friday favorites – august 15.

Happy Friday friends! Does summer seem to be flying by for anyone else? Granted, I love so many things about fall, but as a Minnesotan, I savor every drop of summer I can! If anyone participates in the #FridayIntroductions on instagram with @jessaconnolly and @thetinytwig, you would have seen that last week’s question prompt was asking ‘what are you looking forward to about fall?’. This question made me excited to answer as my brain started spinning about the upcoming ROUTINE that would soon be established, the scarves and boots and sweaters to be pulled out, the pumpkin spice lattes and apple ciders to be consumed and the apple scented EVERYTHING to be set up around my house. I love the freedom and flexibility that summer offers, but I am also ready to get settled into new fall Bible studies and patterns. So I will continue to enjoy these last few summer days while they last, knowing that good things are ahead as well.

Ok, let’s jump into Friday Favorites!

Favorite Crop: My mother-in-law has a garden at our family cabin and the zucchini plants are going nuts! We were sent home this weekend with these beauties and have enjoyed zucchini noodles, zucchini breads, zucchini sautés, zucchini soups and many other zucchini snacks. Delish! (And yes, I managed to find a great gluten, dairy and sugar free zucchini bread recipe – I still want to tweak the recipe a bit before I share, but according to my sister, it was one of the “best things she’s eaten in a long time.” The drama runs thick in our family folks.)

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The fork is there for size comparison … yes, they are HUGE!

Favorite Meal: Can you go wrong with kebobs in the summer? When asking for chicken recipes, one reader suggested kebobs and it has sounded so yummy ever since. We threw some chicken and steak on skewers, added tons of fresh veggies on others and even diced up a pineapple too. The overall flavor created in 15-20 minutes on a hot grill was perfection. This is what summers are all about!

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Favorite Things I’m Looking Forward to: Um, is it childish to say my birthday? The big day is next Tuesday, the 19th, and I just love everything that has to do with birthdays. I love the parties, the celebrations, the excuse to get together with friends and family, the note that fill my mailbox, the affirmative words that are given over Facebook and Instagram … it has nothing to do with presents and everything to do with feeling so loved. So I get to celebrate turning 29 and spending it with people I care deeply about. WIN!

Oh yea, and there’s this little trip to San Diego we are taking soon too that is making my heart beat faster and my smile spread bigger. I can’t wait!

Favorite Surprise: My dear friends Marilyn and Danielle showered me with surprise love this week. I was so thankful for their kind thinking-of-you gifts and encouraging words that filled the cards. Check out my new Alex and Ani anchor bracelet – inspired by Hebrews 6:18-19 “… So we who have found safety with Him are greatly encouraged to hold firmly to the hope placed before us. We have this hope as an anchor for our lives…”

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Plus all these fun goodies!

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A notebook? Tea? Colored pencils? Hair ties that sparkle? These girls know me well. I am so blessed!

Favorite Photo: A tie – it’s either this one of Cali and her auntie Bella, who both were waiting for the chipmunks to appear at the cabin this weekend (“Ummm, where are they?”) and this casual attempt at a selfie with Cali. Her face cracks me up – she CLEARLY has no interest in taking selfies with her mom. She is 8 after all.

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Favorite Award: I recently was nominated by three fellow bloggers for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award! Thank you Mel, Elisha and Alexandria for this nomination – you all inspire me and I feel thankful to be on the receiving end of this. You ladies are awesome and I’d nominate you back if it wasn’t counter productive!

Here’s how the award works:

1.Thank and link the amazing person(s) who nominated you. 

http://thereisahigherhope.blogspot.com/

http://waitingforbabybird.com/

http://inallthings828.wordpress.com/

2.List the rules and display the award.

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3. Share seven facts about yourself. I will make these quick facts for the sake of your reading time …

1) I am the oldest child of 2, separated by a little over 4 years from my younger sister Courtney. I am wired so consistently with oldest-child traits that it’s a little scary.

2) When I am stressing and driving, I find listening to the radio on ‘scan’ to be incredibly soothing. I have no idea why.

3) I prefer paper planners to electronic planners but have to keep up with both since my husband relies on our shared iPhone calendar. (But really, nothing beats the beauty and simplicity of paper and pen.)

4) If I had to chose any cheese in the world to be my favorite, it would be, without a doubt, feta. The delicious briney Greek kind. I literally could add feta to anything. If only it had no calories…

5) I still haven’t updated my iPhone software to iOS 7. It might have to do with my resistance to change. But because of that, I can’t update about half my apps or use FaceTime anymore. Oh well, I am perfectly happy with my little phone.

6) Daisies are my favorite flower. In the words of Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail “”They’re so friendly. Don’t you think that daisies are the friendliest flowers?” I wish my house could be filled with them.

7) As a child I dreamed about getting the chance to speak at large conferences. Every convention I went to, I sent up a prayer that someday, I could be that person making speaking and impact. Who knows what’s ahead for me – it’s still a giant passion!

And lastly, I get to nominate some others who have inspired me! Without further ado … meet Caroline, who’s faith and heart for the Lord inspires me daily (subscribe to her blog and receive awesome verse-of-the-week posts each Monday!), Charity – who trusts the Lord with such steadfastness that it makes my heart swell (and also bakes amazing cookies), Anna, a real-life friend who has seen her share of pain after losing her first born daughter and yet still shines with beautiful faith and authenticity, and Justine, who’s raw posts and words of hope, recovery and struggle lifts my spirits. Thanks ladies for being a light to all who cross paths with you. Keep writing and know I will keep reading! (Feel free to keep the award going by following the above steps and passing along the nomination love!)

Favorite Funnies:

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Have a great weekend friends!

lessons from robin williams’ death.

I, like many of you, was shocked and saddened to hear about the news of Robin Willliams’ death on Monday. Sudden deaths to me always feel surreal and being an empathetic, emotional person, losses are always accompanied with tears whether I “know” the person or not. I cry for the family, for the person, for those touched near and far. Death is never easy to deal with and in this case, it’s brought a few lessons to light for me this week.

1. Live a life that impacts those around you. As tweets, posts, statements and pictures flooded in, it was obvious that the world felt Robin’s loss heavily. In instances like this, I can’t help but wonder what kind of impact it would make on the world if I passed away. No, I don’t expect or want a worldwide hashtag trending, but I do hope to live a life where my absence would affect others in a meaningful way.

We had a close family friend pass away suddenly in April and as I attended his wake and read the steady flow of Facebook comments flood his page, it was obvious that people knew what kind of person he was, what he stood for, and who he believed in. His laughter was infectious, his smile was warm and his hugs were among the best. I remember telling one of his kids how blessed they were to have a father who left such a legacy. We have the chance every day to affect those around us in a positive way. We can choose to show grace and mercy to those who maybe don’t “deserve” it in our opinion. We can genuinely smile at someone who looks to be having a rough day. We can go out of our way to show kindness to those around us – encouraging them, bringing them meals in tough times, and offering hugs when there are no words. And most importantly, we can make it obvious who our Father is and allow Him to seep out of our pores, making it impossible for those around us to question His existence and presence in our lives.

2. Live life as if today is your last day, your last week, your last month, your last year. I hope and pray that you have a long, rich life full of laughter and memories and blessings. I hope and pray that if your life ends sooner than it should, that it is never at your own hand. I hope and pray that NONE of life’s circumstances alter the joy that you carry with you every day. But we know that a long happy and healthy life isn’t always realistic in a broken world and we are surrounded by sudden deaths daily.

At times I wish that I could just have a straightforward answer at what the rest of my life would look like. “You will have 1 child at age 34.” Or “You will never have children.” I feel like there could be so much freedom in simply being able to stop living life wondering what was ahead. But then I realize that NONE of my circumstances should affect my joy. So what if you found out today that you weren’t going to get a different job? You weren’t going to be able to sell your house for 2 more years and the budget would be tight for a little while longer? Wouldn’t there be joy and freedom in simply knowing that you don’t have to worry about it? Well guess what – we DON’T have to worry about it. We do what we can and then we let God handle the rest. His timing, not ours. He carries our burdens, but only when we have the ability to unclench our fists and allow Him to grab them from us. I’ve been guilty of crying out “God, take this burden from me, but let me hold on onto it so I maintain the control please.” So counterproductive.

So let’s embrace the mantra ‘Carpe diem’, seize the day. George Harrison says it best, ““It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.”

3. Mental Illness is real and like any other illness, it has to be dealt with. Anytime there is a suicide, it reminds me of how cruel mental illness is. While cancer might infect your bones or liver, mental illness infects your brain and the way you think and handle life. The good news is that with the help of modern day medicine, psychiatrists, and therapists, help is available and the use of medication can assist with the balance of the chemicals in your brain. Mental illness IS possible to treat. The sad thing is that there is such a stigma around it which prevents many people from ever getting help. But know that you are not alone in your struggle. If you are ever battling depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, please tell someone, even if the thought of that seems exhausting. While spirituality is a component in healing, it is not the only component. God is our Healer and He has given us amazing medical resources to help with healing, including medications. Please don’t ever feel like you are a bad Christian because of your struggle or ignore your battle hoping to pray it away. Mental illness is not your identity, just like infertility isn’t my identity. It may be something we struggle with but it does not define who we are. Seek help because life doesn’t have to end by your hands. You are too loved to let that happen.

4. Be kind and loving, you never know the battle someone else is facing. Hardships are real and we are in no place to judge or make assumptions about why someone is the way they are. I have never heard someone say at a funeral “Well, I was too kind to him.”, instead, people wish they had been kinder and softer with people. Take the time to lift others up, not tear them down. Life is too short and we never know what the other person’s day is like. Instead of trying to teach someone a lesson about driving too slow or serving your table at a snail’s pace, think that maybe, just maybe, the lesson you are meant to “teach” them is one of undeserved grace. I have a hard time believing that a dirty look, a minimal tip or hands being thrown up in the air is going to make any sort of positive impact on their life.

So Robin, know that your life has affected others around you. I am taking the time to reconsider how I am living my life as a result of your death. Your talent was beautiful to observe. Jumanji scared the heck out of me, Blubber made me laugh, Dead Poet’s Society made me think, Good Will Hunting challenged me, Mrs. Doubtfire made me giggle (and was the first movie my sister and I watched in my parent’s bed, which always made it extra special), Aladdin made me contemplate my life’s wishes and the list could continue. While I will never be in a movie, I hope to use my gifts to impact others positively as you did with yours. I’m so sorry you didn’t find the peace in this life that you were searching for.

Friends, let’s not let another death go by without using it to better our lives. Life is short and a gift, let’s embrace it for all it’s worth.

randomness.

Welcome to the most random blog post. Today you will get an invitation into the questions and ramblings of my brain. Please don’t be scared.

– Why does Bruce Jenner have this awkward mullet-thing happening? Can someone let him know it just doesn’t look good?

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– Why did I waste time watching Bachelor in Paradise and why was it so amusing? It was like a drama filled train wreck that I couldn’t turn off. (In my defense, I worked on laundry while watching it so it was just “background noise”.) Robert getting attacked by fire ants made me laugh. Now that’s romantic.

I so wish this was a GIF.

I so wish this was a GIF.

– Why is it so easy to feel “stuck” sometimes? I had a few friends reach out to me yesterday in their own special ways and it was such a blessing. In a journey this long and slow, it’s easy to feel left behind at times. I get to stand back and wave as everyone struggles, finally succeeds, has a baby, starts working on #2, struggles, succeeds … lather, rinse, repeat. There are times I feel like everyone has forgotten that this is still really hard for me. After 5 and a half years, it almost feels like people are either completing forgetting about our struggles or just saying Oh poor Chelsea, still trying …. Doesn’t she know by now it’s probably not going to happen? Because it has been so long, do people just assume that it gets easier? More often than not lately, I have felt trapped by conversations about kids and mothering. Hi! Still here! No kids! Can we wind this convo down? It’s been a half hour since I could contribute something. Now, that sounds worse than I intend it to. I simply mean that as time goes by, it can at times feel like the sensitivity factor lessens. The time spent waiting doesn’t getting easier, it feels like a daily battle against time and dreams. Am I alone in ever feeling like this?

All of that said, I am still incredibly grateful to be stuck where I am. If nothing in my life every changed in regards to my fertility, I would still have the bomb.com kind of life. I don’t take those blessings for granted and strive to just keep praying for continued peace and reassurance that our hopes and prayers are not in vain.

– What to say when …. ? Being back at work has been busy, but fun. It’s great to see familiar faces, but every time I see some that I haven’t seen since last April, I get the question “So what have you been up to since you left!?” Well, I have enough common sense not to blurt out, “Well, let’s see. I have done 3 more IVF cycles, had another miscarriage, needed a D&C surgery, went under the knife for a laparoscopy and hysteroscopy surgery, gone gluten free, had to eliminate carbs and sugars from my diet, visit a acupuncturist weekly and oh yea, am still barren. How about you!?” But instead I mutter something about enjoying a slower pace or traveling or spending time with friends and family. Their look expresses that they don’t quite understand, but I figure it’s better than verbally vomiting on them. I promise, I am not lazy! How would you handle this? I think I just have to take one for the team and accept that I don’t need anyone’s validation on my life’s choices. Eh, still humbling.

– Does anyone have any good chicken recipes to share? Yes, something gluten and carb free preferably. I am feeling a little stuck in my meal planning rut and need to shake things up. Comment below please!

Until next time … XOXO!

 

friday favorites – july 18th.

Sometimes when I think about Friday Favorites, my brain does a little chant, kind of like the ones you hear at basketball games. It goes like this …

FRI-DAY FAVE-RITES (yes spelled wrong, that’s how my brain says it) – *clap, clap, clapclapclap*

FRI-DAY FAVE-RITES *clap, clap, clapclapclap*

You get the gist. Let’s dive in.

Favorite Moment: I am back to work! Well, part-time anyways. My role in covering a maternity leave has officially begun, a few weeks early but perfectly timed. I have the privilege of jumping into a new role at the hospital I used to work at and covering my friends job while she gets to cuddle at home with her new son Ty. (Congrats Danielle and Darren!) She is super organized so it’s made this week a breeze and I love being able to give her the gift of not worrying about her job duties while on maternity leave. It was a blast to see so many old friends and truthfully feels like I never left. I’m looking forward to the next 12 weeks!

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Favorite Thing I am Looking Forward To: San Diego! YEAH! Josh and I are taking a weekend trip to California next month and I am super excited to sneak away with my guy. We will be going to the opening night kick-off concert for Jason Mraz’s YES! tour in his hometown … awesome? I think so. If you have any MUST-SEE’S while in San Diego, send them over! We love trying new restaurants and experiencing new things. The countdown is on and I am getting gidddddy!

(Side note: Jason Mraz’s new cd came out this week… so if you haven’t already picked up your copy, do it!)

Favorite Quote: I have to choose to operate in the reassurance of God’s love, the remembrance of God’s grace and the reality of God’s power.” –Lysa Terkeurst-

Each day is comprised of a series of choices. I have found incredible power this week in actively CHOOSING to operate with the reassurance of God’s love, being grateful for the grace I have and remember that I serve a POWERFUL God. Making that choice is tough in some moments, but possible. Don’t doubt the strength you have. Steven Furtick says “Weakness is a good thing because it gives us an opportunity to use and see God’s strength.” I have definitely needed to tap into that this week and I am so grateful for His mighty hands.

Favorite Recipe: I have two of them! I can find it tough to incorporate more servings of vegetables in my diet each day and wanted to share two recipes I have used and loved this week.

The first is for oven roasted carrots. You can use any carrots (I love the multi-colored ones from Trader Joe’s). Feel free to peel them or wash them off and place them on a big sheet of foil. Drizzle them with some extra virgin olive oil and sea salt. Wrap them up tight into a sealed pouch (I roast about 4-5 per pouch) and bake them in the oven at 400º for about 45 minutes. (They may take 30 minutes if you use thin carrots or an hour+ if you use thick ones. But you can’t really mess this up. Just cook till they are tender.) Take them out and unwrap the foil. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar over them and pop them back in the oven, still unwrapped, for another 5-10 minutes. (If you like to use honey, whisk up equal parts of honey and balsamic and drizzle that over it instead. AMAZING!). Take them out and enjoy!

prepping my carrots.

prepping my carrots.

The second is for a simple and easy cucumber salad. I know many gardens are exploding with cucs this time of year and this is a favorite way for me to eat them.

Grab a cucumber (I use English cucumbers) and wash it off. Cut the cucumber in half and then slice the whole thing in thin quarter inch slices. (If you have a mandolin, feel free to use it. I just free hand mine.)  Toss them in a bowl, then grab an onion, quarter it and slice it into same-sized slices. (I used a  yellow onion, but a white or red one would be great too.) Throw that in with the cucumbers. Add crumbled feta and quartered un-pitted kalamata olives. Throw in a handful of fresh or dried dill, a good few gugs of white vinegar (maybe 1/4- 1/3 of a cup) and a few pinches of salt. Enjoy right away or throw it in the fridge to chill. Mine is good for almost a week and just gets better and better each day!

delish!

delish!

Favorite Book: I have been reading Steven Furtick’s newest book, Crash the Chatterbox, with my small group and am LOVING it. Reading it feels like therapy and it gives my highlighter a good cardio workout. If you struggle at all with the voices in your head – insecurity, fear, condemnation and discouragement, then this book is for you. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore or hit up Amazon pronto.

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Favorite Surprise: My friend Julie surprised me with 2 – yes – TWO – new Starbucks City Mugs for my collection this week! EEEKKKK! If you didn’t know, I collect Starbucks City Mugs from different countries and states and LOVE when people help me add to my collection. Canada and Banff now get to join their brothers and sisters in my cabinet! YEA!!! *dancing* (And then whenever I see or use them, I either think about a place I have traveled to and a memory I have made OR can pray for and give thanks for the person in my life who brought one back for me from their trip. I love it.)

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awful picture but you get the point. :)

awful  quality picture but you get the point. :)

Favorite Funnies: Time for your weekly smiles! :) Enjoy!

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Have a great weekend friends!

friday favorites – july 11.

Happy Friday! These summer weeks are flying by faster than ever. I am trying to keep my big girl panties on and not cry about it, but WAHHHH. SUMMER, STAY!!

Favorite Memory: A few things about me: I love playing games, being outside, listening to good music, having Cali nearby, and being with my favorite people. So imagine my joy when all these things merged last weekend. Josh, Cali, my sister Courtney and I packed up and walked over to a local park, set out our lawn blanket, shuffled the Phase 10 cards, cranked some Josh Garrels tunes and enjoyed an hour or two in the sun. A few afternoon rain sprinkles pushed us back home but it was one of my favorite parts of the week.

Favorite July Food: Cherries. Hands down. I’m addicted. I am thankful the cherry season is short because I have single-handedly gone through about 8 pounds of cherries in the last few weeks. No joke. I can’t control myself. My lips have a permanent stain to them and I have become an expert pit-spitter-outter. Oh cherries, you make me happy.

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Favorite Summer TV Show: Big Brother! Is anyone else watching? I always get sucked in every year and even though some of the new twists this season have me a little confused, I still loooooove to watch! Donny, a 42 year old groundskeeper who looks like he belongs on Duck Dynasty, is seriously my favorite. I find myself getting worked up over Devin (seriously, GO HOME!) and giggling at the Frankie/Zack bromance. Hilarious! Thank you CBS for giving me a good dose of summer reality tv.

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Favorite Celebration: Josh’s birthday! YAY! I can’t believe my husband is 32 already – not that it’s “old” by any means, but seriously, when did we all grow up?? I could yammer on about how fast time goes and how awesome Josh is (because, well, he is), but instead I just want to fast forward to the party details.

My family hosted an incredible party for Josh. He knew nothing but when to show up and I have to say, my mom’s creativity was at an all time high. (Who remembers the awesome book themed party she threw for me last year?) My hunter-hubby had a night filled with his favorite foods (like, pretty much all of them … the food was AMAZING – gluten free too nonetheless), favorite decorations, and lots and lots of laughs from start to finish. I just have to brag on my mom’s creativity (with my dad and sister’s help as well!) with pictures below. I loved how special and celebrated Josh felt. I LOVE BIRTHDAYS and its safe to say I got the love of them from my mom. :)

As we pulled up, we knew right where to park!

As we pulled up, we knew right where to park!

Check out this table setting!. SO perfect.

Check out this table setting!. SO perfect.

The details were the best part – the hand crafted napkin rings (white tail deer of course), the name cards, the coasters and bottled water … love.

Lots of sticks, birthday love, mineral rocks and even a little visiting deer.

Lots of sticks, birthday love, mineral rocks and even a little visiting deer.

Deer droppings, HAHA!

Deer droppings, HAHA!

I got up briefly and when I came back, someone stole my chair!

I got up briefly and when I came back, someone stole my chair!

...twice!

…twice!

Our birthday boy!

Our birthday boy!

Crab, alfredo scallops, deep dish pizzas, and bacon wrapped sausage ...

Crab, alfredo scallops, deep dish pizzas, and bacon wrapped sausage …

Grilled cheese and tomato soup, caesar salad with grilled shrimp, waffle fries and steaks....

Grilled cheese and tomato soup, caesar salad with grilled shrimp, waffle fries and steaks….

corn, peanut m&m's, cheesecake and homemade chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. *FULL*

corn, peanut m&m’s, cheesecake and homemade chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. *FULL*

And yes, we were full for a lonnngggg time after that.

Favorite Funnies: And last but not least! Enjoy!

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Have a great weekend friends!

 

google.

Fear is a nasty thing.

My baby dog Cali has been acting a little abnormal lately. It hasn’t been long, a week or two at best. An accident while she was sleeping, brushed off as she was sleeping too soundly and didn’t wake up in time. An increase in water intake, clearly from it being so hot outside. But then she got these sick, sad eyes and would look at me and I just knew in my mom gut something wasn’t right.

After another accident this weekend, I assumed the worst. (Naturally). So when you are worried, what’s the best thing to do?

Pray, call, make a doctor appointment, think positively and wait until your appointment.

Well, yes, that is the right thing. Unfortunately that’s not what I did. I turned to Google. (Never a good idea).

What I learned was that Cali likely has diabetes or Cushing’s Disease. So I continued to “research”, staying up on my phone till 3:00 am, reading article after article about what this means for her life span and quality of life, while letting my brain race.

The next day, the day the vet was of course closed, I couldn’t shake the anxiety in my stomach that I was going to lose Cali. Of course her dying was the natural thing to assume. Could I hold her while she was put to sleep? Would I survive it? What was wrong with her?

All of my worries ran through my mind like a fire in Colorado, one that couldn’t be put out. I felt physically sick to my stomach. It started in my tummy, like a burning rock that made me want to throw up. Then it spread up to my diaphragm, like hot lava spreading up to my heart, which ached, then up my throat, sitting there like a form of acid. The anxiety of losing my furbaby, the one who has been by my side for 8 years and licked my tears and cuddling against my barren stomach was too much for me to process.

I KNEW better than to let myself go. I recited all the verses I knew about worry and anxiety and trusting God. In fact, I actually begin to think that God was going to take Cali from me as some sort of test of my faith (because I haven’t been through enough) and all day I plead with God, trying to convince Him that I was strong enough without this test of faith.

I was stumped. How could I be praying, reading scripture, and yet so physically ill from the anxiety? Wasn’t the peace of God supposed to take away this pit in my stomach? What was I doing wrong? I had faith that God could heal Cali, but was assuming He wasn’t. I was being honest to Him with my emotions, scribbling down in my journal I’m so scared today Lord. I know you know how much I love Cali and I am terrified that I am going to lose her. I know I would survive but the thought of having to go through that pain paralyzes me and makes me anxious. God, you are a healer and I pray for healing for Cali and Lord, you also are a comforter and I pray that you comfort my heart and calm my anxious thoughts, surrounding them with your peace.

And still the anxiety grew. I couldn’t eat dinner. I couldn’t disengage from the fear. I read Steven Furtick’s words about fear – “…if left alone, it (fear) tends to compound, spread and destroy. Little fears can cohabitate and combine to form levels of anxiety and terror that will annihilate our awareness of the presence of God….therefore, our approach to dealing with fear cannot be passive. Because fear doesn’t evaporate. It must be evicted.”

I was letting the fear destroy me, trusting God but trusting Google more. I was engaging the fear by just looking up “one more thing”. It was awful. I was expecting the fear to evaporate instead of being proactive to just STOP playing the “what-if’s” in my head and setting the phone down. Josh eventually was able to pry the phone from my hands (which resulted in me missing lots of texts, sorry for my abrupt absence to those texting). And then I just had to wait.

Josh prayed for Cali and I and that made me feel better. I took a sleeping pill (the only logical thing to do to stop the voices) and made an appointment for the first thing this morning.

I teared up as I brought Cali to the car, for some reason terrified that they wouldn’t give her back to me if something was wrong. Lord please, any other sacrifice …

(Side note – isn’t it funny how dramatic our brains can be when in FEAR MODE? Logic makes no sense, even typing this now I am wondering how I let myself get so out of control. But that voice just fed on itself and unfortunately, I let it.)

I talked to the vet, spilling out my concerns … a few accidents, maybe drinking more or maybe just hot, sad eyes that have nothing to do with the fireworks, I think … I just know … diabetes? Dying? The look of empathy he gave me was calming, Is she eating normally? (yes) Is she showing a lack of interest in everything? (no, I had to tear her away from her toys to get her into the car this morning) Is her belly bloated? (No) The questions continued and I realized my Google research lead me astray a bit. They brought her back and took a urine sample (poor little pup and the catheter) and some blood work. While we waited Cali demonstrated her tricks for the techs (balancing and high fives and rolling and spinning in a circle and such) – all clearly evidence that she was on her last leg, right? Sigh.

Well, the results are in. She doesn’t have diabetes or Cushing’s Disease. She has a slight UTI and low estrogen (like her mom, go figure), which is causing slight incontinence. Are you sure she isn’t dying??? (“She has some of the best blood work and urine results we have seen, she is extremely healthy and has a long life ahead of her.”) And no diabetes? (“Not a trace.”). And so we were off, with antibiotics in hand and a low-dose estrogen that she will take twice a day for the rest of her long life.

That was a lot of worry for nothing. And how I wish I could have told my yesterday-self that it would all work out like this. SHE WILL BE FINE. Stop the voice. But I just couldn’t build up enough strength to trust God and stop my racing mind. I wish there was a “Peace of God” pill, but there isn’t. I know next time to stay off of Google  – to EVICT the fear by stopping my thoughts. By running the other way and to NOT play out all of the what-if’s before they come true. I wish I could say next time an anxiety attack like this hits, that I can say I will have it under control, but it’s so hard.

“Jesus stood up and commanded the wind, “Be quiet!” and he said to the waves, “Be still!” The wind died down, and there was a great calm. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Why are you frightened? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:39-40 GNT)

When I read these verses today, I couldn’t help but feel God was speaking directly to me – Chelsea, why are you so frightened? Do you still not believe that I have things under control? That you can trust me? That you have nothing to fear because you always will have my protection over you? Trust me, regardless of the outcomes.

What a struggle this is! One I will continue to work on. I wish I was better at trusting. It’s a muscle that I need to continue to work on and I know that in order to work on it, I need to face situations in my life that require trust. It’s scary, but not as scary as the what-if’s. He’s got my back.

In the meantime, send us good luck wishes as we attempt to get a very stubborn little dog to take her antibiotics twice a day. And send Josh well wishes as he now has to live with two hormonally-imbalanced ladies. HA! :)

My sweet little puppy-cannoli.

My sweet little hormone imbalanced puppy-cannoli.

friday favorites – july 4.

Happy 4th of July! For my USA friends, I hope you have fun plans ahead to celebrate Independence Day. Judging by the sounds of the 9:45 am fireworks going off, it’s safe to say our neighbors are starting the celebrations early, much to Cali’s dismay. Have fun and be safe today people!

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Now without further adieu, Friday Favorites! Let’s jump right in.

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Favorite Moment:

Josh and I got to celebrate our 9 year anniversary this last Wednesday and I felt so incredibly surrounded by love the whole day. Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us through a comment, like, message or text as well! Josh surprised me by coming home early from work that day and surprised me by having my wedding dress cleaned and preserved. (It was one of those things I never did and completely forgot about, so I was really surprised! It looks beautiful all cleaned up!) We enjoyed a great dinner out downtown and laughed and played cards. Yes, cards. We are semi-addicted to Golf and Phase 10 and like the old married couple we are, shuffled our way through the evening. It was perfect!

A quick little picture before dinner ….

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And then we noticed Cali’s tail, since she was obviously trying to get in to the picture. But 19 tries later, it was clear that she really didn’t wanted to LOOK at the camera, just be in the way. Oh well, we tried!

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Favorite Local Find:

My friend introduced me to a new restaurant in the Twin Cities called Yum Kitchen and Bakery and it was delicious! We worked up an appetite walking over there from her house and enjoyed their signature iced tea (AMAZING) and mahi mahi fish tacos. Oh, and we shared some fries – they are a MUST there! If you are in the Twin Cities, head on over and give them a try. They have a small gluten free menu as well, making it a win-win!

 

Favorite Photo Taken:

There was a sunset last weekend that took my breath away. I love that we can see views like this from our front porch. Beautiful!

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Favorite Quote:

Do not grieve Him by doubting His love.”

I read this in my devotional earlier today and LOVED it. I know that sometimes, when answered prayers seem ages away, and we assume that the delays we are experiencing are denials, it just don’t feel like He loves us. We can turn our wish list into a sign that He loves us (or doesn’t) and when life falls short of our expectations, we can begin to doubt Him. I loved the word grieve in the quote above … Do not grieve Him… If Josh ever began to express to me that he doubted my love, it would make me SO sad. I would constantly be trying to tell him and show him that I love him. It would be even more hurtful and heartbreaking if he continued to doubt my love even after I did everything I could to make it abundantly clear to him that I loved him. Thinking about God in this way was a great reminder to me this morning. Every minute I breathe, He is showing His love for me. Questioning that only breaks His heart. God’s character isn’t that of delay, but of perfect love and timing and is OUTSIDE of any circumstances or situations I encounter.

Favorite Find:

Yea, okay, so “Favorite Find” isn’t necessarily a great section, but I really just need an excuse to share this hoodie I found for Cali at a thrift shop yesterday.

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HA! She’s a little Gap girl. How stinking cute is that!? Clearly she isn’t as thrilled as me, but come on … pure adorable-ness going on right there.

Favorite Product:

My friend Karen sent me a little sample of Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion in the shade sin and oh my goodness, this is my new favorite make-up product. I am squeezing out the last little bit of my sample and putting this on my birthday list for sure. Who knew that eyeshadow primer really worked??? LOVE.

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Favorite Funnies:

And of course ….

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(No really, this is scary stuff.)

(No really, this is scary stuff.)

Alright, now off your phones or computers and go enjoy your day! To all the dog owners out there who’s dogs are terrified of fireworks – good luck tonight … we WILL get through this weekend! (This is Cali’s LEAST favorite holiday of all times ….) Happy 4th of July!

Who knew a patriotic photo shoot would be so exhausting!? HA!

Who knew a patriotic photo shoot would be so exhausting!? HA!

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Well, we have made it through all of the calendar landmines for 2014. We just cleared Frostie’s due date (our last frozen embryo we transferred last fall) and I feel relieved to be past all 4 of the “I should be in labor right now …” days. I know that I will always carry those due dates on my heart. There will always be days in January, April, June, and September that are carved into my soul with love for my babies that should have been. As I reflect back on so many emotions of the last 5+ years, I realize that infertility is incredibly complex, making me have days and moments where I feel like there are 18 different Chelsea’s crammed into one body.

I am here to let you know that if there are moments you feel like your world is caving in and you just don’t know if you can keep going, you are normal.

If you have moments where you feel like the sun is shining extraordinary bright and your heart has nothing but hope in it, you are normal.

If you have moments where you burst into tears for no reason at all, you are normal.

If you have moments where your heart aches with a physical pain and you are concerned that you actually may be having a heart attack because it hurts that bad, you are normal.

If you have moments where you are so grateful for your spouse and what you have that you can’t wipe the smile off your face, you are normal.

If you have moments where you pat your hormone induced belly bloat and talk to a fake baby bump, you are normal. (Also normal, pushing out your stomach and taking selfies to see what you will look like when you actually are pregnant.)

If you have moments where you contemplate knocking over a smoking pregnant woman and screaming at her about how stupid she is, you are normal.

If you have moments where you find yourself wandering the baby aisles at Target, softly petting the ‘I love Mommy’ onsies, wondering if you will ever be able to buy it for yourself, you are normal.

If you have moments where you enjoy your freedom to go out to a movie on a whim with your husband and are secretly grateful for that flexibility, you are normal.

If you have moments where you go on a ‘you are pregnant, therefore hidden’ binge on Facebook and erase the physical reminders that all 319 friends of yours are pregnant, you are normal.

If you have moments where you cry with happiness because a friend shares with you that she is expecting, you are normal. (Also normal, crying in the bathroom later because you guys were supposed to be pregnant together.)

If you have moments where you feel completely content with your trial and embrace each day with strength and joy, you are normal.

If you have moments where you hear phantom crying in the middle of the night for the infant you wish was beside the bed, you are normal.

If you cringe when a pregnant woman complains about how fat she is getting, you are normal.

If you roll your eyes every time you have to buy ANOTHER bottle of prenatal vitamins, you are normal.

If you get excited about ovulation tests, raised body temps and cervical mucus, you are normal.

If you hate everything about ovulation tests, body temping and analyzing your cervical mucus, you are normal.

If you get anxiety when your angel baby’s “birthday” comes around, you are normal.

If you want to quit this journey and start traveling and living life, you are normal.

If you can’t stop thinking about the “what if’s” all day, you are normal.

If you don’t think about infertility for a clump of time, you are normal.

If you hate that your sex occasionally has to be timed and that you need to lay with your legs in the air for 15 minutes after, you are normal.

If you find yourself getting excited about a new vitamin, supplement, cream, herb, or technique, you are normal.

If you feel like you just can’t turn off your brain, you are normal.

If you are suddenly and overwhelmingly comforted by God’s peace in your darkest moments, you are normal.

If there are days where God seems so far away and you have no idea if He hears your prayers, you are normal.

If you wonder WHY WHY WHY WHY on a regular basis, you are normal.

If you get excited when you think about the opportunity to make this misery into a ministry, you are normal.

If you cling to the reminder that God won’t waste a hurt, you are normal.

If you feel like no one understands you, you are normal.

The truth is, there is no right or wrong way to feel when you are struggling with infertility. Every day is a new day, new emotions surging through you and new triggers that stand in your way. I am doing my best each day to keep things in perspective, reminding myself that it could be worse and be thankful for the opportunity to strength my faith, grow as a woman and with Josh as a couple, and feed on the faithfulness of God. But I also have my moments where I want to pick up the towel and throw it in, declaring myself officially barren and binging on spa trips and new clothes.

So, where does that leave us? Well, our western medicine interventions are still on hold. I have been going back to acupuncture weekly and getting sessions, along with cupping for my back pain. My back pain is thankfully more mild than severe and the sessions seem to be helping, and for that I am grateful. I haven’t been back to the naturopathic doctor in a while and feel peace about that decision. I learned a lot from him though and still regularly take my daily vitamins and supplements. (For those who are interested, I take a prenatal vitamin, Vitamin D3 and C, Magnesium Glycinate, Vitex Fruit, Maca Root, Vessel Care, COQ10 and a baby aspirin daily). My cycles since my April surgery haven’t been awesome. I had a 49 day cycle the month of my laparoscopy, which I know can be normal. This last cycle I didn’t ovulate and I induced a period using natural progesterone cream, resulting in a 45 day cycle. We are adding in herbs this cycle, mixing in 5 teaspoons of this unique mixture into hot water and chugging it twice a day and I am hoping that this brings positive change.

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I have been doing castor oil packs on my back and will now start doing abdominal ones leading up to ovulation. I have heard good things about that and have tried it in the past and found it relaxing. I would really like to be more consistent with it though. I aim to improve my health this summer, hoping losing some weight and getting back on track with my low carb/sugar diet. I have no clue what the future holds and just continue to pray that God would make a new path incredibility obvious for us. All in all, I know that this rests in hands much larger than mine. I will be hopping back into the working world soon, covering a maternity leave at the hospital I used to work at and am excited for that change in routine (and am grateful its only 12 weeks). One day at a time right? I will do my best to continue to keep you updated. I have a blog on infertility; I should share my own story more often, right?

Thanks for continuing to coat our journey in your prayers and cares. It means so much to us. As time goes on, I know this trial can start to feel so routine, yet it’s a real hurt on our hearts every day. It never gets easier on our hearts. We learn to cope better, adjusting our perspective or embracing how we are being stretched, but the pain is still raw and real. At the end of the day, we KNOW that God will continue to use this for good and that because of Jesus, there is no worst case scenario for us.

See you Friday for Friday Favorites! :)

friday favorites – june 27.

Happy Friday friends! I am not really sure how these summer days are going by so quickly. I didn’t even get a chance to blog during the week this week. *Gulp* But I have written some great posts in my head in bed around midnight a few nights, so that’s gotta count for something, right? :) Well, without further delay, here are this week’s Friday Favorites!

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Favorite Moment: Seriously, this one will sound silly, because I have A LOT of great moments from this last week, but it’s a simple one. Last night my sis and I headed down to Marketfest, a local little town get together a few cities over, and we sat and watched a high school drum line perform. It seriously was the most adorable thing and I couldn’t stop smiling for so many reasons.

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They were very serious about their performance, and seeing 14-year olds trying to play stoically and stone faced made me giggle. I loved the simple nature of the introductions of each member and Courtney and I joined in loudly cheering for the few kids who clearly had no support in the audience. You could tell it made them feel cool and that was adorable. They were talented! I mean, I am no drum-liner, but it sounded good and their pride in their performance (as well as a few nerves) was literally almost too much for my heart to watch. I live for these adorable moments. I know this all sounds dramatic (welcome to my life), but I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.

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(And because it’s hard to just pick one, another Favorite Moment was an awesome date night I had with Josh early this week. We laughed, enjoyed some freebies and made the most of a Wednesday night. Yay!)

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Boo bad lighting! But he sure is cute! :)

Favorite Song: Anyone remember Alex and Sierra from X-Factor? I loved this duo on the show (an acoustic-y pop Sonny and Cher) and they just released their new single this week, Scarecrow. It’s such a catchy number and I have found myself dancing around singing to it a time or two (or three…) this week. A fun summer tune plus a super cute music video made using puppets.

Favorite Quote or Verse: Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” –John 14:13-14

When I ran across this verse earlier this week, I couldn’t help but think JACKPOT! It’s one of those verses that can suddenly make Jesus seem like a magic genie and turn hopeful expectations into a no-brainer that things will magically and suddenly go my way. I mean, I’m asking, He’s promising, it’s a great arrangement. Right?

Well, I quickly was convicted on this way of thinking and as I kept reading it over and over and over again, I begin to think about why Jesus said this. Jesus was willing to act so that the Father may be glorified. He was willing to do what was asked of Him (in His name) for that one reason. As I kept praying, I realized that to be like Christ, I would have to have the same willingness and intentions as Him in this. My prayer back to God looked something like this: Lord, whatever you ask of me, I will do it, that the Father and the Son may be glorified. If you are asking anything of me, in your name, I will do it. It’s a mighty big prayer to pray but a lesson and a verse that deeply touched my soul and heart this week.

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Favorite Photo(s): I got to spend some fun quality time with Josh and my parent-in-laws on Saturday morning at the golf course and love the shot I got of him hitting off of the first hole into the cool morning fog.

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Yes, the 5:45 am alarm wake-up call was a little early for me, but once we were out on the course, I had a blast watching the family golf, snapping pictures and riding along in the cart with my book. I am not a golfer, but managed to try to hit a ball.

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Unfortunately what this photo doesn’t show is the ball rolling to the left about 5 feet away … well, I tried. :)

AND it was my in-laws 39th anniversary too - how cute are they!?

AND it was my in-laws 39th anniversary that day too – how cute are they!?

Favorite New Local Find: A friend of mine, Kara, told me about a local coffee shop that she thought I would love and of course I just had to go check it out! It’s called J. Arthur’s Coffee in Roseville, MN and it was an adorable place. I met my sweet friend Erica there and while the inside ambiance is amazing (picture rustic tables with individual lamps, big comfy chairs, wide open windows and deep, rich wood colors), we both decided to embrace the warm, sunny day and sit on the patio. The lattes were yummy (chai and vanilla), the conversation full of laughter and sincerity and we managed to chat away for 2 and a half hours while working on our tans. A win-win, right? If you are in the area, check it out!

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(Side note – can I just brag on this young lady? Erica just graduated from high school this year and I am always richly blessed when I get to spend time with an amazing teenager like herself! It’s tough world out there and she is conquering it with grace, integrity and a foundation rooted in the Lord. Adore her!)

Favorite Thing I’m Looking Forward To: Our anniversary! Josh and I are celebrating 9-years together as a married couple next week on the 2nd. I love being married to this man EVERY day, but there is something extra special about anniversaries. Like any marriage, there have been up’s and down’s and it takes time, effort, prayers and mutual investment to make it flourish and I can’t imagine doing that with anyone else. He still makes my heart go pitter-patter and my sides ache from laughing. Love you honey! Happy early anniversary!

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Favorite Funnies: And now, my personal favorites ….

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That’s all for the week! Enjoy your weekend! Do something kind for someone else, offer grace to someone who maybe doesn’t deserve it and force yourself to smile when you least feel like it. XOXO!

 

friday favorites – june 20.

Time for another posting of Friday Favorites! Without further delay, let’s jump right in.

Favorite Moment: My dog Cali has desperately needed a haircut for about a month and I put off scheduling it too long apparently because when I called, her groomer was booked out several weeks. GASP. Poor Cali has been so hot outside and we have been waiting for her appointment at the end of June to arrive when suddenly – ring ring – the groomer call with a last minute cancellation. Hurray! So thankfully I got to bring Cali in over a week early. *insert heavenly choir singing here*

I didn’t tell Josh about the cancellation and Cali got to surprise him with her fancy new do when he got home from work. (Hey, we don’t have kids, these are the things we get excited about.) I may be biased but I seriously think we have the cutest dog in the world.

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She feels like a velvety teddy bear and smells like lavender and sunshine.

Favorite Thing I Own: Hands down, my new mug from my friend Tiffany. I have to be honest with you folks, I am ub-sessed with Harry Potter. Love. (I just removed several examples from this paragraph upon edit – you’re welcome.) Anyways, my friend Tiff has an equal love for all things Potter and recently made a trip down to Disney to check out The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios. *Chelsea faints at the idea* Long story made short to avoid unnecessary tears from the author – Tiffany surprised me with this new mug that arrived to my house earlier this week, in the original bag from the purchase. How cool am I now?? A gigantic THANK YOU to my friend – people like us have to stick together – and another gigantic THANK YOU to my friends who don’t understand this obsession and still choose to be my friend.

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Favorite Quote: “So often we simply neglect to look for the answers to what we have asked, which shows the lack of earnestness in our petitions.” -Charles H. Spurgeon-

I can be SO guilty of this at times. It is much easier to ask “why why why” and bemoan a situation rather than roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty searching for answers. If you have followed my blog long enough, or know me at all, it shouldn’t surprise you that for me, these answers come from reading God’s Word (the Bible). I don’t want to be a question asker – I want to me an answer seeker!

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Favorite New Recipe: I have tried a few new recipes this last week but this one for Pineapple Salsa was a real winner! I served it with fish tacos and tortilla chips earlier in the week, then whipped up another batch for my ladies small group last night. It went FAST both times – enjoy!

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2 cups finely diced fresh pineapple (this was about a whole one for me)

1 cup diced red pepper

½ cup chopped cilantro

¼ cup finely chopped red onion

2-3 tbsp finely chopped jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded (I would start with less and build up to the heat you like.)

1 clove garlic, minced

Juice of 1 large lime

Salt, to taste.

Combine everything, stir well. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Enjoy!

Favorite Celebration: Father’s Day! I probably could dive much deeper into this whole topic with the spirit of infertility in mind, but I don’t have the words to do so this year. However I do want to celebrate the dads in my life and Josh.

My dad Tim has blessed our family with his patience, his humor and his unconditional love for as long as I have been around. He loves both of his daughters so much and has been the best dad. He always starts off the day with a text, checking in to see how I am and is always there for me in any and every way. He’s taught me important lessons like “when you are driving, don’t ever swerve for a bird, they will fly away” and the importance of making a good cup of French press coffee.  I loved being able to spend the day with him and my family after 6 years of living in a different state as them. He is worth celebrating every day – love you a ton Dad!

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My father-in-law Chet has been the kind of in-law that people pray for and rarely get. He is such a pillar of strength in the family and someone that my husband (and I) has always looked up to and learned from in so many ways. He welcomed me into the family almost a decade ago with so much love (and way too many “humorous” tricks) and I am forever grateful for that. He has taught me how to catch the BIG fish out on the lake and how to make up Chuck Norris jokes on the fly. I am so thankful to have him as another dad and appreciate and love him so much.

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And lastly Josh – what can I say about him? First of all, on behalf of Cali, he really is the best furdad ever. He has so much love for our little pup. For some reason Cali chooses to sleep on his pillow every night and he lets her, humbly accepting the 2 inches of feathers she allows him. He plays with her when he is tired and chases her when she wants to be chased. She is his outside lawn-care buddy and she loves him so much her tail nearly snaps off every time so sees him. He is the best.

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He also is the best to-be dad, the dad of angel babies and dreams. He spent his Father’s Day morning volunteering in our church parking lot despite the fact that in doing so, he would be reminded for 5 hours that this was a day to celebrate dads and their children. I asked him if he wanted to get someone to switch with him and he said “nah, the subs would just be dads and I would rather let them be with their kids.” His strength is amazing. I avoid church on days like that and there he is, someone strongly desiring to be a dad, welcoming in dads with a smile. He’s my hero.

A special thank you to those who remembered him on that day. Josh was able to be celebrated by family and friends with cards and words for the doggy dad he is, for the dad he will be one day, God willing, and for the role that he plays in the lives of our nieces. He felt so loved and special and as a wife, that was the best feeling. Thank you to everyone who cared and reached out.

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Favorite Message: Our church had a message last week called More Than Happy – Joy in the Struggle, and it was hands down, one of the best messages I have heard in a long time – like, it wins for favorite message easily this year and last year. Loved it. I strongly encourage you to either download it on iTunes or take a few minutes to watch this 28-minute video.

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Video Link: http://eaglebrookchurch.com/media-resources/weekend-messages/joy-in-struggle/

Favorite Funnies: And saving the best for last ….

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Have a great weekend friends!