beanie babies.

When I was younger, our family collected Ty Beanie Babies. And when I say we collected them, I mean we were slightly* obsessed with them. (*you can omit this word.)

My mom led the charge. Her love for completing a set of something shone through and we were fixated on finding them. Collectors stores. Gift shops. Parking lots. Hospitals. Florists. The back of the school bus. (Yes, I said the back of the school bus. I have a vivid memory of purchasing a retired Ty spider off of a classmate with a wad of crisp twenty dollar bills.)

Once I was made aware of these stuffed animals (which were adorable, let’s be honest), the hunt was on. I could spot a Ty tag a mile away. I could list stats about the editions, the text styles, their value. (The thought of not being able to get our hands on the limited Princess Di bear was unbearable to my 12 year old heart.)

As soon as we started looking for them, the animals were found faster than our change purses could keep up with. I ate more Happy Meals in 1996 than in my whole life put together in attempts to get all 10 Teenie Beanies. The more we looked for them, the more aware of them we became. The more we focused on finding them, the greater our abilities then became, often times finding them in spots others would overlook.

Isn’t that true about God and His goodness? I live a life that is remarkably laced with His blessings, faithfulness and trustworthiness, yet am guilty of overlooking it on a regular basis. But here’s the thing I’m learning – the more I become intentional to search for His hand in my life, well, much like the Ty Beanie Babies, the more I see Him everywhere. Our lives are woven with His promises of hope, of faithfulness, of presence. And just because I forget to look for His goodness doesn’t mean it’s not there. The Beanie Babies were always there but it wasn’t until we decided to collect them did we notice them.

He is not a God who is hard to find. Tragically I forget to seek Him, forget to collect the promises He has sprinkled all around me. I forget to look back at the “collector’s book” and learn all of the nuggets of information that it holds. He’s given me all the lessons, the facts and truth of His value. It’s in the Bible where I am reminded of this unarguable truth – He can be trusted.

To this day I can still spot a Beanie Baby a mile away. I can tell you exactly which ones the 25 cents bin holds during a garage sale drive-by and can sniff one out from a thrift store parking lot. And unlike the Beanie Babies, God’s value never plummets with time or upon mass production. His richness and worth increases every day in my life as I am tested, tried and make my best attempts of survival. All I need to do is look for Him, seek His goodness, and be intentional to collect as much of Him as possible, taking note of how much of His presence surrounds me each day. I want to be someone who can’t help but notice Him in the big and small moments of each day.

What’s it for you? What do you always see that others might miss? A stray paperclip? A dandelion in a field? The crazy amounts of Walgreen’s everywhere? (Or after 24 hours in Chicago, the amount of Starbucks drive thru’s everywhere? I am not kidding you, there is one on every corner. My mind is blown.) Let’s put something in our path each day that will remind us to look for Him because I guarantee it, once we start looking for His hand in our lives, we will see it everywhere and it will change us forever. (Pick up a Teenie Beanie Baby the next time you see one and slip it into your car. Use it as a reminder to seek Him each day!)

Oh, and yes, Cali has found a liking for Teenie Beanie Babies too. (That or her mom cannot leave a garage sale without providing them a new home.)

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(many not pictured because dad reads this blog too and, well, we don’t need to give away all our secrets.)

friday favorites – october 24.

Happy Friday! I know, it’s almost Saturday, but better late than never right? For all my new followers, hello!!!! Thanks for stopping in and reading. You guys are the best! A brief recap about Friday’s – Friday’s are the day I step away from “traditional” blog posts and post my favorites from the last week. Anything goes! So without further ado, here we go!

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(Oh yea, and I like Harry Potter)

Favorite Moment: Jason Mraz. State Theater. Him singing, me grinning. Thanks to all the excitement in getting tickets to see his first show in San Diego, Josh and I completely missed the boat to purchase tickets for his Minneapolis show. No worries, we would just buy some off Craigslist. But what happens when NO ONE is selling tickets on Craigslist, Ebay or StubHub? Panic sets in. We had a set budget for the tickets thanks to birthday money that I set aside and knew nothing about scalping tickets, but that’s what we would have to do.

Let’s just say the nerves set in when we were standing outside the theater for 45 minutes and not one scalper had even one ticket, much less two. We were eyeing up the other couples who were pacing like us. Josh went into beast mode, talking with everyone he could and getting to know the scalpers like they were long lost relatives. Me? Well, the stress of it all made me fall into the role of photographer. Yes, that’s right. I just walked around looking for people who were trying to take selfies of themselves in front of the theater and offered to take it for them. (Oh yes, and I fully committed. I was in the street, trying to get their best angles, being careful with the lighting. One group shot even had me pulling out 7 phones from my pocket to get one for each of them. Jason Mraz concerts are no joking matter.)

Well, the great news is 13 minutes before the show started, Josh swooped in on the one scalper who was purchasing a pair of tickets and bam, we were in. My adrenaline at that point was HIGH. Josh came through! The guy always does. :)

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Best moment of the concert? Jason Mraz singing Eurythmics song Sweet Dreams. This happens to be one of my favorite songs ever (for no particular reason) and as soon as he hit that first acoustic note, well, let’s just say my jaw was on the floor and I was teary and giggling and having the best night ever. SO FUN.

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Favorite Quote: We need to stop the ‘when and then’ mentality.” –Christine Caine

Have you ever (like me) said something like this? When I have a child, then I will be content. When I make more money, then I will be able to be more generous. When I get a new job, then I will finally feel appreciated. You can fill it in with whatever you want. However, the point is simple – we are in the now, not the when. We control our attitudes and contentment, not our circumstances.

Favorite Picture: Our sweet nieces came over for a movie night and goodness, did we have fun! Homemade pizza’s were made (FYI Aldi’s has a great gluten free pizza crust baking mix!), pajama’s were slipped in to, giggles were shared and, well, silly faces were made. Seriously, so cute right?

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Favorite Flashback: Trolls. Who remembers them!? The antique store we strolled through last weekend was full of them and they brought back so many childhood memories!

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Favorite Pinterest Pin: I spotted this sweater on Pinterest earlier this week and have to find something like it! How cute is it!? Of course it was posted a few years ago and so I will never find this exact one, but if you ever find anything similar, let me know.

Favorite Package: Guess whose TTC Mug Exchange package arrived!?!? MINE! Jessah sent me this special package, complete with the most adorable mug ever. I adore its size and have already broken it in with some tea. This was such a fun exchange and I absolutely love this part when everyone starts getting their package. (I just sent mine out today!) Did you miss out on it? Don’t worry, we will do another exchange after the holidays. :)

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Favorite Funnies: Ah, now my favorite part. Here’s a few things that made me laugh this week. Hope they make you giggle too!

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Friday Favorites may or may not happen next week due to my trip but we will see if I can break from all the fun and get them out. Have a great weekend friends!

the commitment to hope.

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I was struck by the beauty of these words today. “Hope always feels impossible before we commit to it.” To commit means that we are dedicated to it, steadfast in it, unwavering. I falter, all the time. Hot and cold, trying to survive on my own, stubborn and desperate and stumbling. Then I drink in these words “…God can’t break His word. And because His word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline…” (Hebrews 6:17b-18a MSG)

Hope is a painful thing to work to attain. I am constantly reminded that I can not hope in myself, in my body, in my own strength or wisdom. All of that will (and does) fail me. What I can hope in is the promises that God has made. Charles Stanley has beautifully put together a list of promises that we can claim as believers. For ease of reading, I am posting them below but you can find the website here to read the entire thing. When I remember the promises He has given, my hope gets refilled. Not because I know that it is a guarantee for us having children, but because at the end of the day, we have everything that we need in Him.

God’s Precious Promises:

A. The Lord brought you into relationship with Him (Rom. 5:6-11). When you trusted Jesus as your Savior, you became a child of God. This is the foundation of your heritage because all other promises flow from a relationship with Him.

B. You can have daily cleansing (1 John 1:9). As His child, you now have the privilege to come to Him, confess your sins, and receive His forgiveness to grow in unhindered fellowship with Him.

C. God’s presence is continually with you (Heb. 13:5). You have a traveling companion in the person of Christ who’s promised to never leave nor forsake you.

D. You have the Holy Spirit who is your Helper (John 14:16). Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He promised to send a Helper. You now have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

E. You have the assurance of God’s strength (Isa. 41:10). When you’re weak, you can rely upon the Sovereign Ruler of the universe to strengthen you.

F. God Himself will supply all your needs (Matt. 6:31-32). He knows exactly what you need and has committed Himself to provide it.

G. He answers your prayers (1 John 5:14-15). When you pray according to God’s will, He answers.

H. God is always ready to give you His best (Ps. 84:11). If you’re living a godly life, the Lord will never withhold any good thing from you.

I. He daily bears your burdens (Ps. 68:19). There is no reason to wake up each morning hindered by trials and heartaches. Instead, lay your concerns down before God.

J. He comforts you in times of trouble (2 Cor. 1:3-4). No matter what the difficulty is, God knows about it and will provide comfort and encouragement.

K. The Lord sets limits on your trials and temptations (1 Cor. 10:13). He will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to endure.

L. He grants wisdom (James 1:5). In every decision you face, God offers wisdom to see life from His perspective if you ask in faith and without doubt. However, sin can keep you from claiming this promise because it crowds out truth and creates uncertainty.

M. The Lord provides rest for your soul (Matt. 11:28-29). When your heart is burdened, Jesus offers rest to those who come to Him.

N. God gives His peace (Phil. 4:6-7). Whenever you bring your anxieties to God in prayer, He provides His peace and creates an impenetrable wall separating you from worry.

O. You can be strong and fruitful in old age (Ps. 92:12-15). Retirement can be one of the most spiritually productive times of your life if you remain strongly planted in the Lord.

P. The Lord will give you the desires of your heart when you delight in Him (Ps. 37:4). If God is more important to you than anyone or anything else, He will grant your desires.

Q. He is a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1-3). The Lord is your refuge and help in times of uncertainty and danger.

R. God gives you direction for life (Ps. 32:8). He knows the pitfalls and dangers that lie ahead and will teach you which way to go.

S. He heals in times of sickness (Ps. 103:1-3). Since God never changes, you can come to Him for healing just as people did in biblical times.

T. Nothing can separate you from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39). His unconditional love is a possession no one can take from you.

U. Jesus provides the gift of eternal security (John 10:27-30). Christ promised eternal life to His followers, so when you die, you’ll instantly be with Him.

V. You have a home in heaven (John 14:1-3). Before Jesus died and rose again, He told His disciples He was going away to prepare a place for them and would one day return and take them there.

Now it’s up to me to claim these promises. To commit to the hope that He offers and to believe the promises that He makes. I am not perfect and at times I feel painfully weak. But this is a hope I amwilling to commit to, to bet my life on, to life for. Lord, help me.

friday favorites – october 17.

Fall is in full swing here in Minnesota and the colors that the leaves are turning make me giddy. I am tempted daily to pull over on the shoulder of the road to snap pictures of the kaleidoscope of nature. I feel like the tree in front of our house is getting redder and redder each day and I always smile as I pass by the front windows.

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Okay, enough blabbing. Let’s talk about Friday Favorites! Much of this last week was lived in Savannah, Georgia while on vacation with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and boy, did we have fun!! Doesn’t this picture say it all?

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Take a peek into our very fun week with the favorites below.

Favorite Way to See the City: By trolley! I absolutely love the Old Town Trolley line and have seen several cities sitting on one of their benches. The windows are open, the tour is narrated, you can hop-on and hop-off all day and you get a cool map. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a good map? Ding ding! We learned so much about Savannah this way.

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Favorite Photo: The trees in Savannah are just gorgeous. Big and drape-y and rich with history. I can’t help but wonder what these trees have seen.

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Favorite Meet-Up: While in Savannah, I got to meet TWO gorgeous friends of mine that I met through social media. Karen drove up from Jacksonsville, a whopping 140+ miles to meet for coffee and I am incredibly grateful she made that long drive. Karen has been a true gift to me over the last several months and our friendship and connection is such a blessing. Not a day passes where I don’t talk to this sweet girl and getting to meet in person over salads, mimosas, and coffee was so much fun!!!! Love you Karen!

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And then last minute, I got to meet with up with another friend, Erica and her husband Pat. Erica is such a sweetheart, has been a beautiful source of encouragement to me and her growing baby bump is a testimony to God’s faithfulness. I am so thankful for the unique friendships that can form and loved spending time with this sweet lady too!

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Favorite Coffee Shop: If you are ever in the Savannah area, go to Gallery Espresso! What a fantastic little coffee shop – super eclectic and inviting with fantastic drinks. I may have drank a few too many cups of espresso here but when you find something this delicious, drink on.

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Favorite Breakfast: This trip was all about splurging. We found a great little café, Goosefeathers Café, that offered gluten free bagels (praises!). Team that up with deliciousness like lox, tomatoes, cucumbers, bean sprouts, capers and a hot americano, and you have one very happy Chelsea.

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Favorite Lunch: Gryphon Tea Room. Hands down. This adorable tea room is decorated with tons of old books and laced in traditional features like piano music and scones but also offered contemporary options like iced thai coffee (delicious!) and chai pot de crème. I loved the salmon salad I got but everything we tried was delicious. A win!

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Favorite Dinner: 45 Bistro. I could purr just thinking about it right now. We shared 3 unique and delicious salads – caprese, a modern greek salad, and a beet salad. And then the main course came – espresso rubbed ribeyes. We decided to share 2 of them between the 3 of us and boy, are we glad we did. They were HUGE and delicious and topped with a mushroom medley, asparagus and served over a whipped mashed potato. One of the best steaks I have ever had. My mouth is watering as I type this!

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Favorite Square: Savannah is made up around 22 squares – little parks essentially, most in honor of a person or historical event and many contain a monument or statues or tribute. They are all unique and so beautiful! We loved all we saw, but this one, Chippewa Square, is the one where the Forrest Gump bus stop scene was filmed. Life is like a box of chocolates …

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Favorite Must-See: Our trolley driver recommended we stop at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and while we are not Catholic, there is something so beautiful and historical about grand cathedrals like this one. The inside was beautifully constructed, the stain glass was colorful and the beautiful stories of the Bible the carvings told were powerful.

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There was a place in the front where you could light a votive candle in prayer and it was overwhelming to imagine all of the prayers that were prayed in there. Once lit, the candles continue to burn carrying on the prayers that were said. I am so thankful for a God who hears each and every one of our prayers and cares so deeply about us.

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Favorite Haunted Adventure: Apparently Savannah is the most haunted city in America and while I don’t believe there are thousands of angry spirits strolling the city streets, I do love a good dramatic spooky tale. I somewhat forcibly talked the fam into hopping on a Ghosts and the Graveyard trolley to hear the stories about Savannah and enjoyed laughing at the alleged tales. I am certain everyone enjoyed it as much as me.

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Favorite Fur-Sighting: While walking through a park, we saw this woman walking all her dogs and their new 8 week old puppies. They were adorable little balls of fur and I was so happy sitting and petting them! Too bad I couldn’t have snuck one home for Cali. (Actually, I don’t think she would have liked that very much.)

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So that was Savannah in a nutshell! It was a blast and now I am home, unwinding from the whirlwind of traveling. A few favorites since I have been back:

Favorite Gas Price: Oh how it feels so good to be under $3.00/gallon.

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Semi-Favorite New Do: Cali desperately needed a new haircut but I am afraid she lost a little too much. HA! Poor thing looks robbed of her locks. This mama keeps reminding myself that it will grow back.

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Favorite Thoughtful Gestures: All the texts and pictures we received of your candles burning on Wednesday night. I could post a million of these pictures, but truly, thank you for everyone who thought of us and our babies and all of the loved ones others have lost. What a beautiful night.

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Favorite Funnies: Last but not least!

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Have a great weekend! All of the Mug Exchange emails have been sent out so if you haven’t received your package assignment, please email me ASAP! Happy shopping!

pregnancy and infant loss remembrance day.

There’s a Lumpy Rug day, a No Socks day, even a Talk Like a Pirate Day. The silly and humorous days that fall on the calendars bring laughter and create conversation. Then there are other days that we hear about that bring awareness, like today, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Let me preface this post by saying this day is not a day where we (generally speaking of those who have suffered a loss) are looking for pity. Today is not about getting sad looks or making you feel uncomfortable because you don’t know what to say. Today is about connecting together a community – those who are grieving and those who are simply supporting those who grieve – it’s about remembering the too-short lives of lost babies and infants and spreading love.

So often we comfort widows, cancer victims, and orphans – all who are beautifully deserving of love and care. But more often than not, there is a group of people who suffer without anyone around them even knowing, ashamed to speak of the sadness that they feel, stripped of the public title of parents or saddened to have other children who will never know they had another sibling. The New York Times last year said “Unless you wear a T-shirt emblazoned with your children’s names or tattoo them on your wrist, you rarely speak their names aloud no matter how much you need or want to tell others. And for women who have struggled with pregnancy loss, there seems even less place to mention the love they feel for babies they will never have.”

One of my favorite parts about today, other than the comfort that it offers and the community it builds, is that there is a way for each one of you to offer support. Tonight from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, in all time zones across the world, you can light a candle to remember the babies who have been lost from miscarriages, ectopic and molar pregnancies, born stillborn or lost to infant death. The lighting of these candles creates a “wave of light” across the world and is a beautiful, touching, moving tribute to the families who have suffered. It’s not an image that will likely ever be seen, but if you are home tonight, even if it’s not at 7 pm, light a candle for those who have lost their precious babies.

Each family’s pain is unique. Each life, no matter how short, was meaningful and special. To our own babies lost, I love and remember you often. I often wonder what milestone you would be hitting, what color your eyes would have been, how your laugh would have sounded. We have treasured every embryo created, prayed for every embryo transferred, and fell head over heels in love with each pregnancy we have experienced. I can’t wait for the day our family can be reunited in heaven.

Light a candle tonight, even and especially if you have not lost a baby. The support and opportunity to spread love and care means more than you will ever know. I’d love to see any pictures you take of your candle burning – feel free to email them to me at trialsbringjoy (at) gmail (dot) com.

Today is a beautiful day of remembrance. I am so thankful this day exists.

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friday favorites – october 10.

I must admit, as you read this I am on vacation and the “publish at ___:____” feature of WordPress is taking over. Friday Favorites this week will be short and sweet but still up, so enjoy!

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Favorite Outfit: I got to whip out these bad boys for date night last weekend since I knew my hunter hubby would love a bit of camo. They were so comfy and only cost $4 on clearance at Old Navy. Score!

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Favorite Quote: I recently decided to take an opportunity to temporarily job share a position at the hospital I work at when the maternity leave I am covering is done (which it was as of last Wednesday). I have to admit, the motivating factor for taking this job is financial and I have been feeling a bit frustrated that infertility treatments cost what they do, making this decision necessary if we look to pursue anything in the future (more on that another day). It won’t be more than 6 months and only a few days a week, but still, isn’t something I am bouncing off the walls with excitement about doing (even though the company, position and colleagues are so great). It will be a change for our family and increase the busy-ness of my already busy life so I am still processing what this will look like. All in all though, I think it will be good and I love being with my old friends/colleagues again. Anyways, I was talking to my sister about it and she said these words to me: You never know the eternal impact these few short months will have. It’s a part of your journey and story now and it won’t be wasted.”

I love that. I love how she managed to take this change and wove it into the big picture of my life. I am trying to embrace this opportunity completely. I truly am grateful for the chance to save more money for whatever lies ahead, even if the pity-party side of my brain whines that it shouldn’t be this hard or expensive to have a family.

Favorite Accessory: Right now it’s all about these little silver hair clips! I love being able to swoop my hair up with them as I style it in the morning. They are super cheap at Target/Walmart and are far more indestructible than the plastic clips that I always seem to drop and have shatter. A win!

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Favorite Thing I am Looking Forward to: I am heading into the Chicagoland area the last week of October and am SO excited to visit with friends, family and attend the StoryLine Conference at Willow Creek Community Church! (Are you heading to that too? Let me know!) Okay, and I may be a little excited about the food too … Not sure how a gluten free Portillo’s trip is gonna work, but trust me, I will make it happen! This could be dangerous …

Favorite Moment: Josh and I were able to sneak off to our family’s cabin for Saturday – Sunday trip and loved spending some quality time with his parents. We played lots and lots of card games, shared some favorite childhood memories with one another and caught up on life. The sunset was beautiful on Saturday night (far more stunning than this picture does justice) and even though the weekend was extremely chilly, it was so refreshing.

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Favorite Photo: This one is all about Cali’s face. I fell asleep in the car on the way up to the cabin and Cali came over to hang out on the pillow while I snoozed. She loves to balance on her back legs and Josh snapped this picture of her chilling on me. I thoroughly cracked up at her little face when I woke up and saw it. She is so adorable! (And desperately in need of a hair cut….)

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Favorite Funnies: Can’t end Friday Favorites without the Funnies! Enjoy!

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See you next week!

If you haven’t already signed up for the Mug Exchange and want to, make sure to have your email to me by Monday, October 13th! See this post for all the details.

the joy comes in the morning.

The summer before 11th grade, our youth group decided to take a camping trip to Tennessee. Being that I don’t like to camp and dislike all things “roughing it” in general, I thought it was a great idea to go.  (No, really, I have no clue why I thought this was a good idea.) Add in some friends, a chance to do something cool away from home and the opportunity to shop for some new outdoorsy clothes and I was on the list.

Now I had done the summer camp thing loads of times before. A warm cozy cabin set a few hundred feet away from a full bathroom, pool and snack shop? I’m game. My idea of roughing it was having to use a sleeping bag for a blanket and only being able to pack 2 pillows. I was certain that this couldn’t be too different. A tent sounded fun! I bet it was a cute one too. And it was called “Confrontation Point”. That couldn’t mean anything right?

Wrong.

We pulled up to the campgrounds, er, well, basically a forest. As we trotted our way through the weaves of the trails, our leader finally called out “We are here!”. Here? Wait what? Where were the cute tents? The bathrooms? I thought the whole ‘bring your bio-degradable shampoo’ thing was just a 2001-attempt to start a “go green” trend. Huh?

Before I knew it, everyone around me started dropping their backpacks on the ground (wait, I don’t want to get mine dirty!) and pulling out tarps. What is going on!?! I shouldn’t have talked and passed notes during all of the pre-trip meetings! Before I knew it, tarps were being tied to two close trees, with the bottom corners staked to the ground. Where were the tents? We were sleeping on a tarp on the ground with another tarp loosely tied overhead? I wanted to faint. What about the bugs?

Time out. For those of you who don’t know me well, you now need to know that I am terrified of spiders. Like, shriek, dance, shake and cry. The spotting of a spider across the house can typically cause the neighbors to be concerned. I shudder just writing the word spider. Ughhhh. (I have never even watched the Harry Potter scenes with any spiders. My eyes have always remained closed. Even fake spiders freak me out.)

Okay, time in. Campsite is set up, fire is built, everyone around me seems to be frolicking with joy about this whole nature thing, and I wanted to cry. No new clothes, time with friends, or summer adventure was worth being this outside my comfort zone.

Ugh, why did my hair keep tickling my arms? I kept brushing my shoulders off absent-mindedly. What was I going to do? Tickle, tickle. Again? As I glanced down to pull my hair back, I saw it. IT. A gigantic daddy-long legs spider that was about the size of a baseball, crawling up my arm. (Granted, my memory could be playing tricks on me but this is what I remember. HUGE HUGE spiders.)

Well, you can only imagine the scene from there. I was horrified, terrified, crying, screaming, you name it. And that’s when a few other people commented that they had spiders on them too. No one seemed to be hyperventilating like me though. “Oh don’t worry about those! They are completely harmless.” Our guide told me, “They actually just live in the trees and fall out of them. Just brush them off.”

I actually don’t think a paragraph is needed to try to articulate my horrified reaction. The next thing I know, I am talking (okay, sobbing) to our youth group leader that I need to find a payphone. I ran back up the trails to the shelter and with shakey hands, found my 35 cents to call my mom.

Chelsea (me): (wailing) “Mom, you have to come and get meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”

Mom: What are you saying honey?

C: Youuuuuu hhhaaaaavveeeeeeee to come and get meeeeeeeeee. Spiidddeeerrrrrrssssssss.

M: Take a deep breath, I can’t understand you.

Well, it took some time and another 50 cents but I eventually was able to explain to her the horror that was my youth group “retreat” and the urgent need for her to drive from Chicago to Tennessee to pick me up. Imagine my surprise when she lovingly said that wasn’t possible.

Plan B. Find a hotel.

Well, my youth group leader didn’t agree with that idea OR with my idea to let me sleep in the van the whole time. Yada yada yada, not safe to be alone in the van a few miles from the campgrounds. Either way, it was clear and evident that this would be my week to die. Confrontation Point had to do with confronting your fears? Oh boy ….

To be honest, it’s hard for me to explain how truly terrified I was that first night sleeping on the ground knowing that the tiny tinks I was hearing on the tarp above was likely light, fluttery, can’t-really-feel-them spiders falling down on me. Someone from my group gave me a little stuffed animal, a Junior Asparagus Veggie Tales toy, that when you squeezed him would sing “God is bigger than the boogey man, He’s bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on TV, Oh God is bigger than the boogey man and He’s watching out for you and me. So are you frightened (no not really), are you worried (not a bit!). I know whatever’s gonna happen, that God can handle it …” Squeeze. Repeat. Squeeze. Repeat. I am certain that the entire group heard that song over and over and over again all night long, along with my muffled sobs.

But then the next day came and we were off to our next adventure. White water rafting, repelling, hiking, there was enough distractions until dusk set in. Then the fear kicked in and the long, long nights.

I just went and pulled out my old journals that I had on that trip and found several entries scribbled in there – this one kind of made me giggle.

(Dated August 6, 2001 – age 16)

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(At least I apologized for disliking His creation, HA!)

Every time morning would come, I would repeat this verse in my head.

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(Apparently I brought markers with to this camp.)

Now hear me out – how many times in life have we been faced with something we just don’t want to go through? A situation where you need to confront someone else? A trial with a boss or friend? Facing your fears with something or carrying the heaviness of something like infertility, a broken marriage, looming debt, the death of someone we loved, a terrifying diagnosis or an addiction? The weight of the night rests on us and we just want out.

God, please, take this away from me. Can you come pick me up? I don’t want to face this. No? Then can I have an easy way out? Sleep in the van? Find a hotel? Do anything but face my fears?

The night seems to never end.

But at some point my friends, it ends. The sun rises. And perhaps it only rises briefly. Maybe there is another night you have to spend in the tent, facing your fears, fighting your obstacles, crying as you pray. But then there is a break – and the joy comes in the morning.

You know what? That week in Tennessee was really hard for me. I can’t tell you how many times the words “SPIDERS” appeared in my journal, how many times I squeezed Junior Asparagus and how many times I slapped my body, certain there was a spider crawling on me. But somehow, somehow, I made it through that trip. And you know what I wrote in my journal at the end?

 

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“THIS IS AWESOME….it’s cool that .. I’m toughing it out.”

Pride. A sense of gratitude for His presence that went with me into what felt like the scariest and darkest of nights. A strength that I could get through my biggest fears and a spiritual growth that I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t been forced to stay.

Sometimes we have to stay through the nights. I beg, routinely, to be “picked up” from the infertility camp. And for some reason, I’m still here. But you know what, I am learning so much. About God, about myself, about my marriage and about compassion. I know one day, I will look back on all of it and say “THIS IS AWESOME.”, I really do believe that.

Oceans by Hillsong doesn’t say “Spirit lead me where I am comfortable. Let me walk upon the waters wherever its convenient…” How can we expect to gain trust without borders if we are constantly asking to stay in our little cabin, away from anything that would challenge us?

The joy comes with the morning … and so we patiently (and not-so-patiently) wait for morning to come. Because we are not alone, and because if we are willing, we have so much to learn during the nights.

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