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

Holiday Bucket List – Part 1

Oh this Bucket List has been so much fun to work on over this holiday season! Truly, the holidays can be a painful reminder of the children we don’t have to set on Santa’s lap, so the distraction has not only been greatly appreciated, but it’s prompted us to create many new memories and I love that! Here’s a quick update on how we are doing:

Well … my first Holiday Bucket List (HBL) item was to Put together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. I sat down after Thanksgiving to get the checklist from the website and find the nearest drop-off location only to find that the boxes are due before Thanksgiving and I missed the whole thing already. That would figure right? Way to start off on a great foot, haha! So instead, I decided to take my HBL item of Volunteer at an organization over the holidays and volunteer AT Operation Christmas Child. And then add a Toys for Tots donation to the list in lieu of the shoebox. Phew. So with that note, I have yet to drop off my tots gift (I have till the 21st) but did embark down to Bloomington, MN with my sister last week to volunteer at Operation Christmas Child! What an amazing experience it was! My job on the line was to remove contraband (glass, military/weapons toys, liquids, etc) and add fillers to the box if it was a little empty (things like soap, stickers, stuffed animals, etc). All I can say is that opening those shoeboxes and seeing the care people put into making them was amazing. And it was incredibly touching to realize that this small $1 yoyo and sheet of glittery star stickers would be the only Christmas gifts these children would received. I LOVED seeing the boxes that were clearly crafted by a child. They would include their school picture and adorable notes on the top of the shoebox, explaining the items or introducing themselves. It was a beautiful reminder in this season of how BLESSED we are for all that we have. I loved every minute of it and it will absolutely be an annual event going forward.

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child

I have had an uncomfortable, yet awesome time of Intentionally acknowledge bell ringers outside of stores instead of avoiding eye contact. I am always impressed with their ability to stand still outside in the cold single digit temps, shaking their bell and attempting to sing. I have enjoyed tossing my change in there and saying Merry Christmas, leaving with a smile. (And have no picture to prove that this has been taking place so take my word for it.)

This last Saturday evening we crossed off three more items. Drive around aimlessly for at least 30 minutes looking at holiday lights, Visit a house that has a live music/light show and Visit a live nativity scene. First of all, can I just say “thank you” to all of those people who work so hard to put up outdoor Christmas lights? I remember as a child visiting a neighborhood in Westchester, IL that we called “Candy Cane Lane” where the majority of the neighborhood put out beautiful lights. The subdivision would turn into a slow crawl as cars would pull in and out of the streets, creeping by each house as our eyes tried to take it all in. It has always been a favorite childhood memory of mine and Saturday evening reminded me of those special memories. We started off the evening at the live nativity, which was truly, just beautiful. If you have never been to a live nativity, I highly recommend finding one in your area. I am so thankful for the hosting church and the volunteers who put it on. It was a “drive thru” one, meaning we simply drove around a loop, stopping at each scene, where a verse was posted about the Christmas story and volunteers stood still, acting out the verse. Between the people, live sheep and camels and powerful verses, it suddenly brings to life what Christmas really means. Josh narrated and read the verses outloud as we drove past, while I unsuccessfully choked back tears. One of my favorite memories from the bucket list thus far!

The live nativity ... and left with a powerful message on the last sign!

The live nativity … and left with a powerful message on the last sign!

And then we visited a house that has a light show set to music on a private radio station and that was so fun to visit. (We still have one more house that does this that we would like to get to this year!). And then we drove around, looking up houses to visit that are known for their lights. There were many beautiful ones … and then this lovely one as pictured below that took blow-ups in the yard to an extreme. Hahah, we loved it!

A shot of the house whose lights were coordinated to the music.

A shot of the house whose lights were coordinated to the music.

How's this for having the front yard decorated?

How’s this for having the front yard decorated?

Alright, next on the list was to try eggnogg. I knew I couldn’t consume a lot of sugar and didn’t have the interest in making homemade eggnog knowing I could only have a sip so I took the recommendation of the nice lady in Cub Foods and bought a container. And with Josh and my sister Courtney on my side, we tried it. And all I can say is I have a nearly full container of eggnog in my fridge if anyone is interested! :)

Processed with VSCOcam with m6 preset

We had good intentions to like this!

We had good intentions to like this!

Next on the list was to Go ice skating at the Depot in downtown Minneapolis. I recruited my sister and her boyfriend to join me on this one and we spent a lovely Friday morning relearning to ice skate. It must have been 10 years since I had ice skated last and I have gained an entirely new appreciation for those who make this look simple. It was a challenge, but a fun one, and I am thankful we ventured out on the ice.

Skating fun!

Skating fun!

Josh and I have been working our way through our Christmas Movie list on free evenings. So far we have watched Elf, Christmas Story, and National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Josh added an “honorary” movie to the list, so we have also watched Home Alone and will also try to get Home Alone 2 in there too. So two more movies left to watch and we still have a week left. I think we can do it!

Four classics!

Four classics!

I had so many awesome invitations from others to help complete my Attend a Christmas concert of some sort item. I couldn’t help but excitedly accept the invitation to 3-year old Mallory’s Christmas concert. Let me tell you, you haven’t been to a Christmas concert until you have been to one that has tons of tiny children sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. It truly blessed my heart. Plus I got to see one of the cutest stable piggies ever too! So special!

How adorable is she!?

How adorable is she!?

The last item I have completed thus far is Paying for someone’s meal/drink behind me in a drive thru. This was a fun one that I did while grabbing an iced tea from McDonalds. It was fun to bless the minivan behind me and hopefully they enjoyed their lunch.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Alright, that leaves about a week to accomplish a few more … I think I can do it. Thanks for following along!!

  • Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Home Alone 2
  • Recruit my sister to reenact a childhood Christmas photo
  • Go sledding
  • Build a snowman. Perhaps a Cali sized one.
  • Make a snow angel
  • Buy new pajamas for Christmas morning. (Extra points if I match my sister)
  • Look at stars with Josh on a cold, snowy night

I have so much more to update y’all with …. and plan to soon. In summary, the naturopathic route has been going well all things considered. I knew the detox and adjusting to this much slower way of cycling would take a lot of time to get used to and it has. But I am continuing to try to keep moving forward with a good attitude and a hopeful expectation of the answers to prayer to come. Oh and I have also started doing heat yoga, which is TOTALLY new for me and will have to share some fun stories in the posts to come. Good news so far is I haven’t passed out!

Lastly, I want to wish my friend Charity over at The Word of a Nerd a Happy First Blogiversary!! She has invited to me help her celebrate and is an amazing Christian lifestyle blogger. Check our her blog today and also, have a chance to win some awesome giveaways!

Giveaway AD (2)

Alright all, hope you have a wonderful rest of your week and are enjoying the season we are in. Try your best not to let your expectations of the holidays overshadow what this time is all about! XOXO!

Dear Santa, part 2.

Dear Santa,

It seems you received my letter last year! Christmastime 2012 was the first time I received a positive pregnancy test, just like my letter requested! However, I have now learned to be a little clearer with my wish list, as a positive pregnancy test will only go so far. So with a humble heart, I am writing you again this year asking you to fill my stocking with more baby dust and a pregnancy that results in an on-earth, living, breathing, take home baby. Piece of cake, right??

Let me start by saying I have been more nice than naughty this year. I have tried my best to take every pill and shot with a smile, hopeful with the expectation of what could come. (Granted, I am failing miserably with drinking these stupid shakes from the naturopathic doctor but let’s ignore that fact.) I have been drinking tons of water and have even learned to stop complaining about not being able to drink soda anymore. I smile at most of the children I encounter, with the exception of that unruly little one who tried to kick me and told me he doesn’t like me. (I might advise you to put him on the naughty list.) I have done my best to treat Josh with love and only have occasionally given him “that” dirty look. (You know the “what are you thinking!?!” look.). I haven’t pushed one smoking pregnant lady down this year, nor have I parked in the “Expectant Mother” spot, even though I am tempted to “just pretend”.

Santa, I have been responsible for keeping the Target baby section in the black with all of the baby gifts I have been buying and surprises I have been mailing. I haven’t complained more than a dozen times about the still-numb spot on my butt and thigh from the progesterone in oil shots and I am even starting to accept the fact that I may never regain feeling. I have genuinely prayed for and celebrated many other TTC pregnancies and births this last year, even when it is a tough reminder that it’s not me.

I have been journaling and writing to my future child and simply ask that someday, he or she will be able to read those words. I have limited my Starbucks addiction and am trying to get healthier, even though it’s more challenging than I had imagined.. And unlike last year, I haven’t stuck my tongue out at one person yet this year. (Well, with the exception of Josh, but he was really being difficult that day.)

I have sat through more blood pokes than I could count and haven’t cried yet. I have patiently sat on the phone with the insurance company to fight my D&C denial and didn’t say to their face that it was insanely absurd that they would cover an abortion but not a miscarriage. (Okay, minus points for thinking it though. Again though, I may advise they be moved to the naughty list.)

Josh and Cali have been so good this year too! Josh lovingly abides with the dreadful dinners recently. (I figure if I can’t eat carbs or sugars, he shouldn’t be able to either.) He fills up the gas tank in the winter so I don’t have to and pays attention to things like oil changes. He has waited on me hand and foot as I have recovered from 2 egg retrievals, 4 embryo transfers and the D&C with such love and care.  He always wakes up and rolls over to hand me a tissue when my nose is running in bed so I don’t have to get up. (And never questions why I don’t move the box to my nightstand since he understands it just wouldn’t fit the decorative balance of the room.) And then there is that time, okay, every night, where he goes back downstairs to bring up whatever it is I forgot. And Cali? Well, she has been ever so patient with me as I continue to dress her up and pretend like she is a human child. She only slightly glared when I put the antlers on her ears this week and gracefully allowed me to put her in 7 (yes, seven) Halloween costumes this year. I really think she would love a brother or sister. (Okay, honestly, it would be an adjustment, but one I am sure she would love to make. No need to check with her on that, just take my word.)

So please, again, I beg of you, fill our Christmas with every good thing you have in your bag. I ask for all the joy, hope patience and strength that you can bring. (And you don’t even have the wrap it.) Take our stocking and make it overflow with fertility and determination. I ask for nothing more but a 2014 filled with more than our hearts can imagine and bigger than our dreams can dream.

Love,

A Patiently Waiting Mommy to Be

PS – If you can, also send our angel babies up in heaven a little hug from their mom and dad. We will miss them so much this Christmas and wish we were spending it with them.

Look at this patient face!

Look at this patient face!

i’m thankful for …

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in the USA and Happy Thursday to my friends around the world. : ) There is something so fun about today. I love gratitude and having a whole day where the entire country is focused on it is pretty neat. Some favorite holiday traditions of mine include watching the Macy’s day parade, listening my husband riffle through the Black Friday newspaper and sharing every good deal in it with me (“No, really though, isn’t that a great deal? I wish we needed a scooter.”), and of course, all the food to be feasted on. My doctor told me yesterday to enjoy the day with responsible portions of carbs and sugars. “It’s only one meal Chelsea. It’s okay. Just don’t take home leftovers and don’t go crazy.” I gotta admit, that made me happy! I am slightly terrified of undoing my hard work but even just one bite of mashed potatoes will make me thrilled. And of course, the relaxing time with the family, creating new memories and enjoying laughter is great too.

But one thing I wanted to share with you all today is this simple fact: I am thankful for my infertility.

No that wasn’t a typo. This Thanksgiving I’ve decided to forgo the traditional gratitude list (all of which are valid and are things I really am thankful for) and instead, share with you this reality.

I am thankful for my infertility.

Dealing with infertility has taught me so many things and given me so much. It has been difficult. There has been tremendous heartache. Many tears. Physical suffering and emotional agony. Moments of desperation and periods of heavy sadness and grief. Yet I wouldn’t trade this journey in for anything.

Infertility has taught me to learn how to choose joy in tough situations. It has changed my heart to be one that sees the glass as half full instead of half empty. It has made my “joy muscles” work out and as a result, there are days I feel like I could bench press a truck. And admittedly, days I ignore the joy gym, but at least I still feel convicted about it. It has reminded me that we are to give thanks in EVERY situation, not just the ones that make us feel warm and fuzzy.

Infertility has strengthened my marriage. I truly can’t imagine walking down this path with anyone other than Josh.  It has brought us to our knees in prayer, together as a unit. It has made us realize what God meant when He said we will cleave to our spouse. It has made me appreciate his optimism and positivity more than ever. It has given us reasons to laugh together, cry together, and learn to love deeply and unconditionally. It has made us depend on one another in unique ways and Josh’s example has taught me what it is like to have a servants heart.

Infertility has brought me closer to friends, family and strangers. It has caused me to seek support from unlikely places and communicate in ways I hadn’t imagined. Because of it, my heart has swelled and overflowed due to the incredible kindness of others. I have made new friends thanks to Instagram and this blog – friendships that I don’t doubt will last a lifetime. It has made me more vulnerable with my family and friends – people I see in real life, that have been given an insiders pass to my heart and emotions. It has resulted in beautiful conversations, meaningful prayers prayed, and many tears and hugs given.

Infertility has helped me to look past my own situation and into the lives of others. It has made me more aware that everyone is suffering from a Thing. It has helped me to assume the best about people’s dispositions and taught me to extend grace since I have no idea what path others are walking on. It has sharpened my spiritual gift of encouragement and made me fine tune reading people’s hearts and needs, and prayerfully, helping to say the right words at the right times.

Infertility has made me stronger than I ever imagined possible.  It has forced me to deal with difficult tasks – whether it’s giving myself shots or learning patience during a two week wait. It has given me reasons to be sad, cry and learn how to lean on a strength that’s not my own. It has made me pick myself up off the ground, brush the dirt off my shoulders, and keep walking forward. It has taught me the fine art of persistence. It has reminded me that we are to “ask, seek, and knock.” (Matthew 7:7-8). It has taught me to keep knocking and to trust that the door will be opened.

Infertility has taught me that God will equip me where He calls me. Never did I ever imagine having a blog. Never did I imagine writing routinely. Never did I imagine sharing our small story with all of you. Yet each time I sit down, He fills my heart with words and allows my fingers to type in a way that, thankfully, many of you understand. I am not a writer – yet somehow, I write.

Infertility has taught me that I don’t always know best. I have recited Proverbs 3:5 to myself more times in the last few years than any other verse in the Bible. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” It has reminded me that my own logic, my own decisions, my own will and my own knowledge are nothing compared to His will and plans. It has resulted in me trusting where He leads us more than what makes sense in my head. (For the math folks out there, that means His plan > My understanding.)

Infertility will make me a more graceful pregnant woman and hopefully, a better mother. It will allow me to experience pregnancy (God willing) with a spirit of thanksgiving, knowing what a wonderful gift I will be given. (Or at least teach me to know my audience on tough days.) It will allow me to embrace the challenges, remembering how strongly I desired them. It has allowed me to pray for my children and their lives many years in advance. I don’t think I would have been a lucrative mother, but it sure has given me time to prepare my heart as much as possible for what may be ahead.

Infertility has made me enjoy this season of my life. The quiet. The calm. The ability to walk out of the door and run to Target when I want. The ability to have spontaneous date nights with Josh and the ability to go to bed at 8:30 if we so choose. I appreciate sleeping in, taking long baths and watching shows other than Nick Jr. I can’t wait for the time to come when all of that changes, but for this time, right now, I am grateful for what I can experience.

Infertility has taught me that life doesn’t always have to make sense for us to be content. It has helped me realize that if God answered every prayer we all prayed, we would be living in heaven. It has helped me remember that we live in a fallen world, with human bodies that are less than perfect. We are in a world of sadness and death, with more and more dysfunction every day. It certainly isn’t ideal but I serve a Lord that “causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God…” (Romans 8:28).

Infertility has made me realize that I don’t always need to come up with the right words to pray in order for Him to be near. “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves…” (Romans 8:26-27a MSG) It has taught me a greater appreciation for His Spirit.

And lastly, and most importantly, infertility has caused me to fall deeper in love with my Father. It has caused me to seek Him with all of my heart. It has made me turn to Him for comfort and it has made me realize that nothing on this earth is more valuable than my relationship with Him. God, in return, has drawn intimately close to me and His daily presence in every moment of my life brings utter joy to the surface. It has taught me that denying myself and following Him (Luke 9:23) is to trust in His plan and walk with Him regardless of my own desires. It has made me dive deeper into His love letter to us, made me seek Him through podcasts and music, and transformed a stagnant prayer life into a daily conversation with Him. Infertility has taught me that my eternal Hope has already overcome it all. That this world, these moments, this life, is brief compared to what is ahead.

When I started this blog last year and was asked the gigantic task of creating a web address for the page, I chose “trials bring joy”.  It stemmed from James 1:2-4 which says: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” Oh Lord, I am finally getting it. It took a while – but reflecting on this trial placed in front of me, and all the lessons learned from it, I can’t help but understand the phrase “trials bring joy” even more so now. It is possible for our most difficult times in life to be an opportunity to bring great joy.

I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone. But I do wish that everyone had the opportunity to go through a challenge, a trial, a journey, which results in building endurance. For when we go through fiery times in life, like silver being melted and transformed, we WILL come out more refined and polished. And for that I am thankful. I am thankful for this time of fire. I am thankful for a God who never leaves my side. I am thankful for YOU – for caring as deeply as you do. For the prayers of many and for the joy that is to come. I am FAR from perfect. I have good days and bad days. But what I have learned thus far has made an everlasting impact on my life.

So on that note, we wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving (and/or Thursday). Enjoy the day!

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.” (Romans 8:18)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

it’s okay to grieve dreams.

As I sat down to blog today, I wasn’t really sure in what direction to go in. I could talk about my detox lifestyle change (minimal carbs and refined sugars) but I still am in that phase where I want to fling myself off a roof or lock myself in a closet with a baguette, so the topic might still be a little fresh. (Or concerning when you realize how truly in love with carbs and sugars I really am/was.) I could talk about my bucket list but, well, to be honest, I haven’t made any progress with it yet. We could talk Thanksgiving plans or about my latest song roulette attempts, but it’s all kind of low key. So instead, I walked away from the computer and picked up the book I am rereading (Hannah’s Hope) and found myself at the chapter on anguish and grief.

The chapter starts:

Her heart petitioned the name too holy to voice. Yahweh, will I ever have a labor story to share with the women at the city well? How I long for morning sickness! Will I know the joy of snuggling my child to my breast? Could it truly be that I may never watch my own chubby-legged infant attempt his first tottering steps? Will I ever cry as I send my son off to his first day of studying the Torah? Might I never be the mother of the bride? A lifetime of losses overwhelmed Hannah…”

This story, an interpretation of Hannah’s emotions based on 1 Samuel 1, struck a chord with me today. Recently, I have been talking to women who are in the stage of grieving over the sorrow of not having their dreams be what they imagined. So many people can brush such sorrow under the rug. It can be hard to mourn with someone over what they hoped for or thought might be. When you haven’t gone through their circumstances, validating someone’s ache can feel more gesture-y than genuine. “Oh, I’m sorry you are going through that. It will be okay. Just give it some time. Hey, do you want a mocha or latte?”

This type of grief can be with many things. Maybe it’s the boyfriend you don’t have. You sit and wonder if you will ever have the chance to share an engagement story or make a bucket list with your spouse. The future of those hopes and dreams of being a bride and a wife seem so far away and at times, you feel hopeless. Or perhaps it’s a job that is in line with your passions. You feel trapped and wonder if you will ever wake up on a Monday and enjoy going into the office. You never imagined yourself so miserable in your career. Or it could be that you are losing hope that your spouse will ever come to know Christ, and you keep waiting and waiting and waiting for that day to come when you can share in the same Hope. It’s all grieving the could-be’s and potential losses.

Guess what. We are made in God’s image and our emotions, our humanness, come from Him. Grief is a normal emotion to have. But here’s the thing many of us can forget – we are not told not to grieve in the Bible – but we ARE told not to grieve as those who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) So guard your heart and hang onto that hope … which I have talked about many times throughout the blog.

So this Thanksgiving, as you sit around with friends and family, some of whom might be going through tough times, here are a few suggestions of how to handle them/us.

  • Give them the opportunity to talk about it. Ask open ended questions about how they are doing or feeling. Let them be sad if they are sad. Don’t try to put an “it will all be okay” bandaid over their sorrow. Affirm their emotions as they struggle with their current situation and don’t downplay their frustrations or emotions.
  • Give them the opportunity to not talk about it.  Use your common sense to evaluate someone’s non-verbal’s. If you ask someone how they are doing since their separation and they change the subject to quickly talk about the stuffing, let them change the subject. There are many times people don’t want to dwell on their hurt. You have simply let them know you care and that you are available to talk to if and when they are ready.
  • Help create new memories. This world has so many opportunities for laughter and joy. Take advantage of being a distraction from the pain someone is going through. I read today “We cannot too often dwell on the past, not so as to erase it, but rather to augment our life with a salting of the good in this world.” Make a plan, take them to a coffee shop or partner up and tackle a corny gingerbread house kit. The distraction is so nice.
  • Remember your words are powerful. A simple word of encouragement goes a long way. Remember that we are sent here to “watch and pray”. Not to “watch and criticize” or “watch and judge” or “watch and vent about all our frustrations in the area that someone may be sensitive about”. Use your words to lift someone up. Know your audience. And don’t mutter the words “you really should be over it by now” or “perhaps it just wasn’t meant to be.”
  • Share hope with them. Don’t just assume someone KNOWS you support them. Say it. Send a card or a Facebook message. Text them an encouraging verse or simply a “Have a great day!” message. Let them know you are there. It’s amazing how blessed someone feels when you reach out to them and let them know you care and are hoping for the best. It reminds us we are not alone in our fight.

So whatever it is that you are facing – infertility, the loss of a spouse due to death or divorce, money troubles, singleness, memories of a lost child, the ache of a child who has gone astray, health issues, homesickness, difficult family dynamics … just know you aren’t alone. And the feelings you have of anguish are normal to feel.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4). Notice that it doesn’t say rushed. Don’t feel the need to rush those as they grieve. Encourage them, listen to them, give them a safe space to process, help distract them when needed and above all, pray for them. For there is a day and time when we will be able to be able to rejoice over answered prayers or celebrate being at peace with a new normal.

With all that said, it’s probably time to go prep some vegetables for snacks (Yum. No sarcasm here. *cough*) and watch a Hallmark Christmas movie. (Ahhh, there is something so cheesily wonderful about knowing exactly what is going to happen.) I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving if I don’t get on here before then! Please, eat an extra bite of stuffing in my honor … just don’t send me a picture of it. Gobble gobble!

the list. and more.

I have a confession to make. I am not a good singer. In fact, if there was any talent I wish I had, it would be to be a good singer. BUT, there is something about Baby, It’s Cold Outside that turns me into a professional singer. My voice becomes that of an angel and I am certain that if Cali could sing, she would join me in the duet so that I didn’t have to attempt to sing both the male and female parts. All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey is a close second for my angelic voice trophy but I am still working on one note. But you will be the first to hear about my victory when that miracle happens.

I had SO much fun reading so many amazing ideas for my holiday bucket list. In fact my first draft of the bucket list included about 43 items which ended up seeming a little extreme, especially for a first attempt at a bucket list (and given that Christmas is, um, well, just a little over a month away.) So I have narrowed it down and am excited to debut its final version:

  • Put together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child
  • Volunteer at an organization over the holidays
  • Intentionally acknowledge bell ringers outside of stores instead of avoiding eye contact
  • Drive around aimlessly for at least 30 minutes looking at holiday lights
  • Recruit my sister to reenact a childhood Christmas photo
  • Try eggnog
  • Watch Elf, Christmas Story, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Josh
  • Go sledding
  • Build a snowman. Perhaps a Cali sized one.
  • Make a snow angel
  • Go ice skating at the Depot in downtown Minneapolis
  • Attend a Christmas concert of some sort, whether its at a local church or in a stadium
  • Buy new pajamas for Christmas morning. (Extra points if I match my sister)
  • Pay for someone’s meal/drink behind me in a drive thru
  • Look at stars with Josh on a cold, snowy night
  • Visit a live nativity scene
  • Visit a house that has a live music/light show
  • Try a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks

Two traditions we have in our family will continue – Josh and I always buy each other an ornament every year and our family makes gingerbread houses together. Well, my sister and Josh have a creative house making contest while I take on the role of the Iron Chef Chairman (complete with secret ingredients), my mom becomes the commentator (complete with a paper towel role microphone) and my dad, well, he passively helps with scoring, even though both of them always get 10’s in every category. I am excited for these traditions to continue!

Ok, enough about Christmas. I do realize it’s still only November 20th. For those of you who are interested in an update on our fertility treatments, here you go.

So three weeks ago I visited a chiropractic doctor who also has strong naturopathic experience. Preliminary testing using Applied Kinesiology (which uses bioenergetic feedback through testing the strength of various muscles in the body … I know, big words) helped to assess my state of health.  What was scary and fascinating was that without me telling him what was “wrong with me”, was that my body showed him. I’m going to be honest, it creeped me out a little bit. I bought my paperwork in with me so I know he didn’t cheat and look ahead of time, and he basically asked right away if I had issues with estrogen based on a few indicators, both physically looking at my eyes and through this muscle testing. It seems SO weird that my body could tell him that without him knowing … but I left that appointment feeling encouraged that he seemed sane, educated and knowledgeable.

The next week I went back for urine, blood and saliva testing that would provide him with more information on what was going on in my body. I was able to look at my blood cells and compare them to books and charts – I saw my lab results and saw areas where the numbers were extremely out of range. Essentially what I learned is that my infection levels in my blood were extremely high. And my estrogen toxicity levels came back off the charts high. A long conversation made short, what he shared is that he felt (and what the data supported) is that I likely have a parasite (a strong bug not killed by antibiotics) in my body (intestines to be specific) that is pulling certain parts of my healthy estrogen hormones out, leaving it unbalanced and then as it gets reprocessed, turning it toxic. My own research has supported that this is indeed possible. And it makes sense. My estrogen levels have always been so weird (he shared this conclusion before he knew my history with my estrogen issues) and also, this toxic estrogen can cause a progesterone aid to become toxic as well. (Which also has been a big issue when I am pregnant, I can’t get my progesterone high enough to support the pregnancy.) Basically he said that if we can kill the parasite using herbs and a detox diet, we can begin to have my body reroute how my estrogen is processed and composed in my body. Hey, its worth a shot, right?

I know, it sounds a little “quackish”. I have to admit I was skeptical as well. It all sounded too good to be true. BUT, without sharing my hours of time with him and all my personal medical history and other “issues”, the diagnosis does make sense to me. And is worth trying. If anything, I become healthier and hopefully clear up this infection. So since I am more prone to having insulin resistance (a common issue with PCOS), I am currently on a no/low carb diet, continuing to be gluten free and extremely cautious about my sugar intake.

So how’s that going for me? Um, well, it kind of sucks. Changing my diet is extremely hard but is something I know will be good in the long run, regardless of whether it increases my fertility or not. I have to laugh, if I would have written this blog on Friday it would have sounded something like “I hate my life. I hate not eating carbs. I hate these herbs. I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want a baby. I would rather jump off a cliff than do this one more day.” But thankfully the carb/sugar withdrawals are improving and I no longer feel as if I want to throw myself into a pit of lions when someone mentions bread. Baby steps right?

Its funny (sort of, in a non ha-ha sort of way) that this journey would lead me to a path that involves self discipline. Something I suck at. (Stink at. Sorry Mom.) I truly would rather give myself a million shots a day than pass up a french dip sandwich or order of French fries. (Ohhh, French fries. Dangit.) It’s SO hard for me to exert willpower with things I don’t like or want to do. The only thing keeping me going is trusting that God has put me on this path for a reason and remembering that I am more than capable of resisting the temptation of devouring a bag of potato chips or guzzling sweet tea. Any extra prayers you can send my way as I continue to battle myself and develop healthier habits would be great!

Self discipline ... I repeat this verse often. I HAVE this, I just have to develop this ....

Self discipline … I repeat this verse often. I HAVE this, I just have to develop this ….

I was nearly in tears earlier today as I read Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 26. “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I tend to pray often “Let this cup of suffering be taken from me! Answer our prayers. Hear my cries. Bless us with a child.” But it is SO hard to pray the last part of Jesus’ prayer … “Yet I want your will to be done … not mine.” The Message version of the Bible says He prayed ““My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do You want?” I pray that God gives me the strength to pray Lord, what do YOU want? The great blessing in this prayer is that regardless of what He answers, we can trust His character, His goodness, His love. I may not always understand His methods or reasonings, but I can always trust that He is acting with purpose. Even when it hurts. I wish He moved according to my schedule and my plan. But when He doesn’t (and I find He rarely does), its our ability to tap into His strength that keeps us going. And when He finally does answer a request, I am always astonished and amazed at how much better His answer was then the one I was asking for.

Though Jesus knows our triumphant outcomes, though He sees the joyful ending just around the bend, He still gets down in the middle of our sorrows and holds us close, mingling His tears with our own.” There is an ending to our story. And we trust that He is working even when the journey seems long. I am putting all my trust in the fact that He WILL provide us with a triumphant outcome and that He will be glorified in the end. My story is not my own.

So as I moved forward with this new path, combing his herbs to cleanse and detox with my own researched herbs to attempt to help my body ovulate (Maca Root, Royal Jelly, and Vitex fruit for my TTC interested friends …), I am trusting that this is all part of His will. Even if it’s realllllly hard right now.

Some of the vitamins I am taking ... I am supposed to get through all of these in ONE month. Gulp! Literally ... I feel like I am taking pills and drinking water alllll the time.

Some of the vitamins I am taking … I am supposed to get through all of these in ONE month. Gulp! Literally … I feel like I am taking pills and drinking water alllll the time.

Oh! And good news! Knowing the cleanse was approaching, I dove into my bucket list a little early and enjoyed a Peppermint Mocha with my sister. And man, it was delicious. So I have one item off my bucket list!

Try a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks

Trying a Peppermint Mocha .... CHECK!

Trying a Peppermint Mocha …. CHECK!

I will keep you guys updated with pictures and stories on how things are going with that. As always, I am so thankful for your support, prayers and shared hope for us and what is to come.

Never give up!

Never give up!

thanksgiving BEFORE christmas!?!!?

Which came first?

The chicken or the egg?

The phoenix or the flame? (any HP friends of mine get that reference?)

Thanksgiving or Christmas?

I can’t help but chuckle at the very opinionated posts I am seeing all over social media these days. You know the ones …

“Why is Target playing Christmas music!?! It’s only November!”

“People, there is a holiday between now and Christmas!”

“I don’t care what you think, my tree is going up tonight!”

“I’ve been listening to Christmas music since November 1st.”

Oh I could go on and on. And I will just assume since you are reading this, that you care what I think about all of this. (Okay, maybe I am giving myself too much credit and your browser is simply frozen.) But I will continue.

Thanksgiving OR Christmas?

Well, it’s easy … why not both!? (*insert a select audience cringing here*) Let me explain …

Okay, so way back in 1789, Thanksgiving was declared a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer”. Sure, now a days we throw in yummy things like turkey and mashed potatoes and jellied cranberry sauce, but the point of Thanksgiving is focused on prayer and gratitude. Duh. Not sharing anything new here.

Christmas on the other hand is a time to celebrate God’s great love for us – celebrating the birth of Christ and the fact that because of that, we all have the chance to live with renewed strength and joy knowing God has conquered all. (Okay, the ending of that sentence fast forwarded to Easter, but the birth was the start of such a beautiful love story for us.)

So when people get all up in arms about keeping these two separate, I don’t get it. First of all gratitude is something we need to have ALL year round, not just during November or on Thanksgiving. One of my favorite verse in the Bible is Philippians 4:6-7:  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Did you catch that? Every prayer we pray should have gratitude included. Thank Him for all that He has done. So the spirit of Thanksgiving truly is one that we should have all year round.

Those of you who are Facebook friends with me know I have a Thankful album where I upload a photo each day of something I am thankful for. Hi, I am Chelsea and yes, I am guilty of flooding newsfeeds daily for almost 2 years now. But the reason for it all stems from this verse. Life is tough. It actually can suck sometimes. We are surrounded by things we don’t understand. Physical pain. Death. Divorce. Lost limbs and broken friendships. Miscarriages. Flippant words said to us from those we care about. Spilt milk. (Seemed appropriate, no?) When our hearts focus solely on what hurts, it sure is easy to dwell on the sadness of this broken world. (Trust me, uploading a “thankful” picture on a day when I just found out I am miscarrying, or after a call telling me my pregnancy isn’t viable, or I need surgery … well, it isn’t easy. But it makes me think about my blessings and it helps.)

But….when we flip the way we view things and see things through the eyes of gratitude, it becomes more bearable. It really does.

I read this powerful paragraph a few weeks ago and it has stuck with me: “Gratitude is important because it has the power to change our attitude. When we are willing to give thanks to God in all things, not just some things – to consciously thank Him even when we don’t feel very grateful – something in us begins to shift. We begin to see life as Christ sees it – full of opportunities rather than obstacles.”

It continues to say “If we aren’t grateful for what God has done in the past and in the present, we won’t have the faith to believe God for things in the future.”

I think about times when I have gifted someone something or extended kindness over and over again to never be thanked. Not that I do anything for a thank you, but my human mind goes “Really!?! Not even a text?!” It means something in this world to acknowledge someone’s kindness. It’s a good thing God doesn’t have the same kind of reaction as I do at times because He would be like “REALLY PEOPLE!!?!? I GAVE YOU BREATH THIS MORNING! YOU WOKE UP! IN A HOUSE! WITH FOOD! AND THE ABILITY TO SPEAK. AND YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO THANK ME FOR THIS!?!?”

Yikes. I just made an awkwardly convicted face at the coffee shop just writing that. Because there is SO much I don’t thank God for that I have.

Where am I going with all this? Oh yes …. Celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving.

I think that if you have the heart of gratitude firmly rooted in your heart, its perfectly fine to set up your tree or listen to Madonna sing Santa Baby before the turkey has been served. Because gratitude is not about the day. It’s about the spirit.

And for some people, the holidays can be really hard. It may remind them of someone who won’t be at their Thanksgiving table this year. Or a reminder of the job they still don’t have and presents they still can’t afford. It may bring back painful memories of years past and they may carry sorrow for things they still ache for. And for some, the sight of a Christmas tree sitting in their house on November 14th may just make them smile and act as a reminder of the good memories. Or perhaps seeing the stocking hung by the chimney with care will bring out a spirit of even MORE gratitude as they reflect on how blessed they have to have stockings to hang.

So before we all go around judging one another’s reason for putting up the tree earlier or not listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, let’s all stop and reflect on OURSELVES. Because quite frankly it doesn’t matter. What matters is what is in OUR hearts, not on others radios or in their homes.

Are you gracious – year round? Are you celebrating the joyous reminder that Christ was born a baby, in flesh, and came to save? Maybe just the tune of Jingle Bells or White Christmas makes your heart happy and reflect on your own joy. Whatever it is – let them celebrate. I promise, it will all be all right in the end. Granted, we may be a little tired of hearing “…there wont be snow in Africa this Christmas time …” in a few weeks but big picture, it’s okay. We are blessed. We are saved. Life goes on.

So, in the spirit of the holidays, I am making my very first bucket list. I figure this holiday season I don’t have to worry about things like shots and appointments and that feels very freeing! And I know that there will still be waves of emotion that ebb and flow so its my goal to focus on the good, the new, the laughs and the new memories to be created. So help me in creating my bucket list! Post a comment here, or on the post where you saw the link at (Facebook, Instagram, etc) and let me know something Josh and/or I should do this holiday season. Here is what I have come up with so far:

  • Try a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks (I have never had a hot peppermint anything before!)
  • Put together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child
  • Intentionally acknowledge bell ringers outside of stores instead of avoiding eye contact
  • Drive around aimlessly for at least 30 minutes looking at holiday lights
  • Recruit my sister to reenact a childhood Christmas photo
  • Try eggnog
  • Watch Elf, Christmas Story, National Lampoons Christmas Vacation and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Josh
  • Go sledding (Its been YEARS)
  • Build a snowman. Perhaps a Cali sized one. I’m certain she would adore that.

I am missing a lot! So join in the fun in helping me set up a list, then follow along the next 6 weeks as I work to check things off!

I don’t have too much of a fertility update other than I am meeting with the naturopathic doctor tomorrow to get a game plan. I will be sure to include more on that appointment next time. Thanks for still including us in your prayers as we navigate this totally new road. So far the only change made has been going gluten free and its been going really well over the last few weeks. More changes to come I am sure, but it’s a start!

Now, go spread some cheer and share in the spirit of gratitude today! Merry Thanksgiving!

(Now that I have typed all this, I am a little anxious about opinionated reactions. Please remember to be kind and we each have the right to our own opinion. My personal blog is simply sharing my own. :))