Q & A part 1

I am so excited to launch this Question and Answers series this month, which will be combined with questions you have sent in and featuring some fun giveaways too! (2 packages today, more to come!) Thanks to everyone who submitted a question – if you don’t see your question answered in this post, know that there will be 3 parts so yours will make its way to being answered. Also, if you didn’t get a chance to send in your question, it’s not too late! Check out the Contact page for the best way to connect or leave a question in the comments below.

Here we go!

Q: Do you have any fiction book recommendations that you enjoyed that touch on infertility in some way?

A: I know many of you went out and read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and have shared that you loved it! I’m so glad! I have three other books that stand out as a good read with infertility story lines. The first is The Baby Trail by Sinead Moriarty. It is written by a British author and I found it to be hilarious. There are 2 follow up books to this book character and I liked all of them. But this first one is especially relatable to many and I found myself laughing out loud and feeling incredibly understood at the same time. The other book is Barefoot by Elin Hildebrand. While the infertility story line isn’t the predominate feature, it does touch on the emotions and uses language many of us would be familiar with. The third and last one is The Things We Do For Love by Kristin Hannah. I loved this one too. All three of these are non-Christian books so there are mild/moderate adult language and elements, but nothing I wouldn’t allow my Grandma Jones to read. (Hi Grandma Jones!)

Q: What about non-fiction books? Anything that touches on infertility that’s great?

A: YES! So many I love. The first is Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. If you have read my blog for any period of time and haven’t gotten this yet, please do! Her personal essays touch on miscarriage and struggles to conceive in a Godly way (however is not the focus of the book) and this is one of my favorite books of encouragement, relate-ability and hope. (UPDATE: And today only, the e-book is 0.99 on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles!)

The second is a book I recently read called Where Have All the Storks Gone? A His and Hers Guide to Infertility by Michelle and Chris Miller. This book is a funny, touching read, written from both her perspective and his. Her point of view talks a lot about the first steps you take when you learn you are fertility challenged, a great list of questions to bring to your OB/RE, some great advice on how to ignore the comments you wish people didn’t say and what you can expect with medicated cycles and IVF. Michelle does a GREAT job with this! And then the “his” perspective – Chris talks openly and candidly about things like preparing for the changes to the “just having sex” lifestyle, learning how to read semen analysis results, the lessons he has learned as a husband throughout the journey and touching on how he keeps his sanity and stays married through it all. I am SO glad I got to read this book – it was a lot of “you too!?”. It’s funny and touching and I will go ahead and let you know, has a great ending. In fact, I like this book so much that the publisher and I are hosting a GIVEAWAY for you to win a chance to get this book for free! Yeah! Enter below – the contest will end this Friday and the winner will be announced with Friday Favorites. Be sure to enter! (If you don’t win, I would still highly suggest grabbing this book. You can find all the ordering details on their website – www.wherehaveallthestorksgone.com) (This too is written from a secular perspective but is very tasteful!)

The third book is Every Drunken Cheerleader – Why Not Me? By Kristine Ireland Waits. This book is HILARIOUS. It’s written by a Christian author and I am so encouraged and touched by this challenging book. It’s written so that you can relate to it if you are struggling with infertility but also is an amazing resource for those who are supporting someone who is struggling with infertility. There’s an entire chapter (or two) that answers the questions they have like How can I help? What should I do? What shouldn’t I do? When and what should I ask about? How can I best support my friend during this? If I could give a copy to everyone I know, I would. This book is fabulous.

I have many other book suggestions listed under my Reading Resources page so check those out too!

Q: What helps you get though the 2 week wait? Are there any fun activities that help you get your mind off of things?

A: Let me just start by saying 2 week waits (2WW) suck. Never in my life have I known 14 days to take so painfully long. That being said, somehow they do pass. During this time I like to pretend like it’s not happening, while also recording every detail of every day. Makes sense right? I briefly write in my journal each day and this actually has helped keep me sane when reflecting back and reading other 2WW entries. I realize I am crazy EVERY 2WW which somehow brings comfort that this wait isn’t extra special. But anyways, to pass the days, I love to pack my days full of distractions. Coffees with friends (decaf of course!), trips to local and free museums or zoo’s, movie nights, girls days, mall walking (but no buying anything! Never clothes shop under the effects of progesterone.), painting my nails, and doing some gentle yoga (or swimming if you have that option). Things I DON’T suggest you do – Google. STAY OFF OF FORUMS, CHAT ROOMS, AND 2WW symptom websites. I repeat, DO. NOT. DO. THIS. You will drive yourself batty and set yourself up for waves of pointless emotions because you can’t truly count yourself out of this cycle at 3dpo (3 days past ovulation) simply because your left boob doesn’t hurt as much as your right. And don’t start taking tests at 5dpo. They will never show up as positive and you will waste pointless tears. My friend Lisa once told me “I would rather be hopeful and positive and convinced I am pregnant for 13 days and utterly devastated on day 14 if I am not, then spend 14 days in nervous, scared anticipation of failure.” I love that and live by that each 2WW now. Embrace the time you have, even if it doesn’t end the way you have hoped.

But my best advice is to stay busy. I have goals to make a 2WW bucket list for my next wait – it will keep me busy and distracted! What about you? What do you like to do to keep yourself busy during the 2WW?

Q: Are there any pills or supplements you have tried that have worked well or that you would recommend?

A: This is a loaded question! I know SO many people have differing opinions on this so I will keep this brief and allow you to do your own research as well, but here’s what I would loosely recommend*: CoQ10 for egg quality (stop taking this once you get your BFP), Vitamin D (studies showing it increases your fertility), Folic Acid/Prenatal vitamin, and Melatonin (said to play a role in hormone secretion and improve egg quality). Now there are always other supplements that others use and try that are still scientifically unknown if it helps increase fertility, but certainly have positive outcomes and stories! Fairhaven Health is an online source for many of these products and I am excited to try some of the products they sent me recently, like their brand of CoQ10, FertilAid (used to enhance fertility and support overall reproductive health) and FertiliTea. I have heard so much about this tea for preconception and am excited to give it a try! I will keep you all up to date with my thoughts but so far, I am impressed!

That being said, it isn’t fair for me to get stuff and not you! So I am teaming up with Fairhaven Health to offer one lucky winner a GIVEAWAY package of two if their most popular products – valued at nearly $100! The TTC Boost Bundle for Her includes FertilAid for Women, OvaBoost, and FertileCM to encourage hormonal balance, cycle regularity, and to promote fertile-quality cervical mucus and the BFP Test Strip Little Bundle is designed to provide you with the ovulation and pregnancy tests, consisting of 15 BFP Ovulation Test Strips and 5 early detection BFP Pregnancy Test Strips. I can’t wait for someone to give this all a try! Thank you to Fairhaven Health for your generous donations – ladies, check them out and enter for this giveaway below! This giveaway will end on Friday as well and the winner will be announced with the Friday Favorites.


Well that’s it! I have managed to tackle 4 questions and I am excited for the next post in this series, hitting questions like How do you ethically handle embryo creation during IVF? and Where do you suggest finding support on this journey? Can’t wait to answer!

Okay without further ado, here’s how you can enter to win the book and the awesome Fertility package! You will enter using Rafflecopter and it’s super easy – just provide an email so that I can contact you if you win for a mailing address. You can earn more points if you follow me on Instagram, share this giveaway using social media, subscribe to my blog, or leave a comment but regardless, everyone still earns 5 free entries! Can’t wait to share these products with you!

Click Here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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* The opinions shared on my blog are based on my own thoughts, experience and knowledge gained throughout this journey. I am not a doctor or health professional so please consult your own doctor before making any changes to your health or TTC plan. It’s important for you to advocate for yourself and make your own decisions based on your health care providers plan. 

intentional.

The word intentional has been on my heart for a while now.

Intentional. Done on purpose, deliberative, intended, purposively, willfully, meant, preconceived, consciously planned.

I feel like so much of my 2014 life was responding reactively. Shoot, it’s her birthday? Thanks Facebook for the reminder – Happy birthday friend! *send*. Wait, I haven’t seen this friend for 8 weeks? How did that happen? I spent too much time doing things on the fly – grabbing groceries on the way home from work, throwing in a quick load of laundry at 9 pm so we had underwear and socks for the morning, sneaking in a call to a friend when it became convenient and not because it was needed. Quiet time happened because this worksheet is due on Thursday or because I had a few hours off and it was easy. The problem is life felt messy and I felt unsatisfied with how many things that were once important to me kept slipping through my fingers.

And so, through prayer and processing, the word intentional has become my word for 2015. I sat down a few weeks ago to journal what this would mean. I want to be intentional about –

  • My time with God – making purposeful plans to meet with Him each day regardless of how easy it is or how I feel
  • Meal planning
  • Spending more time with our family, planned in advanced and deliberative
  • Committing to the friendships I have and feeding into them 1-1 and with thoughtful action
  • My marriage – being purposeful to do all the things I know I need to do to be a great wife to Josh and grow in our marriage
  • My health – staying active and committed to change
  • Sending notes of encouragement to others when I know they are struggling – this means being engaged in the needs and lives of those around me
  • Keeping my car clean – a clean car really does impact my attitude
  • Throwing out old things and replacing things that need to be – again, less clutter and more aware of what will make life flow smoother
  • Letting go of what needs to be let go of – this means being prayerful about when it’s time to step back from things/commitments/relationships
  • My writings and writing commitments – setting goals and following through with them
  • Self care – remembering to take the time to refill me so I can be used more effectively for Him
  • Being present in the moments – taking time off of social media, leaving the phone in my purse, tuning into others words and the simple beauty of life
  • Not always being intentional. Yes, this is one I struggle with too, I love planning and my lists and truthfully, I don’t do change well. I really want to get better at intentionally being flexible

So January 1, 2015 hit and I was armed with my word. I woke up early, spent time in the Word, journaling and praying and reading. Today was the day I would become a whole new person of intentionality. In fact, before Josh even woke up, I had the list made of all the productive things we were going to do to intentionally get in a good place for the week. Taking down Christmas decorations, meal planning, grocery shopping, card writing, a few organizational projects. What a great day it would be! I AM A PERSON OF INTENTION!

Well, little did I know that other plans would be made. We were soon caught in a text chain where Josh quickly committed to a much more relaxing day with my parents. Wait, huh? BUT WE ARE GOING TO BE INTENTIONAL AND PRODUCTIVE!

I felt so grumpy. My first day of being more intentional was NOT supposed to be learning how to be intentionally flexible. I may have been a crab for an hour as I grieved my day. Thankfully I was still able to get a lot done in the evening but it was a great lesson that things don’t always go the way I have planned. It made me want to change my word.

There is a balance to intentionality and I hope to learn that this year. I long to be more deliberative in my commitments and relationships and obedient in the ways He has called me.

“Life is a collection of a million, billion moments, tiny little moments and choices, like a handful of luminous, glowing pearls. And strung together, built upon one another, lined up through the days and the years, they make a life, a person.” –Shauna Niequist-

Life goes by too fast and I want my moments to have meaning. I want the people that I care about to know that I care about them. I want to build up my relationships instead of just maintaining them. I want to put my best foot forward in having a clearer mind and soul. I don’t want to slip into routine, I want to be intentional.

So there’s my word. James 1 outlines much of what I want to be intentional to develop:

  • Be a person of joy. (When troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.)
  • Be a person of endurance. (When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.) 
  • Be a person of wisdom and prayer. (If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.)
  • Be a person of faith. (When you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.)
  • Be a person that listens and doesn’t respond in anger. (You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.)
  • Be a person of character, integrity and humility. (Get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts.)
  • Be a person of Godly action and character. (Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says.)
  • Be a person who controls her tongue, watching gossip and venting sessions. (Control your tongue.)

Do share, what’s your word of the year? Do you have something you are working on developing or something you are focusing on for 2015? I would love to hear it! Or do you maybe need some ideas? One Word 365 has some great ideas to inspire you! It’s definitely not too late to pick one and run with it!

One thing I LOVE is encouragement – seeing others encourage one another makes my heart pitter patter and brings a smile to God’s face! I wanted to be intentional about encouraging others so today on Instagram I am hosting a giveaway based solely on encouragement! Hop over to my Instagram page (@chels819) to leave an encouraging word for a friend. Each message you send to someone will enter you in a giveaway to win this You are brave mug for yourself and the person you tag has the chance to win a set of scripture cards! (USA shipping only). The giveaway is open until 8pm CST Wednesday 1/14. (Both products are sold online at Holly Joy Holt’s website). Join me in being intentional to encourage someone today!

IMG_9236See you Friday!

new years giveaway.

Merry Day-After-Christmas! Hope has come and now we sit back and rest in His presence. I imagine today is the day Mary sat thinking about how much her life as changed as Jesus fussed and cried and needed to be fed. I love the fact that in His humanness, He was just as dependent on Mary as a baby as we are now on Him. I often feel disappointment once Christmas is over, but this year, I feel like the magic is sticking around a little longer.

 

Okay, and now the REALLY fun news! I am SO excited to be teaming up with some incredible friends for an amazing New Years Giveaway! As the New Year approaches, we realized what a blessing it would be to help others on their faith walk and journey with Jesus. I don’t know about you but there is something special about a new year, a new devotional or journal and a cup of coffee that screams productive quiet time! I just know the winners of this giveaway are going to be so blessed!  And instead of just having one winner, we thought it would be fun to have THREE, which means you have 3 chances to win some amazing prizes sponsored from the bloggers below! It’s SO easy to earn entries – simply click HERE Rafflecopter giveaway and earn drawing points by getting to know the sponsors better. There’s a free entry as well. It’s super easy – just use your name and email to sign up (so we know who is entering and how to contact you)! We all are praying that God blesses the winners in BIG ways with the goodies below! The contest is open to anyone which means you don’t need to be in any special season of life to enter. We really just want to bless others!

Without further ado, the fabulous prizes will be …

 Package One: 1st Winner – $75 Value

  • Journaling Bible
  • Blessings for a Woman’s Heart Devotional
  • Max Lucado Calendar
  • Jesus Today Book
  • Scripture Cards

Package Two: 2nd Winner – $45 Value

  • 2 CD’s
  • Starbucks Gift Card
  • Notepad
  • Women’s Devotional

Package Three: 3rd Winner – $25 Value

  • Itunes Gift Card
  • Journal
  • Scarf

It's A New Year Giveaway

In Due Time  ♦  The Lady Okie  ♦  A Touch of Grace  ♦  Trials Bring Joy  ♦ Jessi’s Design

Sage the Blog  ♦  Run to Radiance   ♦  The Artsy Cajun   ♦  Viva Good   ♦   Amateur Nester

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A big thanks to my friend Caroline for hosting!! I love being able to share some love with my wonderful readers and friends. The contest is open from now until January 2nd (one week!), so don’t delay in entering today. You will be contacted if (when! I’m feeling hopeful for my readers!) you win and your package will be sent out no later than January 7th.

Whooo hoooo! Sending you wish dust and lots of love!

XO,

Chelsea

scabs.

When I was younger my mom always told me not to pick my scabs. “They are going to scar if you pick them. Then you will have them your whole life.” I remember always looking at my scrapped knee or my skinned elbow and wondered if that was really true. Would I have a permanent scar? Why couldn’t I just pick them a little? The only thing I knew about scars was from my chicken pox marks dabbled around my legs, because apparently I couldn’t keep my little fingers away from them. But the unknowns about this for the rest of your life scar threat would be enough to hold me off from picking the scab, at least for a few days.

But I could never resist. I never would pick the whole scab at once. First it would just start with a little corner. A small chunk stuck under my fingernail and of course, I would start bleeding. I was always nervous I would be caught. But I would only pick that one tiny spot. No one would notice. I actually remember having the words “It just fell off” ready to go if I was asked.

But I never could stop with just one part of the scab. Once I started, I had an invitation to start picking more of it. Before I knew it, the whole scab was ripped off, my knee was all bloody and I was frantically trying to hide it as to avoid another scarring lecture.

My willpower to resist was never really good. I didn’t want to want to pick the scab, but when tempted with its crusty covering, I rarely said no. I know some of you are cringing right now and you were probably the kid who didn’t find immense satisfaction in picking their scabs. I salute you.

You may be wondering why I am talking about this. Well, I had a bad day the other day. It was the end of the week, one of those weeks that had far too many pregnancy announcements smushed within a short period of time. They flew in like hot cakes, one on top of the other, stacking higher and higher. A phone call, a facebook message, a newsfeed announcement, a text … each one caught me off guard. Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely happy for each one of them. They have to opportunity to start or expand their family, have made it through the scary first trimester and are able to begin celebrating with others. As someone on this side of things, I am grateful for the pain they don’t have to endure as a result of wanting to be pregnant and not being able to be. But with every announcement and joy filled response, I allowed self pity to seep into my spirit. The recipe for my poor attitude is as follows:

Mix 1 part complaining pregnant friends with 2 parts of poor sleep. Add in 1 caffeine headache and combine with another pregnancy announcement. Add a dash of gray skies and take away any signs of sunshine. Top it off with a sprinkle of feeling sorry for yourself and you have the perfect recipe for a blah day!

I laid in bed the other night, fully acknowledging my funk. I was a little mad that Josh wasn’t validating my cranky attitude and followed up my miserable comments with reminders about contentment and gratitude. The hard part was that I knew he was right. It isn’t like me to get so down and I truthfully am blaming some of it on the depressing Minnesota winter. (I need sunshine!!!). But here’s what happened. I started to pick the scab on my heart.

As soon as I started with the “woe is me, it will never be me” thoughts, I picked the corner of the scab that was covering my heart. I actually remember thinking “Don’t do this. Don’t go there. Don’t sit in this funk. You know better. You are stronger than this. Stop! Stop! Stop!”  But the devil on my shoulder, the one that knew to attack me at 11:00 pm after a long week whispered the words “Go big or go home. Pick it. Pick the scab.”

And I hate to say it, but I picked.

I realize how stupid this sounds, but I intentionally laid there thinking about everything I was sad about.

My January 27th due date. Next week. I should be 39 weeks pregnant right now. I should be getting ready to go into labor.

My last due date – September 2. I should have a 4 and a half month old.

How grateful I would be to have any baby I was blessed enough to carry.

Words said that were not meant to be hurtful, but hurt. Stewing over the pain the words caused.

(I won’t continue because I don’t need to go there again – you get the picture.)

So I laid there, miserable and of course crying, and I kept thinking STOP PICKING THE SCAB. One side of my brain begin to list all the blessings I had, which are an enormous amount, and the bully side said “Do that tomorrow. Let’s keep thinking of things we are sad about.”

Our scabs are meant to be protective coverings over wounds. Coverings created so that our body can heal. But on this night, I didn’t want to be healing. I wanted to sit and stare at my bloody heart and recall the pain I was in.

It was so stupid. No one should ever intentionally try to inflict pain on themselves. I look back now and regret it, because it set my heart backwards. My heart now is trying to rebuild the scab and the words of pain, discouragement and frustration will now find it easier to penetrate as that protective covering is thinner.

Here’s the lesson I learned though – we have to let the scab heal. We can’t pick it daily. We can’t fill our day with negative thoughts, replaying hurtful comments, and spend time feeling sorry for ourselves. Because if we do that, we will never get to the point where our scab heals and our wounds are strong enough to resist picking. If we continue to pick away at our hearts, they will scar. We will turn into bitter people, people who can only see the glass as half empty and spend far too much time feeling sorry for ourselves.

We were never created to live life like that.

We are called to be people filled with joy. Filled with kindness. We are called to be thankful to our Father for everything He has blessed us with and stop looking at everything we want differently. What an insult it is to our Creator when we constantly tell Him the plan that He artfully created for our life isn’t good enough. We want THEIR plan!!! Wahhh! And little do we know, but those people are crying Wahhh, we want THEIR plan! It’s a domino effect of wanting when we lose contentment with what we have. Sure, we may have suffered losses – the loss of a job, the loss of a marriage, the loss of a child, the loss of a dream or reality we wished for – but I think we far too often equate contentment with happiness. Because the truth is, we will never be fulfilled with the earthly things we desire. A baby ISN’T going to make my life more joyfilled. Sure, I may feel it will fill a hole of longing, but I know with it will come more needs, wants, worries …. The secret to life is being content in HIM.

I think true contentment is the bandaid to the heart. It is what will stop the temptation from picking the scab and it’s what will allow us to heal.

I love the Message translation of Philippians 4:11-13. It says:

“I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.”

What powerful words! The incredible thing about this passage is that Paul was writing this letter from prison. Midst the many trials in his life, many so extreme that we will never face, he knew that he could be content only with Christ.

As my heart scab begins to mend, I am thankful to be reminded that the source of my satisfaction, my strength, my hope, and my joy is in Him alone. All the things we desire may be good things, but only Jesus can satisfy.

Don’t pick your scab today. I wish I had been strong enough that night to resist the temptation to rip it off. Sitting in misery does NOTHING for your joy and will only set yourself backwards. Next time I am tempted, I will pick up my phone and scroll through the verses I have bookmarked in my YouVersion Bible app and find strength in HIM.

There you go. That’s enough scab talk for the day. Just be thankful I didn’t include any scab visuals. Ewwwwww.

Now the time you have all been waiting for …. The winner of my first Blog Giveaway! I loved how many people participated – we had over a few hundred entries! But without further ado, congratulations to my dear friend and follower Amie F. on being the randomly selected winner! I will contact you shortly to finalize the mailing.

winner

Now, let’s get out there and have a good day! Stop right now and think of 5 things you are thankful for. If you need accountability to do this, list them in the comment section. Five things. Let’s stew in gratitude today. We are so blessed.

spoil

persistence and a blog giveaway.

Ding dong the polar vortex is gone! Wicked old witch she was. It’s 28º outside right now and yesterday at church I actually heard people describing the weather as “balmy”. I won’t pull out my shorts quite yet (although a few people shopping at Target don’t share my opinion) but I will enjoy a few less layers when I run to the grocery store later. Cali keeps begging to go outside and I just noticed she was sitting on the driveway, eyes closed, facing the sun, taking full advantage of her brief 5 minutes of fresh air. I suppose a 60 degree swing in temperature over a week will do that!

This last week has been one of those where I was surrounded by extreme praises and extreme sorrows. One text message shares that a family member’s tests results came back cancer free, another message shares that close friends received unexpected health news about their unborn baby. It was a week where I was rejoicing in answered prayer requests one moment – a new job for a friends spouse, a successful egg retrieval for another, news of a potential birth mom considering a well-deserving family and then the coin flips. A job opportunity for my sister slips away. Hearing news of a friend’s miscarriage. Feeling helpless as I watch someone sink deeper into a depressive state.

I wrote in my journal a few days ago “There seems to be so much around me right now – things capable of praises and things capable of gut wrenching sorrow. Life just seems too cruel and painful some moments and others, filled with unimaginable joy. I was reminded today that that we will “never learn faith in comfortable surroundings”, yet to live life uncomfortable is so hard. It’s days like this where I am reminded that HE is the only one who can help. He is between us and our difficulties. He is the one fighting our battles. And above it all, He still reigns.”

Isaiah 43: 1b, 2 has been appearing EVERYWHERE for me this week. It has been on the cards I have picked up, random flyers, in multiple devotionals, and I am pretty sure Shia LaBeouf even hired a skywriter to etch it above my house. It reads:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

The word when stuck out to me. It doesn’t say if. It is inevitable that in this life, we will go through hard times.  There is suffering on this earth because it is a broken world of sin. Even Jesus had to suffer through life-claiming trials. When. When we suffer, we will not drown. When we suffer, we will not be consumed by the flame. These trials may feel like they only happen to you. But while you struggle with infertility, someone else struggles with painful financial struggles. While you struggle with the declining health of someone you care about, someone else is struggling with a broken marriage. Everyone has their Thing. You are not alone in living life with a struggle simply because everyone else around you has a baby/is thin and healthy/has a flourishing marriage/has decent salaries/has that house you always wanted/etc.

Verse 5 continues by saying … Do not be afraid, for I am with you.

Even in the midst of the rain, the flood, the fires – even when we are walking through hard times, there He is in the midst of it. WITH us. Not ahead of us or trailing behind. But walking right alongside us. But sometimes He is silent. I have walked that path of silence before. The words prayed seem to fall on deaf ears and the void seems vast. It is a time in my life that I look back on as one of the most frustrating spiritually, because no matter how hard I tried, it seemed like nothing could get His attention. I walked through that period for nearly a year. I look back at it, almost 4 years ago now, and am so thankful for my persistence. It almost became a challenge. Lord, I am going to keep coming to you, even though I don’t feel your presence right now. Truth is, what other option did I have? I believed in Him with my entire heart, I KNEW He was real. I thought back to those moments in my life that can only be labeled as “God Moments”, and so with determination I continued to seek Him. I took the words of Romans 12:12 to heart – Don’t quit in hard times. Pray all the harder. And so I prayed. And journaled. And blasted worship tunes. Begged and pleaded. Some days it simply felt like I was going through the motions. But I will never forget that day in March when He whispered back “I am here. I never left you.” Looking back now, I can see that was so true. He kept pushing me, never letting me be consumed by the waves but also, not pulling me out of them either. And because of that, what was one of the most frustrating seasons of my life had one of the most beautiful endings, which made it all worth it. The growth over that year was immeasurable. The brokenness real, but the healing, overwhelmingly eternal.

He never leaves us.

He has never left us.

He will always be with us.

My encouragement to you today is press into Him. Continue persisting. When it seems like the waters may overwhelm you and the fire may consume you, keep faithfully crying out to Him. I promise you – He is not ignoring you. In fact, I am willing to bet my life on it.

With that said, I am excited to share with you the news of my first EVER Blog Giveaway! I find so much joy in spreading love to others and who better to bless than those who are faithful in caring for me and following along on our journey with us.

GIVEAWAY

The giveaway includes many of my favorites: A journal, Jesus Calling and Jesus Today (hardcover), a box of one of my favorite herbal Starbucks teas, Burt’s Bees foot cream, EOS chapstick, a HOPE bracelet, a wooden GRACE decorative sign, a pair of lucky socks and a $10 Starbucks gift card. I am so excited to send this off to someone!

So how do you enter? It’s simple! Each of the below items you do will credit you with 1 entry for the drawing:

–        Like the Instagram post with the photo announcement and comment on it.

–        Share the Instagram post on your page. (If you do this and are listed as private,– simply comment here or on my IG page that you shared it with your followers. I believe in honesty!)

–        Like this blog post through the blogger page you are reading it on.

–        Comment on the blog.

–        Like the Facebook post with the photo announcement.

–        Comment on the Facebook post and make sure to say you want to be entered.

–        Share my blog on your Facebook page, being sure to let me know about it if you don’t tag me. It doesn’t have to be this post – feel free to share any of the post in the past that you have liked.

–        Share/Tag my blog on your blog and let your followers know about the giveaway as well.

–        Share my blog on Pinterest. (If you do this, email me at trialsbringjoy@gmail.com and let me know)

And YES! You can enter if I know you in real life or only through social media … everyone is welcome to enter!! I will be tallying all of the entries and will be doing the drawing on Wednesday the 22nd in the afternoon. Unfortunately I can only ship within the US and apologize to my overseas followers.

I’m excited! Cali is too. Good luck!

(Someone needs a hair cut!)

(Someone needs a hair cut!)