ttc mug exchange 2015.

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

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

Who can participate?

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

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

How does it work?

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

How much is this going to cost me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What kind of mug do I need to send?

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

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

How many women participate? Is this a legit exchange?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happens when I get my package?

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

Enough FAQ’s! HOW DO I SIGN UP!!?!

Alright, here is how you sign up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ready, set, GO!

guest post: natalie brenner writes.

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

“I’m so sorry to tell you …”

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

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

{click here to continue reading} 

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online ‘in the wait’ community group.

 

 

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Happy Sunday friends! I am excited to share with you that an awesome new part of the In the Wait study is coming soon – an online community small group! Yes, that’s right! So many of you have asked for ways to connect with other women doing the study and so that’s just what we are creating!

Starting on November 8th and going until December 19th, those who have a copy of In the Wait will receive an invitation to a secret online Facebook group. Each day there, me and another one of the book’s authors, Holly, will help to lead conversation and discussion about that days devotional. This will give you and the other women in the group a place to start sharing, opening up, and talking about what you are learning.

The purpose of this group is to build community, help create accountability, encourage you right where you’re at today, and provide you with a safe place to process through what God is teaching you. All women, in all different seasons of waiting, of all ages, who have the book, are invited to join! And the timing of this study is perfect. It will usher in some daily quiet time during the busy holiday seasons and into advent. I truly believe God is going to move and stir in your heart as you continue to press forward into His.

If you are sitting there with your book in hand, thinking, I already started mine!, please, continue on! We would love for you to still join the group and go through with us what you learned! If you have been waiting for the right time to start it, perhaps November 8th is it! If you haven’t yet ordered a copy, but are interested in joining this, I will share below all of the details on how to order (plus a limited promo code to get 10% off!).

If this is the first time you are reading about the In the Wait devotional, you should know it talks to women like you and me, women whose lives seem to weave in and out of seasons of waiting. It could be an exciting wait, like for a wedding day to arrive or a new house to close; a mildly annoying wait, like waiting for the end of a school semester or working to pay off a small tedious loan; or, chances are, it’s a hard, stressful painful wait. Family health scares, infertility issues, wondering if you will ever find someone to marry, heart-wrenching marriage battles, or chronic loneliness. The reality is, seasons of wait have the potential to take our minds hostage and leave us exhausted and burnt out, feeling like we are living life in one big transition moment.

Our goal for this study is to show that we can take these seasons of waiting – exciting, easy, hard and painful ones – and grow closer to God in them. It is possible to live life FULLY while being in an unknown season. Some of you have asked what the book is like on the inside and how it works. Here’s a sneak peek at the beginning pages that explain what you need and how the days are broken up!

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So, with that said, join us for this online community group starting November 8th! Pray about it and see if God is nudging you to take this step towards Him. If you are reading this and don’t have a copy but want to take part of growing your relationship with Jesus during your season of waiting, you can order your copy below. Shipping is FAST and, perhaps you want to gather up a few of your friends and go through it together. I find that having others in my life going through something with me is so helpful.  (Orders over $50 in the US are FREE shipping!).

Even better, for ONE WEEK ONLY, if you use the promo code TRIALSBRINGJOY at the checkout, you will receive 10% off your book order! YAY! Also, I am running a giveaway over on Instagram for a free copy and if you win it and have already purchased the book this week; your order will simply be refunded. I wouldn’t delay on ordering if you want in since supplies are limited and going fast! (You can find me and details for the giveaway over at @Chels819).

Click here to order: http://www.hollyholtdesign.com/shop/in-the-wait-6-week-bible-study

If this is something you are excited about, help us spread the word about this community group – repost this image on Instagram or any other social media website to help spread the word.

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That’s all! I’m so excited to engage with each of you and chat about our seasons of waiting. God has BIG things in store for each one of us as we push past the worried, anxious and overwhelmed season of waiting. With Him, we can claim victory and find a joy-filled life no matter what our circumstances are.

squawking.

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

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

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

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

How about now?

Where are we going again?

How do we get there?

Are we there yet?

When are we turning? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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fur mama giveaway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Next we opened this box:

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

Next we opened this Trick or Treat bag.

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

 

Next up, unwrapping this:

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

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

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

The front of the package looks like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, the GIVEAWAY!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Use this Image on Instagram to repost

Use this Image on Instagram to repost

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

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! 

guest post: not just a beauty blogger.

Happy Tuesday friends! I am excited to share with you a guest post I wrote over at Not Just A Beauty Blogger today! I connected with Nikol several months back (you will love her!) and am honored at her invitation to share with her readers. The post is about how I have been learning to wait with God and not just waiting for God, including some practical tips on what that means for me. I hope you will pop on over and check it out!

Click Here to Read

Until next time ….

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falling into fall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

the hallway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

So good.

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

Now a note to myself:

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

Love, 30 years + 5 days old Chelsea

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

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

watering.

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

“What do we have here today Mom?”

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

When we water ....

When i water ….

when we don't.

… when i don’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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