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!

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

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

excitedmaya

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 ….

IMG_1417

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!

IMG_1353

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!

IMG_1164

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.

IMG_1411

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.

sin primer

Favorite Funnies:

And of course ….

IMG_1311

IMG_1310

IMG_1309

IMG_1308

IMG_1306

IMG_1304

IMG_1301

IMG_1300

IMG_1295

IMG_1293

IMG_1294

 

IMG_1280

 

(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!

normal.

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.

IMG_1219

 

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 13.

Whooo hooo! It’s time for this week’s edition of Friday Favorites? Who’s excited?

IMG_0354

Let’s jump right in.

Favorite Moment:

My favorite moments this week were centered around friendships. I had so many great conversations (and food) with special people in my life this week. Crispy buffalo wings and saucy fingers while Josh and I sat across from Andrea and Ricky, chattering away summer plans, weddings and hunting (you can probably guess who was having which conversation.) Fish tacos in the sun on a beautiful afternoon in Uptown with Alicia, sipping Chamomile Mint iced tea and chatting about life and its ever so present highs and lows. A few days later, creamy cashew chicken salad served out of a pineapple with Sarena, words pouring out of our mouths about how God is moving and working in our lives. Then at a kitchen island with Jana, a Starbucks in hand, a candle burning on the stove and a 5 year old Chloe carefully applying her Hello Kitty lipgloss next to me. As I sat across from Jana, my soul was refreshed as we processed life, challenging one another and laughing as we carefully applied polish to our fingernails. Authentic relationships can be hard to come by and it was in each of these moments where I realized how grateful I am to have such beautiful relationships in my life. People I can laugh with, cry with, vent and be honest with. These moments are so very special.

Favorite Product:

A few months back I got a sample of Dr. Jart+ BB Beauty Balm Cream in my Birchbox and fell in love with it. I went out to Sephora and bought the full-size tube of it and have used it every day since then. It’s a little pricey (I got the kind with the sunscreen) but I bought it in early March and it still has another good couple of months left to it, so well worth the money. I particularly love it during these summer months since it’s light weight and easy. (And if you ever are interested in getting in on the Birchbox fun, let me know and I will send you an invite so you can skip the wait!)

IMG_0533

Favorite Photo Taken:

This picture was just captured earlier today at the start of an outside dance party. In my books, when a good song comes out, you drop whatever you are doing (in our case, making a play-doh spider) and move to the rhythm. (Plus their adorable outfits just make this auntie smile!)

Processed with VSCOcam with s5 preset

 

Favorite Project Completed:

Do you ever have those projects that just loom over your head? The ones you keep putting off and that when enough time passes, you begin to rationalize that doesn’t need to be done anymore? (I’m raising my hand.) For me it was boxes in my basement. A mixed assortment of unpacked boxes from our move (3 and a half years ago …) and a collection of junk that has grown and grown and grown. Well, enough was enough! My amazing sister came over early on her day off and we tackled the boxes. We ran bins and bags over to the Salvation Army, filled up the garbage can, and oooohed and ahhhhed over memories we ran across. Man, it feels SO good to be done! As I laid back in bed Tuesday night, I couldn’t help but think “why didn’t I do that sooner???” (And seriously, Courtney, thank you SO MUCH for helping me! You kept me focused and on track!)

Of course we found time to stop for an ever-important iced coffee at Starbucks! We may be sweaty but at least we are caffeinated.

Favorite Meal:

Easy! It was a gluten free sandwich that my sister and I shared midst our work on Tuesday. We ran down to St. Paul to use a Groupon to the Finnish Bistro (a favorite!) and met this yummy combination of flavors. It was an open-faced slow braised pork sandwich that was topped with sautéed cabbage and onions, melted Swiss Cheese and a creamy Thousand Island dressing. It was drool worthy and I wish I had a picture! We ate it was too fast for that though.

Favorite Funnies:

Okay, this totally is going to be a favorite section to do. So many giggles!

IMG_7500

IMG_9503

IMG_7749

IMG_8939

IMG_7529

IMG_7488

IMG_9502

IMG_8940

IMG_7530

IMG_1209

IMG_1241

IMG_1136

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Thanks for reading!

 

learning to say no.

Happy New Year! How many of you are trapped in the world of writing “2013” still and then ferociously scratching a 4 over the 3 and contemplating just starting over? I know I am! It always takes a while to get into the swing of the new year and the calm that follows the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Here in Minnesota we are still braving brutally cold temperatures and most schools were canceled the last day or two, which has extended some holiday breaks, but alas! It’s about to warm back up (aka above 0º) and we all will be fumbling our way back into our old routines.

As I begin 2014, I have been thinking a lot about the routines I tend to find myself in and what commitments are on my plate. If you know me, you know that I tend to be a “yes” person. Got something that needs to be done? I would LOVE to! (Shoot, I really don’t want to do that.) Oh you need this? Absolutely, I’m your girl! (Oh man, when am I going to fit that in?) It starts next week and you forgot to look for a leader? Of course I will lead that. (Nooooooooooo. I don’t have the time/ability/interest/desire/passion.) It actually is a really bad habit of mine, saying yes to everything I am asked to do,  because at the end of the day, I am left feeling depleted and unable to give my best to people who matter most – like my husband, family and friends.

A month or so ago, God began to stir in my heart that He wanted me to fine tune the art of being prayerful to consider what was asked of me. It made me scrunch up my nose, because the thought of saying “no” and disappointing someone felt uncomfortable. But I took the bait. Okay God, I will bring you opportunities and consult with you before saying yes or no. Just make it clear.

Around the same time, I read these powerful words in a book: “I realized then, that while there are many things that need to be done, things I am capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them. Even if I have a burden for a certain need or project, my interest or concern is not a surefire sign that I need to be in charge. God may only be calling me to pray that the right person will rise up to accomplish it. What’s more, I may be stealing someone else’s blessing when I assume I must do it all… It is a costly mistake, for often, when the Holy Spirit does ask something of me, I’m either knee deep in another project or too exhausted from my latest exercise in futility to do what God wants of me.” (Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World)

It was exactly what I needed to read to give myself permission to say no to things that I didn’t feel called to do. Steal someone’s blessing? Being too exhausted to actually do something that I should be doing when that time approaches? Totally convicted.

And wouldn’t you know it? I was tested nearly immediately with an invitation to serve in an area that I know I would be skilled at. However, instead of saying “yes, sure thing!” right away, I prayed about it. And felt strongly that this was not a venture I was supposed to take on and instead, simply needed to offer to pray for the right person to step up to the job.

Awkward.

I don’t do well saying “no”. I don’t think it was the response this person was hoping for and I know that obeying Him will likely cause more work for this person and I feel awful about that. But what outweighs that feeling and gives me peace is simply knowing that I am keeping myself open to whatever it is ahead where I am supposed to say “yes”. I will have the time, the passion, and the capability to take that on. OR, I will simply be able to focus with greater attention on what’s already on my plate. The team in our early childhood ministry at church that I direct, or the small group I lead, or the relationships I have built.  The lifestyle changes we are making to our diets and bodies.

As you step into 2014, I challenge you to look at what you have on your plate. Are you carrying things around simply to please others, but as a result, draining yourself of everything – like your joy? Are those activities or responsibilities keeping you from being open and available to things that do interest you? Are you able to put Him in the number one spot in your life or is He getting pushed aside as you work to please everyone around you? Here’s the thing – responsibilities are a good thing. We all need that structure and we all need to work hard at things – but not at the sake of our relationship with Him or our sanity. We can’t be consumed at keeping everything in the air because our focus will shift and we will find ourselves frantically missing the good opportunities. I even have to evaluate the small, fun things that add up. The coffee dates, the evenings meetings or movies with friends. How many yoga classes to commit to a week and how much running (figuratively, not literally, but I literally don’t run) I am packing into a day. All these things can easily deplete us if we don’t guard our calendars and time.

A new year. A new chance to look at our busy schedules and no longer allow Satan to use the hectic-ness and commitments, our worn out bodies and our exhausted emotions, to create barriers that push us away from what we are supposed to be doing. For some, what you are supposed to be doing is simply spending time with your family. Or maybe it’s taking on a weekend serving position at your church. Or perhaps its saying “yes” to joining a Bible Study or (gasp) leading one. Will you allow your energy and joy to be swallowed up in obligations that He has never called you to take on? Or will you join me at His feet waiting to find out what His will is for us before saying “yes”? And then faithfully taking the step of obedience towards the commitments we are called to do?

Here’s to a 2014 filled with the right callings. Filled with JOY. Filled with Him!

PS – Join me in the awkward celebration of having my shortest non-medicated natural cycle EVER! 63 days. (If you are wondering what I am talking about right now, let’s just safely assume you don’t need to know. You can stop reading now.) But seriously, my PCOS has prevented me from having natural cycles without the eventual use of Provera (a AF inducing medication) literally for years. It was an answer to my desperate prayers to God to show me that this new naturopathic route was actually doing something useful. Honestly, it has been really hard. I am not used to taking 80-million supplements a day and the anti-inflammatory drinks that I am temporarily drinking as we fight this internal infection has been testing every ounce of strength. The diet changes have felt a lot more natural now and I am getting pretty used to my new routines and lifestyle. But it’s slow. And while I *expected* that, I forgot what slow felt like. I have been missing the pace of IVF and western medicine. But He was faithful to hear my frustrations and discouragement and getting AF was a wonderful sign that *something* is starting to work again. And with that brings renewed hope that someday we may be able to celebrate a miracle baby. So thank you for continuing to faithfully pray for us in this slower time. It still is a battle, but we still have our boxing gloves on. :)

A favorite verse of mine! And a great anthem for January.

A favorite verse of mine! And a great anthem for January.

Holiday Bucket List – Part 2

The Bucket List is complete! Hurray! What a fun project it’s been this holiday season – definitely something that I will do each year. It motivated me to do things I may not have done otherwise and created a lot of smiles. Let’s see, where did we leave off …

Well, I had to drop off my Toys for Tots donation. The collection boxes near our house said they were collecting them through the 21st. Unfortunately when I went there the evening of the 21st, it had already been picked up. Josh and I sat in the parking lot of the grocery store and called around to a few more drop off locations only to find no one still had their box out. Bummer! So instead, we just made an online donation. I’m counting that!

Okay, we still had to Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Home Alone 2 and we got both of those done. Josh and I snuggled up one chilly evening and laughed our way through Jim Carrey’s version (I always watch the cartoon one while wrapping gifts) and then my sister joined us for Home Alone 2 last Friday night. Check and check!

All movies - watched!

All movies – watched!

Now, the one item on the list I was panicking over the most was recruiting my sister to reenact a childhood Christmas photo. My parents had my grandparents staying with them over the holidays and I knew digging out the old albums and locating a picture that was doable to react would be a little tough. But one text to my mom and she quickly sent over this one of my sister and I. (Although she seemed to crop herself out – come on Mom! Early 90’s hair is hot!)

Look at those sweet faces! Ha!

Look at those sweet faces! Ha!

So Courtney and I decided to hit up Goodwill in hopes to find the perfect shirt and jewelry to match. I was relieved that we found two shirts so similar (and the red beads too!). Instead of buying the shirts that we would never wear again, we jumped into a dressing room and giggled our way through a photo shoot. The only thing better than trying to recreate it was having to throw up lines as we pretended we were trying on clothes. “Oh, I like that one on you.” “Do you think this one hits me at the wrong spot on my hips?” “Ohhh, I don’t think that is your color.” Afterwards, we realized anyone watching from the outside would have noticed our feet barely moved as we “tried clothes on”. HAHA! But I think it was a valiant effort …. and one that will likely never appear on my to-do again. (Huge thanks to my sister for helping me with this!!! I personally think you look awesome with the multiple chins.)

Well .... we tried.

Well …. we tried.

Next up –  Go sledding! I don’t think I have been sledding since high school, when I flew off my sled and smashed my head into a metal garbage can. (Before they realized putting metal cans at the bottom of an icy sledding hill was a bad idea.) My father-in-law created a fun tubing hill in his backyard and I had a blast running down the twisty hill over and over again. Cali, of course, wanted to be part of the fun and would follow me up the hill, hop on my lap and wait to go down. I secretly think she loved passing Bella, their yellow lab, and boasting in the fact that she was getting a free ride. So much fun!

Down we go!!!

Down we go!!!

Check this one off the list too!

Check this one off the list too!

Building a snowman seemed like an easy to-do item, especially being that we live in snowy Minnesota. However our problem has been that the snow we have is the powdery kind, not at all the good packing snow that would make for a durable snowman. So Josh and I had to be creative and that resulted in a Cali sized snowman, complete with a homemade scarf, a Dove chocolate wrapper hat and some button eyes made of coal crumbled leaves. I think Cali had fun visiting her new little friend before some Christmas Eve snow took him out!

Hysterically small.

Hysterically small.

I figured as long as I was bundled up for the snowman building, I should just jump in the snow and make a snow angel. I couldn’t stop laughing and treated my family to a great Randy reenactment video from the Christmas Story as I attempted to get up afterwards. I am nearly certain Josh got some good blackmail video on me as I attempted to just “fall back” into the snow. It was worth the laugh.

Hahahaha!

Hahahaha!

I had quite a few people suggest that I buy new pajamas for Christmas morning (extra points if I match my sister) and I am so glad it made the list! Courtney and I rocked some comfy new jammies Christmas morning and it was worth the purchase.

Matching pajamas ... check!

Matching pajamas … check!

And last but not least, looking at stars with Josh on a cold, snowy night. The sky up here was so clear one night and the star were shining so bright. It was fun and special to stop for a moment and take in the winter sky with him. I wish I had a picture to show you of how beautiful the sky was that night, but it just looks like a black photo. Darn!

I can’t believe it’s completed. It was the perfect amount of items to make it do-able, yet challenging. I am already brainstorming what’s going to be on it next year. Thanks for joining me on this fun adventure!

On a different note, we made it safely and peacefully through Christmas and the anniversary of our first miscarriage. I am so thankful for the stillness that filled my heart as the days went by and know that it was nothing short of your prayers and His presence that made the joy possible. We kept busy and the distraction was a good thing. I did find the nights leading up to it be to a little harder than I expected. Something about the silence of the night, the sleepiness of the body and the ability for the mind to race caused some tears to be shed, but they were cathartic tears and ones shed more in memory of our little ones than out of sadness.

Pinterest, Instagram and Social Media are filled with posts about people being ready for 2013 to be over with. Yes, 2013 was a tough year. But without it, I wouldn’t be who I am at the end of 2013. I wouldn’t know what I was capable of and I would have missed out on many laughs and special moments. I know the new year brings people new hope – hope of a better year, perhaps a new relationship or a pregnancy, maybe it’s a new job or a fresh start at something – but the truth is, you don’t need a digit to change on the calendar for that to happen. As these last 3 days of 2013 play out, I wonder how we would each live today if we were told we would never live a day in 2014. I guarantee these next 3 days would be days of accomplishments and heartfelt conversations, days of joy and fulfillment. Not days spent wanting to fast forward. We have the opportunity each day to wake up with renewed hope, joy and a fresh start. To make today count. To make it matter to someone other than ourselves. Every new morning gives us a chance to smile at a stranger. To compliment a co-worker who seems to be having a hard day. To pay for the coffee of someone behind us in line or spend some extra time on the phone with Grandma, listening to her stories. Don’t try to rush these last few days of 2013, because I can promise you this, 2014 will have its own trials as well. All we can do is live in this moment, because our future is not guaranteed. Our relationships will change and if we don’t have our prioritized set correctly, we will somehow blaze through another year feeling unfilled and empty.

I do love how each year seems to hold a new lesson for me. 2012 was a year spent learning about gratitude – applying Philippians 4:6-7 to my life and praying with thanksgiving. 2013 was spent learning more about hope and being reminded that “my only Hope is in Him.” (Psalm 39:7b). So what will 2014 be about? Joy. I can already feel the Lord beginning to teach me on a deeper level that my joy needs to come solely from Him. Not from circumstances or earthy things, but simply rooted in Him. I can’t wait to explore this even more in 2014!

So friends, let’s savor these last few moments of this year. We will never again have another December 29, 30 and 31st of 2013. Let’s make new memories and make today count. Cheers!

photo

Christmas.

Apparently I was not the only one who thought running to Target on Sunday evening was a good idea. I am not sure if it was the extra 10% off that caused the excess crowds or if it was the fact that it was a few days before Christmas, but whatever it was, Target was a zoo.

I mean it. I saw two ladies ram carts to get to the last bag of hanging cheddar cheese. I saw a small child nearly rolled over with a cart as a man tried to maneuver something in the way back on the bottom shelf. I myself even had to use a throat cleaning technique or two as I tried to pass through the bakery scene. People were abandoning their carts and running for the items they needed. It reminded me of a scene from a store the day before Y2K. (Remember that? We all thought the world was going to end? What was going to happen to the computers!?!?)

An item on my list was bacon and I knew this would be a congested spot. I pulled up to the section and stood back quietly to watch the animals shoppers fight. As I stood aside waiting for the perfect opportunity to dart in and grab what I needed, I couldn’t help but notice an adorable little girl, about 4, standing with her mom and baby brother next to me. I smiled at her as she noticed me watching and then it came.

“Hi. Where’s your baby?”

All my mind could think was “Is this a joke?”, yet I managed to smile (as I assumed tears and a pained cry might frighten her and everyone around me) as I gritted back “Oh hi, I don’t have a baby.”

miley-awkward-gif

My heart was racing. Just a few minutes earlier as I was walking through the produce, I was struggling with sadness as I remembered just last year on this day, I knew I was pregnant. Memories of surprise onsies and telling-the-parents videos had been creeping up my throat as I was shopping the aisles and the question asked was like a dagger to my heart.

But why don’t you have a baby?”

Thankfully at this point the mom became aware of the conversation and stepped in. “Honey, not everyone has a baby.” Then trying to change the subject, she turned to me and asked which brand of bacon was on the Cartwheel this week. (Answer: the sold out one). But instead of being able to answer, the little girls voice chimed in again.

But why? Why don’t you have a baby too?”

Her persistence was admirable. She wanted an answer. I now was looking a little like this:

giphy

She must have sensed that a response was not coming. I mean, it wasn’t like I was going to sit her down and say “Well, sometimes people have a hard time making a baby. And then you need shots and pills and surgeries. And then sometimes you get a baby in your tummy and then that baby dies. Merry Christmas.” So in order to avoid any appalled looks from her Mom, I choose to stay silent, my eyes darting around trying to locate ANY bacon at this point so I could make a run for it.

Well, you should have a baby.”

Her last words were said so sweetly and with them, I grabbed some weird off brand bacon, nothing like the kind I wanted, spurt out a “bye” and ran away. (And by ran, I mean made it a foot with my cart before crashing into people waiting to get down aisles.)

My, what a year will do. For me, it’s been a tough couple days remembering this time last year. I am trying not to dwell on it, as I know it won’t change things, but still am working to acknowledge my sadness and process through it as it pops up.

This time last year, our home was filled with special memories like our first positive test, first baby bump pictures, and excited cries as we told our families. After I miscarried I thought that there would be no way that I wouldn’t be pregnant by the holidays this year because we would do whatever it took for that to happen. Well, we did whatever we could and I still sit here with the emptiness I never wanted to feel at Christmas.

Infertility at Christmas can bring out tough emotions. There seems to be something about holidays that grows an entirely new set of “what if” and “when will I” thoughts and memories. We see cousins growing up and it makes our hearts sad that the cousin won’t be close in age. We see parents, grandparents and great grandparents getting and acting older and our brains start to panic, worrying that our children will never know “this version” of them. We receive the announcement Christmas cards in the mail and we reflect back to the fact that if this or that cycle had worked, we would have been {insert number here} weeks along and sending out a similar card. We fill up our carts with gifts for nieces, nephews, and adopted families in need and wonder if we will ever be able to wrap a gift for our own child. As we sit around the Christmas tree, it stings as we realize another season is passing by in brilliant colors around us, while our colors feel a little muted and dull. The ache and longing feels like a gigantic gapping, bleeding hole and the smiles plastered on can feel so brittle that one wrong question asked and you might just crack.

Truth is, I didn’t expect to be spending Christmas this way. And I know that for many of those reading this, you weren’t expecting it for yourself either. But, I have good news… God is a God of impossibles.

Perhaps this journey has pushed you back further and you think “well if God really loved me, He would have given me a baby by now.” Don’t you wish that God was a magic genie that would just make every dream and desire come true exactly when we asked? I imagine Heaven is a mixture of praises and answered prayers, but on earth here today we are stumbling through a sinful world of imperfect people and bodies. There isn’t a “That Was Easy” button on every prayer prayed and our challenge today is to learn to be grateful and view TODAY, with your present circumstances and situation, as a day given to you out of love from our Father. May we be filled with hope that with His grace and goodness, there will be another tomorrow and with that comes the patient expectation of answered prayers and miracles worked.

You see, Christmas is one of the most beautiful reminders to me that God can do anything. Now struggling with infertility, I feel like I have a deeper significance of appreciation for the words “behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son … It doesn’t make sense. In fact, it is IMPOSSIBLE. Yet, it happened. So often I forget the wait that was involved prior to Mary’s pregnancy by God’s people as they waited and waited for the King to arrive. But alas, at the right time, to the right set of parents, that miracle was performed.  

The rest of the verse above (Matthew 1:23) goes on to say “…, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which means, God with us.” The great news is that God is with us. We never have to fight this battle alone. Whatever battle you are facing today, whether it’s infertility like us, or something else, we have the presence of an Almighty God standing with us.

Friends, Christmas is upon us. It may look different than what we hoped, but let us celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth, knowing that “with God, nothing is impossible.” (Luke 1:37) And let us bring our sadness humbly to His feet and walk away with renewed hope in the year that is to come and with gratitude for the day He has given us in today. Keep believing, keep fighting and keep praying. I hope you all have a WONDERFUL Christmas.  

il_570xN.392283259_lqmv