road bump.

You know what’s a hard prayer to pray? This one. “Not my will but Yours be done.” After a disappointing cd10 (cycle day 10) ultrasound yesterday, I felt utterly defeated. Sometimes it can be really easy to trust when I anticipate things going according to my plans and then when they don’t, well, it gets a lot harder. But here’s what yesterday taught me – He is still in control and even when I’m upset at how much body is (or isn’t) working, He hasn’t failed me and He is still good. It can be really hard to hang in there when I can’t see the other side but isn’t that what faith is? Hebrews 11:1 is a verse I cling to often – “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” And so we continue to press on, acknowledging our disappointments and communicating them to Him while still believing in His power, goodness, compassion and love for us.

For those who are interested in the medical talk about what’s going on, let’s just say the letrozole didn’t really do its job creating follicles. I only have a few tiny ones, most measuring about a 6-7, one 10 and that’s a stretch. My lining was a 4 and typically it has been much closer to a 9-11. My estrogen is low, hence the tiny follicles and non-existent lining. Impossible to turn around? No, but given that we only have a few days to do so, it’s not incredibly likely. The doctor wants to do one more ultrasound on Friday before canceling the cycle and we are hoping that we can still salvage this cycle. Worst case scenario is we just wait it out and possibly use Provera to induce a period if I never ovulate naturally, so given true worst case scenarios, this is nothing comparatively. Best case scenario is things look perfect on Friday and we can trigger (hCg shot) that day and have our IUI on Sunday. I don’t want to waste money on the shot, ultrasounds, blood work and IUI if things aren’t as they should be though. This is my first cycle with this new RE and we are still building trust so I am not entirely sure what to think at this point. Stay tuned.

But like I was saying above, I HAVE to remember that He is in control and that even if I wasn’t expecting the news to be what it was, He wasn’t surprised. After all we have been through, I knew my heart was more guarded going into the appointment, anticipating what could be but also hopeful, as femara/letrozole has always worked on me in the past. Being prepared for disappointment and experiencing disappointment rarely is as easy as it seems. I feel a little lost as to what to expect from this cycle now. I can only lean back into the fact that God called us back into treatments, of that I am so certain, and so I can only wait for Him to provide for us in the ways He sees fit.

He can still work a miracle. And if not, there’s always the next cycle. My impatience is shining through though. How much longer is this going to take?

fertility authority.

Happy Wednesday! I am SO excited to share with you my first post over at FertilityAuthority which goes live today. YAY! I am thrilled about this opportunity to write for this website, which for those who don’t know, is an online source for fertility information. They offer some great tools and resources for those being diagnosed and going through treatment and one of the ways they offer support is through a handful of bloggers. Yes, yours truly is one of them starting today!

So here’s what you can do – simply click here and read! Without further ado … here you go!

http://www.fertilityauthority.com/blog/chelsea-ritchie/2014/12/02/i-have-infertility-i-am-just-you

I love being able to write and share my heart with a new group of readers, however know that this commitment won’t interfere with my writing here in any way. It’s simply another opportunity to connect with me (and me with you!)

And can I beg? Even if you aren’t in need of this website, I would GREATLY appreciate your click and support. I would love to come out of the gates with my community strongly behind me (and yes, I do have a minimum requirement of hits that I need to get) so your click does mean a lot! Thank you in advance for the read, shares and comments! :)

Secondly, we heard back about my blood work results last week and while we weren’t really sure what we were hoping for, we did get some answers. My results came back showing a severe Factor V Leiden mutation which essentially is a rare (less than 3%) mutation where my blood develops abnormal blood clots and is known to cause reoccurring pregnancy loss and late pregnancy miscarriages. The good news is we finally have an answer which is a gigantic answer to prayer. While this mutation can’t be “fixed”, it can be treated with twice daily injections to thin the blood, therefore lessening the chances of blood clots, particularly to the uterus while pregnant.

I was a little overwhelmed when the clinic first called with these results but was quickly reminded by my amazing support team that this answer is a blessing and the success stories once diagnosed are impressive. Even more so, I was reminded that God eats odds for breakfast and that who we serve has abilities far greater than this mutation. In fact, I am fearfully and wonderfully made and this diagnosis doesn’t come as a surprise to Him! So with that, we are stepping forward with faith that this answer is the key to unlocking a miracle.

My last day on active birth control pills was LAST NIGHT (arghhhh!) which means we will likely be starting our IUI cycle in the next few days. CRAZY! Can’t wait to keep you all posted on the exciting happenings as we walk with God back into this treatment pool and await His perfect timing. Join us in prayer, will you? Pray then click the link above. :)

Thanks my friends, for your faithfulness to our journey. We adore you guys and are so thankful for all the ways you partner with us.

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3

tears and stillness.

Anyone else in shock that it’s Thanksgiving this week? Whoa! My plate has been a little fuller than normal, trying to balance in working full-time with my already busy calendar. I added in a high dose birth control pill a few weeks ago to prepare for our IUI cycle and wowza, there is definitely a learning curve getting back into the steady stream of hormones and reintroducing metformin to my system. EEEEEEK!

I wish I could tell you I was handling the to-do list’s and hormones like a champ, but the truth is that it’s gotten the best of me more often than not. I seasoned my salad on Sunday night with tears as I faced the possibility that I might not be able to do it all. The amount of pressure I put on myself to “KEEP UP!” and the acknowledgement that I might not be able to makes me feel like I am failing. I take pride in being able to get it all done, throw the party, drop off the meal, send that card, reply to that text, sneak in a coffee date, comment back to each loving comment left. And then this last week hit and it was like ….

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And a little of this:

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However, I have to note, today, I am more like this.

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So why am I telling you all this? Well, one, so you know I have the same rollercoasters as you do. Two, because I needed to vent that birth control pills and metformin sucks. Three, well, because I am learning a lot during all this.

My soul needs rest. In the midst of chaos and SO MANY LISTS, I have made the mistake of prioritizing everything else above my time with Him and then when the evening comes and my Bible stares at me, well, my eyes just can’t stay open. I need to learn the disciple of being still, of making HIM the priority instead of ensuring I have the green bean casserole made and the turkey purchased (okay, well those actually are two important things).

Psalm 46:10a reminds me “Be still, and know that I am God!”. The act of being still is one of the hardest things for me in this season, as I know it is for many of you too. Psalm 131 continues, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul…” Solitude, quiet time and rest in God is worth fighting for. It’s worth carving out, worth prioritizing, worth bumping all the way up to the most alert part of your day.

I know I need to work on slowing down and simply enjoying His presence, without asking for anything and without worrying about everything else to do. Simply being with Him. Pastor Craig Groeschel says “Stilling our heart doesn’t happen by accident” and this whole last week or two has been a gigantic validation of that statement. So with that, I ask that you offer me some grace as I perhaps write only once a week instead of twice over the next couple weeks, or take an extra day or two to reply to your comments (which I LOVE reading!!!!!), or skip a Friday Favorites (like I will this Friday to spend some Black Friday fun with the family.) I want to take the little extra time I have and savor it, stilling my heart so I can contemplate the goodness of our Great God.

A few last things to note and to be concise, bullet points it is!

  • Thanks to over 85 of you who purchased products through our fundraiser link, we were generously donated over $900 in commissions from our dear friends Annie and Jana. We are completely overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing generosity and sacrifice of so many of you who wanted to be a part of our journey in this way. Humbled doesn’t even begin to describe how grateful we feel. Thank you. So much. 
  • Our IUI cycle is set to start the first week of December if all goes as planned! We are still waiting for test results on the autoimmune testing I had done and I have a call scheduled for tomorrow afternoon to discuss all the fine tuned IUI details and hopefully will get those results then. I will be absolutely sure to keep you all in the detail loop as we move forward! YAHOO!
  • Starting next month, I will be writing for the website Fertility Authority and will be posting blogs with new content over there in addition to my posts here. (Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere!) Can I ask you all a favor in advance? I get paid by views so when I share a link, would you mind just taking a moment to click over and read? If you weren’t able to participate in the fundraiser, this is a great free way to support us! Another amazing thing is that I get to write about my faith on there too, which as you know is a huge part of who I am as a writer and person. I am pumped about this opportunity and honored that they would approach me with this opportunity. Stay tuned the first of week December and then click away!

That’s it! Hope all my USA readers have an amazing Thanksgiving and I will eat extra turkey and mashed potatoes keeping my international readers in mind XO!

eating

 

friendship.

You know what is beautiful? Friendship. Community. People. More and more each day I become keenly aware of the gift I have been given of those that surround me. There is something special about being able to pick up the phone and call a friend, just to chat about the day or pass along a funny story. There is something beautiful about sitting over a cup of coffee in a living room or coffee shop and laughing (or crying) as you share what’s on your heart. Friendship takes time. It takes real investment, open hearts and the willingness to let others in.

Friendship takes vulnerability. It requires raw conversation with the ability to “go there” without doing permanent damage, which requires a deep trust. That trust is built over time, each trial and opportunity building another level to the foundation of friendship.

True friendship is sinking down into the depths of who we really are. Have you ever seen that quote that says “You, too? I thought I was the only one.” True friendship is giving someone something in which they can say that back to you. It’s opening up and being vulnerable, a word that is so hard to whisper these days since we aren’t sure what the response will be.

Shauna Niequist writes “We have to give something up in order to get friendship like that. We have to give up our need to be perceived as perfect. We have to give up our ability to control what people think of us. We have to overcome the fear that when they see the depths of who we are they’ll leave. But what we give up is nothing in comparison to what this kind of friendship gives to us. Friendship is about risk. Love is about risk.”

The thing about friendships though is that they aren’t one way. Many of us have been stung by someone we thought was a friend, that we shared with or supported in their own time of need, but left us abandoned and alone when we needed them. Or perhaps we put ourselves out there, shared that emotional vulnerable story, only to be met with silence, a little awkwardness and a significant absence of phone calls and texts returned. It burns. But it doesn’t mean we give up. Sure, when a “friend” begins to let you down routinely and consistently, with no remorse or causes you pain and makes you feel inferior, there is a time to leave that friendship alone and stop the pursuit. That is necessary because we need to have heart boundaries. However keep in mind that there are seasons where one will give more than they receive and vice versa. I call it the teeter tauter of friendship. We give support, we watch one rise, we cheer them on and help them when they are in need, and when the roles change and the weight of life shifts, the other gets to step up and lend a hand, provide more listening than talking, and stepping up as you did for them. It’s not about receiving all you give, but it’s about balance.

Community is a precious thing, one never to be taken for granted. Know who your people are. Invest in them, both ways, in the good times and in the bad. We can’t do it all and be it all to everyone, this lesson I am painfully learning. But with true friends, the walls fall down, the shyness fades, the conversation about REAL life happens and we talk through the hidden places.

Give it time. Take the risk. Give up the control of being perceived as perfectly as you have crafted. Make it a priority to let your people know how much they mean to you. “The closer you get to someone, the more that friendship gives you and the more force and power it has to make your life bigger and richer.” (Shauna Niequest)

I want my life to be rich. I want others to know how much I care about them in a tangible, heart-warming, comforting way.

My community around me has blessed me so significantly more than I can communicate. Between dropping off meals while I have been on bed-rest after treatments or surgeries, to covering my volunteer shifts at church, to placing an order through the fundraiser – to THROWING the fundraiser, to sending more cards and packages than my little heart can handle, to dropping off a coffee, making a phone call, liking a status … It’s helped me continue to open up, be vulnerable, and give me the strength to help reach others and remind them that God is there. Because of the support of my people, my friends, my world, I can keep pushing forward each day.

Are you in a place where your world feels empty and such community feels foreign to you? I invite you to begin the simple prayer of praying that the Lord brings someone into your life to fill that hole. I am a strong advocate of getting connected in a small group or Bible study as a first step! But I know personally how hard it can be to go through seasons of life without anyone there. I can remember times in my life when I was just praying for someone to connect with, who got me, who I could be ME with. And boy, has God answered those prayers through time and vulnerability. Perhaps you can begin praying over friendships that have slipped away due to negligence or pride. I know that God doesn’t want you to be alone and wants to offer you the richness that comes with friendship. If I can join you in praying for this, I would love to. Please comment below or send in a private email and I promise to be lifting you up in prayer this week.

Lastly, can I share a beautiful act of kindness that was bestowed to me a few weeks ago? I was meeting over coffee with Julie, a sweet friend of mine who I met through a high school friend (and connected with on Instagram – love that). She leaned over and handed me a small box. I carefully began opening its tender corners as she excitedly explained this gift and why she was passing it on to me. (I have to admit I was so touched and overwhelmed that I forgot to listen to it and had to have her email me details again, haha!).

She shared that a few years back, a dental patient of hers had found out that Julie and her husband were struggling with infertility and were trying to have a baby through surrogacy.  4 months later, this patient returned with the box that was now in my hands. The patient, L, told Julie she went back to China to visit her family and brought her back this baby gift, for the baby she was going to have eventually. L gifted Julie with these Chinese fertility statues which were made to help keep “the house full”. She had taken them from her Grandmother’s home while visiting, and that Grandmother had them for over 50 years. L passed these onto Julie, who a short 4 months later found out her surrogate was expecting their little son, Ethan, who is now 1, and Julie tucked them away in Ethan’s room, grateful for the kind gesture of L.

Julie handed these dolls over to me, sharing that while neither of us believes in the superstition behind the fertility dolls, the gesture and the thoughtfulness that rests in passing these down from woman to woman who struggles, is one of the sweetest things. These little statutes now sit out and remind me of the value of friends, hope, and prayers that one day, “our house will be full.” I love them.

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And as Josh Garrels so beautifully sings “Weave your heart into mine, my friend.”

XOXO!

Chelsea

the commitment to hope.

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I was struck by the beauty of these words today. “Hope always feels impossible before we commit to it.” To commit means that we are dedicated to it, steadfast in it, unwavering. I falter, all the time. Hot and cold, trying to survive on my own, stubborn and desperate and stumbling. Then I drink in these words “…God can’t break His word. And because His word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline…” (Hebrews 6:17b-18a MSG)

Hope is a painful thing to work to attain. I am constantly reminded that I can not hope in myself, in my body, in my own strength or wisdom. All of that will (and does) fail me. What I can hope in is the promises that God has made. Charles Stanley has beautifully put together a list of promises that we can claim as believers. For ease of reading, I am posting them below but you can find the website here to read the entire thing. When I remember the promises He has given, my hope gets refilled. Not because I know that it is a guarantee for us having children, but because at the end of the day, we have everything that we need in Him.

God’s Precious Promises:

A. The Lord brought you into relationship with Him (Rom. 5:6-11). When you trusted Jesus as your Savior, you became a child of God. This is the foundation of your heritage because all other promises flow from a relationship with Him.

B. You can have daily cleansing (1 John 1:9). As His child, you now have the privilege to come to Him, confess your sins, and receive His forgiveness to grow in unhindered fellowship with Him.

C. God’s presence is continually with you (Heb. 13:5). You have a traveling companion in the person of Christ who’s promised to never leave nor forsake you.

D. You have the Holy Spirit who is your Helper (John 14:16). Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised to send a Helper. You now have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

E. You have the assurance of God’s strength (Isa. 41:10). When you’re weak, you can rely upon the Sovereign Ruler of the universe to strengthen you.

F. God Himself will supply all your needs (Matt. 6:31-32). He knows exactly what you need and has committed Himself to provide it.

G. He answers your prayers (1 John 5:14-15). When you pray according to God’s will, He answers.

H. God is always ready to give you His best (Ps. 84:11). If you’re living a godly life, the Lord will never withhold any good thing from you.

I. He daily bears your burdens (Ps. 68:19). There is no reason to wake up each morning hindered by trials and heartaches. Instead, lay your concerns down before God.

J. He comforts you in times of trouble (2 Cor. 1:3-4). No matter what the difficulty is, God knows about it and will provide comfort and encouragement.

K. The Lord sets limits on your trials and temptations (1 Cor. 10:13). He will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to endure.

L. He grants wisdom (James 1:5). In every decision you face, God offers wisdom to see life from His perspective if you ask in faith and without doubt. However, sin can keep you from claiming this promise because it crowds out truth and creates uncertainty.

M. The Lord provides rest for your soul (Matt. 11:28-29). When your heart is burdened, Jesus offers rest to those who come to Him.

N. God gives His peace (Phil. 4:6-7). Whenever you bring your anxieties to God in prayer, He provides His peace and creates an impenetrable wall separating you from worry.

O. You can be strong and fruitful in old age (Ps. 92:12-15). Retirement can be one of the most spiritually productive times of your life if you remain strongly planted in the Lord.

P. The Lord will give you the desires of your heart when you delight in Him (Ps. 37:4). If God is more important to you than anyone or anything else, He will grant your desires.

Q. He is a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1-3). The Lord is your refuge and help in times of uncertainty and danger.

R. God gives you direction for life (Ps. 32:8). He knows the pitfalls and dangers that lie ahead and will teach you which way to go.

S. He heals in times of sickness (Ps. 103:1-3). Since God never changes, you can come to Him for healing just as people did in biblical times.

T. Nothing can separate you from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39). His unconditional love is a possession no one can take from you.

U. Jesus provides the gift of eternal security (John 10:27-30). Christ promised eternal life to His followers, so when you die, you’ll instantly be with Him.

V. You have a home in heaven (John 14:1-3). Before Jesus died and rose again, He told His disciples He was going away to prepare a place for them and would one day return and take them there.

Now it’s up to me to claim these promises. To commit to the hope that He offers and to believe the promises that He makes. I am not perfect and at times I feel painfully weak. But this is a hope I amwilling to commit to, to bet my life on, to life for. Lord, help me.

the joy comes in the morning.

The summer before 11th grade, our youth group decided to take a camping trip to Tennessee. Being that I don’t like to camp and dislike all things “roughing it” in general, I thought it was a great idea to go.  (No, really, I have no clue why I thought this was a good idea.) Add in some friends, a chance to do something cool away from home and the opportunity to shop for some new outdoorsy clothes and I was on the list.

Now I had done the summer camp thing loads of times before. A warm cozy cabin set a few hundred feet away from a full bathroom, pool and snack shop? I’m game. My idea of roughing it was having to use a sleeping bag for a blanket and only being able to pack 2 pillows. I was certain that this couldn’t be too different. A tent sounded fun! I bet it was a cute one too. And it was called “Confrontation Point”. That couldn’t mean anything right?

Wrong.

We pulled up to the campgrounds, er, well, basically a forest. As we trotted our way through the weaves of the trails, our leader finally called out “We are here!”. Here? Wait what? Where were the cute tents? The bathrooms? I thought the whole ‘bring your bio-degradable shampoo’ thing was just a 2001-attempt to start a “go green” trend. Huh?

Before I knew it, everyone around me started dropping their backpacks on the ground (wait, I don’t want to get mine dirty!) and pulling out tarps. What is going on!?! I shouldn’t have talked and passed notes during all of the pre-trip meetings! Before I knew it, tarps were being tied to two close trees, with the bottom corners staked to the ground. Where were the tents? We were sleeping on a tarp on the ground with another tarp loosely tied overhead? I wanted to faint. What about the bugs?

Time out. For those of you who don’t know me well, you now need to know that I am terrified of spiders. Like, shriek, dance, shake and cry. The spotting of a spider across the house can typically cause the neighbors to be concerned. I shudder just writing the word spider. Ughhhh. (I have never even watched the Harry Potter scenes with any spiders. My eyes have always remained closed. Even fake spiders freak me out.)

Okay, time in. Campsite is set up, fire is built, everyone around me seems to be frolicking with joy about this whole nature thing, and I wanted to cry. No new clothes, time with friends, or summer adventure was worth being this outside my comfort zone.

Ugh, why did my hair keep tickling my arms? I kept brushing my shoulders off absent-mindedly. What was I going to do? Tickle, tickle. Again? As I glanced down to pull my hair back, I saw it. IT. A gigantic daddy-long legs spider that was about the size of a baseball, crawling up my arm. (Granted, my memory could be playing tricks on me but this is what I remember. HUGE HUGE spiders.)

Well, you can only imagine the scene from there. I was horrified, terrified, crying, screaming, you name it. And that’s when a few other people commented that they had spiders on them too. No one seemed to be hyperventilating like me though. “Oh don’t worry about those! They are completely harmless.” Our guide told me, “They actually just live in the trees and fall out of them. Just brush them off.”

I actually don’t think a paragraph is needed to try to articulate my horrified reaction. The next thing I know, I am talking (okay, sobbing) to our youth group leader that I need to find a payphone. I ran back up the trails to the shelter and with shakey hands, found my 35 cents to call my mom.

Chelsea (me): (wailing) “Mom, you have to come and get meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”

Mom: What are you saying honey?

C: Youuuuuu hhhaaaaavveeeeeeee to come and get meeeeeeeeee. Spiidddeeerrrrrrssssssss.

M: Take a deep breath, I can’t understand you.

Well, it took some time and another 50 cents but I eventually was able to explain to her the horror that was my youth group “retreat” and the urgent need for her to drive from Chicago to Tennessee to pick me up. Imagine my surprise when she lovingly said that wasn’t possible.

Plan B. Find a hotel.

Well, my youth group leader didn’t agree with that idea OR with my idea to let me sleep in the van the whole time. Yada yada yada, not safe to be alone in the van a few miles from the campgrounds. Either way, it was clear and evident that this would be my week to die. Confrontation Point had to do with confronting your fears? Oh boy ….

To be honest, it’s hard for me to explain how truly terrified I was that first night sleeping on the ground knowing that the tiny tinks I was hearing on the tarp above was likely light, fluttery, can’t-really-feel-them spiders falling down on me. Someone from my group gave me a little stuffed animal, a Junior Asparagus Veggie Tales toy, that when you squeezed him would sing “God is bigger than the boogey man, He’s bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on TV, Oh God is bigger than the boogey man and He’s watching out for you and me. So are you frightened (no not really), are you worried (not a bit!). I know whatever’s gonna happen, that God can handle it …” Squeeze. Repeat. Squeeze. Repeat. I am certain that the entire group heard that song over and over and over again all night long, along with my muffled sobs.

But then the next day came and we were off to our next adventure. White water rafting, repelling, hiking, there was enough distractions until dusk set in. Then the fear kicked in and the long, long nights.

I just went and pulled out my old journals that I had on that trip and found several entries scribbled in there – this one kind of made me giggle.

(Dated August 6, 2001 – age 16)

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(At least I apologized for disliking His creation, HA!)

Every time morning would come, I would repeat this verse in my head.

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(Apparently I brought markers with to this camp.)

Now hear me out – how many times in life have we been faced with something we just don’t want to go through? A situation where you need to confront someone else? A trial with a boss or friend? Facing your fears with something or carrying the heaviness of something like infertility, a broken marriage, looming debt, the death of someone we loved, a terrifying diagnosis or an addiction? The weight of the night rests on us and we just want out.

God, please, take this away from me. Can you come pick me up? I don’t want to face this. No? Then can I have an easy way out? Sleep in the van? Find a hotel? Do anything but face my fears?

The night seems to never end.

But at some point my friends, it ends. The sun rises. And perhaps it only rises briefly. Maybe there is another night you have to spend in the tent, facing your fears, fighting your obstacles, crying as you pray. But then there is a break – and the joy comes in the morning.

You know what? That week in Tennessee was really hard for me. I can’t tell you how many times the words “SPIDERS” appeared in my journal, how many times I squeezed Junior Asparagus and how many times I slapped my body, certain there was a spider crawling on me. But somehow, somehow, I made it through that trip. And you know what I wrote in my journal at the end?

 

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“THIS IS AWESOME….it’s cool that .. I’m toughing it out.”

Pride. A sense of gratitude for His presence that went with me into what felt like the scariest and darkest of nights. A strength that I could get through my biggest fears and a spiritual growth that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been forced to stay.

Sometimes we have to stay through the nights. I beg, routinely, to be “picked up” from the infertility camp. And for some reason, I’m still here. But you know what, I am learning so much. About God, about myself, about my marriage and about compassion. I know one day, I will look back on all of it and say “THIS IS AWESOME.”, I really do believe that.

Oceans by Hillsong doesn’t say “Spirit lead me where I am comfortable. Let me walk upon the waters wherever its convenient…” How can we expect to gain trust without borders if we are constantly asking to stay in our little cabin, away from anything that would challenge us?

The joy comes with the morning … and so we patiently (and not-so-patiently) wait for morning to come. Because we are not alone, and because if we are willing, we have so much to learn during the nights.

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community post.

What happens when you join forces with some of the best bloggers around? This post! A few months ago I was reading some of my favorite blogs and felt selfish keeping their words, perspectives and stories to myself. So instead of just sharing their links, I decided to invite them over to my page and team up to create a post. Lucky for me (and you!) they said yes!

Anyone going through life knows about the difficulties of mental attacks and the way that lies can be so easy to believe at times. This fact got us thinking, as women who have struggled or are struggling with infertility, what are some of the lies that we have faced on this journey? And how are we dealing with them? Believing lies and feeding those negative thoughts are one way that we stumble, pick our scabs and dig ourselves into an even deeper hole that can be tough to get out of. Some days it’s simply recognizing that what we are bemoaning is a lie – other days it’s just finding the strength to keep fighting what we know isn’t true. I’ve asked these ladies to share with you today one of the great lies that they have defeated (or continue to battle) and I hope and pray that these encourage you as much as they have me. These women are in all different phases of their TTC journey – some pregnant, some adopting, some still trying to conceive – yet I believe that their stories will bless each of you. Be sure to give them some love too and check out their blogs (linked throughout) and walk along with them. So without further adore, please enjoy reading the words of my amazing friends!

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1. “The lie that I am broken.” By Chelsea (me!) at Starbucks, Peace and the Pursuit of a Baby

Recently I was asked in a study to list out words that I associate with myself – labels that define me. I was surprised at how quickly the first word came – broken. If you read my last post on PCOS and what I deal with, you may understand how I got to that word. It came so quickly that it seemed like my subconscious had been stewing on it for a while. And as I scribbled in my notebook, the word broken just made so much sense. My body doesn’t work right. It doesn’t do what is supposed to be natural for so many women. Verses in the Bible about how we (women) are supposed to be ‘fruitful and multiply’ make me want to cry. “I can’t! I’m trying!” I fight shame constantly over the fact that my body isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s broken.

But then I remembered these simple verses – and it changes everything: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it… How precious are your thoughts about me, O God…” (Psalm 139:13, 14, 17a).

These verses reminded me of these truths – one, He made me. Insulting my body is insulting His work. Does anyone remember that old bumper sticker from the 90’s that said “God doesn’t make junk!” It’s true! Two, we are complex – wonderfully complex. There are so many moving parts in our bodies and just because something isn’t working correctly doesn’t mean the product is broken. It doesn’t define me – I am not broken. Third, His workmanship is marvelous, therefore I am marvelous. (I will withhold from inserting a picture of me in a princess crown, pretending to be marvelous.) But all joking aside, I am not anything less than His perfect daughter, created in His image and crafted to be me. Insulting His creation is insulting Him. Lastly, He thinks precious, beautiful thoughts about me – a Creator who is proud of His creation, not ashamed.

2. “The lie that I am not worthy.” By Wynne at Gloriously Ruined – Living His Story

The past five years have been quite the journey of ups and downs with our struggle with infertility.  At times, I am on top of the world knowing and believing the truth that God is good, and He is trustworthy and He is able to do immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine.  Then there are times I doubt my healing and restoration will ever come.  I didn’t realize until a few weeks ago actually, that I didn’t feel worthy of healing or good gifts from God.

How could that be?  The Bible says, that “every good and perfect gift is from above” and I know that God is the giver of good gifts.  He loves me, and He is working all things together for my good and His glory.  I believed this lie that because of sins in my past, that I wasn’t “good enough” to receive good gifts from God.  I have been praying and believing that God is ABLE to heal me, but I don’t think I’ve really believed He will.  The Word also says, “nothing is impossible with God”, and “God is ABLE to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine”.

God is the great physician, and in this season I feel He’s asking me to stop my striving, and know that HE is God.  While I can’t expect God to respond in a certain way to my faith, knowing there is no “formula” for healing and restoration, I can chose to believe that God is who He says He is, and He is GOOD!  He is about the ultimate good and glory of His name and His story.  He doesn’t have to prove that He’s good by doing what we want Him to – we just chose to believe He is trustworthy!  He is the giver of all good gifts, and I am enough [so are you!].

3. “The lie that I was all alone in this struggle.” By Jessah at Dreaming of Dimples

In my first few years of infertility, I believed that I was alone. I believed that I was surrounded by pregnant women who got knocked up easily. But it wasn’t true. It was a lie that I was telling myself. There are so many of us who are suffering or have suffered varying degrees of heartbreak on the road to parenthood. Some silently and some wearing it all on their sleeves. If 1 in 6 couples have trouble growing their families, we are really never alone on this journey.

Now that I am finally pregnant, I realized something that I will never forget and remind myself often using the phrase “you don’t know her story”. What do I mean by that? Well, a woman in the depths of infertility despair could look at my growing baby bump and think negative thoughts about how she is the only one in the world who can’t get pregnant. That everyone around her can have a baby with such little effort yet it’s so hard for her.

But she doesn’t know my story.

That woman would have no way of knowing that I am just like her. That this pregnancy didn’t come easily or without a fight. That I shed my share of tears. That I tried to conceive for almost 6 years before finally seeing a BFP. That I had to endure three failed IUIs and three failed IVF attempts before finally using an egg donor to conceive my miracle baby.

This woman could feel pain and alienation. But she just doesn’t know my story. I wonder how many pregnant women I saw when I was trying to conceive that made me feel sad. How would I have felt if I had known that they had just got done fighting their own hard battles? Would I have felt connectedness? Camaraderie? Compassion?  Hope? If I had just reminded myself that I am not alone and that I don’t know her story.

4. “The lie that God is punishing me for something I have done.” By Caroline at In Due Time

How many times have you heard someone say that they feel God is punishing them for something they have done? Many people have the thought that the reason they are going through a trial or suffering is because of something they did to cause it and therefore Jesus is punishing them.

That is a lie.

Are there consequences to our actions? Absolutely. Often times when we suffer, it’s because of our own mistakes. However, God does not punish us. God loves us. When you feel like you are being punished, recognize that your punishment was already bought. Romans 5:8 – “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus already paid for our sins. HE is the one who was punished for our sins, not us. HE is the one who received the repercussions, not us. He doesn’t give you what you deserve (punishment and death), because He already paid the price. “He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.” Psalm 103:10

We know God doesn’t punish us, but does He discipline us? Yes. Just as a parent disciplines their child to correct and train them to be more mature, that is what our father does with us. He does it out of love. He does it because He cares for us.

If you ever think that you are being punished, I encourage you to reflect on God’s character. When you have fresh revelations of who He is, you will never doubt that all of His actions towards you are out of love.

5. “The lie that adoption is ‘Plan B’.” By Kailey at Cheers to Plan A

The lie that adoption is ‘plan b’ is a lie that I’ve continually had to lay at Jesus’ feet. It is very easy for me to think, “Oh because we couldn’t get pregnant, adoption is what we had to do so we could become parents.” The truth is that my God is not surprised by our journey to adoption, which was His best plan all along. THAT eases my soul. It gives me peace and allows me to praise Him because His plan is far better than I could ever imagine.

My husband and I have played this silly game called “what is the truth?” I will tell him all these things that are going on in my head from the enemy and he will call it a truth or lie. It sounds super silly, but it works. It helps me match up my thoughts with the Word of God.

The truth is that infertility is how we got to adoption. It is OUR story. And I accept that with joy in my heart. I have no idea what our future looks like, but I know the Heart of my Savior. His heart is turned towards His children and He wants nothing but the very best for you and for me.

I hope that this has encouraged you to make your journey, just that, YOURS. No one else has it. Take ownership, be thankful. It is a privilege to have your own story and live it out. Much love to each of you and know that “Plan A” is what God has had planned for you since the beginning of time AND it is the absolute best!

6. “The lie that I am not healed … at least not yet.” By Elisha at Waiting for Baby Bird

I sat on the edge of my bed taking my blood pressure and as I waited for the reading, I remember thinking to myself that if it is within normal range than I am finally healed of this symptom resulting from PCOS. However as the numbers appeared and I saw 160/92, I heard a whisper that said, “Not healed yet.” Each morning when I would pluck out 15 dark coarse hairs from my chin, I would hear the same voice whispering, “Not healed today.” As my menstrual cycle would go past 50 days for the fourth time in a row, I could hear it again quietly reminding me that I was still not healed.

It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror one day, wondering when I would be healed of this dreaded illness that consumes my entire being, that I heard a different voice…a different whisper. This one said, “By His wounds you ARE healed.” I laughed! If I am healed, then why do I still see the evidence of PCOS? Why do I still have high blood pressure, excess facial hair, insulin resistance, lack of ovulation and long cycles? I am not healed…at least not yet. It wasn’t long after thinking those thoughts that I realized the voice I had been listening to…the one telling me I wasn’t healed yet, was the enemy. He was feeding me the lie that my healing of PCOS was a work to be completed rather than already finished. Isaiah 53:5 says that by His wounds we ARE healed. It doesn’t say we might be…will be…could be…but ARE. God wants you and me to know that what we desperately need Him to do for us has already been done.

Jesus’ finished work at the cross satisfied the Father’s heart that from heaven’s throne came the pronouncement, “It is done!” in response to Jesus’ cry, “It is finished!” on earth. I no longer worry about what I see or feel, or the presence of contradicting reports. These are just lies from the enemy and though they are very real, I know that they are temporal and not the truth. God’s Word is the truth and when you start believing that only what God’s Word says about your situation is true, all the lying symptoms will eventually have to line up with His Word. I am living proof as I can testify that once I began ignoring the voice of the enemy and believing the truth that by His stripes I am already healed, my cycles suddenly became much shorter and ovulation started occurring naturally. I give all the honor, glory and praise to God.

My question to you today is what do you see when it comes to your healing? Do you see a finished work or a work that is yet to be completed? God the Father says, “It is done!” Jesus says, “It is finished!” What do you say?

7. “The lie that God’s gift is actually a curse.” By Charity at The Word of a Nerd

Sixteen weeks along – this milestone was filled with excitement – if we chose to, we could know the sexes of our babies, see how big they’d gotten, and watch them squirm on the ultrasound screen. Instead I laid down for what seemed like hours as the ultrasound technician scanned over and over on my belly. Her excitement waned and she was no longer as chatty as before. I wasn’t worried until she brought the doctor in – a doctor who couldn’t be any worst at delivering bad news. The news about one of my baby’s health was accompanied by the fiery arrows of the devil. They pierced into me and I began to question all of what I thought I knew.

My babies are a miracle! GOD himself directed our path to pregnancy, He orchestrated every single step and I knew that. In that moment I wasn’t sure I knew anything and I was positive that I didn’t hear God correctly. I was sure that I had been disobedient and that God was punishing me by stunting the growth of my baby.

Since then my mind has drastically changed. I am not allowing the words of death to penetrate my heart or my womb. I am reminded that I am loved deeply by the GOD who sent His Son to die for my sins. I am reminded that GOD knew my babies before I did and He loves them much more than I can. His love is what I have hope in and His ability to heal is where my faith lies – not in doctors and not in a diagnosis. The enemy seeks to take the joy that God has given to me by making me believe his gift is a curse. I don’t believe it anymore, I know my God – He operates in love not fear. 1 John 4:18

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I hope this post has blessed you as much as it has blessed me! We love touching others as well, so feel free to share with your friends or readers! I’d love to hear what lie you are debunking and how you are doing it too, so please, join in the conversation and share your heart with us in the comments!

Until next time …  XOXO!

PS – For those regular readers of my blog, Friday Favorites will be postponed a few days — check back Monday or Tuesday for a special edition. :)

… in the land of the living.

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I loved this verse I read from Psalms 27:13-14 today: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Ahh, 6 simple words – “In the land of the living.” My prayers echo this, believing we will see answers to our prayers on this earth during our life. And so we wait. We pray. We remain strong by His might. We find courage in Him. On days of despair, when my heart is in shambles and the statistics shout against my hope, I will wait. I will believe. I WILL see His continued goodness. Breathe in and breathe out. Whatever you’re waiting for today, find Him first then lean into His gentle yet mighty strength.

I believe”– the definition of “believe” is to accept something as truth and be sure of something. So when we say “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living”, we are saying “I trust, without a doubt, without question and with completely certainty, that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” The Message translation reads like this: “I’, sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God.”

It can be so hard to stay with God when you feel weary. But here’s where I have been challenged in the past – when I am feeling my weariest, I realize that I have not been staying with God. I have been trying to manage it all on my own and inviting God to walk along side me, I have not met Him first or sought Him first. I tend to make it about me and my “needs”. I’ll consult Him, when I have the time. His Bible, hey, it’s great to read when I am done with my prayer list. Quiet time to listen? Shoot, well, I have to catch up on the Real Desperate Housewife of Orange County finale …. It’s only in the moments when I put Him first that I truly and completely feel the wave of peace wash over me and the weariness lifted. Because it’s in THOSE moments, when God takes over, carries the load and the invites me to walk beside Him.(And more often then not, He ends up carrying me.)

It’s so worth it and yet it can be so hard. I love the control. I love the adrenaline of the challenge, but it’s so draining. This verse today has reminded me to believe without a doubt that God will grant our prayers on this earth and has increased my confidence and trust in waiting on Him.

discouragement and expectations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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