friday favorites – january 30.

Another Friday is upon us. This week has felt long to me but I won’t complain – Friday is here!

4nZRdfg

Favorite Reunion: Josh spent the weekend away with our church’s senior high youth group and Cali and I were so happy to see him come home on Sunday evening. He’s a (volunteer) small group leader there and was with on their winter retreat, so let’s just say he came home plenty exhausted. Good thing for him, Cali is always willing to take a nap! Like father like daughter! :)

IMG_9662

Favorite Dessert: Monday night ushered in a work event with our medical staff and lucky for me, the dessert on the menu was a piece of gluten free cheesecake – the size of my head. I mean, whenever someone offers you free cheesecake …. you eat it. (And take home the leftovers). YUM!

IMG_9677

Favorite Quote: “Trust is a golden pathway to Heaven. When you walk on this path, you live above your circumstances.” –Jesus Calling –

Oh how I long to be someone who routinely lives a life of trust, living above my circumstances. Isn’t it easy to get so wrapped up in the worry and wonderment of it though? But as this devotional pointed out, circumstance-based living often gets us on a path of agonizing turns and knots, with heavy air and dark, ominous clouds. I want to live in the air above the heaviness, in the air where I trust that because God loves me, everything really will be okay. Everything. That doesn’t mean everything I want will come true and I will never suffer, no, we all know that the realities of life makes those dreams impractical No, God promises that He is directing our paths in such a manner that we don’t have to live in the world of doubting every agonizing turn, but instead, trusting that IN THOSE TURNS, He is present and working and faithful. The thought of this brings peace to my heart.

Favorite Goodbye: Parenthood ended its series on NBC last night and while I don’t want to say anything that would ruin it for anyone yet to watch, I will say it’s been a wonderful run and that it was truly the best finale I’ve seen. I basically was a puddle on the floor for an hour. This show is one of the best and will be so greatly missed. (I probably will need therapy from my grief with this being over.)

Parenthood

Favorite Cali Picture: Cali loves to try to sit on my lap while I am getting ready in the morning and this week proved no exception. I love this picture of her patiently waiting at the bottom of my stool for me to pick her up. Oh and yes, her sitting on my lap is the most inconvenient thing ever – and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

IMG_9734

Favorite Healer: I had a week where I haven’t been feeling great and was particularly struggling on Wednesday night with a mild tummy ache and an awful headache. My desperation to feel better after a long day made me willing to try a new remedy – Peppermint Young Living Oil! This peppermint oil rubbed on the back of my neck took my headache away so quickly and a tiny drop mixed in my water settled my stomach. I was impressed!

IMG_9740

Favorite Post: I am hoping by now you have seen the beautiful Guest Post featured earlier this week, written by one of my best friends Jana. I still have goosebumps over the beauty of her writing and the way that it has connected with so many of you in a variety of ways. As a friend, I am so proud of her bravery in sharing her struggles on such an open and public forum, many of you can understand how vulnerable that can be, and as a PCOS-cyster and infertility-struggler, am so touched by the encouragement of her ability to turn a tough battle into something that points to Him. Her reminder that “the loss of an envisioned dream is still loss.” but that “pain can often bring purpose… if we allow it to.” struck a chord with many of you and I am so thankful for her wise words. It doesn’t matter what you are going through – waiting for “The One”, dealing with a painful marital separation, mourning the loss of a child, stressing about a financial situation or praying that you find a new job before you lose your mind – take comfort in these words: ‘He is the one guiding us in each and every step and He has never failed us.’ Keep trusting!

IMG_8093

Favorite Funnies:

IMG_9717

IMG_9715

IMG_9714

IMG_9713IMG_9716IMG_9712IMG_9705IMG_9704IMG_9702IMG_9701IMG_9678IMG_9700

And with that, another Friday Favorites comes to a close. If you haven’t already sent in your question to be answered in February’s Q&A series, consider this your last reminder! I am SO excited to tackle this list, there have been some awesome questions asked! February also will feature a few fun giveaways and should (hopefully, God-willing) usher us into our next IUI cycle. Let’s make this a great weekend! See you soon!

guest post – secondary infertility.

I am privileged today to share with you a guest post by one of my dearest friends, a post that has touched my heart in a profound way. I often get questions from readers about secondary infertility and while there is a similar word shared – infertility – I am unfamiliar with how to relate to the complexity of emotions that arrive when a family wants to grow just a little more. Jana has been willing to open up her heart and story in a vulnerable and real way and I am blessed to breathe the same air as this woman. Please join me in reading Jana’s journey below, both with secondary infertility and as a newly diagnosed “cyster”, while celebrating the beautiful workings of our God who is always involved. I adore her and after reading this, I know you will too. Enjoy!


Ignorance is bliss. Or is it?

When Chelsea asked me to write a guest post on secondary infertility I told her that I felt completely incompetent because our struggle to conceive has been shorter in comparison than most other infertility stories out there in the blogosphere. We haven’t experienced several years of infertility. We haven’t experienced the immense heartache of a miscarriage. We haven’t even been through a failed IUI or IVF cycle. And yet, the deceiving chatter in my head that I sometimes believe is that I shouldn’t be so discouraged with our struggles to conceive since we already have been so immeasurably blessed with two lovely children. This then only makes me feel horribly greedy and ungrateful for wanting another. And so the cycle continues… Desire. Discouragement. Guilt. Desire. Discouragement. Guilt.

Jana Wick-47-2-2

Then I realized (with the help of a gracious reminder from Chelsea) that the chatter in my head was keeping me from telling our story. My hope is that in sharing it with you, you will be encouraged to know you’re not alone. I also want to share with you what we have learned throughout this journey and why we have peace even among the setbacks.

There is nothing to be ashamed of for desiring another baby – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Those of us whom struggle with secondary infertility have our own unique set of ignorant comments from well-wishers. Along with the “you just need to relax” comments, we often get “just be happy you have one <or in my case two> child(ren). Do you know how many infertile couples would love to have just one child!?”, implying as if our desires for wanting another child isn’t valid. And we’re constantly reminded at preschool that practically all of the other mommies around us are either pregnant or toting around a new little bundle of joy and telling us how lucky we are that we get to have a quiet moment to ourselves for a few hours while our kid is at school. (I won’t disagree that the break is nice but oh, what I wouldn’t give to have another baby instead of alone time at Target.) And how can I forget that wonderful question of “So when are you going to have another baby!?”.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been trying to conceive for 3 months, 1 year, or 10+ years… the loss of an envisioned dream is still loss. And the struggle of infertility is both physically and emotionally painful. But I’m a believer that pain can often bring purpose… if we allow it to.

A couple of years ago, I was at a conference where Beth Moore spoke to us about “Birthing Purpose”. She so beautifully and intricately wove in how our painful experiences birth PURPOSE in our lives. I could go on and on about the significance of this weekend in my life and how it prepared my heart (that is another blog post all together)… but, little did I know that just a few months after hearing this powerful message, we would be at the beginning of our infertility journey.

(Here are the highlight notes from Beth Moore’s message that weekend – so powerful!)

e

Today I want to share with you why I wouldn’t change our infertility story and that there has been a purpose revealed to me through this trial.

a

I never thought infertility would be a part of our story. When my husband and I decided to start trying for our first baby, I remember being so ignorantly over-confident that it would happen just perfectly according to our plan, honestly speaking, during the first month of trying. Oh how quickly my confidence changed after my first experience of peeing on that stick and getting a negative result. I was crushed but found hope in trying again that following month, however another failed cycle absolutely devastated my spirits. My husband traveled for work quite a bit during our season of trying and I actually demanded he return home for “prime time” baby-making one weekend (he didn’t complain…ha!). The 3rd time must have been the charm and we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Chloe, into the world on Easter Sunday in 2009. Her birthday was the most beautiful day of my life and I immediately experienced euphoria in my new role of being a mom.

IMG_0742

Fast forward a year and a half later and it was time to start trying for #2. WHAM. 1st month trying and we were pregnant. We were blessed with our son, Clayton (Clay), in June of 2011. We fell madly in love with this flawless little boy and I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect life than the one we were living. Life was good, and as cheesy as it sounds, I felt like all my dreams were coming true.

pic5

Shortly after Clay’s birth, we went through a couple of big life changes. I stopped working and became a full-time SAHM. We also sold our house and moved in with my parents for 5 months while building a new home. Despite all the joyous blessings going on around me, I was rapidly gaining weight and found myself crying all the time for no reason. I was diagnosed with post-partum depression 9 months after Clay’s birth. I began taking depression medicine and started an intense workout regime 6 days a week trying to attain my pre-pregnancy body (which honestly wasn’t anything perfect before kids either… I have always been a yo-yo dieter battling the same 20-30 lbs.) For the first time in my life I loved working out and felt amazing on the inside, but my physical results were lacking despite my best efforts, resulting in a total weight loss of 1 measly pound after 10 intense weeks. Shortly thereafter, I stopped working out and quickly put on an additional 20 pounds (likely due to poor sleep habits, mental/physical stress and exhaustion.) Little did I know that my body was working against me and I was experiencing insulin resistance and hormone imbalances due to an unknown PCOS condition.

I was so discouraged with my weight and overall health so we put off trying for baby #3 until I could get back down to what I thought would be a healthy starting weight. Despite making extreme changes to my diet, (a whole foods approach with balancing proteins, fats & healthy carbohydrates, as well as drastically reducing my sugar intake) combined with trying too many home workout videos to count, it felt like it was impossible for me to lose weight. I beat myself up multiple times daily feeling like a big fat failure. This wasn’t an issue of willpower as I was trying harder than I had ever tried. I knew something was wrong but couldn’t figure out what. My husband was soooo supportive and validated my efforts, but I still felt so alone in the battle. (At this time I still was unaware of my PCOS condition.)

Although my health wasn’t where I wanted it, we decided it was time to start trying for baby #3 to complete our perfect family planning timeline. I had always responded very well to pregnancy and actually felt (& looked) my best during those 9 months. I was that annoyingly cheerful “I love being pregnant” woman that most pregnant women love to hate. When it came to trying again, I was ignorant to believe that since we had no problem getting pregnant with Chloe & Clay, we would have the same luck the 3rd time around.

b

The first few months of trying again were the toughest… there were lots of tears and too many dollars spent on name brand pregnancy tests. We were 9 months into trying when I had my annual exam with my OBGYN. I had informed her that my cycles were regular but ranging from every 24-32 days. I asked for blood tests to be done but she said we should try with an ovulation kit and to come back in a couple months. She assured me in her flighty tone of voice that I would be pregnant next time I saw her. I left that appointment in tears and feeling defeated.

After 2 more months of getting positive results on ovulation predictor kits (OPK) and perfectly timed sexcapades, I returned to my OBGYN’s office still not pregnant. (I didn’t know at the time that I was actually getting false positives on the OPK’s which is common with PCOS.) My doctor finally agreed to order FSH & Estradiol blood work samples and do an Hysterosalpingogram (HSG). My results all came back normal and we were given our options for going forward. Given our diagnosis of  “unexplained infertility” and the fact that I’m approaching 35 years of age, the doctor highly recommended that I see a fertility specialist. I walked out of that appointment completely dumbfounded.

“Fertility specialist!?” I questioned. I thought she was going to give me the magic Clomid pill and we’d be on our merry little way to having our perfectly planned little family in just a few short months. “How did we even get here!?” I kept asking myself.

I made our appointment with the fertility clinic and we were able to get in just one week later. My husband and I sat with the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) as he began to thoroughly explain in detail what happens in the body of a woman with PCOS. I was aware of what PCOS was but didn’t think I had the typical symptoms, so it took me quite a few minutes to realize that he was politely informing me of my destiny. Within minutes I was in the exam room having an ultrasound and blood work drawn to confirm that his diagnosis of PCOS was, in fact, correct.

I was in shock but mysteriously felt peaceful and free. I felt like I finally had an answer to so many health related questions that I’ve had for over 15 years. (digestive issues, unexplained weight struggles, bouts of depression, etc…) Since being on the proper medication since my diagnosis (Metformin for insulin resistance & birth control pills to help regulate hormones), along with my continued healthy diet & regular exercise regimen, it has already significantly helped me with weight loss and my overall health. My body is FINALLY working with me and I feel the best I’ve felt in years! Praise God!

(Note: If you are struggling with infertility or secondary infertility (even if it hasn’t been a year yet), I strongly urge you to schedule an appointment with an RE. I regret not going in sooner. I learned that OBGYN’s can help you once you get pregnant but a fertility doctor’s main mission is to help you GET pregnant.)

c

Most significantly, I have been overwhelmed with gratitude when I think of what a true miracle Chloe & Clay are. Most people are diagnosed with PCOS in their teens or early twenties. Most are able to conceive but rarely without the help of fertility medicine and interventions. The only reason I found out that I have PCOS is due to our struggle trying to conceive baby #3.

I know this might sound crazy, but I feel like God has answered my prayers with this diagnosis – prayers that I didn’t even know I was praying. If it weren’t for infertility, I don’t believe I would have ever known about my PCOS and I would have continued to battle the health and weight concerns that have held me in physical & emotional bondage for too many years of my life. While the weight struggle is far from gone post-diagnosis, I now have an answer to the “why!?” and that answer is such a gift to me.

I have come to the conclusion that ignorance is NOT bliss.

The ignorance of not knowing I had PCOS all these years has been hard not only for me, but for my family & friends too. They have watched me beat myself up emotionally every single day over the last 15 years wondering “what is wrong with me!?” (I don’t have the typical PCOS symptoms so I believe that is why it went undiagnosed all these years.) Though I would never ever choose PCOS (it totally SUCKS– can I get an amen soul cysters!?), I am grateful for the answer I have going forward and what it means for our family and for my health. I am finally free to be the best version of me and that will greatly impact the type of wife, mom, daughter, sister & friend that I can be to my loved ones. This unwanted diagnosis may have saved my life and certainly saved my heart from being broken any longer. I am living today with a grateful heart and a clear vision of my purpose… to bring Glory to God in everything He has called me to do.

Two birthdays ago, I began a new tradition of meditating on a key Bible verse for the entire year. I wanted the verse to correlate with the age I was turning. When I turned 33, I selected Matthew 6:33 as my year verse.

pic8

When I turned 34, I selected Psalm 34 because I couldn’t choose just 1 verse from this entire passage of His promises. Meditating on these powerful Words from God these past 2 years has been such a blessing to me. To quote the title of Chelsea’s blog, I do believe trials bring joy if we seek God’s kingdom first and praise Him even in the valleys of our broken hearts.

I will end with this prayer that I prayed almost 1 year ago when I was pleading with God to help me fully give this area of my heart to Him. I wanted to start living a life full of His intended purpose for me. I vowed to not let another year of my life be in vain and prayed that I would bring Glory to Him in everything I say and do going forward.

Lord, I’m ready to give birth to PURPOSE for this painful struggle that has held me in bondage and taken away my attention from you. God, help me, guide me, lead me, and speak through me that I may birth something that means something. That I will be obedient and I will submit to you so that I may bear fruit. Lord, help me be disciplined and open to the calling which you have given me. I pray that the right people will come along side of me to encourage me as I go through this journey and Lord, I ask that I will be a person that mutually encourages them to fulfill the purpose you have for their lives also. God — You are STRONG. You are MIGHTY. You have OVERCOME the oppressor. I have no fear for YOU are with me and holding my hand as I give birth to Your purpose for me. Amen. (March 7, 2014)

What a humbling experience these last couple of years have been. I want to explain that my prayers to lose weight all these years have never been in vain but rather that I would come to peace to accept my body just the way God made me. I believe that accepting my PCOS diagnosis and infertility struggle is all a part of this journey to acceptance. I’m not “broken”… I am fearfully and wonderfully made for a clear PURPOSE destined by God. How comforting it is to know that He is the one guiding us in each and every step and that He has never failed us. We feel led to go forward with our first IUI in just a few weeks. Prayers are appreciated as we continue on our journey! :)

“friday” favorites – january 23.

Let’s pretend today is Friday, okay?

Tinafeyzippedlips

Favorite Mail: My friends are the best, really. Remember how I had a hard day last week, followed by a cancelled cycle on Friday? Well, it was like God prepped everyone in advance to mail out cards and goodies prior to my tough day(s) so that the love poured in when I needed it most. I am so totally spoiled by the best community. Thank you all deeply.

IMG_9352

Thank you Vanessa! I want to frame this adorable card.

Elisha over at waitingforbabybird.com/ cheered me up with prayers and chocolate! WIN!

Elisha over at waitingforbabybird.com/ cheered me up with prayers and chocolate! WIN!

Matt and Karen sent love from Florida ... these friends have been so faithful in their support and prayers over the years!

Matt and Karen sent love from Florida … these friends have been so faithful in their support and prayers over the years!

 

My Person Karen sent a boxful of goodies - magazines and bookmarks and other thoughtful "me" things. What a thoughtful surprise! (And this photo doesn't do it justice.)

My Person Karen sent a boxful of goodies – magazines and bookmarks and other thoughtful “me” things. What a thoughtful surprise! (And this photo doesn’t do it justice.)

THIS! How many of you know I collect Starbucks mugs from all over the world? Well, I do. And my friend Heather completely surprised me with a package containing this AWESOME mug from a Boston Starbucks. In fact, I'm drinking from it as I type this! I love adding this to my collection! Heather, you're wonderful!

THIS! How many of you know I collect Starbucks mugs from all over the world? Well, I do. And my friend Heather completely surprised me with a package containing this AWESOME mug from a Boston Starbucks. In fact, I’m drinking from it as I type this! I love adding this to my collection! Heather, you’re wonderful!

Favorite Memory: Our Girls Retreat Weekend was the best ever. We had SO much fun getting away for a few days, relaxing and eating and laughing so hard. (The best kinds of soundless laughs too, where you can hardly catch your breath and you momentarily fear that your lungs won’t come up for air.) I am so blessed and grateful for these women in my life. We topped the weekend off with a significant prayer session for one another and His presence was tangible. I love my people.

Late night - take 15253. We tried.

Late night – take 15253. We tried.

Make-up free, silly shows on the lake. Love these girls.

Make-up free, silly shows on the lake. Love these girls.

Looks like we are in the tundra right? Nope, that's just standing out on the lake up north. Gorgeous though right!?

Looks like we are in the tundra right? Nope, that’s just standing out on the lake up north. Gorgeous though right!?

What girls weekends are made of - 80's movie's, snacks, cider, and blankets. Not pictured - nail polish, late nights, all that girly stuff.

What girls weekends are made of – 80’s movie’s, snacks, cider, and blankets. Not pictured – nail polish, late nights, all that girly stuff.

Favorite Selfie: While getting ready to leave for work on Wednesday morning, I stop, dropped and selfied with Cali – she even sort of participated? Okay, so maybe not but still, I love this pup.

IMG_9518

Favorite Blog Quote: My sweet friend Heidi over at People, Place or Things wrote this great post this week about taking time to refill yourself and perhaps it’s because I am a similar season as she was writing about, but this quote hit home: “Lately, my days have been filled with activities that drain me. And that’s fine and necessary and life. But, I haven’t been as intentional about balancing my calendar with commotion that fills me. Like taking baths.” I love that she acknowledged that part of life is doing things that may be draining and necessary, but it was a great reminder that I also have to be intentional about balancing in things that refuel my spirit, which I haven’t been as good at lately (There’s that words again, intentional, I get it!) So thank you Heidi for reminding me that even midst seasons of busy and need-to-do, self-care needs to be on the list too!

(image from Heidi's website)

(image from Heidi’s website)

Favorite Share: I have been slowly trying to take control over the chemicals and germs that take over our house and lives and have found Norwex to be a company that does an incredible job creating other alternatives. This week I got to host a party with several girlfriends and had a Rep share more about what I have been learning – it was so fun and educational! If you are interested in learning more, let me know. Or if you are interested in placing an order with my online party, the link is open until Tuesday and you are invited to do so. (http://lovemycloths.com/) – enter Chelsea R as host or if it doesn’t work, still send it in and let me know and she can move your order to my party.

Favorite Gift: My dear friend Holly met up with me and shared this story with me – last September she was away at a conference and this necklace caught her eye. She wasn’t sure why she was supposed to buy it, but she did and she tucked it away and waited. Well, because God is God, He began to make it clear to her that this necklace was meant to be given to me – which is crazy because when she bought the necklace, we hadn’t even met yet! I love how God orchestrated this beautiful encouragement to me and also used her heart and generosity to bless me so. Arrows are a beautiful symbol in the infertility journey. They remind us that “an arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great.” There is such encouragement in the draw knowing that there will be, at some point, a release, a simple and swift motion that will change the momentum of it all. So Holly, thank you. Thank you for blessing me with this God-given reminder and acting on it. Once I have “launched”, I can’t wait to pass this necklace on to the next girl who is in the slow and painful process of being drawn back.

IMG_9592

Favorite Funnies:

 IMG_9576

IMG_9575

IMG_9573

IMG_9581

IMG_9572

IMG_9580

IMG_9579

IMG_9578

IMG_9577

IMG_9571

IMG_9570

IMG_9569

IMG_9568

There you have it! My “Friday” Favorites. (*wink* *wink*). Thanks to everyone who has been emailing over questions for the Q&A series coming up in February! I am soooo excited to dive into these – keep sending them over! Whoooo hooooo! Have a great weekend friends.

send ’em over.

I frequently get emails with some awesome questions from readers – everything from “what books to do you recommend?” to “what words do you have for someone going through a miscarriage?” The questions are all SO good and I love interacting with each of you as you pepper me with some thoughtful questions. They cause me to pause and think and that’s a good thing!

My inbox has been especially filled lately (I LOVE IT!) and it has inspired me with an idea for a series of posts – a Question and Answer series! That’s right, all those questions you have been emailing me over the last few years, send them my way via comment or email and I will work my way through them. Don’t make them all serious – send me over some fun, random ones too! :) I can’t wait to address some of the most common questions to specifics about our journey. Faith, treatment, personal life – nothing is off limits!

My email is listed here, you can write it below, or comment on an Instagram post. If you would like your blog tagged back and your name identified, just leave it in the comments (From NAME at XXXX) and I will credit your question to you. However, if you want to be anonymous, that is completely fine as well, just let me know. (First names only will be used.) The question window is open till the end of the month so send them over. I’m really looking forward to this!

Oh and due to a crazy week, Friday Favorites may not be posted until Saturday … just pretend like it’s Friday when you read them. Hehe!

I’ll leave you today with a great message I read a few weeks ago that has been stewing in my brain: “The mention of a journey implies an arrival. If God guides us, however we may dislike it, it means there is a goal to our journey. Because it is God’s will for us to reach that goal, we can be certain we will reach it. We start and stop and change our minds. People disappoint us; we disappoint ourselves and may give up. Not God! He always finishes what He begins.” Rest in the fact that regardless of our outcome, there is an end to this journey and a destination. Chances are it may be nothing like we imagine or plan it to be, but it’s there and it’s going to be glorious. Have a great rest of the week friends!

friday favorites – january 16th.

Happy Friday friends! I don’t want to countdown days, but secretly I am excited that January is halfover. This month seems so long and gray and cold. I love the sparkle of February, the spring-breakness of March, the promise of spring in April … January is hard for me to get through. But the good news about today is that Friday Favorites are here!

hOW7wwF

I’m heading off to a doctors appointment here shortly, so hopefully things are looking good and we can look at doing an IUI in the next few days. Stay tuned! Anyways, yay! Here we go!

Favorite Thing I am Looking Forward to: This weekend! I am SO blessed to have an amazing small group of women who “do life” with me. We meet together every other week, spending time doing a Bible study and in prayer, catching up on life and supporting each other through the ups and downs. Community is one of the BIGGEST and BEST things isn’t it? I don’t know what I would do without these girls and their friendships. Anyways, now I’m off topic – this weekend we are all spending a few days out of town at a cabin together. All these beautiful ladies are mom’s and will be able to relax and be freed of all responsibilities for a few days – as a friend, I am so excited for them to just kick back and enjoy! There will be laughter, delicious food, 80’s movies and of course, sweatpants. YES! I. can’t. wait!

our christmas party 2014

our christmas party 2014

Favorite Recipe: I posted this picture of homemade shrimp ceviche on Instagram earlier this week and have gotten some requests for the recipe. It’s so simple and I am excited to share! I got this recipe from a family friend and have tweaked to our preference, which really just means this recipe has a lot of flexibility to make it to what you enjoy!

IMG_9202

  • The juice of 2.5 – 3 limes (depending on taste, size and juiceness. Start with less and add more if needed.)
  • 1 pound of cooked shrimp diced into smaller pieces (I buy frozen wild caught shrimp at Trader Joe’s and cook it fast on the stove in boiling water till cooked.)
  • 1 small finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 bunch of cilantro finely minced
  • 2 avocados, diced the same size as your shrimp
  • 5 diced seeded Roma tomatoes  (I only use the outside flesh and remove the seeds and juices)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Worchestershire sauce (this will have gluten – a tablespoon or two of briggs aminos are a great substitute if you are gluten sensitive)
  • 4 oz of cocktail sauce
  • crackers or tortilla chips to serve. (I love the Food Should Taste Good multigrain tortilla chip)

Cut it all up, mix together, chill and serve! It’s also great with a flaked fish like talapia or mahi mahi! Mmmmm!

Favorite Verse: I need to be reminded of Zephaniah 3:17 this week. “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”  My brain felt cluttered – so many things to do, goals to set, appointments to worry about, things to plan for. The chatter of NOISE took over. And then I was reminded that there is so much power in being quieted with His love. To trust that because of His love for us, we have nothing to worry about, that He will provide for us in every way we need and that it will be okay. Yes, we have to be responsible and work towards our goals, however, there is no need to doubt that He will take care of us. His love is enough.

IMG_9194

Favorite Upcoming Change: Slowing down a bit in February. Yes, I know we aren’t supposed to live for what is to come and not to use life as an excuse to put things off, but I really feel like I have been putting a lot off this month as work is busy and my commitment list seems long. The job that I have been helping at since July is ending in a matter of weeks. The new gal starts on Wednesday. WEDNESDAY! I’ll train her through January and maybe a little into February and then am re-retiring! I am so grateful for the chance to jump back into the (paid) working world and have enjoyed seeing co-workers/friends again, while stretching those working muscles, however I am also grateful for some quieter times ahead, focusing on writing and being intentional with relationships. Let the countdown begin.

Favorite Song: Yesterday was a hard day for me. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that I shared this message: ” I woke today with that surprising ache of sadness. Not the kind of sadness that pairs with hopelessness, it’s the sadness that catches you off guard, resting in your eyes and filling your lungs before you even know it’s there, almost more of a physical sadness than a mental sadness. It’s the sadness that is paired with His presence and peace, yet the emotion is real and the breaths seem a little shorter as you try to hold it together. These days always catch me off guard, hitting me when I least expect it and yet bring a gentle comfort with them as I know bringing my sadness to His feet is powerful and that He will rest with me in a no-reason tough day like today. ••• it’s days like this when I have to be keenly aware and tuned into my blessings, otherwise the sadness can run wild and free and do far more damage that it should. So today I’m thankful for the flowers my husband brought home last night for no reason, the sun that is shining, the kitchen sink that is empty and the liquid cups of caffeine that steep for me as I get ready to start me day. ••• If you’re caught off guard by an emotion today, I encourage you, acknowledge it and bring it to His feet. Worship Him and thank Him despite the hardships and ask Him to walk with you. He is faithful to meet us. What are you thankful for today?” I was SO grateful for the prayers, messages and emails of those reading and also, for those in my BSF group who listened to me ask tearily for prayers. I am happy to report that today I am feeling better and feel back on my game!

IMG_9331

However, where I am going with this – as I was driving from Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) to work, I heard this song on the radio and it was a perfect song for the day. Thanks Kari Jobe!

Favorite Hair: I have a hair cut coming up next week and while I usually just get a little trim, thought this length would be a fun little change. Will I take off the 3-4 inches? Not sure, but it sure is cute!

ba578de52d2cd3911f12c74c69c571ca 2fb2f67c5a39d9cb83bc271715f779a9

Favorite Encouragement: Emails. All the emails I have been receiving this month from readers who have been following along our story, sharing their story and reminding me why it’s SO worth putting my heart on here. There have been so many emails lately I have been concerned I am being punked. Thank you to each and every one of you who have been reaching out. You are all in my prayers and I am so incredibly thankful for the rawness of your words as you share with me what you are going through and how this blog has impacted you. I am humbled as I read each word and wish I could live close enough to do coffee with each and every one of you! (Side note – I actually DO get to grab coffee this morning with someone who connected with me through this blog. A, I am excited to meet and visit!!) You are always invited to contact me here! 

Favorite Funnies: 

IMG_9228

IMG_9227

IMG_9214

IMG_9211

IMG_9213

IMG_9226

IMG_9224

IMG_9212

IMG_9215

IMG_9216

IMG_9219

IMG_9220

IMG_9225

 

Have a great weekend!

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!

keep dreaming.

Hi friends! First of all, thank you all for the support on my first blog post written on Fertility Authority last month! You guys poured out the love (and clicks) and I am SO appreciative. Just think, with every click you made over the last 30 days, you were able to take part in raising money towards our IUI cycles. Now that is pretty cool, right!? I think of you all as I swallow those pills and look lovingly at that trigger shot, hehe!

Well, the time has come for my next post! Same as before, would you guys be just as supportive and head over there  to click and read? It’s all about keeping the dreams we have alive despite disappointments. I would LOVE to continue to show them the amazing team I have behind me!

Okay, to read (and support) click this link: CLICK ME! CLICK ME! CLICK ME!

Or here’s the link for copying purposes: http://www.fertilityauthority.com/blog/chelsea-ritchie/2015/1/07/keep-dreaming

As always, feel free to share in any and all ways possible. :) I hope that someone is blessed and encouraged by these words. While I love the self therapy of writing, I am also so grateful for the ability for God to speak to others through our experiences. To Him be the glory!

See you back on Friday for the first real edition of Friday Favorites 2015! Whoooo hoooooo!

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset

 

Did you miss my last blog post on Fertility Authority? No worries! Click here to read!