fur mama giveaway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Next we opened this box:

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

Next we opened this Trick or Treat bag.

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

 

Next up, unwrapping this:

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

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

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

The front of the package looks like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, the GIVEAWAY!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Use this Image on Instagram to repost

Use this Image on Instagram to repost

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

guest author: embracing the unknown.

Hey friends! I am so excited to introduce you to my friend Jen Noonan, LPC today! Jen has just recently released her first book, In Due Timeand we get to celebrate that with her today. Jen is a passionate advocate for primary and secondary infertility and I have loved getting to know her and her story better. I’ve not only asked her to share a little bit with you today, but also, we are hosting a giveaway to win a copy of her book! YAY! Entry is simple – all you need is an email address! The giveaway is open now until the end of the day Saturday, October 3rd. Good luck!

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Click Here to Enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Click Here to Purchase: buy through Amazon* 

Now without further ado, join me in reading Jen’s post for you on Embracing the Unknown.

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“If I had a crystal ball that could tell me we’ll be successful, I would relax.”

I uttered this statement to my husband on more than one occasion during our journey. I would have given anything to have known what our family planning outcome would be. My stress and anxiety levels were through the roof during these times, and I assumed that a guaranteed assurance of success would allow me to move forward in life; a promise that I’d be “okay.”

What I failed to realize was that I was and always have been “okay.” But that’s another blog post for another time!

I can recall multiple times throughout my life when I stressed about outcomes. As far back as I can remember I was worried about the future.

Will I get into my university of choice?

What am I going to do with my life after I graduate?

Will I find a partner to spend the rest of my life with?

Will I get into grad school? If I don’t, what will I do career wise?

Looking back, these questions seem petty in comparison to what I eventually stumbled across. But they didn’t seem petty at the time. They elicited raw emotions, and I spent a great deal of time focusing on their potential outcomes. The anguish of my eventual “what will happen” lasted a lot longer than anticipated, and it took me quite some time to embrace not knowing what might happen.

I had a plan – a plan that is divulged time and again in the fertility community. Our plans might not be the same, but they are very similar. They involve creating a family with at least two children. We assume it’s going to happen when and where we want it to. As the months and years go by, panic sets in. The unknown appears frightening and we become gripped in fear of what might not lie ahead for us. We obsessively focus on our shattering dreams, and find it difficult to embrace our unknown future.

This was nothing new to me. I have always attempted to control my life. I grew up in a household where I was raised to be independent and rely on myself to make things happen. And so I did. I took charge of my life and attempted to steer it in the direction with the most favorable outcomes. On the outside I might have appeared to be driven, but on the inside I was a chronic worrier. If things didn’t work as expected in those situations, I felt defeated. It took a while, but years later I realized and appreciated that these situations always had a favorable outcome, maybe just one that I hadn’t anticipated.

Embracing the unknown is not straightforward, and it is not easy. It involves putting your trust in God, a higher power, or whatever you wish to call it. It involves trusting the process, knowing that you will be led down your own unique path. And in the end, things might not turn out exactly the way you expected, but hopefully you’ll be able to look back and realize that it worked out the way it was supposed to.

Now, I can appreciate that cliché “Everything happens the way it’s supposed to” is sometimes difficult to accept. Especially for those who are in the infertility trenches. It’s often the LAST thing you want to hear from those who are on the other side.

Said another way, we are not in as much control as we think we are. If we can learn to trust the process, we will notice our hearts beating a bit slower, our anger subsiding, smiles appearing on our faces more often, and our cortisol levels dropping.

I have not mastered embracing the unknown. When you’ve spent the majority of your life worrying, it’s a challenge to completely shut off. It’s a work in progress, but one that I believe is invaluable for moving through future obstacles.

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Jen Noonan, LPC

* I am not receiving any compensation for this recommendation or link. As always, I am simply providing you easy access to add this resource to your library! 

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

june giveaway.

You know what I love? Reading something that makes you feel a little less crazy, a whole lot understood and helps you through the messy journey of infertility. A few months ago I shared a book during a Q & A series that did all of that for me while also encouraging my faith and validating the fact that you can be a Christian and still wonder “why”. The book is called Every Drunken Cheerleader … Why Not Me: Wit, Wisdom & Warmth from Your Fertility Challenged Friend by Kristine Ireland Waits. First of all, can we just giggle at the title? I think it just goes to show you the humor she has, which is laced throughout the pages. Anyways, I am sharing this with you because Kristine has graciously offered a signed copy of her book to the readers of this blog in a giveaway that I am so excited to host! If it was possible to place this book in each of your hands I would, but at least I can make one lucky person’s dream come true!

To enter, all you have to do is leave your name and email (so I can contact you if you win) through Rafflecopter. You can earn more entries by sharing or following, but if you simply just want to throw you name in the hat, it’s super easy! Oh and because reading also requires a good cup of coffee or tea, I am throwing in a $5 Starbucks gift card for the winner too! A free signed book + Starbucks? What’s not to love!?

Enter now by clicking this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will be drawing the winner and announcing on Tuesday, June 9th so don’t miss out! This contest is limited to those in the USA mailing area however for those who are interested in purchasing this book directly, head over to her websiteBarnes and Nobles,or Amazon  to order a copy (it’s print to order so don’t let the “temporarily out” scare you off) or download it on your Kindle today. If you enjoy reading my blog, you’ll click immediately with Kristine! Good luck and happy reading! :)

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friday favorites – february 27.

Happy Friday! Let’s skip all the introduction fluff today and get right to the point – blue and black or white and gold? AHHH! I mean seriously, what the heck is going on!? If you are anything like us, you spent way too much time getting involved in the great debate yesterday and today, arguing what you see. I only see white and gold, while Josh only sees black and blue. This is baffling and yes, I have read many of the reasons “why” this is happening, but still, bottom line, it’s confusing and had me in absolute hysterics last night as I watched Facebook comments come in. Between the dress and the llamas, it was a wild media day. (HA!)

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(If you haven’t already seen “the dress”, let me know what colors you think it is below!)

Alright, moving on, Friday Favorites, here we go!

Favorite Moment: Awww, of course it had to be our IUI yesterday! Can I just tell you how much your prayers worked? The IUI itself was the EASIEST procedure EVER! I’m serious, I didn’t feel a thing and even the nurse was a little flustered afterwards, saying that it was the easiest one she has ever done. It maybe took 45 seconds and man, it was evident that God’s hand was on it, especially since the last time my uterus was clipped and was more painful. So yay answered prayers!!!! THANK YOU for all of the excitement, encouragement, support, thoughts, prayers and love sent this week approaching it and then yesterday. You all are such a gigantic blessing to us!

calling this our first family picture minus cali :)

calling this our first family picture minus cali :)

Favorite Video: I saw this IF: Gathering video pop up on my feed the other day and am SO glad that I took the 9 minutes to watch it. It’s all about self-care and making sure that we are balancing our roles and duties with the need to also take care of ourselves. While some of it spoke to parenting, I learned so much in that segment too. It’s worth a watch! Or throw it on and listen to it while you get ready in the morning. Two of my favorite quote take-aways are:

  • “If you don’t leave margin in your day, some time for you to be you … everything suffers.”
  • “If my goal is to be a gift to the people that God entrusted in my life, I have to take care of myself. It’s like putting oil in a car. You can’t expect water from a stone. You have to keep nourishing and nurturing yourself if you want to have anything to give to the people around you.”

Take a listen! (PS – If you aren’t following IF: Gathering online and taking advantage of their daily devotions, you are missing out! Check out their site at https://ifgathering.com/.)

 

Favorite Fellowship: On Tuesday night I was able to host several of the ladies from my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) small group for a time of fellowship and sharing, and boy, it was so special! I am so thankful that God brings together women of all different ages, seasons, and walks and then teaches us so much using the same Bible passages. That night was so refreshing!

Favorite Jam Session: Oh guys, you know when you are driving and all of a sudden a song comes on that brings out your inner super singing star? That happened to me on one morning and thankfully I was alone because me and Phil Collins CRUSHED In the Air Tonight. I mean, you should have SEEN my drum solo at the end. Sigh, radio win.

Favorite Hint of Spring: These tulips, lovely. A friend from my BSF group brought them over on Tuesday evening and their presence has totally brightened up my house this week. I have a special place in my heart for tulips too, as they were given to me last Mother’s Day by my friend Jana and also by my husband after a transfer on Mother’s Day the year before. I always think of those special moments of being a heavenly mom and have the feelings of being cared for when I see these colorful bulbs. They are the perfect flower to have around the house during this 2WW. Thanks again Ashley!

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Favorite Print: I got this print from She Reads Truth and I just love it. This verse from Lamentations is everything I need: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (3:22-23 ESV). I can’t get enough of the reminder that His love is steadfast, His mercies are new every morning and He is nothing but faithful. Faithfulness, mercy and love are all things I need every second of the day. My life is too messy, broken, imperfect and tough without Him. I love this print!

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Favorite Funnies: I was thoroughly amused by several Oscar meme’s this time – can you tell?

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Another Friday of giggling! Thanks to everyone who contributes to Friday Funnies by sending over your favorites too! This is such a team effort!

Congratulations to Liz E. for being the winner of the Jamberry Nail Wraps + Manicure Kit! If you didn’t win but are interested in ordering some wraps for yourself, check out my cousin Lindsey’s page who generously and thoughtfully donated this fun stuff! Thanks Linds! And thanks to everyone who entered and played along in these giveaways this month. It’s been so much fun and I wish I had free things to give to all of you.

Can I ask for two specific prayer requests during this 2WW- one, for this cycle to be a success (duh, obviously) and two, for my Progesterone in Oil (PIO) injections that start tonight. I had significant hip/leg/butt nerve damage occur from these shots back in 2013 and I am a little concerned that further damage will occur. Josh is the best shot giver for these injections (lovely 2″ inch needles injected into my butt/hip area), so pray that his hand is guided to spots that wouldn’t cause any more issues. It’s complete bad luck that the nerve damage happened the first time, he did everything right. I just pray that this basketball sized area of no-feeling isn’t further irritated. Thanks for those prayers!

Okay, let’s get our Friday on now. Have a great weekend friends!

Have you had a chance to sign up for the next TTC exchange? Make sure to send your email over no later than March 11th! The spots are quickly filling up! 

Q & A part 3.

Happy Monday! Hard to believe we have reached the end of our Q & A post series! I am wrapping up the questions today and hosting one last giveaway. These questions have longer answers so let’s dive right in!

Q: Why are you on a Gluten-Free diet? Do you think it helps with infertility?

I had been extremely reluctant to even think about trying a gluten free diet, as I didn’t have any reason to. My sister found gluten caused her extreme headaches and my mom found herself feeling less foggy without it. But I didn’t have a problem with headaches or fogginess. I ignored all articles sent to me and did some mild investigation without many changes. However, as we were going into our 4th embryo transfer in 2013, I decided to look into the research one last time. And what I found was simple yet compelling. One of the symptoms of undiagnosed gluten sensitivity is infertility. But surely I would have other symptoms right? Not necessarily. You don’t have to test positive for celiac to have gluten sensitivity which makes it a little hard to tell if you are really sensitive or not. But that night, I decided to go cold turkey, gluten-free. The reason was simple, if research was showing that gluten sensitivity and infertility are related, and if I was willing to put my body through countless amounts of medicated cycles, then I could give up gluten as well. It certainly wouldn’t hurt. It wasn’t easy at first, but it has become significantly second nature now, plus knowing that this is something that could be making a difference makes it worth it.

Since going gluten free, I have had full and complete healing of all IBS symptoms. I no longer have digestive issues (and when I do, it’s because of my friend Mr. Metformin) and feel significantly less bloated. Also, having PCOS, I need to stay away from carbohydrates and found eliminating the potential of temptation from my diet to be extremely helpful as well. Is a gluten free diet for everyone struggling with infertility? Maybe, maybe not. If this is something that intrigues you to learn more about, do some research. See what you think and how you feel about it. At the end of the day, the only way to be successful with something is to be fully onboard so you have to make a decision that you feel confident in.

Q: What types of exercise do you recommend while dealing with infertility?

I have to be honest, exercise isn’t my favorite thing. I enjoy how I feel after I work out, more knowing that I am done for the day versus those magical endorphins you are supposed to feel. That being said, diet and exercise are the two top ways to combat PCOS symptoms, beh.

While not in the midst of a cycle, I have found a mixture of cardio and strength training to be successful for me. (Josh and I work out at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping here in the Twin Cities and we love it.) However, when I am cycling and have started any type of stimulation medication, I have to switch to something with low impact, like a gentle yoga, walking, or swimming. When you are cycling, your ovaries swell up – like big time. Anything that could cause an ovary to accidentally twist is dangerous and would cut off circulation, thus losing an ovary. (When my doctor told me this, I gulped!) That being said, activity is still important while cycling because you want to increase blood flow and stay healthy. So be mindful of the activities you are doing and if you have any questions, ask your doctor. My abdomen has been particularly tender this week from the letrozole stimulation and doing a few sit-ups were painful. Be kind to your body and know what feels okay, but also, make sure you are doing something.

Q: What are some of the cutest things your pup has ever done?

I love this question! :) Cali is such a joy in our family and has definitely brought a lot of healing to our hearts. Her intuition is incredibly good and I actually am a little concerned that she does think the world revolves around her, ha! I want to share a million pictures and stories, but for the sake of brevity, I will just share one. This video below is a favorite – I ran into the grocery store and left her in the car with Josh for a couple minutes. She was very ready for me to return and very insistent on watching the store door to make sure she didn’t miss me exiting. :)

Q: How do you keep the faith and maintain hope in all of this?

Many people sent me in a version of this question and I struggle with how to answer it, as it seems so complex and yet so simple. I have written about this before a bit in this post back in 2013. But as I sat down to answer this, I thought back to an email I replied to this weekend from another reader, R. As R struggles to cope with another failed cycle, she asked the same type of question – how do you keep going? The more I thought about how to answer this in my blog, I realized that perhaps my 1:1 answer to her would be helpful to someone else, so here you go:

How do I keep going? Oh, only through strength that is greater than my own. This quote has reminded me that He is still in control, even when the outcomes are different than I expected or hoped:

“We mustn’t lose the hope of a specific promise that God has given us. It may not look like we expect it to (who expected the Messiah to be born in a manager?) or arrive when we want it to arrive (who knew Abraham and Sarah could have kids in their old age?), but God is always faithful to His word. Romans 8:31-32 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”  Because this one promise is true, even if you don’t see anything else in your life working the way you think it should, it’s enough! God is still in control. And He is for you. You just have to be patient.” (Craig Groeschel)

R, I keep going when I remember that HIS grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness. When we come to a point where our prayers haven’t been answered exactly how we wish they would have been, cling to the FACT that HE is all we need. His grace is all we need. I don’t know how I always keep going. There are days when I cry out and ask if I am supposed to keep going. But you know what, He has not yet removed the persistent and desperate calling to be a Mom from my heart yet. And I know Him to be a good God, even when it feels like situations are just ugly, because He reminds me that WE can handle this. Even thought our timing is different than we wish, it doesn’t mean He has left you. And it doesn’t mean you are being punished for something, or aren’t good enough, or are broken. It just means that sometimes the process will be so worth it when we get to the end. The Bible is filled with stories of people waiting and hoping and expecting different – Sarah and Abraham waiting for a child, Mary and Martha waiting for Jesus to come heal their brother Lazarus, Job waiting for his sufferings to end, the Israelites waiting and roaming for 40 years to get to the Promised Land, now all of us waiting for Jesus to come back. Waiting seems to be a crucial part of faith – I don’t know why we can’t be spared some of the pain in the meantime but I do want to reassure you that you are not alone. 

It’s okay to curl up and cry all day. It’s okay to pour out your disappointments to Him and keep praying, even when it feels really quiet. I believe that even in the quiet, that He is right there with you. I just want to come give you a big big hug. 

I have been in your shoes many times, I feel your pain. It wasn’t until just this year that I found out that I have a pretty severe blood clotting disorder known to cause third trimester miscarriages, plus many other life-threatening risks associated with traveling, surgeries, etc. The fact that I have been spared so many times without my knowing about this disorder gives me goosebumps. I never wanted to experience early miscarriages like I have, but then I think, what if – what if I was spared from a third trimester miscarriage, which I think would have been an absolutely horrific thing to go through. What if all of the failed cycles were protecting me from an even more tragic outcome that I would have never imagined. What if all these failed cycles were for me and not against me. I choose to believe that the pain you are feeling is not in vain. Even if we never find out the why’s, hang tight to the promises that He cares for you so much. I am praying for you extra today and am so sorry that you have to experience this sorrow. It’s real and valid and I will continue to lift you up in my thoughts.

To all my readers wondering how you keep going, continue to pray about it. Continue to offer your desire up to Him and ask Him to open and close doors to help direct your path. When the calling is still there, just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other. Just get through today, don’t worry yet about what tomorrow looks like. Cling to a favorite verse when your heart seems to overwhelm you (some of my favorites are here). Keep opening the Bible and reading His stories. Do you know that there is not one story in the Bible where someone is mentioned as barren or desiring a child that ends with them not having a child? I believe God answers the desires of our hearts, even though the timing is not always our own. Take needed breaks when you are too overwhelmed and never, ever stop crying out to Him.

Q: Have you ever considered adoption? How do you determine that timing?

The loaded question! Many people ask infertile couples about adoption, often with good hearts, wanting that couple to be relieved of the pain of wanting a family and feeling like adoption is a simple answer. The tough thing that many people don’t fully take into consideration is that adoption is a calling. Adoption is not a band-aid for a couple struggling to have their own biological child. The process of adoption is beautiful and needed but God didn’t create every couple with the personalities, wirings or desires to go through the process. You open yourself up to background checks, lengthy waiting lists, and strenuous psychological testing. Then you have to answer questions like domestic or international, open or closed, known illness or special needs or the known, newborn or older, through an agency or finding someone on your own, ethnic difference or similar to you and your spouse …. and what happens if the biological mother or father chooses to change their mind about the adoption, having up to 60 days post-birth in most states to do so?  You’ve already fallen in love with that child. Then the questions when they get older. Why was I given up for adoption? Can I have a relationship with my birth mom? What about my birth dad? Who am I? These are all special questions to be answered and dealt with by the people that God has called to be a part of the gift of adoption.

Neither Josh or I feel called to adopt and I know that many people may not understand that, and you know, that is okay, because we feel strongly at this point that it’s the God-given decision for us. Might that change someday? Yes, of course! I believe God puts and changes the desires of our hearts in His timing. There are people who are made with giftings, desires and strengths to handle all of the unknowns and details that come with adoption – many of them already with children, or many of them feeling called to adopt long before they knew their struggles. There are couples going through infertility that feel passionate about creating their family this way and that is beautiful, special, and perfect for the story God has written for them. But there are others who aren’t called to adopt and that is beautiful and perfect as well.

I have had people share that they just don’t think they could ever handle going through IVF. That they don’t feel called to do that, that they aren’t sure they could handle all of the questions that go with it, or the physical brutality of the process. It re-enforces to me that not everyone is called to the same journey of starting their family. If God has put adoption on your heart, I think that is a wonderful thing. I could fill this page with verses that support adoption, fostering and all the other wonderful things. I also know that God doesn’t put everything in everyone’s heart and that not everyone is equipped in the same way.

I so greatly admire people with the heart and calling of adoption. It is one of the most beautiful processes and I have so many friends who have made this look effortless and have handled it all with such joy and grace. My heart prays for you all often as I know the path that you are on is emotional and full of its own unique stresses and struggles. And likewise, I ask that you continue to respect our journey and calling as well, whatever that turns out to be. Adoption is a big deal and we all are called to start our families in different ways. Isn’t it beautiful how God uses so many unique opportunities and processes?! Everyone has the chance to adopt if it’s something they choose. There shouldn’t be guilt associated with that choice either. So there’s my thoughts on that. :)

If you have made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I feel like I should hand you a lollipop or something. Or how about I offer you the chance to win 2 sets of Jamberry nail wraps and a manicure set? My amazing cousin Lindsey offered up these goodies for a giveaway, simply because she has a heart for my readers and wanted to help spoil someone. How amazing is she!? (Giveaway open now until Friday morning, where the winner will be announced during Friday Favorites. Free entries are a great way to win!)

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Enter Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Until next time! XO!

friday favorites – february 20.

Repeat after me – 28 days till spring. 28 days till spring. 28 days till spring. We can do this.

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Favorite Dinner Date: Josh and I had the BEST dinner date to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The food was absolutely amazing (Acqua never fails to disappoint!) and it felt so good to sit for a few hours and talk and laugh and catch up. I am so grateful for this man. (Plus the basil mojito’s there are on point. Like, #winning.)

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heading out for my 12th valentine’s day date with this hunk!

quick restaurant selfie.

quick restaurant selfie.

allllll the food we ate. bacon ketchup. GF clam chowder soup. plenty of sugary goodness.  All of it, delicious.

allllll the food we ate. bacon ketchup. GF clam chowder soup. plenty of sugary goodness. All of it, delicious.

his and hers bread. (gluten free and regular -- the best treat everrrrrr)

his and hers bread. (gluten free and regular — the best treat everrrrrr)

Favorite Flowers: Trader Joe’s had these gorgeous purple wax flowers on sale at $2.99 a bunch this week. Nothing says SPRING COME SOON like a little bit of flowery life in the house. I have a feeling they will last a while too.

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Favorite Quote: “I want to cultivate a deep sense of gratitude, of groundedness, of enough, even when I am longing for something more. The longing and gratitude, both. I’m practicing believing that God knows more than I know, that He sees what I can’t, that He’s weaving a future I can’t even imagine from where I sit this morning.” –shauna niequist-

Remember how my last cycle got cancelled due to overstimulating? Well, I should have started a new cycle weeks ago. And I didn’t. No, I can assure you, I am not pregnant. My body just decided to revolt, shake things up a bit, make me wait a little longer and storm the castle of confusion.

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We waited and waited. Did some checking, took a monstrous PIO injection used to induce a cycle and then waited some more. Well, even the inducing didn’t work. (And let me tell you, it makes you feel awesome. Um, not.) So on Monday I zipped over to my clinic for some bloodwork and another ultrasound, all showing that my body is truly just trying to be rebellious without a real cause. Yes, a few smaller cysts here and there, but nothing too exciting or unusual for me. So with that news, the doctors plan is just to start another Letrozole (Femara)/IUI cycle and see what happens. They cut my meds down by half, started the letrozole on Monday and finishing tonight, and I will go in next Tuesday to see what’s going on.

Okay, all of this ties back in to the quote, I promise.

So after my early morning, 7-something appointment, I stopped over by Starbucks to make my grocery list and menu for the week. Well, my ‘quick list-making stop’ evolved into a quiet and relaxing morning, watching the snow fall down around me, making me feel like I was in a snow globe, while ingesting the beautiful words above.

Coming out of the appointment I felt pretty apathetic but Shauna’s quote reminded me a few things – one, that I am to be fully and completely grounded in Him, grateful for life even when I am longing for more. It reminded me that God IS weaving a future, even when I can’t see the other side. It reminded me that it’s okay if we can’t see the other side from where we sit right now. (In fact, if we could see the other side, it would omit the need for faith.) It reminded me that above all, regardless of what is going on in my life, that I want to develop into a person of deep gratitude and surrender to the One who holds my future in His hands. And in order to develop into that type of person, I have to focus more on trusting Him then I do on what I am longing for.

I am so thankful this quote lined up with the messy unknowns of another cycle, helping to re-root myself in Him. Let’s do this.

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Favorite Date: I got to have an auntie/niece date with my oldest niece this week, and goodness, did we have fun! First of all, how do kids grow up so fast? Scarlett was chatting away and playing jokes on me and using her big, bright, beautiful imagination in ways that awed me. We stopped for lunch, visited a treasure store (aka a thrift store where she, unfortunately, chose a porcelain bell as the most prized treasure she ever did see. I have a feeling I will pay for this one day when I have children who are out with their aunt, hee hee!), and then spent time chatting over coffee at, where else, Starbucks. I love this peanut. Please, stop growing up.

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oh you know, just passing notes at the table.

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“this is the best thing I have ever had.”

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“i love ringing this bell.”

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oh this little girl just melts my heart into a million pieces.

Favorite Reminder: Wednesday was Ash Wednesday and I have to admit, I can fall into the routine practices that seasons like Advent and Lent can offer. In trying to be more intentional, I ordered the She Reads Truth Lent devotion book in hopes to focus more on what Lent means. I loved the introduction and how it defines lent: “Lent sets aside time for believers to focus intently on that action which is at the crux of our faith – drawing near to the cross of Christ and resting in the shadow of His sacrifice, glory, and forgiveness.”

I shared online that my prayer for myself is that I use this time of Lent to be intentional about returning to the cross, repenting and mourning the reality of my sinfulness, and remembering the precious gift Christ has given me. I pray that this season becomes more than just giving up something, I pray that we can all press pause and remember just how much we need the cross. If you are looking for a great devotional to use, follow along on shereadstruth.com or download the app. The website offers free devotionals/scripture readings daily while the app charges $2.99 for the plan for its app-functionality. It’s not too late to start.

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Favorite Cali Picture: She certainly was not barking at anything right before this. In fact, she too looks confused as to who was yapping at a blowing leaf. (*eyeroll*)

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Favorite Funnies:

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And finally, congratulations to Kristin H. for winning the giveaway for the gorgeous Wishbone + Gem necklace! We are necklace twins, so fun! Thanks again to Crystal for sharing your talents with my readers!

Until next week – xo!