falling into fall.

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Goodness, it’s been a while since I last posted. Hello fall! I have enjoyed the mini break but am pumped about jumping back into the blogging world again! Woot woot! I’m baaacccckkkkk!

I feel like I need a brief catch up post before getting into my regular writings, so here’s the top 5 questions that have come my way lately:

  • Are you pregnant? No. I promise, silence in my case does not mean I am hiding a big secret. My silence has merely been enjoying the break of it all and disconnecting a bit from the whole TTC world. While I am not pregnant, I can celebrate the fact that this PCOS gal has had 3 natural and regular cycles since going off of letrozole in June. Exciting? Most definitely.
  • What’s next? We are not sure exactly truthfully. I can share that our plan is to potentially, God-willing, directed and provided for, do one last IVF cycle this winter before hanging up the towel on medicated cycles. While I’m not sure exactly when that would be, I do promise to keep you in the loop if and when things progress. Our hearts have always been to act along side of God’s will, plan for us and to be wise. We are trusting that He won’t fail us now. Your prayers for us to have wisdom are always greatly appreciated.
  • Where can I get a copy of In The Wait? YES! It’s back in stock! You guys, remember how I got to help co-author a woman’s devotional? I am still so excited about what He is doing with this project and want to get it into the hands of everyone who struggles with living life fully while waiting. Keeping in mind that this is not my product (meaning I don’t make money based on its sales), the reason I am so passionate about sharing it with you is because it’s good, Godly, life-giving stuff! I have seen how He has already used it and know He will continue to do that. So if this devotional sounds like a good fit for you, I encourage you to check it out. You can read more about it here or click here to purchase.
  • What are you learning? Right now God is teaching me the fine art of not knowing the future and trusting in Him. I have to admit, at the moment I feel a little wobbly, unsure of what’s ahead and simply praying that He would guide me into tomorrow with confidence. I don’t have a particular work project on my plate, or cycle information, or book going on. I am just being and trying to savor this season with wise stewardship. Challenging, yes, but full of opportunities to refuel.
  • When’s the next TTC exchange? Mid October! I can’t wait to kick off our annual TTC Mug Exchange and swap cute coffee/tea cups from around the world. Exchanges are always a highlight of the year for myself and many others, so keep your eyes open for more details in the coming month! (This link is just to give you an idea of what last years was like! Hold off on sending any info in until this years is formally announced and details provided. Thanks!)

(Speaking of mugs, I finally added a page to track my own Starbucks City Mug collection. Feel free to check it out!)

And because I can’t NOT show you Cali’s FURst day of school picture …. here it is! Heheh! Seriously though, cute right!?

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That’s all from me today, but don’t worry, I’ll be back soon! In the next month I’ll be sharing some fun guest posts, hosting several different kinds of giveaways, and as always, sharing my heart, mind, lessons and laughs with you all. Happy Sunday!

the hallway.

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A few years back, my mom gave me this wooden sign that now sits by my kitchen sink: “Until God opens the next door, praise Him in the hallway”. It’s become a favorite sign for me to read on a daily basis while I’m washing dishes and I routinely ponder what it looks like in my life.

I envision a long hallway with a locked door at the end. Have you ever stood in that hall with me? Trying to open a door that doesn’t seem to be budging? Perhaps you can relate in the desire to have a baby. Or maybe on the other side of the door is the spouse you’ve been praying for or the job promotion you deserve. Whatever it is, you can see it – some days you feel like the doorknob is wiggling, and yet, you can’t get in the door. So in the hallway we sit.

I turned 30 last week. T H I R T Y. At first I was nervous about entering this new decade, the one that now requires me to check off a new age bracket, start seriously thinking about eye cream and even renew my driver’s license. Thirty.

I didn’t anticipate it, but guess what? I love being 30. Like, L-O-V-E it. It seems crazy that an age can bring with it such a wave of contentment but I am so fully embracing this new decade that it scares me a little. I am doing this. I am being and enjoying life, with all its unknowns, even here in the hallway. Perhaps I am still running off of birthday celebration fumes, the aftertaste of parties and cards and hugs. But it feels deeper than that – it feels like a fresh start.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Our speaking pastor, Jason Strand, mentioned it yesterday in his sermon and I absolutely loved what he said after: You don’t need to be thankful FOR all circumstances; you need to be thankful IN all circumstances.”

You know what that means? We don’t need to be thankful for the hallways – infertility, singleness, job loss, health issues … but we do need to be thankful IN the hallways. There’s a big difference there! Being thankful in the hallway starts with our attitudes, how we view our circumstances, and what we choose to focus on. Our pastor continued by saying “Happiness isn’t getting what you want; happiness is enjoying what God has given you.”

So good.

What is your hallway today? And how are you learning to embrace it and find joy in it? I promise, no matter how lost we feel, God sees us there in the hallway. We haven’t gotten stuck in a maze and disappeared from His sight. Maybe that locked door isn’t opening anytime in the near future. Or perhaps it never opens but another one in the hall does. Or maybe, it opens tomorrow. Either way, we can’t waste today forgetting that it’s possible to praise Him in the hallways.

Now a note to myself:

Dear Future Chelsea, remember this moment. Remember the contentment you have in the hallway. Don’t lose sight on His goodness as you wait. Keep your perspective upward and when you slip, which will inevitably happen because you’re human (and hormonal), come back to Him and keep praising Him. He hasn’t let you down and He won’t start now.

Love, 30 years + 5 days old Chelsea

Have you gotten a copy of the In The Wait devotional book yet? Don’t miss your chance! Preorders close THIS Wednesday and then the book won’t be available for purchase again until September 14th. Plus, you get freebies if you order now! Check out this post for all the details + your chance to order.

Interested in hearing Pastor Strand’s entire message? Click here to listen. 

watering.

Cali and I just came in from our small garden, a basket full of tomatoes and lettuce and onions and herbs. When Josh and I planted, eerrrrrrr, when Josh planted everything at the beginning of the summer, it was hard to see how the tiny plants would ever produce anything.The sprinkler waters them, Josh trims them back and pulls off fruitless branches, in fact, he even installed a special gutter ledge to prevent the rain from pounding their tender leaves. (We can see who has the green thumb here, don’t we?) We wait. And we wait. And nothing seems to happen. But now, here I stand today gathering ripe tomatoes and lush lettuce and bundles of herbs. We can barely keep up with it!

“What do we have here today Mom?”

Then we have my actual flowers – the potted kind. I am the one that’s more responsible for these than Josh. And, shrug, they are nearly all dead. Watering with the hose seems like so much work. The water can takes forever to fill up. (Ridiculous I know.) Every time it rains, I pray that there are large gusts of wind that will blow the rain water to every plant, covered by the porch or not. I get lazy and then, well, the plant dies.

When we water ....

When i water ….

when we don't.

… when i don’t.

Josh will point out that my flowers are dead and remind me that I should water them. I begrudgingly get the hose and watering can out the next day and drown them, praying that this watering brings them back to life. Luckily, it usually works until about 2 weeks later when Josh reminds me again that my plants all look dead. I have great intentions at the start of the summer to water regularly and rip off their heads when they die, (I believe the technical term is deadheading), but then I get so lazy, certain they can sustain on their own.

As I harvested the tomatoes today, the thought flashed through my mind of how often life feels like a plant. One day we are looking at a circumstance and it feels so small and empty, impossible. We see no progress being made and our efforts to make it grow seem meaningless. But we stay persistent and then, suddenly, it happens. That first tiny flower, a sign of what’s to come. Then another. And another. And before you know it, that circumstance feel like a lush garden, fruit coming off the plant every day. But that fruit doesn’t just appear. It comes as a result of patience, watering, intentional grooming, and the routine of putting into it when you don’t yet see an outcome. Are you waiting for fruit today? That promotion to come or perhaps your walk with God to grow closer? Maybe it’s a new diet or fitness routine or trying to break a bad habit. Keep putting in. Keep working hard, even when it doesn’t seem like it’s paying off. Stay focused to the end goal – the harvest. Water your skills, your body, your mind, your spirit each day and wait. It will come!

Likewise, don’t be like me, never watering the plant or taking care of it and expecting flowers to bloom. Don’t expect an outcome when you don’t put in the work. Yes, it may be hard. Yes, you may feel lazy. I am right there with you!

I go through days where I expect the watering of my soul from last week’s devotions to carry me over to today. But then when a sharp word comes out of my mouth or my spirit would rather turn on secular music than worship music, I realize how dry my “soil” has become. My patience for people starts to wilt and only God can refresh my decaying mess. The reward of being rewatered and cared for feel so good, but wouldn’t it just be easier to keep the plant alive in the first place? For me, YES!

Think about it today friends. In what area of your life do you need to be reminded to keep your watering up? Your work isn’t in vain, your patience hasn’t been dismissed. You will reap a harvest. And also, in what area of your life do you need to start taking better care of your plant? Start watering it. Begin investing in it and then keep it alive with daily care.

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”  Galatians 6:9 (NASB)

Now, I’m off to figure out what to do with all these tomatoes! If only mozzarella grew on a bush …..

10 things and summer in a nutshell.

Excited to share a featured story over on EmpowHER today! The response from the community has been so well received and you are to thank! Thank you for sharing articles like this which foster awareness, education and help guide relationships and conversations. Keep the warm, open, honest and loving conversations going … your words make a difference!

10 Things I Want Other Women to Know About Infertility

“Infertility is a path that can be lonely, long and bumpy, filled with good and bad days. Throughout the battle, I’ve connected with other women, women who understand how it feels to be on this rollercoaster. Our emotions, feelings and thoughts are often similar and below is a compilation of our voice to share what we want others to know about infertility. Welcome to our world.”

Click here to continue reading 10 Things I Want Other Women to Know About Infertility

And with this post comes AUGUST! Whaaaaattttt?!

A few peeks into my month ahead:

1) I turn 30 on the 19th. I am all like:

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Birthdays are a favorite of mine as I am a words of affirmations and receiving gifts love languages gal. Birthday cards, notes, and “thinking of you”‘s make me giddy and fill my tank for a long long time. I LOVE IT!

2) Global Leadership Summit! I am hitting up the satellite conference here in Minnesota … anyone else attending? Can’t wait to hear some great speakers!

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3) New York City baby! Each year my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and me take in a long weekend in a new place and this year, its New York City. I have never been to the Big Apple and am pumped! Do you have any must-do’s while traveling the city? Food? Shops? Must-Stops? Taking suggestions here!

(I may have binge watched Gossip Girl in preparation.)

(I may have binge watched Gossip Girl in preparation.)

4) The In the Wait devotional pre-sale open on the 19th as well! I shared this tidbit on Instagram earlier this week: “I {l o v e} how God takes our lives and weaves them together in a way only He can. Over the years He’s brought this lovely group of women into my life – all walking different stories, yet all understanding that there are lessons to be learned in trials and seasons of wait. We’ve all been there – wondering what the future holds, navigating how do we get over “t h i s” hurdle in life, figuring out what His peace and power look like in action. He started stirring our hearts and the #InTheWaitStudy began. It’s with these strong, godly, beautiful women that a 6-week devotional began to form, all of us taking what He’s teaching us in our own very different and unique seasons of wait and putting it down on paper … FOR YOU! { h u r r a y ! } I can’t wait (hehe, punny!) to share more with you in the upcoming weeks! Preorders for this devotional start on August 19th …. Who’s ready to dive into with us?!” Don’t worry, I will keep you ALL posted as more details unfold. For now, pop on over to the website to learn more and sign up for special offers and sneak peeks!

The lovely “In the Wait” gals! Beauties arent they!?

Otherwise, to catch up on life quickly, here’s what I’ve been up to:

Spending time at the cabin with family and friends.

Spending time at the cabin with family and friends.

Dinner dates with lovely friends.

Dinner dates with lovely friends.

Observing my sister attempt to groom Cali. It sort of worked.

Observing my sister attempt to groom Cali. It sort of worked.

Spending time at the golf course with this stud. I even golfed my first golf game yesterday! :)

Spending time at the golf course with this stud. I even golfed my first golf game yesterday! :)

Reading, sunning and enjoying the cabin lake breeze.

Reading, sunning and enjoying the cabin lake breeze.

Teaching Cali about patriotic pride.

Teaching Cali about patriotic pride.

Meeting friends new babes.

Meeting friends new babes.

So many happy hours and coffee dates. Love! Satisfying to my heart, soul, and belly.

So many happy hours and coffee dates. Love! Satisfying to my heart, soul, and belly.

Watching Shawn win the Bachelorette ... and realizing he looks like Alf.

Watching Shawn win the Bachelorette … and realizing he looks like Alf.

Antiquing, garage sales, rummage sales, thrift stores ... you name it, I went there. And probably bought it. Gulp. #changepurse

Antiquing, garage sales, rummage sales, thrift stores … you name it, I went there. And probably bought it. Gulp. #changepurse

Learning and playing new games - Sequence is my current crush! I need to find it at a garage sale! Keep your eyes peeled MN friends ...

Learning and playing new games – Sequence is my current crush! I need to find it at a garage sale! Keep your eyes peeled MN friends …

Attending one of my moms infamous themed dinners with my aunt, uncle, grandparents, cousins and family! SO. MUCH. FUN.

Attending one of my moms infamous themed dinners with my aunt, uncle, grandparents, cousins and family! SO. MUCH. FUN.

Eating. So much eating.

Eating. So much eating.

One thing that’s not on the top of my list – doctors appointments and fertility discussions. And can I just say, for now, PHEW. It is SO nice to have a break, one where the dates aren’t catching up to me and my brain isn’t foggy with medicines to align my cycle. Taking the summer off was the best idea ever, Yes, fall will come at some point and with it some significant time of prayer for direction, but for now I am just living and boy, is it nice! (Plus its SO refreshing to not be talking about it all the time too! FREEEEEDOM!)

Thanks for reading this obnoxiously long post. Check out the link above if you haven’t already. Otherwise, I look forward to connecting again SOON! For now, I’ll leave you with this stinking adorable snap of Cali sunbathing today. It just cracks me up!

TTC Greeting Cards.

Two things that most people know about me: 1) I love mail and 2) I love encouragement. So imagine my delight when I learned of a gal who designs cards on Etsy for those specifically try to start or grow a family. You guys, you have to check out Kristy’s site HERE.

Even better, we are teaming up to host a giveaway for 2 FREE cards from her shop! The drawing winner can select any two cards of your choosing from her Etsy store to be sent to you. You can then choose who to spread the love to! WINNING!

All you have to do to enter is hop over to Instagram and “like” the giveaway photo on my account (@chels819and follow both her (@ttcgreetingcards) and myself. Then, to earn extra entires, repost the giveaway photo using the hashtag #TrialsBringCards. You can earn even more entries by tagging a friend on the giveaway photo, one tag per comment, unlimited entries. The giveaway will run today (Monday, July 27) until Friday, July 31. Don’t have an Instagram account? Then just “favorite” Kristy’s Etsy account  – it’s so simple – and leave a comment here on my blog that you have done so! Can’t wait to see who the winner is! The great thing is that anyone can enter because it these cards will be passed on to someone in need – so you don’t have to be necessarily TTC to win! (But I’ll be honest, they are so pretty I am tempted to frame them haha!)

Even better? These cards are beautiful quality, so even if you don’t win, I encourage you to order some cards from Kristy. There are so many varieties, all PERFECT. (Plus, ordering supports Kristy and her husband in their long journey to growing their family too! There are an unending amount of wins here!). Trust me, you won’t regret checking out all the varieties of cards on her site. I’ll go on the record to say that receiving one of them in the mail would brighten my day SO much – I know others will feel the same way!

Happy entering! :)

TTC Greeting Cards

lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Nat King Cole once sang “Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer….” and here we are, right day smack in the midst of summer and it feels a lot crazy, a little hazy and not enough lazy. I always seem to hit a blogger slump in the summer. When the sun is shining and the patios are open, the inside of a coffee shop just doesn’t seem as tempting as it does in the winter. I can’t seem to figure out a way to write outside while being able to see my laptop screen and so instead, my notebooks are scribbled in and my computer is tucked away. I have SO much to get out and am enjoying the days of processing and building. Watch out fall, it’s gonna be a good one. :)

In the meantime, I do keep churning out work, just not as frequently as I’d hope. I am excited to share with you a sponsored piece today that ran last week on EmpowerHER. Yes, this is a shameless plug. (*cringes*). If you’d like, pop on over to the article and give it a read, a share, a comment. I’ll forewarn you there will be another piece in another month, an upcoming podcast with Beat Infertility and a devotional launch in a few weeks. I KNOW! It’s been a crazy summer even if this blog only has once-a-week love. Thanks for bearing with me.

Article link: Are You Dealing With Infertility? Remember You’re Not Alone

So what am I learning in all of this crazy?

That there are seasons. So many seasons. There are days and hours where I feel like I am peeking through and gaining upward momentum. Other days I feel like my patience has been drained. Moments where I am over it all, other moments the ache seems more real than ever before. All in all, life is beautiful, good, stable and invigorating. Being off of hormones makes me feel like I am waking up a little more each day. My body is confused, having gotten used to the added progesterone, estrogen and hormonal supplements. The cold turkey shock has it going through its own version of mending, but here I am, 30 days clean and finally breathing a little more slowly. Often times I reach this mountain top and wonder how I make it through a medicated cycle. Feeling not-crazy is so so nice. (Granted, my not-crazy can still be crazy.)

Real life is messy. Messy. A popular word we read often in posts, devotionals, blogs. We relate – oh, yes, messy – but what does that even mean? Is everyone’s life THIS messy? Do certain relationships seem this difficult for others? Does the idea of meal planning seem too much? Are you too failing at maintaining friendships, house chores, errands? Does your brain ever get going on the hamster wheel late at night? Do you question ‘what is next’? Does your quiet time go through ebbs and flows? This is messy. This is LIFE. It’s beautiful and it’s painful. The hard moments and seasons makes the good ones even more special. Keep going. Acknowledge the messy. Define what messy means to you and embrace it. Continue to fight. Keep seeking God in the mess. Find a few moments to be quiet and listen. Listening makes the mess seem less intense, even when it’s still there.

Even in the busy, even in the mess, even in the days where life seems a bit harder than you remember, press in. Join me in continuing to move forward, even when it seems like you are being pushed backwards.

Until next time. XO!

Chelsea

jaws.

animals-BlacktipReefShark-header-web For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a healthy fear of sharks. And by healthy, I mean I am worried about sharks attacking me in swimming pools, around water vents, in lakes or rivers, most definitely in the ocean regardless of the water height, and yes, understanding that even fake sharks could become dangerous and deadly.

I believe an early viewing of the movie Jaws may have had something to do with it, although like all good parents, mine fast forwarded through so much of the tv-version movie that I had just enough to worry about in an excitingly obsessive way. (And also had a total meltdown the first time I saw the non-fast forwarded through version). Sharks have always intrigued me and I have written many papers for school, collected shark teeth and can give you detailed run-downs of all 4 Jaws movies. (skip Jaws 2 and never waste your time on Jaws: The Revenge.)

Riding the Jaws ride at Universal Studio in Florida when I was in elementary school was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, but one I was determined to overcome. (I did say my goodbyes beforehand though. One kid at school told me someone got thrown off the boat by mistake and the fake Jaws munched her up before they could retrieve her. I was certain my death was near.) But thankfully, despite some hysterical sobs and an offer to stop the ride, I did make it through.

All of this being said, last week Josh and I ventured down to sunny Florida and spent the day at Universal for our anniversary. I knew the Jaws ride had closed much to my dismay. However, I wasn’t anticipating him to be hanging by the Universal “lake”. As a nearly 30-year old adult, walking close to him was terrifying. I likely sounded like a shrieking dying varmint. Thankfully our walk by him was early and the park area was nearly empty.

Take a picture with him!

Josh and the park photo attendant cheered.

No thanks!

My football field length viewing of him was more than close enough and I was sweating more than I should have been for 9:00 am.

Honey, just get a little closer, you can do it!

Josh kept cheering, standing on the other side of the big killer while I would take one step forward and run 3 steps backwards. I was painfully aware that this made no sense at all. I could see the confusion on the park attendants face as she watched me do an awkward side dance between the plastic Jaws and the freedom that the street 100 yards away was bringing.

You got this, just get a little closer. He’s not gonna get you. Come on babe!

Josh was giddy at the thought of me overcoming this fear. I wanted to throw up in my mouth. (Disgusting I know. Fear will do that to you, right?) Finally, after 100 mini mental pep talks and Josh chanting in the background, I made it to the beast. I stood about 5 feet away and smiled prettily for the camera. Except neither Josh nor the attendant would take the picture.

Um, move in closer.

I can’t.

You can. Just don’t look at its really sharp teeth. (Park attendant – not helpful.)

(me wheezing)

Finally I got close. I mean, really close. I don’t think I was breathing and I was certain at any time 1) another shark would jump out of the water behind me and pull me in; 2) that this plastic Jaws was mysteriously animated somehow and would lurch at me, accidentally catching my hair in its teeth and kill me; 3) it would fall off the hinges and crush me. An unexpected way to die by shark but very possible in my world.

Now touch it!! Go on honey! Just put your hand up and touch it!

Josh was shrieking out encouragement and hysterical watching this entire thing take place. Again, can I just mention how thankful I was that no one else was around? Except that park attendant who had nothing helpful to say.

Whooooa, be careful! He’s looking at you!

I couldn’t touch him until said unhelpful park attendant shouted out three insanely helpful words.

Close your eyes!

My hands flew up to my face. I was wearing sunglasses! No one would ever be able to tell if my eyes weren’t open! And with that, my eyes quickly closed and I was mentally moved away from the situation that I was about to touch Jaws. My hand came up and rested on his cold, clammy, killery cheek and the camera’s clicked.

Boom.

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I walked away with a pride. I did it! I overcame my fear! I was still alive! And I had proof! Of course Josh walked up to him and made a visit to Jaws seem like he was saying hi to a minion, but I was on a high. In fact, they even talked me into another picture, this time with Josh, and I fell naturally into a runners stance. HA!

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All of this being said, I learned an important lesson about fear. Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and do it. That thing that you are certain you can’t overcome – the move, the doctor’s appointment, the battle towards weight loss, the reconciliation phone call – just close your eyes and do it. When we stare the problem in the face for too long, it grows and with it, the fears grow. The “what if’s” become so long, engulfing us in worries and anxieties and almost always, the thoughts of failure. So let’s eliminate those from our peripheral vision. Let’s only lay our eyes on the prize – what do we need to do to overcome it? Is it making a phone call? Is it saying “yes” to something that scares you, yet you know you need to do? Is it finally scheduling an appointment to get that mole checked out or looking up the lab results the doctor’s office posted?

Isaiah 41:10 (GWT) beautifully reminds us: “Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. Don’t be intimidated; I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will support you with my victorious right hand.” We don’t have to be afraid because He is next to us, supporting us, strengthen us and walking with us. Close your eyes today and feel Him. He is there! Slow down your mind long enough to realize His hand has never left you and never will. The thing you fear may not be easy. All things considering, my visit to Jaws is minor in comparison to real fears – fears of diagnosis’s, miscarriages, lost jobs, divorce battles, dying parents, difficult bosses. If you are at one of those draining crossroads today, be encouraged that you can go forward. It may be by closing your eyes but don’t stand still and soak in the terror. Grab His hand, listen to His encouraging words and move closer to that Thing. He will protect you in all your ways!

Okay, now back to Shark Week …

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eva’s world interview.

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I am excited to share an interview that I recently did for Eva’s World, a fertility community striving to help those who are trying to conceive. Eva’s World features some wonderful resources and stories and I am honored to be able to share a bit about our journey, some resources I suggest, as well as how I incorporate my faith in it all. I would love for you to head on over and check it out!

Direct link to my post: Infertility Will Never Win Over Her Faith

Also, if you want to check out some of the other TTC stories shared, click here for a great list!

I hope all have a great week! I am so thankful for all the encouragement that came my way last week – you all are a gigantic blessing to my heart! This will be a great week, I can feel it already!

XO,

Chelsea

in the clouds.

While in Hawaii a few months ago, we traveled the Waimea Canyon, stopping throughout the winding roads, walking to lookouts and rest stops. The views were spectacular, evident that there not only is a God, but that He is a powerful artist. One stop in particular stands out though and that’s because when we arrived, we were in a cloud.

As we stood at the top of the cliff, we were surrounded in white, a surreal mist-like feeling wrapped around us and we struggled to see through it. We could tell from our surroundings that there were beautiful mountains and a beach on the other side, but from where we stood, we just saw traces of color and this white fog.

I feel like I am back on that mountain again, wrapped in a cloud, unable to see the other side, slightly blind, completely helpless. And instead of the cloud rolling out, as it began to in Kauai, the cloud just seems to be getting thicker.

The doctor confirmed today what we already knew, another failed cycle, a big fat negative, more dreams snatched away. We didn’t even tell anyone we were cycling, my strength was depleted, my words few, my body exhausted. The thought of being asked one question about it, let alone having to answer it made me feel anxious and drained. So instead, we partnered up with the Lord and endured what we prayed would be a successful cycle.

And now, here I sit, not pregnant, waiting for the bleeding to start, with a stomach covered with the most massive bruises I have yet to see, colorfully reminding me in a sea of black, blue, yellow and purple that this didn’t work. And here in the cloud I sit.

I prayed walking into the appointment this morning that the blood draw would go smoothly and instead, was met with 4 painful needle sticks in order to find a vein that could produce any blood. “Your veins in your arms have formed scar tissue from overusage.”, the first nurse explained. I felt like I returned the statement with a numb smile, knowing all too well how much these arms of mine have been used for blood work.

I don’t have the strength to be angry, it’s an emotion far too exhausting. I just feel a weariness that is indescribable. People try to relate, but no one can really understand until you have been here. My heart feels battered – 6+ years of trying, 13 or 14 medicated cycles, countless IUI’s, 4 IVF cycles, 3 miscarriages, unending baby showers, newborn hospital visits, meals cooked, photos looked at on facebook and instagram, first birthday parties attended – all have taken its toll on the capacity I can hold. I. Am. So. Tired.

My friend Candice texted me last night and said “Sometimes it’s so hard to understand the story He’s asked us to receive…” and it all clicked for me. I am so tired of this being my story. I don’t want to receive it anymore. I want God to remove this burden of motherhood from my heart, to change the genre of books in my library, to reroute everything. This isn’t me! I don’t think like this, I can usually see the silver lining, but this week just seems a little harder.

And yet, as I was driving today, thinking about how I felt like I was stuck in this cloudy mountain, this chapter (Psalm 121) came to mind, spoken straight from His Spirit to mine:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—

he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—

he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.

With the simple words of “I lift my eyes up to the mountains”, I was reminded that there is something above the clouds, I just have to look up. Right now it seems that I am searching in a fog for my surroundings, but instead, God is there, reminding me that He watches over me, that none of this has escaped His sight and that there is a break from the clouds slightly above me head.

My help is not rooted in me or my capabilities to see the beach from where I stand. My Help is rooted in the one who stands above the mountains, who formed the clouds, who parts the skies and who has never left my side, even when life’s circumstances weigh on me.

In a Bible study I am doing this summer, I read these words: “God gives power to the faint. Admitting weakness gives way to God’s strength. Courage is not the absence of fear but the presence of faith despite fear.”

Did you need to hear that as much as I did? How many of you are standing with me in the cloud, feeling a little lost, a little overwhelmed and desperate for your story to change? Can I encourage both of us today to remember that “He who watches over you will not slumber.”? Even in the moments where is feels like all He is doing is slumbering, can we stand together in faith, believing that He is true to His word? That regardless of how we feel, feelings can’t be trusted, only He can be trusted.

To those surrounding me, can I ask (beg) you not to talk about this failed cycle with me? I am doing everything I can to gather my strength to make it through the next few days as the reminder of this failure pummels me physically. I don’t know if my heart can handle a sympathy text or “how are you?” question. (And if you do, then I will feel obligated to reply and I just don’t have it in me.) Please, just pray. If you are looking for a way to help, the greatest thing would be to join my heart in petitioning to the Lord that He allows these clouds to pass by quickly. He is faithful, even when it is hard to see. I am firmly believing that He will replenish my soul, hopefully sooner rather than later. I’m praying for you too.

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(Update: everything in me wants to yank this vulnerable post off this blog and archive it away from the public eyes. But I pray that God can use it to touch just one person reading today … If its you, it’s worth it.)

siri.

Driving in an unknown neighborhood can be a tricky thing. None of the street names are familiar and the thought of getting from here to there not only seems impossible, but likely won’t happen. While we were in Hawaii, we were completely reliant on Siri, our phone map guide. We let her know where our destination was and then she politely and calmly told us exactly where to go. There was a time or two we got distracted, talking over her and would respond too late, driving round and round the round-abouts trying to figure out which one was the “third turn, but when we listened, we headed in the right direction.

I wish God was a little more like Siri. Wouldn’t it be nice to plug in a life destination and then have Him calmly spouting out directions?

In 3 years, marry the man sitting in front of you in your college calculus class.

In 2 years, start your family by trying to conceive on the 3rd day of April.

In 2018, when a new job opportunity crosses your path, decline it, as that company will close 4 months after.

Unfortunately it’s not always that easy. I’ve been part of some great conversations diving into the concept of figuring out what God’s will is. Isn’t it easy to wonder if we are about to take a wrong turn, if we are responding too late, or if we are right on track to our destination? If you are anything like me, it can be a little overwhelming at times trying to figure out exactly what is THE right direction. God, how do I get THERE from HERE?

So God isn’t exactly like Siri, but I do see some correlation with a few take away lessons here.

The first is that we have to stop and take time to listen before acting. When I rush through my route, assuming I know what she’s going to say, I tend to go the wrong way. Same goes with God. When I start to veer off and do my own thing assuming I know what His direction is, I tend to miss key things.

We can’t always plan the unexpected detours. Sometimes we think we have the plan, but then something comes up. A road might be closed, the lights might be out, or that McDonald’s on the wrong side of the road is calling. (Mcfluuuurrryyyyy). There are always those detours in life too where no planning would have ever prevented the delay. That’s when we just go with it. Follow the rerouting direction, even if it seems like it’s not right. It may take us a few minutes longer to arrive, but even if it’s a few extra minutes, a couple more stop lights and the detour seemed ridiculously out of the way, we will still arrive. We need to trust that God, our ultimate Siri, is going to have our backs in all of this. We don’t have to worry about HOW we are going to get from point A to B because He goes with us.

Sometimes when Josh and I are heading out somewhere, we both have different routes in mind. We get to the first stop light and he puts on his left turn signal while I shout “Go right!”. Both routes will take us to the same place, and have their pro’s and con’s. Maybe we would pick one way or the other if we knew about the accident that was about to happen or the power outage that would send the lanes into a snail paced mess, but neither of us are wrong. We would arrive either way.

Then there are the times when we don’t know where we are going and plug the new address in. Siri will offer us 3 different ways to get there and we evaluate our options, look at the traffic and travel times and go with what seems best. Isn’t that what happens in life too? Should we adopt, continue treatments or settle into a child-free life? Should I take that job, stay at this job or apply elsewhere? Should we move to that neighborhood or stay in one?  In all things, let’s pray about it, evaluate our options, and then trust Him.

God honors our intentions to choose the right, God-honoring path in life. Regardless of whether they are the “best” long term, He works with it, rerouting as needed. Is our stress over making the “wrong decision” overtaking our decision to simply please God with what we do? And where is the stress rooted – in not being immediately blessed with an answered prayer or displeasing God with our decision? What’s taking over your heart today and how can you trust that when you turn to Him, He will guide you?

We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 GNT) God’s going to reroute you accordingly if needed, direct your steps and guide your lives. It’s up to us to trust Him, allow Him to guide us, and stop talking long enough to hear His voice. Sound good?

And now a little Hawaii treat …

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(Seriously, can you imagine us trying to shut up long enough to hear Siri? The struggle is real. I get it. But when we did, it was so worth it. Except that one time she took us to the wrong address, which just goes to show you that technology fails, God doesn’t.)