TTC Mug Exchange 2016.

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It’s time for our 2016 TTC Mug Exchange! Wooohooooo! Last time we had nearly 800 ladies participate and it was a BLAST! All women in all phases of infertility (trying to conceive, pregnant, adopting, new moms, 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 Mug Exchanges have been doubling rapidly. Back in 2013, we had about 30 women, n 2014, we had over 400. Last year, we had nearly 800!  I am excited to see what this year brings!

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-2016/

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

You will need to sign up no later than end of day Tuesday, September 20th. That’s a good 2 weeks of time to sign up, spread the message and start brainstorming. You will then receive your exchange partner from me via email on either September 28 or 29. (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, October 15th 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 #TTCMugExchange2016 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:

http://tinyurl.com/jbsvye3

You will be routed to a Google Form. If for some reason, you have an extremely difficult time getting this form to work (it’s only happened 1-2 out of hundreds), you can email me at TTCExchange@gmail.com. (Please allow 24 hour for reply.)

I will close the exchange at midnight on September 20th (CST) 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.

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 #TTCMugExchange2016 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!

house for sale.

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I was stirring my coffee when my friend asked the question: “So how are you really right now?”

With the buzz of steaming milk and brewing espresso around me, I admitted my heart’s been a little weary. I touched on how 7 pregnancy announcements from good friends in 3 days drained me a bit. I tried to explain that while my heart was overjoyed for them, it made me a bit reflective of my own journey, which can be a hard, emotional path for me to walk down sometimes.

I could see in her eyes, as someone who doesn’t struggle with infertility, that she couldn’t quite grasp how someone could be happy for someone else but sad for themselves.

And that’s when this example hit me.

Let’s pretend that you and your spouse have decided it’s time to move from your small apartment. It’s time to expand! It’s not necessarily that you don’t like your current place, but you feel ready to embark into a new neighborhood, have the chance to mow a lawn, use a driveway, and have a little more space.

So you celebrate this big decision! You are going to sell your house! You tell your friends, you have a celebratory glass of champagne and list it. It’s time to sell!

Hmmmm. A few days, weeks, months pass. Why isn’t your house selling? You try to stay positive. Oh it takes time! You just have to wait for the perfect buyer! It can take couples almost a year before their house sells! Take a vacation – then it might sell!

In the meantime, friends around you decide they too want to sell their house and move. And you watch and celebrate as they immediately find buyers. It was our first showing! We hadn’t even listed it yet! A friend of a friend asked to buy our house! In fact, some of your friends who didn’t even take care of their apartment sell it right away. Huh?

What is going on, you asked yourselves. You paint the walls, freshen up the tile, and replace the old floors. And yet, months pass by and still, no buyers. Multiple showings, the promise of hope with each one, but a firm and audible NO after every one.

In the meantime, you’re invited to house warming party after house warming party to celebrate your friend’s new home. You are thrilled for them! What a beautiful new kitchen! Lawn! Bathroom! Is that a walk-in closet?? And you wonder what is wrong with our apartment??? You bring the wine, send the congratulations card, help move the boxes, all while dusting off your “for sale” sign. You pack away the towels you bought for a new bathroom. It hurts too much to look at them each day.

Do we try to get used to staying here forever? You begin to ask yourselves how you should approach this limbo. What does the future look like? Do you apply for that new position knowing it would be across town, near the city you want to move to? Do you redecorate the space and plan to stay there? Oh how your hearts yearn to be in a new place – and yet still, all the showings result in nothing. No. No. No. No. No. No.

So you hire a new realtor. The one who sold your friends house in just 1 day! And your heart breaks as he tells you that you may never sell your home. You see, because there’s this one part of the inside of a wall that is damaged. It’s not really your fault, but it’s your home and because of it, it may be a little harder to sell it.

How did I not know? What can we do to improve our chances?! He provides you with a list of things to do and you eagerly dive into them. You replace the trim, sweat over refinishing your floors; exhaust yourself with tearing out the old carpet. Still – nothing.

Meanwhile, you get the calls from your friends, We’re moving! We sold our house! It’s our 4th home in 3 years! And your feelings get hurt as some of your friends pull back from you as they are afraid to tell you they sold their house too. You find out when you get their Christmas card in the mailing with a preprinted announcement. Why didn’t they tell us? And yet still, you celebrate their new adventure, move the boxes, ‘like’ the Facebook announcement and wonder if you should take your house off the market. After all, it’s been 3 years.

Then 4 years. More announcements, more moves.

Then it’s been 5 years. You find some friends who too have a hard time selling their house, are stuck in limbo desiring a neighborhood, a closet, a stove with more than 2 burners, a chance to feel at home where they feel called. You relate to one another’s questions and empathize when yet another potential buyer decides to pass. Another lost chance, I am so sorry.

Then those friends who once understood, begin to sell their houses. More celebrations! And the conversations shift from questioning why your house can’t sell, to the frustrations of picking out paint colors for the new living room or the cost of the movers. They forgot what it’s like, you think. Then you no longer get together. I am sorry, I have a house now. There’s so much to do! More dusting, a garden to tend to, bathrooms to clean. Maybe when the house gets a little older.

And still every single morning you wake up, make your bed, clean the house, waiting for the moment you get a call about a showing. You can’t escape the fact that your house is for sale. It’s part of your daily life, reminders everywhere. The lockbox, the sign, the calls. Every day you are faced with the desires to hear the words “you’ve sold your house!”.

6 years pass. You switch realtors again, are given a dash of hope that this is the one! In fact, by this point you’ve had 7 offers on your home, but all of them have fallen through. It’s just been bad luck. This happens to many couples. There must have been a bank loan defect. Unpack your boxes, not this time. Don’t lose the faith!

More moving announcements from friends. We weren’t even thinking about moving but someone came to our door and offered us over market price for our house. And then we got an amazing deal on a new house – in the last lot of the neighborhood you were looking at! What are the chances? We were so surprised!

Housewarming party. Wine. Feelings of defeat. Questions. Did we misunderstand our calling to move? Everyone else thinks we are crazy, yet we continue to feel led is to sell this house. What do we do?

And now here you sit – with 7 more offers sitting on your home and you think this could be it and you are terrified. Everyone around is asking you aren’t you so excited? And while, yes, you are, the truth is you’ve been here before. You’ve had the offers and they’ve all fallen through. You’re hesitant to get your hopes up based on these new offers, knowing what happened last time. And so you smile, nod, and pray harder than ever that one of these offers takes. Because you don’t know if your heart can handle any more. Most days you want to rip down the ‘For Sale’ sign, ignore the aches in your heart, and chuck the lockbox in a volcano. You are now known as the couple who has always had their house up for sale.

Just be thankful you have a house to live in! Everyone around you, many who just sold their house, says to you, as if you aren’t thankful for your apartment. You want shout back that you are thankful, you just hate living in limbo, are struggling to figure out what your future looks like, and that you can’t ignore that nagging longing to become new-home owners.

And still you wait, feeling foolish about the day you drank champagne and told everyone you were going to sell your house. You never expected this.

You get the picture. And while this example may seem silly, can you only imagine having your house for sale for YEARS? I get exhausted just thinking about it. And, oh friends, if only infertility were this kind of exhausting.

With infertility, you take these exhausted, confused emotions and add in the immense deep rooted desire to be parents – moms and dads– and combine it with mind altering hormones, emotions, surgeries, and real life dollars. Every month offers hope that everything might change and when it doesn’t, you have to reprocess what you’re going to do next. Did you hear God right? Why isn’t He moving?

So while your heart is so thrilled for the others in your life who move onto the next stage – first, second, third pregnancies – it’s still very real there will be emotional struggles involved. With every announcement, pregnancy related conversation, baby shower and tiny babies around, it reminds you of the current state of limbo you are in. And with God-given strength, you celebrate the answered prayers, clinging to the hope that next time it might be you, and rejoice that God gave them a miracle. And it’s okay if you still wonder why not me?

Friends, I don’t know why your baby hasn’t come yet. I don’t understand why a 15-year old accidentally becomes pregnant and you can’t get a positive test to save your life. I wish I understood all the specifics. But here’s what I do know – God knows why. And while that can be hard to understand most days, it offers reassurance that we don’t have to be the ones understanding the ‘whys’. We just have to continue to trust the One who does.

I wrote these words in In the Wait and needed to be reminded of them today: “God is not early or late with His timing. Instead, He is right on cue, creating “Ah-ha!” moments when the answers prayers finally come. Yes, it may look different than we expect it to, but we know He will pull through. Scripture reminds us that we can trust Him to stay true to His Word, character and promises. His love is always present. Breathe out a deep sigh with me today and rest assured knowing He is at work, even when we don’t see it.”

I know it’s tiring my sweet friend. But make that bed one more day, accept one more showing, and continue to communicate with the Lord. You never know when you are going to wake up and have your whole life change in one moment. That day of answered prayer is worth the fight.

Lord, I pray for each woman reading this today who understand what it’s like to be stuck waiting. I pray that you renew our strength, our minds, and replenish our weary souls as we wait. We trust that you have the perfect plan for our lives and we ask that you would help strengthen us to continue to celebrate the victories and answers to prayer that you are providing to those around us. Jesus, we simply need more of you to help lead us into the perfect path for our lives. Amen

*photo from weheartit.com

wish lists.

This post was written en route to Hawaii – I am now back home but just getting to posting it. Also, an updated fertility note and prayer request is at the end. Enjoy!

As I type this, I am sitting a trillion miles about the ground. Okay, not really a trillion but the clouds make me feel pretty high off the ground. It’s 11:18 pm and the outside world is pitch black. The inside of the plane glows with a few lights but the majority of the people are sleeping. Me on the other hand, well, I’m not sleeping. I just read a great quote in Finding Faith in the Dark and it got me thinking.

It said: “In the happiest days and in the hardest days, (we) learn that the present is where God lives and He doesn’t want to be anywhere else.”

If you are anything like me, I seem to love to live in the future, especially more recently. Perhaps it’s because the last few months have been tougher or perhaps it’s because I so badly want the future to hold miracles, sparkles, baby bumps and miraculous celebrations, but this statement made me freeze in my 26C seat.  Reality is that there’s a complete lack of control over the future so truthfully, where else can I be living, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t try. I feel like I have spent a significant amount of the last 6 years doing everything last minute, “Well I can’t commit to this visit because I don’t know where I will be in my cycle.” “Well, I would love to say I will be at this wedding but who knows, I could be pregnant and on bed rest.” “Well, I would love to buy a plane ticket to visit you in November, but who knows what that will look like if we do IVF again.” In fact, the only reason my Hawaii trip worked out was because it was SO last minute and I knew with my post-miscarriage cycle that I would be on birth control with no options. But let me tell you, that rarely happens.

So where does that lead me? It leads me to end up living in this half present-half future world. And I lose so much of ME as a result.

In the book, Laurie Short continues by saying “Our response to our circumstances encourage us to be present in our own lives, even when we face sorrow. And we should never stop looking for joy.”

I was floored by her ability to talk about great sorrow and searching for joy in the same sentence but as I unpacked those words, I realized how true and valid it is.Why is it so easy as Christians and as humans that we can get caught up in living in a world where our emotions, joy, happiness and contentment are so linked to our circumstances? I get it. We are humans, many of us reading women, people directed by emotions and powerful reactions to what is going on around us.

I think Jeremiah 29:11 is a common verse for many of us. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Those going through struggles, whatever they are – infertility, financial worries, difficult children, depression, loneliness, painful circumstances – are encouraged by these words. He plans to give us a future and a hope! We can do this! But today in processing these words, I read all of the verses surrounding this powerful this verse.

I connected immediately with the Message translation, even though all of the translations speak the verses beautifully, and I think you will appreciate the powerful words in whatever you are going through as well: “I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and will bring you back home. I know what I am doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you aren’t disappointed. God’s Decree: I’ll turn things around for you …. You can count on it.”

There are SO many powerful promises packed in these verses and the one that struck me the most was “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else…”

How many of you, like me, have been tempted to turn to God in prayer because you really want something? Something so deeply and passionately that you turn to what you hope is the magic genie of answered prayers to ask for it. Well, He said that when we pray, He will listen, which should automatically mean that my prayer request gets answered immediately. But man, how convicting is it that we need to come looking for Him and want Him more than ANYTHING ELSE?

Guys, there are many times I pray and think that I want Him more than anything else, but the selfish immature part of me wants Him more than anything else because if that happens, then for sure it means He will listen and answer my prayers. But this verse stuck me because it reminded me that I need to search for Him with all my heart with absolutely NO strings attached to the expectations of how He may (or may not) answer me. Yikes. Separating my really selfish heart between my wants for a child and my desire for Him is realllllllly hard.

So what does all of this mean? Well friends, I think it means that we need to start shaking off our ‘want list’ a bit and focus more on our true “Want List”, which simply is wanting Him more. More than our baby, more than the job promotion, more than the friends we hope to attain or the health that we hope to build back towards. Let me clarify, none of those things are wrong as long as we truly want Him more than any of those things. Because I promise you, nothing at all, ever, will be greater than the peace and serenity that Jesus Christ offers to us.

And what’s the end promise when our motives are pure and our heart is focused on the right things? God comes though. He turns things around. He doesn’t disappoint us. In fact, in His own words, “You can count on it.”

I think that deserves a big gigantic “amen”!

{Fertility Update/Prayer Request: I will be having an endometrial scratch done on Thursday morning. This is the first time I will be having one done and while I know they aren’t done often, feel confident that this is a positive step for us. The procedure itself is done by the doctor, in which he will go up into my uterus and gently “scratch” the lining with a thin catheter. Painful, yes, but I am certain that it will be short-felt.  The reason we are doing this is that there is research and evidence suggesting that scratching the uterine lining causes a ‘repair reaction’. This reaction is associated with increasing embryo implantation rates since there will be a little groove for the embryo to embed deeper into and the bodies healing process does increase blood flow and other positive side effects. While some clinics do this while the patient is sedated, my doctor doesn’t so if you could pray that it goes smoothly and is as pain-free as possible, that would be great. This procedure will usher in what we anticipate being our last IUI cycle which will begin in the next 2-ish weeks. I have been told to anticipate discomfort, cramps, and spotting in the days following so continued prayers for recovery would be great as well. If you have had any experience with an endometrial scratch, I’d love to hear it! Thanks friends!}

guest post: be brave.

Aloha from Hawaii! I am having the time of my life here with my girlfriends (although I miss and am not sure how I will even be able to find the words to share it with you all! What a refreshing trip this has been …. and it’s not over yet! I am just checking in today to share with you a guest post that I wrote over on my friend Kailey’s blog Cheers to Plan A about learning to be brave. This one was an eye opener for me to write and I am so excited to invite you over to read it.

Would you do me a favor and stop on over to Kailey’s blog today, read the post I wrote there, and leave her some love!? I LOVE sharing my blogging friends with others because you are the BEST, EVER!!!!

{{ C L I C K   H E R E   T O   R E A D }}

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

(Print by Holly Holt Design)

Alright, that’s all for me! We are heading down to hit up May Day Lei Day celebrations on the beach! I will leave you with a couple pictures of our first day’s hike along the Na Pali Coast. I need to sort through the other 700 pictures so stay tuned. :)

IMG_4304groupjumping

 

shoulders.

Oh hello April, when did you arrive?

It feels a little foreign sitting down to write a post again, although I have already written a million of them in my head over the last few weeks. How do I compact some of the toughest, yet most comforting 2 weeks of my life in one blog post? Well, I don’t. I don’t know that I am ready to write and share all I have been learning quite yet and want to allow the scabs to heal a bit more before opening them back up. That being said, I do imagine starting to peel back these lessons and emotions with you, slowly, like a stinky layered onion, because I know many of you can and will relate.

We spent the last week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We had a spring break trip planned with Josh’s family for a while and it hung out there as a tentative trip as we went through our IUI, got pregnant, lost the pregnancy and then waited to see what my beta numbers would do and if our doctor would clear me to go. Thankfully 2 days before take off, we got the okay to pack our bags and boy, was it a perfectly timed and needed trip.

Airport Starbucks ... Check!

Airport Starbucks … Check!

Two cute travel nieces ... check!

Two cute travel nieces … check!

Delicious ceviche!

Delicious ceviche!

Gorgeous sunsets.

Gorgeous sunsets.

A fun adventure parasailing.

A fun adventure parasailing.

A beautiful ocean hut we occupied daily.

A beautiful ocean hut we occupied daily.

Lots and lots of sunglasses and smiles. <3

Lots and lots of sunglasses and smiles. <3

Date nights.

Date nights.

Celebrating my MIL's birthday.

Celebrating my MIL’s birthday.

Boardwalk nights with my man.

Boardwalk nights with my man.

I spent most of my days floating in the pool, reading books and observing the world going on around me. One afternoon, two young boys, likely about 10 or 11, joined me by the island where I was lazily resting my legs by the wall as I floated. They were about 4 feet to my left, swimming back and forth from under the waterfall to the island, when they decided their next activity would be diving.

The one boy, we can call him Brad for the sake of the story, swam up to the side of the pool and using his arms to pull himself up, shot out of the pool and up onto the cement. His friend Kyle behind him, a little less athletic looking, casually attempted to do the same, without much success. Brad called to him as he stood above him –

B: Just use your arms, pull yourself up!

K: I’m trying.

B: Duck back under the water and then kick up against the wall, then pull yourself up!

K: attempts to do such, very unsuccessfully. It was almost painful to watch.

B: jumps back into the pool Watch, like this. Effortlessly rockets himself up onto the top of the pool.

K: an embarrassed tenth attempt Um, I just can’t.

Sidenote: I was empathizing so much with Kyle at this point. I am the kid that can’t get out of the pool without a ladder, my arm muscles failing me and I never can seem to do the athletic things other kids can do so easily. I’m certain the look on my face reflected the pain I felt for him.

Then, without another hesitation, Brad jumps back into the pool while Kyle tries to unsnag his t-shirt from the rocky pool wall. I floated a little closer as I listened to what Brad was telling Kyle.

B: Hey, okay, now I will go down and just stand on my shoulders and pull yourself up.

And just like that, Brad ducked under the water and his friend Kyle clumsily stood on his shoulders and as Brad stood up, Kyle had just enough height and momentum to lift him up over that pool lip and allow him to roll onto the cement. By the time he uprighted himself, Brad was back up on the island and giving the diving contest instructions.

Whoooooosh.

Both boys dived in next to me, Brad with a grace that made me wonder if he is on a swim team somewhere and Kyle with the kind of un-athleticism I tend to show. And then the two boys swam back to the wall.

B: Ready? Ducks under the water, again, allowing Kyle to stand on his shoulders and hurdles him up and out of the pool.

This happened over and over again. Brad quietly and without hesitation, helping his friend out of the water, even though his friend was a little embarrassed that he needed the help and even though it maybe seemed like Kyle shouldn’t need the help. But Brad just did it, like it was second nature.

Eventually the boys moved on to a new activity and I didn’t see them for the rest of the trip, but as they swam away, my sunglass covered eyes filled with tears because I realized that you guys have been my Brad these last few weeks.

I’ve been stuck in the pool and I am clawing my way up the wall, unsuccessfully attempting to do everything I know to get out of the sadness, the grief, the wonderment. And like its second nature, so many of you have dove into the pool with me and simply said Stand on my shoulders, I will help you out. And you have – you’ve sent texts, emails, cards, gift cards, packages filled with goodies to make me smile like pens, Starbucks mugs, massage gift cards, flowers. You have listened to me verbally vomit while sitting in a restaurant or while driving. You haven’t gotten exasperated, expecting me to get your instructions faster, you simply have jumped in and offered me your shoulders, over and over and over again.

Thank you.

Thank you for everything. Thank you for the grace you have extended as I clumsily try to climb onboard. Thank you for the patience as I repeat myself days in a row and the understanding that writing back to an email might just be overwhelming at the moment. I couldn’t do it without you.

Here’s the thing, we all need someone to offer us their shoulders and we also have times in our lives when we get to offer someone our shoulders. Choose your people wisely. There’s no way that Brad could have lifted up everyone in the pool, but his friend, his friend was a no-brainer, worth investing his energy in.

Over the last week, I have been reading a fantastic book called Finding Faith in the Dark: When the Story of Your Life Takes a Turn You Didn’t Plan (by Laurie Short) and I know that I will be referring to it often throughout the next several posts of mine. There’s one quote that has stuck with me. “Pain came into my life as an uninvited guest, and after trying to wish it away, I followed it. It turns out God was in the darkness of my pain. It didn’t change my circumstances. But it changed me.” I am continuing to learn that when these really yucky, crappy, sucky seasons of pain come into our life, we can get bitter or we can follow it and find God in it. I love how Jesus Calling said it yesterday, “The more intimately you experience Me, the more convinced you become of my goodness.”

God has surrounded me intimately in my pain and as a result, I have been able to see His hand of goodness even in the midst of this tough battle. I still have questions, I still wonder a lot of things and I still feel angry and sad at times, but I am learning to widen my gaze so that I can find Him in this.

So with that, I’m back. It might take a few days or weeks to regather my momentum, but I’m back and I am so thankful for you.

guest post: for better or for worse.

We are overwhelmed and grateful for the support and prayers that you have all offered us over the last few days.We have read every word, each comment, every email and felt significantly blessed to walk through such a hardship with the love of those around us. Thank you. Thank you for embodying Romans 12:15:  “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.”  We are continuing to strive forward while tending to our hearts and accepting the peace and mercy that He is offering to us in these moments.

In other news, I am excited today to share with you a guest post that I wrote for Ever Upward entitled For Better or For WorseWhen Justine first asked to write a guest post, YES was my immediate answer! Justine’s blog has been a blessing to me as she writes about her stories and struggles, weaving together hope and recovery and ultimately, how to fight to define yourself after dealing with loss, trauma and tragedy. I am even MORE excited to share that her new book, Ever Upward: Overcoming the Life Long Losses of Infertility to Define Your Own Happy Ending hits the bookstore shelves on April 7th and invite you all to pre-order a copy or check it out once it’s out!

The guest post (which you can read HERE) is timely, as it talks about how thankful I am for the gift of marriage, especially in light of the tragedies and hardships that Josh and I have faced. These last few days have reminded me even more of the blessing that he is to me.

So, without further ado, I ask you to head on over to Justine’s blog at Ever Upward and check out my post there!

{Click here to be transferred to her site}

Would you mind continuing to keep us in your prayers? Although I have stopped all my medications, I still have not started the miscarrying process and can tell that my body is really confused. I have been dealing with some severe cramping but nothing else. My past two miscarriages both resulted in a beta nightmare, ultimately needing a D&C with one of them, and I just pray that my body can handle this in the simplest manner possible. I will go back on Wednesday for some more blood work, so if you could be pro-actively praying for “good” results, that would be great. Thank you friends.

friday favorites – february 27.

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

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

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

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

calling this our first family picture minus cali :)

calling this our first family picture minus cali :)

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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