TTC Mug Exchange 2016.

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It’s time for our 2016 TTC Mug Exchange! Wooohooooo! Last time we had nearly 800 ladies participate and it was a BLAST! All women in all phases of infertility (trying to conceive, pregnant, adopting, new moms, etc… more details on this below!) are invited to participate.I absolutely LOVE how all of these women come together to support one another and spread positive energy and love.

Before I share how to sign up participate, let me answer a few commonly asked questions about these exchanges: (even if you have done this before, I still suggest skimming this as things always change a bit!)

Who can participate?

Anyone who is currently trying to get pregnant, including those suffering from secondary infertility; those who have recently adopted, are in the process of adopting or searching for their new family member; anyone who is currently pregnant after dealing with infertility or recently having had a baby after a struggle and lastly, anyone who is using a gestational carrier, egg donor, sperm donor or surrogate.

Please note that while I will do my best to partner you with someone in a similar stage, you may be given anyone to purchase for. As this exchange grows, it has become increasingly more difficult to ensure that you get an equally appropriate match. My very best efforts are given! Just try to remember that you are encouraging another TTC sister no matter what their story is!

How does it work?

Once you sign up and get the name of the person you are sending to (more details below), you will work to put together an exchange box for them, including a coffee/tea cup/mug. You will be given a “send-by” date and I ask that you respect that date unless there are extreme circumstances. You will send and receive a box to the same person.

How much is this going to cost me?

Typically the suggested amount per box is $20 plus shipping. I don’t advise that you spend more than $20 but we definitely do have some generous women who put together a box worth more. Since not all mugs cost $20, you are able to fill the package with ANYTHING else that might make someone smile! Lucky socks, a special treat, a fun lipgloss or nail polish …. You can’t go wrong (unless you break the law) – this is definitely a situation where it’s the thought that counts.

I do ask that you invest in a lot of bubble wrap and a good box. It helps tremendously to ship it US Priority and get a tracking number just in case anything should happen during transit. (Plus it comes with $50 insurance!) No one wants to receive a shattered mug due to poor packaging!

Besides a mug, is there anything else I HAVE to include?

A note! Please include a card inside with a special word of encouragement for your new friend.

I live in the US/Canada/UK/Australia/etc, can I participate?

Yep! We always have women from all over the world participate and I think that is what makes it so much fun! HOWEVER, you will only be assigned an overseas person if you agree to be open to shipping internationally. (More about that below). I do ask that if you live outside of the US, that you be open to shipping internationally, as many of the participants are located in the United States, however I know that sometimes that’s not an option and that’s okay too. If I cannot find you a partner I will let you know.

What kind of mug do I need to send?

You can get ANY kind of mug. Travel, big, small, delicate, clunky. It could be a cute mug from your local coffee shop, something you ordered on Etsy, bought at Walmart, or ordered off Amazon. There are SO many adorable mugs out there – be creative! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – this can be a mug that you adore or that you think someone else would love.

Because shipping a mug can be tricky, there may be some women who just want to order a mug online and have it shipped directly to their person and then they can send a separate little box of surprises if they didn’t spend $20. (If you do this, take advantage of the “gift card” section in a order to let them know that’s what you are doing).

How many women participate? Is this a legit exchange?

Our Mug Exchanges have been doubling rapidly. Back in 2013, we had about 30 women, n 2014, we had over 400. Last year, we had nearly 800!  I am excited to see what this year brings!

What happens if I send a package but never get one back?

Ugh, guys, it does happen, I have to be honest. It doesn’t happen often but there are definitely a small handful of women each exchange that are subjected to a lost box, a flakey partner, or some other sort of weird circumstance. I will do my best to reach out to your sender once or twice but sometimes due to the sheer volume of participants, it just becomes impossible to make sure everything gets straightened out. From the very beginning of the exchanges I have warned participants that you have to come into this exchange with the understanding that you may not get a box. It stinks that there are some people that might taint this experience but I do promise that it is far and few between. I am a firm believer that it is a blessing to give and if you are one of the few unfortunate few that receives a shattered mug or nothing at all, just know that your gift has blessed someone else. So please understand the risks involved but know that you likely won’t have a problem! In exchange for my time coordinating this, I just ask that you follow through with your commitment to send a package, sound good? :)

Can I share this on my blog/with my instagram followers/on facebook/twitter/etc?

Of course! We LOVE new participants and their friends. Anyone in the infertility community is welcome to join in. We will be using the hashtag #TTCMugExchange2015 so feel free to share and let’s spread the love! (Also, if you want a live link, you can send them to this one: https://trialsbringjoy.com/mug-exchange-2016/

What are the dates I need to know in order to participate?

You will need to sign up no later than end of day Tuesday, September 20th. That’s a good 2 weeks of time to sign up, spread the message and start brainstorming. You will then receive your exchange partner from me via email on either September 28 or 29. (Because of the hours it takes to coordinate, I am not always able to get ALL the emails out on the same day. So if you see someone post that they got their person and you have not yet heard from me, it’s likely due to the amount of time it’s taking me to email everyone back individually. Do not panic!) Once you receive your person, you will have until Saturday, October 15th to put together your package and mail it out. Please make sure if you sign up that you are able to get your box out on time.

What happens when I get my package?

This is the fun part! I LOVE seeing all of the posts where people show off their package! Post your mug to social media and tag it with #TTCMugExchange2016 so we can all peruse the pictures. Send a shout out to your person, blog about it, Instagram it, do whatever you want to celebrate this fun exchange! I do understand too that there are many women who are not publicly sharing their infertility journey with others so know that you don’t have to share it publicly in order to participate. The key thing is that we offer encouragement and support to one another, even if that circle stays small.

Enough FAQ’s! HOW DO I SIGN UP!!?!

Alright, here is how you sign up!

1. Click here to complete the form:

http://tinyurl.com/jbsvye3

You will be routed to a Google Form. If for some reason, you have an extremely difficult time getting this form to work (it’s only happened 1-2 out of hundreds), you can email me at TTCExchange@gmail.com. (Please allow 24 hour for reply.)

I will close the exchange at midnight on September 20th (CST) and will not be able to accept stragglers after that.

2. Make sure you receive a confirmation page! This will verify that your entry has been received.

3. Share! Let your friends know about the exchange! You can share my blog or instagram account so that they can find out more information. I feel awful when someone finds out “too late” and can’t participate so help me make sure no one gets left out. Again, use #TTCMugExchange2016 to share – the more the merrier!

4. Shop, write, smile and sip! Once assignments go out, shop and send out your package with an encouraging note. Then wait patiently and enjoy your mug once it arrives. Share the thoughtfulness of your new friend! I have seen so many amazing friendships form as a result of this exchange. Cell numbers are swapped, emails are exchanged – I have even seen friends plan trips to visit one another due to the friendship formed over a simple package! I LOVE THIS PART!

That’s it guys! I am so excited for this. These exchanges are among the highlight of my year. YIPPEE!!!!

Ready, set, GO!

update + celebrations.

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Ladies and gentlemen, hold on tight … Here’s the post you’ve all been patiently waiting for!!!

OUR UPDATE!

So, last we talked, we shared that our embryo fertilization report came back that had 19 fertilized embryos. AMAZING NEWS! But how many continued to develop? How many would we have to freeze to add to our future family? Well, it all came down to one phone call, one voicemail from our doctor.

And, then we decided to wait to listen to the voicemail. Hear me out!! We had a mini vacation planned at the end of last month and as crazy as it sounds, wanted to venture into those few days without the weight and reality of the news that might be shared. We have felt such peace about this cycle, but there was a chance the voicemail would share we had no embryos and with that, our journey to starting a family would end. It was a loaded voicemail with potentially big effects … and so we saved it until we got back. I had such peace the entire time and wasn’t distracted by the wondering. It gave us a chance to enjoy our time together without distraction.

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Snorkeling and enjoying precious time together!

So, imagine our utter delight and surprise when we listened and learned we have 7 embryos waiting to be welcomed into our home!

Thank you Jesus!

I feel incredibly humbled and moved sharing this outcome with you right now. While nothing is guarantee, we have babies! Teeny, tiny frozen babies that may grow our earthly family in incredible ways.

I have to admit – when I first heard “Fantastic news … 7 embryos!”, my eyes widened. Whoa, babies. If all goes to plan and these embryos result in pregnancies and live births, we may have a REALLY large family. And as I starred as Josh with big eyes, envisioning what this might look like, he sweetly reassured me that God has known this number and these babies all along. And so we continue to trust Him for that! And also, keep our eyes open at van potentials. HA!

No part of this cycle has been without Him. Not only has this cycle been SO significantly different (in a great way!) from cycles past, but the peace He has provided us has been unspeakably reassuring.

So, friends, our family is waiting for us in cryopreserved vials and we couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds. No matter God has planned for us, today we celebrate, rejoice, and THANK HIM for all He has done thus far.

Okay, let’s get a few FAQ’s out of the way!

How many are you going to transfer?

We plan to, in time, transfer all of them, because these precious babies deserve a family! However, we will begin by only transferring 2 of them. If it’s a success, yes, there’s a chance we could have twins. If it’s not successful, then we will transfer 2 more, so on and so forth. If and when we are successful, the others will remain frozen until we are ready to grow our family again. It looks like we have many more embryo transfers in our future. :)

When are you transferring them?

We are planning on a mid-September transfer. Yes, that’s later than we originally planned! There’s two main reasons for that decision:

1) Josh has a trip planned with his father later this summer and if the cycle were to work, he would be gone during some important ultrasound appointments. I know I will be a worried mess when I am pregnant (a huge test of faith!) and having him out of reach anytime during 8-12 weeks makes me uncomfortable.

2) I want to get back into shape! The last year has been a rough one for me in regards to health and fitness – I kind of crumbled after our March 2015 miscarriage and it’s taken me a while to get back into a good routine. This will give me time over the summer to get my butt into a pre-pregnancy health I would be comfortable with.

What did you do differently this cycle? (non-IVF’ers, feel free to zone out on this question)

First of all, we had a new doctor, who is AMAZING and I can’t recommend enough. I strongly believe Dr. Batcheller’s wisdom, care, and dedication to our success has impacted this cycle immensely.

Secondly, in the past we have done a birth control + Lupron suppression protocol. She shared concerns that it may not had been the right protocol for me and over-suppressed me. This time, after just a few short 15 days of birth control to regulate my cycle, we jumped right into stims.

Past: 150-200 IU’s of Follistim, 1 vial of Menopur, daily lupron injections, 10,000 hCg trigger shot, 8 days of stimming, natural fertilization, moderate caffeine intake.

This cycle: 300 IU’s of Follistim, 2 vials of Menopur, 2 spaced out Lupron trigger shots + 2,500 hCg trigger shot, Ganirelix injections starting day 6 of stims, 9 days of stimming, ICSI fertilization, vitamin cocktail, no caffeine for Chelsea, 1 8-oz half-caff cup of coffee for Josh a day, Chelsea gluten free.

What’s the vitamin cocktail?

Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine – Minneapolis gave us this handout and Josh and I both took each of these vitamins as recommended. There was SUCH a significant different in outcomes (see below) that I strongly believe these vitamins had something to do with it.

I am unsure copyright details, but will attach the handout here for you to review until I hear differently! :)

Vitamin Cocktail Handout – provided by CCRM-Minneapolis

Female Cocktail: 2016_01_12_12_30_05

Male Cocktail: 2016_01_12_12_30_48

Summary:

Cycle 1: 11 eggs, 9 fertilized, resulted in 1 day-5 blastocyst, 1 day-6 blastocyst (frozen), and 1 morula for transfer.

Cycle 2: 14 eggs, 11 fertilized, resulted in 2 day-6 blastocysts.

CCRM Cycle: 27 eggs, 19 fertilized, resulted in 7 day-5/6 blastocysts.

How’s the puzzle going?

YOU GUYS! We’re still working on assembling it! This intricate puzzle is a perfect depiction of our journey thus far, haha! We can’t wait to share the final product with you when it’s all assembled and your names have been written! SWOON!

Now, join us in thanking God for His glorious provision for our precious little babies and if you could, continue to pray for their homecoming in September. (Well, 2 of them at least!). Also, if you could pray for my strength and dedication to get my butt back in shape, that would be incredibly helpful. I will certainly share more about that journey throughout the summer.

Alright, now your fertility update has officially concluded! If your eyes are crossed and you have NO idea what I am talking about up there, that’s okay! I share for those who do. And now let’s get back to our regular scheduled blogging updates going forward! I will keep you posted as our Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) plans start to kick in (mid-August) and we will keep rallying with you! HOORAY!

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

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PS: My reunion with caffeine was previous. Did you know that our budget includes $0 for Starbucks? Since 2011 when our infertility treatments started, it became a no brainer that coffee splurges were not a priority. And so, I began asking for Starbucks cards for birthdays and holidays, using them when there was a balance and skipping it when there wasn’t. And as silly as it sounds, I’m always amazed at God’s simple provision over something SO MINOR. Random giftcards are sent to me for no reason but thoughtfulness, always when, unknown to a friend, my balance is getting low. Or, I’m almost out and my free reward cup is earned and ready to be used. I know it’s silly how much a cup of coffee means to me, but it’s a highlight in my day when I’m running around or provides a cozy spot to write or work. As so, every sip of Starbucks reminds me God cares about the little joys in our lives. Love that!

lessons learned from 2015.

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Find the right color lip gloss and use it.

Don’t be afraid to cry and tell a friend when you need a listening ear.

Carry a notebook around at all times. You never know when inspiration will come.

It’s okay to lose your mind after a miscarriage. It takes time but it will get easier, I promise.

Travel with your spouse as much as you can. Precious golden memories are created here.

Don’t be afraid to say no when you just don’t want to do something. Only say “yes” when you are certain it’s the best “yes” God has for you.

Be still more often so He can speak. Silence is painfully beautiful.

Being 30 is wonderful. Embrace new decades because not everyone gets that chance.

Don’t be afraid to take a picture of a precious moment. You’ll be thankful you did.

Always say yes to trips to Hawaii with your best friends.

Fresh air + books + music + time can heal the most shattered soul.

Don’t be afraid to have boundaries up when boundaries are needed.

If you really love the shirt, buy it in every color before it disappears forever.

Write even when it’s hard. Get it out of your head even if it never makes it off your computer screen or notebook pages.

Being brave doesn’t mean staying strong all the time, but instead, acknowledging how fragile you are.

Get your eyebrows shaped by a professional. Worth. Every. Penny.

Harry Potter World is magical. Frozen butterbeer is delicious.

If someone continues to take you for granted, walk away gracefully.

Time spent helping others is important. If you are feeling burned out, find a new place to serve. Volunteer at church, lead a small group, offer your time. Giving is a blessing.

Don’t be afraid to hug someone you usually don’t hug.

Make new traditions with people you love, doing things you love.

Tell people when you are thinking about them. Send a note, text, or email.

Don’t binge watch an intense show. It will destroy your sleep patterns and mind.

Stay up late laughing with the people who restore your heart.

It’s okay to feel restless. Use it as an opportunity to allow God to settle you.

Parasail. Over the ocean if possible. It will all make sense in the clouds.

Write your story down if God leads you to write your story down. Don’t rely on feedback to know you’re obeying Him.

If someone tells you they don’t have time to be a good friend, don’t keep pushing them. It will only frustrate you in the end.

The right planner will make life significantly more organized.

The dollar spot at Target is a dangerous place.

It’s okay to acknowledge your grief and ask others to do that same. Pretending it’s not there isn’t healthy or helpful for anyone.

New York City is one of the best cities on earth. The steak frites at Sarabeth’s and the steak tartar at Saju Bistro will make your taste buds rejoice.

Listen to instrumental music. The landscapes painted by orchestras are calming.

It’s a blessing to celebrate 10 years of marriage with someone who makes you laugh. Don’t take this for granted.

The house project you have been dreading won’t take as long as you think it will. It will feel wonderful once it’s done.

Let go of the small slights faster. Holding on to them will only make you bitter and frustrated.

Self care is important. Stay an extra hour at the coffee shop.

It’s okay to ask questions and wrestle with God for answers. There’s healing in the search.

Writing a devotional is really hard and really rewarding. Trust Him.

The people in your life who give your dog gifts are good, good people. They get you.

Have coffee mugs that make you smile while you sip every morning.

Trust God more.

2015. A year with high highs and low lows. In the end, a powerful reminder not to be afraid of the unknowns, the future, the restlessness. Each year that passes is never what I expect, but when I close them out, I realize they hold everything that life is made out. The good, the bad, the tears, the laughs, the memories. Let’s savor each day, considering them a blessing, a gift, a building block.

Here’s to the God-given lessons to be learned in 2016.


Looking for a great tool to use while you reflect on 2015? You have to check out this fabulous resource my friend Ashley at Graced & Co designed. It’s a MUST when it comes to sitting with God and processing your 2015. Ashley, thanks so much  for letting me share this with my readers! (PS – Her products are really really really beautiful too.) 

Click Here to Download the 2015 reflection worksheet

devotional + small group opportunity.

2016 really is here, isn’t it!? With it comes so many great resolutions, and for me, like many, it’s about nailing down a consistent devotional time each day and diving into His word more. Do you need a little accountability like I do? Or are you searching for a devotional to kick off the year with? I’d love to invite you to join our online In the Wait Small Group kicking off on January 17th! We just wrapped up our first online session in December with over 170 ladies and it was so powerful and encouraging – I know this next session won’t disappoint! This study is more than just a book – it’s an interactive devotional that gives you a chance to apply His Word to YOUR own season of waiting, whatever that may be, and process through how to apply what you are learning to your life.

So, what do you need to know if you are interested?

  1. All you need is a copy of In the Wait + a pen + access to a Bible (hello YouVersion app!). You will be emailed the week of launch with all the joining details. The group itself is “secret” through Facebook.
  2. If you don’t already own a copy, you can purchase one here: http://www.hollyholtdesign.com/shop/in-the-wait-6-week-bible-study (You still have time to order and get it before the group starts! Copies are going fast so grab yours today!)
  3. Already have your book and want to make sure you are on the invite email list? CLICK HERE to add your name to the email invite list.
  4. Want to invite a friend to join you in the study? CLICK HERE to send a personalized invitation to a friend!

I have loved being a part of this study. It has really transformed my heart and spiritual life, specifically as to how to live in a season of waiting with purpose. I would LOVE to have you join us if you are interested! I adore seeing what God has been teaching every woman who has gone through the study with us already online or on their own. Thanks for posting your pictures and sharing what God is teaching you! Here are some of my favorite picture’s you’ve shared on Instagram so far:

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Note: after this January session, there likely won’t be another online group till fall so don’t miss out if you are interested! Questions? Fire away below and I will get right back to you!


With that said, friends, 2016 really is here. I am working away on nailing down my Word of the Year, wrapping up what I took away from 2015, and sharing more about what’s swimming around in this brain of mine. I am excited to reestablish the rhythm and routine that January holds and get back into a good blogging pattern. So stay tuned for all the fun to come this month. :) Have a great day!

november crushes.

Happy Wednesday friends! Time for a fun little post on some of the things that I am loving this month. (Think Friday Favorites but toned down a bit!) It’ll be fun to check in each month and share my top 5’s with you! So, let’s kick off Novembers without delay!

1 – Hallmark Christmas Movies

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Now don’t get all crazy on me here and start shouting out things about Thanksgiving being first and ‘tsking’ me for loving to watch predictable, G-rated sappy movies. I can fully embrace both seasons for all they are worth with equal love. :) That being said, here is the link for all of the new Hallmark movies playing in the next 6ish weeks! Spend a few minutes with your DVR and record these corny gems!

http://www.hallmarkchannel.com/christmas/schedule

2 – Mended

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My sister has been telling me about the book Mended by Angie Smith for ages and last weekend, she surprised me with a copy! I am in the middle of reading it and LOVING it so far.

One line that has stuck out with me the last week is “God has a way of redefining our expectations.” It’s been thought provoking to flush out what expectations I have had for my life and how He has redefined them – and even more so, the good that has come from it.

Looking for a little idea of what the book is about? Here you go!

“We love to cheer for the underdog and believe to our core that every life makes a difference. And we are right. There is no one God can’t use and no one whose brokenness is too broken for God. We know this is true for our friends when we want to encourage them. Yet, when it comes to the places of our innermost sense of shame and regret, we often wonder if it is really true that God can work all things together for good for those who love Him.”

3 – My TTC Crate

This awesome TTC care package was delivered right to my front door from my friends over at TTC Crates! This month, my box was filled with these goodies:

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My two favorite things are the coffee sleeve (the heart is gold and sparkly! Drool!) and the earrings. They are just the perfect amount of bling! Every time I wear them, I get compliments. I am so pumped to try the tea, which I haven’t yet, but it smells amazing! I love how TTC Crates incorporates practical things like ovulation tests with fun things like tea and jewelry. If you are interested in sending or receiving your own TTC Crate, check out their website. They offer a variety of sizes (mini, regular and deluxe) and this month only while boxes are in stock, use “trialsbringjoy” at checkout and get 10% off! I know their November crates are almost sold out, so don’t delay!

4 – Sinking Deep (acoustic) by Hillsong Young & Free

This song gets me every. single. time. God’s grace has been heavy in my mind and heart lately. I absolutely love closing my eyes and feeling His love wash over me. Check it out – I am including the acoustic version below because, well, acoustic music is my jam.

“Your love so deep, is washing over me. Your face is all I seek, You are my everything, Jesus Christ, You are my one desire, Lord hear my only cry, to know you all my life.”

Crank it, worship to it, and let His love wash over you too.

5 – Gratitude Lists

logo‘Tis the season! But seriously, gratitude lists are one of my favorite things ever. If you don’t have a notebook or journal you keep, check out this free printable download from Day Designer. I printed out a handful of them and keep them on a cute clipboard (Target $1 Spot!) in my kitchen. It only takes a brief minute each day to reflect on the beautiful, good blessings in your life. Stop what you are doing and go grab it!

Click here to Download

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Alright friends, that’s it! Who wants to help me come up with a clever, creative name for this monthly top 5 list? Comment below and I will pick my favorite! (And maybe you will even get a little surprise in the mail!)

Oh, and because we still need funnies, here are a few of the ones that got me this month!

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And lastly, to our veterans (and their sacrificial families), thank you. Thank you for your courage to stand for our freedom and for bravely believing this country is worth fighting for. I admire you so much and my gratitude can’t be put into words.

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Looking for the TTC Mug Exchange Sign-Up? Click here to submit your information by November 15th!

think positive.

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

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

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

Wait a second …. 

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

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

IT’S A LIE!

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

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

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

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

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

What then?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what I think the quote should say:

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

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

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

ttc mug exchange 2015.

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It’s time for our 2015 TTC Mug Exchange! Wooohooooo! Last time we had over 400+ ladies participate and it was a BLAST! All women in all phases of infertility (trying to conceive, pregnant, adopting, new mom, etc… more details on this below!) are invited to participate.I absolutely LOVE how all of these women come together to support one another and spread positive energy and love.

Before I share how to sign up participate, let me answer a few commonly asked questions about these exchanges: (even if you have done this before, I still suggest skimming this as things always change a bit!)

Who can participate?

Anyone who is currently trying to get pregnant, including those suffering from secondary infertility; those who have recently adopted, are in the process of adopting or searching for their new family member; anyone who is currently pregnant after dealing with infertility or recently having had a baby after a struggle and lastly, anyone who is using a gestational carrier, egg donor, sperm donor or surrogate.

Please note that while I will do my best to partner you with someone in a similar stage, you may be given anyone to purchase for. As this exchange grows, it has become increasingly more difficult to ensure that you get an equally appropriate match. My very best efforts are given! Just try to remember that you are encouraging another TTC sister no matter what their story is!

How does it work?

Once you sign up and get the name of the person you are sending to (more details below), you will work to put together an exchange box for them, including a coffee/tea cup/mug. You will be given a “send-by” date and I ask that you respect that date unless there are extreme circumstances. You will send and receive a box to the same person.

How much is this going to cost me?

Typically the suggested amount per box is $20 plus shipping. I don’t advise that you spend more than $20 but we definitely do have some generous women who put together a box worth more. Since not all mugs cost $20, you are able to fill the package with ANYTHING else that might make someone smile! Lucky socks, a special treat, a fun lipgloss or nail polish …. You can’t go wrong (unless you break the law) – this is definitely a situation where it’s the thought that counts.

I do ask that you invest in a lot of bubble wrap and a good box. It helps tremendously to ship it US Priority and get a tracking number just in case anything should happen during transit. (Plus it comes with $50 insurance!) No one wants to receive a shattered mug due to poor packaging!

Besides a mug, is there anything else I HAVE to include?

A note! Please include a card inside with a special word of encouragement for your new friend.

I live in the US/Canada/UK/Australia/etc, can I participate?

Yep! We always have women from all over the world participate and I think that is what makes it so much fun! HOWEVER, you will only be assigned an overseas person if you agree to be open to shipping internationally. (More about that below). I do ask that if you live outside of the US, that you be open to shipping internationally, as many of the participants are located in the United States, however I know that sometimes that’s not an option and that’s okay too. If I cannot find you a partner I will let you know.

What kind of mug do I need to send?

You can get ANY kind of mug. Travel, big, small, delicate, clunky. It could be a cute mug from your local coffee shop, something you ordered on Etsy, bought at Walmart, or ordered off Amazon. There are SO many adorable mugs out there – be creative! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself – this can be a mug that you adore or that you think someone else would love.

Because shipping a mug can be tricky, there may be some women who just want to order a mug online and have it shipped directly to their person and then they can send a separate little box of surprises if they didn’t spend $20. (If you do this, take advantage of the “gift card” section in a order to let them know that’s what you are doing).

How many women participate? Is this a legit exchange?

Our 2014 mug exchange had over 400 participants! It has certainly grown from it’s 30-person stage back in 2013. :)

What happens if I send a package but never get one back?

Ugh, guys, it does happen, I have to be honest. It doesn’t happen often but there are definitely a small handful of women each exchange that are subjected to a lost box, a flakey partner, or some other sort of weird circumstance. I will do my best to reach out to your sender once or twice but sometimes due to the sheer volume of participants, it just becomes impossible to make sure everything gets straightened out. From the very beginning of the exchanges I have warned participants that you have to come into this exchange with the understanding that you may not get a box. It stinks that there are some people that might taint this experience but I do promise that it is far and few between. I am a firm believer that it is a blessing to give and if you are one of the few unfortunate few that receives a shattered mug or nothing at all, just know that your gift has blessed someone else. So please understand the risks involved but know that you likely won’t have a problem! In exchange for my time coordinating this, I just ask that you follow through with your commitment to send a package, sound good? :)

Can I share this on my blog/with my instagram followers/on facebook/twitter/etc?

Of course! We LOVE new participants and their friends. Anyone in the infertility community is welcome to join in. We will be using the hashtag #TTCMugExchange2015 so feel free to share and let’s spread the love! (Also, if you want a live link, you can send them to this one: https://trialsbringjoy.com/mug-exchange-2015/

What are the dates I need to know in order to participate?

You will need to sign up no later than end of day Sunday, November 15th. That’s a good 10 days of time to sign up, spread the message and start brainstorming. You will then receive your exchange partner from me via email on either November 17 or 18 . (Because of the hours it takes to coordinate, I am not always able to get ALL the emails out on the same day. So if you see someone post that they got their person and you have not yet heard from me, it’s likely due to the amount of time it’s taking me to email everyone back individually. Do not panic!) Once you receive your person, you will have until Saturday, December 5th to put together your package and mail it out. Please make sure if you sign up that you are able to get your box out on time.

What happens when I get my package?

This is the fun part! I LOVE seeing all of the posts where people show off their package! Post your mug to social media and tag it with #TTCMugExchange2015 so we can all peruse the pictures. Send a shout out to your person, blog about it, Instagram it, do whatever you want to celebrate this fun exchange! I do understand too that there are many women who are not publicly sharing their infertility journey with others so know that you don’t have to share it publicly in order to participate. The key thing is that we offer encouragement and support to one another, even if that circle stays small.

Enough FAQ’s! HOW DO I SIGN UP!!?!

Alright, here is how you sign up!

1. Click here to complete the form: **The Mug Exchange is now closed. Please join us in 2016 for another!**

I will close the exchange at midnight on the 15th (central time) and will not be able to accept stragglers after that.

2. Make sure you receive a confirmation page! This will verify that your entry has been received. If you need to make changes after it has been sent, please email me at ttcexchange @ gmail (dot) com.

3. Share! Let your friends know about the exchange! You can share my blog or instagram account so that they can find out more information. I feel awful when someone finds out “too late” and can’t participate so help me make sure no one gets left out. Again, use #TTCMugExchange2015 to share – the more the merrier!

4. Shop, write, smile and sip! Once assignments go out, shop and send out your package with an encouraging note. Then wait patiently and enjoy your mug once it arrives. Share the thoughtfulness of your new friend! I have seen so many amazing friendships form as a result of this exchange. Cell numbers are swapped, emails are exchanged – I have even seen friends plan trips to visit one another due to the friendship formed over a simple package! I LOVE THIS PART!

That’s it guys! I am so excited for this. These exchanges are among the highlight of my year. YIPPEE!!!!

Ready, set, GO!

guest post: natalie brenner writes.

October is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month and I was touched by the invitation to guest post over at ‘Natalie Brenner Writes’. It’s important to bring awareness to the fact that miscarriages happen and even more than that, I love coming along side of those going through pain and grief and reminding them they aren’t alone. I invite you to hop over to ‘Natalie Brenner Writes’ to read my post about the tunnel – the tunnel that is life after a miscarriage. I hope that if you can relate, that it gives you hope today in the goodness of God. Thanks for reading!

“I’m so sorry to tell you …”

All the phone calls started the same way. In some cases, I was anticipating this call, the bleeding had already started. In others, the hope levels had risen high enough in my chest to anticipate a different set of words coming from the doctor’s mouth. Either way, the outcome was the same. “This pregnancy is no longer viable. I am sorry to share that you are miscarrying.”

Numbness set in. Tears flowed. Questions started flying up to God faster than my brain could think them. My heart would pound loudly. I’d feel sick to my stomach. “This is happening. I am losing my baby.”

{click here to continue reading} 

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squawking.

Don’t you wish we had a Magic 8 ball that we could shake? One that would tell us our future, you know, for planning sake. Or perhaps God could rent a skywriter for the day and with smoke, transcribe the answers we are looking for in the sky.

I’m with you. I struggle when I feel a little restless, uncertain of what lies ahead, feeling naked with my plan stripped away from me. What’s next? I ask this question to God on repeat so much that I have started to sound like a talking, squawking parrot.

Have you been there too? Do you ever feel like a little kid sitting in the back of the parent’s car.

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

How about now?

Where are we going again?

How do we get there?

Are we there yet?

When are we turning? 

I am thankful that God’s attributes include compassion and patience, but I am sure at times He gets exasperated with me.

Child! Trust Me! I know where we are going. We aren’t there yet. Just stop talking for a minute and listen for Me to lead the way.

I was having this conversation with Him this morning when I flipped to my Jesus Calling devotional. I had to chuckle when I read the first line: “Trust Me enough to let things happen without striving to predict or control them.” Ahhhh, so this is where active trust comes in.

I’m in a season right now where I don’t know what’s ahead. My heart is torn between a lot of options for our future and I feel restless not knowing which path to choose. Even more frustrating is that God isn’t making any particular path very clear to me. Instead, He is answering back that I am supposed to wait in this season of unknown, intentionally NOT choosing one of the paths in front of me. That is hard for me! I don’t mind waiting with direction, but waiting without direction makes me itchy, clammy, and a little discouraged.

Yet, God has continued to reaffirm that this place is exactly where He wants me. He wants me to stop and learn to wait for Him, to trust Him enough to be okay without knowing the future or being able to control it.

I love Psalm 37:5: “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act.” It seems SO simple when we read it, but it’s not easy! But I know He honors this act of faith. The thought continues further down in verse 7a – “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him….”

Stillness is never easy. Being in a season of unknown can be exhausting, but I am learning that it’s only tiring when we allow it to be. I am wasting a lot of energy squawking like a bird and screaming like a child in the car when God is just telling me to be still. Stillness, in fact, should be the least exhausting action at all! Stillness involves rest, restoration, and listening. Even my vocal cords should be getting a break! (Imagine that!)

Psalm 38:9 seems to perfectly describe my prayer at the moment: “O Lord, all my longing is before You; my sighing is not hidden from You. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes – it also has gone from me.” Ever been there? Maybe you are there right now. Maybe you have vulnerably set your longing before Him. You know what? He hears our sighing. Perhaps your heart is throbbing and you feel so tired and weak. He is with us.

Read these words from Psalm 40 with me today (I found strength in reading them outloud) and claim the victory that He has promised!

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what He has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” (v.1-3)

Seasons change. Trusting in Him is not purposeless or pointless. He lifts us up. He steadies us. He fills our mouths with a new song. And in the end, as a result of our patience, our steadfastness, our trust, He is glorified! Doesn’t that make it all seem worth it?

Lord, help me to commit my ways to You. Help me to trust in your promise to act. Allow me to be still and wait patiently for you. Amen.

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fur mama giveaway.

Oh I am SO excited for this one friends! If you know me at alllllll, you know that my fur baby, Cali, is insanely precious to me (bordering obsessive) and that I love being her fur mama. Another thing I love is mail and encouragement. So imagine my DELIGHT when I saw that Fertile Box’s October TTC Care Package was made SPECIFICALLY with Fur Mama’s in mind! ALL THE FEELS. (And it can be made for a cat or dog mom too!)

Crystal sent me and Cali this AMAZING Fur Mama Care Package and we couldn’t love it more! So, I couldn’t let the day pass without sharing this awesome box with you AND of course, inviting you to win one for FREE! (More details on that later!)

(Side note: If you aren’t trying to conceive and still want this box, you can! When you order it, simply add a note that you aren’t trying to conceive and she will omit the TTC-related items, as well as allow you to add an extra quote print of your choosing. HURRAY!)

Let me walk you through this awesome box. Gah, you’re going to love it!

My box arrived and was packaged so cute and carefully. Take a peek!
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Cali was immediately interested and of course came over to help open it! First we opened the Fur Mama Survival Kit.

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Inside was: 2 flower and bow collar attachments, a package of homemade dog treats (which has been Cali-approved!), an adorable Snoopy halloween toy (with a squeaker, which we have been hearing all weekend in the most adorable way), and some fall doggy bags.This bag was a home run!!!!!

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Next we opened this box:

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Inside was this PRECIOUS paw print necklace in silver. I’m swooning!

Next we opened this Trick or Treat bag.

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Inside was some special treats for me – a face mask, a KIND bar (my favorite kind too!), some Kettle Pop gourmet gum, and of course, you can’t do fall without some pumpkin spice! I can’t wait to try this Tazo Chai tea!

 

Next up, unwrapping this:

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It held this ADORABLE Fur Mama tee shirt! The shirt is so soft! They offer sizes S – 2XL. I can’t wait to iron mine and rock it! You can count on seeing a selfie on Instagram this week for sure. (Just realized this image is a little blurry but you get the picture!)

Next up – this 5 x 7 quote print out. I love how she adhered it to the box so that it shipped safely. Just love it!

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Last up was the TTC part of the package, which again, can be omitted if you aren’t TTC and replaced with an extra quote print out:

The front of the package looks like this:

And it’s filled with 5 ovulation tests, 2 pregnancy tests, and of course, baby dust!

Seriously – you guys. This will put a smile on ANY Fur Mama’s face! The card in the box says it all: “For many of us … the only thing keeping us sane on this difficult journey to parenthood is the unconditional love of our fur babies….We may not be human mommies yet, but we’re wonderful loving Fur Mama’s!”

If you are supporting someone who is struggling to start a family and know that they would love this Fur Mama package, order them one. Seriously. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about someone going out of their way to acknowledge how much of a mom you can be to a pet.

Every month has a different theme for the Monthly TTC Care Packages and this is the only month to order the Fur Mama collection and they will sell out, so don’t delay! Head over to http://www.myfertilebox.com to place an order! There are two versions of the box, this FULL version ($36) which includes everything pictured, and the MINI version ($26) which has everything except the t-shirt. Seriously, for everything inside, it’s a DEAL!

BUT WAIT! Because I love you guys so much, and Crystal over at Fertile Box is so amazing, we are offering my readers a special promotional code for a FREE “Refuse to Sink” silver cuff! All you have to do is enter the Promo Code FALLBONUS when checking out.

Every month there is a different theme to the packages so if you aren’t a fur mama, or if you want to spread some love next month or over the holidays, keep checking out http://www.myfertilebox.com for updates. There is always something new and it makes this journey so much more bearable.

Now, the GIVEAWAY!!!!!

This giveaway is being conducted entirely through Instagram, so head on over to my account @chels819 to enter. Rules to enter:

  1. Follow @FertileBox and @Chels819
  2. Like the Giveaway Picture
  3. Tag 3 friends that you think might be interested!

That’s it! But for an extra 3 entries, repost the Instagram picture (pictured below for an easy save and repost) and use the hashtags #fertilebox #FurMamaGiveaway. (if you are set to private, direct message me a screenshot of the post.)

So easy! We are drawing the winner at the end of the day FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9TH so don’t let time get away from you! This honestly is the funnest giveaway EVER and I can’t wait to spoil a special fur mama with this package. (By the way, we are giving away the FULL version! Whoop whoop!).

Okay, what are you waiting for? Go enter and/order! Before they are all gone!

Use this Image on Instagram to repost

Use this Image on Instagram to repost

(Also, congratulations to Amy L. who won the In Due Time book giveaway! It’s not too late to buy a copy for yourself – head on over HERE to purchase one for yourself in paperback or for your Kindle! Thanks again Jen for sponsoring that giveaway!