butterfly wings.

“Settle down.”

Those words have been echoing in my mind lately.

Settle down.”

I am not awesome at settling. In fact, those who know me best wouldn’t describe me as a “settled” person. Calm down doesn’t always sit well with me. I like to go. Be in control. Keep the pace moving. Know the schedule. Neatly check off my to-do list and manage my ever so busy and growing schedule. So when someone tells me to “settle down”, I kind of click my elbows together in a very Ross and Monica secret message way (fans of the show Friends will likely get that.) But seriously, don’t tell me to settle down, I’m fine thank you very much.

So, just when I feel like I have everything under control – the next cycle plans have been made and my endometrial scratch is complete, these words hit me.

Settle down.

And the more I thought about those slightly repulsive words, I realized that I need to settle, not down, but INTO this time of yearning, searching and waiting. Sometimes, planning isn’t the best thing. While there are certainly seasons to plan, it also can take me away from living in the present. It can make me want to push away the season of waiting, wishing, hoping and praying and make me only look ahead. And when I only look ahead, it makes me think that God isn’t in this moment, that maybe this “detour” to starting a family isn’t as intrinsic and critical as it perhaps God is intending it to be.

I am learning that in times of completely “lostness”, in the times where my journey has more questions that answers, than God is teaching me a huge lesson. What’s that lesson? That I need to have total dependence on Him.

Sometimes when it feels like everything else is stripped away from us, we learn that it’s NEEDED to have everything provided for by God. After all we have gone through, we continue to realize how desperately we need Him.

Aren’t those the ugly moments where some of the best learning comes from? If you are anything like me, every part of me wants to push all of that away and scream “NO MORE! No more pain, no more failed attempts, no more positive tests just to be followed by bad news and awful bathroom trips. STOP!”

When I am totally waiting on Him, my heart is stripped down to its rawest form. When I was little, my mom would never let me catch a butterfly or moth because she said as soon as you touched its wings, they lost the ability to fly, the special dust that held their magic was wiped off. If I am being honest, which I try to be, some days it feels like my magic flying dust has been wiped off. I don’t feel like I can fly as well, but you know what? I do feel like God is keep me company as I heal and instead of being restored with my own magic dust, He is filling my wings with His strength.

What if THIS is the most significant season of growth you will ever experience? What if what you are pushing back on so heavily and so angrily, is building the muscles, strength and endurance that you will need for the rest of your life? Muscle growth is painful. Sometimes it feels like it is too much but you know what, the next day, if you show back up at that gym with determination, more muscles will develop. Your response will become a little more seasoned and you can handle a little more that comes your way.

I am learning, and have not perfected in any means, that we do have a choice. We can choose to make an active decision to take advantage of this hard, painful, frustrating, difficult season and choose joy. It would be sooooo easy to become bitter and I certainly fall into that temptation at times. But is that what we really want? I don’t want to waste this life being known as the bitter infertile who you can’t talk to and who won’t rejoice with your joys.

Laurie Short writes (modified): “We cannot side step the importance of the time we will spend in (waiting), but we can live in hope that God will meet you in (that season) and eventually call us out.”

This struggle, as HARD as it is, isn’t necessarily something that God caused, but may be something He has permitting so that we can grow in this present moment. He is great, mighty, powerful, and has yet to fail His people. Do we really think we are going to be the first? God does respond when we call on Him, turn to Him, and desire Him more than anything else. And then, well, it’s been my experience that He brings beautiful blessings and opportunities into our lives when we least expect it.

So here’s to developing these butterfly wings, as ragged as they feel, because I don’t want to lose the lessons of precious, present moment.

THE weekend.

Happy weekend friends! I feel like I should acknowledge that Mother’s Day weekend is here, however this year, am just not feeling the need to write a long post. I have read so many phenomenal posts this year that I feel like great words have already been spoken. I am in a good place this Mother’s Day. I heard a message in the car by Chip Ingrim that really changed my attitude.

Chip said: “And He wants you and me to remember when you have unjust suffering, when you’re a child of God, you may be going through a rough time, but you are not a victim. You’re not a victim. You’re His son, you’re His daughter….. Let’s say “I’m going to get up today and I’m going to refuse to be a victim.” Sometimes these difficult times are this window where God could mold your heart, and allow you to hear His voice, and to build character and endurance, and create a capacity that could never happen otherwise.”

It’s so easy to allow ourselves to get sucked into the victim mentality, but for me, not this year. This year I am resting on the reminder that while this day has the potential to make me sad and wish reality was otherwise, it also has the potential to remind me that this day in my life hasn’t escaped God’s eyes. This Mother’s Day, instead of allowing myself to feel bad, I am going to fight the pity party, acknowledging still that the feelings of sadness are real, but that my faith and trust in His plan are greater, and claim victory in the story He is writing. (I also plan on protecting my heart and not participating in things that will trigger my emotions. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to skip church on Mother’s Day, avoid social media and still claim BOGO at local coffee shops for Mom’s. We gotta do what it takes!)

If you want to read some other posts about dealing with infertility on Mother’s Day, I’d love to suggest some other blogs and articles! All of these ladies wrote posts that just made me say “Amen!” (If you have a post you would like to share leave it behind in the comments!):

1. Waiting for Baby Bird – I Know You Hurt This Mother’s Day: A Message to the One Desiring to Be Called Mommy

2. In Due Time – A Victorious Mother’s Day

3. For the Love of Mom Genes – An Open Letter To All Those with Mom Genes

Also, my post last year ‘happy mother’s day‘ is similar to what I would write this year if I did a full post, so feel free to click back, read and relate.

So friends, those with kiddos on earth, in heaven, or still simply in their hearts, I wish you a happy weekend. To those still waiting, let’s wait with faith and expectancy. Our arms won’t always be empty. Let’s celebrate the journey we are on and the moms we know we are. Here’s to a weekend filled with joy, love, laughter and the promise of what’s to come

Happy Mother’s Day!

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wish lists.

This post was written en route to Hawaii – I am now back home but just getting to posting it. Also, an updated fertility note and prayer request is at the end. Enjoy!

As I type this, I am sitting a trillion miles about the ground. Okay, not really a trillion but the clouds make me feel pretty high off the ground. It’s 11:18 pm and the outside world is pitch black. The inside of the plane glows with a few lights but the majority of the people are sleeping. Me on the other hand, well, I’m not sleeping. I just read a great quote in Finding Faith in the Dark and it got me thinking.

It said: “In the happiest days and in the hardest days, (we) learn that the present is where God lives and He doesn’t want to be anywhere else.”

If you are anything like me, I seem to love to live in the future, especially more recently. Perhaps it’s because the last few months have been tougher or perhaps it’s because I so badly want the future to hold miracles, sparkles, baby bumps and miraculous celebrations, but this statement made me freeze in my 26C seat.  Reality is that there’s a complete lack of control over the future so truthfully, where else can I be living, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t try. I feel like I have spent a significant amount of the last 6 years doing everything last minute, “Well I can’t commit to this visit because I don’t know where I will be in my cycle.” “Well, I would love to say I will be at this wedding but who knows, I could be pregnant and on bed rest.” “Well, I would love to buy a plane ticket to visit you in November, but who knows what that will look like if we do IVF again.” In fact, the only reason my Hawaii trip worked out was because it was SO last minute and I knew with my post-miscarriage cycle that I would be on birth control with no options. But let me tell you, that rarely happens.

So where does that lead me? It leads me to end up living in this half present-half future world. And I lose so much of ME as a result.

In the book, Laurie Short continues by saying “Our response to our circumstances encourage us to be present in our own lives, even when we face sorrow. And we should never stop looking for joy.”

I was floored by her ability to talk about great sorrow and searching for joy in the same sentence but as I unpacked those words, I realized how true and valid it is.Why is it so easy as Christians and as humans that we can get caught up in living in a world where our emotions, joy, happiness and contentment are so linked to our circumstances? I get it. We are humans, many of us reading women, people directed by emotions and powerful reactions to what is going on around us.

I think Jeremiah 29:11 is a common verse for many of us. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Those going through struggles, whatever they are – infertility, financial worries, difficult children, depression, loneliness, painful circumstances – are encouraged by these words. He plans to give us a future and a hope! We can do this! But today in processing these words, I read all of the verses surrounding this powerful this verse.

I connected immediately with the Message translation, even though all of the translations speak the verses beautifully, and I think you will appreciate the powerful words in whatever you are going through as well: “I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and will bring you back home. I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you aren’t disappointed. God’s Decree: I’ll turn things around for you …. You can count on it.”

There are SO many powerful promises packed in these verses and the one that struck me the most was “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else…”

How many of you, like me, have been tempted to turn to God in prayer because you really want something? Something so deeply and passionately that you turn to what you hope is the magic genie of answered prayers to ask for it. Well, He said that when we pray, He will listen, which should automatically mean that my prayer request gets answered immediately. But man, how convicting is it that we need to come looking for Him and want Him more than ANYTHING ELSE?

Guys, there are many times I pray and think that I want Him more than anything else, but the selfish immature part of me wants Him more than anything else because if that happens, then for sure it means He will listen and answer my prayers. But this verse stuck me because it reminded me that I need to search for Him with all my heart with absolutely NO strings attached to the expectations of how He may (or may not) answer me. Yikes. Separating my really selfish heart between my wants for a child and my desire for Him is realllllllly hard.

So what does all of this mean? Well friends, I think it means that we need to start shaking off our ‘want list’ a bit and focus more on our true “Want List”, which simply is wanting Him more. More than our baby, more than the job promotion, more than the friends we hope to attain or the health that we hope to build back towards. Let me clarify, none of those things are wrong as long as we truly want Him more than any of those things. Because I promise you, nothing at all, ever, will be greater than the peace and serenity that Jesus Christ offers to us.

And what’s the end promise when our motives are pure and our heart is focused on the right things? God comes though. He turns things around. He doesn’t disappoint us. In fact, in His own words, “You can count on it.”

I think that deserves a big gigantic “amen”!

{Fertility Update/Prayer Request: I will be having an endometrial scratch done on Thursday morning. This is the first time I will be having one done and while I know they aren’t done often, feel confident that this is a positive step for us. The procedure itself is done by the doctor, in which he will go up into my uterus and gently “scratch” the lining with a thin catheter. Painful, yes, but I am certain that it will be short-felt.  The reason we are doing this is that there is research and evidence suggesting that scratching the uterine lining causes a ‘repair reaction’. This reaction is associated with increasing embryo implantation rates since there will be a little groove for the embryo to embed deeper into and the bodies healing process does increase blood flow and other positive side effects. While some clinics do this while the patient is sedated, my doctor doesn’t so if you could pray that it goes smoothly and is as pain-free as possible, that would be great. This procedure will usher in what we anticipate being our last IUI cycle which will begin in the next 2-ish weeks. I have been told to anticipate discomfort, cramps, and spotting in the days following so continued prayers for recovery would be great as well. If you have had any experience with an endometrial scratch, I’d love to hear it! Thanks friends!}

friday favorites – april 24.

So today is Friday, which means TOMORROW I board a plane and head off to Hawaii with 2 of my close girlfriends and one of their hubby’s. AHHHH! This trip snuck up so fast, granted I know we only booked it 2 weeks ago. All of that being said, I have a suitcase that still needs packing, toes that need painting, and a whole lot of planning that needs to happen in 24 hours, so this Friday Favorites will be a little different! Today I want to ask YOU to share with ME your Friday Favorites! I have had a list going for too long of things that I would love to hear that other’s love, so please, take this week to go through this list and pick an item or two (or all!!) and comment below with what your favorite is! (Or as always, you are welcome to email me at trialsbringjoy (at) gmail (dot) com.) I can’t wait to hear what you have to share!

  • Favorite Mascara – I feeling like I can never find something that doesn’t flake too quickly but still adds volume. Whatcha got!?
  • Favorite Book (fiction) – What’s a great book that you have read recently? I need some new authors!
  • Favorite Book (non-fiction) – What are you reading that is teaching you a lot? I love Christian growth books and am starting to wind down on my to-read list. Build it back up!
  • Favorite TV Show to Netflix – I am planning on starting on season 1 of Scandal on the plane tomorrow, as I have heard so many things about how good this show is. That being said, I know there have to be other network tv shows that I have completely missed out on. Share what’s good! (And nothing too racy or profane please!)
  • Favorite Grilling Recipe – We just pulled our grill out for the season and I can’t WAIT to cook on it every night! What’s a favorite recipe you have where you just need the grill? A side? A main dish? Send anything over!
  • Favorite Essential Oil Combo – I know there are a lot of you out there who use Young Living Oils (or another brand). I adore diffusing mine and am always looking for a great, refreshing mix. I have been mixing orange + peppermint all week and am crushing on that big time. What do you like to mix!?
  • Favorite Meme – I am always looking for new funnies to include! Be sure to email me hilarious ones you come across!
  • Favorite Game – Josh and I like to play games at night and we are a little Yam-Slammed, Phase 10, and Golf-ed out. What’s another easy and fun card game we could learn?

SOOOO excited to hear what you guys come up with and share!

On a celebratory note …. guess who turned NINE on Monday!? Our sweet little Cali girl! NINE! I know. *faints*. I was feeling nervous as that number continues to creep up and took her in to the vet this week for an annual check-up, just to make sure things are looking good. GREAT NEWS! She’s a rock star and beyond healthy, so this Mama (and Dad!) are feeling super relieved to know she’s “in her prime” and has a long long life ahead of her still.

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Okay and I can’t leave you without some funnies!!

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Other than a Guest Blog post next week, I won’t be around too much on here which on vacation, however, I can’t wait to check back with you when I return! Until then, this girl is about to get her beach on in the gorgeous island of Kauai.

Me ka aloha pumehana! (Yeah, no I have no clue what this means, Google just told me it’s appropriate for a goodbye statement.)

friday favorites – april 17.

Whoa what a week! A fun week, but a busy week! It’s so hard to pick favorites when EVERYTHING was so much fun! I will do my best to filter best I can and save some other highlights for more stories another time. Love weeks like this. Perhaps it’s just that it is sunny and beautiful outside too? I swear everyday feels like a happy day when you don’t have to brush snow off your car.

Let’s go!

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Favorite Moment: Josh and I had a date night this week to see Damien Rice in concert and let’s just say it was amazing. I have been a fan of his music for ages and his concert didn’t disappoint. The whole show was him + his guitar + pedals. It was super scaled down, just the basics of music and his voice and he crushed it. I leaned over to Josh after the first song started and whispered “I’m going to cry!” to which he replied “Yeah? So what’s that now? 8 concerts in a row?” (I always get super emotional and cry at concerts. This doesn’t phase him.) Ha! But really it just goes to show you that music touches my heart in a crazy way. I know those who don’t have that kind of relationship with music might be shrugging right now and think I’m crazy and that’s totally okay. But really, the whole show was like being in a spiritual emotional bubble. Loved every minute.

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Favorite Lyric Line: The opening act for Damien Rice was a duo and truthfully I don’t know too much about them other than they were called Galagalactic and European, with rich, beautiful, heavy accent. It was all about the music and it was haunting and memorizing. Many of the songs didn’t have lyrics but one did and I love what I caught “The spiral goes both ways – should I climb or should I fall?” I loved the analogy of a spiral. To go higher, you have to crawl upwards, uphill, often feeling like you are moving in a repetitive motion, but you are going higher. The other option is walking down, deeper, easier on your legs as you let gravity help your decline, but when you go downwards, it gets darker, deeper, further from the top. I love the question posed – should I climb or should I fall? I think we all have this question to answer every day as we battle in our own lives – should we climb or should we fall? Life can go two ways, the spiral gives us options. What will we chose? (I wish I could find anything on this band because I would love for you to hear them but they barely seem to exist even on the internet.)

Favorite Surprise: My Grandpa Tedd surprised me with this travel guide for my Hawaii trip (8 days!!!). I had been doing research on good guide books and was shocked when he pulled it out! He was so thoughtful to go and pick it up and it has been a gigantic help to us in planning on stay. Thank you Grandpa Tedd for this kind and thoughtful gesture!

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Favorite Celebration: SO MANY CELEBRATIONS, I can’t just pick one! On Friday we celebrated my Nana’s 76th birthday with a big elaborate dinner at my mom’s house (which was amazing, as always!). We are so thankful that we were able to celebrate her life around the table, sharing how special she is to us. The dinner table held lots of laughs as well as we shared favorite birthday memories or confessions from our childhoods. Even Cali wanted to get in on the celebration fun.

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On Saturday I popped over to one of my best friends daughter’s 6th birthday parties and had so much fun celebrating with the kiddos and their moms. Can I just say everyone in life should watch a bunch of kids under 10 try to hit a pinata? It made my month. Hysterical!!!!!

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Cali's friends Mallory and Chloe even made sure she had some goodies from the party - a new collar (made from pipe cleaners HA!) and a felt chew toy. :) She felt loved.

Cali’s friends Mallory and Chloe even made sure she had some goodies from the party – a new collar (made from pipe cleaners HA!) and a felt chew toy. :) She felt loved.

Sunday brought in the Master’s, of which I only watch in order to eat our burger bar (a tradition set in honor of my golf and burger loving Grandpa) and for the chance to win the Masters pool, haha! In general, watching golf drives me bonkers but I actually enjoyed myself and had a blast hosting! Since Phil Mickelson was in my pool and the only one who had a chance really, I turned my house into a Go Phil! party, which I don’t think my guests were on board with. Ha! My Nana made the best oven fries and Josh grilled some killer burgers. My sister ended up winning with Jordan Spieth on her team, but Phil came in second place and that was fun. It’s not at all about the money though as much as it is having lots of laughs and cheering and egging each other on.

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I mean, come on, if you walk in under this banner, you HAVE to attend a "go phil" party. :)

I mean, come on, if you walk in under this banner, you HAVE to attend a “go phil” party. :)

And lastly, one more celebration I am looking forward to later tonight – celebrating my youngest niece Kinsley’s 3rd birthday together with a pre-birthday party! Josh and I are having our nieces over for a fun night of making homemade pizzas, dragging blankets and pillows out into the living room, picking a movie and spending time together. Kins is such a sweet and special little girl and we can’t wait to celebrate her. Love that munchkin so much!

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Favorite Recipe: In attempts to clean some half-used fridge items this week, I whipped together a yummy ham salad! Just have to share:

1/2 lb thin cut black forest ham (I love the Columbus brand as it’s gluten free with 0% MSG …. and also because you can get it at the Target deli counter)

1/2 cup (or so, start with less) mayonnaise

1-2 hard boiled eggs

1/2 – 3/4 cup sweet pickles (I ADORE the organic bread and butter pickles from Costco!)

a few green onions (optional)

Cut your ham into small chunks and throw it in a food processor. Chop it up finely and then add it to your bowl. In the same food processor, toss in your hard boiled eggs, cut into smaller pieces so it goes faster and your pickles (drained). Chop till similar size as ham. Add to your ham and then mix with mayonnaise. You may want more/less mayo so add in small amounts. Serve on a lettuce wrap or on crackers, also delicious on rye bread. Top with green onion rounds if you’d like! Delish!

Favorite Snap: Can I just say that Cali doesn’t always want to take pictures? This snap chat pic from earlier this week cracks me up. She was not interested in taking a picture with her mom. Glare city! HA!

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Favorite Funnies:

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Alright friends, hope you have an awesome weekend! I’ll leave you with this reminder I read in my notes from Storyline: “Stop stalking Jesus. It’s time to stop observing Him and His life and start interacting.” I pray that this weekend is more than just another set of busy days. I pray that this weekend brings you the chance to meet Jesus even closer, spend some time with Him and continue to live a life of interaction. Jesus isn’t just a Facebook acquaintance we watch from a distance. His ways, His words and His character should be far more known to us. So let’s go and seize the day and see what He has to show us! Sound good? XOXO!

broken bones.

Last night I was lying in bed, wired from way too many iced teas and coming off an invigorating fellowship with my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) small group. I watched the clock pass by, minute after minute, quietly listening to the breathy snores of Josh and Cali next to me. They were sighing in unison, sounding so similar I couldn’t tell which one was a person and which one was an 8 pound dog. I replayed the events of the day and evening, of which I decided that I definitely talked too much and used up about 4 days worth of words. I tend not to realize how chatty I am until I am laying in bed and thinking “Oh my gosh, I said that didn’t I? And that? And that. Oh boy.”

(The thing about being a chatty extrovert is that I typically forget very quickly all of the “oh my gosh”’ moments but unfortunately then it doesn’t stop me from much next time. Which is why I am doing a Bible Study now called Keep It Shut. For real.)

Anyways, I digress.

The nighttime hour seemed like the perfect time to clean out the Notes section on my iPhone so I began clicking through grocery lists and meal plans, dating back to 2010. (Hey, that’s one way to make a girl sleepy!).  Then in one of my most recent notes, this quote was typed out:

There’s no glory in easy. No one remembers easy. They remember the blood and the broken bones and the long agonizing fight to the top. And that, that is how you become legendary.

That’s all my note said. I put my overactive brain to work, trying to figure out where this was from and why I wrote it down. A sermon? A podcast? Something on the radio? A song? A quote by one of those really deep authors? Well, my brain was shutting down quickly so I turned to Google and guess who it credited this quote to?

(5 points if you know …)

Dr. Amelia Shepard from Grey’s Anatomy.

Oh goodness. So it wasn’t from a deeply spiritual source, no, instead God was using a fictional brain surgeons script line who works at a fake hospital with a imaginary board of directors. Eh, whatever it takes right?

But in thinking about that quote, I realized how true it is when we live out the story that God has called us to. Isn’t it the broken bones we tend to remember the most? The hard times in our life sort of act as defining time frames, chapters for the seasons. I don’t remember all of the easy, no-drama car oil changes but I sure do remember the ones when they tell me something is wrong with my car and needs a big repair. I don’t remember the doctor check-up’s where everything looks great, thanks for coming in! I remember the ones where they sit down next to you and say I am so sorry ….. We remember the fight, we are familiar with the scars, we hate the pain of dealing with the broken bones, but it’s the broken bones that give us a chance to do something.

What if we start using these broken bones we all have and start wearing them out loud a little more? What if instead of hating the broken bones with disgust, we start to respect them, viewing them as God’s fingerprint on our lives and knowing that we have a few beautiful, unwanted, but still present, life tattoos. What if we stop hiding these scars – no one needs to know we are struggling with money, with in-laws, with our marriage, with the kids, with a past mistake – and start to use them to create a story that gives Him glory and allows others to see His work as legendary? Because we can sure create a life where things look easy. We can sweep everything under the rug and post the Facebook pictures with smiles and empty sinks and vacuumed floors. We certainly can make it all look effortless, but why? People don’t remember easy and if people don’t remember easy, it’s a lot harder to allow Him to use your story to touch others.

I have had so many beautiful and unique stories shared with me over the years. And each time, I just want to hug the person (okay, I do) and tell them you aren’t alone. Others have broken those bones too. Others struggle. I struggle! Like, all the time! Yes, my struggles in my childfree season may look different than your struggles but I get the premise of struggling.

There a quote, which many attribute to Henry David Thoreau, but I just learned recently is misquoted (meaning I have no clue where it truly comes from) that says “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song (of life) still in them.” Gut punch. I don’t want to go to the grave with my story still in me.

I think far too often we are tempted to hide the broken bones and as a result, we lose us. We lose our story and our potential impact. No, I am not talking about you needing to write a book or start a blog or walk around Target shouting “I SHOULDN’T BE HERE! I AM IN SERIOUS DEBT!” No, I just am posing the question on what would it look like if we started having less of a filter between the broken bones and the relationships we are in.

Victor Frankl says “God did not create us to live in reaction, but to be co-creators of a meaningful life.” Yes, there are going to be amazing moments of easy in our life and they will include special, special memories. But none of us are exempt from the broken bones season either, so instead of negatively reacting to it, what if we ask God how He wants to use this injury to make it more meaningful?

I’m starting to ramble now, but I love where this quote got my mind going and am anxious to see what He does to sprout more thoughts from it. I just don’t want to lose years of my life living in crisis mode. I want to push forward when it hurts, I want the bones to heal correctly so that I can be functional again. I want to redefine hard seasons as opportunity seasons. I know, it’s easier said than done, but I know we can do it.

friday favorites – april 3.

FRIDAY FAVORITES! Oh goodness, it seems like it’s been ages since I have done this! Let’s not wait, here we go!

Favorite Devotional Reminder: Today is Good Friday, a day that overwhelms me with its meaning and reminds me deeply of my need for Him. Last year I wrote this post and can’t try to do today justice with words, but I do want to share this one reminder that I read this week. Proverbs 31 Ministries had a special devotional this week called ‘Moving from Grief to Grace’ and reading it just tore through my heart is such a good way. This part in particular was that major ah-ha moment:

At one of my lowest moments, realization and remembrance flooded my heart and mind: God lost His Son too, His only Son. The Father knew my loss, pain and brokenness oh so well.

That revelation was like supernatural glue applied to bind my wounded soul. The lost, dark, broken part receded as God proceeded to heal my broken heart with His love and light.

How about your lost plans, hopes and dreams? Are you bitter? Do you want to be better?

Are you ready to lay your heavy cares at the foot of the cross … and leave that burden there, so you can step into God’s plans for you? Jesus promised, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” (Matthew 11:30, NKJV).

God’s plan for His Son was not what the people hoped for and expected as they celebrated the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, then experienced His death on the cross by week’s end. They did not know Easter Sunday — His Son’s day — was coming.

Remember, friend … Sunday’s coming! Jesus arose from the grave by the grace of God to save and redeem us. He has plans for us that include a hope and a future, even when our plans are dashed and we can’t see beyond the overwhelming loss of now.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).

When I ache for my babies, this week especially, I will cling to the fact that God lost His Son too. God understands what grief feels like, what brokenness looks like, the intense feeling of agony. He also knows that Sunday comes … and I believe that Sunday WILL come for each of us in its own way. It may be how we think it will look or perhaps so much more than we could imagine.

This Easter let’s be comforted by the fact that He is in control and that His burden is light. Oh thank you Jesus.

Favorite Robe: I know this seems like a silly one, but I have always searched for the perfect robe. Not too long, not too short, not to bulky, not to thin. And, sound the alarm, I found it! I actually bought it several months ago at the Gap Outlet and tucked it away and completely forgot about it until a few weeks ago. Now that I have pulled it out, I am completely attached. If it was appropriate and acceptable to wear a robe in public, I would. The fabric is SO soft, it’s the perfect length and a great get-ready robe.

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Favorite Surprise: Remember how I told you guys about my Shoulders on Wednesday? Well, my amazing instagram friends put together the best surprise package for me that arrived yesterday and totally blew my socks off. It was filled with notes and spring goodies, insanely generous gift cards and so many treats for Cali (which she adored!!!), candies and things I love. They even thought of including some fun things for me to do with my nieces. I mean seriously, how amazing are they!? Gestures like this BLOW ME AWAY. I am so humbled to be a recipient of goodness and feel so much love. I just want to burst.

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Favorite Ministry: My friend Lynn from Sweet Birdie Blessings sent me this gorgeous necklace a month or two ago from her Etsy store and not only do I love the message it says, I love the ministry she has created! Her mission is supporting mom’s who have lost their baby due to miscarriage or stillbirth. She sends them a comfort package that contains tangible items to help them in the grieving processing as well as items to honor the loss of their child. She is in the beginning stages of creating these and sends them out as fast as she gets the items in. If you have any interest in donating any items, I know she would love it. (Items like Kleenex packs/travel tissues, lidded glass candles, pens, journals, ornaments, etc.). If you are interested in learning more, you can contact her at georgiaoates4 (at) gmail (dot) com. Her goal is to stock local OB offices with a container of these packages since many women learn about their loss at the doctor’s office. How wonderful is she!? Plus, this necklace is just such a blessing.

Favorite Night Out: My girlfriends Julie, Jana and myself checked out a new local restaurant, Bricks, this week and it was DELICIOUS! One thing I loved – everything on the menu can be made gluten free at no additional charge. Winning! Also, the fries are heavenly. Of course the best part was the conversation and the laughs that arose. So thankful for my girlfriends!

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Favorite Bracelet: My friend Abby sent me the sweetest gift this week – this Alex and Ani ‘scared dove’ bracelet (along with the softest pair of socks ever!!!). I absolutely love these bracelets and never justify buying them myself, so this blessed me in a big way! Thanks so much Abby for your thoughtfulness. I will always think of you when I see it, as well as the reminders of peace and faith.

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Favorite Thing I am Looking Forward to: My grandparents are coming up to Minnesota from Illinois next week and we are excited to spend some time with them! We will get the chance to celebrate my Nana’s birthday and play games, watch the Masters (okay, I might inadvertently nap) and enjoy their company. Watch out Minnesota, Nana and Grandpa Tedd are coming soon! :)

Favorite Devotional: I know I have shared this already on my Facebook and Instagram accounts but if you are looking for a new devotional, you have to check out Savor by Shauna Niequist. It’s a small page a day and offers a verse and portions of her previous books + new material. Worth checking out if you are looking for a quick daily read!

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Favorite Funnies:

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Oh and guess what else came this week!?! My #TTCLuckySocks exchange! My amazing partner Nikol went above and beyond and showered me with such amazing goodies! She blogs over at www.notjustabeautyblogger.com and just went through her 2nd failed IVF cycle. If you could, send some thoughts and prayers her way. She’s such a positive gal and gearing up for a SUCCESSFUL 3rd cycle. I know it’ll happen! She has been a total blast to get to know through this exchange and I just adore this whole box. Thanks new friend!

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I hope you all have a wonderful and BLESSED Easter! We are excited to celebrate with two brunches this year (wish our bellies luck!) and enjoy time with both of our families. I will see you next week for another post! XO!

shoulders.

Oh hello April, when did you arrive?

It feels a little foreign sitting down to write a post again, although I have already written a million of them in my head over the last few weeks. How do I compact some of the toughest, yet most comforting 2 weeks of my life in one blog post? Well, I don’t. I don’t know that I am ready to write and share all I have been learning quite yet and want to allow the scabs to heal a bit more before opening them back up. That being said, I do imagine starting to peel back these lessons and emotions with you, slowly, like a stinky layered onion, because I know many of you can and will relate.

We spent the last week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We had a spring break trip planned with Josh’s family for a while and it hung out there as a tentative trip as we went through our IUI, got pregnant, lost the pregnancy and then waited to see what my beta numbers would do and if our doctor would clear me to go. Thankfully 2 days before take off, we got the okay to pack our bags and boy, was it a perfectly timed and needed trip.

Airport Starbucks ... Check!

Airport Starbucks … Check!

Two cute travel nieces ... check!

Two cute travel nieces … check!

Delicious ceviche!

Delicious ceviche!

Gorgeous sunsets.

Gorgeous sunsets.

A fun adventure parasailing.

A fun adventure parasailing.

A beautiful ocean hut we occupied daily.

A beautiful ocean hut we occupied daily.

Lots and lots of sunglasses and smiles. <3

Lots and lots of sunglasses and smiles. <3

Date nights.

Date nights.

Celebrating my MIL's birthday.

Celebrating my MIL’s birthday.

Boardwalk nights with my man.

Boardwalk nights with my man.

I spent most of my days floating in the pool, reading books and observing the world going on around me. One afternoon, two young boys, likely about 10 or 11, joined me by the island where I was lazily resting my legs by the wall as I floated. They were about 4 feet to my left, swimming back and forth from under the waterfall to the island, when they decided their next activity would be diving.

The one boy, we can call him Brad for the sake of the story, swam up to the side of the pool and using his arms to pull himself up, shot out of the pool and up onto the cement. His friend Kyle behind him, a little less athletic looking, casually attempted to do the same, without much success. Brad called to him as he stood above him –

B: Just use your arms, pull yourself up!

K: I’m trying.

B: Duck back under the water and then kick up against the wall, then pull yourself up!

K: attempts to do such, very unsuccessfully. It was almost painful to watch.

B: jumps back into the pool Watch, like this. Effortlessly rockets himself up onto the top of the pool.

K: an embarrassed tenth attempt Um, I just can’t.

Sidenote: I was empathizing so much with Kyle at this point. I am the kid that can’t get out of the pool without a ladder, my arm muscles failing me and I never can seem to do the athletic things other kids can do so easily. I’m certain the look on my face reflected the pain I felt for him.

Then, without another hesitation, Brad jumps back into the pool while Kyle tries to unsnag his t-shirt from the rocky pool wall. I floated a little closer as I listened to what Brad was telling Kyle.

B: Hey, okay, now I will go down and just stand on my shoulders and pull yourself up.

And just like that, Brad ducked under the water and his friend Kyle clumsily stood on his shoulders and as Brad stood up, Kyle had just enough height and momentum to lift him up over that pool lip and allow him to roll onto the cement. By the time he uprighted himself, Brad was back up on the island and giving the diving contest instructions.

Whoooooosh.

Both boys dived in next to me, Brad with a grace that made me wonder if he is on a swim team somewhere and Kyle with the kind of un-athleticism I tend to show. And then the two boys swam back to the wall.

B: Ready? Ducks under the water, again, allowing Kyle to stand on his shoulders and hurdles him up and out of the pool.

This happened over and over again. Brad quietly and without hesitation, helping his friend out of the water, even though his friend was a little embarrassed that he needed the help and even though it maybe seemed like Kyle shouldn’t need the help. But Brad just did it, like it was second nature.

Eventually the boys moved on to a new activity and I didn’t see them for the rest of the trip, but as they swam away, my sunglass covered eyes filled with tears because I realized that you guys have been my Brad these last few weeks.

I’ve been stuck in the pool and I am clawing my way up the wall, unsuccessfully attempting to do everything I know to get out of the sadness, the grief, the wonderment. And like its second nature, so many of you have dove into the pool with me and simply said Stand on my shoulders, I will help you out. And you have – you’ve sent texts, emails, cards, gift cards, packages filled with goodies to make me smile like pens, Starbucks mugs, massage gift cards, flowers. You have listened to me verbally vomit while sitting in a restaurant or while driving. You haven’t gotten exasperated, expecting me to get your instructions faster, you simply have jumped in and offered me your shoulders, over and over and over again.

Thank you.

Thank you for everything. Thank you for the grace you have extended as I clumsily try to climb onboard. Thank you for the patience as I repeat myself days in a row and the understanding that writing back to an email might just be overwhelming at the moment. I couldn’t do it without you.

Here’s the thing, we all need someone to offer us their shoulders and we also have times in our lives when we get to offer someone our shoulders. Choose your people wisely. There’s no way that Brad could have lifted up everyone in the pool, but his friend, his friend was a no-brainer, worth investing his energy in.

Over the last week, I have been reading a fantastic book called Finding Faith in the Dark: When the Story of Your Life Takes a Turn You Didn’t Plan (by Laurie Short) and I know that I will be referring to it often throughout the next several posts of mine. There’s one quote that has stuck with me. “Pain came into my life as an uninvited guest, and after trying to wish it away, I followed it. It turns out God was in the darkness of my pain. It didn’t change my circumstances. But it changed me.” I am continuing to learn that when these really yucky, crappy, sucky seasons of pain come into our life, we can get bitter or we can follow it and find God in it. I love how Jesus Calling said it yesterday, “The more intimately you experience Me, the more convinced you become of my goodness.”

God has surrounded me intimately in my pain and as a result, I have been able to see His hand of goodness even in the midst of this tough battle. I still have questions, I still wonder a lot of things and I still feel angry and sad at times, but I am learning to widen my gaze so that I can find Him in this.

So with that, I’m back. It might take a few days or weeks to regather my momentum, but I’m back and I am so thankful for you.

it’s okay to feel.

Infertility comes with such a complex mixture of emotions. If you are anything like me, it’s almost shocking to know that such a wide range of feelings can be compacted down into one heart, one mouth, one brain. My emotions sometimes remind me of a compound butter. It seems so neat when cold and molded into a little ball but then once it hits anything hot, it melts, explodes, leaks all over. Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like your emotions are just leaking all over, so many feelings adding layers of complexity? No one else feels like THIS, do they? Why am I not handling this better? Why am I melting all over the place?

I am here to tell you today that everything you are feeling is normal. Every emotion, as complex as it is, seems to be part of the complex recipe that is infertility. Let me reassure you today that if you have felt any of these emotions, you are in good company:

(Click Here to Continue Reading)

(Would you mind clicking so I can reach my goal number of view for my writing gig at Fertility Authority? THANKS FRIENDS!)

Oh, and a few quick notes:

  • There will be no Friday Favorites this week … stay tuned for a double dose next week!
  • All emails for the TTC Lucky Socks exchange are out! If you have not heard from me and have gotten a confirmation email from me when you signed up, email me at ttcexchange@gmail (dot) com.
  • Keep us in your prayers!

XO!

friday favorites – march 6.

Happy Friday! First of all, I am so excited about all the participants sending over their information for the Lucky Sock Exchange! There have already been a few hundred women who have signed up and if you haven’t sent over your email yet, don’t delay! The deadline to get in is March 11th.

Oh my word. I am wiped. This round of 2WW meds have kicked my butt. I have so many things I need to care about and can’t muster up a single ounce of energy to do anything. I’m currently on estrogen pills three times a day. Three times a day I swallow the infertile’s little blue pill and embrace all of the side effects that come with it. Mild nausea, bloating like you wouldn’t believe, boobs that have blown up like Heidi Montag’s. If I am inside my house (or my car), you can be assured that my bra is off. Then I throw in some progesterone, vaginal suppositories, and thanks to insurance being un-supportive of people (me) who can’t have babies, shove a $12 pill into me via a cheap plastic dispenser three times a day. As if that wasn’t enough, I also am getting nightly progesterone in oil (PIO) injections into the back of my hip/butt. I walk like I have pulled a muscle but it’s because I ache from the injection sites. This cycle, more than others, I have experienced extreme dizziness when standing and have learned this is a progesterone side effect. Oh what fun. And the tiredness, don’t even get me started. I feel like I am operating like a zombie. Natural hormones are tough to deal with, but synthetic hormones add a whole other level of struggles. Yozzers.

But you know what? I try to welcome it all. Because one day, SOME DAY, this will all be worth it. I know not everyone has the chance to try to start a family and so, because of that, I grimace and ice up my butt one more night, I swallow one more pill, and I pray to God that this will end sooner than later.

Do I sound like I am complaining? I am sorry, I am trying not to. My brain and body are just so tired, my fingers verbally vomiting what it’s been like to be me the last week/several years. I am writing this down because I want to remember it. I want to remember this. As hard as it is, there is beauty in the process and one day, my child(ren) will know exactly how much their mama wanted them.) Don’t get all excited by my side effects thinking THAT MUST MEAN YOU ARE PREGNANT! Nah, it really is just the side effects of my meds. So, if you are looking for me, I will be laying on my kitchen floor trying to muster up the energy to sit up and do the dishes. (And note, I am not looking for sympathy. I will be completely fine! I just can’t wait to one day feel all of these side effects because there is a baby in my tummy, not simply because I am trying to get a baby in my tummy.)

Thanks for engaging in my online therapy session. Now, without further ado, let’s dive right into Friday Favorites!

Favorite Replacement: I FINALLY got a new iPhone case (to replace a cheap and peeling one I bought a while ago), and love it! It’s nice having a hard case, a first for me as I have always had that flexible kind, plus the colors make me happy. Thanks Sister for helping me pick it out and encouraging me to finally get to the store to get one!

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Favorite Pin: I love these kinds of drapey sweaters and am adoring the colors in this one. Can you tell I am ready for spring? Or maybe I am just envious of skin that isn’t translucent like mine. *gulp*

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Favorite Family Show Down: We had a blast on Sunday playing cards with my family. We call it “poker” but all that means is we have a deck of cards and a pile of change, playing our own modifications of the game. I learned that I must be storing up all my luck for this IUI cycle but regardless, enjoyed sharing in a Sunday afternoon filled with laughs and shuffling.

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Cali loves her auntie!

Cali loves her auntie!

"whats going on outside guys?"

“whats going on outside guys?”

Favorite Kitchen Product: This indoor grill is just the best. If you live in a state that has 6 months of winter like I do, this is a lifesaver. Who wants to grill outside in the cold when you can turn your stove into a grill? I use my grill pan all the time and it’s worth the investment! (Or add it to your birthday or Christmas list like I did!) I have had mine for about 7 years and it’s still going strong. (There’s a flat side and a griddle side. It’s perfect for everything!)

(image found on Crate and Barrel’s website)

(image found on Crate and Barrel’s website)

Favorite Bit of Drama: Oh the Women Tell All episode of the Bachelor. My head could barely handle the confrontation, TEARS, drama and awkward tension. Going into the finale, I am Team Whitney (for Chris). I love Becca and what she stands for, I really think she is a quality gal, but for Chris, I think Whitney will be a better long term match. That being said, who knows!!! Can’t wait for 3 hours of the most dramatic finale ever. (PS – Chris Harrison wrote a book? Was anyone else like this when he announced that?)

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Favorite Date: We had a blast on Saturday night on a triple date with some of our close friends. Chili’s (hello chips and salsa! Swoon.) + bowling (this post-iui gal sat out on the actual bowling) made for a hilarious, laugh-filled evening. I am so thankful for friendships like this.

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Favorite Make-over: Cali got her spring hair cut! She’s feeling so fly.

the morning of)

the morning of)

(after!)

Favorite Funnies: 

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There you have it! And can I note, since I originally started writing this post, I ran across this verse in Luke 9 (MSG): “Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.” Bah. Leave it to God to remind me that suffering is okay and that I need to take my eyes off of the suffering itself and turn them to Him. Well there you have it folks, He is constantly speaking to us all in all our situations, we just have to make ourselves available to listen.

Until next time! XO!