right here, and I want you to go home and put them in water and enjoy their blooms over the next few days. Okay?

I have to admit, I felt a little emotional! It was just such a kind, simple, unexpected gesture from this man. I muttered some sincere words of appreciation, feeling a little foolish about how surprised I was at his kindness. He continued.

J: See, it’s the little things in life, isn’t it? I hope you enjoy them. There’s no such thing as too much kindness in the world! And I can do this for you so I will. Plus, I don’t just give gifts at Christmas.

(And then he gave the tenderest wink and I swear when he said that, I looked at him with wide eyes like I was talking to the real Santa Clause. I have to chuckle now imagining what my face looked like.)

And with that, he handed me an empty flower bag, packed my filled grocery bags into my cart and sent me off to grab a few bouquets of daffodils. And as I walked out to my car, I couldn’t help but feel so incredibly blessed to be the recipient of this small but generous act of kindness.

So now my challenge to you: Who will you give daffodils to today? What’s a small gesture of kindness that you can do for someone who doesn’t expect it? Will it be paying for the coffee for the car behind you? Or slipping a note in the mail for a friend? Maybe it’s dropping off a bouquet of flowers to someone having a hard week. Or giving up the good parking spot at Target for a stranger. Maybe it’s offering to bring a struggling mom’s cart back to the carousel at Costco or perhaps utilizing Amazon Prime and sending a small surprise to a girlfriend. Whatever it is, large or small, monetary or not, do something kind today. The domino effect of kindness doesn’t stop there. My cashier has no idea how his gesture would affect you reading this right now, just as you have no idea how much your gesture will mean to someone else. Like the water is to the daffodils, one small action to a weary soul has the potential to refresh them, allowing them to smile, be energized and blossom.

Let’s be people who give daffodils today.

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