house for sale.

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I was stirring my coffee when my friend asked the question: “So how are you really right now?”

With the buzz of steaming milk and brewing espresso around me, I admitted my heart’s been a little weary. I touched on how 7 pregnancy announcements from good friends in 3 days drained me a bit. I tried to explain that while my heart was overjoyed for them, it made me a bit reflective of my own journey, which can be a hard, emotional path for me to walk down sometimes.

I could see in her eyes, as someone who doesn’t struggle with infertility, that she couldn’t quite grasp how someone could be happy for someone else but sad for themselves.

And that’s when this example hit me.

Let’s pretend that you and your spouse have decided it’s time to move from your small apartment. It’s time to expand! It’s not necessarily that you don’t like your current place, but you feel ready to embark into a new neighborhood, have the chance to mow a lawn, use a driveway, and have a little more space.

So you celebrate this big decision! You are going to sell your house! You tell your friends, you have a celebratory glass of champagne and list it. It’s time to sell!

Hmmmm. A few days, weeks, months pass. Why isn’t your house selling? You try to stay positive. Oh it takes time! You just have to wait for the perfect buyer! It can take couples almost a year before their house sells! Take a vacation – then it might sell!

In the meantime, friends around you decide they too want to sell their house and move. And you watch and celebrate as they immediately find buyers. It was our first showing! We hadn’t even listed it yet! A friend of a friend asked to buy our house! In fact, some of your friends who didn’t even take care of their apartment sell it right away. Huh?

What is going on, you asked yourselves. You paint the walls, freshen up the tile, and replace the old floors. And yet, months pass by and still, no buyers. Multiple showings, the promise of hope with each one, but a firm and audible NO after every one.

In the meantime, you’re invited to house warming party after house warming party to celebrate your friend’s new home. You are thrilled for them! What a beautiful new kitchen! Lawn! Bathroom! Is that a walk-in closet?? And you wonder what is wrong with our apartment??? You bring the wine, send the congratulations card, help move the boxes, all while dusting off your “for sale” sign. You pack away the towels you bought for a new bathroom. It hurts too much to look at them each day.

Do we try to get used to staying here forever? You begin to ask yourselves how you should approach this limbo. What does the future look like? Do you apply for that new position knowing it would be across town, near the city you want to move to? Do you redecorate the space and plan to stay there? Oh how your hearts yearn to be in a new place – and yet still, all the showings result in nothing. No. No. No. No. No. No.

So you hire a new realtor. The one who sold your friends house in just 1 day! And your heart breaks as he tells you that you may never sell your home. You see, because there’s this one part of the inside of a wall that is damaged. It’s not really your fault, but it’s your home and because of it, it may be a little harder to sell it.

How did I not know? What can we do to improve our chances?! He provides you with a list of things to do and you eagerly dive into them. You replace the trim, sweat over refinishing your floors; exhaust yourself with tearing out the old carpet. Still – nothing.

Meanwhile, you get the calls from your friends, We’re moving! We sold our house! It’s our 4th home in 3 years! And your feelings get hurt as some of your friends pull back from you as they are afraid to tell you they sold their house too. You find out when you get their Christmas card in the mailing with a preprinted announcement. Why didn’t they tell us? And yet still, you celebrate their new adventure, move the boxes, ‘like’ the Facebook announcement and wonder if you should take your house off the market. After all, it’s been 3 years.

Then 4 years. More announcements, more moves.

Then it’s been 5 years. You find some friends who too have a hard time selling their house, are stuck in limbo desiring a neighborhood, a closet, a stove with more than 2 burners, a chance to feel at home where they feel called. You relate to one another’s questions and empathize when yet another potential buyer decides to pass. Another lost chance, I am so sorry.

Then those friends who once understood, begin to sell their houses. More celebrations! And the conversations shift from questioning why your house can’t sell, to the frustrations of picking out paint colors for the new living room or the cost of the movers. They forgot what it’s like, you think. Then you no longer get together. I am sorry, I have a house now. There’s so much to do! More dusting, a garden to tend to, bathrooms to clean. Maybe when the house gets a little older.

And still every single morning you wake up, make your bed, clean the house, waiting for the moment you get a call about a showing. You can’t escape the fact that your house is for sale. It’s part of your daily life, reminders everywhere. The lockbox, the sign, the calls. Every day you are faced with the desires to hear the words “you’ve sold your house!”.

6 years pass. You switch realtors again, are given a dash of hope that this is the one! In fact, by this point you’ve had 7 offers on your home, but all of them have fallen through. It’s just been bad luck. This happens to many couples. There must have been a bank loan defect. Unpack your boxes, not this time. Don’t lose the faith!

More moving announcements from friends. We weren’t even thinking about moving but someone came to our door and offered us over market price for our house. And then we got an amazing deal on a new house – in the last lot of the neighborhood you were looking at! What are the chances? We were so surprised!

Housewarming party. Wine. Feelings of defeat. Questions. Did we misunderstand our calling to move? Everyone else thinks we are crazy, yet we continue to feel led is to sell this house. What do we do?

And now here you sit – with 7 more offers sitting on your home and you think this could be it and you are terrified. Everyone around is asking you aren’t you so excited? And while, yes, you are, the truth is you’ve been here before. You’ve had the offers and they’ve all fallen through. You’re hesitant to get your hopes up based on these new offers, knowing what happened last time. And so you smile, nod, and pray harder than ever that one of these offers takes. Because you don’t know if your heart can handle any more. Most days you want to rip down the ‘For Sale’ sign, ignore the aches in your heart, and chuck the lockbox in a volcano. You are now known as the couple who has always had their house up for sale.

Just be thankful you have a house to live in! Everyone around you, many who just sold their house, says to you, as if you aren’t thankful for your apartment. You want shout back that you are thankful, you just hate living in limbo, are struggling to figure out what your future looks like, and that you can’t ignore that nagging longing to become new-home owners.

And still you wait, feeling foolish about the day you drank champagne and told everyone you were going to sell your house. You never expected this.

You get the picture. And while this example may seem silly, can you only imagine having your house for sale for YEARS? I get exhausted just thinking about it. And, oh friends, if only infertility were this kind of exhausting.

With infertility, you take these exhausted, confused emotions and add in the immense deep rooted desire to be parents – moms and dads– and combine it with mind altering hormones, emotions, surgeries, and real life dollars. Every month offers hope that everything might change and when it doesn’t, you have to reprocess what you’re going to do next. Did you hear God right? Why isn’t He moving?

So while your heart is so thrilled for the others in your life who move onto the next stage – first, second, third pregnancies – it’s still very real there will be emotional struggles involved. With every announcement, pregnancy related conversation, baby shower and tiny babies around, it reminds you of the current state of limbo you are in. And with God-given strength, you celebrate the answered prayers, clinging to the hope that next time it might be you, and rejoice that God gave them a miracle. And it’s okay if you still wonder why not me?

Friends, I don’t know why your baby hasn’t come yet. I don’t understand why a 15-year old accidentally becomes pregnant and you can’t get a positive test to save your life. I wish I understood all the specifics. But here’s what I do know – God knows why. And while that can be hard to understand most days, it offers reassurance that we don’t have to be the ones understanding the ‘whys’. We just have to continue to trust the One who does.

I wrote these words in In the Wait and needed to be reminded of them today: “God is not early or late with His timing. Instead, He is right on cue, creating “Ah-ha!” moments when the answers prayers finally come. Yes, it may look different than we expect it to, but we know He will pull through. Scripture reminds us that we can trust Him to stay true to His Word, character and promises. His love is always present. Breathe out a deep sigh with me today and rest assured knowing He is at work, even when we don’t see it.”

I know it’s tiring my sweet friend. But make that bed one more day, accept one more showing, and continue to communicate with the Lord. You never know when you are going to wake up and have your whole life change in one moment. That day of answered prayer is worth the fight.

Lord, I pray for each woman reading this today who understand what it’s like to be stuck waiting. I pray that you renew our strength, our minds, and replenish our weary souls as we wait. We trust that you have the perfect plan for our lives and we ask that you would help strengthen us to continue to celebrate the victories and answers to prayer that you are providing to those around us. Jesus, we simply need more of you to help lead us into the perfect path for our lives. Amen

*photo from weheartit.com

think positive.

Last week I was distractedly drying my hair, my phone propped up and one hand slowly scrolling through daily happenings of my friend’s lives, when my eye caught this image someone shared:

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The “Positivity” side of me cheered. I love this thinking! Stay positive and good things will happen! Hurray!

But then as I began working my brush through my tangled strands, I thought a little deeper.

Wait a second …. 

I think positive. I pray positive. I write in my gratitude journal, I preach His Words out loud to myself, I surround myself with positive people and books. So … why weren’t my big prayers being answered? Why weren’t my positive things happening?

The more I thought about this quote, the more restless I got.

IT’S A LIE!

You can’t simply think positive and have good things happen. Positive thinking doesn’t always equal positive outcomes.

What happens when you think positive and you don’t get the job you really wanted?

What happens when you think positive and your IVF cycle results in a negative?

What happens when you think positive and the miscarriage still occurs?

What happens when you think positive and the test doesn’t go well, your product line isn’t selling, your son is still addicted to drugs?

What then?

I think for many of us, it leaves us feeling like a failure, or even worse, like God has failed you.

You did all the right things. You believed, you had faith, you were positive! The quote told you positive things would happen! Which then leaves you to ponder, what happens when the prayers aren’t answered?

Can I tell you today that it doesn’t mean you failed? That you weren’t positive enough? That you aren’t enough?

Friends, when what we pray for doesn’t happen, fight the urge to get discouraged. Fight the urge to become bitter and give up. Lately, God has been stretching my heart and mind on prayer. He’s been smacking me with reminders of His desire for me to have wholehearted conversations with Him, to share the positive and not-so-positive thoughts on my mind. He’s been breathing the truth that no amount of positive thinking will alter the amount of influence He has in the outcomes of my life.

Now yes, I firmly believe that having a grateful, kind, positive heart will alter the attitude you carry with you each day. It will increase your joy, your ability to praise Him and help you see His hand a little bit more clearly. It’s demonstrating obedience to what He has commanded in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT): “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. But it doesn’t mean that God will grant you extraordinary genie-like access to His power.

God loves us, so much. He is interested in every detail of our lives. He hears every prayer we pray. He never abandons us. Even when we don’t feel like our prayers aren’t being answered.

Here is what I think the quote should say:

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God-things are so much better than good things. God-things result in Him being glorified, our faith being strengthened, and our prayers really being answered. Timothy Keller says ““God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything He knows.” Friends, HE KNOWS! Be reassured that He sees the big picture!

I finished blow drying my hair that day and was thankful for the chance to ponder the trust we have in Him. Isn’t that what it all comes down to? And friends, trust isn’t a single day thing – it’s an every day, eat-sleep-drink-repeat, sort of thing. He’s got this and because of that, we’ve got this.

Have you signed up yet for the TTC Mug Exchange? If not, click here by November 15th to join the fun! 

the hallway.

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A few years back, my mom gave me this wooden sign that now sits by my kitchen sink: “Until God opens the next door, praise Him in the hallway”. It’s become a favorite sign for me to read on a daily basis while I’m washing dishes and I routinely ponder what it looks like in my life.

I envision a long hallway with a locked door at the end. Have you ever stood in that hall with me? Trying to open a door that doesn’t seem to be budging? Perhaps you can relate in the desire to have a baby. Or maybe on the other side of the door is the spouse you’ve been praying for or the job promotion you deserve. Whatever it is, you can see it – some days you feel like the doorknob is wiggling, and yet, you can’t get in the door. So in the hallway we sit.

I turned 30 last week. T H I R T Y. At first I was nervous about entering this new decade, the one that now requires me to check off a new age bracket, start seriously thinking about eye cream and even renew my driver’s license. Thirty.

I didn’t anticipate it, but guess what? I love being 30. Like, L-O-V-E it. It seems crazy that an age can bring with it such a wave of contentment but I am so fully embracing this new decade that it scares me a little. I am doing this. I am being and enjoying life, with all its unknowns, even here in the hallway. Perhaps I am still running off of birthday celebration fumes, the aftertaste of parties and cards and hugs. But it feels deeper than that – it feels like a fresh start.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Our speaking pastor, Jason Strand, mentioned it yesterday in his sermon and I absolutely loved what he said after: You don’t need to be thankful FOR all circumstances; you need to be thankful IN all circumstances.”

You know what that means? We don’t need to be thankful for the hallways – infertility, singleness, job loss, health issues … but we do need to be thankful IN the hallways. There’s a big difference there! Being thankful in the hallway starts with our attitudes, how we view our circumstances, and what we choose to focus on. Our pastor continued by saying “Happiness isn’t getting what you want; happiness is enjoying what God has given you.”

So good.

What is your hallway today? And how are you learning to embrace it and find joy in it? I promise, no matter how lost we feel, God sees us there in the hallway. We haven’t gotten stuck in a maze and disappeared from His sight. Maybe that locked door isn’t opening anytime in the near future. Or perhaps it never opens but another one in the hall does. Or maybe, it opens tomorrow. Either way, we can’t waste today forgetting that it’s possible to praise Him in the hallways.

Now a note to myself:

Dear Future Chelsea, remember this moment. Remember the contentment you have in the hallway. Don’t lose sight on His goodness as you wait. Keep your perspective upward and when you slip, which will inevitably happen because you’re human (and hormonal), come back to Him and keep praising Him. He hasn’t let you down and He won’t start now.

Love, 30 years + 5 days old Chelsea

Have you gotten a copy of the In The Wait devotional book yet? Don’t miss your chance! Preorders close THIS Wednesday and then the book won’t be available for purchase again until September 14th. Plus, you get freebies if you order now! Check out this post for all the details + your chance to order.

Interested in hearing Pastor Strand’s entire message? Click here to listen. 

wish lists.

This post was written en route to Hawaii – I am now back home but just getting to posting it. Also, an updated fertility note and prayer request is at the end. Enjoy!

As I type this, I am sitting a trillion miles about the ground. Okay, not really a trillion but the clouds make me feel pretty high off the ground. It’s 11:18 pm and the outside world is pitch black. The inside of the plane glows with a few lights but the majority of the people are sleeping. Me on the other hand, well, I’m not sleeping. I just read a great quote in Finding Faith in the Dark and it got me thinking.

It said: “In the happiest days and in the hardest days, (we) learn that the present is where God lives and He doesn’t want to be anywhere else.”

If you are anything like me, I seem to love to live in the future, especially more recently. Perhaps it’s because the last few months have been tougher or perhaps it’s because I so badly want the future to hold miracles, sparkles, baby bumps and miraculous celebrations, but this statement made me freeze in my 26C seat.  Reality is that there’s a complete lack of control over the future so truthfully, where else can I be living, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t try. I feel like I have spent a significant amount of the last 6 years doing everything last minute, “Well I can’t commit to this visit because I don’t know where I will be in my cycle.” “Well, I would love to say I will be at this wedding but who knows, I could be pregnant and on bed rest.” “Well, I would love to buy a plane ticket to visit you in November, but who knows what that will look like if we do IVF again.” In fact, the only reason my Hawaii trip worked out was because it was SO last minute and I knew with my post-miscarriage cycle that I would be on birth control with no options. But let me tell you, that rarely happens.

So where does that lead me? It leads me to end up living in this half present-half future world. And I lose so much of ME as a result.

In the book, Laurie Short continues by saying “Our response to our circumstances encourage us to be present in our own lives, even when we face sorrow. And we should never stop looking for joy.”

I was floored by her ability to talk about great sorrow and searching for joy in the same sentence but as I unpacked those words, I realized how true and valid it is.Why is it so easy as Christians and as humans that we can get caught up in living in a world where our emotions, joy, happiness and contentment are so linked to our circumstances? I get it. We are humans, many of us reading women, people directed by emotions and powerful reactions to what is going on around us.

I think Jeremiah 29:11 is a common verse for many of us. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Those going through struggles, whatever they are – infertility, financial worries, difficult children, depression, loneliness, painful circumstances – are encouraged by these words. He plans to give us a future and a hope! We can do this! But today in processing these words, I read all of the verses surrounding this powerful this verse.

I connected immediately with the Message translation, even though all of the translations speak the verses beautifully, and I think you will appreciate the powerful words in whatever you are going through as well: “I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and will bring you back home. I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you aren’t disappointed. God’s Decree: I’ll turn things around for you …. You can count on it.”

There are SO many powerful promises packed in these verses and the one that struck me the most was “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else…”

How many of you, like me, have been tempted to turn to God in prayer because you really want something? Something so deeply and passionately that you turn to what you hope is the magic genie of answered prayers to ask for it. Well, He said that when we pray, He will listen, which should automatically mean that my prayer request gets answered immediately. But man, how convicting is it that we need to come looking for Him and want Him more than ANYTHING ELSE?

Guys, there are many times I pray and think that I want Him more than anything else, but the selfish immature part of me wants Him more than anything else because if that happens, then for sure it means He will listen and answer my prayers. But this verse stuck me because it reminded me that I need to search for Him with all my heart with absolutely NO strings attached to the expectations of how He may (or may not) answer me. Yikes. Separating my really selfish heart between my wants for a child and my desire for Him is realllllllly hard.

So what does all of this mean? Well friends, I think it means that we need to start shaking off our ‘want list’ a bit and focus more on our true “Want List”, which simply is wanting Him more. More than our baby, more than the job promotion, more than the friends we hope to attain or the health that we hope to build back towards. Let me clarify, none of those things are wrong as long as we truly want Him more than any of those things. Because I promise you, nothing at all, ever, will be greater than the peace and serenity that Jesus Christ offers to us.

And what’s the end promise when our motives are pure and our heart is focused on the right things? God comes though. He turns things around. He doesn’t disappoint us. In fact, in His own words, “You can count on it.”

I think that deserves a big gigantic “amen”!

{Fertility Update/Prayer Request: I will be having an endometrial scratch done on Thursday morning. This is the first time I will be having one done and while I know they aren’t done often, feel confident that this is a positive step for us. The procedure itself is done by the doctor, in which he will go up into my uterus and gently “scratch” the lining with a thin catheter. Painful, yes, but I am certain that it will be short-felt.  The reason we are doing this is that there is research and evidence suggesting that scratching the uterine lining causes a ‘repair reaction’. This reaction is associated with increasing embryo implantation rates since there will be a little groove for the embryo to embed deeper into and the bodies healing process does increase blood flow and other positive side effects. While some clinics do this while the patient is sedated, my doctor doesn’t so if you could pray that it goes smoothly and is as pain-free as possible, that would be great. This procedure will usher in what we anticipate being our last IUI cycle which will begin in the next 2-ish weeks. I have been told to anticipate discomfort, cramps, and spotting in the days following so continued prayers for recovery would be great as well. If you have had any experience with an endometrial scratch, I’d love to hear it! Thanks friends!}

send ’em over.

I frequently get emails with some awesome questions from readers – everything from “what books to do you recommend?” to “what words do you have for someone going through a miscarriage?” The questions are all SO good and I love interacting with each of you as you pepper me with some thoughtful questions. They cause me to pause and think and that’s a good thing!

My inbox has been especially filled lately (I LOVE IT!) and it has inspired me with an idea for a series of posts – a Question and Answer series! That’s right, all those questions you have been emailing me over the last few years, send them my way via comment or email and I will work my way through them. Don’t make them all serious – send me over some fun, random ones too! :) I can’t wait to address some of the most common questions to specifics about our journey. Faith, treatment, personal life – nothing is off limits!

My email is listed here, you can write it below, or comment on an Instagram post. If you would like your blog tagged back and your name identified, just leave it in the comments (From NAME at XXXX) and I will credit your question to you. However, if you want to be anonymous, that is completely fine as well, just let me know. (First names only will be used.) The question window is open till the end of the month so send them over. I’m really looking forward to this!

Oh and due to a crazy week, Friday Favorites may not be posted until Saturday … just pretend like it’s Friday when you read them. Hehe!

I’ll leave you today with a great message I read a few weeks ago that has been stewing in my brain: “The mention of a journey implies an arrival. If God guides us, however we may dislike it, it means there is a goal to our journey. Because it is God’s will for us to reach that goal, we can be certain we will reach it. We start and stop and change our minds. People disappoint us; we disappoint ourselves and may give up. Not God! He always finishes what He begins.” Rest in the fact that regardless of our outcome, there is an end to this journey and a destination. Chances are it may be nothing like we imagine or plan it to be, but it’s there and it’s going to be glorious. Have a great rest of the week friends!

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! 

the aftermath.

My heart is so full. This last week in Chicago was so wonderful. The time spent with friends and family was so special and the Storyline Conference gave me an opportunity to explore what’s inside of me. I never would have labeled myself a creative person but after sitting in a room with some amazing people, I realized how much I have inside me that I want to get out and share. Sometimes I have these ideas, thoughts, stories, and emotions trapped inside my chest, churning to get out and trying to find the right words to express what I am feeling. Sometimes they escape and other times they remain bottled up inside, waiting for the right time to spring forth.

I don’t know where to start or if I will ever all get it all out. Truthfully, I battle with wondering if anyone even cares – not in a pessimistic “wah, no one cares about me” way because I feel quite the opposite – super loved and cared for. No, I mean it more in a “why would people want to read the random babblings of my brain?” And questioning, am I too out there? Are people just being nosey or do they actually care about what I am learning or this journey we are on?

Writing is one of the most vulnerable things I have ever done. Or as Shauna Niequist eloquently puts it, “Writing for me feels like getting naked in public.” It rips me open and often times I press “pubish” and have immediate regret. Do they understand what I was trying to say? Did I share too much? Did I offend someone? Will people look at me differently? Are people going to understand …. me?

What do I want? I don’t know truthfully. I have so many dreams flying around my head and this conference has only made it more real to me that I have a story that needs to be told – that I want to tell. The story isn’t important because of what we have gone through with infertility, the story is important because stories are what connects us to one another. The highs and lows that we share as a community are beautiful things and I pray that in the end, my story brings Him immense glory. Sharing our stories with one another, as muddled and beautiful as they are, is what creates a presence in one another’s lives. Life isn’t meant to be lived alone. Goodness, it would be far too painful and lonely.

There is something sacred when vulnerable words are shared but there is a fear as well. When I share my story with you, I try to be as authentic and unedited as possible. But then there are these tiny things that sneak up and whisper to me that it’s not enough. That this post isn’t good. That my stories don’t make sense. That people are whispering behind my back. How do I cope with that reality? I think the only way to do that is to keep writing. To keep stretching myself and to keep putting my heart out on this page. My blog isn’t fancy. It doesn’t have a web designer and there aren’t fancy visuals to click on. There are no sponsors, but it has you – my readers. People who jump in and share their hearts with me. Who read my writing and somehow, in the strings of words I have to offer, understand me.

This conference is helping me flush out what I want. “What do you want to do with your story?” And as I process this, and again it’s still very new, the thing that rests so heavily on my heart is the word encouragement. And I don’t quite know what to do with that yet. I know that I personally love to encourage others and am deeply touched by words of encouragement. Words have a richness that can fill you up. After sitting down with many wonderful friends this past week and sharing real life, encouraging talks, I’m walking around feeling full to my brim.  My heart feels like it’s literally pushing against the skin of my chest and my fingertips feel tight and heavy and beautiful. Words, friendships, encouragement, questions, messiness, resolutions to be made, forgiveness that needs to be accomplished and the grace needed to keep pushing forward is beautiful.

So where does that leave me? What do I do with this word encouragement that’s on my heart? Part of me wants to run around and encourage everyone to embrace where they are at right now. To help others find the beauty that’s in the present moment. I want to help others sift through the tears, the sorrow, the frustration, the anger, the bitterness, and to somehow find the goodness, richness and beauty that is in the now. We can’t live a life trying to get from here to there, because when you get there, you are just simply in your new here. I truly don’t believe that any one thing in life will ever truly fulfill us because I don’t know that our humanness is capable of contentment outside of Him. Nothing we obtain will change your heart to value how special being here is.

We have a special gift where we can turn our sorrow and pain into pieces of our puzzle that come together to make something full, complete and rich with detail.  I believe that somehow my story, my messiness, my longing for a family, the children we have lost, the endurance I have had to put forth, is all molding me and crafting me to be a better person here in this moment right now.

I am so grateful that we have woken up this morning and are given a chance to even try to make a difference. That we are able to be in our here. I don’t know what my life will look like in 2, 3, 5, 10 years. But what I do know is that I want to be a person who didn’t waste these days of waiting. I wholeheartedly ache to comfort every reader with His love. I wish so badly that you all could take a piece of my fullness right now. I am thankful for the friends I got to visit with while in Chicago, grateful for the words that God used from their mouths to touch my heart and fill me. The value of community and friendships should never go unrecognized.

Thank you all for your prayers as I attended this conference. Now I get to wrestle with what’s next. I think beautiful things are ahead, even if they are smudged with dirt and ashes and have broken edges at times. I pray that God’s richness falls over our lives, a richness that doesn’t come with answered prayers or things, but that comes with His presence in our lives, His peace, His comfort and the ability to rest in that.

(And of course, we can’t end without a few photo’s from the week!)

Yes, I got to meet, talk to, cry with/on and hug Shauna Niequist who you all know is an author I so greatly admire!

Yes, I got to meet, talk to, cry with/on and hug Shauna Niequist who you all know is an author I so greatly admire!

Lauren <3

Lauren <3

My cousin Brittany and my Nana ... Grandpa Tedd and Brad, I know you are sad you missed out on the photo shoot. :) Love my family!

My cousin Brittany and my Nana … Grandpa Tedd and Brad, I know you are sad you missed out on the photo shoot. :) Love my family!

Candice <3

Candice <3

Carolyn and her two littles. I'm certain they adored being dressed like reindeers for our amusement. :)

Carolyn and her two littles. I’m certain they adored being dressed like reindeers for our amusement. :)

My Uncle Chuckie who's heart, kindness and outlook on life is so special.  <3

My Uncle Chuckie whose heart, kindness and outlook on life is so special. <3

Julie, Jenny and their kiddos. <3

Julie, Jenny and their kiddos. <3

(Katie — how did we not get a picture together? Apparently closing down a restaurant omits photo time. Boo! Auntie Pammy, Uncle Jimmy, James and Nick, thanks for opening up your home to me. I love spending time with you all and love you guys so much more than words can say! And thanks for sharing your neighborhood squirrel with me too.)

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PS – Did you miss my previous post on the lessons to be learned from beanie babies? Click here to check it out!

PPS – Coming on Sunday …. an update to our infertility story including a new plan of action and exciting way for you to get involved!

friday favorites – september 12.

As I type this it’s currently – wait for it – 55º outside with an overnight low of 37º. Wah wah. I am afraid summer ended pretty abruptly for us midwesterners. My allergies are looking forward to the near freeze but I feel like my open toed fall shoes are not going to get a good season in. I’m not complaining though. I do love that we get to experience all four seasons and fall is one of my favorites. So bring it on!

Alright, let’s jump in to the Friday Favorite fun! (Triple F? FFF? F x 3? None of these? Ha!)

Favorite Moment: Josh and I got to have a fun date with my nieces Scarlett (3) and Kinsely (2) on Saturday and we had SUCH a wonderful time. These little girls are hysterical, so loving and funny and so well behaved – it’s evident their parents have done an amazing job raising them so far. (Shout out to Joe and Monica!) We packed the day full of activities – starting with a treasure hunt and hidden clues (leading to the final prize in the oven, which the girls thought was so funny), spent time on the driveway painting pictures, had a surprise stop from the ice cream man (which as an uncle and aunt, we couldn’t pass up), played water ball tag, made button picture frames (and they both picked out Cali as the photo they wanted featured which melted my little fur-mama heart), had a tea party and tickle fight, and then attempted to dance like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum as we watched Alice in Wonderland. We were tired afterwards but goodness, our hearts were full!

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Favorite Recipe: We tried a great recipe this week, one that I found on a Whole30 page (IG @ Whole30Recipes). (But then I added parmesan cheese because I love cheese. Whoops!). It was delicious – give it a try!

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(I wasn’t planning on putting this picture on the blog so excuse it’s unedittedness and uncenteredness, ha. Real life here peeps)

Cashew-Almond Crusted Tilapia Salad with Lemon-Pepper Ranch

Tilapia Prep: In a food processor (or Magic Bullet!), blend until fine: – 3/4C cashews – 3/4C almonds – 1 tsp ea. of chili powder, paprika, salt & pepper. Transfer to a shallow dish. In another dish, whisk 1 egg and 2T water .Rinse and pat dry 4 tilapia fillets. (I think any white fish would be yummy!) Dip in egg and then crumb mixture. Transfer to baking dish or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes. (Always check the doneness of your fish, it should be white and flakey. Thicker fillets may need a few extra minutes and I took a thinner one out at 20 minutes.)

Salad: – Bed of mixed greens (I love butter lettuce and Trader Joe’s now has it bagged!) – a Thinly sliced red onion (in the recipe but I didn’t have one handy) – Tomato chunks (hiding in this picture of mine apparently) – and tons of Mini Cucumber slices (and parmesan cheese if you don’t mind the little bit of dairy)

Dressing: Whisk: – 2T homemade mayo (I’ll be honest, I used Hellman’s while is not Whole30 compliant) – Juice of 1/2 lemon – 1 tsp EVOO – Dash of: cayenne, paprika & cracked pepper.

{note: I sliced the tilapia after it was baked.}

Favorite Picture: Hands down, this adorable one of my niece Scarlett on her first day of Pre-K. Her smile! Oh my word, my heart melted. She can’t possibly be preschool aged! Gulp!

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Favorite Thing I’m Looking Forward to: Damien Rice’s new album! He hasn’t had a new cd come out since 2006 and his new album that is supposed to drop on November 11th. Love his stuff.

Favorite Tradition: Every year, on the first fall-like day, my sister and I sneak away to Starbucks and celebrate the new season with our first Pumpkin Spice Latte. Now, I have been trying to watch carbs and sugars so this year I rang in the season with a kiddie sized, no whip breve PSL, however, I believe that diets are all about balance and that one kiddie sized PSL wasn’t going to kill me. Traditions and new memories are so special and I am glad I splurged. :) Cheers!

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Favorite Quote: “I am always available to you. Once you have trusted Me as your Savior, I never distance Myself from you. Sometimes you may feel distant from Me. Recognize that as feeling; do not confuse it with reality. The Bible is full of My promises to be with you always.” –Jesus Calling-

I loved this section from Jesus Calling this week. If you knew me at all, you know that I am a very feelings-based person. This was such a great reminder for me that even when I don’t FEEL like I am being heard, or He is present, that doesn’t mean I am not and He is not. It brings us back to basing our faith off of His Word and His character. I had an ah-ha moment last night at small group when I was sharing with my group how I just want some sort of feeling or affirmation that He is hearing us, and then I flipped to a page in my book that I highlighted (and clearly forgot), that said “Is it possible that when we are not getting the affirmation or confirmation that we desire, it’s because God doesn’t want our faith to rest in affirmation we can feel? In these times could it be that He’s at work on a deeper level, teaching us to rely on His character rather than our performance?”  (Steven Furtick) I felt immediately convicted that I need to spend less time analyzing my feelings and spend more time trusting His character and Word.

Favorite Funnies: Apparently I was hard to impress this week because hardly any funnies cracked me up! So there are only a few this week – as always, if you have something to share with me, send it over via email! (Check out the Contact page). Enjoy!

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As always, hope you have an awesome weekend. Thanks for reading today. :)

discouragement and expectations.

My highlighter has run dry. I recently read a chapter in the book Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick that had my highlight moving at the speed of light. In fact, if you peered at my book at the moment, you would likely find more things NOT highlighted than highlighted. My underlining skills have much to be desired however there was so many great points packed in this chapter about expectations, discouragement and disappointment that I just couldn’t keep it to myself. So here’s my list of my favorite quotes – (and this won’t do the book justice so order a copy today*!):

1. “When the internal dialogue of discouragement starts in your heart, remember – the Enemy’s goal goes way beyond putting you in a bad mood temporarily. He’s trying to talk you out of trusting God’s plan for your life at a foundational level. And he’s not just trying to derail you. He aims to limit the impact God wants to make through you and beyond you.”

I know I am not alone when it comes to that internal dialogue that starts talking to me at night. You’ll never have a baby. You’ll never see an answer to these prayers. You are broken. You should just stop trying. Everyone else is meant to have a baby, look at you, being passed up again, and again, and again. You heard your calling wrong. The chatter in my head is insistent. But every word of the chatter is taking God out of the equation and causing me to doubt what I believe in the bottom of my heart that God has called me to be (a mom). When the devil starts churning that doubt in my head, it isn’t just a temporary stumble, it begins to root those lies in my heart and brain, affecting every aspect of my life. Time to put those lies aside and focus on the TRUTHS I have been given. Easier said than done, right? But like muscles, it just takes some training – continued training – and never giving up.

2. “The greatest source of discouragement for me is going through pain when I can’t see the purpose.”

Isn’t pain so much easier when you can see a domino effect of good that has come out of it? You work out every day and you see results. You give up soda and you lose a few pounds. You lose your job only to get a better job. There is a feeling of accomplishment and strength that keeps you motivated because you see the purpose, sometimes immediate and sometimes it takes a little while.

But what about when one of your parents passes away? Or you have a miscarriage? Or your son dies away shortly after he is born? Or your husband gets cancer? Then what? The pain and discouragement lingers and you don’t see a purpose, you can’t find any good in the situation and the discouragement gets heavier.

While I will never sit here and tell you that your child dying is a good thing, I do believe that good things can come from immense pain. My miscarriages were not good – they were so painful that there doesn’t seem to be accurate words to convey that pain – but out of that, good things have come. I became more relatable to many of you, forming friendships and being able to walk in faith along side of you. I have seen friends turn back to God after reading a post and I have met so many of you that I am able to pray for and with. Those are good things. The stories I hear, how you share with me about how God is working in your life despite your struggles, that gives purpose to my pain. It lessens my discouragement.

 3. “Let me offer a working definition of disappointment: disappointment is the gap between what I expect and what I experience. And the chatterbox (that voice in our head) looks for ways to exploit your disappointment by filling that gap with doubts about the goodness of God.”

I have continued to learn that there’s a central thread that runs through expectations and that is communication. There have been nights that I have been out for the evening and hope that Josh magically reads my mind to unload the dishwasher while I am gone. When I get home and the dishwasher is still full, I am disappointed – what I experience is not what I expected. I could be mad at him, frustrated for his lack of mind-reading capabilities or I could communicate with him what I was hoping for and let it go. Or even better, I could communicate my expectations before going out so that he knew what I hoped to experience when I returned. How many times have we been mad at God for not answering something we never prayed to Him about? Or held an unanswered request against Him, even and especially when its something we have prayed and pleaded with Him about? One question I ask myself regularly when I am disappointed is “Was his/her intentions to hurt me?” Josh would never intend to make me frustrated on purpose and God doesn’t intend to cause us pain either. He does expect us to trust in His goodness however which builds our faith as we navigate disappointments.

 4. Disappointed expectations, when full-grown, give birth to chronic discouragement. If you allow this discouragement to run rampant in your life, you’ll lose your hope.”

We can’t be people that constantly focus on what we are lacking or where our expectations have fallen short. That focus is what guts our faith and drains us of our joy, purpose and hope. I am been a victim of falling into the cycle of chronic disappointment and losing my hope – the good news is it’s possible to regain but it takes time spent with God, a commitment to seek Him above your prayer request list and the faith to say even if my request isn’t answered, You are still good.

 5. “If God always met our expectations, He’d never be able to exceed them. Sometimes God takes us to another level by building higher. Sometimes He does it by digging deeper.”

The first time I read this quote I starred it, highlighted it, underlined it, shouted a mental ‘amen’ in my head …. then a few hours later as I washed my hair in the shower, I thought about it some more. And it irritated me. God, I am not even asking you to exceed my expectations, I am perfectly fine with you just meeting them. I would be thrilled with just getting an answer, it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Just something, anything, please …. I have to admit, I am still sorting through my thoughts on this one but I like where it is going. (But really God, I’ll take 3rd place, just let me be on the podium …)

(The story I shared of Lazarus in this blog post from September talks a lot more about failed expectations and the richness that can be found in Him exceeding what we ask.)

 6. “Don’t let what you expected keep you from what God wants you to experience.”

We are living in the present moment and as much as we hope for _________ (a baby/a new job/a bigger paycheck/a healed spouse/a repaired marriage/student loans to be paid off), we have to live in today. That means experiencing everything that God has given us right here, right now. I believe that some of the richest blessings in life come from acknowledging that what we are experiencing, as imperfect and difficult as it may be, is something that is molding us for even greater days. These are precious moments.

7. “Believing God means assuming that He is always working, even when our faith and prayers and love doesn’t seem to be working at all. Realizing this opens our hearts to accept what God has allowed in each season of our lives without being overtaken by discouragement.”

This is where faith is tested. Faith is tested in the season of silence, in the season of unanswered prayers, in the season where sorrow and disappointments swirl around us like a frigid winter snow. It’s also the time where we can be strengthened if we allow God to meet us where we are and walk with Him during the storm. Disappointment sucks, but there IS a future ahead, where disappointments fade away and peace is given. It’s exhausting but completely worth it.

Good stuff right!? Should I do a similar post on the chapter about gratitude later this month? Weigh in on the comments and let me know! Until next time …

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Oh and a random PS – you know what’s crazy – that if my first IVF cycle had not resulted in a miscarriage, today would have been our child’s 1st birthday (assuming the due date was spot on). I am not sure where time went and that makes this journey feel even longer than ever. Happy first birthday little Boone and Crockett. Sorry Dad nicknamed you such silly names – we love you!

* – I don’t get anything for recommending this book or link, it’s simply to make your purchase easier. :)

 

friday favorites – august 29.

Friday Favorites after 2 of the busiest and funnest weeks of the summer? Nearly impossible. Instead of the normal format, I am going to share some of my favorite moments through photos and captions. Then next week I will be back with some regular posts and more of the usual! Enjoy!

Favorite Movie-Watching Experience: In San Diego, Josh and I got to watch Disney’s Planes on top of the historic aircraft carrier USS Midway. Being on the ocean with the breeze and a firework show in the background was truly spectacular!

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Favorite experience with ocean animals: Yes, this one is a stretch. But we had a BLAST at SeaWorld!! I got to pet dolphins, I cried at a few of the shows (I am way overly emotional when I am excited), we laughed, I rode a ride – all in all, it was so much fun.

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Favorite Sunset shot: Sunsetting over the ocean as we took the ferry back from Coronado. Gorgeous.

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Favorite Historic Moment: Josh and I rode on the world’s oldest wooden roller coaster at Mission Beach. A little clanky, but so. much. fun.

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Favorite food on vacation: Ceviche and fish tacos. We ate our weight in them. Oh and Iced teas. YUM!

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Favorite Concert: Ahhhhh, you guys, seriously. The Jason Mraz concert was one of the top 10 favorite moments in my LIFE. The music, the theater, the energy, the songs …. I was a little nervous I would pass out before I could enjoy it all. Music speaks to me like no other creative force and great music (especially acoustic music for me) is such a raw, beautiful place. Love.

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my super excited face.

my super excited face.

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Favorite Challenge: Josh and I decided to take a 14-mile guided bike tour all around Coronado and I have to admit, I was a little (okay a lot) nervous going into it! We were the only two signed up for that time slot and had a great guide who we could pedal and chat with. It ended up being a breeze to accomplish and we got to see the island from all angles. Such a blast!

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Yes, we wore helmets. They are just not pictured here. :)

Favorite New Treat: Lemon Basil gelato for the win.

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Favorite Get-Together: The Minnesota State Fair of course! Check out some of my favorite pictures from the night.

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Me and my Mom :)

Me and my Mom :)

Me and my Sis

Me and my Sis

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Love my girlfriends!

Favorite Views: The beaches and cliffs in La Jolla were just gorgeous. None of these pictures will do them any justice!

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Favorite Summer Finale: Pretty Little Liars anyone? Oh my goodness! Anyone with a good theory, let me know immediately.

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One of the only clues I caught - totally not the right hair!

One of the only clues I caught – totally not the right hair!

Me the last 3 minutes.

Me the last 3 minutes.

Favorite Back to School Photo: Why it’s Cali of course! Who remembers always wearing the wrong type of clothing the first day? I swear I always wanted to wear my new fall clothes and sweat my face off the first day. Cali is no exception with her GAP hoodie. :)

Waiting patiently for the school bus.

Waiting patiently for the school bus.

Favorite Birthday Celebrations: I had so much fun celebrating my birthday this year! Thanks to everyone who made it SO special. There are no words.

My adorable nieces made me painted birdhouses. So cute!

My adorable nieces made me painted birdhouses. So cute! Thanks to my mother-in-law for hosting a great dinner party for me!

Josh decorated my car for me - and my birthday selfie was bombed with Cali. Ah, real life.

Josh decorated my car for me hence the balloon – and my birthday selfie was bombed with Cali kisses. Ah, real life.

My mom handcrafted 3 of my favorite mini desserts in little shotglasses. These look so much bigger than they really were. :)

My mom handcrafted 3 of my favorite mini desserts in little shotglasses. These look so much bigger than they really were. :)

My girlfriends took me out for dinner and spoiled me rotten. I am so blessed.

My girlfriends took me out for dinner and spoiled me rotten. I am so blessed.

I got so many great gifts, but I especially love this necklace my cousin Brittany got me. The bar has the roman numerals on there for

I got so many great gifts, but I especially love this necklace my cousin Brittany got me. The bar has the roman numerals on there for Josh’s and my anniversary. Love!

No funnies this week (whomp whomp), but don’t worry, all will be back to normal next week. Thanks for reading and letting me document my life on here! XO!

Elevator selfie!

Elevator selfie!